Beyond the Edge

Almost ten years ago I had a dream that changed my life.

I found myself at dusk in a deep valley, although still high up in the mountains. Above me, at the very summit of the tallest hill stood a torii gate catching the last rays of the sun. A sense of danger swept over me and I saw that I was caught between two advancing, warring armies with nowhere to hide. They came forward and I crouched down between them, totally exposed, and afraid for my life. Suddenly, a deeply throated noise rumbled toward me, engines or wheels, I thought at first– was it artillery being brought to the front or a battalion of tanks? But then suddenly I looked up to see that the noise did not come from anything mechanical at all, but was caused by a herd of elk stampeding sideways across the space between the advancing armies — the very space I was in. They rushed around me toward the edge of an abyss to my right, and so I thought toward their own destruction. But, mysteriously, as they plunged forward and I instinctively trailed them, it became clear they knew a secret, a wild way down beyond the edge, and I could also use this ancient path that almost invisibly traversed the the sheer sides of the cliffs. They knew exactly how to make their way to safety. And so I followed them.

They were showing me the way out of the human war, perhaps my own war of intellect or insecurity, straight beyond an edge I had mistakenly conceived meant certain death. Such was my conditioning. Apparently I believed that the very thing that might save me would kill me for sure. And what is this thing? This abyss? I didn’t know at the time, although the image of the torii gate suggests entering sacred space where nature spirits, like those elk, still reign. To me, back then, the sacred surely was an abyss — I knew so little…

And I have learned there is another world beyond the edge of this one. And, like a well, it can give us the energies to begin changing this world where the wars continue to blaze, where we live in fear of one another and often find ourselves caught in the middle.

Instead of the raw noise of traffic, jets, phones, beepers, television, and modern war, we can be held by the great music of silence and notice voices with ancient, waiting wisdom.
Instead of being caught in the time traps of workaholic deadlines and useless pursuits, we can enter timelessness and the now.
Instead of facing the sheer ugliness and commercial destruction of what used to be the human village, we can rediscover profound beauty, not just in nature, but also though our own arts, symbols, and rituals.
Instead of living alone in shallow relationships, settling for mistrust, lovelessness, cynicism and negative beliefs about others, we can find openness, richness, and community.

Beyond the edge of this world is another, and in it is all the energy we will ever need to nourish our personal leadership.

Silence, timelessness, beauty, community. All these are gifts to us. What have we done with them?

Can you touch this place, have you been there, and can you now source your own vision of change from it? Can you open yourself and let it pour forth of its own accord through you?

Today, like every day, we wake up empty and scared.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


Today is the day.


  • Anonymous wrote:

    Let’s see. When I take down my dulcimer, here is the song I sang:

    At night, all the agents, and the super human crew,
    Go out and round up everyone who knows more than they do.
    And they take them to the factory, where the heart attack machine,
    Is strapped across their shoulders, and then the kerosene,
    Is brought down from the castle by insurance men who go,
    Check to see that no one is escaping from, Desolation Row.

    Bob Dylan wrote about our desolation in 1965. It seems to have come back again in 2005 – maybe it never left. We seem to be lost. We hunger for meaning, but read the paper and want to cry. CEO’s going to jail, resigning in disgrace, military and government officials obviously lying to protect themselves and their political position, businesses focused on profit – not serving customers, the justice system confused, insane crime, political battles that polarize instead of harmonize, health care – what health care, on and on.

    The average person, like me, cries out, how can I change things in this overwhelming and meaningless world? Me? – you want me to be a leader to change the world? Better that I buy a new CD, a new kitchen gadget, a new car, and be thankful I’m not worse off. Where is nobility of purpose? Some have it, I’m sure. But many of us don’t. What is noble about cutting 10% from our budget, doing 20% more work and calling this a vision for success? What is noble about degrading the environment, our organizations, our souls in the constant pursuit of profit and shareholder value?

    Is there another world beyond the edge of the one we cling to in fear? Sometimes I get a glimpse. But then I say, that’s not real. This is real – this world of crazy deadlines, over stimulation, gaudy marketing and TV, disrespect for nature and beauty, loneliness and isolation.

    You write beautifully about silence, beauty, timelessness and community, Dan. We randomly experience these qualities in odd moments in our lives – a quiet morning, a beautiful moment in a museum or theatre, in dreams, in the timeless magic of coaching our child to ride a bike or kick a soccer ball, in the indescribable feeling of being a part of something, a community of friends painting a house, a volleyball team, an acting troop, a choir.

    But is it possible to consciously call up moments of silence, beauty, timelessness and community? Is it possible to go beyond the edge of this world and find another one filled with hope, a place to stand up for love?

    The answer is – yes, we are learning.


  • Anonymous wrote:

    OK, guys how do I find a link to your beyond the edge workshop. How do we sign up or learn more about it. I have been searching for hours.

  • Sorry you’ve been searching! Click the link under the drawing or the mountains on this page or go to Next event will be May 7-10. Shoot me an email if you would like to talk more about it! Thanks.

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