What’s Essential

About ten years ago, my son Ryan was going through a rough break-up with his first girlfriend. Sadly, his thinking was getting the better of him. He just couldn’t wrap his head around losing someone who, he thought, was such an essential part of his life.

One day, in the midst of this struggle, I made my way upstairs to his bedroom, hugged him, and said, “I know you’re upset, kid, but remember, nothing or no one is essential to your life—except the consciousness from which your life is created.”

With a puzzled look on his face, Ryan asked, “Isn’t Mommy essential to your life? Don’t you two need each other?”

I replied, “Ry, if something happened to your mother, I’d be devastated, but I’d survive. No, we don’t need each other. And, believe it or not, the fact that we don’t need each other, or knowing that we’re not essential to each other’s existence, is why our bond is so strong.”

Ryan smiled and admitted, “I don’t really get it, Dad, but for some reason that’s comforting.”

“Back burner it, kid. We’ll talk about it another day. You want to throw some pitches?”


And off we went.

Flash forward a decade, both Ryan and I “get it” a whole lot clearer now.

While experiences come and experiences go, the ever-present space of consciousness is permanent (i.e., essential). Like the screen on your computer, consciousness remains the same. What projects out of the screen—sometimes wonderful, sometimes regrettable—does not.

As for the reason why understanding the above is the source of such a strong and loving union, here you go:

Because you cannot be in love and lack something at the same time, love is the complete absence of anything personal. Love has no personal wants, no personal needs; no push, no pull; no ego, no demands. Love makes no attempt to derive something from the other.

Rather, love is a deep knowing that two people share, and are sourced by, the divine presence of consciousness. Not an exploration of two separate or impermanent selves, love’s an exploration of only what’s essential; only what lasts forever. It’s through this mutual exploration, or journey, that two human beings become ONE.

Thank you for reading,

A Life-Changing Question

Here’s a question (not a life-changing one, that comes later) related to last week’s article, http://garretkramer.com/the-worlds-an-illusion/: Why would a good portion of readers become offended when faced with the suggestion that the objective world exists solely in experience, or that the objective world is not a subjective reality?

Before I answer, let me tell you, this is precisely what happened last week. Never have I received so many disgruntled messages. Many of you just couldn’t wrap your heads around this inside-out aspect of my teaching. And some of you took it personally—extremely personally.

But why? Why would the mere suggestion that objects and situations are illusory seem to set so many people off?

The answer is important, so I’ll do my best to explain.

Have you ever experienced tragedy, heartbreak, abuse, or bullying? All of us have. Have you ever experienced good fortune, joy, friendship, or love? All of us have. And here lies the confusion. From birth, we’re conditioned to believe that these experiences result from people, places, and things. If a person experiences either bullying or love, for instance, that’s because of the presence and actions of another human being.

But then, some whacky dude like me comes along and points to the possibility that the whole outside-in paradigm just might be flawed. I ask: What if another human being, the bully or the love, only exist in experience? What if he/she doesn’t exist outside of mind; outside of consciousness? What if the world you live in, and everything about it, is created from the inside (from consciousness) out?

Now, mind you, I’m not saying the above is true; although it’s logical to me. I’m simply asking a what-if-it-were-true type question. And, again, what transpired when I did? Some reached out and exclaimed, “C’mon, G, how dare you say my heartbreak (or tragedy or joy) didn’t happen? Who are you to say the love of my life isn’t real?”


As I said last week, this suggestion—that experience is real but the content of experience is not—is an affront to everything that most human beings THINK is accurate. It’s an affront to their sensibilities; an affront to their belief systems; an affront to their culture (which has taught them to place attention on possessions, goals, environments, circumstances, and people OVER the consciousness from which they spring), so this reaction is expected. And 100 percent innocent. Thus, it’s perfectly fine with me.

You might be interested to know, however, that reminding those with whom I work that experience is merely a projection from within—that the seer and what’s seen cannot exist independent of each other—appears to light a spark in others, and bring freedom and relief, that’s beyond the description of words. That’s why I’ll end this article with another relevant, while perhaps slightly strange question. One I ask about ten times a day:

Have you ever interacted with the objective or material world OUTSIDE of an experience (or outside of a perception, or outside of consciousness, or outside of awareness, or outside of the true self)? Settle in before you respond, the answer just might change your life.

Thank you for reading,

The World’s an Illusion?

“Objects are an illusion.” “Other people are an illusion.” “You’re an illusion.” “The world’s an illusion.”

Indeed, certain spiritual teachers and philosophers, since pretty much forever, have inferred or flat-out insisted that the external world and objects in it are nothing more than projections from within (i.e., from consciousness, universal mind, or God). Sydney Banks, for instance, called the world a “divine illusion.” Heck, I even pointed readers in a similar direction two weeks ago: http://garretkramer.com/experience-and-reality/. But what exactly are these spiritual teachers and philosophers attempting to convey when talking about illusions? Are they actually saying that the phone or computer on which you’re reading this article doesn’t exist?

Well, sort of, but not exactly. I mean, you’re at least somewhat immersed in the experience of reading this article on a phone or computer, aren’t you? Of course you are, and there lies the answer. When spiritual teachers and philosophers say that the world and objects like phones and computers are illusions, what they mean is this: While experiences are real, what you experience, or the content of experience, is not. In other words, what you experience is merely a figment of the universal power TO experience. Independent of that power, objects would cease to exist.

Trust me, I get it. For most, this principle—the foundation of the inside-out paradigm—is a complete affront to the rational mind. Everyone’s been brought up to believe that objects are real; that they’re experienced because they exist. And in this article, I’m suggesting that objects exist because they’re experienced. Yet, here’s a relevant question to ponder: How are we fairing under the current outside-in, objects-are-real-and-meaningful, framework? Are we living in peace? In tolerance? In generosity? In love? The answer is obvious.

Perhaps, then, living in peace and prosperity isn’t about striving for objects for the simple reason that objects aren’t real or made of matter, after all. Rather, they simply appear real in the moment. If that’s true, the implications are endlessly positive. Endlessly encouraging. Starting with this: Objects can’t cause feelings because they’re nothing more than the transient content that experiences are made of.

What is meant when spiritual teachers and philosophers talk about the illusory world of form? Short answer: There’s no such thing as an unreal experience. The images experienced, however, are pure mirage.

Inward and up,

Strategy Versus Understanding

Today, in the worlds of mental performance and self-help, it seems like everyone has a strategy. If you’re reading this article, you probably know that bigger and better strategies are introduced on a daily basis. Yet, here’s something that’s almost always overlooked when it comes to strategies that seem to work: They’re a byproduct of understanding (i.e., inner wisdom, knowledge, or instinct).

Meaning: Without understanding, strategy falls apart. Or, a said a different way, it’s understanding, not strategy, that causes excellence. That’s why the multitude of people who bypass understanding and go straight to some strategy that they find in a book, see on TV, or copy from a coach or advisor, ultimately struggle to find excellence.

To illustrate, when it comes to the sport of golf, no strategy is more widespread than the “pre-shot routine.” This strategy—designed to fend off nerves, control feelings of pressure, and thus hit desired shots—is pretty much a staple at all levels of the game. However, in the history of golf, a pre-shot routine has never caused a desired shot. Not once. What does? Well, relative to talent: understanding. Understanding that all feelings are normal and no feeling is superior to another. Players with understanding may indeed go through pre-shot routines. Instinctive routines, that is. On the other hand, players who, void of understanding, execute pre-shot routines in an unnecessary quest to fix feelings or cope, tend to jam instinct (programming behavior always does) which prevents wisdom from rising up and excellence from occurring.

Last thing: Don’t be fooled by the short-term results that may appear to come from adopting someone else’s strategy as your own. Correlation does not equal causation. The foundation of excellence is, and always will be, understanding. And the more strategy you intentionally put into practice, the more you obstruct understanding.

It’s a one-way street. From understanding, great strategy is born. This formula, however, never works in reverse.

Thanks for reading,

Experience and Reality

One of the central tenets of my work is reminding people of the futility and risk in trying to fix, fight, control, or alter their experiences. If you’re reading this article and don’t know much about my work, that might surprise you. You might wonder why, if you’re having a bad or, let’s say, anxious experience, it’s not in your best interest to fix it?

Here’s the short answer: What you experience isn’t real. And you can’t fix something that’s not real.

To demonstrate: Let’s say you’re an ice hockey player and you’re in the midst of an awful experience. It looks like your coach doesn’t care about you, and he’s treating you poorly. As a result of this experience, you’re feeling more and more upset. You’re getting angry and frustrated. You want relief from the feelings, which you think your coach is causing.

But what if I told you that you aren’t actually experiencing your coach at all? What if your coach has nothing to do with your feelings?

Well, you aren’t and he doesn’t.

How do I know? Slowly, I mean super slowly, consider this question: Independent of the ability to have an experience, does your coach, or any object, even exist? The answer is . . . no. Take away the power TO experience and there’s no coach. And that means your coach can’t be causing your upset.

It’s mind bending at times to see, but your experiences in life are nothing more than a spontaneous projection from inside to out. Sure, it’s fun to hang out in the projection, to use the projection for human wants and needs, and to be the best you can be within the projection. It’s just essential to know that while it seems real, feels real, and looks real, this projection (what you experience) never is.

To play the game, you must understand that it is a game (i.e., not real). As mentioned above, it’s futile—not to mention extremely taxing and potentially harmful—to try to fix experience. Now you have a glimpse as to why.

Inward and up,

Thought and Control

Here’s an interesting question that I was asked three times, just last week: “Why, as the years go by, do you seem to talk less and less about the principle of thought?” The answer is: At some point, it became clear to me that since human beings have so many conditioned or programmed ideas around THOUGHT, THOUGHTS, or THINKING, I’d be better off pointing to the power of this creative principle in another manner.

In other words, the man-made theory that we have the ability to control thought is so pervasive—and thus so personal—that, in my mind, there are diminishing returns in suggesting: “Your experience and feelings are 100 percent coming from thought, or thought in the moment, or the form your thinking is taking in the moment” . . . you know what I mean.

Now don’t get me wrong. 100 percent of your experience IS coming from the principle of thought in the moment. But I’m in the coaching or helping-to-bring-out-the-best-in-others business; not the perfect-explanation business. My role is to expose how thought works sans the false implication that those I’m talking to possess the personal power to control it. Reason being: The illusion of personal control is the source of all suffering and, for the most part, people have trouble disassociating THOUGHT and CONTROL.

So how’s it done? How do I point others to the fact that they work from the inside-out or that their thinking, rather than circumstance, is causing their experience of life? Well, for those who don’t know, I liken the principle of thought to energy—spiritual or divine. Most people simply don’t view energy as something they’re in charge of. Therefore, reminding them that their feeling state is derived from energy coming and going within—and not from the outside—has proven effective.

Remember: In this article, I’m merely revealing what’s logical to me, and what appears to be helpful to those with whom I work. I’m not suggesting that energy is the right word or that this is the way I’ll always see it. For now, however, describing the indescribable (thought) starts with the stripping away of conditioned definitions, word associations, and habits. Thought management is so culturally ingrained that it makes sense to consider a different path inward. At least it does to me. Perhaps, in your own way, it will to you, too.

Thanks for reading (and considering),

The Meaning of Inside-Out

Today, I offer you good news and not-so-good news.

First, the good: As I travel around, speaking to teams, organizations, and audiences, it’s obvious that more and more people are relating to, and even promoting, the spiritual principle that human beings create their experience from inside to out.

Now, the not-so-good: Many teams, organizations, and audiences are missing the mark when it comes to what inside-out truly means.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to do my best to clarify.

Let’s start with this question regarding the second half of the term inside-out: What does “out,” or the outside, actually point to? The answer is anything not on the inside (I know that’s obvious, but hang in with me here). We’re talking about the circumstances of your life, other people, environments, events, the past, and the future. They are all outside.

Make sense? Cool. Let’s keep going.

But what if I also mentioned that the person reading this article—YOU—is on the outside, too? That’s right; you, your behavior, looks, health, brain, belief system, values, aspirations, character, and personality (you and everything about you) are all elements of the same outside I detailed above.

In other words, when I, or anyone, remind you that the human experience evolves from the inside-out, I’m not saying that you are inside and everything else, and everyone else, is outside. I’m not saying that you and the world are separate. I’m not saying something along the lines of, “In a negative situation, you can be positive since you work from the inside-out.” Not at all.

Rather, I’m saying that you are part of the outside world of form that’s 100 percent created and projected from the inside (hence the term inside-out).

So, then, what exactly is the “inside” from which this outside world of form springs?

The answer, and please don’t get hung up by the word here, is God. It’s God (mind, soul, spirit, greater intelligence, higher power or purpose—pick your word) that determines your feeling state and the ensuing reality that you see. Again, you are outside. The kingdom of God rests inside. It’s God, not you, that determines your mood, outlook, and choices; your failures and successes; your ebbs and your flows. The not-so-good news described earlier is caused by the misunderstanding that the burden is on you, when the burden, the one who’s flying the plane, lies within you.

You are outside; God is inside. Now, hopefully, that’s all cleared up.


The Cause of Confusion

The other night, a usually composed but, at that moment, irate hockey coach called me at home. He claimed that he needed to get off his chest all the things about his team that where causing his head to spin. We’re talking about poor body language, trouble with punctuality, disrespect for his staff, low effort level, and dumb mistakes. On and on, he kept finding more and more problems with his players as his confusion got worse and worse.

I listened for about five minutes and then gently interrupted him, posing this basic question: “Coach, what’s the only thing that can cause the feeling of confusion within a human being?”

He shot back, “I don’t give a shit about feelings. These guys are really talented, but I’ll sit them all if they don’t get their act together.”

I suggested, “Why don’t we talk tomorrow.”

But then, fortunately, things began to shift. “Wait, G, sorry about that. Let me try to answer your question. Hmm, the only thing that can cause a feeling in me is . . . me. Am I on the right track?”

“Well, sort of, but not exactly. Consider it like this: Deep down, we all know that nothing or no one, including ourselves, can make us feel a certain way. However, it almost always looks like our feelings are either the result of the actions of others or our own actions and decisions. And this fundamental conflict between truth (we work from in to out) and illusion (we work from out to in) is enough to drive anyone mad.”

“So, my players aren’t the cause of my confusion, but it’s not my fault either?”

“Exactly, cool insight. Both you and your players are on the outside. And, again, feelings are an inside job. They’re simply spiritual energy that comes and goes.

“Wow. So confusion is a normal part of being human?”

“Amen. We’re born in peace. We look outside for the cause of this wonderful feeling—we find confusion. We feel confusion. We look outside for the cause of this wayward feeling—we find more confusion. We wake up to the truth that feelings come and go independent of what happens on the outside, or we turn back inside like you just did—and confusion disappears. And then the cycle, or the wonderful totality of the human experience, churns up all over again.”

“Glad we spoke, G. It’s cool to understand that my unpredictable feelings are actually normal and no one’s fault. Can’t wait to get to work with my team tomorrow!”

“Love it, coach. The understanding you just mentioned is the most important thing we can share with others. Point your players in that direction and let your season play out from there.”

“You got it. Call you after practice.”

“Talk then.”

One cause of confusion (misunderstanding). One cure (understanding). Always.

Thank you for reading,

Why. Bad. Things.

Virtually every day, I’m asked some form of this question:

“Why do bad things happen?”

From a hard-working pro golfer failing to earn his or her tour card by a single stroke, to a horrific and deeply tragic event like what just took place in Las Vegas, why must innocent people suffer?

The answer is: We don’t have all the answers. But what I can tell you is this:

In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of suffering, nothing will make sense. Yet, from distance (if gained), we’ll find perspective.

Now, I surely don’t make this statement to make light of suffering, or to say that wounds don’t run deep. I make it to remind you that suffering is purely a figment of thought and one’s ensuing state of consciousness at that moment in time. When, for example, my thinking takes me back to childhood trauma, I suffer massively. When I get some distance from this train of thinking, I don’t. Again, the events of my childhood are what they are. What’s variable are my thinking and state of consciousness, which cause me to suffer or not to suffer.

Equally fascinating about “why bad things happen” is that, from distance and perspective, it’s common for people to describe the experience of suffering as a path to growth or even enlightenment. It’s as if suffering is part of a universal intelligence or greater plan at work; since, in suffering’s wake, so many of us become more resilient, connected, and loving.

Finally, I want to make clear that this article is not meant to ease suffering (that’s simply not possible); it’s meant to explain it. Suffering occurs when human beings do what human beings do: look outside—to circumstance, the past, other people, or ourselves—in a quest to figure out why we feel what we feel. Salvation occurs when human beings do what human beings also do: wake up to the folly in looking outside and turn back WITHIN.

In other words, the more we grasp just how normal the normal ebb and flow of the human experience truly is, the less our feelings will matter to us, the less we’ll struggle with struggle, and the less we’ll ask “why.”

Hang in everyone. Love,

So You Want Control?

This might surprise you, but a big part of my job is to remind people that the onus of control, decision making, effort, and even results is NOT truly on them. Every human being is an extension of a higher power. And, in my experience, when this spiritual truth is recognized, nearly everyone feels an overwhelming sense of freedom and relief. I say nearly because, occasionally, a new client or member of an audience I’m addressing will shoot back with this type of concern:

“That’s the problem, Garret. I want control. I must be in charge of my own destiny.”

In fact, just the other day, I was conducting a workshop when those very words were flung my way. I then countered with the following statement, which just poured out of me:

“Okay, my friend, you got it. I’m going to play exalted ruler and decree that you’re in total control of your life. Your thoughts, state of mind, decisions, and all outcomes are on YOU. No instinct or intuition. Every move you make must now be deliberate and calculated. You, and you alone, are driving the bus.”

What’s funny, or better yet unfortunate, is that this type of coaching paradigm is extremely common today. Many coaches and motivational gurus actually point others toward the concept of personal control or burden. And the ultimate result? Confusion, since everyone’s life contains a surplus of serendipitous or unexplainable occurrences that clearly take place out of our control. In sport, for example, athletes often describe their finest moments with words like, “I can’t believe that just happened, out of nowhere, or that was so effortless.” In those moments, control is the furthest thing from their minds.

Meanwhile, back to the man from the workshop. When ordained with complete control, he first replied, “Thanks, perfect.” But then, as concern and doubt flowed though him, he chuckled and pulled a 180: “Hang on, Garret, I assume that we can’t have it both ways (control some things, but not others), so no deal!”

Indeed, we can’t have it both ways because it doesn’t work both ways. As suggested earlier, you and a higher power aren’t separate; you are ONE. Meaning, trying to assume personal control—over anything—is simply not possible.

What a relief.