Mayor’s Journal
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

One of our Villagers yesterday gave us all a remarkable insight into the nature of healing, and I wanted to share it with you. Faced with the possibility of another incidence of cancer, she recounted her experience leading up to the visit to the doctor to receive the results of the biopsy. In her words:

sunrise “The weird thing is that for the last three days I’ve been so fearful at points I felt like I might throw-up. I kept releasing and looking then I would feel very calm then back to the fear. Pray for my mind to be healed sitting with the fear and not running/stuffing it as best I could. Even in the waiting room, fear, and up to the point he said I’m sorry but it is more cancer. Then all the fear went poof and we talked about the surgery and everything and still no fear. I even started smiling at points and he looked at me a bit askew at one point cause for me now we could just as well of been making plans to order cake and ice cream for a party. My mom might have been looking askew also but she was behind me so I’m not sure what she was doing. I feel O.K. even… dare I say… happy. For the moment I feel no fear. This is amazing.”

What I found most helpful in what our friend has said here is the switch that can come instantaneously when all of a sudden the fear of a potentially disastrous situation disappears and is left with a simple feeling of lightness, one that in her words resembles in every respect ‘happiness’. It brings more meaning to the idea (often quoted by Ken, borrowed from Winston Churchill) that “All we have to fear is fear itself.” We’ve also perhaps heard that the “anticipation is worse than the reality.” A disaster is, after all, just another situation without any inherent charge or emotion. What we end up feeling is a function of something going on in the mind, not in the world. Our catastrophes are just another series of pictures, another situation to deal with, one that we can interpret in two different ways, depending on the inner teacher we choose.

sunrise I think Ruth-Anne taught us something about this choice of teachers recently. When her perception shifted recently it was accompanied by the magical and profound words (in their original vernacular): “You gotta be kidding me! I just don’t buy it.” And what’s she not “buying” exactly? Well, I think it’s the ego’s interpretation of whatever was going on that there was a good and logical reason to feel fear, upset, hatred and injustice. Taking the words right out of Nancy Reagan’s mouth, our two Villagers just said, “No!” – No, I just don’t want to share that perception and those feelings anymore. “Too tired, too fed up to keep on doing that trip. No way, Senor Jose.” Well done, guys. And thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us.

Yes, of course, as we’ve all been learning for so long, there is another way of looking at every situation, even the most seemingly dire dramas. Lesson after lesson teaches us this: "I am never upset for the reason I think… I can see peace instead of this…I am not a victim of the world I see…God’s Will for me is perfect happiness…All things are echoes of the Voice for God…I am in danger nowhere in the world." Love is the constant that holds our reality as one Self together, the word on our Brother’s breath as he whispers to us in every situation, “Be with me, and all shall be well. We shall walk through this together.”

sunrise There is an elaborate myth being told in the pictures and scenes of the world, a drama being played out that we are invited to participate in by all our friends, family and colleagues, our doctors and teachers, our politicians and professors. A myth of danger and sacrifice and injustice. Of certain suffering, of grimaces and gnashing teeth, of hot tears and searching eyes. It draws us like a vortex, sucking us into its spiral of logic and argumentation, of proof beyond words and scientific tests all leading to one conclusion: suffering and pain are real. What they fail to add, but that stands neon-brilliant in unspoken letters, is that this pain is somehow justified. It’s not only real (they say); it’s also our merit, our ‘just desserts’. And that’s why it feels inevitable. Not because it is historically proven to be unavoidable, but because something inside us tells us that we will never escape the harshness and punishment of this world because it is our due.

We’ve all been studying Ken long enough to know where this unspoken expectation of misfortune comes from, but it always helps to remind ourselves: it is the guilt we accepted as part of our separation negotiation with the ego – the inevitable price we pay for believing we sacrificed God and Heaven in order to establish our own miniature shadowy kingdoms. The desire for separation entails the belief that we achieved it at the expense of Love, and this supposed act of barbarity against eternal Gentleness leads to the internal programming of self-punishment. Misery is not only inevitable, this philosophy declares. Much, much more than this, misery is critical in order to prove that separation has been accomplished. Without the personal experience of suffering (and ultimately death), we cannot prove that individuality is true. The world speaks volumes about this programming, and more than six billion people accept every word as gospel truth.

sunrise Yet despite the tomes of law books filled with stories of injustice, despite the headlines screaming abuse and victimization, despite five thousand years of human history demonstrating the propensity of man to create his own hell, suffering remains what it always will be: a choice. Nothing can make suffering more than what it is, a simple choice, an inner experience that each individual fragment of the one Son accepts in the confines of his mind. Accepts, of course, or rejects.

We can, in the same spirit as our friendly Villagers, say, “This is now enough. I don’t want to go this way anymore. I’m tired of playing the same old game. There is another game, a happy one, led by an older, wiser Brother whose lovely smile wipes away all my desire to want to continue suffering the way I have been for so long. I just don’t need to anymore. Yes, let’s play a different game…”

sunrise And since Jesus reminds us so often in His course that we are indeed children, we can with the same lightness and simplicity of young children decide to play another game. Dealing with cancer or bankruptcy, coming to terms with a failing relationship or with ruthless colleagues, standing up to powerful authority figures: we can undertake all our actions with a lightness of spirit and an inner laughter. Someone is there within our minds holding our hand. His company is real, much more so than the heavy meanings and implications of our worldly situations. We can become inner-referencing instead of outer-referencing. Nothing can stop us from saying to ourselves, “I don’t share that meaning anymore.”

Let’s do it!

Have a great week, dear friends,
Love and hugs,

PS A huge sunflower in a terracotta pot is being given as a gift to every Villager who stops by the Tavern this summery (northern) evening and partakes of a glass of sparkling grape juice.

Village Inspiration Corner

sunriseThe Forgiven World
Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you? In no fantasy have you ever seen anything so lovely. Nothing you see here, sleeping or waking, comes near to such loveliness. And nothing will you value like unto this, nor hold so dear. Nothing that you remember that made your heart sing with joy has ever brought you even a little part of the happiness this sight will bring you. For you will see the Son of God. You will behold the beauty the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and which he thanks the Father for. He was created to see this for you, until you learned to see if for yourself. And all His teaching leads to seeing it and giving thanks with Him.

This lovelness is not a fantasy. It is the real world; bright and clean and new, with everything sparkling under the open sun. Nothing is hidden here, for everything has been forgiven and there are no fantasies to hide the truth. The bridge between that world and this is so little and se easy to cross, that you could not believe is is the meeting place of worlds so different. Yet this little bridge is the strongest thing that touches on this world at all. This little step, so small it has escaped your notice, is a stride through time into eternity, beyond all ugliness into beauty that will enchant you, and will never cease to cause you wonderment at its perfection. (T.17.II.1-2)

Bernard's Ramblings
Saturday, July 7th, 2010
Stories of Jess
The door swung slowly shut and Lorna looked up from the kitchen counter to see which of her three children was coming in. It was high summer and in Maine the sun set only late, and the kids knew it was okay to play in the big garden till almost bedtime. Through the large window above the counter she could see Sharon and Peter playing ping-pong on the all-weather table. Peering around the edge of the window frame, she could see into the back of the yard, all the way down to the row of tall sunflowers, their enormous gay heads swaying slightly in the light wind. But her middle child, Jess, wasn’t there.

She turned and made her way into the living room, empty and still except for the light window drapes fluttering gently in the breeze, and the large tabby, Rufus, fluffing the sofa cushion. Her husband, Dave, was out running errands, the T.V. was off. Perhaps it was just the wind that closed the door, after all. She swung in the direction of the hallway and the stairwell, and her eyes lit just for an instant on the heavy book lying on the Davenport’s side table. The blue book was open at the last lesson she was working on, and she took a moment to re-read the first few words:

Lesson 168: Your grace is given me. I claim it now.
God speaks to us. Shall we not speak to Him? He is not distant. He makes no attempt to hide from us. We try to hide from Him and suffer from deception. He remains entirely accessible. He loves His Son. There is no certainly but this, yet this suffices. He will love His Son forever. When his mind remains asleep, He loves him still. And when his mind awakes, He loves him with a never-changing Love … He comes Himself, and takes us in His Arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep.

She sighed lightly and peacefully.

Where is that boy? she asked to the empty room. It was a quick stop to Jess’ bedroom where she was sure she wouldn’t find him anyway. It just wasn’t in his nature to turn in before it was absolutely necessary. She pushed open the half-ajar door and wasn’t surprised to see his bed vacant. Then just as she was about to head back out of the room she heard a sound from over on the left. A cough, or funny snuffle? With no one in apparent sight, she approached the floor to ceiling closet doors, and listened. Again, the same strange sound. Opening the doors, her eleven year old boy came into focus, sitting crouched against the inside of the small, confined space. And he had been crying.

Startled by this strange behavior, she knelt down beside him and automatically put a hand to his forehead. He wasn’t ill. Her hand slid over the top of his head, caressing his hair, and then down to his slight shoulders. “Hey, my big little man, what’s going on?” she asked warmly, but not too worried. It couldn’t be anything too serious, she figured.

Jess looked up and frowned slightly, but said nothing.

“You know it’s really okay. Why don’t you come out here and tell me what’s going on?”

Without saying a word, the slim, fair-headed boy slid out of the closet and sat on the edge of the bed. His eyes searched the wall and its collection of bright posters before coming to settle on a vague spot on the floor before him.

Lorna just sat on the bed next to him, knowing it was better to say nothing for the moment, and just held her arm around his shoulder.

After a moment he looked up at her and spoke. “I did something really wrong this afternoon. But you don’t know about it.”

She couldn’t imagine what he could have done that could have been so bad, especially if she hadn’t noticed any traces of his misbehavior all day. “Would you like to tell me about it?”

He huffed, a short breath to give him courage, and launched into an explanation of his misdemeanour. He knew he always felt better when he was honest with his mom, and she rarely if ever punished him. It was going to be okay. “While you were all busy doing stuff, I went into the dining room. I went to the sideboard and got out a set of cutlery, you know, the silver forks and things you use for special occasions…”

At this moment Lorna couldn’t imagine what he might have done that could have been a crime. All the silverware was in place; she had been to the drawer later that evening to put some things away and nothing was missing.

Jess continued in a soft voice, “I took a full set of stuff and went to the table. But I didn’t go to my place… I went and sat at Dad’s. At the head of the table…”

More silence.

Then, “I set up the cutlery in front of me, I pulled out his chair and sat down in his spot. There was no one there, but I imagined all the family, you all plus granddad and grandma and aunt Jackie, Mrs. Simone and the Whistons even. And I pretended like I was the boss and in charge of the whole dinner… I could tell everyone what they should do and shouldn’t, and everyone did what I told them to do because they were like scared of me, because I was the head of the family.”

Lorna was still waiting for the big misdemeanour. “Yes, and then what happened?”

Jess looked at her strangely. “Well, that’s it!”

Lorna looked back uncomprehendingly. Her eyes sought more information and after a moment Jess replied.

“That’s it, that’s what I did, I took Dad’s place! I mean, I didn’t really,” he added hurriedly. “It was just for a moment, really probably like five minutes. But I’m sorry, I’ll really never do it again. After a moment it felt really weird and so I quickly put everything back in its place and ran outside. I don’t really want to be dad, I think I prefer being me.”

Lorna heaved a sigh of relief inwardly. This was her boy’s big problem? He thought he had taken his father’s place, and this scared him? Before long her face was beaming and she ruffled his hair, looking him hard in the eye. “My worthy young man, you need never be concerned about thinking you have taken your father’s place, believe me. He loves you, more than you can imagine. And even if he knew about this, and we don’t need to tell him if you don’t want – that way he’ll never even know – he would only say exactly the same as me. There’s really no problem at all. Okay?”

Jess always felt better when his mom talked to him like this. It just seemed to always go to the heart of his problem. He thought about what he had done, then about what she had said. “I think I prefer being Dad’s son," he said. "That’s okay with me. I don’t need to be him.”

Lorna smiled, thinking back upon the lesson she had spoken to herself earlier. “Mmm, yes I can fully understand. Very wise words, my young sage. Very wise words.”

She rubbed his shoulders vigorously till he stood up and the energy came back into his eyes. “Hey,” she said, looking at her watch, “Do you think it’s too late for a treat? How about… hmm… a root beer float?”

Jess’ eyes opened wide and he nodded enthusiastically. She held out his hand, he plunged his hand in hers, and they made their way out of the room and back down the stairs to the kitchen.

Mayor's Journal
12th July, 2010
Over the past few days I have been having an interesting exchange of emails with a Village-participant on a subject I thought might interest some other residents. The basic issue was a deep concern about feeling belittled and guilty when working through Ken’s teachings, and whether it was not possible to do the work, perhaps with other teachers, who do not focus so much on the ego’s darkness. Jesus states in his Course that it is not the only path back to the real world; perhaps other paths will be a little easier on the feelings, and not focus quite so much on bringing out the guilt, the ugliness, the bloodthirstiness, the horror and fear which can become preoccupying and immobilizing. After all, why does Ken focus so much on these dark aspects along the path Home?

BG: Let me talk a little firstly about my own experiences with Ken. I do understand your feelings! For me, the fact that Ken can even talk about all the gruesome aspects of the ego as he does is kind of proof that he doesn't feel guilt with respect to it! I even wonder how on earth he can pronounce the words he does - they can also bring up a great deal of fear and guilt in me at times. So the fact that he can talk about it the way he does makes me think that he has processed all those feelings and that they no longer have any effect on him. This, to my mind, is proof that it is possible to work through these horror stories and come out feeling peaceful (and alive!). So I conclude that if someone else is able to do it peacefully, then it must not be a problem literally with what he is saying, i.e. with what the ego actually does and its intentions and makeup. It must be a problem with my hearing.

I've come to the conclusion time and time again that Ken’s words don't actually contain any magical power over me to bring up guilt and fear. After all, they are just sounds and symbols. It's the way my mind is interpreting and processing the words he speaks that can unsettle me. And why would they do that? Why would I take all these horror stories so seriously? I keep coming back to the answer: obviously because I think they're true. I still see the horror, the betrayal, the guilt, the rampaging God-Father, the bloody Christ on the Cross, the destruction of Heaven, my treason as a Son of a holy, loving Father - I still feel all that as if it is true and continuing every moment.

Okay, this is actually not too difficult to see for anyone who has worked with Ken for a while. What is really difficult is finding the understanding within oneself that none of this is true, just a story the ego is telling, etc., which is precisely the point to which he would lead us. Why, oh, why should it be so difficult to really internalize that this is all simply the ego's lie? If only I could see this, then I’m sure I could listen to Ken for hours and not have a single, teeny problem. Now this question really starts to cut to the heart of the story, and to the really difficult part of the work.

The reason that we cannot get to this sense of it all being 'just an ego lie' is because we don’t want to. We still give importance and value to our individuality, and we want to continue doing this. I don’t want all this horror, this hatefulness and guilt, to be just a story and just a lie. Simply because I don’t want to be just a ‘story’ and a ‘lie’. The place to which Ken is trying to lead us from which we see clearly the lie is also the place in which our individuality diminishes to complete unimportance, and our oneness and sameness with our brothers comes to the forefront in our awareness.

Ken would have us come to that right-minded place and look on the ego’s devastation and say, “this is really not interesting, and certainly not any kind of big deal”. Yet my individuality, my sense of ‘me’, is part of that devastation. Thus reaching that vision point is tantamount to saying, “I’m really not that interesting, I’m really not any kind of a big deal.” Now, if I try to do as he asks, and yet I still feel a strong desire to continue with the ego's games, to continue to give importance to my story, then I will not be able to escape feeling an inner conflict. This is the specific source of the pain we can feel when listening to Ken. It is the conflict of becoming aware of what we are doing by participating in the ego’s thought system, and becoming aware that we are doing so voluntarily, and still wish to do so.

In some ways it is even worse than if we hadn't started with this course! I feel doubly guilty now because I'm aware of what I'm doing - and am now aware that I still actually want to continue doing it! This is why it feels awful at times when Ken takes away the veils: we’re trying to convince ourselves of something that a part of us (our wrong mind) still really does not want to do. And now that we know about our reluctance, we feel even guiltier. I know I should want to stop playing the horrible, bloodthirsty, cannibalistic games Ken talks about. But in actual fact, something in me still secretly adores playing them. And the guilt about knowing all this serves my ego’s game even better – it keeps everything more firmly in place! This is why it is possible to feel worse when we study the Course, rather than reap the rewards of peace and innocence Jesus speaks of so often.

As Ken has told us many times, these feelings are helpful information. They are helping us understand that we have a split mind. Whereas we were unaware initially we had a decision-making mind, now we discover we have one. Then we get to experience quite clearly that this mind is indeed split between the wrong mind (which seeks to maintain our individuality and differences) and our right mind (which would seek to remember the reality of love and sameness). In order to truly discover this and to feel the beginnings of peace, we need only look over in the direction of a helpful Friend who stands next to us and ask for his help.

If we turn to Jesus, that part of our right mind that is filled with clarity and the remembrance of oneness, then we will understand that there is no cost to releasing our tight hold on our sense of individuality. It’s okay to be the same as others. It’s okay to be filled with hatefulness on one hand, as everyone, because we see clearly that on the other hand we are filled with innocence and the gentle happiness of our Father. We do not need to feel special, especially better or worse than another, not when we experience the peacefulness of sameness. What a relief, what a wonderful relief to realize that we can cease striving to make something of our lives, and just relax and be content to be the same. As equally wrong-minded and confused as others, and as equally right-minded and sincerely generous and forgiving as others can be, too.

To address your specific concern, I literally can't imagine a student of Ken's who has not experienced these challenging feelings. Ken is always pushing us, gently and hard at the same time. You don't listen to Ken if you want a comfortable ride through life! Ken's work is for those who are tired of feeling guilty and fearful and want to get rid of all their feelings of guilt and fear – not just cover them over with other thoughts. The temptation is to think there is another way of going about doing this other than identifying our separating feelings and thoughts and forgiving (releasing) them.

I don't think there is another way of doing it, not really. There is a magical place within us that we are all intuitively attracted towards, and are scared of at the same time. A magical place of clarity, wisdom and real peace. Ken is trying to en-courage us (to give us the courage) to go back to that place time and time again from where we can look on what we think is devastation and see (in Jesus' words) that it is “not so”. “The miracle shows us that we are dreaming and dream and that it's content is not true.”

Ken has said that we must learn to look at our lives within this world to find the blood spilling out (e.g. our cannibalistic intentions to get something from others such as a smile; our frustration with someone which is a mild form of murder, etc.), not in order to feel guilty or fearful about it, but in order to see that it is not real blood – it’s just ketchup, just actor's fake blood. It’s all the ego’s make-believe (literally ‘making real from pure belief’).

We look at all this clearly in order to see that these hateful, murderous intentions are just silly – not sinful and not bad, just silly. They are silly because once we are in our peaceful and satisfied right minds we see how remarkable it is to believe we could actually want to get something from someone else. In that calm place, we need nothing from anyone else, not even a smile. And we certainly can’t imagine getting upset because we didn’t receive one, or because someone did not behave according to our set of rules. We can’t imagine getting upset at all, in fact, because there is nothing that shakes our peace once back in that special place. All the previously disturbing thoughts of hatefulness are just seen as amusing and peculiar, certainly not as guilt-provoking.

Ken wants us to take his words seriously, and he knows there is a good chance we will feel uncomfortable faced with the startling truths he presents to us. It is these feelings that will motivate us to want to do something about the disguised contents of our minds. He has told us that the motivation for doing this Course is the awareness of feeling unhappy, in addition to the obvious “attraction of Love for Love”. But if we only remained with the lovely and loving passages, we would never get to the obstacles that are preventing us from embracing that Love. The blocks would stay in place, and we would practice for years and years and wonder why things did not shift significantly. Despite your perceptions, I really don’t think Ken is trying as such to shock us. He is not trying to make us feel guilty, but to show us that we do feel guilty, and that it is only when we recognize this that we can really do something about it. He is in many ways like the last-resort doctor.

Ken is the doctor we go to when the wound is hurting badly and no other doctor has been willing or able to do what's necessary to heal it. You’ve seen many specialists and followed many courses of healing, yet the pain remains. When someone rips off the bandage you've put on an old and poorly tended sore, it reveals the festering wound, but only so it can be cleaned and healed. You know it's going to be tough – Ken is going to be direct, but then that’s precisely what you haven’t found elsewhere. No one else has been willing to tackle the really difficult work at hand – the secret, disguised obstacles we have been cherishing in a hidden closet of our minds, the secret desire for the wound to remain infected. Not even we have been aware of what has been there. Ken, as our doctor, will give us rose-water and heart-shaped candies, but he is also going to open that darn wound to clean it. You go to Ken with a festering wound that is very painful, and say, “Can you please, please help me? I’ve tried so many other paths and techniques and they’re just not making any real headway with my hurts and wounds. No matter what I’ve done, they’re still there.”

Then he says, “Okay, but this might hurt initially,” – and he does warn us!. “I'm not going to hurt you - the pain is already there but you’ve covered it over. We have to expose the wound to heal it properly. We'll have to take off all the old bandages that you've put on that are now getting in the way of cleaning it up. They’ve served you well in the past, but now if you want to really heal this wound, we’ll have to take them of and see what’s really festering there.” Then while the taking off of the old bandage is under way, our friendly doctor leans over and tickles us in the ribs and says, “Look over there!” And you look in the direction of his pointing finger and there's this lovely face of a kind and caring brother looking at you with these big lovely eyes and a huge smile, saying, “Just keep looking in my laughing eyes and everything will be absolutely fine! You won’t feel a thing.”

Were it not for this friendly last-resort Doctor, we might just prefer to lead life as insanely and as unhappily as we have been for countless years without seriously questioning what's going on.

Happy healing!!

Have a great week, everyone,

Mayor's Journal
14th July, 2010
Following on from some of your ponderings... I didn’t want to make the recent article (below) too long, but more of the conversation I had with the person concerned was about how other teachers and paths are really fine, too. I’ll get to writing an addendum in this Journal.

Beethoven, or Bob?
In the meantime I just wanted to add another word about my work with Ken... I consider that I have two important ACIM teachers: Ken, on one hand, and Bob Marley on the other. Yes, good old Bob. But when he sings he often sounds like UB40 in my prayers. I often feel tension arising in me when working with this philosophy, whether with the blue book or with Ken, and then suddenly Jesus makes a lightening (in both senses of the word) appearance in my thoughts - but he comes to me looking like Bob Marley, and says, “Cool, man. Hey, stay real cool. Chill’s the word. What’re you taking seriously again now? You're taking THAT seriously?? Ah, naw, just give it up man.”

sunriseI am serious. Jesus comes to me looking like Bob Marley slouching on a couch, infinitely wise but V E R Y relaxed. No sin, no guilt, just a huge playful smile that asks, “So you taking something serious… again?” And then I see that Ken is also Bob when I can listen to him without thinking he is pointing an accusing finger at me. Once, like Jamie, I had to head out of the auditorium during a Ken lecture halfway through and just hung out by the lake (Roscoe) for a while. During the lecture I had started to develop a huge tooth ache which I knew was coming purely from the guilt arising in me – “He’s talking about YOU, this is YOUR guilt, and YOUR hatefulness. You see what YOU’RE like?”

I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back in after the break. I bumped into Ken in the bookstore during the break and accosted him. “Great lecture, but you’re honestly scaring the hell out of me.” That’s all I said and he listened, I swear he heard what I was saying. Somehow I felt better, just having told him honestly what was going on, and I didn’t see any, “You’re so stuck in guilt, you don’t even know it.” Of course not. He just smiled and really listened, and then I got it - it really wasn’t about me. It was the ego he was talking about. I was something else. And when he looked at me, he acknowledged the ’something else’ which was happy and free of guilt and blame. Beethoven could play his music once more that I could hear without being immoblized by the guilt coming into view. Guilt could arise, and the mind, instead of confirming its reality, held it gently until its importance dissipated and faded away, dolce and calando...

sunrise I then went back to the lecture but sat in the last row next to the outside door, just in case! I had no problems at all with the lecture and felt great and vibrant the whole time. The tooth ache disappeared that day, but it had to be pulled a year later after many other bouts of taking guilt personally. So it became my ‘guilt tooth’. From that time on I swore I would try to look at ‘my’ guilt and hatefulness and fear honestly, but with much less seriousness, so as to lose fewer body parts!

So now anytime when I listen to a Ken CD and I feel that guilt arising, I do something that reminds me not to take it on myself personally, like get a glass of juice, or a macchiato, smoke a joint (just kidding!!). Or I talk to him and tell him again that he’s scaring the living daylights out of me. I’m honest with him in my mind (and have been in my letters, too). He’s a big guy, he can take it. He’s maybe this incredibly intelligent psychologist-professor on one hand, but he’s a really ordinary, loving, considerate and kind bloke on the other. He’ll say, “Gee, I’m sorry what I’m saying makes you feel bad. Here, let me rub your shoulders a minute. Feel any better? No? Okay, then I’ll schmuzzle your hair a bit – that always works.” He really would, I’m not kidding. And that’s what I see him doing whenever I get my knickers in a knot.

Beethoven, or Bob - it's not one or the other. It's both. One takes me to the heights, the other reminds me to smile and laugh all along the way Home.

So let's all get up, stand up, let's do a little jammin' and sing redemption's song together, we'll not be waiting in vain but keep on moving; even if we stir up the guilt from time to time, even if we ask, "Could we be loved?", even when we think there is no sympathy, we'll know that the sun is shining, guilt won't rock our boat too long, something's there that will satisfy our soul, and we'll learn the wonderful lesson, "No guilt, no cry," and when we finally ask in honesty "Is this Love?", Jesus/Bob will answer tenderly, yes, this is One Love we all share...

Blessings, my friends! Have some fun today!

PS How many Bob songs are mentioned in this post?

Mayor's Journal
15th July, 2010

“Knock, knock…”
Okay, okay… (sulkily) “Whoooo’s there?”
“NO ONE!! Hahahahaha!”

Well, actually the truth is that there is no one there. There’s only ever you, and one of two internal teachers. Whenever we hear someone speak, there’s a noise we hear, sounds being emitted. Even a computer can pick the sound up with a microphone and confirm that there is a disturbance to the surrounding silence. But a computer for all of its sophistication cannot tell you what those sounds actually mean. It cannot interpret them, re-phrase them and tell you what they mean. But you can.

sunrise If you come back from a hard day at work, open the door, turn on Hubert (your computer) and say to him, “Boy, do I need a holiday!” Hubert (or Hubie) might respond by researching vacation packages to the Caribbean. Then you tell him, “No, you don’t get it, my boss is just such a pain in the neck.” And Hubie responds by listing the different chiropractors in your area. You: “Damn it, can’t you do something to just fix him and tell him to get a life of his own! He’s always on my back, no matter how hard I work it’s never good enough, and now he’s trying to get his sexy assistant to take my place. I mean, do I have a sexy assistant?” At this news Hubie goes nuts and pulls up dozens of different sites, some quite kosher, others much less so.

You see, without an internal voice of reason, not even the smartest machine can understand a Son of God.

A human being (generally we call them ‘friends’) listening to all your complaints could have had any number of reactions very different from Hubert. Depending on the person, you might have received a suggestion about the need for a break, like Hubert, but with the idea in mind that this would help you come back to work with more patience and tolerance. Or you might have received a word about letting your frustrations out so they don’t accumulate and feed a physical condition. Or you might have been blessed with some advice about how to handle your boss or the interfering assistant.

sunrise Let’s turn the tables: now you’re the advising friend. What did you really understand from what the person was saying about her problem? The only way you can know is by listening inside to your reactions as she was speaking. To you, the sounds had meaning, and though it seems that there are multiple different meanings these sounds might have, in reality there are only two. Either you hear words that remind you of separation, pain and victimization, all seemingly quite dramatic, justifying anger and fear; or they remind you of a mistaken choice for separation, confusion, and forgetfulness of another Presence. Those are the only two messages we can ever hear; those are the only two messages the world is ever communicating to us at any instant of the day or night: separation and suffering, or error and kindness.

Which voice we were listening to as our friend was speaking will show up in our reactions to what she was saying. Tension, agreement, and the memory of similar personal experiences of injustice are usually a pretty good sign that we have preferred the ‘kick’ or ‘high’ that separation gives to our sense of personality, of being ‘me’ with a life and a pretty darn good story behind it to boot. Peacefulness (the real kind, not pretend), closeness to an inner presence that speaks of safety no matter how this person’s situation turns out, and a feeling of worthiness faced with a similar possibility of being replaced, are good indications we have chosen our right mind.

Despite appearances, as she was speaking, we were not really listening to our friend. Not really. Yes, the sounds we were hearing made sense to us, and we knew that this person was having a certain interaction with other people in her work environment. But what that meant to us was determined by the inner voice we listening to, not by the outer voice. The outside voices in our world communicate symbols to us. But only we can interpret what those symbols mean. No one ever imposes meaning on us – that’s impossible. Whatever we understand from our environment is our choice. The way we react as a consequence to what we understand, the way we feel and emote, is always our decision.

There is no one there. Our friend, as much as we would like her to be real, tangible, full of personality, vitality, with all her charming and less charming aspects, in actual fact is not really there (sorry!). We are not really with her, as such. We are either with the ego, or with Jesus. The person before us is just a symbol, another symbol on our journey representing a choice. We are having a relationship not with our friend, but with our two inner teachers. We are either holding the ego’s hand of suffering, or Jesus’ hand of happiness and freedom. Either we will see this Son of God before us as walking and skipping lightly down the path Homeward with us, along with all humanity (making lots of silly and forgivable errors along the way, of course), or we will see her plodding heavily and alone through this quagmire of injustice and pain we call the world, bemoaning our fate at the same time as hers.

sunrise Each and every moment of the day we are either relating to our personal sense of separation from God, or to a sense of closeness with the source of Love, however we internalize that. And depending on the presence we draw close to ourselves, we will respond to our friend’s plight one way or another. We might say exactly the same things – advice about dealing with bosses and assistants, the need for a break, etc. But the way we say it will be completely different, and what the other person may interpret will be just as different. Of course our friend also has a choice to make with respect to her internal teacher, and what she hears will depend on the presence she is drawing close to. But we will know that we are not reinforcing her sense of injustice, vulnerability and unworthiness.

As completely outrageous as it may seem, the only person in front of us is Jesus. Either we forget about him, pick up the hand of separation, and focus on our friend and her plight and feel our own anxiety in a similar situation. Or we suddenly recognize him in the background, breath a sigh of relief, and know that none of this is as important as it looks.

Now, Hubie, back to that google search you were doing about a sexy assistant…

Bernard's Ramblings
15th July, 2010

I am not here,
I never was.
And this kind news
I’d share with you,
In case you think you’re here, too!
There is no place more quiet or calm
Than knowing I’m not this tiny thing
That coughs and wheezes, gasps and groans,
That cries and screams, whimpers and rages.
There is a place where none of this world
Has any merit, value or reality,
Where all is known as One,
Where nothing protrudes beyond the rest,
Where time is nothing,
Since all is embraced
Within a remarkable, abstract Infinity.

So I’d like to say that we do not need
To feel like ‘us’, like ‘you’ and ‘me’.
We do not need to pretend to be
Something else than what We are.
No need to try, to strive or seek,
To wonder if tomorrow will yield
The things I think I need to feel, the love,
The joy that are already within my reach.
I hold out my hand and there within my open palm
Lies all that I have struggled my life to find.
For I’m not here, and God be blessed
That this is so.
For I am there where He has placed me,
By your side, together One,
Together free,
Together blessed,
God's one beloved Son.