Mayor’s Journal June 14th, 2010

The Pool-boy has landed!

sunriseThis is just a short note to remind everyone that there are no such things as forbidden words or concepts. All words are equal under the sun and before God and the Holy Spirit’s laser vision. There is no hierarchy of ‘word-ly’ illusions: all are equally unreal, and symbolic only to the extent that we attribute them with power over us, and an effect on our minds. Let us not be weak before a word! No, our strength lies in our ability to see past all judgments and associations, to remember that only the Word of Love is true, and none other, and is the sound every word makes in its purest telling. No confusion we might make in this world could ever remove the true interpretation that stands behind all concepts and thoughts.

So let’s relax a little, and remember that nothing we might say here in the Village might ever justify or warrant judgment or condemnation. A laugh or a chuckle, maybe. A smile, definitely. But never a harsh word. Only patience and kind consideration, even when we might be just a tad, a smidgeon, ever-so-little over the edge on the side of less-than-right-mindedness… Our reward will only ever be – a smile. Okay, maybe a little guidance, too, but no guilt-laden reprimand.

So what’s the list of especially un-forbidden words? I’ll let the Villagers take the lead and suggest them in the ponderings. The goal of this little post is just to clear the air, to ensure that we are not carrying with us any (erroneous) preconceived notions about what is right and wrong in our posting language. However, as you can imagine,* this is not to direct conversation toward special topics; it is just to make sure everyone feels reassured that there is nothing wrong with them either. Over time, I trust we will manage to develop a Villager-way of dealing with these issues of language and fantasy as they arise.

Much love to you all, Bernard

PS Just love the flow of ponderings lately – thank you all so much. * See previous journal entry on June 8th.

Mayor's Journal
June 15th, 2010
For the second time a Villager has kindly shared her experience with us about a man whose socially difficult behavior on a public bus challenges her perceptions of kindness and forgiveness (and those of the other passengers, too). In putting in my 'two cents worth' in the ponderings, the following ideas arose, and I then thought to post them as an entry in the Journal because of their universal nature. This is not about the Villager concerned - it is about all of us and our perceptions of others based on our desire to confirm our sense of individuality, using thoughts of upset and fear...

sunriseDear Villager, thanks for keeping us up-to-date on this continuing lesson. First, I think you did very well in at least being aware of the thoughts that were running through your mind, and were honest about the hate there. That’s a really good start. After all, the typical reaction would be to hate or be repulsed, and be unaware of it, or to blame it all on the other person. Not entirely your case. While there was a part of you which indeed was judging this person, there was another part observing yourself doing this, and another part aware that there was probably (somehow) another way of looking at the situation. It seems that your actual choice to get up and move seats may have been the most appropriate one. There may have been others, but that was pretty good, I think.

Now, the question might be, could you simply have got up from your seat and sat somewhere else without an entire scenario of hate and attack being played out? You could get up and sit somewhere with a scowl on your face, making sure everyone sees how uncomfortable you are and how this man has so obviously attacked (even) you (as patient and forgiving as you obviously are). Or you could just know that there is nothing truly harmful or worthy of condemnation in the confused things this man does, and know that sitting somewhere else is the right thing to do. Perhaps if everyone does this, moves somewhere else peacefully, the man will eventually see that his behavior leaves people uncomfortable, but that he is not judged, and maybe he will stop (maybe not).

Alternatively, some nanny-type figure might actually be able to give him a maternal, playful tap on the hand or even on the head with the book, and say, “Now you stop being so silly. You know you scare everyone. What did you say your name was? Where do you come from?” The little old Japanese man in the subway might do this, as we mentioned elsewhere. So it really isn’t about what you do (a whack on the head or moving somewhere else), it’s about what you hold in your heart and mind. And the result you produce for yourself within is what you will communicate to the other person. If you are afraid, you will likely feel hate, and not communicate anything peaceful. So it would perhaps be useful to first look at your fear. What could this person really do? How is he ‘hurting’ people? How can you defuse the fear in you?

Unconsciously this man is attracted to the power he has over people to make them feel uncomfortable. And it works well for him. And maybe he really doesn’t want to stop. It might be interesting to note how we all like to ‘have some power’ over others, being able to make them feel like this or that. More than often, we prefer to think we have some power to make people feel good, though often we’re (secretly) quite proud of our ability to make them feel bad. Jesus talks very explicitly about this: the foundation of all our special relationships is our ability to make other people feel guilty. (Several passages in The Needless Sacrifice, Chapter 15) Either way, making people feel guilty (to assume our guilt) or happy (affecting them so as to get their unspoken approval with a smile or nod), it’s the same thing. It’s not bad – it’s just our way of trying to maintain the illusory power of our small, imaginary self.

sunriseWhile we think that someone else’s power to affect others is real (affecting them positively or negatively), we will think our self-same ability is real and powerful, and we will unconsciously feel guilty about this. It makes us feel uncomfortable because it is the ability we believe we slew God to procure - to be able to 'have an affect' and thereby exist. Instead of feeling discomfort about being shown our own failing’s (our own need to do exactly the same and manipulate others in order to feel powerful), and then projecting this discomfort onto other people ("he made me feel like this"), we could smile at the entire charade. We could watch ourselves trying, for the umpteenth time, to have an effect on others, to want to have some power over them, just like this man.

So when this man approaches, perhaps we could say, “Here I am, wanting to scare and affect others. This is me. How funny, now that I see it. But I’m really not that powerful. I can have no real effect over others. Nor does this man have any real effect over other people. Only if they want to be affected and upset by him. It’s all just a game of make-believe. What can he really do, make a fool out of me, speak to me loudly, embarrass me before others?” The other people in the bus, likewise, will be upset only to the extent they want to be upset (now he is the guilty one in their existence). Yes, it’s a bus full of secretly guilt-ridden passengers who are upset by this man. But you don’t have to identify with them, seeing yourself like them and equally (oh so justifiably!) upset by this imaginary situation. As the first lessons in the workbook show us, it is not a fearful world we see, but a meaningless world, which the ego then rushes in to give (guilty, hateful) meaning to. Again, it is not a fearful or hateful world we see, or even feel. It is a meaningless world, both the outside world, and our inside world of thoughts and feelings. Not bad or sinful, just empty of sense and meaning.

In the beautiful quote that you mentioned, I took out this line: “All the angels will come to your aid and you will know what to say or do.” Seeing through their eyes would mean seeing a brother identical to yourself who is first and foremost confused about his reality/identity. He does not see himself as embraced within the wholeness of His Father’s Love, that’s quite clear. Thus he is in a state of total panic, unsure as to his reality, or even as to his existence. He feels a need to prove and demonstrate his ‘existence’ in a way that challenges the perceptions of the people around him. We have all done this at some time or another, being the adolescent rebel, or the upsetting work colleague or the irascible boss or sullen spouse. How often do we do this during our day, challenge the perceptions of others in order to feel ‘alive’, to count and be noticed?

sunriseThe perception of the angels is always available, and the only possible source of peace in the matter. You will then know what to say or do simply because whatever you say or do (moving seats or slapping his hand playfully or poking him in the chest or calling the bus driver or making a comment about his nose or asking where he bought his tie or where he is going…), you will be communicating acceptance and understanding (of him AND of yourself), and it will be loving. AND it is really quite okay if it takes another year or five years of traveling on the same bus with the same man until our perception shifts.

A man on the bus, or a complaining partner or a corrupt elected official… it’s all the same. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we turn all our perceptions around and find how this is only ever about me, but the ‘me’ who is one, who is EveryOne. There is only One of us, and whatever we see in someone else is what we can learn to see in ourselves. Then we learn to let go all connotation of sinfulness or condemnation. We have just made a series of perceptual mistakes without any consequence whatsoever. What scares us in actual fact is the pure lack of consequence. Nothing ever happened. This means there is no real upset in this man’s behavior, ultimately because there is no real man there. But this means there is no real me here either. And so we learn why we need to be patient with ourselves. It’s ultimately about taking our perception very, very far down another track, and this scares us for the time being. Ultimately we will see it is the greatest freedom to learn that none of this – none of it – is what we thought. We are all always entirely and thoroughly wrong all the time. Absolutely all the time. If only we knew how far off-track our perceptions really were…

Wishing you lots of kindness toward yourself and courage. Thanks for this challenge; it is really one we all share.

(Okay, I'll try to be a little more brief next time!)

Village Hall Bulletin:

sunrise sunrise sunrise

Spice cake with lavishes of chocolate frosting and chocolate-coated strawberries being served at the Village Hall where a party is being held to celebrate Lawrence's imminent departure. Serve yourselves from the jugs of spicy apple juice and chilled mint tea on the buffet to wash it all down.

Village Hall Bulletin:
June 16th, 2010
Today's the day...

sunrise sunrise sunrise

Farewell, dear friend, you shall be sorely missed...

"Peace to my brother, who is one with me,
Let all the world be blessed with peace through us."

You have graced us with your wisdom and kindness and we shall spend this year thinking of you and your deepening relationship with your inner Teacher. May God's Peace be your daily reward, may the oil lamp which sheds light on your pages illuminate your search for Home, may your path grow in serenity and inner (and outer) health. And may you return quickly so that we might hear once again your dear words to us, "God bless us every one".

Thank you for being our brother,
Much love from all of us,
Villagers and Monklings, alike.

P.S. Lawrence has mentioned that he would welcome any emails from his friends, and has authorized me to send out his email to those who wish to remain in contact with him during his year-long retreat. Send me an email at to receive his address.

Village Bulletin Board: Freshly posted at the Monastery, copious notes from Ken's current workshop, "I Need Do Nothing". Also, a youtube video of Bonnie playing an extraordinary violin duet, a masterfully executed work of modern composition. Wonderful! Many thanks, Jamie.

Mayor's Note:
18th June, 2010
Hmm. Not much inspiration these days. Just going through the motions of what appears as 'life' before my eyes every day. Lots of wet weather over here in France. Reminds me of Mr. Salvatori in Paulo, every day saying the same thing, "It's a bet damp, isn't it?" It still looks like every day I get up and determine how I feel by a host of different things in my body's environment: the weather, my sleep, the news, the quality of the coffee, the first smiles (or grimaces) of the day... And as soon as I switch gears and search for a statement that comes from deep within, another, holier place, I feel instantly better. Peaceful. As if it really is not going to matter what happens that day. It's just okay.

sunrise Some personal news: Pumpkin is scared of a big black cat who's become the feline mafia honcho in our woods. We think he even stole into the house and pee-ed everywhere - there was a terrible cat smell in the house when we arrived back last night. That's not our little Pumpkin! Strange. Also, and most importantly, I received perhaps the most beautiful letter of my life yesterday. My ex-wife and I were divorced 10 years ago and have seen each other very little since, even though we live in the same village.

The separation had been very difficult for both of us. I wasn't aware, but during the past decade she has undergone a whole inner program of looking and healing, and yesterday she presented me with a letter in closure for the pain we had both endured. It was beautifully written, right from the heart, and helped pull together lots of loose ends, giving us some real common ground now for communicating. All the tension was gone, there were no more victims, and no trying to 'understand' things, either. And she also presented me - a huge surprise - with a book she had written. I had no idea! An even greater surprise, it was on her personal healing using ACIM in conjunction with psychosynthesis (I can't tell you anything about what this is). I had introduced her to ACIM years and years ago, but had no idea she had continued with it. If you're interested, you can look it up on Amazon, her pen name is Olivia de Gage, and the book is called L'Amour Déraisonné (it's written in English).

I really enjoyed receiving the letter, but what I felt even more peaceful about was that I knew she didn't need to write it. In some ways it's the kind of perfect letter we would all like to receive from a loved one, from a parent, a son or daughter, or a spouse, about forgiveness, respect, recognition. Now that it was there in my hands, I felt that my love and appreciation for this person were not different. They had always been there, even during the hard times. I think I had gone through an important transition recently that really helped this feeling be born within me.

I had pretty much always kept my 'difficult divorce' in my baggage of horror stories to pull out at the right moment. You know, like when you're with friends and the conversation turns to victim stories. Over time I had stopped bringing up this dramatic event in public, but it always remained in my inner library, my 'record of grievances' (Ken's two books). It seemed that something inside defended 'my right' to catalog this experience as a truly painful episode. As if keeping this story was a way of validating something (disastrous) about my life. Then only a month or so ago (which interestingly enough corresponded roughly with the date on her letter), I decided to wipe the slate clean.

There was no 'real' pain. There was pain, but only because I continued to insist on it; in reality, it was all over long, long ago. There was no need to relive it, neither publicly but more importantly in my inner records, as a time of anger and upset. I just didn't want to keep these records anymore, or perhaps I just felt I didn't need them anymore. At that moment, it seemed to me that I grew up just a little more. At least, that's what it felt like. I wanted to attach myself to something more important than my life experiences. There was something more important, and much more beautiful than any personal, human experience I could have. Something mystical, divine and simply - peaceful.

Every day now I try to wake up and remember that decision. So when it's damp and wet, when the first coffee of the day isn't so good, when the first looks of the day are grimaces instead of smiles, when my work situation looks even more chaotic than normal, when I'm late for an appointment and 'it's not my fault', I bring myself back to this daily dedication: I'm not looking for personal, human experiences anymore of 'things going right, things looking good', I'm not looking for an end to my abuse and victim story - that's not interesting. The world will do what it will do, continuing on its crazy course. But I can feel something different inside now. There is a light, a warm inner flame that chases away even the dampest weather, and a cool inner breeze that calms the heat of any disagreement. It's not about the outside, but the inside. And there, it can be calm all the time. The Love is there. If I reach out my hand, I can bring it a little closer, every day.

Blessings to everyone today, Bernard.