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The Stuff of a Lifetime: Self, Sense, Soul, and Spirit in Human Experience

[The first edition was by Seabury Press (1983), soon bought by Winston Press, which was later bought by Harper/Collins. After selling the 4,000 copies of its original run, it fell out of print . . . until the Authors Guild BACKINPRINT.COM EDITION came out in 2005.]

(The book's current Preface, Table of Contents, and Opening Chapter are found in the lower right-hand panel of this website's first or HOME SITE page ... (immediately above the section marked "Official Dedication Pages.")

OR . . .

Musical Theater

A Place In Between

Show Me & Show Me Again

A two-play festival of American Musical Theater

Dakota Dawn


I. The Relation between Awareness & Experience

II. The Embodiment of Human Experience

III. The Enactment of Human Experience

IV. The Embodiment & Enactment of Human Experience

Lyrics to English translation of Claudia Jung's "Come und tanz ein letztes mal mit mir"

( A close English translation below by Gene Ruyle tying each syllable directly to the beat – www.generuyle.com ) [... this to be moved to the Media section of the Viennese Coffee House page ]
Come and dance . . . for one last time with me
For this last time tonight, so I can stand the cold
Come and take . . . me in your arms once more
Then it won’t hurt as much and something’s left from you
Until we meet again . . . hmmm

Shadows shove us from each other
You must go from me
Trains are waiting in the blue of night
Hold me tight when you are speaking
Say the word you know I’m seeking
Hey . . . why must it hurt this way?

Come and dance . . . this one last time with me
For just our time tonight, and I can take the cold
Come and dance the Blues again with me
And it won’t be as bad if something’s left by you
Till we can meet again . . . hmmm

I will wait for you forever
Never mind how long
Every train must someday come back home
I have written it in your heart
I’ll love you with mine forever
Stay . . . till morning’s early time.

Hold me tight and when you’re speaking
Say the words you know I'm seeking
Hey . . . what makes it hurt this way?

Come and dance . . . this one last time with me
Just one last time tonight, and I can stand the cold
Come and take . . . me once more in your arms
For it won’t hurt as much when something’s left of you

( English translation by Gene Ruyle – posted on website at the Authors Guild in NY )

* * *

Sources of Professional Training

      Again and again studies show there is little or no correlation between years of training and degree of effectiveness. Not surprising, for that is confirmed in most everyone's experience. What we spend the bulk of our time on is very soon forgotten. Happily, with what I happened across, things turned out otherwise.

      The significant influences in my life that affected my overall understanding of Psychology, as well as my evolving work within it, came from three sources: 1.) personal relationships with some excellent practitioners; 2.) fortunate years spent working at the Human Development Institute in Atlanta; 3.) my fortuitous and unusual five-year doctoral program -- especially the extraordinary give-and-take it led to with the members of its committee, all people who had achieved distinction in their own field as well as recognition and even some national prominence.

      Here then, in capsule form, is a tiny bit to identify each of these three sources, and to gratefully acknowledge what others generously took of their time to give, which not only taught me -- and here comes the crucial part -- but which also allowed me to learn -- and that have thereby all had a lasting impact on my life and work.

The three pieces follow . . .

A participant's experience in a workshop based on the book

[ EDITORIAL NOTE: Since all experience arises from within, there is no way to structure it from without. To attempt to give people a set of "experiences" of any kind, and then tell them what to call these, is essentially brainwashing. People must be left to find their own words -- anything else will rob them of their own discovery -- and it is only when they start to find their words, that they also start to find their way.

Below are her words just as she wrote them (every dot, every space, every emphasis is hers), of someone making her way to discovery and understanding in an experience embracing both. No one could give to or take from her what she found. G.R. ]

"I am feeling light and joyful. . .and internally sure and powerful after experiencing the workshop you led this past weekend. It wasn't what I expected...and I experienced myself disappointed, frustrated, body sore and mind tired...watching my subtle judgments rising from the depths of me...then...slowly all the 'unnecessary, nonsensical words' you send adrift into the room were breathed into my body, caressing, filling, stirring me into awareness. . .awareness of how I was choosing to be... as I waited for others to create the experience I was expecting.

      I am so grateful for the 'knowing' you brought with you and shared with us by what you did NOT do. Again and again you encouraged us to be aware of and own the experience of our own unique moments of life...in what ever way it was for us. Living it, sharing it when we felt led to do so. Just as you did.

      Slowly I watched my self-judgments dissolve, revealing the aliveness of the hidden me. The veil of judgment that separated me from others vanished too, and I could take in their beauty and aliveness.

      The workshop was not what I expected.... it was so much MORE! I am grateful for the safe, loving space you created in which I could learn how to meet my own need for inner and outer connection, community, acceptance and love.

      I expected wise words of wisdom, in-depth knowledge, answers, direction, clarity....instead, I got someone who encouraged me to be aware, notice, observe, question, feel, imagine.... be...whatever was there, accept it, observe what it is telling or showing me. You held a light high above and it revealed where the treasures lay buried...within. And then you delighted in our discoveries."

A. R. -- in North Carolina (December, 2007)

* * *

A Lasting Personal Influence

Sidney M. Jourard


      Clinical psychologist, university professor, mentor to many, a leading figure in the "third-force" movement of Humanistic Psychology, lecturer and workshop leader at growth centers near and far in the Human Potential tradition, author of The Transparent Self, a minor classic in academic psychology, which almost single-handedly contributed 'self-disclosure' to its working vocabulary -- all of which captures nothing essential about this remarkable man and the abidingly original and refreshingly engaging way in which he chose to live.

      With great trepidation, I'd sought him out because of a moving encounter I'd had a day or two before, which to my untrained eye seemed to be a vivid example of the point I recalled him making in a lecture a year or so before -- and I felt compelled to find out what he thought of it.

      They sandwiched me in to the ten minute slot between two of his "fifty-minute hour" counseling sessions. After five minutes of my recounting the by then seemingly insignificant saga, I fell into a silence large enough to drive a train through. With my confidence evaporated, I felt foolish and ridiculous. Apologizing for wasting his time, I began picking up my books to leave. "Not so fast," he said, pulling out his pipe, thumbing tobacco into its bowl with a slight smile. "Wasting my time, huh?" he said, eyeing me as he put the still unlit pipe into his mouth. "For three years I've been waiting for a human being to come through my door and say what you just said." Then, he rose, stepped from behind his desk and crossed over to stand a few feet away from the couch on which I was sitting, and said, "Do you have time for a cup of coffee?" I felt as if the heavens had opened. That was the first time we'd ever spoken. The contact begun there never ceased until he died.

      He was certainly one of the most throughly genuine human beings I have ever met -- authentic enough not to always be at his best, and yet to give, particularly then, his mundane or mediocre as well . . . without apology. He would puncture pretense the instant it started its huffing and puffing, whether it be his or someone else's -- and with disarming effectiveness, for he illustrated his points first-hand by referring directly to his own foibles and frailties. Wit, word play, and double entendre were not just "at the ready," they never stopped operating. Which is why every conversation with him was eventful, with many a twist, turn, reversal and surprising outcome . . . even to him.

      Having friends did not matter to him overly, but being a real one mattered terribly -- which brought him so many more than most people ever have -- yet he accomplished this in a refreshing and delightfully unorthodox way. For his being who he was at the moment was done with such total spontaneity and natural flair, that it came across as a pleasing invitation to join him in doing the same. That is why he was uncommonly easy to be around, and why there was always so much breathing room around him -- room in which to bask and be.

      Those who knew him sensed, and rightly, that they were every bit as unique to him as he was to them. All would have their particular way of expressing his irrepressible and irreplaceable vitality. Mine is this: By being who he was, and allowing others to be unlike him, he out-humaned others -- he certainly out-humaned me -- and to those willing to see this, accept it, and ready to reciprocate, he had thus shown a fuller and much freer way to live.

      This he did splendidly. It was going on in him all the time, even when he wasn't thinking about it. This is what he was always out there doing. If he were here right now, I would say, "You know, Sid . . . you're always out doing yourself." And if I ever had, I know it would have made him smile.

* * *

The Human Development Institute

Atlanta, Georgia (1969-1974)

      The Institute ("HDI") began as a private company started by two psychologists, Jerome I. Berlin ("Jerry") and Ben Wyckoff, both then teaching at Emory University. Jerry, the younger of the two, was the protégé of the eminent Carl Rogers, working with him at the University of Chicago before Rogers went to the University of Wisconsin, and Ben had been a gifted student of the equally eminent B. F. Skinner, when the great man was still at Indiana University before going to Harvard.

      Jerry's dissertation was "Some Autonomic Correlates of Therapeutic Conditions in Interpersonal Relationships," which measured body reactions associated with Rogers' four crucial variables (Genuineness, Understanding, Valuing, and Acceptance -- later combined into: "accurate empathy, non-possessive warmth, and unconditioned positive regard"), while Ben, a strict Behaviorist, was more interested in learning theory and operant conditioning (and using it to test results by rewarding pigeons with food pellets to produce desired and observable behavioral changes).

      The two men steadfastly debated the factors they believed brought about therapeutic change, but instead of going their separate ways as Skinner and Rogers, with their many followers, had done (for those were the two main choices then), they became associates, fused these two conflicting schools of thought into a unified approach, left Emory University, founded the Institute, and pioneered the very first programmed approach in the interpersonal field found in the Behavioral Sciences. There they continued their research, developed many materials, and a host of new programs ensued.

      These programs were many in number and varied in nature, aim, and content. The most solidly researched was a leaderless group program reaching HDI by way of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute (WBSI), in La Jolla, California, where Betty Berzon (see photo) was then working closely with Carl Rogers and two other gifted teachers who became her mentors. Years later, as the author of many books and by then a successful psychologist and psychotherapist in her own right, Betty would say that it was at WBSI that she really "learned psychology" and had her eyes opened to the inner workings of the intensive group process. Her memoir, Surviving Madness: A Therapist's Own Story, traces in great detail the interesting and intricately intertwined strands of both her professional and personal life over the next thirty years, chiefly highlighting the saga of its unfolding sexuality, in a courageous, characteristically thorough, and compellingly candid fashion.

      Betty (who also knew Sid Jourard, by the way) came to HDI on regular working visits, and it was through conversations connected with these that she and I became personally acquainted. (Much more on all this will be found in the resources section of The Virtual Viennese Coffee House Café.)

      There was ongoing research, program design and production, extensive national training, and non-stop consulting for educational institutions, private corporations, business and industry. In its heyday, HDI employed nearly forty people.

      Walter Cronkite devoted two entire The 21st Century television broadcasts to Ecountertapes, a ten-session series the Institute had released a short time before, plus an altogether different work-related program it was then researching.

      While this was taking place in Atlanta, Detroit, and Chicago, the Institute also produced a series entitled "Contemporary Psychotherapists in Action," filming Harold Greenwald on the east coast, Bill Schutz at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and concluding with full demonstrations by . . .

Fritz Perls in Gestalt Therapy . . .

and Eric Berne in Transactional Analysis . . .

Both of whom were in fine form and full splendor, working in lengthy live-action sessions before the 1970 American Psychological Association convention in San Francisco.

      "HDI, " as those of us who worked there called it, was an exciting, frenetic, slightly crazy, creatively frustrating and always heady place in which to work. (Sid Jourard, mentioned above, who knew Jerry Berlin from the days when they worked together in the psychology department at Emory University, always relished playfully referring to it as "Jerry And The Pirates," -- a pun on the classic comic strip "Terry And The Pirates.") Near the end of my time there, when the Institute was sold by its owning company (Bell & Howell), and all of its people let go, as the last remaining employee, I was contracted with to write the catalog for its many products and materials, and then allowed to continue consulting under its name as a means of financial support during a very full five-year doctoral program.

      This kept me moving back and forth across the country during these years, pushed my mind to its outermost limits and rearranged the order of its every compartment, opening up regions and realities I'd never encountered before, bringing me into close and constant contact with extraordinary people of exceptional capability, and taught me that it was up to me to learn the teaching out of anything I really wanted to know. And, as Roy P. Fairfield, the remarkable head and founder of this consortium of respected colleges and universities across the country soon informed me, it was Sid Jourard's letter of recommendation that helped get me into the challenging but unusually rewarding graduate program -- the only one I had any interest in ever considering.

My Doctoral Program & Its Full Academic Committee

      Officially, it began with a three-week colloquium in Kennebunkport, Maine, in a large two-story house not many yards from a rocky shoreline looking out onto the Atlantic. There to see us rightly started off was the head and principal founder of the Union Graduate School -- now known as Union Institute & University -- were Roy P. Fairfield (Ph.D. from Harvard University, visionary educator, chair of numerous impressive academic organizations, professor and itinerant faculty of several institutions of learning, editor of The Humanist -- and the list goes far past "on"), some Adjunct Professors, several Core Faculty people, and about thirty-five doctoral students assembled from across the United States and other countries scattered around the world. The members of my Committee were carefully chosen in light of the three criteria crucial to the non-traditional, self-directed program found at U.G.S. -- all of which had to lead to a specific tangible outcome called the Project Demonstrating Excellence. And the three criteria for selecting its committee were:

  • recognized ability to contribute to the project's chosen areas of investigation;

  • interest in the project's general aim:

  • willingness to participate in the U.G.S. process.

      With my aim being to develop a fresh approach to human experience (for the reasons mentioned in the comments about Jonas Salk, especially for the inescapable changes -- radical as well as subtle -- evidenced then in so many ways, and found in every major institution of our country's culture and that of most all others), I boldly asked people I had come across through their writings -- and then later in some direct way also encountered in their work -- if they would be willing to join in an effort which was, so to speak . . . audacious. (One of them put this in the colorful language the military had taught me, though the point was essentially as stated!) Fortunately -- and this to their credit and generosity and to nothing of mine -- everyone said yes. And I am forever in debt to them all. For the program became my project, the project became my book, the book became my work, and the work became my life.

Starting my seven-year doctoral program (in the 1970s)

      These were Sam Keen (see photo), graduate of Harvard Divinity School, with a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Princeton University, author of several books on The New York Times best-seller list, interviewed in a TV special on PBS by Bill Moyers, and back then a Contributing Editor of Psychology Today; Vincent F. O'Connell, Ph.D. from Adelphi University, a native of Cork County, Ireland, Diplomate from the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology, editor of the newsletter of the American Academy of Psychotherapists, trained in Gestalt therapy with Fritz Perls in Columbus, Ohio, and at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, and then on the faculty of the Medical School at the University of Florida, teaching therapeutic process to psychiatric interns, with special emphasis on dream interpretation, Eastern religious thought and contemplative meditation; Charles P. Price, Ph.D., professor for years at Virginia Seminary in Alexandria, later Preacher to the University and chairman of the Board of Preachers at Harvard University, and long-time member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church; Thomas Hanna, Ph.D., author and philosophy professor, then Director of the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training, and founding editor of Somatics: Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences; Charles Martin, Ph.D., (Core Faculty member) professor of molecular biology at Howard University in Washington, D.C., with broad academic background in the natural sciences and formal methodology of scientific research; and the two student peer committee members were Harvey Robins, whose project focused on bringing about change in institutional settings (particularly prisons, in which I had done my clinical training when in seminary), and Edward Muller, who for years had been the pianist for the performances of the legendary dancer, Martha Graham.

      Some have since died and some are still alive. Sam is alive and flying high -- as in, and on, trapeezes (links to his works can be found in The Virtual Viennese Coffee House Café, along with those to works of others mentioned throughout this site). Up to my very last breath, I shall harbor the memory of what each one gave that I have remained grateful for ever since.

* * *

Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved. Gene Ruyle

      ( from the inside flyleaf on the Authors Guild BACKINPRINT.COM edition:)

"Not just something to read, this book is one to use -- to dip into, think about, lay aside awhile as you go live a little more, and then come back to pick up again. With them each step of the way, this book takes its readers on a fascinating journey into their own lives . . . into its special moments and general routines; into its turning points, those pivotal endings and beginnings with the gaps and pauses in between; into life's peaks, pits, and plateaus -- keeping an eye out all the while for the more, that vital, living part of what people are outside their picture of themselves. The aim is to find the very stuff of life, and to become better acquainted with and guided by our own uniqueness."

      By providing a glimpse into the "stuff of life," this book aims to place within people's hands the meaning by which they live, so that from then on they may be better guided by their own uniqueness. By lifting the formative life-process of the individual into view, it seeks to enkindle within readers their desire to reclaim their bodies, recover their souls, and re-enter the world.

      Once a person has grasped the What of their life, they must go on to also then identify its How; for if they don't, then even though they may generally know what to be, they still won't know quite what to do -- and most all human misery arises out of the state of not knowing what to do.