October 21-22, 2021


Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 834 8312 9965
Passcode: 768768

9-11 am and 1-3 pm each day
(Mountain time)



Close encounters on the path

Have you ever felt jealous hearing someone
Laugh? And then began to think to yourself,

“Why am I so caught in the world’s snare?
Why don’t I know right now the freedom

In other voices when their spirit like an
Arrow takes flight above the hour’s concern?”

But the heart’s laughter is never there to taunt
Another, especially if the other is feeling low.

Real laughter is a waving, a beckoning, a
Message, a calling to all that says,

Over here, come over here for a minute…
Where things look so different, and you can
Have more fun!

( Jealous Hearing Someone Laugh, from The Gift, Poems of Hafiz, Daniel Ladinski, trans )


Everyone loves what they think will save them. We love what we think will bring us peace and leave us feeling happy — or at least temporarily content — and satisfied with who and where we are in our lives. If you are on this mailing list, you already know to be on the lookout for the ways we get ourselves entangled in the very things we thought would be good for us. When this happens (and it does to all of us) we can lose a sense of ourselves, lose our center and begin to feel confused, fearful or depressed. We may feel like something is dying inside and will not return. We’re right! We are losing attachments, but rather than feeling lighter and more free we are likely to feel more bound. We can wonder, Who am I now? Or WTF?!!!

We meet various ‘Joy Thieves’ along the way. Our Spirit or Essential Nature pays no attention to them as they are unreal and pose no threat. Our personalities, however, can be undone by the illusion. The thieves hide themselves in clever and hard to spot ways. If we could bring them to awareness, we might be better able to find our way home and assist others. Here are just a few ways joy thieves show up. You may have others to add to the party list!

Comparison Thief
We are concerned with how we measure up against others. Are we the same as, better than or worse than others we deem important measuring rods? For many, the only comparisons we hold onto are those that leave us in a ‘less than’ position. This thief loves to dress in smart, rational clothes and makes perfectly logical assessments. It does not and cannot know the truth of who we are. When you feel small, say ‘hello’ to the Comparison Thief.

Role Thief
What could possibly be wrong with identifying ourselves with the wonderful and life affirming roles we take on? Mothers, fathers, partners, lovers, teachers, healers, coaches and advisors, siblings, leaders…the list goes on. Sometimes we only see the underside when roles change. Life intervenes and does what life does. Roles are taken away, robbed, given to undeserving others, or simply disappear. We may feel alone, betrayed or angry. “After all I have done…” We have likely made an agreement that we knew nothing about. Now we do. The impact can be staggering. Role Thieves often show up partially clothed; shirts, one shoe, pants may be missing. They cannot find them or remember where they put them. Some run with Status Thieves.

Responsibility Thief
Most of us have been conditioned to believe we are worth more if we are busy, active, and doing things that add value. Employment fills this need for many. There is an entire industry — Retirement Planning — ostensibly created to help us adjust to the stage in life where much of what we thought defined us suddenly is gone. Meditation and mindfulness are disciplines set up in part to counteract the effect of misconstruing busyness — the hour’s concerns — with identity. This thief comes dressed in business casual clothing with sneakers. And a score card. ‘Silence, it whispers, will kill you.’

Body Thief
It is easy to mistake our identity and essential nature for our body and how well it works. Changes that impact how we look or function reveal this thief’s presence. It wants to convince us we are nothing more than bodies. Athletes who can no longer do athletic things and the rest of us who don’t look like the pretty models we see in the media have likely met this thief. It’s the one in the Untuckit shirts drinking fine wine while making love endlessly with other pretty people on yachts in facial blush that simply lasts and six pack abs glistening in the morning sun. It is hollow inside — you can see through it. Like blowing baby bubbles.

Past & Future Dream Thief
Close cousin to the comparison thief, both of these dream states seem to operate on the same strategy — convince us our past defines the limitations of what’s possible now, with no escape. The future we are most emotionally attracted to is the one we are most afraid of…and there is nothing we can do to change this. This belief always walks behind or ahead of us and never alongside. It went to a renown acting school to study Reality. But failed.

Belief Thief
This thief often travels in groups and often looks, tastes, and sounds like Truth but never is. It is undone by inquiry and, so, convinces us it is not a belief at all. It is simply the ways things are…the most powerful belief. Behind every moment of frustration, anger or fear lies this thief, smiling. If the path we travel requires opening to and allowing what we do not yet understand, this belief seems to close itself off from this. It wraps itself in feathery vestments with the words INQUIRY NOT REQUIRED written in colorful print. Like peacocks. Many run for public office.


In this Fall gathering of the Refiner’s Playground we want to explore which Joy Thieves tend to rob us of our own joy. We’ve named just a few. There are others!Bring your favorite characters with you to the call. They are all welcomed. We also expect to talk about how we each can reset and return to our natural state of peace, joy and rest which has never left us.

Please plan to join us. We are eager to be with you again!


October 21-22, 2021 virtually



We are an open community of spiritual explorers who meet on a quarterly basis to share our current learning, questions about and experiments on the nature of reality. In particular, we seek to know the True Self directly while examining all of the hilarious ways we try to be something other than this! Our two day retreats are typically attended by 18-20 people from around the country. The dialogue is rich, at times profound, always compassionate and frequently hilarious. Come as frequently as you like and stay for as long as you like.


We meet in groups that range from 18-20 people. We share our stories of what we understand through direct experience and/or are currently learning through our own active experiments on the nature of being. There are no long-winded speeches or dazzling intellectual discourses. We tend not to agree or disagree with each other and seldom give others advice. We have no front of the room instructors or teachers as we all serve this role. We find that when we share our experiences with one another, as co-explorers- we each become more clear and confident about taking our next steps.


People who most benefit from the "Playground" are those who have:

A life long yearning to know what is true about themselves and the universe.

Grown tired of the typical self-help menu with its implied assumption there is some "defect" in us that requires improvement.

Believed more licenses, degrees or certifications will leave them finally and forever feeling "enough".

Many years' experience feeling alone, judged, misunderstood and have simply grown tired of this. And even more tired at having contributed to or led the charge themselves!

If you have experience with any of the above, welcome to the club! You will likely enjoy the solid food of the "Playground". The hard truth is that no amount of suffering or achievement can satisfy the deeper longing tugging at our soul. Our secret desire is wholeness and only our essential nature knows how to weave the fragments we present it into a coherent whole. Our hard work and effort to fix ourselves usually make matters worse, or at least continues the entertainment.

There is another way.


You are welcomed to come for as many sessions as you like and can leave whenever you like. Regardless of how much experience you have with deeper work, you will likely find in the Refiner's Playground a quality of dialogue and loving presence unlike anything you have ever experienced before.


$695 per session (includes breakfast and lunch). $2,495 when you sign up for the next four events. A savings of $285!

Bring a family member, partner, significant other at no additional cost!

Your Trusted Guides

The Refiner's Playground is:

“Time to lay down the armaments we use to fix ourselves and to come home. There is an un-changing center within us that isn’t concerned with anything other than NOW. I often see and recognize the Essential that lurks beneath those moments we naturally resist. I speak directly to it and am learning how to move with it and allow it more play in myself and in us. I am here to usher in an intimate, liberating partnership with the Essential in each all of us! We ARE this!”       - Dan Holden

The Refiner's Playground offers us:

“A unique opportunity to embrace the perfection each life experience offers in burning away the dross of our deluded self perceptions, allowing the true, infinite, essential beings that we are to find fuller creative expression now. I am here to playfully master the art of finding, mining and refining the very best in us, allowing it to creatively express itself in response to the perfect challenge or opportunity that presents itself in each moment.”                                                         - Jim Anderson