Site Map: MAIN / This Page

Matherne's Law & Rules
©2001 by Bobby Matherne

Any fool can make a rule
And every fool will mind it.

      ~ Henry David Thoreau, Feruary 3, 1860


Like Us? Subscribe to Receive a Monthly Email
Reminder of New Reviews & New DIGESTWORLD Issues — CLICK



Henry David Thoreau rebelled against rules; he knew when he would be a fool to follow a rule, such as paying his Poll Tax. This is a ditty he penned in his Journal some 150 years ago. [Note: since prepositions such as "up" and "with" are particles, I am reminded of what Winston Churchill is reputed to have said about ending a sentence with a particle, "That is an absurdity up with which I will not put!" — thereby linking two particles together in the middle of a sentence which would normally appear at the end of the sentence as "put up with" and sounding thereby blatantly horrible, thus proving his point. Some say he didn't say it, but it fits his propensity very well to have actually said it.]

[page 125] February 3, 1860. When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, — as that a sentence must never end with a particle, — and perceive how implicitly even the learned obey it, I think —
Any fool can make a rule
And every fool will mind it.
Gravity is called a law because we are forced to follow its rules, but other rules are optional, and yet we often find out that we have been following them before we discover the rule which applies. It allways happens before you know it (MR#8). That is the distinction I make between laws and rules. Rules are optional, and because of that they can be more fun than laws, except for the times when Matherne's Law proves itself, and those times are much more fun than anything, namely, If anything can go right, it will, and at the best possible time.

These laws and rules are simply ways of understanding the world that I have found useful in my life. You may disagree, but remember that I am who I am and what I say tells you who I am. You are who you are, and what you say tells me who you are. Read my rules and if they are useful to you, I'm glad.

Some of you will immediately recognize that Matherne's Law turns Murphy's Law upside down. This is the best possible time for someone to overturn Murphy's Law. If you think Murphy's Law works better for you than Matherne's Law, I take that as a description of what's true for you in your life, up until now. I also pray that if anything can go right for you, it will from now on. [P. S. if you accept Matherne's Law into your life, you may find yourself getting unexpected discounts every time you check out buying some expensive item. My wife Del decided to buy 3 blouses at Chico's discounted from $49 to $29 and when she checked out, they came up on the point of sales terminal erroneously as $19 apiece. The manager said, "In case of such an error, our customer always gets the lower price." You may also begin finding parking places showing up unexpectedly, right next to the door, in the shade.]

Others of you may recognize that Matherne's Fundamental Theorem is a more generalized form of Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Biology. Don't let that work to your disadvantage.

As for the roots of Matherne's Hypothesis, they lie in the fertile soil of a lot of thinking about how people use processes out of their consciousness to foster limitations that bring them sadness and emptiness, when a simple variation of the same process could bring them happiness and fulfillment. This will necessarily remain an hypothesis, as it is not possible for one person to verify all the processes of every other person in the world for all time.

The rest of the rules had various origins, some going back to 1975, but most of a more recent origin. To read the story associated with each rule, simply click on the number of the rule. [New stories are being added periodically.]

MR#16 from "A Night at the Opera" in which Chico declares a contract clause invalid by saying "Everybody knows there's no Sanity Clause."

MR#22 was an insight on the power of procrastination which was shared with me by a German professor at LSU in 1961. She claimed that it had universal validity. I've seen ample examples of its practical applications in my own life, but I've put off proving its universality.

MR#29 is explained rather fully in a final paper I wrote for a graduate course in College Teaching.

Law, Theorem and Hypothesis:

Matherne's Law: If anything can go right, it will, and at the best possible time.

Matherne's Fundamental Theorem: With every advantage, there is an associated, and not obvious, disadvantage.

Matherne's Hypothesis: If there is a process any living human was ever able to do, we can all do it, and are doing it all the time, often out of our awareness.

Matherne's Rules:

Matherne's Rule #1: Once in a row is enough.

Matherne's Rule #2: You never know until you find out.

Matherne's Rule #3: Free yourself from thinking.

Matherne's Rule #4: It all happens at the same time.

Matherne's Rule #5: There's allways(1) even more.

Matherne's Rule #6: All meanings are true. (AMAT)

Matherne's Rule #7: Do it right away, kid. ((DIRAK!) )

Matherne's Rule #8: It allways happens before you know it.

Matherne's Rule #9: This is the first time you have read Matherne's Rules, up until now. [aka The Limitation Eraser]

Matherne's Rule #10: EAT-O-TWIST! never breaks. You'll use it from now on.

Matherne's Rule #11: If it works, use it.

Matherne's Rule #12: If it doesn't happen, it wasn't necessary.

Matherne's Rule #13: Free yourself from rules.

Matherne's Rule #14: Some lessons are more expensive than others.

Matherne's Rule #15: You always find things in the last place you look.

Matherne's Rule #16: There's no sanity clause.

Matherne's Rule #17: If it takes money, use it.

Matherne's Rule #18: Allways leave room for more.

Matherne's Rule #19: In life there are no maximums, only optimums.

Matherne's Rule #20: Sometimes you can have so much fun thinking about doing something, you don't have to do it.

Matherne's Rule #21: Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

Matherne's Rule #22: If you put something off long enough, you don't have to do it.

Matherne's Rule #23: When learning a new subject, it's best to know all about it before you start.

Matherne's Rule #24: Be as nice to yourself as a friend would be to you.

Matherne's Rule #25: What is the power of an unanswered question?

Matherne's Rule #26 Every word has two types of meanings: a content meaning and a process meaning. It even happens (v. — process) to "happen" (n. — content).

Matherne's Rule #27: Anything you get for free is worth less than you paid for it.

Matherne's Rule #28: The Soul Captain leads the willing and drags the unwilling.

Matherne's Rule #29: Thus a Teacher, So Also a Learner! .

Matherne's Rule #30: The best way to create an aura of credibility is to be credible.

Matherne's Rule #31: One who laughs, lasts. (Thanks to Robert Fulghum!)

Matherne's Rule #32: Always make your biggest mistakes first.

Matherne's Rule #33: The first 23 years are the hardest.

Matherne's Rule #34: The way in is the way out.

Matherne's Rule #35: You can't give what you don't possess.

Matherne's Rule #36: Remember the future. It hums in the present.

Matherne's Rule #37: Time has no meaning.

Matherne's Rule #38: Place has no meaning.

Matherne's Rule #39: How quickly do you recover when hit by a presupposition?

Matherne's Rule #40: Journey of One Step takes place after 1,000 miles.

Matherne's Rule #41: No one suffers from the lack of suffering!

Matherne's Rule #42: For those who must have the last word, I offer this: Check!

Matherne's Rule #43: If something is worth doing, you can always find someone for whom it would be their heart's desire to do the parts you don't want to do, and if you can't find someone, it's not worth doing.

Matherne's Rule #44: Allways follow your own advice.

Matherne's Rule #45: No ugliness comes armed with truth.

Matherne's Rule #46: What happened? What didn’t happen?

Matherne's Rule #47: Have you ever noticed the Photographer Effect?

Matherne's Rule #48: Every good thing must come to a new good beginning.

Matherne's Rule #49: There's allways a loophole.

Matherne's Rule #50: You are allways arriving at the beginning of your future.

Matherne's Rule #51: Anything you get free is worth less than you paid for it.


Matherne's Rules Stories

Each of these rules has a story that goes with it. In this section of the page, I will share these stories with you: How I found these rules initially, as best I can remember. How I found these rules to be useful. This part is a lot easier to describe. And how you might apply them in your world — well, I can give you a blanket statement for that right off: Any way you wish.

Matherne's Hypothesis: If there is a process any living human was ever able to do, we can all do it, and are doing it all the time, often out of our awareness.

There is no way to prove this hypothesis, but it came to me with such a force that I heartily believe it to be true. If one understands and accepts this as true, one can no longer be jeaulous or envious of another's talent. Why? Because that same talent is latent in one's self, rightly understood. And being latent, it can be drawn out with care and study. And even while it is merely latent, it is acting in one's life in ways that one is unconscious of. Understanding this fully, one knows that every human being is operating with the same potential, only some people are choosing to use certain skills consciously and other people are not aware of using them because they are using those same skills unconsciously. In this next passage, I found a philosopher and spiritual scientist, Rudolf Steiner, who claimed that his ability to penetrate the spiritual realities of the world is available to every human being. In the passage below, he stops short of the second half of the hypothesis which says we using this ability all the time, but given that we experience spiritual worlds during our sleep experiences, of which we remain unconscious when we awake, Steiner has clearly posited that ability to be one every human being has used, and has done so on many other occasions.
[Rudolf Steiner, Lecture Nov. 26, 1921, Norway]Anthroposophy does not say that special qualities and capacities are needed for a knowledge of the supersensible worlds, it does not declare that such a knowledge is based on qualities which can only be possessed by a few people, but it takes as its foundation forces which can be drawn out of every human soul, forces which transcend those which we inherit, as it were, from childhood onwards and which also transcend those which we gain through ordinary education, through an ordinary schooling.
After I took a weeklong hypnosis training workshop with Richard Bandler in the early 1980s, I walked away realizing that the master hypnotists are the common people on the street who have no idea that they are doing hypnosis, putting each other into everyday trances without realizing it. Stage hypnotists let you know they're putting someone into a trance; the master hypnotists never let you know because they themselves don't know they're doing hypnosis.
Return to Matherne's Hypothesis.

Matherne's Rule #1: Once in a row is enough.

This originally came from something my second wife and I began saying to each other back in the mid 1970s. Once in a row for some things is plenty. You don't want it anymore. Like being married to my second wife: I was married to her once, and once in a row is enough. Here's a quote from my long poem "Wildflowers" in my first book of poetry, "Flowers of Shanidar":

Once in a row is enough, they say
Once in a row is enough.
How can I say "Oops" every day
If once in a row is enough.

Return to Matherne's Rule#1.

Matherne's Rule #2: You never know until you find out.

Below is an extract from my review of Peirce's Philosophy of Science. Note my added italics in the quoted passage by Peirce. You do experiments because there are things you posit that you "do not know" and you keep doing the experiments "until you find out."

This next passage highlights the value Peirce placed on quantitative induction, statistical and experimental evidence:

[page 11, 12] The justification for believing that an experiential theory which has been subjected to a number of experimental tests will be in the future sustained about as well by further such test as it has hitherto been, is that by steadily pursuing that method we must in the long run find out how the matter really stands. The reason that we must do so is that our theory, if it be admissible even as a theory, simply consists in supposing that such experiments will in the long run have results of a certain character.
Man arrives as a novice at each age of his life.
— Anonymous

The above quote is an insightful paraphrase of the Peter Principle: "Employees are promoted to the level of their incompetency." Life changes, never stays the same. If you are currently 37, you have never been thirty-seven before, have you? Yes, other people have been 37 before you, and you might argue that you could model yourself after those people, but consider this: those people were 37 in a world that was different than the one you live in today.

What will it be like for you to be 37 in this world today? You never know until you find out.

Quickly: knowing is what happens in your brain in response to some event in the world. Since it always takes time for the signals from the event to reach your brain, it is always scientifically accurate to say, "You never know until you find out."

This is a very useful retort to those who would waste your time with some statement like this: "What if I joined the army?" or "What if I went to college?" or "Should I wait for my washing machine to break before buying a new one?" You never know till you find out. We had a washing machine that was over thirty years old and it made quite a racket at times when it ran. Plus it tripped the circuit breakers a couple of times. The cover was getting rusty underneath. None of these things kept it from washing the clothes perfectly, however, so we hung onto the machine. One day, it would no longer spin. I quickly bought a new washing machine. Came home from the appliance store and the maid said, "Look, machine is spinning again." Thank goodness, I thought. I bought the new machine already. We discarded the old clunker. We waited for our washing machine to break and then it fixed itself to try to keep itself around us. See: you never know till you find out.

I had a stereo amplifier break one day after a lightning storm and power failure. The remote control no longer worked. I powered it off and back on several times. No luck. I hated to buy a new amplifier when this one worked just fine, but the remote control was essential for changing from one tv to the other in the Screening Room where five tv's are usually on at the same time. So I bought a new stereo amplifier. I came home and set the stereo amp aside to hook up later. In the afternoon we have another power glitch. It's getting late in the afternoon, so I thought I'd go hook up the new amplifier. I checked the remote control on the broken amplifier and it worked perfectly! No explanation for what happened. I returned the new amplifier; it was still in its box. It's been several years now, and the original amplifier has never acted up again. You never know until you find out.

Here's another example: what would happen to you if you educated yourself for tomorrow, beginning today? You'd sign up for some humanities courses that you're interested in. Take courses on-line and don't have to drive anywhere to go to class. Or take courses from The Teaching Co. and listen to them on way back and forth to PJ's Coffeeshop every morning. Work at your own rate. Read stuff you've always wanted to read or maybe never thought about reading. Would that help you with the rest of your life? You never know until you find out.

Return to Matherne's Rule#2.

Matherne's Rule #3: Free yourself from thinking.

Think about it. Carefully. Apply all the thinking reserves you have to applying this rule. G. Spencer Brown's 2nd Law of Form will get you.
Return to Matherne's Rule#3.

Matherne's Rule #4: It all happens at the same time.

Ever have a thought and share it with someone close to you have them say, "I was just thinking of that"? Happens with me and Del all the time. I came to understand that the original thought popped up in both of our minds at the same time. There is no logical way to determine which mind the thought appeared in first, so we are left with this rule, "it all happens at the same time."

The Bell Theorem provides a powerful physical analogy to this rule. If two physical particles have been united and then separate, no matter how far away they travel, they will allways be linked such that a change of polarization of one of the particles will result in a change of polarization of the other particle. This theorem has now been confirmed to be true in several extensive experiments and a complete explanation of how this is possible is lacking, up until now. What we do know is that this is a part of the quantum reality of the universe as we observe as human beings. It all happens at the same time.

In A Course in Miracles Workbook, Lesson 19, page 30, it says, "Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate." A study of this course will definitely convince you of the deep meaningfulness of the rule.

In the Lord's Prayer we pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Here is another example of "It all happens at the same time." Looked at in a process fashion, when we forgive someone, we release a psychic knot (etheric body dent) in us left by a trespass on our being by that other person. At the exact time we release that psychic knot in ourselves, the psychic knots we created in others are released.
Return to Matherne's Rule#4.

Matherne's Rule #5: There's allways even more.

More to be added because there's allways even more.
Return to Matherne's Rule#5.

Matherne's Rule #6: All meanings are true. (AMAT)

That reminds me of a story. One day the Sufi clown figure, Nasruddin, became judge of the court for a day.

When the first case was tried before him, the prosecution came and presented its evidence against the defendant eloquently. When the prosecutor was done, Nasruddin said, "I do believe you are right!"

The bailiff whispered into Judge Nasruddin's ear, "But you haven't heard the defense." So he listened to the defense attorney earnestly plead his case for his client's innocence. When done, Nasruddin was obviously impressed and exclaimed, "I do believe you are right!"

The bailiff rushed over to the judge's side and said, "But, Nasruddin, they can't both be right!"

Nasruddin looked into the bailiff's eyes and said, "I do believe you are right!"

Sometimes Sufi stories are sloughed off as jokes and quickly forgotten, but there is a deep spiritual truth about how to live as a human that infuses this story. Perhaps this story told by Rev. Mario Schoenmaker that my friend Kristina Kaine shared with me will help illuminate this truth for you:

“Let me tell you about my Master in Germany. He was a fantastic teacher, a tiny, old man and not boisterous like I am. We lived in a sort of castle in a little village and he would walk through the village with his pupils walking behind him. The pupil must always walk behind the Master. The people would see us coming and leave their work to greet the master.

"One day a fellow came out, kissed the Master’s hand and said, ‘Master, I have a question. Do you believe in God?’ The Master replied, ‘Yes, I do.’ The man bowed in thanks. (There had obviously been an argument in the village or the church as to whether our Master did actually believe in God.) A few miles further on the same question was asked. The master replied, ‘No, I don’t.' We boys were a little puzzled. When we returned to the gate of the school another fellow approached saying, ‘Master, I have come specifically to ask whether you believe in God.’ This time the reply was, ‘I don’t know.'

"When we were inside, one of us asked him to explain the contradiction. His reply was, ‘Boys, when are you going to learn the purity of spiritual life? Each man that approached me wanted me to agree with him and so I obliged. The last man was agnostic, he didn't know, so I didn't know. It didn't really matter and we had a peaceful day, didn't we?’ This is what you and I should do instead of getting into arguments. Disagreement results from putting forward your own ideas and who the hell cares what you think anyway! This is what you have to learn, it is true occultism. After all you are only dealing with yourself, you are not dealing with anyone else.” [from "Ultimate Vision Lecture 11" – Rev Mario Schoenmaker, used with permission, See Related Remarks by Idries Shah.]

All meanings are true. What a rash statement to make! And yet when you look closely what constitutes a meaning for an individual, you learn that it is a result of their idiosyncratic upbringing, their individual set of experiences, their set of beliefs of how the world is constructed. All these things lead them to hold that some meaning is true. Since everyone has such a different set of upbringing, experiences, and beliefs, it follows that everyone holds a different meaning, but a meaning that, rightly understood, is true for them. Rudolf Steiner says that, "We know that all knowledge gained of the universe is knowledge gained of oneself." [page 204 of "The Destinies of Individuals and of Nations"] Meaning is individualized knowledge and created within oneself and thus has an individualized meaning to the one holding the meaning.

Thus, all meanings are true to the person who holds them or shares them with others. You can argue till you're blue in the face or you can simply say, "I do believe you are right." to someone who adamantly shouts down your expression of beliefs and offers theirs as being true. If you understand and apply AMAT, you will be able with equanimity to say to such a person, "Yes, you are right."

"All we have to talk about is ourselves." is another way of expressing AMAT. Here is an excerpt from Rudolf Steiner's book, "From Comets to Cocaine" which can help illuminate how people talk about themselves. It gives a rare example by means of which it is possible to directly relate the content of what a man talked of to what happened to him immediately thereafter. More commonly one speaks such a way and the event occurs many hours, days, or years later. This is another example of EAT-O-TWIST at work at a deep level.

[page 12] Now it struck his listeners that Mr. Windom became a bit grey as he spoke of arteries in the context of economic life. They were surprised that someone who had previously spoken only of matters pertaining to economy and finance, who had in fact begun his speech on these subjects, should suddenly use this rather apt analogy and even elaborate on it. He described in detail how poison penetrates the blood and referred to moral concepts. This was indeed a change of subject, and after uttering the words, 'Immoral concepts go like poison through the arteries of industrial commerce,' he collapsed. He had a stroke and died on the spot.

What can you do with this information? Begin by listening to others' speech and especially pay attention to their use of analogies, similes, and metaphors. AMAT — they are describing themselves to you while likely being unaware of it. They will share aspects of their lives that, were they aware, they would never choose to share — in fact, were they aware, they would change their lives immediately so that there would no longer be any reason to talk so.

This should give you a strong hint about the second thing you can do immediately: Begin listening to your own speech, paying careful attention to your own use of analogies, similes, and metaphors. Your speech will give you a wealth of information which when processed in your day-consciousness will allow you to steer your ship of life away from the stormy shoals of troubles and into sunny seas again.
Return to Matherne's Rule#6.

Matherne's Rule #7: Do it right away, kid. (DIRAK!)

Have you something to do to-morrow; do it to-day.
— Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1742)

DIRAK means a bunch of things. It means to do something right away, don't wait for some unspecified time in the future to do it. If you learn something in class, apply it the next sentence you say to the teacher. Another meaning of DIRAK trucks on the double meaning of the word "kid" as a word that means to make a joke, to jape, to have fun with whatever you're doing and to kid around right away. "Kid" also refers to a youngster, so the Rule can thought of as speaking to the "kid" inside of each of you, telling you to pick up your room, clean up your writing, have fun with life, don't be so serious, and most of all to do it immediately, DIRAK! DIRAK, you will notice, even sounds like the word "DIRECT" so its very sound acts a reminder of what it's telling you to do.

But for me, the most important part of DIRAK has to do with thinking of doing something later and then when that later comes forgetting to do it. That used to happen to me all the time, before I discovered and began applying DIRAK in my everyday life. How does that work? Okay, say you're walking down the hall and you remember that you need to get a letter out to the mailbox for the postman. STOP! Turn right away and take the letter out to the mailbox. If it's truly impossible to do the task itself immediately, do not proceed with where you were headed until you have done something to ensure that you will complete the task. Grab the letter and stick it to door you go out every time so that the next time you leave the house, the letter will be staring at you. Write yourself a note. Move something out of place that will be an obvious reminder to you to move the letter outside. And do it DIRAK!

From my review of "Writing Down the Bones": The chapter “Don’t Tell, but Show” was about not using the word "about" in the way I did in the first part of this sentence. By making the sentence structure recursive, by using "about" in process (without the quotation marks) and then again in content (with the quotation marks) I was able to show exactly what to avoid doing by doing it, by demonstrating it. Writing that talks about something is terribly dull and borinnnnggg! Don’t talk about, demonstrate! Do it right away, kid! or acronymically, DIRAK! The first sentence of this paragraph is an application of this DIRAK principle demonstrated in action: Matherne’s Rule #7.

[page 69] As soon as I hear the word about in someone’s writing, it is an automatic alarm. “This story is about life.” Skip that line and go willy-nilly right into life in your writing.
Return to Matherne's Rule#7.

Matherne's Rule #8: It allways happens before you know it.

Eric Hoffer wrote in "The True Believer" that "In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

Or as Kierkegaard said, "Life must be lived forwards, but understood backwards."

The neuroscientist Libet “showed that conscious awareness of a decision to act always lags behind the associated brain activity by about half a second . . . so in a sense every moment of our lives is already in the past when we experience it . . . you might say consciousness is a continual action replay. . .” (Page 72, 73 of Thinks) Or you might say, in the words of Matherne’s Rule #8: “It always happens before you know it.”

From my review of Voice Lessons by Nancy Mairs, I wrote in my review:

Quoting Shoshana Felman, she says on page 48:
Reading is an access route to discovery. But the significance of the discovery appears only in retrospect, because insight is never purely cognitive; it is to some extent always performative (incorporated in an act, a doing) and to that extent precisely it is not transparent to itself ... And since there can never be a simultaneous, full coincidence between practice and awareness, what one understands in doing and through doing appears in retrospect: nachträglich, après coup.

This quote explicates an insight I had nearly twenty years ago that is incorporated into this Matherne's Rule. I first wrote about it in a poem called the Dancer and the Dance in which I demonstrate that the dancer in process creates the dance in content — thus what the dancer does always happens before you know it, that is, before you can understand or know the dance.

The double "L" in "allways" is intentional and points to the double meaning: in "all fashions" and at "all times".

In a footnote to the Poetry of Samuel Hoffenstein, I speak about the delay between a lion's roar and its echo, the roar is the original event and the echo is like our knowing about any event, which must always come after the event. Plagiarism is like the echo of the original writing — it can only happen after the original writing is created. Thus Rudyard Kipling in the poem of the footnote could blithely say:

They copied all they could copy,
But they couldn't copy my mind.
So I left them copying merrily,
A year and a half behind.
Or as Matherne's Rule #8 sums it up: It allways happens before we know it.

From my review of Ignorance by Milan Kundera:

Thomas Wolfe said that we cannot go home again. It was his way of saying we cannot step in the same river twice (Heraclitus) — if we go home again, we find that home has changed, and perhaps the very things we went home again for have disappeared. Things change. It always happens before we know it because knowing can only come after the change has occurred. Apart from Star Trek Voyager’s holodeck, the quaint small town of Fair Haven you remember from your childhood in Ireland cannot be reconstructed.

[page 124] We don’t understand a thing about human life if we persist in avoiding the most obvious fact: that a reality no longer is what it was when it was; it cannot be reconstructed.

This is true whether it was twenty years ago or twenty milliseconds ago that it happened. Life is one unique wave crashing on the shore after another.
Return to Matherne's Rule#8.

Matherne's Rule #9: This is the first time you have read Matherne's Rules, up until now.

In Matherne’s Rule #9 we find a recursive rule, “This is the first time you have read Matherne's Rules, up until now.” It refers to itself so that there can be no mistake of the nature of the statement — it expresses a definite fact for the person who is reading it for the first time. It is a deed that is happening as you read the statement. It is expressing a limitation in your life, namely, that you have not previously read MR#9 — a seemingly trivial limitation, but a limitation nevertheless. What happens after the statement of the limitation? By the time you reach the comma, your limitation is in your past, and you can never return to the state of not having read MR#9. As you pause at the comma, a release from the limitation stated thus far is accomplished and you acknowledge that release by a breath of life before continuing with the denouement: “up until now.” In MR#9 we have a demonstration of stating a limitation followed by an erasure of the limitation stated, and thus the name “limitation eraser” was given to the final clause <, up until now>.

With every evocation of the limitation eraser, you are spared a future like the past. The world in infancy is newly born, and a new world awaits you have no words to picture. It is a new world that will greet you from now on. [These two paragraphs contains phrases adapted from A Course in Miracles.]

MR#9 embodies an example of how to use the "limitation eraser" by means of which you are able to deftly wipe out a lifelong limitation as you end the very sentence in which you are describing the power of your cherished limitation to another person. This is a powerful tool that has been widely used backwards to foster instead of eliminating limitations, up until now. You don't need to know how to do it backwards as you will be doing it forward from now on.

This is the first time you may have met my limitation eraser, up until now. Here's how it works:

You find yourself in the middle of stating a limitation about yourself that has existed for as long as you can remember and you pause, take a deep breath, and apply the limitation eraser "up until now".

CAVEAT: if you say every "up until now" out loud, or in your writing after every limitation, some people will find it annoying, especially those who are unaware of its power, so it's best to not repeat the usage of "up until now" in a single conversation or piece of writing. It is equally effective to say ", up until now" quietly to yourself in conversation or apply it to an appropriate place as you read a sentence expressing a limitation.

Actually the limitation eraser contains the pause and the deep breath, rightly understood, so I write it as: [, up until now.]

Inside the brackets, EVERY letter and punctuation mark is ESSENTIAL for the proper application of the limitation eraser. The comma, the period, and the phrase. The comma marks the pause and deep breath. The period the end of the sentence. [Note: If you try to apply it at the beginning of the sentence, then it works backwards. You get to keep and even reinforce your limitation. In the middle of sentence, it's ineffective. Only at the end of the sentence, does it work to remove your limitation. If you don't believe it works, it's only because you have not given it a good test, up until now.]

Here's an excerpt from a review of "The Active Side of Infinity" where I explain how the limitation eraser may be used to do what don Juan calls stopping the world.

Carlos continues to ask dumb questions of don Juan such as this one about inner silence, “What did those sorcerers consider the sign that inner silence is working, don Juan?”

[page 104] “Some very talented practitioners need only a few minutes of silence to reach that coveted goal. Others, less talented, need long periods of silence, perhaps more than one hour of complete solitude, before they reach the desired result. The desired result is what the old sorcerers called stopping the world, the moment when everything around us ceases to be what it’s always been.”

You don’t know what stopping the world means, up until now? That’s a serious limitation if you don’t know what it means. How can you do anything that will change the world around you for the better? Do you know how to do that? If you did, you would be able to stop the world — the world will disappear that you’ve always known, up until now. It would be replaced by another world in which you will instantly experience a new birth of freedom, a world in which you will feel immediately that you have mounted your own chariot of intensity and are ready to throw off the shackles that bond you to the old world — ready to ride off in freedom into the new world from now on.

[page 104] “This is the moment when sorcerers return to the true nature of man,” don Juan went on. “The old sorcerers also called it total freedom. It is the moment when man the slave becomes man the free being, capable of feats of perception that defy our linear imagination.”

Carlos says, “Don Juan assured me that inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgment...” How does one go about stopping the world and suspending one’s judgment about the way the world really is? I don’t know. Actually I know one small way, but if I shared it with you, you might pass judgment on it as being silly or trivial. Actually, I have already shared it with several times in the course of this essay or book review, whichever way you have judged my writing, up until now. I call it the limitation eraser and while it is not as effective as leaving your family and career and finding a Yaqui shaman like don Juan to study with for the rest of your life, it has the virtue of being something you can incorporate invisibly in your daily life. With the limitation eraser, you can begin in small ways to stop the world and suspend your judgments about what is possible in your world and by extension into the world at large. To use the limitation eraser is simplicity at its best, but still some people get it backwards and get to keep their limitations, judgments, and their world goes blithely onward unchanged.

To use it, simply pause at the end of a sentence during which you have just expressed a limitation, take a breath during that pause, and add the limitation eraser “up until now.” To do it backwards and keep your limitation, use it at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence. If you use it in the beginning or middle, you have a chance to operate on the world you stopped momentarily to set it spinning once more, and you get to keep your limitation while being able to claim that you used the limitation eraser and that “it didn’t work for you.”

The most important aspect of the limitation eraser after its position in the terminal portion of the sentence of limitation is the pause between the limitation and the eraser, which in writing we denote by the presence of a comma thus: “I have this limitation, up until now.” Without the breath, you can run with your “limitation intensity” right through the end of the sentence and keep your limitation safely intact. Pause at the comma, take a deep breath, and the intensity dissolves, the world stops, and your limitation is gone. Your world will move differently from now on.

When you express a limitation, it is as if you are entombed in your own concepts of what is possible. When you apply the limitation eraser, you in effect roll back the stone blocking the tomb opening. When you reach the comma, you feel the first breath of fresh air entering the tomb and can feel the limitation dissolving into the light of day! I am free! I walk into a future of unlimited possibilities which are being created in this moment in my life, in the world! This is the freedom that comes when your limitation is erased — it is a new attitude — and every new attitude is a miracle when it first appears! [Thanks to Kristina who first inspired in me the idea of the tomb as representing a consciously held limitation.]

There is an important aspect of the limitation eraser [le] that many people miss which can sabotege their attempt to erase a limitation. The limitation eraser must appear as the very last words of a sentence. If a sentence expresses a complete thought, any sentence applying the limitation eraser properly should consist of two easily identifiable phrases:

[limitation] [limitation eraser]

You express the limitation of the closed tomb you find youself in, then you apply the limitation eraser — that is — you open the tomb-door of limitation, breathe in the fresh air, and walk out. End of sentence.

To implant the [le] in the middle of a sentence, no matter how grammatically correct or esthetically pleasing, is to negate the power of walking out of the tomb. The metaphor of the tomb gives me new power with which to express this heartfelt necessity of placement of the [le]. It is one that I have not had, up until now.

Now I could have written the past two sentences this way:

The metaphor of the tomb gives me new power with which to express this heartfelt necessity of placement of the [le], a power that, up until now, I have not had.

To me the big difference in the above sentence is the feeling of "have not had" — which stays with me, in my body, as I arrive at the end of the sentence. Every time in the past that I said or heard the words "I have not had" resonate through me and stay with me as I walk out of the tomb, into freedom perhaps, but with the chains of my past hobbling me. By placing the [le] at the end of the sentence, I walk out in full freedom sans chains from now on.

Or better yet, use the ole one-two punch of [le] and [fno]:

1. The metaphor of the tomb is one that I haven't had, up until now.
2. It gives me new power with which to express this heartfelt necessity of placement of the limitation eraser from now on.
[Note the application of the phrase [fno] as the last words of the sentence, no comma before the words "from now on".]

I am not suggesting any writers change the any way they write. I never think of these things as I write — if I did, I would be unable to write in any volume at all. I had one braying jackass who complained about my excessive usage of the [le] and [fno] phrases, even asking me to remove it before he'd publish my work in his magazine. I declined the offer to publish, but I have decided that it is more important that I use the process mentally than it is to brandish the phrases in my written work. These are powerful phrases and they should be used sparingly, in just the right place. Don't flash the sword around before you're ready to strike, but rather wait till you have the dragon of meaning directly under your foot and deftly thrust the golden sword. One dragon, one thrust.

I strive these days to write in such as a way to avoid speaking of limitations, which means that, instead of focusing on things I don't like, I focus on things I wish to happen. That keeps me from over-using the limitation eraser because there's no need to use it at all.

These are some of the important aspects of using the limitation eraser that everyone should know.

I think that I've heard every possible combination of using the [le] wrong. The worst is the guy who puts it in the very front of the sentence (which is like peeking out the door of the tomb and quickly shutting it again):

Two Examples of the wrong application of the Limitation Eraser:

1. Up until now I have been a sinner and done many things wrong, drank, smoked, and caroused with women.
[YUCK! Do you think someone who said this will feel any release from the spell of his past?]

2. I have been a sinner and done many things, up until now, wrong, drank, smoked, and caroused with women. [Is this much better?]

Placing the [le] in the center of the sentence is not as bad, but it reduces the heart-felt power and release. Check it out yourself. None of what makes sense to me means anything to you unless it makes sense to you, so I simply call your attention to what I feel as I use the [le].

The right application of the Limitation Eraser:

I have been a sinner and done many things wrong, drank, smoked, and caroused with women, up until now. [Dragon under foot, thrust sword!]

A friend in France wrote me that "a good translation could be <, en tout cas jusqu'à maintenant.> which is often used in french and, exactly as you've said, it opens up the possibility of change for the future." One would be wise to learn how to be unlimited in whatever language one speaks.

In my review of Roberto Assagioli's book, Psychosythesis, I wrote:

[page 22] We are dominated by everything with which our self becomes identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we dis-identify ourselves. . . Every time we "identify" ourselves with a weakness, a fault, a fear or any personal emotion or drive, we limit and paralyze ourselves. Every time we admit "I am discouraged" or "I am irritated," we become more and more dominated by depression or anger. We have accepted those limitations; we have ourselves put on our chains.

This is where my "limitation eraser" [, up until now] comes in. If we carefully practice the application of this technique, we will remove all the chains we have successfully hobbled ourselves with, up until now. Note the change if, instead of saying "I am discouraged," one says, "I am discouraged, up until now." By applying the eraser before one reaches the end of a limitation sentence, one swoops with chains to one's ankles and just before latching the manacles, deftly tosses them aside!

UPDATE: November 10, 2014: I discovered that I have assimilated the limitation eraser to the point where I no longer am automatically aware of having used it.

The other day I was thinking of some options for doing something and could only think of two ways to do it and just as soon as the "only two ways" thought went through my mind, a third option popped up automatically. Only because I had recently talked with a friend about the limitation eraser the day before was I able to recognize how it was working automatically in me, without my awareness, up until now.

In my Final Paper for Ph.D. level Education Course published here, (halfway down the page), I discuss how the four steps to Habit Formation are the inverse of the four steps of Counseling.

Habit Formation Order [1, 2, 3, 4] vs Counseling Order [4, 3, 2, 1]:
1. Unconscious Incompetence

2. Conscious Incompetence

3. Conscious Competence

4. Unconscious Competence.

I was helping a friend in San Francisco learn to use it and I explained later how we went through the Habit Formation Order:

I was able to take you from Step 1. You didn't know the Limitation Eraser existed to

Step 2. You knew the Limitation Eraser existed, but not how to use it (like when you used it backwards the first time.)

Step 3. You were just able to do it if you consciously thought of it. (you may stay at Step 3. for some time, so keep doing consciously it whenever possible)

Step 4. That's the step you helped me to recognize the day when I got back from S.F. It happens automatically without my having to be conscious of it. That's your goal, should you accept it.
The "Unknown" Reality, Volume 1 by Jane Roberts

Additional Supporting Evidence for efficacy of the Limitation Eraser:

Excerpt from my review of Jerome Bruner’s Actual Minds, Possible Worlds:

From George Miller's famous 7±2 paper, Bruner deduces, " means that perception is to some unspecifiable degree an instrument of the world as we have structured it by our expectancies." My equation to describe this process generically is: Pn= f(In, g(Ip)), where Pn is perception now, In is Inputs(raw sensory data) now, Ip is Inputs past, and f() and g() are functions. Thus one may read my equation as follows: our perception in the now is a function f() of our inputs in the now and another function g() of all of our inputs in the past (up until now). This equation explains why my favorite phrase "up until now" works so well when placed at the end of a statement expressing a limitation. The phrase refers only to the g(Ip) Input-in-the-Past portion of the equation and reminds us that we can rethink the In (Input-in-the-Now) in the present moment and open up possibilities that never existed before.

Return to Matherne's Rule#9.

Matherne's Rule #10: EAT-O-TWIST! never breaks. You'll use it from now on.

He is able
Who thinks he is able.


EAT-O-TWIST IN ACTION: From my Journal of Wednesday, April 24, 1985.

When I worked as an EDP Consultant for a CPA firm, I drove to St. James Parish with a high-paid world-traveling accountant who was in New Orleans to develop a completely new set of accounting systems for St. James Parish. The epitome of the left-brain skeptic. On the way home he asked about the Volkswagen we were riding in & I bragged on how the 1973 Super Beetle had never had a flat or left me stranded. I could almost feel the incredulity radiating from him and about a half hour later we had a flat tire on Airline Hwy around St. Rose. Not having ever had the need to change a tire before (or since) I had no tools for doing so (which he likewise found unbelievable). We flagged down a VW and put the spare on & drove home. This was one of many experiences which got me wondering about the structure of reality and how our supposing affects it, at times immediately.

I began to understand that the “radiating incredulity” of the accountant was in fact his “supposing” that this vehicle he was riding in was old, unsafe, and “what would happen if we had a flat on this busy highway.” [January 14, 2014: and he quickly found out, didn’t he?]

EAT-O-TWIST stands for “Everything allways turns out the way it’s supposed to” and bang! there we were! Seven years and 300,000 miles on the VW, all put on by me and only one flat midway in the seven years and on that solitary occasion with the skeptical and fearful accountant in the car with me.

I began watching carefully what happened when I had others in the car with me — how my experience varied depending on who was with me.

Around this time I began eating in Houston’s Restaurant and began to see that by eating in the same place (even the same food), I could hold constant a plethora of variables so that the main variable would be the other person having dinner with me. Thus the service, quality of food, ambience, etc. would be a measurement of the person I was dining with. Del and I ate there two or three times a week and this allowed me to calibrate for having another person with me. (We still did as of January 14, 2014, but not as often. As of June 16, 2019, Metairie location has closed and only the St. Charles Ave one is still open. We eat there a couple of times a month) It seems redundant to me to state that Del is so close to me in processes that being with her is almost as good as or better than being alone, more so than with anyone else.

From A Course in Miracles Workbook: Lesson 11 says, “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.” This is the concept, the process, for which I had penned an acronym to help me remember to apply it to every aspect of my world some five years before I read The Course in Miracles, namely, EAT-O-TWIST, which stands for Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It’s Supposed To. If you are supposing the world is basically meaningless, then the world will turn out to seem meaningless to you. But it is not the function of the world to be meaningless, only your supposing that creates that within you. The Course in Miracles, rightly understood, is devoted to helping one change one's habitual method of supposing and thereby reversing one’s way of thinking of the world. Therein lies the miracle. Below is the first paragraph of Lesson 11 [RJM: italics added]:

[page 18] This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.

In Lesson 20 we are told, “The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see,” i. e., that you want to see differently. The Lesson urges us to apply this thought repeatedly throughout the day, a thought that I succinctly summed up in the acronym EAT-O-TWIST. To apply this thought one only has to say or think, EAT-O-TWIST! [RJM: italics added below]

[page 31] The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

EAT-O-TWIST is an easily pronounceable acronym to express the thought that the external world proceeds from the internal, or Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To. The past is particles, the future is waves, and only in the present is our living moment of change, in which what we suppose sets up a living wave approaching us from the future. As Robert Powell said in The Great Awakening Page 96, "There are many examples from the development of knowledge through the ages where new concepts were first received as complete nonsense and later became promoted to common sense, at the same time that the old superseded concepts were demoted from common sense to non-sense." And on page 97, "It is only the genius or the man far ahead of his time for whom non-sense is often the common sense, serving him as a point of departure for his thinking." Click on EAT-O-TWIST to see an illustration of the process by which non-sense is converted into common sense (and vice versa) by the EAT-O-TWIST machine.

From Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, i 93-94:

When our Soul (mind) evokes a thought, the representative sign of that thought is self-engraved upon the astral fluid, which is the receptacle and, so to say, the mirror of all the manifestations of being.

The sign expresses the thing: the thing is the (hidden or occult) virtue of the sign.

To pronounce a word is to evoke a thought, and make it present: the magnetic potency of the human speech is the commencement of every manifestation in the Occult World. To utter a Name is not only to define a Being (an Entity), but to place it under and condemn it through the emission of the Word (Verbum), to the influence of one or more Occult potencies. Things are, for every one of us, that which it (the Word) makes them while naming them. The Word (Verbum) or the speech of every man is, quite unconsciously to himself, a blessing or a curse; this is why our present ignorance about the properties or attributes of the ideas as well as about the attributes and properties of matter, is often fatal to us.

For better or worse,
EAT-O-TWIST can lift the curse.

Or as the 1970s comedian liked to say, "What you see is what is you get." — where by "see" we understand Flip Wilson as meaning "suppose." What you suppose is going to happen, will happen. Why? Because: EAT-O-TWIST!

      "Bobby, what if you find yourself supposing something is going to happen that you don't want to happen? EAT-O-TWIST says that it's going to happen anyway, so what do you do?" A good friend asked me one day.
      That's a really good question. Listen to how Don Juan Matus answered Carlos Castaneda's about something that was going to happen anway, "What if a sniper with a high-powered rifle were in a tall tower waiting to kill you as you walk down a street? How would you defend yourself against that?" Don Juan answered simply, "I would not be walking down that street."
      The obvious answer to your question is to change what you're supposing immediately. Carlos supposed it would happen anyway; Don Juan supposed he would not be walking on that street. Makes sense?
      "Yeah, but that may be easier said than done."
      Yes, you're right. There are those things that flash through our minds that we would like to ensure never happen to us, but if we keep trying not to think about them, notice how we're doing the process of the "supposing" it happening to us all that time. To the mind there is no "not"; given enough time, any not's in our plans or thoughts are brought into reality.
      "Okay, but is there any way to dispose of those unwanted thoughts immediately?"
      Have you ever seen the No Smoking signs that have a burning cigarette inside of a red circle with red slash diagonally across the circle?
      "Sure. That's used in a lot of places."
      Well, learn to do this process when you have a fleeting thought about something you'd never want to happen: PLACE IT IN A RED CIRCLE WITH A SLASH and SAY, CANCEL! The combination of the visual NOT and the auditory CANCEL will eliminate that thought and drive it from your mind. If it comes back, CANCEL it again the same way. It'll give up — stop coming back eventually and you'll be free from it.
      "That's amazing. I'll do it right away, Kid! Tell me, did you create this process?"
      No, it came from Jonathan Parker on one of his audio tape series that Del bought. I began using it right away and soon it became an integrated process. I think you'll find it works just as well for you. It's an important concomitant process to EAT-O-TWIST.
      "Thanks! You never know until you find out."
      Right! I think you'll like its effectiveness if you will use it. Once in a row is enough. Think of the future. Think of it as a way to free yourself from thinking that you don't want from now on.

Return to Matherne's Rule#10.

Matherne's Rule #11: If it works, use it.

What else? If it works, but someone else disapproves, don't use it? Nah, that would only mean that it doesn't work for the other person. If it works for you, use it. "Every spiritual truth was once a blasphemy" someone said. Every innovator is reviled by the world. There would be no new inventions in the world unless inventors followed MR#11 — what is their invention but something that worked only for them at first? Their biggest struggle was to get others to understand how it could work for them in their lives. Usually inventors have to build some complicated device in order to show others how to do, using their device, what the inventor could do before the device existed in physicality, when it only existed as a thought, an idea in the inventor's mind.

Example: When Tesla invented a remote-controlled submarine that could have easily broken the blockade of Havana harbor, the US bureaucracy turned it down, afraid that its operation would be subject to enemy interference, unable to understand the digital logic devices using alternating currents which Tesla had designed to prevent exactly that kind of interference. No one in the Spanish army knew how to defeat Tesla's amazing invention and no one in the USA knew anything about digital logic devices at the time. The patents for AND and OR gates are still encountered today by anyone trying to patent certain logical devices. This process of inventing a completely new device or process breaks the current paragdigm which everyone uses to think and calculate probabilities and possibilities, thus only the inventor can know what his device can do.
Return to Matherne's Rule#11.

Matherne's Rule #12: If it doesn't happen, it wasn't necessary.

Hey, if I ain't writ nuttin' here yet, it ain't necessary. Deal with it.
Return to Matherne's Rule#12.

Matherne's Rule #13: Free yourself from rules.

Follow this rule and leave this webpage immediately.

. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .

The fact that you're still here indicates that you are not stuck with having to follow rules, doesn't it? Freeing oneself from rules does not mean to disregard every rule — it only means that you can choose which rules are important to follow. DIRAK! EAT-O-TWIST! and remember MR#12: If it doesn't happen, it wasn't necessary.
Return to Matherne's Rule#13.

Matherne's Rule #14: Some lessons are more expensive than others.

The lessons in this rule are inexpensive. The lessons of life without applying these rules can be very expensive. Seriously, when you encounter a problem, don't grouse about it, just remember that some lessons are more expensive than others. The only people to whom this rule does not apply are those who never learn from their problems — to them each lesson is as expensive as every other lesson.
Return to Matherne's Rule#14.

Matherne's Rule #15: You always find things in the last place you look.

If you've been wondering why you find things in the last place you look, look no further. It's a basic rule of life. Once you find the thing looked for, you stop looking, don't you?
Return to Matherne's Rule#15.

Matherne's Rule #16: There's no sanity clause.

There's no sanity clause. For origin of this rule, view "A Night at the Opera" — the best Marx Bros. movie ever made. Groucho and Chico will explain it to you this way, "Everybody knows there's no Sanity Clause."
Return to Matherne's Rule#16.

Matherne's Rule #17: If it takes money, use it.

Don't commiserate over the cost: if it takes money, use it. That's what money is made for: using it. It's not for feeling bad about. It's not for socking away. If something's worth doing and it takes money to do, use the money and never look back. Any other response to decisions involving money is a signs of neurosis, and a neurosis may be more expensive to fix than the thing you're holding off buying because it takes money. C'mon, it takes money, use it.
Return to Matherne's Rule#17.

Matherne's Rule #18: Allways leave room for more.

"There is allways even more" is another way I have of saying this rule. If you exclude the possibility of there being even more, then you have needlessly limited yourself and are in need of the limitation eraser.

This space is available for adding more stuff.

Return to Matherne's Rule#18.

Matherne's Rule #19: In life there are no maximums, only optimums.

I will add material here as soon as I determine an optimal amount to add.
Return to Matherne's Rule#19.

Matherne's Rule #20: Sometimes you can have so much fun thinking about doing something, you don't have to do it.

As a child and young adult, I loved playing practical jokes on others. In college I cut out a cigarette pack cover from Mad magazine and placed it around my pack of Kents; it then said, "Cancer Sticks" or something like that. When someone bummed a cigarette off me, I got to enjoy their double takes as he spied the cover of the pack. After I outgrew that childish behavior, I still enjoyed practical jokes, but would run them in my mind instead of taking them outside in public to play them. That led me eventually to come up with this rule, "Sometimes you can have so much fun thinking about doing something, you don't have to do it."

In an email exchange this morning, a pal at the cyberfence and I were talking about a post we had just received from someone who was complaining about those who use small fonts in their emails to the List and make it difficult to tell the difference between similar words with different meanings

My friend wrote to me, "I heard you reaching for the 8pt button! :-)" and I replied "hehehe — grate (sic) minds run in the same track. Let's start running ambiguities on that so-and-so on purpose."

That's a recent application. Surely you can find many chances to apply this rule. So, have fun at your own enjoyment and expense. Somehow what others are doing to prompt this response in you is useful for you and having fun with it will make it even more memorable to you than just being upset by their behavior.
Return to Matherne's Rule#20.

Matherne's Rule #21: Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

Okay, let's face facts. Many of the things you want wouldn't be good for you. How can you find out? Just go single-mindedly towards one of those things and see what happens. Many times you'll find that you've wasted a significant portion of your life going toward that one thing only to find that once you achieved it, it didn't bring you happiness. Your whole quest had been a quest of unhappiness. And you are now even unhappier realizing all the other things you might have headed for instead, ad nauseam.

Unless you are happy where you currently are, stop and take a good look around. Do not proceed further in any goal until you find happiness in your situation.

I had thought once to do "Want Development" seminars for people who were stuck with wanting things that weren't good for them. I had an idea to teach them how to be happy with their current condition and then to proceed from there doing less and less of things that they did not like while doing more and more of things that they did like. What happened to my seminar plans? I just applied what I would have taught others to myself: I decided that I didn't want to spend time with folks who were already unhappy because they wanted things that weren't good for them. I decided that wouldn't be good for me, so I applied MR#20 to myself.
Return to Matherne's Rule#21.

Matherne's Rule #22: If you put something off long enough, you don't have to do it.

This little goodie I got from my LSU Summer School German Literature professor. Don't remember your name, but your rule has stuck with me, and whoever you are, I love you for sharing it with me.

This is an irrefutable rule.

Consider how it applies to so many of the things you worry about: paying bills, doing taxes, visiting your mother-in-law, sending birthday cards, putting air in the tires, cutting the grass, and installing a new operating system in your PC. The list is as endless as the human mind is capable of generating novelty.

And, if you put off any of these and other things long enough, you won't have to do them. The phone company will cut off your phone line. The IRS will send you a bill. Your wife will divorce you. It'll be time for their next birthday. Your tires will have to be replaced (somebody else will take care of putting air in the new tires for you). Winter will come and kill the grass. And you'll need to buy a new computer which will come with the new operating system already installed.

Here's a paean to procrastination I penned:

From my book of poems, Rainbows & Shadows

      In Praise of Procrastination

Seek ever to postpone
       nasty obligations
       till the last moment
So that if life should end
       ere one return to them
An extra measure of happiness
      may have been squeezed
       from the fruit of life.

Thus one may purchase
      an extra lease
      on this mortal plane
By mortgaging the future
      with deferred

To survive to complete
      the task thus converts
      the pain into joy.

Plus there is another bonus:
      If you put something off long enough,
      you don't have to do it at all.

So relax.
What's the rush?
If you wait long enough, you can allow the joys of procrastination to fill your heart.
Return to Matherne's Rule#22.

Matherne's Rule #23: When learning a new subject, it's best to know all about it before you start.

We have discovered that it is actually an aid in the search for knowledge to understand the nature of the knowledge which we seek.
Sir Arthur Eddington, Philosopher, in his book, "The Philosophy of Physical Science."
Note how the erudite quote from Arthur S. Eddington reflects Matherne's Rule #23. It may have inspired it, for all I can recall of now. No one can dispute that "understanding the nature of the knowledge we seek" is a form of "knowing all about it."

Rightly understood, this rule is about the bootstrap paradox. To load a new program into a computer requires that a loading program be in the computer already. Since the loader program is a program, how does it get into the computer? Obviously, it requires something other than a loader program to get the loader program into a computer.

Computer engineers know that because it is a fact of life that they encounter every time they design and build a new computer. To the first computer designers it was as though they were being asked to lift themselves by their own bootstraps, a physical impossibility by the laws of Newton. Thus came the name "bootstrap program" to be applied to the primitive program loader of first resort, the program that must be put into the computer without using a program loader. And from that designation came the shortened form of bootstrap, "boot," to be applied to the process of starting up or re-starting a computer. Thus to boot up a program a second time is a "reboot".

The boot program knows all about loading programs before it starts loading programs. When you begin to study a new subject, often you are required to know all about the subject before any part of it makes sense to you. Remember that the persons who write or teach are speaking on a subject in which they are experts. No matter how hard they try, they will use terms that they are intimately familiar with, but with which you are not. Coming to terms with an author, a professor, or a new subject is one of the ways you can know all about it before you start. It is a most valuable bootstrap process. Another bootstrap process is to read reviews of a book you may be interested in. Another bootstrap process is to skim the book quickly using Adler's "Inspectional Reading" before you settle in to read the book at your usual speed.

Another way is for you to suspend your usual processes for having to understand every term and to allow the material to settle into your unconscious mind as unanswered questions to be answered later with understanding that grows out of you.
Return to Matherne's Rule#23.

Matherne's Rule #24: Be as nice to yourself as a friend would be to you.

In an email exchange this morning, a pal at the cyberfence and I were talking about a post we had just received from someone who was complaining about those who use small fonts in their emails to the List and make it difficult to tell the difference between similar words with different meanings. The List member was basically asking the rest of the members of the List to do something differently so that one member would not have to learn how to change the size of the fonts in emails. Like the tail trying to wag the dog.

When the tail tries to wave the dog, the dog can get real upset. I wonder if that process of the tail trying to wag the dog is isomorphic with other processes going on inside that person? When one keeps trying to steer one's ship in a direction that is not helpful, one's Soul Captain will muck up the steering control to one's helm and prevent one from doing it. In this email request we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of this person's steering corrections, so far as I can guess.

Mine and my pal's strong reactions against this request indicates that we know deep down that such persons have a soul-connection problem and are asking us to steer our ships around icebergs that wouldn't exist in our world but for some iceberg in their world — that we are being asked to steer around their icebergs so they don't have to.

Very much like the obnoxious people who choose to sit in the back of the room and ask the speaker to talk louder. If you have trouble hearing, sit closer, don't make the speaker shout to everyone just so you can continue your maladaptive behavior. Richard Bandler, an NLP founder, used to get requests to speak louder in seminars, invariably from those who chose to hide themselves from him in the back of the room. He would say, "Oh, you want me to speak louder so you don’t have to sit closer?" We all got the message of how we, as therapists in training, were to handle such manipulative attempts by our clients for us to change so that they wouldn't have to.

If a good friend would suggest that you learn to change your font size to make it easy for you to read posts, then do it without having to ask everyone else to change their font sizes because of some minor inconvenience it causes you that can be easily overcome by some attention on your part. If a good friend would take you to the front row of a seminar, knowing how you have trouble hearing the speaker, then take yourself to the front row; arrive early if necessary to ensure a good seat up front. In other words, be as nice to yourself as a friend would be to you.

Return to Matherne's Rule#24.

Matherne's Rule #25: What is the power of an unanswered question?

The advent of computers raised so many questions, it generated the acronym:
FAQ which stands for the Frequently Asked Question, for which a predetermined answer could be created in a handy list for people, a list of pre-canned answers for people with common questions.

I propose a new acronym:

UAQ which stands for the Un-Answered Question, for which no canned answers can be given because the UAQ, rightly understood, is a seed of discovery for the person holding it!

First thing to ponder is this: "An unanswerable question is an unanswered question that people have given up on."

Kekule never gave up on finding the structure of benzene. He never once considered it to be an unanswerable question and held it as an unanswered question until finally the answer came to him in a daydream where he envisioned a snake whose head circled around back to its tail and held its tail in its mouth. Kekule then knew benzene had a ring structure! His discovery opened up a world of what came to be called organic chemistry.
Freud said that "a dream is a wish fulfilled." I would say that "a dream is an unanswered question answered."

Rilke said it poetically this way:

... have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and to try to love the questions themselves
as if they were locked rooms or books written
in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.

Rainer Maria Rilke (in Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Stephen Mitchell) ~

Here is how Hazrat Inayat Khan's expresses the power of unanswered questions, from his Book The Art of Being:

[page 130] There is a stage in the evolution of a man's life when every question is answered by the life around him. He may have a living being before him, or be surrounded by nature; he may be awake or asleep, but the answer to his question comes as an echo of the question itself. Just as certain things become an accommodation for the air, turning it into a sound, so everything becomes an accommodation for each thought of the sage, helping it to resound; and in this resonance there is an answer. In point of fact the answer is contained in the question itself. A question has not existence without an answer. It is man's limited vision that makes him see only the question without the answer.

Thus one of the powers of an unanswered question comes from the holding of a question — not accepting the easy answer — until the true answer comes to us from a vision that is greater than our own.

[page 130] There is a stage in the evolution of a man's life when every question is answered by the life around him. He may have a living being before him, or be surrounded by nature; he may be awake or asleep, but the answer to his question comes as an echo of the question itself. Just as certain things become an accommodation for the air, turning it into a sound, so everything becomes an accommodation for each thought of the sage, helping it to resound; and in this resonance there is an answer. In point of fact the answer is contained in the question itself. A question has no existence without an answer. It is man's limited vision that makes him see only the question without the answer.

Thus one of the powers of an unanswered question comes from the holding of a question — not accepting the easy answer — until the true answer comes to us from a vision that is greater than our own.

Nov. 12, 2014 Insight: Nov. 12, 2014: Hmmmmm is the sound of an unanswered question. This occurred to me this morning. I have for some time written Hmmm in the margin of a book when I encountered a passage whose meaning was important, but which was unclear to me at the time. Scribbling a barely decipherable Hmmmm indicated that puzzling aspect in my mind. Now, I have come to recognize that it was my symbol, my glyph, for an "unanswered question", and saying that "Hmmmmm is the sound of the unanswered question" enables you and me, Dear Reader, to recognize the audible signal that another person is holding an unanswered question. People who say, "Hmmm", are people who hold unanswered questions; people who always say what pops out of their mouth without passing through their mind rarely ever say "Hmmmm", and just as rarely ever discover the power of an unanswered question, up until now.

I believe I first wrote about the unanswered question in my review of Richard Bach's Running From Safety in 1995 in my A Reader's Journal, Volume 1. Bach called them "forever questions". I wrote [Bach quotes from book are in bold text.]:

You don't want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel.
These forever questions are similar to what I've called unanswered questions — it is sometimes better to leave a question unanswered so that the tension to answer it does not drain completely away in some trite response, but continues with full force over the years. And when it's answered with clarity, how do you know the answer's the right one? Richard tells Dickie:
I don't. But every question's a tension inside, a little electric shock, and it crackles through me till it finds an answer. When a question touches an answer, it grounds on intuition, there's a blue flash, the tension's gone. It doesn't say right or wrong, it just says answered.
Dickie asks for an example and Richard tells him his question about his carefree barnstorming days, "Why can't everybody live this way?" The answer that eventually came, "Everybody can't do any one thing, but anybody can!"

Rudolf Steiner knew full well the power of an "unanswered question". In over 200 books of his, this process comes up in multiple places. Here are some of them:

In Steiner's series of 26 books containing lectures and thoughts on Waldorf Eduction, the power of an unanswered question comes up quite often. He tells teachers it's okay to use words or express thoughts that may be unfamiliar to children, but which will reside in their minds like a seed from which future knowledge might grow as a fruit. See this list of those books with links to my review of most of them: Waldorf Education Lectures.

In his book, Awake! For the Sake of the Future:

Steiner knew the power of an unanswered question and how people dreamily sidestepped them.

[page 74] Most people prefer to dream about cosmic mysteries rather than to engage them with their inwardly active thinking. The path to waking up, however, begins with thinking, for a thought wishes to become more developed through its own activity.

In Rudolf Steiner's book, he refers to three processes which he describes as requirements for or vows to be taken by philosophers wishing to enter the spiritual worlds:

1.) Keep a vow "not to let flow into their egoistic will the results of the cultivation of the intellect."

2.) Keep a vow to "cease to judge any more the things they see on the physical plane, cease to employ in regard to them the power of judgment they have acquired with their understanding."

3.) Keep a vow to restrict "the inner soul life to memory" while allowing full play of memory and fantasy in their imagination.

To follow No. 2.) assiduously, one had best cultivate an understanding of what it means to hold an unanswered question. Steiner goes on to tell us the following:

The three vows above will strip one of all the accouterments that the modern scientist holds dear in the sensible world, and one is ready to know the following three things in the super-sensible world:

1.) The unmanifest light — light that does not betray its presence by impinging on one's retina.

2.) The unspoken word — the unasked question that is pregnant with unanswered questions.

3.) The consciousness without any known object — the sound of one hand clapping.

In No. 2.) we again find the power of the unanswered question laid out for us to see, comprehend, and begin applying in our lives from now on.

In Rudolf Steiner's book, The Fifth Gospel, he lays out for us the power of the unanswered question:

[page 150] We only learn to ask questions when we are able to develop the inner balance that allows reverence and devotion to be retained when it comes to the sacred spheres of life, and when we are able to have an element in us that always seeks to remain independent of even our own judgment in relation to anything that comes to us from those spheres. We only learn to ask questions by being able to develop an expectant mood, enabling life to reveal something to us; by being able to wait; by feeling some hesitation in applying our own judgment especially in relation to anything that should flow in a sacred way from the sacred spheres of existence; by not judging but asking questions, not only of people who may be able to tell us, but above all of the world of the spirit. We should face that world not with our opinions but with our questions, indeed in a questioning mood and attitude.

One of the ways of developing an expectant mood that I find very useful is to follow my statement of a limitation by stopping, taking a deep breath, and adding the words up until now to create possibilities and expectancies where none existed before. Here's two examples [the comma marks the deep breath]:

I haven't had an easy way to develop an expectant mood in my life, up until now.

I have lived a life of limited possibilities, up until now.

If we allow and encourage an expectant mood to develop in our life, we thereby encourage life to reveal something to us freely that we probably would have never discovered. This process of expectancy allows us to tap the power of the unanswered question.

From my review of Peter Elbow's book, Embracing Contraries:

How appropriate that I am writing this review on Columbus Day, October 12, 1999, and ending my reading of this book with Chapter 11, "The Value of Dialectic," which ends with this paragraph:

[page 252] Certain people are especially smart. They have a talent for having good hunches, nurturing them, and having a sense of which ones to follow. These people are right too often for it to be a matter of luck. . . . Affirming contradictions and not being in too much of a hurry to get rid of them - Chaucer's dialectic - must be one of the patterns of thought that makes wise people wise.

"What is the power of an unanswered question?" is one of my basic rules. This question focuses my attention on the power that derives from not accepting easy answers to questions, especially questions that present opposing contraries. Only by extended pondering of the question, which cannot happen if one accepts some sham of an answer, can an answer arise that will hover over the contraries with its glowing resolution. The world would be much different if Columbus had accepted "Fall off the edge of the world." as the easy answer to the question, "What happens if I keep sailing westward?" Instead he held his unanswered question and sailed on into history.

Benjamin Markovits in "Kiss Me!" — a 20 Feb 2003 LRB review of Milan Kundera's new novel "Ignorance" writes of those who returned to Prague after 1989: "The emigrants in Ignorance ask the implied unanswerable question again and again: are they happier in their new lives than they would have been if they'd stayed put?"

This gives us a chance to understand the power of an unanswered question by comparing it to an unanswerable question such as the one above. Note the difference in your internal feeling state if you change the above question from unanswerable to unanswered. To be unanswerable gives one a sense of futility, whereas to be unanswered gives one a sense of hope — there is the power: to hold an unanswered question to allow the question to work in one's unconscious being until one day, a sureness bubbles through to the surface and one knows of a certainty of the answer to one's long-held unanswered question. It is not a matter of logic — there is no logical way to determine if anyone would have been happier in their lives if they had taken a different path — it is that negotiable certificate of deposit known as a feeling that can provide the answer wherein peace lies in one's soul thenceforth. [Whereas an unanswerable question is dispatched quickly and sent packing, never to be heard from again.]

In Zen there is a practice of giving a koan to a disciple. What is a koan? It is, in essence, an "unanswered question". A question that seems incapable of being answered, but if held long enough will encourage one to transcend the question itself, to stop struggling with the question, put one's sandals on one's head, and walk smiling out of the room.

Return to Matherne's Rule#25.

Matherne's Rule #26: Every word has two types of meanings: a content meaning and a process meaning. It even happens (v. — process) to "happen" (n. — content).

From my review of The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity:
This compares favorably with my dichotomy of the world into process and content. The root of the idea is undoubtedly from my computer background, as it can be best explained by a computer metaphor. Programming code (when running) is process; data is content. The CPU is the Central Processing Unit (process); the RAM is random access memory (content).A CPU chip is content -- it's a square bit of molded plastic, just sitting there — but its internal workings, when in action, is process. Nouns are content; verbs are process. I own a bicycle (content) and I bicycle (process) to the post office. This is my pen (content) that I am right now using to pen (process) my thoughts. And the same thing happens (process) to happen (content). Steiner is saying that consonants are primarily used for content (outer expression, material things) and vowels for process (inner expression, being, doing).

Return to Matherne's Rule#26.

Matherne's Rule #27: Anything you get for free is worth less than you paid for it.

Seriously: Please send me money for this idea. That will ensure you of getting the most out of it.

Even more seriously:
An Example: One morning Rouse's Supermarket, whose motto used to be: "NO COUPONS, NO SPECIALS, JUST LOWEST PRICES", kept me waiting in line behind two people ahead of me as the clerk tried to explain how the stamps worked. Now, several months later, I am still rejecting the stamps, and apparently enough other disgruntled customers are doing likewise because the clerk simply asked me if I wanted stamps instead of making me wait while she counted off the stamps. The inconvenience associated with the stamps includes: 1) Waiting longer for checkout 2) Having to paste the stamps 3) Having to store the stamped sheet 4) Having to calculate when to turn them in (redeem them), and so on. Much too much time wasted for my taste.

Examine such transactions. Clipping coupons from newspapers is the most egregious waste of time that I can think of. I remember a former friend's wife bragging on saving $2 with coupons which she drove to four different stores to cash in. The gas and the time add up to those "free" coupons causing her to spend more money and time than if she had simply tossed the coupon section of the paper into the trash as I do every Thursday and Sunday when they appear. This economic analysis completely ignores the effect of acquiring foods from companies you would not normally eat. The effects on one's health can be detrimental. A thoughtful analysis of every food you ingest cannot be done while analzying the cost savings from some cents off coupon because the ingredients are not listed on the coupon at the time of the decision. Using coupons can be harmful to one's health, rightly understood.

Examine carefully all the hidden costs of every free item you are offered by strangers (companies, etc) and you will find that these outweigh the benefit of the product or service you received.
Return to Matherne's Rule#27.

Matherne's Rule #28: The Soul Captain leads the willing and drags the unwilling.

First, let's read a poem called "Soul Captain" from my book, "Flowers of Shanidar":

Soul Captain

The Master of our Destiny,
Captain of our Soul,
Has his eye upon the map
his hands on the control -
He will not cut us any slack
unless that's what
we've come here for.

We have free will to do whatever we want, but if we get too far off the destination that our immortal "I", our Soul Captain, has planned for us in this lifetime, then we will encounter intense unpleasantness that will cause us to desist in that deviation from the chart and get back in line with the journey outlined on the chart in the Helms Room. It will be as if we are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into something that we will later tell everyone how glad we were that we decided to do that.

So, if you feel the least bit unpleasant when doing some activity, find ways of doing less and less of that activity until that marvelous day arrives when everything you're doing feels great! Feeling great is another way of saying that you've aligned what you're doing with the plan of your Soul Captain.
Return to Matherne's Rule#28.

Matherne's Rule #29: Thus a Teacher, So Also a Learner!

I scribbled this phrase down back in 1977 when I was reading a lot of Sufi material. Note that it has no verbs at all. What it says is that in any teaching situation, everyone present is both a teacher and a learner, though only the teacher gets paid for the lessons which transpire. In any therapy situation, both the therapist and the client take turns acting as teacher and learner, though only the client pays for the lessons.

Four relevant passages from my 1981 reading of A Course in Miracles Textbook [7th Printing, 1980], A section titled, Right Teaching and Right Learning:

[page 47, 48]A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.
[page 48, 49] Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of a teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the lawmaker believes.
[page 76] As you teach, so shall you learn.
[page 92] Every lesson you teach you are learning.

I spent a lot of time pondering this rule when I came to take a graduate course in Education from Dr. Michael Paulsen called "Teaching & Learning in the College Classroom." You can read my review by clicking on the name of the course. Note that MR#4 applies to this rule as a meta-rule.

Recently I stumbled upon the phrase "Thus a Teacher, So Also a Learner" that I had scribbled in the margins of the following book on page 291 when I read it back about 1978, 79. This would mean that the passage below inspired me to write the phrase for the first time.

Learning How to Learn
Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way
by Idries Shah
Published by Harper&Row/CA in 1978

The page on which I found the marginalia was entitled, "Knowing all about Someone":

[page 290, 291] Q: Is it enough to associate with a man of knowledge to acquire some of it? Does the Teacher not need the Student?

A : You must remember instances, at least, when you have not said anything and everything in your mind.
      Have you ever thought about the people whom you may know who do not discuss with you things which they know, even though such things might be of abiding interest to you?
      You may 'know a man well', even meet him every day of your life, 'share his opinions', exchange ideas. At the same time, you may have no conception of his possession of certain knowledge and even of his capacity to pass it on if the conditions are correct. He may not seem an enigma to you; but he may be as deeply concealed as anything on earth.
      The conception that one knows all about a person because of shared experiences and the exchange of confidences is not a true one. It is based upon the misconception that people cannot avoid communicating whatever they are discussing with one another.
      Knowledge does not automatically 'brush off', any more than it can be transmitted by words alone; neither is it to be conveyed by training of any ordinary kind.
      You cannot, therefore, learn real knowledge merely by associating with someone who has it — especially if you do not even know that it is there, and if you are not focussed correctly to learn. Someone or something has first to impart to you how to perceive the presence of knowledge. Without preparation there can be no teaching. As to the need of the Teacher, the great teacher Jami in his Lawaih says (Essay XXI) 'The Absolute does not stand in need of the relative, except for its manifestation, but the relative needs the Absolute for its very existence.' Similarly, the teacher is to be regarded as more important than the student in the situation of learning.
       That is to say, the Teacher is so to be regarded by the learner. The Teacher himself may regard the learner as more important, but that is a matter for the Teacher, and there is no point discussing his attitudes when the conversation is about learning and not teaching.

Rudolf Steiner said in Lecture 4 of True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigations the following about Teachers and Learners in the ancient Mystery Schools of Ephesus:
"Thus in those far-off times, the pupil learned from the teacher and the teacher from the pupil. On the one hand the teachings were of the spirit and soul, on the other hand of soul and spirit. From this interchange of pooled experience they touched the highest flights of knowledge."
As I interpret what Steiner was saying, "The teacher leads with spirit and follows up with soul; the pupil leads with soul and follows up with spirit." The teacher has touched the Spiritual World directly, but can only communicate what he experienced in words that evoke and stimulate the soul of the pupil. The pupil has only touched deeply soul experiences, and, with these soul understandings, can shed light on the spirit exeriences of the teacher. Thus a Teacher, So Also a Learner. Only together can "they touch the highest flights of knowledge."
Return to Matherne's Rule#29.

Matherne's Rule #30: The best way to create an aura of credibility is to be credible.

Look, it's simple. Tell the truth. That will sound credible. Trying to lie and sound credible only works on the small subset of people in your world who can best be categorized as your "victims."
Return to Matherne's Rule#30.

Matherne's Rule #31: He who laughs, lasts.

Remember the old saw: "He who laughs last, laughs best"? Well, he who laughs lasts; she who laughs lasts; so enjoy the rush and laugh now.

In 2010 while excavating some ARJ1 review which I had missed when publishing them to the web, I discovered this dictum which I have often used but had forgotten the origin of, up until now. Here is the passage I had marked in the book, but I had not included in the short review, up until now. [[

[page 218] Some years ago I cam across a phrase in Greek — asbestos gelos — unquenchable laughter. I traced it to Homer's Iliad, where it was used to describe the laughter of the gods. That's my kind of laughter. And he who laughs, lasts.

If you would ask him, if this is his last book, I'm sure he would answer "Belum," which is a quaint word in Indonesia, a favorite word of his, that means, "not quite yet."


"Not quite yet" very close in meaning to "up until now".

This book which I read and reviewed in 1989 was the inspiration for this Matherne's Rule, which should be called Fulghum's Rule, "He who laughs, lasts."
Return to Matherne's Rule#31.

Matherne's Rule #32: Always make your biggest mistakes first.

I meant to put this as Rule #1. My biggest mistake!

I enjoyed two years of mandatory ROTC at LSU in 1958 and 1959 — sorta like being drafted — I had no choice. Enjoyed Mil History and Mortar Sighting class especially. In Mortar Sighting class was where I first encountered the importance of making your biggest mistake first. In this world you're always dealing with the unknown in some fashion. The world changes before you know it — knowing only comes after your senses receive evidence from the changed world. Even then you might not notice that a change occured. When you lob a mortar round you cannot see the target and you cannot even see the results of the shell you lobbed. That's why in mortar sighting you have a forward observer who reports to you where the mortar lands with respect to the target.

What amazed me was to discover this fact: Do you know that when you lob the first mortar you always overshoot your mark? Then you purposely undershoot, and bracket in on the territory using a binary search (halve the distance each bracket). You reach the target in the fastest possible way with the binary search and then you hold that position and fire away! Right on target!

It was during mortar sighting class in Army ROTC that I learned this important lesson: always make your biggest mistake the first time. Right out of the chute! Then learn quickly from the feedback you receive to bracket in on the right approach. Do it this way and you will always out-perform in the long run those lucky few who hit the target the first time.

Rudolf Steiner writes in his book, A Psychology of Body, Soul, & Spirit: "In the world of the harmony of the spheres, we usually cause a discord at first." Learning to be in harmony in the world is like mortar-sighting, you must make your biggest mistakes first. Only by learning from your discord will you learn the correct chord by ever getting closer to the harmony. One who makes small mistakes will lack the guiding current of learning that a large mistake would provide and will lack the steering corrections required for continuous improvement on the road to harmony.

Return to Matherne's Rule#32.

Matherne's Rule #33: The first 23 years are the hardest.

I first said this to Del upon the occasion of our 23rd year together. We have been together 37 years now, so it could be written as "The first 37 years are the hardest." Any married couple who actually works at being together, at fighting out ideas together, instead of letting them boil in an unvented pressure cooker, can say the same substituting the number of years they have been together. For some couples I know the first year is the hardest.

Here's some notes I wrote on this rule in 2001:

Del and I just finished our first 23 years together and on our anniversary I said those words and we both got a laugh from it. Never thought anyone would apply it to their birthday, but certainly it's equally applicable. If I ponder that shortly after my 23rd birthday, I had graduated college, landed my first job, bought my first house and first new car, helped my first child into the world, and witnessed John Kennedy's funeral, I might agree that those first 23 years of life were the hardest.

There's a magic in 23 that I first encountered in "The Cosmic Trigger" by Robert Anton Wilson about, well, you'll think I'm making this up, about 23 years ago. Understanding the meaning of 23 — well, the first 23 years were the hardest, don't you know.

If you watch the original "A Tale of Two Cities" movie you'll see a glimpse of his prison cell, No. 23.

Spock's Vulcan salute is 2, 3 fingers held up.

Once you get sensitized to the magic number 23, you'll see it everywhere,

Heck, we can look at Matherne's Rule #23:
"When learning a new subject, it's best to know all about it before you start."

Speaking of "new subjects", I've been reading Steiner's work for only 11.5 years and I've reached about the halfway mark in his voluminous writings. I expect that in another 11.5 years, I'll be able to say about reading Steiner, "The first 23 years were the hardest." and I'll be ready to start.

heck, what Psalm does everyone know by heart? Not the 8th or the 18th, but the 23rd,

We all walk in the valley of shadows for the first 23 years — those are the darkest and the hardest, but there's always light at the end of 23,

in freedom and light,

written Dec 30, 2001

Return to Matherne's Rule#33.

Matherne's Rule #34: The way in is the way out.

Don't remember how you got here? You'll have trouble getting out.
Return to Matherne's Rule#34.

Matherne's Rule #35: You can't give what you don't possess.

A caveat for teachers everywhere. Check out my Teaching and Learning essay here: for more details about the function of creating lesson plans the night before teaching a class. It requires you to understand what you will present the next day so that your students will absorb your understanding while you say whatever you say about your understanding. Your words will become a way of calling up your own understanding inside of you so that it will transmit directly to the students' minds. Lacking your own understanding, you will lose your students' attention, no matter what you say. Want proof of this? Try it the other way. Teach something you don't understand and see how far you can get. Then try it the other way.
Return to Matherne's Rule#35.

Matherne's Rule #36: Remember the future. It hums in the present.

I love this rule today, but not as much as tomorrow!

Have you ever had a remembrance of things to come? Perhaps you did and didn't know it, up until now. Read on . . .

The process of remembering the future has many names in our society even though few have ever heard of the concept or have ever really thought about what it means. (Rudolf Steiner wrote about "time currents from the future" which you can read about here.) Many have fallen in love at first sight, but few ever have understood that the reason they fell in love right away is because they remembered the future. They felt as if they were seeing someone they had loved for the rest of their life (or an important portion of the rest of their life) and the total sum of those feelings overcame them. Perhaps they just met in elevator when a time wave from the future, a little vu-ja-dé, hit them. Déja vu means “already seen” and is therefore a time wave from the past, so the opposite direction could be written as vu-ja-dé.

Another example comes from my review of Goliath by James Penner. The following is an excerpt from a college letter from Robert Harold Schuller to his later wife Arvella which has been reformatted as a poem to illustrate Schuller's poetic flair with his prose:

The gathered memories like chimes
Flood my soul with melody

It is a tune of thrills
deeper than any symphony
Yet like a hymn
It stills all worry,
all foolish fears
Because it hums in future years.

To remember the future is to have the future years hum in one's ears as one thinks of them. And most of the time one doesn't know that it's the future years that are humming in one's ears, up until now.

[page 161] "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."
— Lewis Carroll

What seems to be a statement of fact by Lewis Carroll is in reality an imaginative jest, one that points to this hitherto unconscious capability for remembering the future. This is a process I have discussed in this review: The Magical Approach thusly:

Creativity has its own kind of time, a free-flowing time in which past, present, and future co-exist like in a dream where we can "rummage through the days of the future to find precisely the data required to make a specific point." Seth contrasts this magical approach with the rational approach which says "that to solve a problem you worry about it."

In the 2003 CMT, Country Music Television, Channel's movie, "Just My Imagination" Pally Thompson is a small town elementary school teacher in Orford who never left her home state of North Carolina. One day she hears a song over the radio about her, "Whumping Pally Thompson" by Bobby Rex, an old classmate of hers that she never talked to but who dated her close friend Sheildy. Bobby left town, taking the money he'd saved for Sheildy's engagement ring, spent it in Nashville on an audition and became a famous rock star. Jilted, seventeen years later, Sheildy now is the tour guide for Orford's Bobby Rex museum. Pally is mortified by the lyrics of the song which included spreading of jelly over her body and licking it off. She is suspended from her teacher's job which precipitates her agreeing to a magazine's exclusive interview if they will arrange for her to meet Bobby Rex to get him to sign a paper saying the lyrics were all made up. When they meet after the concert, Bobby doesn't recognize her and even worse doesn't even remember her! And yet her name and the story line of his song had been humming in his head. How can we understand that?

Bobby decides to have dinner with Pally to keep her from possibly suing him and soon is taken by her open genuineness, a commodity in short supply in his usual groupy crowd and friends. Needless to say, by the time Pally leaves Hollywood in two weeks to return to her day job as school teacher, the events of the lyrics have all been carried out.

What had been humming through Bobby Rex's head before he wrote the song was the future. How can we understand the song he wrote? He was remembering the future.

"Lord of the Ring" Story

This next story happened in my world. My daughter, Maureen, called me one day on the phone, "Daddy, I was at this jewelry store a few minutes ago, and I tried on this ring and got this incredible feeling. What do you think it means?" I asked her to describe the feeling and then the ring. The feeling was one of a glowing elation as best I recall. The ring was a rose-colored diamond in a round setting, just the kind of unique engagement ring that my artist-daughter would like. She had been married very young, seventeen years ago, had four children, gotten a B.A. and two Masters Degrees, but never an engagement ring. She was just looking at rings during a shopping trip to the River Bend shopping area and had stopped in Symmetry, a jewelry store that specializes in unique rings and settings. As she told me what happened to her as she put on the ring, all these things flashed through my mind.

"Do you recall my telling you about 'remember the future'?" I asked her.

"Remind me," she replied, not sure exactly what I was talking about.

"When you get a feeling like you described about something, it means that you are remembering having that thing in your world for many years in the future and all the enjoyment of it comes flooding into you as a feeling."

"Oh," she said, then continued, "but Steve and I can't afford the ring."

"Yes, I know, but I'm just telling about the process." We hung up and I went back to my keyboard, thinking about what had just happened. Maureen will wear that ring — the process she experienced was definitely remembering the future. I wonder how it's going to happen, given the financial straits she and Steve are in currently? Suddenly I realized that something in her world was going to intercede to allow her to get that ring. Whatever it was needed to happen quickly or the ring might disappear. As I weighed the probabilities of what might happen to get her the ring, it suddenly dawned on me that I was the one who was going to intercede. How could I do that? I pondered some more and a faint plan began to emerge in my imagination. I called her right back on her cell phone.

"Maureen, have you got a credit card with you that has about 300 dollars of credit available?"

"Yes," she said.

"Go back to Symmetry and put that ring in Layaway using the $300 as down payment. Then I'll figure out later how to get you the rest of the money to purchase the ring." She thanked me and did exactly what I suggested. The ring was locked up for her finger, and all I had to do was figure out I was going to find some money for the rest of the ring. In a week or two I located the money — I don't recall how — maybe a loan against my Savings Plan, but I went to Symmetry, paid off the ring, and had it in my possession. Now my biggest challenge presented itself, quite unexpectedly. I called Maureen, "Okay, I have the ring. When can I bring it over to you?"

"Dad," she said, in a mild plaintive tone developed over some 36 years of father-daughter relationship, one I could hardly refuse, "I would really like Steve to give me the ring."

I had been blindsided. I thought the hard part was over, but this seemed completely impossible. How could I just go to Steve and say, "Give this to my daughter." and present him the ring? I explained my dilemma, but she held out her plea. I finally told her that I'd figure out something, and hung up the phone. I had no ideas at all how to do this thing I had promised. I slept on it, a couple of nights, and finally a plan rose up. I called her back and explained how we would do it.

"Del and I will take you and Steve to dinner at Elmo's Restaurant to celebrate your buying of the Marcie Street house from us after these many years of renting. After we finish dinner and Steve's had a few beers, you and Del go to the Ladies Room together, something you never do, but do it this time. I'll give the ring to Steve." She agreed and we set up the dinner.

The night of the dinner, Elmo's had a combo playing music, and our table was nearby — it was romantic. All parts of the meal were terrfiic, and Steve, as I expected, had a few beers and was feeling good. The girls got up to leave. Suddenly I knew what I was to do and say. I recalled that Maureen and Steve were about to have their marriage solemnized in the Catholic Church. That would be my opening.

"Steve, I want you to know that I'm very happy that you and Maureen will be married in the Catholic Church finally." Steve grunted something like, "Yeah."

"But," I continued, "isn't there something you've forgotten?"

"What's that?"

"You've haven't asked me for my daughter's hand in marriage yet." Steve got a flustered look on his face, and seeing no way out, mumbled something like, "Okay, can I marry your daughter?"

I looked at him in the eyes, paused for effect, and in a tone that gave him doubt as to an affirmative reply, I said boldly, "Where's the ring?"

Steve became really flustered. As he stumbled to find an answer, my hand had moved the ring in its box to my lap and opened the cover. Before Steve could manage a coherent reply, I lifted the box to the table top and gently moved it under Steve's downward gaze, and said, "Maybe this one will do."

Steve was amazed, and I was greatly relieved. I told him this was a ring that Maureen wanted a lot, not to worry about where the money came from. He put the ring and box in his pocket.

The girls came back from the powder room and I waited for Steve to give the ring to Maureen. He didn't. Not that night, nor over the next two weeks. Maureen and I became nervous. I would call and check, "Did you get the ring yet?" After about two weeks of this, Maureen devised a plan. "I will cook all his favorite things in a big meal and send the kids over to his mom's house for the night. We'll finish up with a glass of wine under the Christmas tree and I'll suggest that we each open a Christmas present early."

That night they sat on the floor and Maureen picked out present for Steve to open, which he did. Then she asked him, "Do you have anything for me to open?" Steve gave her a card to open. Inside it said, "Look behind the star on the top of the Christmas tree." When she did, she found another note which told her where to find a present and that present was, of course, her new engagement ring which she will wear and cherish for the rest of her life.

I have included this long story as a way of illustrating that "remember the future" is not just some silly catch phrase, but a real process that can have immediately practical application. But for it, my daughter would have never gotten that wonderful ring — it would have remained in the display case as a ring that she admired, but which was apparently unattainable. Learn to notice the feelings that occur when some salubrious event is sending to you a "time current from the future" and you will act in a way that respects the event and brings it into fruition in your life.

Excerpt from my Review of Practical Advice to Teachers :

Human beings who create music are riding on time waves from the future, rightly understood. Remember the future, it hums in the present, and the future becomes the basis for true music created by humans.
[page 45] Of course, simply imitating in music the sighing of the waves or the singing of the nightingale can produce a certain musicality. But all true music and poetry are new creations, and it is out of this act of creating anew that the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan evolutions of the world will arise. Through music we rescue in some way what still has to transpire; we rescue it out of the present nullity of its existence and give it life.
NOTE: The world is currently in the Earth evolution or planetary embodiment. The future embodiments will Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan as shown to the right of Earth in this Table:

Return to Matherne's Rule#36.

Matherne's Rule #37: Time has no meaning.

August 12, 2002: After a long day at work, my wife and best friend, Del, had to go to her elderly parents house and run an errand to pick up a prescription for them at Majorie’s Drugstore. It was dark and rainy around twilight time. As she drove the car, a little disgusted with the heavy traffic, “What am I doing driving in this mess?” was her feeling tone and thoughts, she had the thought pop into her head, “Time has no meaning.” What happened next was that she thought, “You know, this looks like it could be dawn instead of dusk.” Then she began thinking of the dawn of her life when she first began driving. Suddenly the thought came, “Wow! Mom and Dad let me use their car to go for a drive to get their prescription.” And she began thinking of the otherwise lugubrious drive as a childhood pleasure, and tried a route to the drugstore that she’d never been on before, knowing that if she got lost, she’d have an excuse to extend her drive. What happened was she took Heritage Avenue, saw beautiful homes she’d never seen before and when she came out of the area she was right alongside of the Majorie’s Drugstore.

Time is an illusion that we have of what came immediately before or will come immediately after. It is only a linear progression in the one-track mind of logic. It is a very kneadable, shapeable illusion in the hands of the imagination.
Return to Matherne's Rule#37.

Matherne's Rule #38: Place has no meaning.

With me, the process began when we bought this great house at 5901 Marcie St. and one of the only drawbacks was that I-10 formed our backyard. I realized right away that meant that we’d never have any permanent neighbors over the back fence. They were all transients staying only a second or two for the most part. The noise of the traffic as heard from the front yard as we sat in our favorite spot on the swing hanging from the live oak tree sounded to me like an ocean’s roar. I began to imagine that we owned a house with ocean frontage across the backside of the house. Too cold to sit out back, we enjoyed its sound from the front yard on our swing. Then I remembered lovely green wooded areas atop Lookout Mountain and realized that if we lived on top of a mountain like that, the view from our front yard might look just like our view from the swing. So when we sat in the front yard, we began to imagine ourselves on the top of a mountain looking down a wooden street and whose streets blocked our view of the flatlands below, but we knew that they were there. Meanwhile, as we sat in our front yard on a mountaintop, the ocean’s waves kept up their constant ebbing and cresting and roar in our backyard. Place is only fixed by the logic into one position. It is a very flexible and creative thing in the imagination.

Michael Nesmith in his “Elephants Parts” music video song, “Flying Down to Rio” took a trip to Rio in his mind because it’s “something to do with the night.”

My choice of the name “Good Mountain Press” was my way of immortalizing the expression: “Place has no meaning.”

When I worked in Los Angeles in the city of Commerce, our parking lot alongside the building ran south to north and the first couple of months, the horizon seemed as flat as New Orleans’ horizon. No mountains or anything. Then one bright sunny day after our first rain shower in December [first for the year maybe] I got out my car in the parking and chanced to look back to the northern end of the parking lot and I was astounded. There was Mt. Baldy and the entire range of the San Gabriel mountains sticking up in the sky where only “flat horizon” had been yesterday! WOW! How one day can change things! Had somebody bulldozed those things up in the air overnight, I thought. We joked about them bulldozing the mountains up each winter after that when they first appeared after our annual first rain shower washed the suspended particles from the air and cleared the sky. It’s those same mountains folks see who have never been to Southern California, but have watched the Rose Parade, because there’s usually been a shower or two in the week before the parade to clear the sky, and besides Pasadena is nestled into the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. Those tv watchers must think those mountains are visible every day of the year, but, in fact, back in 1970 when I lived there, they were only visible for a month or so of winter.

So, what did I do after my first vision of the mountains in the parking lot the day after that first rain? Even after the mountains were bulldozed down around March or so and disappeared from the parking lot, I could look towards where I knew they were and still have the feeling of awe that I did when I first spied them! Hmmm, I thought, when later I returned to New Orleans, I could look at this flat horizon and think, “There are mountains over there.” and feel that same awe. I practiced doing just that, and it worked. I now had the feeling of mountains around me without the inconvenience of the mountains – snow, tire chains, dangerous slopes and curves, heavy overworking of car engine on upslopes, etc. What about the mountain air that is so marvelous to breathe? That was a no-brainer – every summer afternoon we’re likely to have a brief thunderstorm which fills the air with breezy, cooling air that is ionized just like mountain air. So those thunder clouds that formerly I might have disliked, I began to love – they brought mountain air to where I was, without my having to lug my car and myself up some steep tortuous roadway to get to them — they came to me. And when they come, I still go out and sit on the swing and enjoy the good mountain breezes with the ionized air while it lasts. When the heavy rain comes, I do what I would do in the mountains, I go inside to write.

Edward Reaugh Smith wrote in his book, David's Question: What is Man? the following about the meaning of mountain:

It is important that we understand the meaning of mountain in spiritual writings. It is universally recognized by the enlightened as meaning the condition in which one has an experience beyond or above that of the world of the senses . . . It is no necessary to be on a physical mountain in order to be on the mountain in a spiritual sense.

Place, in the sense of where on Earth you may be at any one time, has no meaning. Place is plastic in terms of how you can feel anywhere you are. You can have the feeling of walking on a golf course in your backyard or of schussing down a mountain on skis simply by closing your eyes and imagining it happening. Place has no meaning but the meaning you bring to it in the present time. Return to Matherne's Rule#38.

Matherne's Rule #39: How quickly do you recover when hit by a presupposition?

This rule contains a presupposition, an extremely important presupposition, one that is easy to miss. It is this: when someone uses a presupposition in a statement to you, they are placing you into a powerful hypnotic trance, one that will last for an indefinite time, a time that only you will have control over, once you understand the implications of Matherne's Rule #39. Think of the question: "How quickly do you recover when hit by a presupposition?" as the following compound sentence instead: "A presupposition places you into a trance without your necessarily being aware of the trance. This trance makes you accept the reality of something that you have only the influence of the trance to convince you that it is real. This trance puts you into a post-hypnotic suggestion to act as if the presupposition were true for an indefinite amount of time. Someday you will awake from the trance and when you do, you may know in no uncertain terms that it was a useful trance for you to be in, up until now."

That reminds me of a story. A young man in San Francisco, California went to a doctor for tests. The results were bad. His condition was inoperable and terminable. But, the doctor told him, it was treatable by a drug which was available that he was going to prescribe for the young man to take. To emphasize the crucial nature of his taking this drug every day, the doctor looked the young man in the eyes and said earnestly, " You must take this drug every day of your life, or you might as well go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge." The young man left the office elated, filled his prescription and dutifully took his drugs every day.

Everything went well in his life until he received a notice from the drug company that a new drug had been developed which would cure his illness rather than simply prevent it from progressing. The young man was once more exuberant. Cured at last! he thought. He went to another doctor who prescribed the new drug for him, and he joyfully threw away the old drugs and took the new one. Sure enough, when he went for a check-up in a few weeks, all signs of the illness had gone, and now he didn’t have to take any medication. Once more, the young man skipped merrily down the street from his doctor’s office.

The story would end right here except for a strange compulsion which came over the young man — he took to walking late at night in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Finally he went to see a therapist about this compulsion. The therapist was unable to find anything wrong, so he put the young man in a light hypnotic trance and asked him to tell what was at the root of this walking compulsion. The young man in trance recounted these words of his first doctor, “You must take this drug every day of your life, or you might as well go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.” The doctor had slammed a presupposition into the young man which lay dormant until he stopped taking the original medication and now it was actively working in him. The doctor with all the best of intentions had placed a post-hypnotic suggestion in the young man using a simple presupposition, and now it was firing off and unchecked could have led him to suicide.

The original version of this story I heard from Richard Bandler in a 6-day hypnosis seminar in 1981 as I recall. He told it in the first person as if it were a client which came to him as a therapist, and one can only presuppose that it was a true story. In Richard Bandler and John Grinder’s Structure of Magic, they included in Appendix B list of some 32 typical forms of presuppositions which people commonly use.

I leave you with this thought: When was the last time someone hit you with a presupposition? Was it a useful presupposition to you? How do you know, if like the young man in the story, you were unaware of the presupposition when it hit you?
Return to Matherne's Rule#39.

Matherne's Rule #40: Journey of One Step takes place after 1,000 miles.

I first wrote this in the margin of page 17 of "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg as I was reading it on January 27, 1987. See review linked on title for more details.

Basically the idea by this inversion of Confucius's famous saying, "Journey of thousand miles begins with first step." is that when one has a lot of resistance to doing something, one will avoid it over and over again until perhaps after a thousand steps or miles, one overcomes the resistance and just does the thing that one supposed one was seeking, but in actuality one was systematically avoiding, up until now.

Return to Matherne's Rule#40.

Matherne's Rule #41: No one suffers from the lack of suffering.

Annie in her book, An American Childhood, quotes C. S. Lewis about suffering: "There is plenty of suffering, but no one ever suffers the sum of it." I mis-read it as "no one suffers the lack of it." And the thought occurred to me: Ah! "No one suffers from the lack of suffering!" This is a marvelous self-evident tautology that qualifies for addition to Matherne's Rules. C. S. Lewis suffered a lot and still thought he had to suffer more — I prefer to suffer from a lack of it.

Return to Matherne's Rule#41.

Matherne's Rule #42: For those who must have the last word, I offer this: Check!

Del and I have found over the years that each one of us liked to get the last word — one last chance to make a case for one's own version of what happened or should have happen, etc. And we lately began to notice that if one of us responded with "Check!" — a blank check, unloaded of any affect or emotion — that the acknowledgment provided by that simple one-syllable word "Check" was enough to end the transaction successfully without its having to emerge into those episodes we've come to call LLO's or Loud Learning Opportunities, what other folks not in the know call "fights." A few minutes ago Del was ranting and raving about some trivial matter that we'd already taken care and I said, "Check!" Her response was "Darn! You just spoiled a good mad!" So when you find yourself in a heated tete-a-tete with someone, try saying, "Check!" after they re-make a point for a second time and you'll likely cut short and spoil a good mad from now on.

Return to Matherne's Rule#42.

Matherne's Rule #43: If something is worth doing, you can always find someone for whom it would be their heart's desire to do the parts you don't want to do, and if you can't find someone, it's not worth doing.

This is an insight that has saved me more hassle than anything else I've discovered in my life. Del and I were doing Agape Labs, weekend marathons devoted to helping folks discover how to love themselves and others. I loved doing the labs, every part of them were fun and enjoyable except getting people signed up and lined up to show up for the lab. This required lots of phone-calling and organization which I didn't like. I decided to find someone for whom it would be their heart's desire to do those tasks, and it worked. For awhile. I was forced eventually to make the decision that in order to love myself fully, I had to decide that the Labs were no longer worth doing.

Are there some things in your world that you don't like or don't want to do anymore? Consider applying MR#43: Find someone whose heart's desire would be to do that thing or things. Sometimes you can find people who would love to do that job for the right amount of money — if it takes money, use it. That's what money is for — it does you no good unless it's used. Sometimes you can find people who would love to do that job for the training, for the adventure, for experience, etc., and if it's a good reason, let them do it and show your appreciation.

The next part is the hard part. You know this thing is worth doing, but you can't find anyone to do the parts you don't like to do. You can't afford the money it would take to make it someone's heart's desire, so you can make yourself unhappy by doing the thing yourself — and frankly this is what most people do — you can hear them complain if you stay around them very long. "I hate these long lines." "I hate driving to work." "I hate taking out the garbage cans." "I hate balancing my checkbook." and on and on and on. If there's some job or part of a job, some task that you think is worth doing and can't get anyone else to do the parts you don't want to do — re-evaluate your opinion about the job being "worth doing" and move it into the category of "not worth doing".

You know there are many things you cannot control in your world, right? But there is one thing that you control, in complete freedom, that no one else can control: your opinion! Change your opinion that the task is worth doing. It's as simple as that. Changing your opinion about the worth of a task you don't want to do that you can't find anyone else whose heart's desire would be to do is certainly worth doing. If you don't agree this is worth doing, then don't do it — only know this: the disagreeable task will be there only so long as you hold an opinion that it is worth doing and that it is disagreeable.

The other option is to make the task agreeable. I didn't like driving a long way to work, so I began reading and studying to and from work. I didn't like hauling heavy garbage cans to the street, so I bought a cart in which to roll the cans easily to the street. I go outside every day to pick up my morning newspaper and on the way out or back in the garbage cans accompany me on their days. My wife, Del, likes to balance checkbooks and I finally decided to accept her offer to do a task I kept putting off. If a long line awaits me at some place, I go elsewhere and learn how to come to that place when the lines are short. If the traffic is heavy, it gives me ample time to listen to a CD lecture I have at my ready.

Do it your way. Find ways to avoid or have someone else do the parts of things you don't want to do or change your opinion about whether they're worth doing. It's your life to complain about or enjoy. I prefer the latter in myself and others.

Return to Matherne's Rule#43.

Matherne's Rule #44: Allways follow your own advice.

to be added

Return to Matherne's Rule#44.

Matherne's Rule #45: No ugliness comes armed with truth.

This Rule can be seen superficially as a corollary of the old saw, "Truth is Beauty", but I think this form focuses directly on the diverse forms of human ugliness which caring friends and politicians attempt to foist on you as their own version of a purported truth. If it is ugly, if it turns your stomach, if it is unsavory in any way to you, rest assured that it is empty of truth. If the ugliness seems charming, it is not disarming, merely disarmed of truth.

[RJM Note: the old saw derives from Socrates and Plato, but was best summarized by John Keats in this famous passage: "Truth is beauty and Beauty truth, that is all you know and all that you need to know."]

Return to Matherne's Rule#45.

Matherne's Rule #46: What happened? What didn’t happen?

When I get delayed, sick, injured, etc., I ask myself these two Permission-Protection questions, and the answer to one of them will usually tell me what the good intent was behind the event. The amazing thing is there is always a good intent, and asking oneself these two questions can help locate the good intent.

Permission: What good thing happened to me because of the event?

Protection: What bad thing might have happened but for the event?

Unscheduled events are the ways that life breaks through our fixed patterns of dealing with it. As I penned on page 492 of A Course in Miracles Text, the following poem sums up the apposite relationship of accidents and miracles.
Accidents are miracles
of wrong-mindedness
Miracles are accidents
of right-mindedness.
What wonders can you begin to perceive in your life if you start to notice how accidents are miracles which appear to help you overcome fixed behaviors which have not been good for you? Cindi Broaddus created the concept of "Random Acts of Kindness" after a random act of cruelty shattered her car windshield and covered her face and body with acid. She forgave the person who did it to her and through her testimony led thousands of others to do random acts of kindness.

How much stress can you remove from your life, if you consider that any and every delay you encounter can be protection for you from something negative or can give you permission to do something positive by providing an opportunity, a space in time in your otherwise overly full schedule of life? Listen to the deep self inside of you every day and in every way, and you will find ample permission and protection without the necessity of the delays we call accidents.

Return to Matherne's Rule#46.

Matherne's Rule #47: Have you noticed the Photographer Effect?

This Rule about the Photographer Effect gives a name to a process which I have been aware of for about 15 years or so. It began as an unanswered question triggered by my middle daughter sending me a photo of herself in a strapless gown taken by a friend of hers. She was thirty or so years old at that time, and for the first time, she looked like an adult of thirty! That was my unanswered question: What could possibly cause my subjective reaction to my own daughter's photographs that way?

The answer took about a dozen years to develop in my mind. I pondered the issue, and decided it must be due to the fact that all of the other photos that I had of Carla, I had taken myself, whereas the gown photo was taken by someone else, someone her own age and not her father. Then I noticed the effect dramatically played out at a family gathering in which I allowed a 5-year-old grand-daughter of my brother David to use my camera to take his photo, and the rest of the family's photos. She captured smiles that I had never seen on David's face, and all the people in the photo had great smiles. They were obviously reacting to the cute little girl taking their photos, and there was the Photographer Effect again in action.

Finally when the latest event happened in an email with Kevin Dann as he and I were discussing two photos he sent me for use as an author's photograph for my review of his new book, A Short Story of American Destiny, 1909 - 2009. One photo seems perfect and the other was actually better resolution, but not as good. He had told me that his girl friend, Francine, had sent the first photo, so it was easy to guess she had taken it also, especially from the look on his face. The second one, a technically better photo, in bright light, with great resolution, was a distant also-ran for the author's photograph, lacking a quality the first one had.

The Photographer Effect had emerged into the foreground for me and it was time to give it a name and a place in Matherne's Rules. Below is the email to Kevin about the two photographs. Later, Kevin confirmed that Francine had taken the one at the shore, and that a guy on the kayaking trip took the other photo.


I'm going to keep the two new photos you sent. The larger one is usable, but let me take a wild guess that your girl friend Francine did not take that one on the kayaking trip[Photo at right]. Good serious look, but the one by Francine has you looking into Readers's eyes as though you love them[Photo at left]. So it stays on the review.

I learned years ago this process of the way you look in a photo depends on how you feel about the person taking the photo. Haven't come up with a Matherne's Rule about that, up until now.

First piece to the puzzle: My daughter Carla never seemed to age in her photos, always looked like my little girl. Then one year at age 30, she sent me a photo of her in a formal gown she was trying on for a Ball. She LOOKED GROWN UP! How come, I thought. It wasn't the gown which did it, it was the look on her face.

As I pondered the matter, I realized that it was rare for me to see her in a photo NOT taken by me, her Father. When I took her photo, she looked like an ageless teenager. In the gown someone else took the gown photo and she looked 30, her real age. Whenever I took her photo, she reacted to me as Daddy, and smiled as she always has since a child.

Second piece to the puzzle: At my dad's 80th birthday, my brother's granddaughter Mindy wanted to take photos with my digital camera. I was finished with my photo-taking of the event, so I let her take the photos. The one she took of her grandpa, my brother David, was incredible. I never saw David smiling like that! He was smiling at his beloved grand-daughter. Likewise the photos of everyone whose photo she took that day. That's how I knew it wasn't Francine who took the photo, Bobby]]

Return to Matherne's Rule#47.

Matherne's Rule #48: Every good thing must come to a new good beginning.

This Matherne's Rule is intended to be a quick reframe of the old saw that "Every Good Thing Must Come to an End", a pithy saying that no one questions if they hear someone say, but I heard myself beginning to say it and I thought it was time to put an end to this saying by changing the ending.

What inspired me to say it that way? A lifetime of study, I might say, cavalierly, but I wrote about the most immediate inspiration which came from a Canadian public TV broadcast in our room in the Saint-Sulpice Hotel in Montréal. Here is my summary of this learned professor's lecture (excerpted from my Nov. 2010 Digest):

Early in the morning before our departure I watched an amazing lecture on TV by Frank Dumont, Professor Emeritus, McGill University. The professor lectured on "Laughing Rats, Cuddly Octopi," describing animal experiments which demonstrate that laughing helps humans live longer. He quoted many authors, most of whose books I have read and studied, Damasio, LeDoux, Norman Cousins, Donald Hebb, etal. Said their research with the functions of the hippocampus, cortex, limbic region, neocortex, etc, of the Central Nervous System confirms that laughter and levity helps prolong life.

"He who laughs, lasts." is how I like to put it.

He made an excellent point that planning for a good future is the best predictor of a good future because the process creates the desired future. Sounds like an idea for a new Matherne's Rule.

Many of my Matherne's Rules are founded on the belief that good beginnings can start at any moment from now on.

Every limitation expressed can be undone and turned into a new good beginning by using the limitation eraser. Perhaps you have never seen the limitation eraser used in actual practice, up until now.

Thinking of all these things inspired me to reframe the old cliche, "Every good thing must come to an end" into "Every good thing has to come to a new good beginning." As we were leaving the room upstairs for last time, I tried it on Del, "Everything good thing must come to a . . . new beginning." A few minutes later, I said it to Alexandre the bellman, and he liked the new ending which indicates every ending is a new beginning. And with that I found the new Matherne's Rule, "Every good thing must come to a new good beginning."

Skeptics might ask, "Bobby, how can you be assured of a new good beginning?" and I might call attention to the learned professor's claim that "planning for a good future is the best predictor of a good future" and it is, after all, my prerogative to plan for my own future. Other people do so all the time, at least they attempt to plan for a good future, but while doing so they create images of things happening they don't want to happen and those very unwanted things show up, just as planned and just as unwanted! Here, I'll demonstrate the process they use, "I won't make any more Matherne's Rules!" What is the image I have created? Making more Matherne's Rules. EAT-O-TWIST! They will be created, as EAT-O-TWIST never breaks!

Skeptics might ask, "Bobby, what happens if you die?" I can only tell them that, to my way of understanding Life, We do not die! You know Life? That mystery surrounded on both ends by enigmas. We do not die! When our Life comes to what skeptics call the "end" we will find a new good beginning. We live each moment in the middle of eternity! In middle of some new beginning that we can only imagine happening, and that's a good thing to do if you imagine a good thing!

Skeptics cannot be helped nor can they be dissuaded from their skepticism, but for the rest of humanity let me assure you that planning for a good future is the best predictor of a good future for yourself because the process creates the desired future, exactly as describing the house you want to a commissioned architect will create you living in that house. We understand the process works for inanimate objects like houses, but it takes a learned professor to show us that it works for every kind of future for which we plan. And a brash writer like me to proclaim eternal truths . . .

Return to Matherne's Rule#48.

Matherne's Rule #49: There's allways a loophole.

Inspired by Norman Friedman's book, Bridging Science and Spirit, on page 26, talking about Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem. To be added later.

Return to Matherne's Rule#49.

Matherne's Rule #50: You are allways arriving at the beginning of your future.

Inspired by Michael Paterniti in his book Driving Mr. Albert — A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain where he writes on page 17, "I wondered if I'd arrived at the beginning of my future."

We tend to think of the future as happening in, well, the future, but rightly understood the future, our future, is beginning right now, at this very second. As you, dear Reader, read these lines, your future is beginning at this moment, this moment, this moment. What are you doing with your future? The next moment will tell. Keep yourself fresh, alive, and optimistic by memorizing and repeating this Rule# 49: You are allways arriving at the beginning of your future.

If you were arriving at your past, you could do nothing to change it — your attitude would be "Oh, well, here I am again." — but the future, your future, is rife with possibilities especially if you open yourself to them as they unfold for you, one moment at a time. You are always on the verge of a great adventure — one that will be understood as a great adventure — some days, weeks, years, or decades in the future. You are living on the edge of the future every moment. Enjoy the thrill of climbing above the mundane past into the heady realm of your future right now and at every moment from now on.

Return to Matherne's Rule#50.

Matherne's Rule #51: Anything you get free is worth less than you paid for it.

I am offering this Rule to you for free, but it could save you a lot of needless extra work if you understand and apply it. So, every rule has an exception. Ever notice how often you accept a "FREE" offer and you end up doing all kinds of unwanted work and expense because of it? Take the FREE VACATION WEKK and you will have to spend several hours at an unwanted sales presentation. The examples abound if you watch for them. When you hear or see "FREE" you will soon learn to head in opposite direction. [October 29, 2019]


---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------

Footnote 1. Allways is a word that I coined which means both "all ways" and "always", in other words, it means "by whatever means possible" and "for an indefinite period of time into the future". I allways strive in both of these ways and no other word expresses this dual aspect of means and time extent so clearly.

Return to text directly before Footnote 1.


== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
22+ Million Good Readers have Liked Us
22,454,155 as of November 7, 2019
  Mo-to-Date Daily Ave 5,528 Readers  
For Monthly DIGESTWORLD Email Reminder:
! You'll Like Us, Too!

== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==

Click Left Photo for List of All ARJ2 Reviews      Click Right Bookcover for Next Review in List
Did you Enjoy this Webpage?
Subscribe to the Good Mountain Press Digest: Click Here!



All the tools you need for a simple Speed Trace IN ONE PLACE.

Do you feel like you're swimming against a strong current in your life? Are you fearful? Are you seeing red? Very angry? Anxious? Feel down or upset by everyday occurrences? Plagued by chronic discomforts like migraine headaches? Have seasickness on cruises? Have butterflies when you get up to speak? Learn to use this simple 21st Century memory technique. Remove these unwanted physical body states, and even more, without surgery, drugs, or psychotherapy, and best of all: without charge to you.


Counselor? Visit the Counselor's Corner for Suggestions on Incorporating Doyletics in Your Work.

All material on this webpage Copyright 2019 by Bobby Matherne