"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs...There's also a negative side."
Hunter S. Thompson
I cannot even begin to try to explain how difficult it is for men over the age of 25 years-old to cultivate friendships with fellow men. We live in a wickedly competitive society that most men have learned to play as a zero-sum game, meaning that whatever one man possesses or succeeds in results in something less for everyone else. Gore Vidal famously commented that in America "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." This is also known out here in woo-woo land as a "scarcity mentality," the opposite of believing that the universe is abundant and there is enough for everyone.
One would think that psychotherapists and yoga teachers would be above the common fray, but I have witnessed as much sniping, backstabbing, lying, money-grubbing and flakiness in the healing community in Los Angeles as when I worked in Hollyjungle. If Hollywood was infamously dubbed to be "High School with money," then putting two male therapists or yoga teachers together is often akin to putting Chevy Chase and Bill Murray together in an SNL dressing room with a pile of cocaine. I'll go as far as to say this: I've met drug dealers and prostitutes who have more personal integrity and are more authentic, honest and compassionate than most of the yoga teachers I have met in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, in the last few years I have been privileged to meet several upstanding men who have embarrassed me with their generosity and I feel obliged to publicly express my gratitude towards them. If you have already studied with me you know that the final part of my workshop discusses how we must learn how to replace resentment (things our minds tell us should be different or otherwise) with gratitude/acceptance if we wish to be happy. So instead of harping on the small-souled, fear-based egomaniacs who didn't feel it was worth their time to return my emails or phone calls when I reached out to them, let me tell you about some wonderful, old-school gentlemen:
Larry Payne - the co-founder of Yoga Therapy - attended a lecture I gave at a bookstore when I first moved to Santa Monica. Just the fact that such a tremendous scholar, writer, and teacher would come to hear me speak impressed (as well as intimidated) me. From a place of genuine curiosity he asked poignant questions regarding how I thought yoga could be used to treat mood disorders. After that we began to lunch regularly and out of nowhere he called the director at Esalen on my behalf and now I regularly teach sold-out workshops several times per year there. "Thanks for making me look good," Larry said with a huge smile when we lunch after I return from Esalen. Larry Payne is the paradigm of compassionate gentlemen and goes out of his way to help basically everyone who comes into contact with him.
Edward Ines is widely respected as one of the most talented and compassionate dentists in Los Angeles. When I lived in Berkeley a few years ago, I had a root canal on an upper molar and was experiencing similar pain in the tooth directly beneath it. Instead of thoughtlessly opting for a $3500 root canal and crown, Dr. Ines suggested that he try shaving down one corner of the lower tooth. "A millimeter is a mile," I recall him saying. After years of pain, he graciously shaved down the inner corner of the tooth and my pain was immediately relieved. Over the past eighteen years Dr. Ines has demonstrated time and time again that he only wants what is best for me. As far as dentists go, Edward Ines is some sort of angel.
Yariv Lerner - the founder of Udaya - approached me in a yoga class to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing. He invited me to lunch and then generously gave me an impromptu, three hour crash course on Search Engine Optimization and Google Analytics - showed me exactly who was looking at www.IraIsrael.com and how they were arriving there. Mindblowing. Besides being a gentleman, I think Yariv is a genius and someone with great integrity. He envisions every phone call and every meeting as a opportunity for a win-win situation.
Everyone out here knows that Dr. Ron Alexander is one true gem of a human being. When I moved back to LA he kindly invited me to sit in on one of his mindfulness classes and met with me a few times to mentor me starting my private psychotherapy practice. He was frank, direct and supportive and made me sit with my successes and "take them in." Ron's glass is never half-empty; Ron's glass is always overflowing. One Saturday afternoon my phone rang out of nowhere and it was Ron.
"I just wanted to tell you that I read your article in the Huffington Post this morning and I thought it was great!"
Wow... from the guy who wrote "Wise Mind, Open Mind" that is quite a complement! Thanks Ron! Anytime something falls outside of my scope I reach out to Ron who is always available as well as very smart, compassionate and funny.
To summarize, a gentleman is someone who doesn't see other people as competition, clients, or threats. A gentleman is someone who is open and available, someone who sees every fellow human being and every experience as a possibility. It is someone who thinks "How can we make this a win-win situation? What do I have to learn here? What can I share? How can I be of service? How can this relationship make the world a better place? How can I pay forward the generosity that all of my teachers have bestowed upon me? How can I overcome all of the fear-based tendencies that my ego has learned and be the change that I want to see in the world?"
We are all part of the transition team, moving from the dying, white, male, highly-competitive, scarcity-mentality hegemony that has pillaged the earth for the last few hundred years to the next, more sustainable, equitable, peaceful, compassionate, abundant, loving, win-win society.