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From Chemically Controlled … Toward Self-Directed

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As you may already know, Shambhala is an ancient, legendary city in Tibet. The people of Shambhala are dedicated to wisdom and its practical application toward a joyful life, well-lived. This site is similarly dedicated as a pathway toward Conscious, enlightened relationships. Within these pages the Shambhala Master gives us access to the secret wisdom of Shambhala.

Most of your emotional and behavioral responses are unconscious, even though you think you are choosing your behavior.

The Shambhala Master

Stories like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella appear to have one universal theme — boy gets girl and they live happily ever after. However, the mythical adventure every prince and princess embarks upon is a symbolic pilgrimage we are all Called* to take into the depths of ourselves.

Love and War


It is more than coincidence that cupid and cupidity rhyme with stupid and stupidity. Cupidity comes from the Latin word cup ere meaning to intensely desire.2 We are all familiar with the phrase, “Blinded by desire.” Stupid comes from the Latin word stupor meaning to be amazed and benumbed.3 Both words are derived from the same Latin stem “pere” which means muddle-minded and void of clear thinking.

Shambhala Masters know it is important for their students to understand the reasons why they yearn for, become seduced by, and are addicted to, cupidity. Students need to be aware of the ways in which cupidity and their romanticized social legacy become hard wired into their genetics. Shambhala students need to recognize the ways in which they become chemically programmed robots, mindlessly responding to the edicts of the past.


Centuries ago, when things changed little from generation to generation, individual and the group survival were served by hard- wiring, into the next generation, what served the past generation. But, as change speeds up, one generation faces dilemmas and life-directing decisions that are entirely different than the ones their parents faced. Consequently, Shambhala students need to know that their hard-wired behavioral/emotional inheritance jeopardizes their survival.

Shambhala Masters educate our students about their genetically acquired instincts. Shambhala students study the mind-dulling effects of their acquired instincts. We teach our student how to neutralize the mind-dulling effects of their acquired instincts so they can make Conscious decisions about their lives and become Self-directing.


What your grandparents’ grandparents acquired socially is part of your biological inheritance This well-known phenomenon is called genetic learning. When myths and belief systems are handed down for generations upon generations, you inherit a biological programming that directs your behavior. There are social and physical cues liberally laced throughout your environment that cause you to physically respond, whether you want to or not. Most of your emotional and behavioral responses are unconscious, even though you think you are choosing your behavior.

Your actions are most often the result of chemically driven responses that take place instantaneously. Only as an afterthought do you rationalize that your behavior was of your own choosing. You talk yourself into believing that you chose to do this or that because of this or that good reason. But, in reality, you automatically respond to cues you do not consciously perceive. This tendency to instantaneously rationalize that our thoughts, feelings, and actions are being consciously chosen is clearly demonstrated by the prompting of an individual under hypnosis to get up and leave the room when the therapist claps his or her hands. When the individual is brought back to consciousness, and hears the therapist clap, the individual will get up and leave the room. If asked, “Where are you going?” The individual will immediately respond with a good reason for leaving, such as “I have to go to the bathroom.” “I have to make a phone call.” “I am thirsty; I am going to get something to drink.”

But none of these stated reasons are the truth, even though a lie detector would substantiate that this person is not lying. They are lying to themselves. They left the room because they were told to do so when cued. Their behavior was not of their own choosing, even though they would swear that they do have to go to the bathroom, make a phone call, or get a drink. These are merely convenient rationales for what they find themselves compelled to do.

Eons ago this chemical stimulus and automatic response system served humankind by promoting the survival of the species. But, Shambhala Masters know that this system never promoted Consciousness. Shambhala Masters know that if their students remain hardwired, pre-programmed robots, they will be their own worst enemies.


Your biologically inherited, chemically controlled, unconscious responses make up a major portion of what and who think you are. You will not be able to see past your biological package of ourself or others unless you have been trained to step first into the depths of yourself and then into the depths of others. You are chemically programmed and socially trained to identify with and respond to your biological package. This chemical programming and social training are primitive holdovers from the ancient task of survival, much of which was predicated upon opposite sex pair bonding for the purpose of increasing the size of the tribe.

Consequently, you still chemically respond to the prince/princessing cues established eons ago. You are programmed to catch, pair up with, and become identified with a person of the opposite sex who exhibits the correct cues. You are pre-wired for the Noah's Ark syndrome. And, if you do not succeed in finding this “special someone,” or if you fail to make the relationship last for a lifetime, you are chemically programmed, through your genetic dowry, to feel as though you have failed. Your feelings of success and personal worth are based on achieving your genetic goals, as outdated, irrelevant, unrealistic, and counterproductive as they may be.


Shambhala students frequently ask me, “If these behaviors, desires, and emotional responses are genetically encoded, then aren’t they natural?” They say, “What could be more correct than our biological instincts?”

There is nothing sacred about our genetic dowry. When our great-great-grandparents said, “Until death do us part,” they were lucky to live to the ripe old age of fifty. With the primitive state of science and medicine, coupled with harsh living conditions, few of our great-great-grandparents lived to the full extent of even this relatively short life span. If they married at eighteen, they were promising faithfulness to each other for a grand total of no more than thirty years — if they both reached the maximum of their life expectancy.

Today, with more and more centenarians, the same promise, “Until death do us part” commits us to one person for over eighty years. It is somewhat plausible to think that when survival was a full time job, a job that took at least two adults, their children, and a close knit community, and when life spans were short, people might live out their entire lives with one person. But, in today's self-reliant world, with more leisure time, unlimited opportunity for continuing education, and life spans long enough to allow for several different careers, numerous intimate relationships, and two or more families of children, it is unrealistic to expect that the same person who fulfilled your needs when you were eighteen or twenty will play the same significant role in your life when you are seventy-five. These significant persons may be able to add to the quality of your life over your entire life span, and that would be wonderful. But, to assume your teenage sweetheart failed you, your children, your family, your friends, your community, and your nation because your lives have taken different paths, makes no sense at all.

There is nothing divine, sacred, or God-given about our genetic dowry. Just the opposite is true. Shambhala Masters know that our genetic dowry is the physiological and chemical remnant of our ancestors' Conscious and unconscious attempts to survive. When generation after generation faced the same wild animals, food shortages, climate changes, and hostile environments, the same behavioral responses served individuals and groups of individuals generation after generation.

But, in an age of rapid change, the dilemmas facing each new generation are entirely different than the dilemmas that faced the last generation. Furthermore, in an age of rapid change, the dilemmas we face are entirely different from one decade to the next. For example, in the sixties the baby boomers wrestled with addictive substances (selecting a drug of choice), free love (managing serial and/or open relationships, sexual experimentation, choice of birth control methods), and freedom of personal expression (bra burning, protesting the Vietnam War, dropping out of the mainstream, abortion, and living in communes).

In the seventies, these same baby boomers faced the space age, nuclear energy, self-improvement fads, meditation and yoga, political disillusionment and Watergate, feminism, the return of the Vietnam veterans and selling out for 8 to 5 jobs. In the eighties, they faced the onset of Aids, the return of conservatism, Reaganomics, shifts toward material success and “family values,” yuppies, balancing dual careers and late parenting, child abuse in day care settings, health food trends, and fitness fads. In the nineties, they grapple with the collapse of communism and nuclear energy, the information age, personal computers and high tech communicators (modems, cellular phones, satellite links, faxes), financial recession/depression, prejudice and open discrimination against white Anglo males, and aging in a youth worshipping culture.

When changes occur this quickly, our genetic dowry is as much of a liability as it once was a survival necessity. Consequently, Shambhala students learn that they can no longer afford to rely on their ancestors’ dated behavior patterns to add to the quality of their lives or even to answer their day-to-day concerns about survival. For example, territorialism and brute strength enabled our ancestors to protect the clan from wild beasts and other marauding tribes, but, with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the easy availability of hand guns, terrorism and brute strength now endanger, rather then promote, survival on this all too crowded spaceship Earth.


As we have seen, as long as the environmental and social changes occurring over many generations were minimal, your genetic dowry was invaluable. It allowed people to automatically do what would enhance their chances for survival. But, faced with rapid changes your genetic dowry is a grave liability, especially to your dearest relationships. Shambhala Masters know this is because your genetic dowry, in a rapidly changing world, pits you against your Self.

When life situations are relatively unchanging over generations and generations, your genetic dowry is aligned with Nature’s Intent and your Core directives. But, in times of rapid change your genetic dowry cannot keep up; it can no longer guide you towards spiritual Integrity when the dilemmas you face are a barrage of novel experiences. When faced with entirely unique life situations, Shambahla students must be able to dig deep down into the Core of their Selves and align their decisions and behavior with their spiritual Integrity and Nature’s Intent.

But, people are ill-prepared to align themselves with their spiritual Integrity and Nature’s Intent because they are still so reliant on their genetic dowry. Consequently, even dedicated Shambhala students are compelled to operate out of their inherited “instincts” and abandon the resourceful, spontaneous, Self-directing Core of themselves. Your genetic dowry forces you to align your behavior with the “ways things have always been done” and ignore what you need to do for your Self. Your genetic dowry requires you to make spiritually deadening choices.

If Shambhala students want to keep the spiritual Cores of themselves alive, they may have to distance themselves from family, peers, and co-workers, in order to hear and respond to their own Inner mandates. Most people choose to align themselves with the people around them; most people choose to maintain the social harmony; most choose not to rock the boat; most do what others consider “natural” and “normal.”


It is important to distinguish between what is usually meant by “natural” and “normal” instincts as opposed to what Shambhala Masters mean by your Core directives. Your “natural” and “normal” instincts are socially and culturally created. They differ from country to country. They change with the times and, when practiced long enough, they can be biologically passed on to the next generation. On the other hand, Core directives are universally shared and do not change with time. For example, Self-loyalty has always fostered spiritual well-being in all countries since antiquity. It still does, and it always will.


Shambhala Masters know that most people want to “fit in.” Fitting in requires you to wall out your Core Self. When you wall your Self out, then true Intimacy with yourself and others is impossible. When you repeatedly choose your genetic dowry over your Core directives, then you also lose access to much of your resourcefulness, ingenuity, spontaneity, and creativity. All of these attributes are deeply connected to your ability to make your own Conscious choices and to trust in your capacity to adapt to novel situations and to survive in a changing environment. All of these attributes are essential to your spiritual center.

These attributes are gradually undermined by your genetic dowry because your reliance on it does not encourage you to recognize, develop, and utilize your inherent resourcefulness, ingenuity, spontaneity, and creativity. Consequently, you are frightened by novel situations and paralyzed by life’s countless new choices. You feel cornered — and with no where else to go — you turn back to the automatic response system that “served” the generations before us.

As you continue to become more and more dependent on your outdated response system, it continues to fail you. It can do nothing else, because it is no longer situation appropriate. The more your genetic dowry fails you the more frightened you become and the less you trust yourself. Escalating fear closes down the mind. Without the use of your own mental clarity you become more desperately dependent on your genetic dowry, allowing it to control you. This downward spiral becomes a circular vortex, eroding all self-confidence. The result is blind reliance on the ways of the past, on tradition, and on our inherited instincts.

Shambala Masters know that most people become strangers to that part of themselves which, in more primitive times, was ever-ready to respond in unique ways to novel situations. You lose touch with the part of yourself that mediates between the antiquity of your soul and the immediacy of the now.

When you lose access to this Core of yourself, you become Self-alienated. In this dispirited state you will desperately cling to others. You will create dependency with them — spiritually deadening relationships that last, sometimes, for an entire lifetime. Or, you will create intensely romantic, but short, serial relationships. But, you do not know Intimacy with your Self or others. Like unused muscles, access to the Core of yourself grows weak and flaccid. You strain to hear its voice as it grows dim. You drift further and further away from your spiritual center, and as you do, you lose your capacity to know and relate to your Self. When you can no longer identify with the Core of yourself you cannot see your Self in others. You cannot touch, nor can you be touched, by the souls of others.


Big, bright eyes that sparkle, glow, and playfully dance with the vibrancy of life, and then, at just the right moment, are sweetly veiled behind lowered lids as her head drops coyly. Add all this to a shy, demure smile, submissive and vulnerable body language, and the chemical system of any well-socialized “White Knight” will automatically respond.

A tall, tanned, handsome man walks assertively towards his convertible, ski-racked Porsche. He climbs in. Talking on his car phone he guns the engine as he pulls out of the parking lot. Any well-socialized “Shining Halo” automatically responds.

Visual cues like these trigger “White Knights” and “Shining Halos,” even if you tell yourself not to take the bait. Your genetic dowry requires you to automatically respond to the commercial, cultural, and social concepts of beauty/virility. These concepts are hardwired into people. They dictate what is sexually desirable. Sexually arousing chemicals race through your body before you can give a single thought to what the other person really looks like, much less see into their inner substance. And “true love” begins. Or, as a student recently jested, “A moment of lust leads to a lifetime of anguish.”

Little do “White Knights” know that “Shining Halos” are trained to sparkle and glow in the presence of eligible males to attract their attention. “White Knights,” on the other hand, are trained to appear aloof, disinterested, and emotionally detached when it comes to “Shining Halos.” The quickest way for a “White Knight” to turn into a frog right in front of a princess is for him to appear too eager, too interested, and too available. He may not consciously know all this, but his body remembers the lessons of all his male predecessors. His genetic dowry reminds him that “Shining Halos” respond to elusive male behavior. So he acts disinterested, while she puts more time, energy, and money into trying to attract his attention. His chemical system responds to her feminine wiles; he approaches her in his own detached way. She gets rushy, and the dance of chemical attraction begins.


Image of a Mouse giving another Mouse a Flower

Both sexes are wired to respond to the socially acquired, genetically inherited, and diligently practiced “attributes” of the opposite sex. In a world where you are not trained to see into the depths of your Self and others, you respond to your biologically inherited packaging: ample breasts and feminine wiles or physical strength and masculine traits. The following are just a few of the “traits” that chemically control your dating and mating behavior, whether you want them to or not.

Female Cues That Chemically Trigger “White Knights”

  • Large, firm, pert breasts (artificial or real)
  • Tight, shapely buttocks
  • Long, slender, shapely legs
  • Loosely hung hair slightly covering and/or frequently falling on the face, and frequently tossed out of the way
  • Smooth, soft, tan, taught skin
  • Feminine helplessness
  • Petite, slender, weak, and dainty appearance and mannerisms
  • Light-hearted attitude, fun loving, carefree abandon
  • Lively temperament
  • Sweet, gentle, apparently innocent demeanor or fast, flashy, apparently sexually knowledgeable behavior
  • Warm, emotional availability
  • Tender, patient, giving style
  • Sensitive and empathetic to the needs and feelings of others
  • Caring, nurturing tones of voice and mannerisms
  • Socially engaging and entertaining
  • Small and sensuous gestures
  • Pleasing personality
  • An apparent undying curiosity and interest in the man’s work, hobbies, activities, family and/or friends.

Male Cues That Chemically Trigger “Shining Halos”

  • Strong, tall, muscular physique
  • Well put together outer package (depending on the sub-group this package may be disordered, garish, and chaotic)
  • Apparently capable and competent
  • Self-contained, independent (in some sub-groups defiant)
  • Take charge confident style
  • Fearless attitude, gutsy
  • Worldly, street wise attitude
  • Financially competent demeanor
  • Busy, self-involved ways of being
  • Elusive and unavailable
  • Emotionally detached
  • Wide-spread, large masculine gestures
  • Quiet, non-emotive presence
  • Serious, self-imploded style


It takes years, sometimes decades, of personal work for Shambhala students to counteract the mind dulling effects of their genetic dowry, especially when it comes to their socially acquired fears of aging. It takes years of proactive commitment to be able to look clear-eyed at the irreplaceable advantages of maturity. Shambhala students work long and hard de-programming themselves from the commercial yardsticks of personal measurement until they no longer fear the skin loosening its hold on their bodies. But, in time, Shambhala students are freed up to move with a grace that only comes with the seasoning of experience. As they learn to celebrate maturity and wisdom their walk is smooth and sure footed. Their arms are fluid as they swing in an easy, familiar rhythm with the movements of their legs. There is a harmony and union between the parts of the body that are never present in youth. Not even the gifted young athlete has this synchrony with Self and surroundings.

Watch my seventy-five-year-old Shambhala Master sitting comfortably on a pillow on the floor. He pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms full around his shins. His hands rest calmly on his upper arms. He talks quietly, serenely about the importance of knowing what others expect of us, and then, he tells me, “But it's more important to do what you must do for yourself.” Watch him and you will see a grace, synchrony, and unity of mind, body and spirit that lends depth and credibility to his statements. His voice is quietly assured. His eyes are steady and penetrating. His gestures affirming. His wealth of experience makes his words powerfully affecting. These same words, sincerely and even eloquently spoken by a young man in his twenties, may articulately express his own personal convictions. His words may ring true, but they are not personally empowering. Whereas, words from a revered elder give us permission to do what our hearts are commanding us to do.

I was frequently touched by the wisdom of my grandmother at eighty as we sat cross-legged on her living room floor. One time, I remember it clearly even now, she cautioned me about caring too much about what I think others are thinking. “You can’t control what others are thinking. You can’t control the conclusions they draw. It is more important,” she counseled, “to do what you know feels right to you.” Then she challenged me to our game of getting up off the floor, our legs still crossed underneath us, without using our hands. We both succeeded. But she did it with a familiarity, an ease, and a competence that reminded me I may be a talented athlete, but still an awkward youth.

I watch the teenage son of one of my students. His eyes envy the smooth and effortless way his father lifts a heavy plank of wood. I hear the awe in my teenage black belt nephew’s voice as I out maneuver him when we are working out, “Well, you are older than me, ” he concludes.

Youths, who grow up with wise, competent, nurturing, and trusted adults, admire age and experience. Adults, who have cleared their minds of the socially acquired distortions of youth-worshipping cultures, value the wisdom of elders.

*The word “Called,” is spelled with a bold capital “C.” The Shambhala Master uses bold capitals when referring to the primal, Core, spiritual essence of a word, as opposed to the conventional understanding of the word. Please consult the Master’s Glossary for the definition of this and other unfamiliar terms.

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