Results

I’m in a yearlong teacher training program with the Evolutionary Collective.  On August 3, I teach the first of four weekly sessions comprising the Mutual Awakening Practice Course.

I’ve approached 102 people, inviting them to take the course.  As of now, two folks have registered.  Most of my contact has been by e-mail – three of them spaced out over four months or so.  I suggested that people check out the EC Facebook page.  I told them about a free e-course which discusses some of the principles of mutual awakening.  I posted a video of Patricia Albere, the founder of the Evolutionary Collective, telling guests about the course.  And finally I sent a fancy e-mail, complete with cool graphics (and even a video of me!), asking recipients to consider joining me on August 3.  I was on the phone with some, and face-to-face with a few.

I wonder what it means that only two souls have said yes.  By the way, thank you, dear souls!

For months, this quote by Thomas Merton, an American theologian, has roamed around in my head.  It’s time for it to be shared:

Do not depend on the hope of results.  You may have to face the fact that your work will apparently be worthless and achieve no result at all, if not perhaps bring about its opposite.  As you get used to this, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness and the truth of the work itself.

Having two folks sign up for my course is certainly not worthless, but yes, I had hoped for more.  And … I think Thomas is right.  The work of the Evolutionary Collective in having participants experience the world away from separation, a world we call shared unity, is immense.  It has the potential to impact far and wide in the world.  Whatever the number of registrations, I need to stay true to this work.

A year ago, I asked myself what do you do if you’ve discovered something with vast power to liberate.  My answer was to tell family, friends and neighbours about a possibility that they most likely don’t know is there.  Not to shove it down their throat.  That’s neither humane nor likely to produce interest.  Just let them know it exists.  They’ll choose to respond or not.  Which brings to mind another quote, this one from Marianne Williamson:

Your playing small does not serve the world
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you

I have no interest in being enlightened
I have every interest in serving
I choose to be large

Not in Control

I’m often a Zoom host on calls of 10 to 40 people.  I started learning how to do this in October, 2019 and it’s been a rocky road since.  I’ve made lots of mistakes, ones that diminished the experience of many folks.  And I’ve forgiven myself for that.  It’s always my intention to be excellent but sometimes my brain has trouble keeping up with my heart.

Twenty-one months later, I’m a good Zoom host – not brilliant like a few Zoomies I know, but I take care of the participants well.  Then there was today.  I was a host three times … and adventures abounded.  For instance:

1.  There’s a chat feature in Zoom.  My job in the early morning was to post a message that the organization wanted to be passed on.  I copied and pasted and … Voilà (!) the window started filling with fast-moving “j”s!  Within two seconds, the space was full.  I scrolled down, trying to get to the end of the letters – still full – so I scrolled some more.  Finally a blank space at the end of the zooming “j”s.  I slammed my finger down on the space bar and the flood stopped.  I held the backspace key down and watched in horrified fascination as page after page of “j”s were sucked back into cyberspace.  “What’s going on?!”

2.  My job includes dividing participants into pairs for the breakout rooms.  There’s a “Create Rooms” window that appears.  Piece of cake occasionally, lots of focus required usually.  I clicked a little up arrow to increase the number of rooms to accommodate the 20 people who were on one call today.  Suddenly 100 breakout rooms appeared and I couldn’t think fast enough to get that number down to 10.  So there were 20 folks, each alone in a room, surrounded by empty rooms.  I gathered my wits (slowly) and manually paired up the participants.  The body was shaking.

3.  On another call, I set the length of the breakout sessions to the standard 30 minutes.  I thought I was finished with that part when I glanced down and saw that the time had magically morphed into 300 minutes.  I fixed that.  Then I got busy with other tasks.  Just before I was to open the rooms, a little birdie told me to check the settings again.  The big uncover?  The sessions were set to close in 3 minutes.  (Sigh)

Somehow (thank you, whoever you are) I got through all this.  The participants were well served, and blissfully unaware of my trials.

I ended the afternoon chatting online with a Zoom support person.  After much exploration together, he thought my program was corrupted.  “Uninstall and reinstall”.  So I did.

And tomorrow is another day.

Teaching Is A Dream

Well, there’s two things:

1. I’m teaching the Mutual Awakening Practice Course for the first time in August

2. I seemed to spend the whole night dreaming about it

I’m thrilled to be teaching how two people together can access a consciousness that is so expansive, so loving.  On the other hand, there was last night.  The course will be on Zoom, so naturally there I was, staring at a bunch of rectangles on the screen.  Each one was filled with people – old, young, happy, sad – and I didn’t recognize anyone.  Until I got to the one in the bottom left corner.  Seven people I knew (the folks who will be taking the course?) were sitting on bleachers in a high school gym, laughing.  They were also jumping around and throwing food at each other.  How will they ever listen to what I have to say if they’re moving and grooving, and their faces are full of banana cream pie?

I glanced at a Big Ben floor clock.  It was 7:29 … one minute before the class was to start.  You’re on, Bruce.  Have them see that you’re trustworthy and credible.  And then molasses took over.  I tried to open my mouth but words just inched out, and disappeared as soon as they hit the air.  7:35.  Oh, no!  I’m late.  It’s important to start on time.  I couldn’t find my rectangle … my people.  The other groups were migrating from tile to tile, visiting each other, I guess.  But where had the course participants disappeared to?  Where are you?  7:42.  I poised my finger over “Enter” to start the meeting but the darned digit wouldn’t descend to the key.  

I glanced at the bottom right corner and there were my folks, but they all had their backs to me.  Turn around!  We’re going to start.  No response.  It’s not that I’d lost the class.  I’d never had them in the first place.

Talk some more, Bruce.  So I did.  Nobody cared.  I suddenly realized that my ear buds weren’t plugged in.  That’s why they can’t hear me!  The truth was that I couldn’t even find the ear buds.  I leapt from the couch and into my bedroom, slithering under the bed and turning my neck this way and that to find the double cord.  The only thing to greet my nose were dust bunnies.

Now the bathroom, now the basement …  Where are the ________ ear buds?!  Far from the laptop, I just knew that my students were heading home.  (Sigh)

***

I sure hope August is an improvement

Dream a Rotten Dream

5:41 am … this morning.  I was thrust out of a sickly sleep back to the world of solid things.  Not sickly like physical.  Sickly like emotional pain.  I’m sure you’ve been there.

I was in a university program.  It felt like accounting.  There was a prof at the bottom of a lecture hall, talking about incomprehensible concepts of mathematics.  I looked around and all of my pen-wielding classmates were nodding in approval at the wonders of calculus.  Then it was a seminar room, with everyone walking around with rolled up blueprints.  Person after person unfurled their creations, to the delight of themselves and all assembled – except me.  Someone asked me a question about balance sheets and I stuttered and drooled.  Disapproving chins dropped in a 360° dance.  I blobbed to the floor.

In the cafeteria, I sat alone, shunned by the mathematically inclined.  No cell phone, no internet, no use on the planet.  Eventually some kind soul offered me a ride home in their van.  Seven folks watched me walk up the steps of home.  No one said “Goodnight”.

(Bam!)  5:41.  My mouth was sour, perfectly aligned with my stomach.  The details of university accounting poured out easily and I knew they’d remain throughout the day.  They did.

Where did this yucky world come from?  Why did it visit me, a spiritually sensitive human being?  Don’t you graduate from nightmares eventually?

Apparently not.

Being Different

I once asked kids at school why Nazis hated Jewish people. The most common answer I received was that “their religion was different”. In the US, for many decades some Americans have rejected millions of their fellow citizens because those folks had black skin.

I had the children visualize some leader entering the classroom, looking at each student, and culling out those whose eyes were blue. The unfortunate ones would then be ostracized, or worse. I believe that many of the kids got the message.

For a moment, imagine you’re a bird. Maybe you’re big, maybe you’re small. A fast flier or a slow poke. Bright plumage or muted. The differences are obvious but no big deal. You guys get along.

But here comes someone new:

What is that? Nobody should have a neck that long, and that coral colour is ridiculous!

Wait a minute now. Look at that weird twist in the neck. It should be a straight line. How does the thing even eat? And those legs! They’re not only grossly skinny, they bend … backwards! It’s an abomination. Drop poop on them all.

What?! That’s impossible – standing on one leg. And the idiot on the right looks like he’s sleeping. Birds are not meant to do these things. It’s unnatural. Only Big Bird has such powers. Let’s convince humans to shoot them all.

***

You’re different
Really different
You’re just a thing
And I hate you

Out Of An Abundance Of Caution

It’s an odd turn of the syllables. When I first heard the phrase, it was about the coronavirus. The words gave me pause. In the US, President Trump tested positive and was heading to the hospital for a few days. Cautious. I doubted that the danger to him was negligible. If you’re hospitalized, something major is probably going on.

Someone described the phrase as “precautions taken against a very remote contingency”. I kept returning to the strangeness of the words, and asked myself if I really wanted to armour myself against remote possibilities.

Oodles of caution seem to be spreading:

1. Seventy students and staff members at a high school go into quarantine after two teens contracted Covid

2. A professional football player developed some tightness and muscle soreness in his right calf. The coaches chose to remove him from the game

3. Some college students won’t be travelling home for Christmas due to Covid restrictions

4. Hackers injected malware into some government software. The programs have been removed

5. Schools switch to remote learning after coronavirus cases in the community rise, although the infection rate in local schools is low

6. Protests in the US about the death of George Floyd lead to the temporary boarding up of some stores in Vancouver, Canada

7. Most Republican politicians in the US Congress won’t say that Joe Biden is the President-Elect

8. Some people who speak out on TV about US politics (and some election officials who keep to the rule of law) are provided with security at home, at work, and while they commute

9. Today, as the Electoral College certified the results of the US election, some states changed the locations of the meetings and didn’t reveal those locations

***

I’m not disputing the potential value of these precautions but they do point to a hesitancy in modern life. Many people are unwilling to take chances, to burst nakedly into life full speed ahead, to be publicly themselves. Whatever happened to throwing caution to the wind?

A Story

Jack Kornfield is a Buddhist teacher, and the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, California.  He shared this story with us, written by a woman.

It was Sunday.  Christmas, our family spent the holidays in the Bay Area, but in order to be back to work on Monday we had to drive the four hundred miles back to LA on Christmas Day.  Normally an eight-hour drive but with kids it can be a fourteen hour endurance test.  When we could stand it no longer, we stopped for lunch in King City – a little metropolis of six gas stations and three diners.  Road weary, saddle sore, I sat Eric, our one-and-a-half-year-old, in a high chair and looked around and thought “What am I doing in this place on Christmas Day?”  It was nearly empty.  We were the only family.

My reverie was interrupted when I heard Eric squeal with delight and glee.  “Hi there!”  Two words he thought were one word.  “Hi there!  Hi there!”  He pounded his fat baby hands (Whack!  Whack!) on the metal high chair tray.  His face was alive with excitement, eyes wide, gums bared in a toothless grin.  He wriggled and chirped, and then I saw the source of his merriment, and my eyes couldn’t take it in all at once.  A tattered rag of a coat, obviously bought by someone else long ago; dirty, greasy, worn baggy pants; the zipper at half-mast over a spindly body; toes that poked out of the old shoes; a face like none other – gums as bare as Eric’s, whiskers too short to be called a beard, and a nose (varicose) that looked like the map of New York.

I was too far away to smell him but I knew he smelled.  And his hands were waving in the air, flapping about on loose wrists.  “Hi there, baby!  Hi there, big boy!  I see you, Buster.”  My husband and I exchanged a look that was a cross between “What are we doin’?” and “Poor devil.”  Eric continued to laugh and answer “Hi there!  Hi there!”  Every call was echoed.

I noticed waitresses’ eyebrows shoot to their foreheads and several people were going “Hmm … umm” out loud.  This old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.  I shoved a cracker at Eric and he pulverized it on the tray.  I began to get upset.

Our meal came.  The cacophony continued.  Now the old bum was shouting from across the room “Do you know Pat-a-cake?  Atta, boy!  Do you know Peek-a-boo, Peek-a-boo?  Hey look, he knows Peek-a-boo!”  Really loud.  Nobody thought it was cute.  The guy was drunk, and a disturbance, and I was embarrassed.  My husband was humiliated.  Even our six-year-old said “Why is that old man shouting and talking so loud?”

We ate in silence, all except Eric, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring applause of a skid row bum.  Finally I had enough.  I turned the high chair.  Eric screamed and clamoured around to face his buddy.  Now I was mad.  Dennis went to pay the cheque, imploring me to get Eric and meet me out in the parking lot. 

I trundled Eric out of the high chair and looked toward the exit.  The old man sat poised and waiting, his chair directly between me and the door.  “Lord, let me out of here” I thought, “before he speaks to us.”  It soon became obvious that the Lord and Eric had other plans.  As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back, walking to sidestep him.  And as I did so, Eric, all the while with his eyes riveted to his new best friend, leaned far over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s pick-me-up position. 

In a split second of balancing my baby and turning to counter his weight, I came eye-to-eye with the old man.  Eric was lunging for him, arms spread wide.  The bum’s eyes both asked and implored “Would you let me hold your baby?”  There was no need or way for me to answer since Eric propelled himself from my arms into the man’s.  Suddenly a very old man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship.  Eric laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder.  The man’s eyes closed.  I saw tears hover beneath his lashes.  Aged hands full of grime and pain and labour so gently cradled my baby’s bottom and back.  I stood awestruck.  The old man rocked and cradled Eric in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened.  He said, in a commanding voice as he looked directly at me, “You take care of this baby.”  Somehow I managed “I will … I will” from a throat that contained a stone.  He pried Eric from his chest – unwillingly, longingly – as though he was in pain.  “God bless you, ma’am.  You’ve given me my Christmas gift.”

I said nothing more than a moderate thanks.  With Eric back in my arms, I ran for the car.  Dennis wondered why I was crying and holding Eric so tightly.  And why I was saying “How could I have forgotten?  How could I have forgotten?”

70%

The poll about the US election got my attention.  It said that 70% of Republicans thought the result was “rigged”.  Joe Biden didn’t win fairly.

I was stunned.  Evidence has piled up that poll workers, supervisors and politicians responsible for elections were meticulous and demonstrated integrity.  So … reality is being ignored by a lot of people.

Who are these folks?

I feel that consciousness is evolving on the planet.  Maybe, though, it shows up as the jagged lines you see on stock market diagrams rather than a smoothly ascending curve.  Clearly some folks aren’t participating in the emergence.

Somebody asserts something.  Does the reasoning make sense?  We’re intelligent people.  We have the ability to analyze statements and sense if they ring true.  Does it matter if the person asserting is male or female, young or old, Republican or Democrat?  No, it doesn’t.  The truth speaks loudly, as do lies.

What if my leader says X?  Am I an underling, inferior in wisdom to the big guy?  Do I really need to associate myself with someone powerful, in order to boost my flagging self-esteem?  Do I need another human being to raise me up from deficiency to sufficiency?  No.

Ouch.  The mere thought of being surrounded by “yes” men and women makes me cringe.  Will the group and the guru have me forget myself as cause?

Arms holding aloft signs such as “Just Say No To Creepy Joe” and “Stolen, Rigged, Fraud” remind me of other arms, ones that long ago were held straight out at a 45° angle.  That didn’t end well.

I would like the 70% to be my friends but I wonder if that’s possible.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish creator of fairy tales who lived in the 1800’s.  In an alternative universe, he’s an American in the 2000’s.

There once was an emperor.  He thought quite a lot of himself.  Others decided to follow suit.

Prime Minister:  The people are clamoring for you, Your Majesty.

Emperor:  They’re not clamoring very loud.

Prime Minister:  But they’re our best clamorers …

Emperor:  Tell them I want more clamoring.  I want more clamor!

Bad people posing as weavers offered to create for His Topness a stunning new wardrobe.  The only members of the public who wouldn’t be able to see the finery were those who were stupid or incompetent.  And who would want to be considered as such?

The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another.  They took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something – that was his train – as the Emperor turned round and round before the looking glass.

“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look.  Aren’t they becoming?” he heard on all sides.  “That pattern, so perfect!  Those colors, so suitable!  It is a magnificent outfit.”

Then the Minister of Public Processions announced: “Your Majesty’s canopy is waiting outside.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror.  “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?”  He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.

The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle.  Then they pretended to lift and hold it high.  They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

The crowds cheered and kept their gaping hidden behind the folds of the face.  Not a word of discord would be said.  Hundreds of people nodded and clapped.

“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last.  “Good heavens!  Listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said.  “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people.

And please tell me when the moment of “at last” will finally come.

Six Deaths

A few weeks ago, I was the host on a Zoom call with about thirty people. I was the one with technical responsibility, making sure that anyone with computer problems was assisted to the best of my ability. Partway through, there was an event which I’ll call an “emergency”: lots of people would have technical issues if I didn’t act NOW. My Zoom host training had prepared me for something like this.

“What happened?” you ask.

I froze. My mind blanked. I didn’t get the job done. Thanks to the person who was teaching that day, all ended up being well. The trouble was, I wasn’t well.

I’ve thought a lot about those moments. There’s no wisdom in piling on the self-blame or coming up with excuses. “Poor me” doesn’t fly, nor does blaming Zoom. I remain a curious human being about my imperfections.

And some images have come through:

The first was a wilderness canoe trip in Alberta. I was up front, my life jacket secure, and my inability to swim parked in the nether regions of my brain. Until, that is, conversation with my canoemate jolted to a halt. Ahead of us on the river were rolling rapids. On the shore, people were yelling and scrambling for their canoes. We had missed the signal that we were to come ashore at our future campsite.

I was dead … I knew it.

One gigantic spill later, one frenzied rescue, one being stripped of my wet clothes, I was a pool of jelly inside my sleeping bag. Not much rest that night.

The image of those marauding waves has stayed with me all these years.

I guess there’s nothing to do with the picture in my head. I’ve been to counselling, and I’m happy with my life, but every once in awhile I get zapped. Zoom goneness, for instance.

Five other times I’ve looked in the eyes of death. Two of them were similar to the rapids: I saw the end coming. In one of those, the finale spread before me for thirty minutes. The other three times, there was no warning, just a blast of lethal energy.

As you’ve noticed, I’m still here. Someone large has been taking care of me, probably knowing that I have much to give, and deserve to have the time to give it.

I’m smiling now. The past sits there like a lump – or in this conversation, seven of them. The present is flowing towards the future. Here I go, wondering at the mystery of it all.