My beloved Michael
Natural and effortless
Continuous fountain of healing energy
Unattached yet rooted
Where you took me
Only few fortunate ones ever experience
What you showed me
A deeper knowing of an unbiased self
A limitless horizon
In that space
Silence sings so beautifully and
Ecstasy roars so quietly
I am blessed.
by Bob Howells
I was where the air flowed wet and warm as jungle rivers
Through great pillars of tangle-green
The only sounds were those of listening:
For gibbon shrieks, python slithers, and the rustle of the last tiger slipping into night
I was where elephants would swallow their pride like peanuts
To bear me gently down mud slopes pocked with craters of their enormous weight
Asking only in return
For the right to fall in love every two years
Woe be unto the denier of elephant rights
I was where the rice today was cut two days ago, carried long miles, threshed yesterday, husked this morning and cooked before dawn
So that the cycle might begin anew today
I was where solace is the deep silence between a dusk of no lights
And the insistent arisings of roosters working the 3 a.m. shift
I was where smiles always begat smiles
And I guiltily admit that a culture now embraces a dance craze
Called the hokey-pokey
And somewhere a little boy is still pulverizing anything globular with a wand of bamboo
Known in his Lisu village by a remnant phrase of foreign origin:
And what of I, the transient observer, bringer of baseball, taster of bamboo worms?
I know again how little I really know
But I know that who I have become in Royal Way can stretch to embrace the bigness and beauty of the world,
And grow by the seeing, feeling, dancing, and dissolving of boundaries
That once defined a different man.
Dancing with Michael in the warm desert night
Looking at Michael dancing
He is smiling and laughing
It pours into me
This is the joy Michael talks about
I feel it
But it’s more than a feeling
It’s inside me
It’s outside of me
Recently I awoke to one of the most beautiful yet alien feelings of my life—I am truly happy to be Laura, without comparisons and without judgments. As I sat with the richness of these feelings, peacefulness settled around me. I realized in that moment that what I was experiencing was not only a deep gratitude for my life, but a new opening of my heart, so strong that it literally felt like it doubled in size.
Before Royal Way, before meeting Michael, I thought that happiness was something that would just "happen" to me one day. I was waiting for it to come like some mysterious cloud that would engulf my life and make everything feel good. Royal Way opened up my eyes to see that I create my own happiness. I have the power to choose to live in the moment, where everything is just as it should be.
Now it is my time to become a passage where love flows freely. Now it is my time to throw open the doors of my heart and invite the fullness of life in.
I went up the RW Ranch mountain heavy with my ego self. I came back light with sweetness. On the evening of day five, I began to have doubts. I asked myself, Is there something that I must be doing that I am not? Am I getting what Michael felt I might get from this? Thoughts like this hounded me for hours. Then I sat to meditate. With every breath I called to God to come to me. It was a pure and silent chant. And I wept silent tears. It was my most genuine experience of yearning for the divine. It lasted about two hours. Connecting with the memory of it melts my heart.
Over the years, being with you in Royal Way, I have had a few sporadic, visceral experiences of God's love. The first time it was in a weekly meditation where I felt your love for me, and then felt that God loves me. I first felt your love, then the divine. These have been short bursts and, at times, even during hardship, I have felt God's wisdom and love.
This time I wanted to be the host. I was the supplicant, and wanted God to come to me because I loved him so. It all sounds simplistic but I know that you understand me. The last two days at the retreat house, I just felt loved by you and God. I felt showered by kindness and love.
Michael, the experience opened my heart and eyes to another facet of my relationship with you. And that is the knowledge that, without you, I would never be able to experience the divine. It would have been too abstract and out of reach. I now see how holy you have been in your ways—in your being, and in your treatment of me and others. And by your holy ways, you have been leading me to God the entire time. You have been the path, the light, and the example.
Michael, something is growing inside me now. I am now aware of my yearning and my seeking. And I will host you and the divine in my heart.
Years ago, in one of my early Pilgrimages, you gave us an exercise. It was based on a question you posed: "What was there before God?"
I now feel that I have an answer to your question of 10 years ago. Before there ever was God, there was a yearning for God. And if you were to ask me what it was that yearned for God, my answer would be: nothingness.
Welcome to my heart, Michael. Welcome.
True gratitude is...
Staying the course, even when it is or appears difficult
Cherishing the preciousness of what has been bestowed upon me
Having the courage to look at all of me
Growing and climbing from one peak to the next
Staying open to my Royal Way Teacher, Michael
Receiving his direction, guidance, energy, love, and light
Living my life as best and as fully as I can
Sharing myself in the world with love, wisdom, and strength
I always thought I knew what it meant to be a man. My idea of masculinity was a combination of physical attributes, personality characteristics, and interests. To me, a man was one with a physically strong exterior, matched by a hardened interior. A successful man was someone who had attained a lot of material wealth and career status. It was a person with a broad knowledge of sports, as both a spectator and a participant. A jock was the ultimate man.
Was I ever wrong.
As a child, I did not embody most of these characteristics, and so my conclusion was that I was on the lower end of the masculinity scale. I wasn’t interested in sports and I was rarely the one engaging in conversation about sports trivia or the latest scores. I was more interested in the arts; I enjoyed painting and theater, and I had a strong imagination. As I grew older, I felt a lacking within me. I didn’t understand where it came from.
When I came to Royal Way, I soon began to realize that my whole concept of masculinity was wrong. I remember reading my first letter on male-female energy and thinking: This is the missing link. Michael was teaching me a new way to think about my masculinity, a way that need not be pursued. It simply was my natural state, and I could discover it while reaching for my divinity.
About a year after my first Royal Way retreat at RW Ranch, I told Michael that I had been estranged from my father for more than 25 years. I was extremely resistant to discussing this subject, and Michael knew this. At the close of our session, he gently suggested that maybe one day I would forgive my father and reconnect with him at a later date. I couldn’t imagine that would ever happen.
A full year and a half later, Michael worked with me again regarding my father. Four months after that, I finally got the courage to call my dad. Remarkably, 25 years had passed and I was now talking with my father as an adult.
Michael had told me that this single event would change my life in ways I could not even imagine. So much beauty has come into my life from this experience. With this gift from Michael, my father and I were able to start over. I began to feel like a different person, charged with a power that I had never felt before. What an incredible feeling, to be able to change things in my life from within. For the first time ever, I had a sense that I could create my own life, and make it whatever I wanted it to be. A door has opened to a brand new me, a me that I am just getting to know.
Since reconnecting with my father, I am living my life differently. I am tasting the richness of my true maleness. I’m feeling so fulfilled in providing for and protecting my wife and children, expressing myself, and bringing my presence to every part of my life.
Michael Gottlieb teaches what it really is to be a man: to work on my growth, to be my own person, and to find truth on a quest to discover my true maleness.
I am so grateful to have these beautiful teachings and to have so many opportunities to bring them into my life. My life is blessed on this path with my exquisite Teacher Michael, and I know this is just the beginning.
Digging and moving dirt
I expand with every shovel of earth
Prepare the ground to grow my roots
Set the foundation for my fruits
Filling, tilling, nurturing all around
Rooted, I grow on the sacred ground
Of RW Ranch.
Dear Dr. Gottlieb,
This is a glass bead necklace that I made by hand for your birthday. I made it for you because you make my mom and dad better people. One day I hope I will meet you in person. I like knowing that you wear the other necklaces that I made you. It makes me feel happy.