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Canadian lawyer follows the urge of his heart in search for options and inner peace 


In 1985 I found myself emotionally and spiritually drained, unable to continue working in my lucrative and thriving law practice as a barrister and solicitor at the peak of a 10-year career. So, I suspended my practice, motivated by my heart to search for alternatives to seek justice not found in Canada’s legal system. With the support of my wife Mary (May Her Memory Be Eternal), I submitted my resignation to the surprise of everyone around me. In a state of abject fear and uncertainty where this mysterious urge would take me, I sat down to compose my thoughts and feelings into something that might help me understand this momentous decision. With no plan, I began writing a question followed by an answer. This continued non-stop and ended naturally at line 33. It surprised me that answer was the same as the first. My heart was at rest. Often I reflect on that urge and moment in time. I revisit this poem founded in a deep-rooted quest as a reminder of where I’ve been and the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) path I am on. The steps make more sense over time with experience than when they flowed that day from my heart to the tip of my pen to the page. 


33 Steps on the Stairway of Thought to the Landing of Love  (June 1985)  

(1) What is the greatest teaching:  love thyself  (2) And to what end is this teaching:  towards the greatest knowledge  (3) And what is the greatest knowledge:  to know thyself  (4) And how does one acquire this knowledge:  by example  (5) And what are the greatest examples:  those who are guided by their good spirit  (6) And how does one know these persons:  by their works  (7) And what are the greatest works:  the deeds which exemplify love  (8) And how does one know what love is:  by all good actions, words and thoughts which give without selfishness with obedience to the spirit  (9) And what is the greatest obedience:  to love thy neighbour  (10) And who is thy neighbour:  everyone under the sun especially the stranger  (11) And how does one love thy neighbour:  as thyself  (12) And what does one do if the neighbour is evil:  resist with love  (13) But how does one resist neighbour’s evil and still love thy neighbour:  you will be judged by your motivation not just your actions--one person’s justice is usually another person’s injustice  (14) Then, what is the law of these things:  to go beyond the law  (15) And what is beyond the law:  love     (16) And how is it possible to be without the law:  with love there is no need for law  (17) And what else will there be no need of:  example  (18) And when may this knowledge be obtained:  now     (19) And how long shall it take to learn these things:  so long as you shall have need to ask these questions  (20) And how long does one have to ask these questions:  forever  (21) And for how long is the benefit of this learning:  eternity  (22) And who may enjoy this knowledge:  everyone who is remorseful, forgiving and humble, sincere and truly searching for the truth  (23) And what is the truth:  the comprehension of the eternal life within thyself   (24) And is one's physical and intellectual attributes sufficient to comprehend these things: the senses observe, the mind informs, the soul comprehends – then you shall have wisdom  (25)  And how does one acquire wisdom:  wisdom is not acquired it is imparted and found  (26) And how does one earn the privilege of finding this wisdom:  it is not a privilege--it is a right; it is not earned--it is a gift  (27) And why does one have this life to arrive at these things:  you must experience the lower to appreciate the higher; looking is not seeing; listening is not hearing; touching is not feeling; but, before you can see, hear and feel you must look, listen and touch  (28) And what was the beginning of these things:  oneness  (29) And what is the present:  separateness  (30) And what is the end of these things:  peace and harmony  (31) And what is the result to one if these things do not come to pass:  darkness  (32) And where is the light to be found for one to be saved from darkness:  within thyself    (33) And how does one find this light:  love thyself. 

Ernest G. Tannis, President of Global ADR Strategies (; edited by Doreen Kahalé (August 2017)  



“I compare this plunge to that great scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- to put your foot out over an abyss and the ledge appears!” 

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