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Barry Thalden (Photo by John Darling)

The 11th commandment: Ashland philanthropist shares what he’s learned about life

In his new book, “The Lost Commandment,” Ashland philanthropist Barry Thalden says the old Biblical Ten Commandments just aren’t making us happy because they forgot a big one — love thyself.

True, Jesus told us “love thy neighbor as thyself” but, says Thalden, how can we do that if we don’t know how to love ourselves?

His slim, 125-page softcover book, just published by White Cloud Press of Ashland, says, instead of resisting self-love with an endless mantra of fear and judgment, we can and must get it that “each of us is important and unique and you have gifts and talents the world has been waiting for.”

It may sound like a time-worn New Age nostrum, but it works — and we have to get beyond the idea that loving yourself is, well, selfish, says Thalden, and therefore egocentric, even narcissistic, perhaps even sinful. But that’s not true.

“The audience for this book is everyone. People are hurting. We expect people to go ahead and be creative and wonderful, but the fact is, they’ve been put down all their lives. Their parents said ‘no’ to everything. They go to school and the teacher puts red marks all over their paper. Maybe they’ve been bullied and marginalized.”

We are conditioned to neglect self-esteem and it often comes as messages like “Who do you think you are?” or “Grow up!” So, we learn to pick on ourselves, regularly telling ourselves we’re not pretty enough, smart enough or likable enough, says Thalden, a retired architect.

Like many people, Thalden was able to make a break from that program during a period when “everything fell apart and I was headed in a terrible direction. I had nothing to lose, so I was able to start over with a new vision of who I was in the world — and I believe other people can do this too.”

At the core of self-love we look, not for what the world needs, but what you need and what makes your own heart sing, he says, while remembering that what you need and want isn’t out there but inside you — and it’s all in the present.

“If the past calls, don’t answer. It’s got nothing to do with the present. Those (bad) thoughts running around in your head have nothing to do with now. The past is out of your control and done.”

To help orient illustrate how to apply that principle, he offers a long to-do list at the end of the book. It includes:

• Appreciate aspects of you that make you happy.

• Love the ways you are different.

• Send love to the parts of you that need it.

• Release attachment to outside influences.

• Be gentle with yourself.

• Live one day at a time.

• Be a star.

• Try new stuff.

• Be satisfied.

• Release blame or shame.

• Be grateful.

• Be true to yourself.

• Fall in love with yourself.

Local spiritual leaders praise the book, with Jean Houston noting, “With sweet elegance and deep wisdom, (it) will astonish as it explores the domains of loving the self in order to more fully enhance the life of one’s person, world and time.”

Rabbi David Zaslow said, “This book is a gem. It gently guides the reader to understand the Torah’s commandment of self-love that has been lost in plain sight for thousands of years … It will be inspiring and treasured by people in any religion or spiritual path who are searching for happiness and joy.”

Thalden’s book is subtitled “A Spiritual Revelation & Self-Love Revolution.” The kickoff for the book starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 North Mountain Drive, Ashland. It is free and open to the public. The book is $10.

Thalden is on the Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees and the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra board. His architectural firm, founded in Las Vegas in 1971, designed many large-scale resorts and casinos. He and his wife, Kathryn, arrived in Ashland in 2012. Their philanthropic work includes the downtown hanging flower baskets and the Thalden Pavilion at the Sustainability Center on the SOU campus. They helped create the Village at Valley View, a residential memory care center. His bio notes he is an artist, musician and futurist.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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