Richard G. Petty, MD

Cultivating Ourselves


“Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the eternal progress beyond.”        

–Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (English Politician, Poet and Novelist, 1803-1873)   

Cultivate Your Own Garden


This is, I think, the last line in Candide:

“Learn to cultivate your own garden.”           

–Voltaire (a.k.a. François-Marie Arouet, French Writer and Philosopher, 1694-1778)   

“Candide” (Voltaire)

Keep Refining and Improving

H. Jackson Browne.jpg

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”    

–H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (American Author and Advertising Executive, 1940-)   

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone


It’s all too easy to get stuck o the easy stuff. But if we want to move forward, we have to push ourselves. Hard!

“To receive applause for works which do not demand all our powers hinders our advance towards a perfecting of our spirit. It usually means that thereafter we stand still.”    

–Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (German Physicist and Satirist, 1742-1799)   

First Reform Yourself!


“The world’s best reformers are those who start with themselves.”  

–George Bernard Shaw (Irish Dramatist, Socialist and, in 1925, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950)   

Diseases of Discipleship

You will not find them listed on WebMD, but “Diseases of Discipleship” are nonetheless very real. I have mentioned them in Healing Meaning and Purpose and also here. They are the result of sudden access to spiritual energies that can upset the balance of the body, mind and spirit. The great value of having a teacher is to help you balance and work with these energies without being harmed by them.

Several of my own teachers talked a lot about these diseases of discipleship, but I would particularly like to single out Douglas Baker and the writings of Roberto Assagioli, Del Pe, Torkom Saraydarian, Stan Grof and Alice Bailey.

I have also had a great deal of experience with people undergoing spiritual crises. Many have been referred to me by priests, clergy and intuitives, because many of the individuals thought that they were “going crazy,” and some had ben given psychiatric diagnoses. That extensive experience has helped me and some of my students to describe some of the “symptoms” in more detail.

Roberto Assagioli identified five critical points where problems may arise:

  1. Just before spiritual awakening begins
  2. Crises caused by spiritual awakening
  3. Reactions to spiritual awakening
  4. Phases of the process of transmutation
  5. The “Dark Night of the Soul

Today I am just going to focus on the crises caused by spiritual awakening, because a great many people are experiencing them at the moment.

Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms include:

  • Visual disturbances
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  • Paradoxically they often also find a raised pain threshold
  • Increased metabolic rate, which may cause a slight increase in body temperature and a little weight loss
  • Variable libido: some people lose all interest in sex, but most experience an increase in sexual desire, which can take them and any partners by surprise
  • Disturbances in circadian rhythms
  • Disturbances in thyroid and adrenal function: the thyroid often becomes slightly – or sometimes more than slightly – overactive and the adrenal glands slightly less responsive to stimulation
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety and a feeling of “butterflies” in the region of the solar plexus
  • Inexplicable sensations roughly corresponding to the channels identified in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine
  • Irregular breathing patterns, usually hyperventilation
  • Something that feels like electricity under the tongue and under the palate
  • Crying for no readily apparent reason
  • As peoples’ consciousness rises, it is quite common to experience “Synesthesia” in which senses overlap: people may taste sounds, feel colors and “hear and see” with different parts of the body
  • Psychic abilities often begin to appear: clairvoyance, clairaudience, spiritual intuition and the ability to heal
  • Many begin to feel and see their own Inner Light and the Inner Light of other people

Not everyone gets all of these symptoms and they may come and go for a while. Some people don’t get any at all, but they are unusual. There are two books by Hazel Courteney that detail some of what happened to her, and they are well worth a read.

It is important to emphasize that all of these signs and symptoms can also be caused by illnesses. So although most people who are going through all this want to avoid doctors, it is a very good idea to ensure that everything is okay. I once saw someone who had been told that she was having a kundalini experience, even though she did not have any of the usual features. She became very unwell, but felt much better when an insulin-producing tumor was removed from her pancreas.

The most important thing is to help people remain grounded. I have seen many people become extremely grandiose and even fanatical after going through a rapid spiritual awakening. It is also important to ensure that any physical symptoms – such as thyroid or blood pressure problems – do not continue unchecked.

Helping people who are going through spiritual change or crisis needs the help of a person or persons who understand physical and psychological problems, as well as being some way along the path of spiritual development. By “crisis” I do not mean crisis of faith, but a critical turning point in an individual’s personal development.

There are plenty of good ways of grounding using some physical, psychological and subtle system exercises. I have dozens of excellent techniques that I can publish if you are interested. Sometimes it is also a good idea to eat some heavy food.

It can be very helpful to get away form other people for a while. This doesn’t mean becoming a monk or nun, but just to avoid a bad case of people poisoning. In their overly sensitive state they can pick up a lot of negative things from the people around them. I have known a good many people who would begin to experience all the physical and psychological symptoms of the people around them.

Once we have confirmed that the person does not have all this as a result of thyroid disease or anxiety, it is essential to show them what is going on and the best way to approach and conceptualize it.

Next we help people to control some of the impulses that can otherwise swamp them. One of the many reasons for development of the sophisticated mind control techniques developed by Tibetan Buddhism was to help people watch their spiritual unfoldment without being overwhelmed by it.

We also try to help people to transmute psychological energies so that they can be used constructively.

Everybody is different, but in some people acupuncture, qigong, Reiki and homeopathy have all been helpful. Several of the flower essences can be very useful, in particular:
Star Tulip
White Yarrow
Pink Yarrow

Every expert that I know in the field of spiritual development agrees with my observation that there are currently more people having major spiritual changes than ever before. It is essential for us all to know how to protect, support and birth them.

“To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance, and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the guidance and benefit of others, by expressing in the world of forms – truth, love, purity and beauty – this is the sole game that has any intrinsic and absolute worth. All other incidents and attainments can, in themselves, have no lasting importance.”

–Meher Baba (Indian Spiritual Teacher who, from July 1925 maintained Silence, 1894-1969)

“You knock at the door of Reality. You shake your thought wings, loosen your shoulders, and open.”
–Jalal al-Din Rumi (Afghan Sufi Poet, 1207-1273)

“Life is a series of awakenings.”

–Sri Swami Sivananda (Indian Physician and Spiritual Teacher, 1887-1963)

“What we usually call human evolution is the awakening of the Divine Nature within us.”

–“Peace Pilgrim” (a.k.a. Mildred Norman, American Peace Activist, 1908-1981)

RP On The Radio

Next Monday, February 5th, I am going to have the privilege of having a one hour conversation about Healing, Meaning and Purpose with Kimberley Colvard at Radio Sandy Springs. We are going to be on from 12 noon to 1PM EST. The show gets repeated twelve hours later for you folk in Europe and Australasia.

Here is the neat thing: you can either listen on the radio (AM 1620 in Atlanta) or listen in on line. I am hoping to put the audio file on this website. So you can listen at your leisure as I explain how we discovered that the Laws of Healing are changing, what it means for your health, well-being, personal development and business, and how you can use these new insights starting today.

I do a lot of radio and TV work, but I am particularly happy to be doing this particular show. Kim is the author of an extremely interesting book – Life is a Perception, What’s Yours?: How your thoughts and beliefs determine your life – that is full of novel ideas clearly showing that she is completey in tune with the aims and objectives of Integrated Health and Medicine. When I first started explaining the principles to her, she was one of the few people who “got it” straight away. So I am expecting this to be a very dynamic and creative program.

Stayed tuned (!), and you will be able to assess that for yourself!

Cicero’s Six Mistakes of Man

Today is traditionally taken to be the birthday of the great Roman lawyer, political figure, orator and philosopher Cicero, whose full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero. Nobody really knows the exact date of his birth, but for several centuries, January the 3rd it has been.

His life was extraordinarily successful by the standards of the day, and generations of school children learned some basic history and philosophy from him.

We also learned that success is subjective.

Over two thousand years ago he wrote about the “Six Mistakes of Man:”

  1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others
  2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected
  3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
  4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences
  5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying
  6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do

Even after all this time, how much has really changed?

I urge you to think about those six and whether any of them are operating in your life. I often use “The Six” as a jumping off point in therapy or workshops: they often help us to focus on some of our false beliefs and perceptions.

And to celebrate his birthday, here are a few choice Cicero quotations from my own collection.

Enjoy and, perhaps, learn something from them.

“A liar is not believed even though he tells the truth.”

“A man’s own manner and character is what most becomes him.”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.

“A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over a worn out body to old age.”

“Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.”

“All things are full of God.”

“As fire when thrown into water is cooled down and put out, so also a false accusation when brought against a man of the purest and holiest character, boils over and is at once dissipated, and vanishes and threats of heaven and sea, himself standing unmoved.”

“As I approve of a youth that has something of the old man in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man that has something of the youth. He that follows this rule may be old in body, but can never be so in mind.”

“As I give thought to the matter, I find four causes for the apparent misery of old age; first, it withdraws us from active accomplishments; second, it renders the body less powerful; third, it deprives us of almost all forms of enjoyment; fourth, it stands not far from death.”

“Avarice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.”

“Before beginning, plan carefully.”

“Before you trust a man, eat a peck of salt with him.”

“Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.”

“Brevity is the best recommendation of speech, whether in a senator or an orator.”

“By doubting we come at truth.”

“Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.”

“Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body.”

“Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.”

“Generosity should never exceed ability.”

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

“Great is the power of habit. It teaches us to bear fatigue and to despise wounds and pain.”

“He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.”

“He who suffers, remembers.”

“If you would abolish avarice, you must abolish its mother, luxury.”

“In a disturbed mind, as in a body in the same state, health can not exist.”

“In everything satiety closely follows the greatest pleasures.”

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.”

“Inability to tell good from evil is the greatest worry of man’s life.”

“It is a shameful thing to be weary of inquiry when what we search for is excellent.”

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.”

“Justice is the crowning glory of the virtues.”

“Many wish not so much to be virtuous, as to seem to be.”

“Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.”

“Nature has placed in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.”

“No man is so old as not to think he can live one year more.”

“One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul will ever be destroyed”

“Our minds possess by nature an insatiable desire to know the truth.”

“Reason should direct and appetite obey.”

“Study carefully, the character of the one you recommend, lest their misconduct bring you shame.”

“Superstition is a senseless fear of God.”

“That last day does not bring extinction to us, but change of place.”

“The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.”

“The beauty of the world and the orderly arrangement of everything celestial makes us confess that there is an excellent and eternal nature, which ought to be worshiped and admired by all mankind.”

“The beginnings of all things are small.”

“The celestial order and the beauty of the universe compel me to admit that there is some excellent and eternal Being, who deserves the respect and homage of men.”

“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”

“The cultivation of the mind is a kind of food supplied for the soul of man.”

“The diseases of the mind are more and more destructive than those of the body.”

“The foolishness of old age does not characterize all who are old, but only the foolish.”

“The forehead is the gate of the mind.”

“The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil”

“The harvest of old age is the recollection and abundance of blessing previously secured.”

“The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.”

“The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.”

“There are gems of thought that are ageless and eternal.”

“There are more men ennobled by study than by nature.”

“There is no grief which time does not lessen and soften”

“There is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not already said it.”

“Through doubt we arrive at the truth.”

“To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.”

“To the sick, while there is life there is hope.”

“True glory strikes root, and even extends itself; all false pretensions fall as do flowers, nor can any feigned thing be lasting.”

“Virtue is its own reward.”

“We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory

“Whatever that be which thinks, which understands, which wills, which acts, it is something celestial and divine and on that account must necessarily be eternal.”

“When you are aspiring to the highest place, it is honorable to reach the second or even the third rank.”

“Work makes a callus against grief.”

Wishing You Great Learning Opportunities in the New Year!

“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourself strong.”
–Swami Vivekananda (Indian Hindu Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, 1863-1902)

A lot of people tell me that they are pleased to see the back of 2006, and we certainly had more than our fair share of challenges during the year, having lost four members of our family in just a few months. The fact that they were not all human didn’t change the impact one bit.

But for all the people who have told me about their negative thoughts about the year I’ve said the same thing: the year has actually been a terrific learning experience. That’s not to say that we should slap a big smiley face on every pain, hardship and adversity, but it does mean that it is essential for all of us to try and find the meaning in the events that have happened in our lives.

When Nietzsche said “That which does not kill me makes me stronger,” he was giving voice to a peculiarly Germanic ideal of the time: that people need to be tested and tempered like steel. That’s not what I mean at all.

The three best and most effective ways of dealing with adversity are first to extract meaning from the event or situation: “Why is this happening?” “Is it just dumb bad luck or is there more to it?”

The second essential is to learn to detach from an event, so that it no longer has its emotional claws in you.

And the third is to accept a situation. Not in some passive way of letting life bowl you over, but of being able to acknowledge an experience and then using it as the basis for wise action.

Each of these can take a lifetime to learn the hard way, but you can actually master them very quickly with a series of simple steps.

I am going to be sharing some of them with you in the coming months. I am also going to be publishing an eBook on the topic of resilience, because detachment and acceptance come much more easily to the person with robust resilience.

Having recently had to make a number of unexpected trips overseas has delayed our publication schedule by three months, but we shall be back on track by the end of January.

And here’s a final thought for you from Healing, Meaning and Purpose: adversity is an invitation to grow. If approached in the right way, apparently negative events can lead to a shift in your consciousness and rapid spiritual development.

In fact the majority of my own teachers could trace their spiritual maturation to major life events that at the time seemed to be the end of the world.

Remember that what the caterpillar thinks to be the end of the world, is, for the butterfly, just a new beginning!

“Trials, temptations, disappointments — all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of character but strengthen it. Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”
James Buckham (American Naturalist and Writer)

“The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons.”
–Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (German Philosopher, 1844-1900)

“Out of confusion, you invent something permanent – the Absolute, the Brahman or God.”

–Jiddu Krishnamurti (Indian Spiritual Teacher, 1895-1986)

The Sixth Extinction

“Once we spread out into space and establish colonies, our future should be safe.”

— English Theoretical Physicist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, 1942-

Five times before the world has almost died. Many experts believe that we are now in the Sixth Extinction. More accurately known as the Holocene extinction event, it refers to the widespread, ongoing mass extinction of species during the modern Holocene epoch that began 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age.

The previous ones were all a very long time ago, and were probably caused by cosmic events:

  1. 444 million years ago: the End Ordovician
  2. 360 million years ago: the Late Devonian
  3. 251 million years ago: the Permian-Triassic transition
  4. 200 million years ago: the End Triassic
  5. 65 million years ago: the End Cretaceous (this is the one that you probably learned about in school: it was the one that is thought to have ended the reign of the dinosaurs)

The reason that so many people are becoming more conservationist in their outlook is that the observed rate of extinction has accelerated dramatically in the last 50 years to a pace that is greater than the rate seen during the Big Five extinctions.

Unlike the previous extinctions that were likely caused by astronomical events, most experts attribute the sixth extinction directly to human activities. So they can be a good barometer of where we are going wrong with the world. Since 1500 AD, 698 extinctions have been documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

In the United Kingdom, the publication of the Stern Report that outlined the frightful impact not of extinctions but of global climate change, was endorsed by the current Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He endorsed it not out of the goodness of his heart, but because the report demonstrated the impact not just on people but on the economy. It seems a shame that it takes money to persuade some people in high places to do the right thing. Naturally the Stern report has had more than its fair share of criticisms. But the fact that more people in politics and industry are talking about global climate change and the impact of our activities on people and on many other species is obviously a good thing.

However I think that the real change in how we live with the earth lies not simply in understanding the impact on our bottom line, but in our own level of development. Rather tha following Stephen Hawking’s advice and heading off into space, we need to get ourselves in order, unless we want to take all the behaviors that have caused this catastophe with us.

In recent years I have been persuaded by the spiral dynamics model. As more people embrace the Green, Yellow and Turquoise Memes they understand not just intellectually, but viscerally, the importance of preserving the planet and terminating the headlong rush toward the sixth extinction. Ken Wilber has written eloquently about the downside of what he calls the “Mean Green Meme.” But once enough of us make the jump to second-tier thinking there are no longer these mean downsides. Just a constant desire, need even, to nurture and preserve the planet.

One of the reasons for my efforts to assist your personal growth and development is that neither health nor illnesses exist in isolation. They are born from and affect everyone in the individual’s social group, and their resolution requires the cooperation of everyone in the group. And that social group includes the planet and all the creatures around us.

I have been asked to start sharing yet more of the practical techniques that have helped thousands of students over the last 30+ years, so I am going to start creating a new set of podcasts to help anyone who would like them.

“By 2050, at bio-extinction’s current rate, between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of all species will have disappeared or be too few in numbers to survive. There’ll be a few over-visited parks, the coral reefs will be beaten up, grasslands overgrazed. Vast areas of the tropics that have lost their forests will have the same damn weeds, bushes and scrawny eucalyptus trees so that you don’t know if you’re in Africa or the Americas.”

–Stuart L. Pimm (English-born American Conservation Biologist, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology Environmental Sciences and Policy Division at Duke University and Originator of the “Food chain” concept in research into extinction of plants and animals, 1949-)

“Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.”
— Henry David Thoreau (American Essayist and Philosopher, 1817-1862)

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