sunrise Mayor's Journal, 4th January, 2011:

2011 – Let’s Get To Work! The Ego-Hangover


The New Year – already?? What happened to November and December? I know time doesn’t exist, but sheesh.

So Christmas and the New Year, not to mention Thanksgiving, have come and gone. All those amazing family celebrations. And to get things started on the right foot this year at the Village I would like you all to submit some of your juicy titbits from these wondrous moments spent in the close company of your loved ones (and of your less-loved ones). After all, if self-honesty is what this is all about, then we have to get stuck into a little personal review from this ‘magical’ end-of-year period, right?

It’s time to take stock. We’re not doing this course because we know it’s going to be peaches and cream the whole way. I mean, what’s the chance that during these past two months of celebrations there wasn’t at least one moment of impatience, of judgment, of excluding someone from your highest consideration. Was everyone you met and whom you dined with during this period included in your mind as a perfect and holy Son of God? I mean, let’s get real. This is your mayor you're tawkin’ to. After your celebrations there was the party hangover, okay. Now we’re talking about the ego-hangover.

I know Uncle Eustace and cousin Myrtle and nephews Thaddeus and Basil were truly charming and generous as always, but what about the others. Yes, the others. You know the ones I mean. No one escapes feeling at times that they would like someone in particular to be different, to be more sensitive, more participating, more flexible. Or they’d like things to be different. There’s something happening that you don’t like, maybe you wanted things to go differently, maybe things are just not happening the way you wanted (“I can’t believe she just put the salad on the table – she knew it was for later”). Maybe it’s because of someone else, or just ‘life’. But in the back of your mind there’s always someone you’re afraid of disappointing. Someone is not going to understand, is going to get upset. You’ve got to make sure granddad feels included or eats exactly what he wants, and you know the thing you definitely better not say to Auntie Gertrude and the direction the conversation better not take.

I think the true blessing of Thanksgiving and Christmas is not the love we might share between family members. That’s nice, but that’s not it. It is more the burgeoning awareness that despite the love that is sometimes not apparently present, Love is still truly present. It just doesn’t look the way we thought it should. That’s all.

Our sensitivities and upsets, and certainly those of other people, occur only to keep our attention well away from the silent and holy presence that encompasses us all. I, for one, found it funny how I could bridle every time a certain person at my dinner table opened his mouth. It just seemed he was incapable of saying anything sensitive or intelligent. As if he should be something other than the way he was. Why? Why should it be so difficult to include him exactly as he is in my love?

Because then I would have to include myself in that Love.

Inevitably every time we are upset with someone else or the way things are going, we are holding a judgment against ourselves. We don’t really need to dig to find out specifically what it is. We can be pretty sure, however, that it is one version or another of self-condemnation, for not being good enough, for not being acceptable in our own eyes. We have replaced God as judge and executioner. Why bother the Big Kahuna and find out what He really thinks? I can do a better job. In fact, I already know how things turn out.

So when Uncle Benedict opens his mouth and I get upset, it’s because somewhere I have imagined that it’s only when we are coherent, sensitive and ‘intelligent’ that we are acceptable in Love’s eyes. And I hold that exact accusation against myself.

If I knew that no matter how stupid, incoherent and insensitive I really am, Love still accepts and embraces me wholly and completely, then I would just smile and join with my brother in our mutual silliness. It might even become a celebration of silliness, at least the silliness that we could do anything that would exclude us from God’s Love.

What can turbo charge this perception is remembering the specific purpose behind all these upsets – Granddad Hippolytus’, Auntie Gertrude’s, and mine. Now that’s when it becomes really funny. That dinner table which became the breeding ground of tension and unspoken reprimands – it had a purpose, it was designed to fulfil a function.

Love is present, but it must remain unseen. Voilà! That’s it, that’s all.

Every word uttered is focused to take the attention off of the one thing that is so amazingly obvious, and to get the attention back to the illusion, back to appearances. So, another round of “Did you hear about …” followed by a description of some newsy event, the weather, someone’s life details, even just the poor decoration in the recently opened restaurant. Anything will do. As long as the most obvious thing in the world remains unspoken and unmentioned:

LOVE.

Everything points back to Its presence. Their silliness. Our silliness. Everything.

And Love smiles on absolutely unabated.

So let’s welcome these family meetings with open arms. Though we might have been disappointed by them in the past, now we’re protected by a special understanding that there is nothing more to avoid, no troubles that can remove the most obvious Guest in our party. He has come to meet with us, and to meet us where we are. No need for things to be any different from the way they are. Everything is perfect just the way it is.

The perfect result we were seeking for our family meetings does not have a specific shape or form. It is not when everyone leaves with a smile on his or her face, when all the potential problems and pitfalls were avoided. It is when our inner smile stays fixed on the presence of Christ in our family members and sees the Love there, the Love that is simply scared of remembering Itself and makes up a few stories to pass the time together and divert our attention. Tensions and upsets are merely an indication that Love is present, not that it is absent.

If we can manage, even just a little, to see our self-judgments and forgive them when things don’t go quite right, then we bring peace back to the party. And Love has returned once more.

Let us make this year different by making it all the same: let us recognize the efforts we all make to deny Love's presence among us through our judgments and irritations. Our Guest has come; we can only acknowledge His presence with a gentle smile. We smile at our silly upsets and self-condemnations. We are not up to our expectations - no one is. But we are up to His, no matter how things go.



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 11th January, 2011:

The Blob of OG and My Blessed Insanity


We can learn from anything, right? Reassure me now.
Okay, I accept your agreement.
So these are the thoughts that came to me today.

It is craziness to see something that is not there.
Likewise, it is craziness not to see something that is there.
So what happens when I find I display symptoms of both conditions?
Oy veh.

When the dog refuses to stand still while I towel him dry after he comes in thoroughly muddy from a walk, and I feel myself starting to get upset,
When the vacuum cleaner systematically bumps into furniture as I guide it (gently) through the house and I feel frustration starting to rise (because I might be in a hurry),
When I pull the car out of the driveway and someone shoots past me much too fast on this tiny road missing me by a foot, and I start to feel total fear and then anger,
When I have to leave a message with someone in the administration because they never answer their phone and they say they will call back but never do, and I start to feel this sharp sense of injustice,
When I go out of my way to find nice Christmas presents for family members and receive nothing in return, not even a sincere thank you, and I start to feel a sense of being used and ingratitude,
Whenever I start to feel any of these things, I know I’m going crazy. I mean, stark raving mad.

Why? Because I’m seeing things that are not there.

I’m hallucinating. Totally.

This does not mean that these things are not happening. It means that none of the things that are happening means what I think it means, or means anything in particular. None of them really have the charge I’m giving them. They are just scenes from life, things that are happening, without any innate meaning.

If I follow Ken to the letter, then I can understand all the more how totally insane I am, because in truth I am not even here. Okay, I have a perception of being in a body, true. But that doesn’t mean I’m in the body, just that I think I am.

It helps bring a smile to my face when I start to remember this while I’m toweling the dog or calling the administration. I mean, I can make a big deal about anything. Don’t test me, I’m serious. About anything. Why? Because I can and will use anything to continue to give myself the impression that I’m in this blessed body as a blessed individual. And that includes any situation that presents itself to me. Unknowingly my little mind shall twist and turn some completely innocuous event (the vacuum cleaner bumping into furniture) into some diabolical drama demonstrating that something is there when it isn’t. But I insist it is. And my upset or excitement proves it. Just try to tell me I’m wrong!

It’s funny, I mean truly humorous watching this whole play in action. But it’s not half so funny as the flip side of this play.

It’s even more comical to watch my insane mind refuse to accept that something is there when it plainly and clearly is. Okay, I admit, I’m pretty much an expert at pretending that something is there when it isn’t, you know, the dog, the administration, etc. But I’m much, much better at pretending that something is not there when it is. What does this look like?

When my wife forgets to buy something for the dinner with guests tonight and I ignore the twinge of upset because ‘it’s not spiritual’,
When a family member does not thank me for an important favor I have done and I smile and continue as if nothing happened (because I’m above needing gratification) ,
When someone I’ve done a job for constantly stalls when it comes to paying me and I continue to swallow my anger and sense of disrespect because I think I’ve learned that these feelings will not get me anywhere…

When I refuse to see the upset that is really there and continue to pretend that it's not, then I know I’m mad. Not only am I mad, thinking that something is not there that is, but I’m also masochistic, denying myself the only opportunity I have to become happy and peaceful once again.

If I follow Ken, then I pay even more attention to these moments of thinking something is not there when it is. I actively look for them, I learn to pay more attention to my thoughts and feelings during the day. And I discover more twinges of upset, disrespect, victimization and guilt than I thought. Okay, this is a good start.

But to really deal with the problem, I have to ask an important question: Why do I not want to see what’s there when it is? Why should it bother me so much to face my real feelings and reactions? And that’s when we come back to our good friend, OG. Let me present ‘OG’, or ontological guilt. OG does not want to be discovered. He likes remaining hidden and will make you think that you don’t want him to be seen and known, either. But you do. It is not shameful or sinful to realize that OG has come to take up residence in our minds. It is freeing. It is while we are afraid to admit that there’s this blob of OG sitting there that we shall truly remain stuck and in pain, and keep pretending that everything is okay when it’s not.

And so I invite all of us to throw back the covers and reveal in all his sticky, gooey inglorious truth, OG. He is much less frightening when really seen for what he is, I promise.

We are all experts in craziness, seeing things that are not there, not seeing things that are. We do this every day. But if we begin to observe our craziness with laughter and lightness, seeing there’s truly nothing wrong with insanity except that it’s a bit unhappy, then we can start to make the whole thing disappear. OG-the-Blob is uncovered for the comical thing that it is, and slowly a smile appears on our faces and replaces our grimaces and gnashing teeth.

The dog becomes just a dog once again, the vacuum cleaner a friend, the public administrator just another insane person in our insane world. Total insanity everywhere, and it makes not one bit of difference to us at all. There’s just this Smile that looks upon the play of life around us, and we smile along, happy to have discovered the secret that unlocks the great mystery of this crazy world.



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 21st January, 2011:

Finding Heaven at McDonalds


My morning's ramblings...

I'm here at McDonalds (for the internet connection, not the coffee!), looking around me and I'm fighting with myself (resisting a McFlurry? not quite!). The battle today? I'm fighting with the part of me that wants to continue seeing things not as they are but as I want them to be. Out with God, in with me!

You understand, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, all people are the same, there is only one relationship because we are only One. Life is supposed to be simpler that way, too. But that's not the way I'm thinking right now. No, not at all. I want to see separated, different people with whom I could have potentially separate, different relationships. These people who look interesting, those people who don’t - that's what I see, and what I want to see. Different people provoking different feelings in me with the glorious promise of different responses, with whom I would then react differently. That's exciting! A part of me really doesn’t want to have the same relationship with everyone! Boring, boring, boring. It just wants to believe that I could have a more interesting, satisfying, stimulating relationship with this person rather than with another. Always the hope of something else other than what seems to be this interminable, bland Oneness and singular Relationship that Jesus keeps telling me about.

But there's a problem, and it ain't a small one, neither. A cosmological hitch, so to speak.

(Gets up to get another coffee - oh, and they sell croissants here. Bet you don't have that at your Mikie D's in the US of A!)

I'm reminded by this persistent Voice in the back of my mind that my way of having relationships is based not in fulfillment, pleasure or satisfaction of any nature, but in pain (yuk), despite what appear to be its wonderful rewards, even if those appearances are very convincing. (And I can convince myself those rewards are convincing.) It is illusory, and that’s why it’s unsatisfying. Like trying to have a relationship with ghosts or dream figures. Ultimately very, very unfulfilling! (Despite rumors, Caspar is not a good conversationalist, and an even less satisfying sex partner.)

And yet it is so enticing, this idea that I could have different qualities of relationships with different people. So seductive, drawing me forward like a magnet - I bet this person has something interesting to say, and this one would like to talk to me, I'm sure. Each person would have a different way of communicating with me and recognizing me. They would put me in a special category, a special place in their minds; they would analyze me, assess me, make me real, different, and important because I people their dream, their world. I make their world real for them! And all this time I am conscious of the way I appear to them, trying to fit somewhere into their world, trying to be noticed, categorized. I want to exist to them. I don’t want to just be a dream figure! And I don't want them to see right through appearances to the Oneness from which we stem! My uniqueness must be recognized! And I'm not really interested in reminding them they are a dream figure and their seeming existence as a separate being is nothing but a shadow, a vague appearance. I mean, that would ruin my day, not to mention my McEggMuffin.

Still, I have to be perfectly honest, the only satisfaction that such 'relationships' (if we could call them that) gives me at all is completely ephemeral. Arghh, says Charlie Brown. If you can hold down your McShake, then read on. My experience of others is purely what I give to the situation by my illusion, my projection, the projection of my thought into the situation. The extension, the over-laying, the imposition of my thought on the situation. Yes, I impose my images on what has no inherent quality or substance at all. Just look around you, try this now and see if it isn't true. (So you're not at McDs, that urban haven of spiritual research? Try it anyway even in the office or at home, but grab a donut.) That’s all my relationships are – the imposition of my thoughts and images on a completely vague, neutral and meaningless situation, meaningless groupings of shadows and images. No inherent substance or reality. Nothing really there! Gads! I make it appear to myself there’s something there by playing mind games with myself. Nothing else.

Yes, I play mind games with myself in the hope that those mind games interest other people, and that they enter into the same mind games as me in which I can play a role. I don’t even have to play a big role. They can just acknowledge me as a potential player in their mind game. I will feel that just for a milli-second I existed for them. I exist! I’m not just a dream figure – I exist for them in their dream!

But what kind of reality is that? Is that really existing if I’m just a dream figure in their dream, does that make me or this world real?

Ultimately there is nothing there. Just more silly pictures. Look at these people milling about here... just images on my screen.

No, that's not strictly true. There is something there, but it is not in the figures or what I think they can give me. It is the coming together of two minds remembering that they are elsewhere simply sharing a dream together. There is tremendous power and experience in that. Absolutely tremendous. Believe it or not, that re-opens the gates to Heaven. There is an extraordinary experience of lightness instead of constraint, strategizing, and manipulation, a solidity and innocence instead of impressions, guilt, and insecurity, and wholeness instead of competition and weakness. And the other person doesn't even have to be aware that I'm joining with him or her. In my recognizing our perfect sameness and union, we are joined, and peace floods my mind.

That is the true benefit of every encounter here in the mini-metropolis of my mind at McDonalds. It is the same benefit of every meeting both physical and those that are purely within my mind and memory. I get to look again at this person and say, "Man or woman, businessperson or garbage collector, philosopher or gang member, there is something beyond these appearances and beyond my imposition on this person. There is a totality which unites us and makes us all perfectly the same, extensions of One Life, the same in holiness and innocence and strength." It gives me the opportunity to turn away from an ephemeral, illusory dream and back to something that finally feels real and truly satisfying. Changing my vision returns my mind toward true satisfaction and completion, Wholeness and Beauty.

And yet, and yet...

Even as I re-read these words I have just written, I notice that a part of me still thinks that separation and mental cannibalism can offer me more than wholeness, unity and completion. A world of differences, even one that I realize is totally make-believe, seems to offer me more than God, Heaven, Unity, Wholeness, celestial Beauty, and Magnificence. Wow... I'm looking at the two options and I find myself actually hesitating to choose sameness instead of differences, holiness instead of judgment. I think I must learn to appreciate a little more the calmness and beauty of unified vision, instead of the seductive appeal of fragmented sight.

It would be nice if I could finally offer people more than just my images and silly games.

I’m sure I can.