Invite Your Schmoes to Tea

Joan Leof Write to Heal Wilmington, DE Some of you have experienced an exercise in my journal workshop called “Sage Council.” It is based on the work of Peggy La Cerra, Ph.D, Director of the Center for Evolutionary Neuroscience and co-author of The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness and the New Science of the Self (Crown). She says, “An imaginary sage council is a panel of wise individuals who can be brought to mind when you are stressed or fearful, or simply looking for sound guidance.” If you want more information on this exercise, please let me know.

I’m reading a book called “TYING ROCKS TO CLOUDS” by William Elliott. There is the following quote by Ram Dass, also known as Richard Alpert, Ph.D., which reminded me of the Sage Council. He says —

“With all the therapy I have had and all the drugs and all the gurus, I have never gotten free of one neurosis. What has changed is that, instead of being big monsters I am frightened of, the neuroses become like little schmoes that I invite for tea. When I see a perversity,I say, ‘Hi. Come on in.’ Instead of seeing my personality as my enemy and being caught in the struggle between the id and the super ego, I have cultivated awareness….”

The dictionary defines schmo as jerk.

I thought that was extremely profound and reminded me, not just of the Sage Council, but the Rumi poem I use in my workshops:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~


1. Make a list of your schmoes — “neuroses” or rough edges to your personality — whatever your semantic.

2. Write a description of how each one impacts you.

3. Write a letter to each of them inviting them for tea and telling them what you want to discuss.

4. Write about what happens at the tea party. It’s your choice whether you want to have them one at a time, or all together.

5. Write about how you felt interacting this way with your schmoes.

1 comment

    • Dexter on January 4, 2021 at 5:05 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Joan,
    Thanks for your offer . . . I’d like to hear more from you about the “Sage Council.”


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