Inner Michael » Inspiration and I-Thou

Inspiration and I-Thou

In this healing space is a photo of my granchildren and Michael Jackson. There is also my sparkling gold “Gratitude” sign and huge floor to ceiling windows that overlook the backyard that leads to the river. What more is needed for healing? For inspiration?

My granchildren remind me there is a reason why I work to “simply change the world” as a wordsmith. Each of us can choose to A: Make the world a better place or B: Make the world a bitter place. What do you choose– bitter or better? To mope or hope? It is all about the children, after all– the future’s children. And their children. And theirs. Is it nature or nurture? Nature makes it beautiful but nurture makes it exquisite. Nature doesn’t require humans; nurture does.

Nurture can create I-Thou realtions. Once adopted, I-Thou can be further nurtured. And if encouraged and nurtured, that philosophy can become predominant. The predominant philosophy of the current age seems to be fueled by an undercurrent of cynicism and either fatalism or pessimism. Is it dark because we look for, or are taught to look for evidence of darkness? What would happen if we deliberately went against the tide? what if we decided to swim upstream? How would it be if we decided to deliberately look for the light? Would the world get brighter? Hmmm.

The future could look like Los Angeles in Blade Runner or it can look like Pandora after the invaders are expelled and sent back to earth. The decision is a no-brainer at least from this vantage point it is. From the vantage point of those who eschew the warnings about climate change and resulting disaster in the form of melting ice caps and rising sea levels, there is a lack of certainty. Noah’s neighbors were skeptical too. “Did you see that fool down the street building that big boat; there’s no water ’round here for hundreds of miles?”

It will take humans cooperating with other humans to create a new world where everybody is an equal member of the human tribe. The movie “Avatar” gave us an example of that kind of society. The Navi` of Avatar operated in that democratic way as recognized members of a holonistic society- where everybody was a memeber of the family (species.) Not only did they learn how to communicate effectively with each other, but also with non-Navi` (think non-human) inhabitants of their moon (think world) but actually commune with them in an unusual way. It is beyond telepathy and mimics shamanic merging– something indigenous shamans have been doing for centuries. It was a beautiful thing to watch. That sort of communication and species communion requires a mindset infrastructure that involves changing from an I-It relationship with the world to the I-Thou inspired by Martin Buber:

(From Wikipedia):

In “I-It,” the “It” refers to the world of experience and sensation. I-It describes entities as discrete objects drawn from a defined set (e.g., he, she or any other objective entity defined by what makes it measurably different from other living entities). It can be said that “I” have as many distinct and different relationships with each “It” as there are “It”s in my life. Fundamentally, “It” refers to the world as we experience it.

By contrast, the word pair “I-Thou” describes the world of relations. This is the “I” that does not objectify any “It” but rather acknowledges a living relationship. “I-Thou” relationships are sustained in the spirit and mind of an “I” for however long the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. A person sitting next to a complete stranger on a park bench may enter into an “I-Thou” relationship with the stranger merely by beginning to think positively about people in general. The stranger is a person as well, and gets instantaneously drawn into a mental or spiritual relationship with the person whose positive thoughts necessarily include the stranger as a member of the set of persons about whom positive thoughts are directed. It is not necessary for the stranger to have any idea that he is being drawn into an “I-Thou” relationship for such a relationship to arise. But what is crucial to understand is the word pair “I-Thou” can refer to a relationship with a tree, the sky, or the park bench itself as much as it can refer to the relationship between two individuals. The essential character of “I-Thou” is the abandonment of the world of sensation, the melting of the between, so that an individual stands in direct relationship with another “I”.

Relationship in the I-Thou form legitimizes all life as kin. J. Allen Boone has written of this philosophy as it relates to animals and the world around us in his book “A Kinship with All Life.” The book will forever change one’s mind about “dumb animals.” It’s one of those paradigm-shifting earthquake moments.

We recently spoke about perspective in particular if you read my monthly column at “Jam Cafe`” that was about “Perception” in particular as it relates to MJ fans.

Our perception of life and in particular how and why we are inspired is the core of our expressions in the world whether that expression is personal, business, relationships, or how we relate to the world. People FEEL our perceptions and in particular, the “why” of our perceptions.

Looking deeper into the I-Thou relational theory:

Buber uses an example of a tree and presents five separate relations:





  1. the first relation is looking at the tree as a picture with the color and details through the aesthetic perception;
  2. the second relation is identifying the tree as movement. The movement includes the flow of the juices through the veins of the tree, the breathing of the leaves, the roots sucking the water, the never-ending activities between the tree and earth and air, and the growth of the tree;
  3. the third relation is categorizing the tree by its type, in other words, studying it;
  4. the fourth relation is the ability to look at something from a different perspective. “I can subdue its actual presence and form so sternly that I recognize it only as an expression of law”;
  5. the fifth relation is interpreting the experience of the tree in mathematical terms.

Through all of these relations, the tree is still an object that occupies time and space and still has the characteristics that make it what it is.

If “Thou” is used in the context of an encounter with a human being, the human being is not He, She, or bound by anything. You do not experience the human being; rather you can only relate to him or her in the sacredness of the I-Thou relation. The I-Thou relationship cannot be explained; it simply is. Nothing can intervene in the I-Thou relationship. I-Thou is not a means to some object or goal, but a definitive relationship involving the whole being of each subject.

So how might it be if we, just for a moment and deliberately stepped into an I-Thou place? What if we saw all expressions of life as kin? Would we be inspired?

It is all about being inspired! Inspiration is what reaches deep inside you, grasps that creative spark and ingnites a fire with it. Michael Jackson inspired millions of people. Artist do that particularly well. Artists long to inspire. Michael Jackson longed to inspire. He did. and he continues to inspire.

How many people do you know whose passing caused weeping in the streets? Perhaps the Kennedys. Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Lady Diana. And Michael. Michael’s passing had an unusual effect on people. Hundreds of people had a spontaneous spiritual emergency and awakening triggered by Michael’s death. Many were moved to action as they were inspired by Michael. Some found and developed talents they didn’t know they had. Some were moved to create something or contribute to something in his memory. Michael Jackson fans, inspired by Michael continue to change the world and make it a better place. They do it our of inspiration and admiration of the man, his music, his work, his humantarianism and his artistry. The legacy continues…

Here is one thing Michael inspired:

The Voices Education ProjectWords and Violence” Program inspires education and educators all over the world with information and education in a collection that has grown to more than 300 pages of resources. The mission? “To create a more humane narrative on the planet.” How? By teaching people through story and experiential exercises how desstructive words and images are when used violently and to bully. And to demonstrate alternatives.

The project was inspired by the discovery that Michael Jackson was an innocent man ravaged by tabloid newspapers and reporters solely to increase circulation, sell copy and make a profit. It was a horrifying discovery and it led to exploration of Lady Diana and how she too, was treated by the media and how she was injured by the irresponsible use of words. Diana was killed while being chased by paparazzi who were hunting her down for the next day’s juicy headline about her “love affair” with Dodi Fayed and for the “money shot” which is the photo that will bring in thousands of dollars to the photographer who gets it. (The “money shot” is usually a photo of the targeted celebrity in a compromising or unusual situation. As Diana lay injured in the back seat of the Mercedes, the paparazzi continued to snap pictures as her life ebbed away. After her death, Britain’s top tabloid CEOs admitted to creating a climate in the tabloid industry that made her death possible.

Lady Diana Spencer and Michael Jackson were the planet’s two most prolific humanitarians of the twentieth century. They were both global treasures whose lives were marred by the publishing of rumor, innuendo and lies. Both of them suffered greatly at the hands of “journalists” who used them and their celebrity to make a name for themselves or to impress editors and to make a profit. They were both unjustly and relentlessly bullied by an out of control media that remains out of control today. Their humanitarian efforts are all but overlooked. Telling this story is important to the children of the future. Teaching them discernment and critical thinking is important to their future and the future of this planet.

When there are souls to be admired, it seems there are always those who seek to destroy them. Their fame inspires jealousy and envy and in some cases, a hatred fueled by sexism, racism or any one of those ugly isms that humans inhabit to betray those of their same species. Instead of the shadow side of human nature, what if we deliberately inhabited the bright shadow? What if we were so inspired? Are we? Are you? Would you like to be? Do you beleive that we together, can create an I-Thou movement? That we can set in motion something new and long ovedue? What if we created something guaranteed to be Michael inspired, Michael approved. Would you be interested?

“Words and Violence” is but one of the ways in which Michael Jackson has inspired millions in millions of ways. Here are a few of the others …


A rapper is inspired by Michael





Larry Nimmer who filmed the Neverland documentary was inspired by Michael and how he maintained his childlike nature.




Is it possible this officer is inspired by Michael Jackson?




These guys are inspired by the “Man in the Mirror”




Gerri was definitely inspired by Michael and she has inspired many herself




And then there are the books inspired by Michael Jackson:



































































What are you inspired to do? And do you think we can create enough I-Thou that we can become inspired together?
If we could and did, what would that look like?


I referenced the “Compassion Project” to a reader who asked that it be reprinted, so I am adding it here as an addendum. The “Compassion Project” is a brainchild of “Avatar” and Harry Palmer. (see below.) Another Compassion Project was developed in my city of Appleton and was applauded by the Dalai Lama and you can find that at the Appleton Compassion Project website.

Avatar “Compassion Project:”



  1. mjt829 said . . .

    Thank you for reminding me, through Michael, to use the gift that God has placed in our hearts, and to let it flow with total abandonment… to not focus on getting out of the “storm” but to learn to “dance” in the rain. Puttin’ on my “dancin'” shoes and finding the “joy in the Journey” of every day.

    Posted April 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Well said, T. Namaste` ~B

    Posted April 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  3. victoria drumbakis said . . .


    I find it incredibly synchronous that you are moving us in the direction of Martin Buber’s I-Thou relationship with the world. I have been studying Taoist spirituality and Qi Gong for 20 years with a Master Teacher. Over the past two years he too is convinced that the key to the next step in human development is the mastery of I-Thou and has been writing and quoting Buber to us on a regular basis. It is quite heady stuff and requires an understanding of relationship which goes much further than what we are “taught”. Hoping you will continue presenting this philosophy and these concepts to us as I believe them to be the key to “making that change”, making that shift in the way mankind will relate to all that is. Only the highest level of teacher could even attempt to open this door. I believe that Michael had an innate sense of I-Thou as he related naturally to the entire universe as kin, people, animals, nature. He is why I am here talking to you about Martin Buber. Incredible no? I-Thou, is the next great shift. You are the one to take us there.

    Thank you Barbara….love and light

    Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:53 am | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Oh boy; no pressure, right? I’d like to be worthy of your faith in me; I will give it my best effort. Yes, I-Thou or some form of it is a necessary step in the evolution of consciousness. It has, and can be called by other names (Advanced Object Relations Theory minus the spiritual in textbbook human growth and development that was the likely origin) and as we expand from there, there are many means by which to arrive. A month ago I gave you an Avatar practice called the “Compassion Project Exercise” which also points in this same direction. J. Allen Boone began with animals and in particular with a German Shepherd named “Strongheart:” (coincidence?) and extrapolated from there. Some of his work may amaze, but in my experience working with Penelope Smith, the intelligence and compassion of animals far beyond what we normally ascribe to them is born out by working with interspecies communication and bonding. What are humans but advanced animal intelligence? Heartmath, the Institute of Noetic Science, Kripalu and other research projects give us experimentation that proves what the mystics were saying all along- imagine science proving the existence of the supernatural! Shamans speak to the sprit of things– the land, the waters, plants, animals, a landscape feature, places, spaces and holy objects and environments. The series on chakras (“Michael Messages”) is also essential to illustrate the evolution of human consciousness and its vibrational advancement. There are so many tools at our disposal– more on the planet than ever before! We live in an exciting time and in the midst of the paradox. We will be talking about holons later for those of you who like to… ahem, work ahead, Victoira. Namaste` ~B ( *she says as she winks and chuckles* )

    Posted April 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  5. karen said . . .

    Beautiful…and I agree absolutely with Victoria in thinking that Michael had the I-Thou relationship figured out. I’ve often wondered, was he born with a such a wise old soul full of innate knowledge, or was it his drive and passion that led him to read and practice and learn, like most of us humans must?
    Barbara I read your comment about the “compassion project exercise” and wonder if I am missing something? I haven’t come across this ‘homework’ on the site…and I love guidance and lessons, would love to know where to find it here.
    I’ve been thinking of you and hoping that your healing and rehab are going really well, and will continue to do so. Much love, Karen

    Posted April 7, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink
  6. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Michael Jackson was absolutely I-Thou oriented. It is likely he was born that way as he is also a natural empath. I, for example, can’t ever remember being any other way; as a child I used to cry myself to sleep because my church taught that if you weren’t of my particular faith and weren’t baptised, you could not enter the kingdom of Heaven. So it follows that all those starving and dying babies in Africa that I heard about were doomed to eternal damnation according to the teaching of my childhood religion. Those kinds of things are excruciatingly traumatic and painful for a sensitive child– an empath and I-Thou centered human. I credit much of my empathy and understanding of Michael to my childhood and my own hard-wiring. There are other means for an extreme “change of heart” as evidenced by near-death or some other kind of conversion experience. A peak experience can bring it on as well. Spiritual emergencies can overwhelm and dissolve the ego and create a new being and way of thinking. So if Michael wasn’t born with it (best answered by his mother,) he had an early experience that fundamentally changed him. I’m guessing his mother would say he was born with it she mentions that early in life he felt empathy and compassion for starving children and made an immediate vow to do something about it as an adult.

    That is the same way my involvement with Russia and Sister Cities came about- that mission chronicled in a book “Looking Back” by Kay Kennedy. My vow came at an early age too: “When I am a grownup, I will do something.”

    Thank you for your well wishes. Beyond recovery I am going to be working on an amazing project that you all will hear about when it’s completed- and you are going to love it! And I am developing a new project and website that I hope you all will help with (we change the world!) and I am considering putting together some educational seminars and workshops to address these kinds of questions and issues. People have been asking me to put something together about spiritual emergency and spirituality, etc. If folks are interested, they should let me know- send an email to say what you are interested in.

    Because you asked, K, I am going to put the Compassion Exercise in an addendum to this post even thought it was NOT inspired by Michael but comes from Harry Palmer who has been one of my significant spiritual teachers, though he would laugh and squirm at that introduction. I’ll put it up and you can take a look. We in Appleton, Wisconsin initated another “Compassion Project” which was praised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You can find out more about that here:

    Posted April 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  7. karen said . . .

    Thank you so much for posting the link, Barbara. The information and resources you share here are always so amazing, and your work so inspiring– especially, the compassion and wisdom that you share so lovingly. I got shivers reading your words about a new project! Shivers always tell me when something that aligns with my spiritual truth is in my presence ( there they go again!)

    I was also a really sensitive child– at 18, I made a choice to stop reading newspapers, because I was so overwhelmed with grief and sadness by the continual presentation of only bad news… and also by the state of the world, and of humanity’s darker side being revealed by the massive problems in the world. I was struggling on a path of awareness and activism when something changed profoundly for me. The spiritual emergency that Michael’s death triggered re-opened my heart in a way that I could no longer ignore the state of the world, and had to start doing the inner work that would allow me to handle the impact of allowing ‘the world’ back in with all it’s messiness, glory, grace, and pain. I have a feeling this is a life-long learning for me, and I also feel that you are an incredible beacon for me and inspiration on that path. I really appreciate how you bridge the philosophical/metaphysical with the practical application of these spiritual lessons in life. Thank you again for all that you share of yourself and the spiritual world that you move in. K

    Posted April 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Oh boy; can I relate. I think that the pain of the world and it’s sorrows are why I turned to music for solace. I still need music coming through me to sustain me. Thank you for the kind words and you’re welcome. ~B

    Posted April 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  9. Ankita said . . .

    Today is Easter, and I’m so blessed to read this beautiful article! Thank you Rev. Kaufmann! Michael Jackson was, is and shall continue to be an eternal inspiration to the world– both as an extraordinary creative genius and as a spiritually enlightened poet-prophet who transformed (and continues to transform) the souls of millions of people across the planet and raise consciousness higher and higher. He may have been crucified by the evil in this world (especially the media), but just like his glorious teacher, Jesus-the Christ, Michael too has risen. Happy Easter. We are so grateful to be touched Michael’s Light that continues to shine, brighter than ever!May his being and legacy be blessed forever! ~L.O.V.E always…

    Posted April 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  10. gertrude said . . .

    Hello Strongheart et all – my home computer decided to set itself on fire (the computer equivalent of putting oneself on an ice flow and saying good-bye after outliving “usefulness”) so it has been hit and miss for me to get onto this site for a while. And STILL what is being addressed here is correlating with things having a profound effect on me presently – e.g. the discoveries of Dolphin and Whale creativity, thought and complex language that one resesarcher thinks, with the tecnology we now have, we will be able to decipher within 5 years, and therefore start speaking to dolphins!In THEIR language. And the phenomenal NDE of Anita Moorjani that has come to light revealing how our conciousness lives on after leaving the body – a much longed-for validation of my own mini NDE, and general great news, such as how this conciousness is in everything, us, animals, furniture etc, and how she actually experienced becoming other people, animals, so-called inanimate objects, etc.
    Sadly I can’t see the videos at this time, but this was a great read nevertheless. Rev. B. – you are well!! (my fervent wish for you).

    Posted April 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  11. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Sometimes I would swear that computers have personalities and this sounds like a case of self immolation. Sorry for your loss. (They can become personal friends too) I just went through replacement of a keyboard that was only half working so IM would have looked like a twitter timeline only making no sense at all. I feared the Geek squad would erase crucial information but instead they lived up to their name. My computer and I had surgery at the same time and as for recovery- I am taking longer.

    Anita Moorjani had, in 2006, a NDE where she visited the consciousness beyond. She was full of cancer, had weeping open sores, was emaciated, her organs had shut down and she had 36 hours to live, In that other place she was given a choice and encouraged to return to fulfull her life’s purpose. It’s an amazing story. Her website is Scientist Jill Bolte Taylor had a similar exprience when she suffered a stroke and describes non-local consciousness. Jill spoke of her experience on TED

    More and more these experiences of non-local consciousness and non-local realities mimic or confirm what sages, mystics, gurus and saints have been telling us for millenia. When ordinary people speak about extraordinary experiences, the message seekers have known becomes available to everybody. Nirvana is not a brain fart.

    That last sentence was designed purposefully. *wink wink* ~B

    Posted April 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  12. Souldreamer said . . .

    I completely ‘get’ all your posts. (which I love dearly) ..I truly get them though.. What I need to concentrate or focus on is light or positivity in which I know there’s balance which means light and dark positive negative etc. even the ‘gray’ I just need stress relievers so I have a shield for the negative tipping the scales. I have compassion. I love helping others and I forget to help myself.. Before this turns into a ‘rant’ I believe I’ll re-read some past posts and meditate on this post and the previous Hope post. I didn’t comment on the previous post but I did pray aloud for you then.

    Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  13. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thank you S, for putting it out there. I believe we all need that light right now. The world around us is in the midst of transformation and the changes can “rock the world” and leave people ungrounded and behaving out of character. I see it everywhere. It’s important to hold on and keep reminding ourselves this is part of an amazing transfiguration. We are part of the first wave and we are vulnerable to a kind of hope fatigue so it is important to cherish and care for oneself FIRST with tenderness and compassion.

    I believe we can, working together, restore some light to the world while at the same time working toward change. My recovery journey has caused me to pare it down to what really matters and Michael was right– it is our legacy or what we set in motion in the world. Not only would I like to see Michael Jackson’s true legacy restored, but the restoration of his fans’ legacy. I believe we can accomplish it together.

    It is important that we not ignore the negative because it has a benificient purpose- things do not change for the better when people ignore life’s challenges. Complacency gets us the status quo not a world where the predominant vibe is LOVE. It gets us more of the same. Acknowledging what is wrong with the world impells us to change it because it creates an internal dissonance. Since no one can live with that internal dissonance for long, something has to give–either we have to do something to change the situation or we have to lower our values to adjust to the status quo and feel comfortable there. There are times we must bear witness to negativity in order to create change. What is important is to not internalize it and to realize who “owns” it. That is difficult for sensitive people and a real challenge for an empath.

    To give you an example: I just found out yesterday that Jews were not just interred in camps but were actually held captive in zoos. I did not know that before. I can’t begin to describe the process I had to go through to wrap my mind around that. To assimilate the knowledge that humans actually placed other humans in cages in a zoo. That has more implications about human dignity than can be addressed in this small space. But it is not something I can paint and separate from me with denial. There is a lesson for all humanity in that indignity. Just as there is a lesson for all humanity in revealing the true story of what happened to Michael Jackson. We must remember however, that people’s sensibilities can only handle so much at a time and they will shut down if pushed to overwhelm. That is why “yelling” at or bullying someone when they slam Michael doesn’t work. People do not want to acknowledge the existenc of organized evil for they find it overwhelming.

    Placing real live human beings in cages and exhibiting them like animals (even animals themselves- but that’s another discussion) is so inhumane on so many levels it boggles the mind. But that is exactly what was done when black people were kidnapped from their homeland and ripped from their homes and lives and families and sold as slaves. And that is metaphorically what happened to Michael- he was imprisoned and held captive within a meme or caricature and paraded on a global stage while being humiliated and scorned. See the parallels? And we are seeing the racist vibe raise its ugly head again wtih the Trayvon Martin case. It is time to lance the festering wound and have the conversation and begin the real healing once and for all. That is what Michael was saying boldly and subliminally all his life. If the fans are his legacy as he requested, then there is a job to do. I am hoping it can be balanced– that there can be some fun as well as some deadly serious business that needs attention. Because of its seriousness the fun part is essential light. Practice compassion for self until it becomes second nature- that is part of becoming I-Thou oriented.

    I am glad you “get” all my posts. Thanks for your prayers. There were so many people who held space for my healing and I am convinced that is the way of the future where we embrace, not exile the wounded; where we offer compassion instead of shame and humiliation; where we use our words to heal not to harm, where we gather together and espouse community to care for our own because we are all in this together. We can make a difference. It begins with me and expands to we. did you “get” that? (she said being a litle snarky) That means it’s time to turn the compassion 180 and begin there. We’ll leave the “light” on for you.

    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  14. Kim said . . .

    Thank you Rev. B for teaching us about I-Thou.

    Posted May 12, 2012 at 5:08 am | Permalink

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