Welcome to my home page!
Hi. Breaking all the rules about keeping webpages short...this one is a bit of a personal essay. Well, in case you want to know something about me!!
The turning of the world
I am 57. Thats significant to me in a bunch of ways.
I've got a solid ground of life experience - good, bad and ugly. I've made plenty of mistakes, and paid dearly for them. I've achieved some great things, and am proud of them. That includes the work sphere, and in family life.
I know something about myself - well, a lot more than ever before. I see myself as a mix of wonderful traits and some unhelpful habits and identities. I am constantly working on increasing awareness and choicefulness. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don't. Well, like everyone I guess!
Some men my age find younger women, and start again. I choose not to do that - for a whole range of reasons, both noble and less noble. I am faced with an increasing awareness of mortality. My response though is not to look towards retirement (uh - can't ever imagine retiring), but to find new and deeper ways I can serve the world, and explore my understanding.
Part of that is enrolling for a Phd on the subject of Power.
So…whats important to me?
My kids (three children, two step children), my grandkids( four), my partner.
My work - teaching, training, therapy. Gestalt, Family Constellations.
Helping people find their bliss - identifying their perfect career path in a unique process I have developed.
Having an impact on the world.
Spirituality - my own, and helping others discover theirs.
Both sides now
The upbeat side of me is that I am enthusiastic. I am creative. I throw myself into projects. I get things done. I am incredibly persistent - doggedly so. I can be very focused.
And the other side is I can get carried away with my vision, with my excitement. I can get ungrounded…only seeing what can work, and not taking into account the vagaries of life. I can focus so much I ignore those around me. And I can persist past the point when in fact it may be time to let go.
It's easy for me to bite off more than I can really chew, taking on too many great projects, filling my time until there is nothing left. I have achieved a great deal, and its cost me a great deal. I used to focus on the expansive achievement; now I am paying more attention to the personal and interpersonal costs. This is a sobering process and I am learning to be more cautious about my spontaneous excitement. I can vision up a new project in minutes, but miss a lot of detail that the manifestation actually requires.
My talents are many and have meant that I have played too many roles. This is very useful at startup, but I have been doing the work of 3 or 4 people for too many years, and that takes it toll of course. I am learning about delegation, and about limits.
Work - Yeah!!!
I love teaching, and am pretty good at it. I founded the The Northern Rivers Gestalt Institute in 1994, and ran it for 17 years. I worked with a lot of students, and gave as much as I could towards their knowledge - intellectual, personal, interpersonal, and skill based. I now teach internationally - Japan, China, Mexico, the USA and various countries in Europe. The travelling life…
I really like doing Family Constellations, because I love Field Theory. Systems Theory. Chaos Theory. I like those meta views, and complex ways of understanding the world. I derived my fascination with cybernetics from my father.
I love doing therapy, and have always been good at it. I get really energised by working with people.
I started as a teenager with Co-counselling, studied a silent type of therapy called Processing, then studied Gestalt. I've done lots of other therapy studies over the years - Narrative therapy, some NLP, family therapy, neo-Reichian character typology, and lots on relational psychotherapy. I've been privileged to study with many great mentors - Jorge Rosner, Joesph Zinker, Chris Campbell, Lynne Jacobs, Michael White, Johnella Bird, Albrecht Marr, Ernesto Spinelli, Jeffrey Zeig, Lester Wyman, Julie Henderson, Erv & Miriam Polster, Jean Huston. I've learnt so much from each of them, both in terms of content knowledge, as well as who they are in the world and relationship.
At present I travel and teach, and am Director of a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology at Ryokan College, in LA. .
Spirituality is central for me. I became interested in meditation at a tender age, 39 years ago, and every year it just gets better and better. I have found so much benefit I could never imagine wanting to stop. The essence of my path is a balance of internal and external: Self Realisation, and Service to the universe. Sounds rather grand, but it gives my life a focus, a sense of purpose, and hey, you've got to have something to keep you going.
I have been a one-gurukind of guy, though I know eclecticism is pretty fashionable these days. My inspiration has been Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, founder of Ananda Marga. You can check out Ananda Marga related links below. I set up the Ananda Mela festival 30 years ago, as a way to create a relaxed spiritual holiday, and it continues to provide inspiration to people each year. I also, with my first wife, set up a spiritual community called a Master Unit, called Ananda Rainjana.
I developed a workshop on the topic of spirituality. I look at the differences and similarities between the two. I am always delighted at just how much it helps people integrate the two endeavours - personal growth and spiritual growth.
I loved doing theatre and music, pre-family....in my 20's I did lots of political street theatre, studied clowning with Kenja, and participated in some large scale performances south of Sydney (Wattomala, a natural amphitheatre consisting of a beach, lagoon and cliffs).
I also like design work. I love sitting at my Mac and designing anything - posters for my workshops, curriculum, databases (my maths side..I always thought I would be a scientist when I grew up).
I enjoy writing poetry. I was a dedicated aficionado of the regular Stand Up Poets nights in Lismore for 20 years - monthly readings where up to 20 local poets get up and share their latest pieces. I think poetry is meant to be spoken - it really comes alive. And I know its kind of indulgent to put a page of mine here - I usually skip the poems that occasionally get sprinkled in certain newsletters I get. However, this is my home page, and you might want to check out a few of my pieces.
And I like listening to music. Mary Black, Eva Cassidy, Classical such as Bach's mass in B minor, and Brahms' sonatas for piano and cello (and particularly when they are played by that wonderful Russian, Janos Starker). I like Tuck and Patti, and Gospel. And my latent Jewish blood boils when I hear any kind of Klezma.
I am very interested in social change work, and for many years plugged into the local Heart Politics conferences. People working for change in their own ways, valiantly, sometimes noisily, sometimes quietly. Originally inspired by Fran Peavey and her book of the same name (well worth a read); do have a look at her article on strategic questioning. In terms of social change, I am inspired by PROUT (PROgressive Utilisation Theory), which is surprisingly unknown, considering it is probably the most comprehensive and viable alternative to communism and capitalism. Do check it out if you are interested. There is the official home page, and then the information I have placed on my page.
My unusual father
I'll tell you something else about me that you might find strange: my father is a transsexual. He came out at the ripe age of 62 or so. What a surprise. Had the op and all. I can't say I feel particularly delighted by the whole thing, but its certainly something I have to deal with, and learn something from. If you are interested, I originally wrote an article in the Australian, and have since updated it here. People reading it write me - mostly children of transsexuals, every few weeks. Theres not many resources out there for this demographic.
I am fascinated by systems thinking, systems practice. I love doing organisation development work, I enjoy the way general systems theory challenges so much of the way the world thinks, and I am fascinated by the numerous applications in therapy, and social change work. There is an article by Herb Kopolwitz that really grabbed me many years ago, which I have put here for your interest - well worth reading.
As you might have guessed by now, I also love networking. I like connecting up people, ideas, experience. I do that a lot, and for that reason really like what the web has to offer in this regard.
I am enrolled in a doctoral program, studying the interpersonal dynamics of power. Its an evolving focus, but my aim is the development of an educational program which helps people to increase awareness and skill in the ways they use power. You can read more here.
Whats in a name
My name - Steve Gunther was given to me at birth. Doesn't sound very Jewish, but then my parents eschewed everything Jewish when they migrated to Australia from Los Angeles. My spiritual name, given to me soon after I learned meditation, is Vinay. As a teenager at the time I expected some dashing name that would means something like Brave Warriorspirit. I was rather miffed at the meaning of my new name: Modesty. It seemed, well, wimpy. However, I have come to appreciate over the years the deep significance of that name for me ; as someone who gets deeply involved in a lot of things - and I guess I shine because of that - the reminder of humility is something I value more and more. I have tended to trip in places where my great confidence has led myself or others (because I like leadership) into places which sometimes looked sticky, sometimes a total mess. Anyway, I like the name Vinay, my friends call me that. But it doesn't quite have the right ring for the business card or advertising for clients. There are too many kooks in this area. Its a bit strange having two names, but its practical.
I have appreciated the value of support, and learned to draw on that more in hard times. I am coming to see life in less rosy terms, which is a good thing for me. I am learning the value of true groundedness. And, of the meaning of my name Vinay: humility.
At the top you will have seen the link to my book/website. I wrote this book over a period of about 8 years. I really enjoyed the writing process, it just kind of jumped out of my fingers onto the keyboard - the distilled wisdom I have gained so far about relationship. Far from finished, and I am sure in another 10 years I will would write a different kind of a book about relationships. But this is my understanding and learning to date. I wrote it for men, but mostly women seem to buy and read it. It is published in Mexico, and Australia.The Australian edition is called Understanding The Woman In Your Life.
And I have come to realise firstly that its impossible to really understand a woman; that the real understanding derives from understanding myself better. Boy, after 25 years of psychotherapy and more of spiritual practice, I thought I knew myself. But recently I have come to see that this knowledge only went so deep, and there is much more of me that lay in the shadow of my understanding. As I have become more willing to look into those shadows my self image has changed quite dramatically. For every caring act, I can see my selfish motivation; for every act of generosity, I can see my counting the cost somewhere. This has been a sobering realisation, but important in grounding myself more in the reality of who I am.
So with my wife Sutara, I have been developing a workshop on the Unvirtues - information here.
A number of years ago we set up a family business - a cafe in Lismore. We served vegetarian food, internet, and fresh Gelato daily. I mention this as it was one of our painful 'learning experiences'. I was a great place, people loved it, we served delicious fresh food...but financially it just never panned out. Ouch!
Family and the turning of the world
My life partner is Sutara. We hang out, adventure through the joys and travails of daily life together. She has worked with young children, has trained in psychotherapy, and is doing further training in Play Therapy. She shares my interest in psychotherapy, social justice, and spirituality. As we raised the children together, we are now discovering grandparenting - what a great journey. We like geographical journeys as well, and delight in travelling to new lands and cultures. The photo above is take on a trip to the Carpathian mountains, in Romania, after I did some Gestalt teaching in Bucharest.
I have three children from my first wife - their names are Kavita (31), Giitika (28) and Dhyanesh (24). The oldest two girls and the youngest a boy. The names are sanskrit and mean, respectively: A poet who inspires others; One whose constant song is for God; The spirit of meditation.
Giitika has recently graduated from an Honours in Fine Arts from the UK, and is now travelling Australia with her boyfriend Sam (who was a fellow student at Hertfordshire). Kavita is studying sports psychology, and taking time out with her sons: Francis Xavier, and partner Jimmy. Their new addition is sweet little Hugo.
Dhyanesh recently returned from Canada, where he was seeking his fortunes on the oilfields. He is now engaged in University studies, in paramedics.
Then there are my step daughters, Azzmin and Zeeanna. Azzie is 29, Zee is 27. Both are highly creative. Azzmin has two children - Jimmy and Theo, with her partner Chris. She has a great sense of fashion, design, creates beautiful things, whatever she sets her mind to. Zee has a quirky sense of humour and strong ideas about what she wants; she is fantastic at crafts and has amazing attention to detail. She is interested in the complexity of life, politics and philosophy. Whatever she finally focuses on for a career, she will do in depth.
You can see some family photos here.
Well that's all for today folks, follow the Cool Links or Articles sections to see the directions of my interests.