We all have a need for love and connection. I certainly do. In the last 15 years, one thing that has added richness to my life is my being in informal circles of likeminded friends. When we move beyond raising families and the strive thrive part of our lives, relationships becoming even more important to us. In years past people had extended family nearby. Now, not so much.

I became part of the informal community of the Mankind Project after having gone through a weekend training in 1996. I now belong to three circles of men who are part of this community, and one coed circle.

A group of professional coaches have met monthly for 15 years to share our experience with our respective coaching practices. These men are at top of their game as executive coaches.

Five men have met monthly for 15 years to  discuss our spiritual development and to witness each other’s lives. Ages 65-90.

A recent group of 5 senior men who meet at my house twice a month for discussions. We don’t talk about sports or politics and we are too old to talk about woman. We do talk about meaningful subjects and share our life experiences.

The oldest group of 4 men and 4 women meet twice monthly to witness each other’s lives.  There are two couples, one who met in the group. Others are in relationships. We have met for 16 years and have shared many life experiences such as health issues, marriages, and deaths of loved ones, including someone in the group. We are all in our 70’s now and are living our lives fully.

All of these groups have one thing in common: love. We come together because we love each other and want to share our lives, wisdom and support with the others. They are my spiritual community. In fact, we have two clergy in the coed group and we are not part of their congregation, so they can be 100% forthright.

I also attend and manage the website for The Saturday Morning Men’s Cafe which has met each month for two hours with 10-20 men for the last three years. Many of the men have known each other for years while some are new. Each meeting someone volunteers to lecture on a personal growth topic of his choosing and then lead a discussion.

This can be an isolating and divisive world. Having the consistency of a beloved community is immeasurably enriching and meaningful to me.

As you look at your life, do you have a sufficient amount of love and connection?

Do you have beloved circles in your life?

What might you do to create one?


I was upset when Trump was elected and the next morning I made some predictions. You can judge how accurate they were.

It is amazing how many nights I have had disturbed sleep over the past two years. I envy those who voted for him and don’t seem disturbed.

Predictions written on November 9, 2016 for January 1, 2018. It may take until January 2019. Numbers are current links to support the accuracy of the prediction.

  • Inflation will be higher
  • Unemployment will be higher
  • The deficit will accelerate. [1]
  • Email controversy that the FBI highlighted a week before the campaign will have gone away. It would’ve been a non-issue. Hillary will not be indicted nor will there be a special prosecutor [2]
  • International trade agreements will be destabilized [3]
  • The press will be repressed and intimidated, this includes any organizations that criticizes Trump. [4]
  • Real access will only be with people who agree with him and make him look good. [5]
  • He will select B players for the administration.  If you want to scare yourself, read Michael Lewis’s Fifth Risk
  • Inauguration will be mostly white. There will be almost no minorities on the mall [7]
  • Trump will be manipulated by those to know how the system works [7.5] and international leaders.[8]
  • Climate change accords will disintegrate in the midst of increasing global temperatures [9]
  • NATO and those others countries with treaties with United States will lose faith in this country. [10]
  • Americans will be embarrassed to travel abroad. [11]
  • There will be a pervasive fear throughout society particularly among minorities. There will be riots if there’s oppression of blacks and minorities and Hispanics
  • There will be no wall [12]
  • Defense spending will increase [13] and infrastructure [14] will become worse
  • Russia and China become bolder in their expansionism
  • That could be another dramatic arms race [15]
  • America will be much worse off than it is today.
  • Frontline will do an expose on the Trump presidency. [16]
  • Trump will get even with all those who did not support him during the campaign by ignoring them or seeking to destroy them.[17]
  • 401K account of all those who voted for Trump and everyone else will be significantly less in value either through inflation or loss.
  • Trump presidency will be bad for the country, for its leadership in the world, and for the world in general. It will be a fucking disaster and within two years most those who voted for him will regret it, or they will be mindlessly following a dictator. [18]
  • There is a good chance that he will be impeached. Democrats and Republicans may team up to stop him.[19}
  • If there is a movement to have a constitutional convention, all bets are off. [20}

Bruce Anderson
7 AM Wednesday 11/9/2016


I am reading Living an Examined Life by James Hollis. Its premise is that parental and cultural unconscious programing causes thinking and behavior patterns that play out during the first half of life. This programing causes psychopathology, neuroses and  complexes which must be examined and overcome in the second half of life. If we don’t overcome them, we will live in our parents shadow with small stuck lives without personal authority at the mercy of self destructive patterns.

I found the book very helpful in gaining insights. It also seems to ignore or at least downplay the positive gifts that our parents gave us.

My dad died when I was 16. Until middle age, I seemed to dwell on the negative stuff about him, the most significant of which was that he abandoned me. At about 50, I came to realized that I was not acknowledging his gifts. I wrote him him a letter, amidst many tears, expressing appreciation for his very courageous journey in life and the gifts he gave me as a father.

In the early 2000’s, my good friend Tom Oldham, Ken Kufner and I developed the Father’s Blessing Workshop which was designed for grown men to affirm and heal their relationship with their father. This was a place where men could talk about their father and write him a letter of appreciation for his gifts to them.  We conducting the workshop several times. It was very moving to see men express their deep emotional connection, love and appreciation for their fathers, even with the negative memories.

My sister Gail and I used tell each other that our mother and father must have not done that badly. Look at us. By that I mean that we both have been good citizens, parents and led responsible lives, and have been pretty happy.  We were encouraged to live our own journey in life without a lot of admonitions. We agreed that there has not be a lot of psychological trauma. Although we have our demons, we are good people with normal foibles and ups and downs in life. Here is a biography of my parents.

So as I examine my life, I can see the unhealthy patterns that might have been generated by my parents, but I can also see the positive stuff, particularly the values that they imparted.  And, I am grateful. 

How about you?

Do you fully appreciate your parents gifts to you?

Even the gifts that came from bad stuff?


The other day, I worked on a document for about an hour and then attended to other things. The next day, I found that my computer has frozen up and after many attempts to save the document, I had to reboot the computer.

As I waited for it to come up, I thought of TE Lawrence whose 1000 page manuscript of his Seven Pillars of Wisdom was lost at the Reading train station in London in 1922.  He spend the next 3 months rewriting it.

I told myself that when I brought up the file, that I would be at peace regardless of whether my work was there or not.  It was not and I felt relaxed and ready to make the effort again.

You can not change the past, even a second ago. So why react to it? The second after an event, you only have control of how you respond. You don’t have control of the event. And in some essential way, it actually becomes perfect. The universe “just is”.

So what do we want:

  • The weather to be different. We can’t change it.  No use complaining.
  • Other drivers to drive better. They don’t know you. Why should you let them control your mood?
  • We lose something or someone and want it to be otherwise
  • We want others to behave a certain way.
  • We want the world to be different.

Spiritual teachers have taught for centuries the idea of not being attached to the external world. I find it very inspiring to see videos of enlightened teachers such as Ram Dass and the Dalai Lama. They are happy all of the time, regardless of external events.

Many say that a regular spiritual practice of meditation will make one less reactive. This is what I have experienced when I meditate regularly. 

We can decide to respond to events that trigger a reaction, by just catching ourselves and letting go, knowing that we have no control of what just happened because it already happened. This is not easy when someone is truly annoying you. It is an ongoing practice, forgiving ourselves for reacting and pledging to do the best we can next time. 

This does not mean that you don’t govern your life, set boundaries, make requests and take action. It just means that at some level you can be at peace with whatever happens.

To learn more about Triggers, see my talk at the Saturday Morning Men’s Cafe.

How reactive are you?

Do let others hijack your mood?


A few years ago I studied the lives of my ancestors. Everyone one of them had a significant life event occur in their 40’s which one could characterized as a crisis which altered the course of their life. Here is a list.

Paternal Grandfather – Jesse Anderson MD-Spanish Flu and Tuberculosis at age 44. Poor health caused him to give up his medical practice. Died at 54.
Paternal Grandmother Laurie Anderson Swift Widowed at age 46. Rebuilt her life successfully through a wealthy husband.
Maternal Grandfather Franz Behnes – Affluent cotton merchant bankrupt at 50. Moved back to US from Germany. Sold life insurance. Retired later, supported by single daughter.
Maternal Grandmother Lucy Behnes Bankrupt at 43. Transitioned from upper middle class matron to department store clerk. Retired later, supported by single daughter.
Father Lee Anderson MD Injured age 47. Practiced medicine in wheelchair until death at 54.
Mother Frances Anderson Widowed at age 49. Successfully rebuilt her life. Wrote a newspaper column, sold real estate, and owned highly successful restaurant.
Sister -Gail Upton Bankrupt at age 48. Rebuilt her financial life by selling and buying real estate and retired successfully.
Bruce Divorced, fired from job, brother and mother died, career crisis, broke at age 38 till 42. Rebuilt 2nd and 3rd careers, remarried and retired financially successful.

Those in the next generation are now in their early 50’s and each of them have had similar crises in their lives, manifested externally or by internal turmoil and they have responded positively to the challenge.

What is it with these Andersons? Are we cursed? I don’t think so. I think not having a crisis in your 40’s is the exception. And this includes people who have good values and are living meaningful and useful lives. We know everyone’s life is a series of attachments and losses.

With these external events, there are also internal dynamics that are occurring. When we have a crisis, it is a call to grow up and to no longer live out our parental and cultural programming. With insight, courage and determination, we rise to the occasion in the midst of adversity. We are able to correct earlier choices, declare our full individuality and transition to a more meaningful and satisfying life. It takes traumatic events to precipitate our growth.

And I suspect if you look at your life, you will see similar times of despair and transition toward growth and new beginnings.

Do you have regrets, or do you look back on these traumatic events as a blessing? Most would say it was a blessing. It was a way to re-emerge into a better life, even though it did not seem to be at the time.  

The divorce from my first marriage was very traumatic, but in retrospect it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I created a happy single life for 20 years and a happy married life with an extraordinary woman for the next 20 years.

Did you have a midlife crisis?

How did you rise to the challenge?

Any regrets?



An earlier comment about violence caused me to think more about the violence I have actually seen for myself during my lifetime, rather than having read about or seeing videos, or heard from others. Well,  to me the world is not a violent place if I based this on what I have personally seen. I have never seen blood spilled ( except for a cut), either through attack or accident. Unlike a police officer or an emergency room nurse or doctor, or combat soldier,  I have not only not been exposed to the effects of violence, I have not actually seen anyone shot or injured. I have not even seen a grisly automobile accident.

The above is actually pretty remarkable. Reading history, and the news one sees violence all the time.  There is lots of violence in movies, TV, books and games.

But when I think about it, 150 years ago, most people were on farms and small towns.  Being that there was little news of the wider world, their reality was that things were peaceful, unless they were in a war zone or high crime culture. So the speed of information from afar has created the impression that the world is full of violence when, as a percentage of the time, it is not.  There could be a 6 million people exposed to violent acts a year in the US, either through being a victim or perpetrator and that would mean that 98% of the population was not personally exposed to violence. An interesting statistic is that the incidence of fatal and non fatal gun violence in the United States has dropped by 40% in the last 20 years. Who would know that by reading and listening to the news.

So one of the ways that I have lived a blessed life, is that I have not been exposed to or suffered from violence.

So, to what degree have you been personally exposed to violence?


When I was 20 years old I was critical of my future sister and brother-in-law for insisting that their 10-year-old boy wash the dishes. I referred to it as “woman’s work”. I was product of my parental and cultural programing. The only time my father went in the kitchen was to get ice cream at 3 am. Traditional roles were the norm in my household. When married, I pitched in to “help” my wife with the dishes.  At 36, I was single and washed my own dishes for next 20 years.

Now, thank goodness, household chores and roles are negotiated based on interests and considerations other than gender, and this is as it should be. Looking back, it just seems ridiculous that it was otherwise.

When I entered the workforce in the 60’s, women’s career options were limited. Now woman can do any job men can do including fighter pilot, astronaut, and CEO.  And there is absolutely no reason they should be paid less for the same work. Most major corporations get it. They pay woman graduate electrical engineers the same as men.  And yet there is still a huge gender gap in pay. There should not be a gap, period.

In 1972, The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed as a way to give women equal legal status to men.  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It was passed by Congress  but fell three states short of the 38 needed for ratification by a June 30, 1982 deadline. There was a belief that the ERA would eliminate laws designed to protect women which led to the eventual defeat of the amendment. I wish it would have passed. We would be further along than we are now.

While my family had traditional roles, my father modeled total respect for woman. My mother was a strong woman and would not have married him if he hadn’t. Over the years, I have been astonished at some men’s attitude toward woman. An example is the weird belief that sex is transactional and that if a woman is treated to dinner, the man is entitled to sex. I found statements like that just foreign and the majority of my male friends do as well. And, there are men who are misogynists.

I was curious about what Wikipedia say about misogyny which means the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. By count, check how many of these were on display during the Kavanaugh Senate hearings.

My wife has taught me about the patriarchy, i.e. the Catholic Church, our political culture, and our corporate culture. Having worked for a female entrepreneur CEO who was very successful, I have never had an issue with women in power. I am convinced that when woman gain equal power, the world will be a better place.

So, I am a feminist. Woman should be equal in all matters. And I hope my three granddaughters will see that as a reality.

Are you a feminist?

Why not?


I was introduced to the concept of sin when I went to Sunday school at an Episcopal church; and have been exposed to those who preach to us sinners. A sin is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. And, I do not see myself as a sinner. I don’t believe in divine law and so I don’t transgress against divine law.  I guess I could say that I am a good person who has done some bad things that are minor. I have not stolen from others, other than an occasional grape from the grocery store or the miscalculated change. I have never physically hurt anyone. In fist fights in junior high school, I was mostly on the receiving end. I have never abused anyone. I don’t think that I have ever really been mean. That does not mean that I have not unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings and or that I am some saint. It just means that I have lived life as a good guy.

Now that being said, on reading the above, it seems pretty sanctimonious. I have hurt people. I have made them mad and hurt feelings. Most the time by having judgments about what they do, not about who they are. My son is a good example. As a father and someone who cares about him I  want him to lead a happy life, and when I judge that he is not doing things in his interest, I have made it known. And, that has really pissed him off at times. And there have been other people in my life to whom I have voiced judgements who have been hurt and upset. If there is anyone reading this who thinks I need to make amends, let me know.

I asked a Catholic colleague of mine one time when she last sinned. And she said very recently. She stated that she had sinful thoughts. Wow, isn’t that something. The Church indoctrinates people to feel guilty about their thoughts as well as their actions. Yep. Better not look at an attractive woman or man with some imagination or you will go to hell. That’s one of the ten commandments, right.  What an ingenious way to exert power and control over others. You have to come to us to confess to your very thoughts.

How about evil?  In the movie Judgement at Nuremberg, two prosecutors are talking and one states that the root of evil is the lack of empathy. That really struck me. In what way am I evil? Do I lack empathy? Of course I do. And there are acts of omission and acts of commission. Taking action to do harm is evil. Failing to act? Perhaps that is just cowardice.

And I can’t absolutely say that I am incapable of evil. Too many normal people have done evil. I recently read a survey that 70% of people have thought about murdering someone at one time in their lives.

So are you a sinner?

Have you ever been evil or personally known anyone who is evil?

Do you need to make amends?


As an introduction to my summary of the last 12 blogs, here is a video which represents a simple present moment; the love and connection between Judith and me. Our connection to nature, to the flow of life, the wind, water, and the sailing technology a thousand years in the making.  We come together through the permutations of our respective lives and the lives of our ancestors and the history of the universe. It is a testament to our having lived lives that are qualitatively and materially better that most humans. With these blessings we are brought together in a simple sublime moment. And, the present moment is superior to and transcends all speculation.

Now with that, I am going to speculate.

I have no idea where or why the universe exists. My life and the universe are a staggering mystery. My place in the universe is so small, it is not a place. My place in time is so short, it is no time. The universe is impersonal. Without life, it is without meaning or consciousness. With the complexity of life, the Universe becomes conscious and meaningful. My cosmic vocation is to give meaning to the Universe for me. 

Facts and evidence along with rationality are important. Evolution and climate change are proven. Anti-GMO and Anti-Vax is batty. It is useful to examine false premises and to be willing to drop them. The sun rises and sets and yet paradoxically, the earth goes around the sun. The motions of the planets do not influence the affairs of humans.

The Bible is a book that is written by men not by God. Good Bible stories and precepts cause good things. Bad Bible stories and precepts have caused death and destruction of millions. A current example is that pressure from some religious leaders has resulted in the banning of a number of anti-AIDS campaigns, including condom promotion in Africa. This may have caused the deaths of thousands of men and women and children; perhaps more.

The false premise that we began examining is.. A rationalistic scientific way of thinking is the only way to the truth of reality.  This is because my bias is empiricism and rationalism. Science can only explain reality.

I explored consciousness. Consciousness is a mystery to scientists. It is difficult to scientifically research subjective experience, although it is being done with some credibility. Non duality is an “experience“ of consciousness where the subjective sense of oneness and connection with everything is a real phenomenon, although a relative few have experienced it.  Some non dualists think that the world only exists in our consciousness and is revealed to us by observation. So, the moon did not exist before mankind. This, in my view, is nuts. This is almost like creationists who declare that nothing existed before a few thousand years ago.

In looking at Psi phenomenon, I found little of it credible. I am trying to keep an open mind; however, it is difficult because so many charlatans pollute the landscape. Kinda like televangelists and faith healers.

I then looked at Christian dogma and declared most of it as invalid for me. I do adhere to Christian values, of tolerance, love, and compassion. These values are expressed in many other religions.  What you believe is up to you. Just don’t try to convert or control me and I will do the same for you.

And as far as death is concerned, I, like you, will have to face it. Although there are thousands of stories and beliefs of life after death, there is no credible evidence for this. It is a mystery. And what the hell, I have known my entire life that I will die in the midst of the mystery.

I will continue to explore these ideas and others in future blogs. Meantime I have an invitation for you. If you want to talk about this stuff on Zoom webcam, email me. I love to be in conversation.

Here is a compilation of all the blogs written so far.Bruce’s Reflections Blog 2018


I died on January 11, 2000. My heart stopped and my lungs quit functioning. There was no heartbeat and no air going into and out of my lungs. There was no time; no past, no present, and no future. I was not aware that I existed. I was gone.

Twenty-five minutes later my heart was restarted and my lungs inflated. And, I was taken off of a heart/lung bypass machine. Three hours later I became conscious and a breathing tube was taken out of my throat. I had been unconscious for five hours while undergoing open heart surgery to repair the mitral valve in my heart. I was totally unaware and I only knew that I was alive when I woke up.

This has happened again in 2013 when I had a five hour operation to rebuild my broken arm from a bike accident. At stage 4 anesthesia there is no awareness. A total blank. This is unlike sleep where one dreams and there are at times some sense of awareness.

Based on my personal experience, my belief is that when I die, it will like going into a deep sleep and not waking up.  My body will be gone. I will no longer cast a shadow. I will no longer exist. So, there is really no need to be afraid of being dead. I just won’t exist. Just like my parents, Frances and Lee, my brother Gordon, and my son Brian, no longer exist; and my deceased friends and billions of other humans in the past.

Being born is waking up having not gone to sleep. I will be in the same place as I was in March 1941 prior to my conception. No place. And of course, there is the mystery. Who knows if there is life after death? No one knows and if someone professes to know, they are coming from their own personal subjective experience.  

Now how about the process of dying. That I fear. I used to joke that some idiot is  going to whisper in my ear on my deathbed “This is going to be a growth experience.” I now know that it is. Some die quickly almost instantaneously like my son Brian who was killed in an auto accident. But many die slowly. And for those who do, it can be a transcendent experience. 

I have been reading Grace in Dying by  Kathleen D Singh. She was with hundreds of individuals who were dying and found that almost all of them  moved through phases of chaos, acceptance and then surrender leading to peace and transcendence. I hope to do that and to rise above the suffering when I am dying.

I know that as one approaches death, material things fall away and relationships and connection with others emerge to be the most important. I do believe that we are born to love, and that love is perhaps all that ultimately matters to us.

What is your take on dying?

Life after death? Continued consciousness?