“You are no mistake.”
Jeffrey is cofounder of the Men’s Council Project and the Men’s Leadership Alliance, which offer men heart and soul inspired courses, including the Art of Leadership training program. For over twenty years, he has guided men’s healing and inspiration retreats around the country as an inquiry into the blessings of manhood. The work is centered on connection to personal mythology and empowerment through the individual’s life story and soul voice. Jeffrey offers one-on-one personal mentoring and council support for adults and adolescents. Jeffrey is the author of the well received book, Stories of Men, Meaning, and Prayer, written in conjunction with James Churches. He is a wilderness rites of passage guide for youth and adults and assists individuals and groups in creating community rituals and blessing ways. He is also a Four Gateways Coach© based on the healing studies of Dr. Thomas Daly, world elder, teacher, and visionary. He lives with his wife and son in Colorado.
Q. What experiences put you on your spiritual path?
A. Around age thirty, I met a young woman who was a Buddhist and a cleaning lady. I told her, “I think I may end my life. Everything is based on some kind of career and I’m not interested in that. So I may never see you again.” She replied, “Before you go, come see me.” She was so kind that I had to honor her request. It’s funny how kindness bestows that sort of power. So, I went to her and said, “I think I’m done. I’ll be gone in a week.” She replied, “There’s a man in town I would like you to meet before you go.” Again, I honored her request and went to the house of a psychologist where people were gathered around a Buddhist monk exiled from Tibet. When I walked through the door, the monk who had been sleeping in the corner looked up at me and smiled. I don’t know if I have ever let myself receive a smile like that before. He seemed to be saying, “Whoever you are, whatever you have done, you are welcome here.” I sat, listened to stories, and had a cup of soup. Before I left, I asked the psychologist if he would be willing to talk with me. Out of kindness, he decided to see me whether I could pay or not. He helped me wake up and realize there are other ways that people are living. Nine months later, I found myself in Colorado studying the healing arts.
Q. What advice would you give someone just starting his or her spiritual path?
A. Over the years, a lot of people have asked for my advice. One of the first things I say is. “Make our time together yours. See me simply as an energy reflecting back what’s already inside you and has been working its way out for ten thousand years.” I say, especially to youth, “There is great mystery and wonder running through every cell of your body. It is already who you are and is waiting for you to find it. You are no mistake. You have tremendous gifts to give to the world. Learn a discipline that liberates you. Trust and don’t hold back. Your life is meant to be played out like a story. It doesn’t matter what your career is or what words you use. It’s about the wonder you were born with being allowed to run free and barefoot. It’s about living the arts, the things that don’t have to do with earning a salary and existed before modern technology like answering machines. Our desire to be stimulated through television and Twitter leave us unable to contemplate long enough to drop down into some sense of knowing, some rooted place. But, young people say to me, “Why should I grow up? Look at the world. I’m never going to get married. I’m never going to be accountable to my children. Why should I do anything but take care of my own selfish needs?” Because our youth have not grown up with authority (“authority” means “guide”), they can trust that when they reach the age they need to be authority, they don’t have faith in themselves. Instead, they stay perpetual adolescents in their parents’ homes. It’s not just youth. Many of us get to the gates of initiation and then go back and turn on the television. We let someone else live our lives and, over time, end up feeling smaller and smaller.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.