As a gesture of courtesy, I sent my article on the book The Art of Possibility to the two authors. I did this simply to give the authors the opportunity to respond to, and comment on, any aspect of my review. I was delighted to receive the following response from Roz Zander which picks up on a number of points I raise in my article and which I therefore felt appropriate to post here.

Many thanks Roz and Ben!


Dear Neil,

I am honored that you took the time to write about the practices in the Art of P., and pleased to tell you that Ben has just recorded a magnificent Mahler 2, after having scrapped the first recording of the symphony two or three years ago. He will finish the series, I am certain.

Because you raise the point about the relatively comfortable middle-class point of view, I hope you won’t mind my jumping in to suggest how you can give an “A” to someone who has raped your child, and continue to see that it’s all invented at the news that you have three months to live, and how you can practice being the Board as the marauding armies advance. It’s important to me that the practices themselves are seen as applicable no matter what circumstances befall us.

Even mentioning the 3 months-to-live scenario implies certain assumptions on your part of a tragic nature, but there are so many other ways of holding that news, which I actually experienced–(as you can see the prediction did not pan out.) I found myself extremely present and happy, to my great surprise. I didn’t tell people about it, because my thought was that they would become anxious and upset–but I wasn’t. My vision altered. I saw Cezanne in a row of trees down an alley in Boston (how middle-class) and then I saw the same trees as they were, in a way I had never seen them before. On passing a bin for the donation of Christmas toys to needy children, I understood at once why it was important–because they would feel that someone cared. I had to wait exactly three months for the final verdict and I have to say I did not experience a shred of anxiety, perhaps because i said to myself you are alive until you aren’t, and then it doesn’t matter (an invention.)

How can you give an “A” to someone who raped your child? The way you do to an axe murderer, by inventing that they have lost all their humanity under the impulse, and you invent that in some dark place they have the horror of knowing so. And how can you be the Board as the troops advance? You can perhaps ask yourself, “What was it that kept me from seeing things develop in this direction long ago? How is it that I have remained here so helplessly?

I gave a seminar for business leaders at the State of the World Forum the year it was held in NYC, and I got from them the same reservations that you had. They thought the model was elitist, and too intellectual. When I went back to my room in the hotel I walked in on the woman cleaning it. I told her that I had been teaching people that life is a story you tell, so you might as well tell stories that make you and others both kind and powerful. I told her that the business people thought that you had to have a graduate education to understand this. This woman shook her head. ” They don’t know because they have never been so poor that they couldn’t put lunch in their child’s lunchbox. It’s what you tell the children about themselves and the world that will make or break them” or something close to that. She felt it was the business people who were the ones who were unable to grasp what I was saying because they had never been forced to the extremities that call on human creativity.

When I was in South Africa a couple of years ago, a gentleman told me I had saved his life. It turned out that he had read the book and was sharing it with his wife, when later in the night some thieves broke into their house and tied them up in their beds, perhaps, as he thought, in preparation for killing them. He whispered to his wife “The Art of Possibility” and found himself making authentic eye contact with his persecutors. He motioned to one to take off the duct tape from his mouth and asked for a glass of water as though it would be granted out of the kindness of the man’s heart. He said he knew then that they would not be killed.

I accept his invention relative to the Art of P and am grateful for it.

Thanks so much for your responses.

Warmest Regards,

Roz Zander


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