sunrise Mayor's Journal, 3rd February, 2011:
Soup, Surrealism, and the Right Hand of God

Part I
Keeping in the spirit of my recent hamburger revelations, I was sitting in a typical French country bistro at lunchtime the other day (a pleasant change from McDonalds) and reflecting on the people I observed around me. Not your fast-food consumers here, but the solid stuff-of-the-earth tradesmen, masons, roofers, plumbers, window-fitters. Food here is copious if not always of the highest quality: soup, starter, meal, cheese platter, dessert, wine and coffee, all for the more than reasonable price of 12 euros ($15). No tips expected (or typically given). Given what it takes to get through all that lot, you can imagine there’s plenty of time for just sitting and looking at the life that comes and goes before your eyes. And for choosing with whom you’re going to do that looking, with Mr. OG or Mr. J.

So many differences met my eyes today, so many different qualities I thought I could judge. So many distinctly separate people meeting my eyes, many with whom I could not possibly imagine sharing the exact same life. Yet of course that is precisely the vision that is being offered us.

As usual, since this is a process of undoing, and not doing as such, my purpose sitting here in the bistro (aside from getting fat) was to recognize these differences and then remind myself they do not mean anything. A part of me might wish to keep on giving them meaning and significance, but I could take a step back away from this part of me and just observe its intentional effort to pick out those differences and then to claim that these differences meant something about me, and about the other person. The craziness of this effortful work becomes apparent after a while, since at a certain point you can really get the sense that it’s all just total nonsense. I didn’t know any of these people, yet I found myself able to make very believable (to me) conclusions about each one of them.

My delicious vegetable soup came and went and I started to sense that it was being digested with a large dose of insanity. Soup and surrealism. Eating things that seemed real, seeing things that weren’t. By the time the niçoise salad arrived, I was better prepared to face my starter and the world around me with greater determination to perceive the truth as it really was. What kind of willingness was it going to take to lift the veil so I might see what was truly going on around me?

The other workmen ploughed noisily through their courses and more arrived to partake of this extraordinary lunchtime gustatory ritual. Soup was slurped, wine was quaffed, mouths were wiped with paper napkins, sleeves, and hands. All was well in this temple of sensory satisfaction and exploration. And through it all I wondered, what could possibly be joining us all as One? Where was the singular Life from which we all stemmed, far above the differences that seemed to meet my eyes and ears?

As I lifted a forkful of fresh green bean and olive, my sight stopped short at the image of my hand in front of my mouth. I stared a moment longer, the morsel of food sparkling temptingly, my hand beginning to tremble in expectation of the imminent pleasure. And that’s when revelation hit. There it was, a magnificent appendage with five separate fingers all working perfectly together in their shared purpose of feeding this body for its continued survival. All working together, and yet each one completely different. Wow. That was it. The answer to my question was right there just an arm’s length away. It all seemed so clear.

While I was looking at everyone around me and seeing differences that kept us all distinct and quite separate, it was as if I were looking out from the point of view of the fingernail on my index finger. Quoi? you exclaim. Try to follow me here… Imagine for a minute that if the tip of your index finger could look out at its ‘brothers’, it would see different fingers moving independently of itself. In addition these other fingers would look different, with slightly different shape and skin tone and maybe even a little imperfection or wrinkle or two that it, itself, didn’t contain. It would not necessarily know, in fact, that it had anything in common with these other ‘fingers’.

If for some reason or another, the middle finger didn’t quite coordinate at the right moment in lifting that morsel of food to the mouth, you could imagine the index finger rolling its eyes: “Can’t believe it, let’s us down every time. When will he get his act together?” And then when the pinkie finger is feeling a little weak and drops its end, flipping both bean and olive onto your lap, you could imagine index’s reaction: “You moron! What is it with you little-fingers, why can’t you go to keep-fit classes and build up that muscle tone?”

And if one day (God forbid) the opposing thumb decided to go on strike with a sprain, old index would absolutely hit the roof: “You think you can just stop work because you’re having an ‘off-day’? Get back here you lazy bum! You think I shirk my responsibilities like that? I put in the best effort I can, even when I’m not feeling well. That’s what you get for making someone ‘indispensable’. Evolution sucks. We’ll have to do something about that weak element. Hmm, how can I take his place – I’m sure I’d do a better job. Everyone knows we indexes are such good all-rounders. That’s why we’re used to point at everyone so much.”

Now of course this is all sounding totally crazy. And yet this is precisely, exactly and unequivocally what we do each and every single day.

I am a fingernail. Okay, more precisely, I use fingernail perspective every time I look at someone and find something in him worthy of judgment and separation. I look around me and find someone who, apparently, is quite distinct and unconnected to me and believe that this gap allows me to claim we are different and have no specific shared purpose. His life is his purpose and my life is my purpose. I try to get what I want from life and fulfil my needs whichever way necessary, and so does he. Obviously this perspective completely misses the nature of reality, as taught to us by Dr. Ken.

Every day I wake up and the very first thing that faces me is a choice –blue or brown? No, I mean I either choose to see that my purpose today is to fulfil my physical and psychological needs, or to use all events and encounters to see that we all share the same precise purpose: to become aware of the existence of our right minds where the Love of God is held intact, the same right mind we all share. We all share the same purpose in the wrong mind (fulfilling our personal needs) and we all share the same purpose in the right mind, remembering our inherent safety and completion as the non-physical Son of God.

I can either choose between fingernail-perspective, pretending that I am unjoined with my ‘finger-brothers’, or as Index finger I can start to look down, down, down to my toes only to discover…

“Holy-kabooly!” cries Index, “What gives? There’s this thing down there that I’m joined to! And right next to me are the toes of ol’ Middle finger. And then there’s the toes of Pinkie, and over there I can see Thumb. You mean… you mean, I’m not this separate finger at all? We’re all part of the one unique – Hand?”

Yes, indeed, Mr. Index, you are not alone.

In fact, there is no real finger separate from the hand. All us little fingers are just outgrowths of Hand, and there is no sense whatsoever in separating out one tiny protuberance from another. If we can just learn to practice Knuckle-Perspective, then we can begin to recognize that we may have a form that appears individual and separate from other people, but in reality we are all joined to the same living entity by an invisible thread. (This might help to give an endearing quality to the term ‘knuckle-head’!)

We advance on the road Home all together or not at all. Thumb helps Index, who helps Pinkie, and on we go. At the very least, Index does not impose a vision of separation and different interests on his brothers and sisters. He does not practice ‘living his own personal purpose’ fulfilling his needs at the expense of others. That would make absolutely no sense. A hand on which the fingers see themselves in opposition would just not function. And so if on any day Mr. Thumb is feeling a bit depressed or a bit angry, then Pinkie understands that it makes no sense to emphasize apparent differences but to remember they share the same functioning, and the same purpose. They are one. The same M.O. is in all the fingers because it is in the Hand, and the fingers are just extensions of the Hand. One finger cannot demonstrate differences to be real because it is not in any way a ‘separated individual’ finger. It has no real separated consciousness; it can only pretend to be Index or Pinkie. In reality, there is only Hand.

Phew! All this thinking was giving me an enormous appetite. Fortunately my Hand actually made it to my mouth, all those fingers coordinating themselves brilliantly in their one shared and holy purpose – filling my stomach with lovely bits of green bean, lettuce, walnuts and tuna. God bless those little fingers, even that rambunctious old Index. Yet more was to come, and while I was ruminating on shared purposes, the main meal – slices of juicy garlicky leg of lamb with potato gratin – came and went. The empty plate stared back at me and I was wondering what would happen if ever my fingers decided to work in opposition to each other. I guessed I’d just eat directly from the plate.

Part II
But now onward to cheese and dessert! The table once more laden with critical victuals, I could continue my philosophising unburdened by any irritating survival needs.

Something was nagging at my brain, and despite the melt-in-your-mouth little white goat cheese (cabecou) on the crusty local bread, I just couldn’t find satisfaction. As I surveyed the other Finger-clients eating at the bistro this lunchtime, each one involved in the deeply personal contemplation of his dinner, I noticed that this Finger-I-believe-myself-to-be balked at a mental image. The television news just the previous night had been filled with the story of a young man who had killed and dismembered an adolescent girl before throwing her remains in a river. The young man had already been incarcerated for previous attacks on young women and had been released without proper control, it seems. The community in which this occurred was in every way like this innocuous country township I was visiting, and the young man whose picture we saw on the screen looked in every way like any one of these people I was eating with.

As I recalled the news story, I immediately reacted with tension, disgust, fear and anger. I was now Mr. Index again, holy, upright, justifiably outraged. How could I possibly make any sense of this that would bring understanding and peace to my mind?

My middle-finger had just committed a horrific act. I had to take a step back and look downwards again to where we were joined at the knuckle. I appeared separate from him, and yet we shared the same precise Life. Somehow we contained the exact same motivations and functioning because we were not Index and Middle: we were Hand. It was in the best interest of Hand for me to remember this. We could not be fundamentally different since we were cut from the same cloth; we shared the same mental flesh and substance. My extreme judgment of him would serve no purpose and achieve nothing. It would not magically enable me to separate myself from Hand and to cut him off so that we might be in true opposition. I would only gain if I remembered our joint identity, our common reality.

What had happened, what was this chaos? Middle had become extremely confused, thinking he was separate from Hand. In this insane state, he thought he would feel better if he attacked and violated another seemingly separate finger – Ring. Ring finger just happened to be the one he chose to hurt. Nothing could be more insane than the middle finger attacking the ring finger, and yet this is precisely what we do every day, each time we get angry at another person or wish them anything but Love and peacefulness. Do I do that? Of course I do. Every day. It’s in the genes of the ego mind, the one mind we all extend from, as fingers from one hand. While I look outward from fingernail perspective, I will think I can attack someone else and not suffer the consequences. I forget that I am not finger but Hand. The Hand knows that when Middle attacks Ring, everyone suffers. And that is why getting angry or frustrated with another person, seeing separation in any way does no one good. It is not bad or wrong; it is just painful – to everyone. We are not many, but One.

As I sat there in the noisy bistro, spooning thoughtful portions of a smooth crème brulée into my mouth, I wondered what it would be like to eat at the same table as this young murderer, or to share the same meal with Herr Hitler. At some point in their lives neither of these two people were totally insane. Both of these people were capable of sitting down and sharing a meal in a perfectly ordinary way with other people. Then something happens within our minds and we see ourselves in complete opposition to others with one sole objective – to ensure our needs at the expense of others. Their way of doing so was exceptionally barbaric and unforgivable. But it is understandable.

We are cut from the same cloth. Different servings from the same cheese. When we allow ourselves to understand where this behavior stems from, when we look down from the fingernail to the knuckle that joins us in one Hand, then we bring our minds back to our shared purpose: to remember we are one. One in the insanity of the wrong mind, and one in the magnificence and beauty of the right mind. Two seemingly distinct minds, only one of which is real. When we allow ourselves to return to the right mind over and over, practicing understanding instead of separation, then over time we begin to sense that the wrong mind is only a place of appearances. A reality dawns around us, warm, comforting, entirely unassailable, and fair to everyone. Appearances give way to truth, and the Son of God, sitting on the Right Hand of God, takes his place in Heaven.

“Waiter! Can I have my coffee please?”

When my espresso came I gazed around at my finger-brothers and thought about the strangeness of the image we had fabricated together. Can you imagine, one Hand with 6.5 billion fingers? No one left out. Space for everyone. Nothing excluded. Everything and everyone sitting on the Right Hand of God. Now that’s worth enjoying a meal over!