Guest Editorial: Sound Bites, by Robert Rabbin

April 1, 2001

In this issue:

Newsbrief: “Corporate Responsibility: Now and Then” is Theme for April Dialogues

Guest Editorial: Sound Bites, by Robert Rabbin

More Newsbriefs:



“Corporate Responsibility: Now and Then” is the theme for the April meeting of The Presidio Dialogues in San Francisco on the 24th of this month. Host John Renesch will moderate a panel of three veterans of the movement – including Ian Wilson, the author of The New Rules of Corporate Conduct (2000), Kirk Hanson, Director of the Stanford Sloan Program at Stanford University, and Brooke Warrick, co-founder of American LIVES, the consumer research firm which
discovered the “Cultural Creatives” subculture in the U.S. Call Elizabeth Bloom at 415-785-2604 for more information.


Editor’s Note: In place of an article by John Renesch, this month’s Better Future NEWS features a guest editorial by Robert Rabbin, author of Invisible Leadership and Echoes of Silence.



by Robert Rabbin

sound bite n. Slang:

1. A brief statement intended for broadcast or transmission over a wide area.

“Why must we suffer the dark night of the soul,” asked a caller to the radio show on which I was a guest today. In response, I said there was no such thing as the dark night of the soul; the soul knows neither dark nor light, neither day nor night. What that misnomered phrase refers to is the terror the mind encounters as it stands upon the precipice of the mystery of existence, sensing it’s own pettiness and the inevitability of its loss of control. The “suffering” we experience is the stark terror the ego-mind feels when confronted with the imminence of its own extinction and the utter insufficiency of its poses and postures.

We cannot find happiness as long as we search for it. Our very search for happiness, our obsession with happiness, stands like a mountain range between us and what we seek. Actually, we do not even want happiness; we want to stop tormenting ourselves with imaginary problems. The cessation of self-torment is what we call happiness. “Happiness” comes about naturally when we learn to live in Silence, when we forget ourselves, when we give our life away each moment.. Give your life away. Give it away, give it away, until it never comes back and only the echo of the unstruck sound remains. Giving your life away means to stop tormenting yourself with imaginary problems.

If we want to be free, we have to learn to love the heat of the fire, which we usually avoid. We have to learn to love the burning. What burning? The burning of pride. The burning of arrogance. The burning of stupidity. The burning of beliefs. The burning of self-protection. We have to love this burning, because if we don’t, if we let our freedom be of words only, then our words will be nothing but the braying of a jackass. Our freedom exists within the heat of the fires we must come to love. Don’t avoid the heat; welcome it into your life as the herald of freedom.

Words are made deep within us. Have we seen this place, this kiln that fires the clay and dries the glaze on the words we use? To see this place is the essential meaning of “enlightenment” and other such words. To see this place within us where words are made, where words come from, is to experience things as they are, not as we name them. The world that we name with words is not the real world. Our name is not our real self. All the words that have ever been spoken added to all the books that have ever been written do not equal one second of truth. Truth exists before words are fired and glazed, in the kiln of Silence.

A participant in a Dialogue told me he had trouble “being here now.” I asked him to show me where he went when he wasn’t “being here now.” At first he didn’t understand. After additional inquiry, he said, “Well, I guess I just get lost in my thoughts.” Hello! We are always here now, for there is no other place we can be. Being here now is not the problem: not seeing things as they are is the problem. Either we are here, now, seeing things as they are, touching the shiny, shimmering skin of real life; or else we are lost in the abstract world of thoughts about life, and thoughts about thoughts. These thickets of thoughts create a barrier to what is actually occurring, and that barrier makes us feel disconnected and lost, which makes us feel that we are not “being here now.”

We have been trained to experience life from within a mental narrative, a fictionalized and highly dramatic account of our life, full of imaginary characters, plot twists, betrayals, lost loves, fortunes made, triumphs and. Who is the narrator? This is what self-inquiry is meant to discover. If we don’t even know who the narrator is-or if the narrator is-should we be so convinced of this story? Should we be so certain that our narrative, the one on endless loop in our mind, is worth believing? We ought to find out whether or not any of this story is true. Can the narrator be trusted?


Honesty is a stout walking stick for those climbing towards the summit of truth. Honesty is what reveals the inauthentic masks we wear, the ones which cover our true face, our radiant face, our free and wild face. We must be honest about our masks; we cannot pretend we do not have any. We cannot just say “There is no doer” or “The world is an illusion” or “There is only Consciousness.” Most people use these statements as masks to avoid being honest. This avoidance makes them into ghosts, unable to actually perceive and experience their own essence. Honesty implies accountability, which means to stand up straight and admit the bare and simple facts of one’s experience, motive, intent, and behavior. We cannot be accountable, we cannot be honest, as long as we speak through the inauthentic masks we deny we are wearing. Freedom and truth follow closely behind honesty.

© 2001/Robert Rabbin/All rights reserved


Robert’s new book, Echoes of Silence, is now available through bookstores and



John Offers Private Coaching

John has an opening for private and confidential coaching client – an executive who is wanting to achieve more that he/she is currently – to improve the quality of their experience of the responsibilities they have, to lessen the stress levels they are feeling, or to become more authentically powerful in their work. If you are interested in retaining John, email him at (and mark the message “PRIVATE”) or call his direct line at 855-264-3303.


About John Renesch

Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John E. Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and business philosopher. His new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is just out. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The New Leaders business newsletter from 1990 to 1997 and has created a dozen business anthologies on progressive business subjects, including consciousness, intuition and leadership. These books include New Traditions in Business, Learning Organizations and The New Bottom Line.

He is also an international keynote speaker, having addressed audiences in Tokyo, Seoul, London, Brussels, Budapest as well as many cities throughout the U.S.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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