Dr. Dukes’ Musings

Home/Dr. Dukes' Musings

What is inspiration?

The theological definition of inspiration is “a special or immediate action or influence of the spirit of God (or of some divinity or supernatural being) upon the human mind or soul,” (OED).

I experience inspiration as something that is reaching out, compelling me to listen while at the same time encouraging me to find a means for expression.

 However, it is not entirely correct to say, “it reaches out to me,” because I have to actively work to receive it, to allow it into me, and to then discern what is actually being offered.

 To receive inspiration, I need to act upon “that which is seeking my attention.” In a very real sense, I have to give this inspiration a body so that it can then begin to live within me.

By |November 4th, 2016|Categories: Dr. Dukes' Musings|0 Comments

There is a Thread

IMG_3962The Way It Is

“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

~ William Stafford

The Power of Nothing

Could studying the placebo effect change the way we think about medicine?

In 2011, Harvard created an institute at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center under the direction of Ted Kaptchuk: its sole purpose being Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter. Can placebos when given deliberately, be employed in clinical practice; could placebos possibly replace medicine?

Something has to change the chain from illness to pill – the simple solution to a single problem.  Somewhere we have to acknowledge the healing power of being witnessed and held in relationship by our doctors: honest words, a pat on the back, encouraging, empathetic resonance. At some point, we have to question the unquestionable: can our expectations have a profound impact on our ability to heal and, if left to its own healing, can the brain produce its own pharmacy? -Sdukes

Michael Specter The New Yorker December 12, 2011, p. 30

Image: Tdukes, 2011

By |February 8th, 2015|Categories: Dr. Dukes' Musings|5 Comments


Our relationships exist separately from us in a formless field of possibility, and our participation determines their success. How we feel, think and behave is directly mirrored by our connections with others. Our relationships exist in subtle and nuanced forms that are determined in a moment-to-moment participatory, relational state – a confluence of energy, consciousness and behavior contributed by all involved. It is not until we observe, hold, and thereby participate that our relationships actually come into form. In any given moment of relating, the degree of consciousness shaped by our individual psychological and emotional patterns predetermine the form the relationship may take. In other words, our relationships are a participatory-phenomena dependent upon not only our behavior but how we think and feel as we engage.

There, however, is a catch; how we think and feel about our relationships is often entirely separate from the actual potential that lives within the relationship:

  • Our thoughts about our relationships are actually just that, thoughts about our relationships.
  • Our feelings about our relationships are just our feelings. They may or may not have much to do with the actual relationship.

It is not until we are engaged with the other or others who comprise the particular relationship that we can accurately determine its true nature. Meaning, this interdependent, co-arising entity, relationship, carries within it a potential for transformation. Knowing this, we have an opportunity to shape each moment of interaction. Whether we are with a stranger, our children, partner, colleagues or friends – we have a choice:

  • If we greet the moment with kindness, a soft response emerges.
  • If we show up with happiness, we invite a playful and hopeful connection.
  • When we connect with compassion, an opportunity for deeper understanding is available.
  • When we embrace the moment with curiosity, we open to a dance with the unknown.

With a mindful and present understanding, we can re-discover our relationships within an unfolding opportunity of possibility.  –Tdukes

By |October 14th, 2014|Categories: Dr. Dukes' Musings|1 Comment


Photo: Tdukes, UK, 2005

Every day, through every endeavor, we are defined by our relationships and exist within their interdependent union. Most of the time, however, we do not realize the significance of those who pass through our lives. We think of ourselves as individuals independent of the other; however, this experience of separateness, of aloneness is simply an illusion. We are connected, each to the other, we have always been and we always will be.

The context of our organization, our business, our profession, our art and the relationships that ensue in our professional and personal life may be the most productive context in which to realize this oneness and to appreciate and receive the benefits. That is to say, we can profit by acknowledging that we are deeply and undeniably connected.

To reach the outcomes we seek, to perform at the level we know that we are capable, and to achieve our dreams, we do so through our relationships. And therefore, if, in fact, we already live in connection with one another, we do not have to re-create the bond that brings about the realization of our goals; we just have to remove the distortions that inhibit their manifestation.

Self-Certainty Crushes Possibility

100_1730“The statues are now only corpses from which the living soul has flown, just as the hymns are words from which belief has fled. The tables of the gods provide no spiritual food and drink, and in his games and festivals man no longer recovers the joyful consciousness of his unity with the divine. The works of the Muse now lack the power of the Spirit, for the Spirit has gained its self-certainty from the crushing of gods and men. They have become what they are for us now—beautiful fruit already picked from the tree, which a friendly Fate has offered us, as a girl might set the fruit before us. It cannot give us the actual life in which they existed, not the tree that bore them, not the earth and the elements which constituted their substance, not the climate which gave them their peculiar character, not the cycle of the changing seasons that governed the process of their growth. So Fate does not restore their world to us along with the works of antique Art, it gives not the spring and summer of the ethical life in which they blossomed and ripened, but only the veiled recollection of that actual world.'” (Hegel Without End. p.26)


The Mystery in Life

When I was a boy, I spent time in a ravine. After school and on weekends, I found solace in the woods. Filtered sunlight illuminating the soft, green moss that couched the sides of forgotten trees, and the pungent smell of composting earth offered me the calm and peacefulness that only nature can provide, a respite from life, home, family. It was here that mysteries were uncovered and language was spoken without the use of words. It was here that I learned to respect and commune with the natural world.

The ravine has come to symbolize the unfolding of life as it should when left to its cyclical nature. Leaves would fall, the earth would harden, my footprints would lay frozen on the ground, and then before too long, as the days began to lengthen, the creek would flow more freely and with this spring came life, renewal. And, just as summer could not grow any sweeter, the leaves would begin to color, the air chill, and as the acorns fell, they were quickly buried for safe keeping.

Life in the ravine taught me to love. It taught me about the sacred and the preciousness of every living thing. It taught me respect for a world that I can only inhabit not control. It taught me, most importantly, to walk gently upon this earth and tread lightly over its surface.

Image: Paul Zachman, 2009