Who Is It That I Say I Am?

Who is this Bruce, anyway?

Conventional wisdom points to what I’ve done, what I’ve said … an accumulation of the past.  Sounds logical.  Perhaps, though, I can choose to move beyond reason.  Could it be that hidden beneath “unreasonable” things, the truth abides?

Maybe “Bruce” is fresh at every moment, a flow leaning into the future.  Nothing to do with my mistakes, insensitivities and misadventures – all stuff that’s dead because it’s in the past.  Beyond the reality that society honours, I could simply be a spiritual presence, moving in love.

What if a thousand people said to me “Don’t be silly.  You are your history, your body, your ideas, your joys and sorrows, your relationships, your home … the sum of your life experiences.  There is nothing else!  Grow up and march to the music.”

And what if I said:

No

I seek companions on this journey and I believe I’ve found one.  Her name is Beatrice Bruteau.

The emotional personality may feel like life to us.  The life story that is called by our name may seem to be our only way of conceptualizing our life.  That is why it seems that we would be losing our life if we were to give up identifying ourselves in these ways.

[The word “metanoia” means “a transformation of the heart”]

Metanoia is a shift in our sense of where our selfhood is located, from the dead periphery of the personality description to the living core of transcendent and creative freedom.  The metanoia is said to be like dying and being reborn.  It is a shift in our sense of real being, our sense of being alive, from the emotional personality to the transcendent spirit … By seeming to die, we release ourselves from identification with the dead, and by realizing ourselves as transcendent persons, we establish ourselves in true life and can begin to do divine things.

Airy fairy … dumb … pie in the sky … true … ridiculous … infantile … lost marbles

***

Is the pull of the past so strong that brand new things can’t enter the world?
Is the pull of collective opinion so overwhelming that anything else is rejected?
Am I strong enough to stand with Beatrice?
What could happen if I did?

 

Finding Your Feet

What a glorious movie!  I saw it tonight at the Hyland Cinema in London.  Take an upper crust 60-something wife (Sandra) who has been dumped by her husband for a younger woman, put her into the ramshackle apartment of her free-spirited sister (Bif), and watch life evolve.

Mrs. Socialite was such a privileged bitch for much of the movie, tearing down the people around her as she was overwhelmed by pain.  Sis got her out to a dance club where she first of all refused to join in but memories of her childhood dancing, aided by a video of her as a kid (supplied by Bif), slowly led Sandra to move her feet again.

We learn of Charlie, a friend of Bif, who is accompanying his wife on the last stages of her Alzheimer’s disease.  It was so heartbreaking to see him reaching out to her while she slapped him away, not recognizing her husband.

Gradually Sandra lets herself have fun again, especially in the dancing, and she and Charlie do a lot of smiling together.  But she’s afraid of being hurt again and stands back from him some.

As Bif is dying from stage four lung cancer (the very disease that took my dear wife Jody), she thinks of her true love who was killed in a car accident.  She chose never to give herself to love again, and pleads with Sandra not to make the same mistake.

Many, many slices of life flowed across the screen.  It was all very real.  I often saw my life.  I bet others in the audience did too.

Sandra eventually chose to make a leap of faith.  As the credits rolled, the song “I’m Running To The Future” blasted our souls and we the audience applauded in recognition.

And now I look at me.  It does feel that I’m running to whatever’s next.  What will the bike ride across Canada bring to me?  Where will my Mutual Awakening practice with folks from around the world have me land?  And who will I be in the years to come?

I welcome the unfolding

Go For The Waking Up

It’s likely that for much of my day I’m asleep, pulled by society’s values into a good/bad, right/wrong world.  And then there are moments when my mind floats free, when the peace descends and I see my neighbours with fresh and loving eyes.

On Wednesday evening I sat by my computer, waiting for a webinar called “Evolution Revolution: The Reality of Shared Unity”.  The talk by Patricia Albere was beamed out to nearly 200 people.  She invited us to join a community of souls across the world who would spend a year, each of us in our own homes, reaching out to each other, making a deep connection.  Patricia talks about “mutual awakening”, in which one person enters the consciousness of the other and the two experience being seen, in their essence, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Through “Zoom” technology, we would see each other on our screens and do exercises which could lead to a deep sense of contact.  I could be looking into the eyes of a fellow from Afghanistan or a woman from New Zealand.  Can you imagine the possibilities?  Wow.

Another part of the program is presentations by spiritual teachers and Q&A sessions where we can all see each other.  Works for me.

As I watched the webinar on Wednesday, I felt a surge of “This is it” as in what I’ve been waiting for all my life.  I yearn for a deep connection with many other human beings – local as well as across the world.

I decided to sign up, and there was a financial incentive if I did it that evening.  But I thought about my cross-Canada bike ride this summer.  How could this transformational web program mesh with being on the road for seven hours each day?  What to do? Somewhere in the messages I’d received from the Evolutionary Collective (the organization Patricia created) was a phone number.  Minutes later I found it and dialled, not expecting that anyone would answer well into the evening.

Patricia answered!  How is that possible?  Well, I guess it’s very possible, since it happened.  She was excited about my bike ride and essentially said “Come on down.”  So I’m coming.

For the next year, I will be seeing human beings on my phone screen two or more times a week, and I really mean “seeing” them, as they in turn experience my essence.

And will I be able to transfer this sense of connection to nineteen other riders this summer?  I think so.

I’m 69. I don’t know how many more years I have on the planet.  All that time is really a huge bunch of moments.  I can’t think of a better way to have those moments break through into something totally new.

Thoughts for a Sunday Afternoon

Here are some musings from Patricia Albere, and a person whose name I can’t remember … and me:

“The yonder shore that is calling us”

When I was a teenager, I loved hearing Tennessee Ernie Ford sing gospel music. My favourite song of his was “Drifting Too Far From The Shore”. Mostly I was in love with his deep bass voice but part of me needed Jesus to keep me safe.

Why meet a terrible fate?
Mercies abundantly wait
Turn back before it’s too late
You’re drifting too far from shore

Nowadays it feels like I’ve set out across the waters of spiritual life. The way is often foggy but I trust that there’s a new shore awaitin’ – some unknown land that is beckoning me. Not “heaven” per se but something in the moment that’s beyond time and space. Something full of life.

“A wholehearted expression of fully being “met” in all dimensions of love – from simple, sweet human tenderness to sacred union”

The thought keeps returning: people don’t see me. They don’t know who I am, at a deep level. I yearn for contact, connection, a meeting of the eyes. Maybe no words would be spoken, or there might be a torrent of the soul’s work. Either way, the moment is complete. No opinions, no lecturing, no posturing … just you and me.

I want one of these oh so open relationships to include sexuality – the union of our bodies as well as our spirits. But that may not come to pass. I sense that one thing is not negotiable: the merging of consciousness so that the space between us is sacred. A wholeness that transcends and includes our individuality.

“The space between us became vivid and enlivened. As I continued exploring, leaning into it more and more, it became this vortex of consciousness, which had a momentum of its own. It was very compelling and had almost a “sucking in” momentum that was changing the experience of self, my sense of self, from someone limited in my body (kind of a consciousness inhabiting a body) to, in this case, two bodies being consumed by a vortex of consciousness. Being two was secondary to the incredible oneness of consciousness that consumed us.”

What if this vortex, this cycling of energy, was my common state of being? I’d be swept up in one long “oooohhhh” experience and I’d be sharing that with another human being. Astonishing.

“A stance of receptive surrender”

Such a tricky word. It’s not a giving up. It’s a letting go. Beyond the mind and beyond my feelings. But letting go into what? Perhaps that’s the idea. I let go into an unknown. Despite having “studied” spirituality for decades, I know not. Something brand new may be resting behind my eyes. I need to wait and see what approaches me, and to have it be okay that the depth of another person will come calling. May the energies reaching out to me be a revelation.

“What we see on the surface, and much of what we have been told is true, is a very shallow view of what exists.”

Oh my. Many folks have lent me their opinions about what is true. And most of my day features surface interactions. Still, what’s possible? Right now, I’m sitting beside a fellow in a concert hall, waiting for the music. His response to my hello was lukewarm at best. So again, what’s possible? Think I’ll say hi again.

***

Well, well, well. I drew him in. We talked about how we both love sitting in the front row, in the middle. And as for the guy on the other side, I offered to sing him “a little number”. He said yes. So I sang “Three”, which as we all know is a little number. Contact times two.

“Once they taste the mystical realm, their hearts are blown open and the flow of divine love overtakes them, and they cannot return to anything less.”

I’ve glimpsed divine realms, momentarily. I know they exist. And indeed I can’t settle for a longterm flow of anything less, even though I regularly encounter folks who want to stay on the surface of things. To be blown open, to be undone, unravelled, is a terrifying and sublime blessing.

“The first quality of mystical experiences is that they defy ordinary description or explanation. Those of us who have them find ourselves at a loss to effectively share them with others.”

But still I write, even though I fear I will be perceived as deficient and weird. I remember once I had no words for a woman so all we did was hug, for at least two minutes. It wasn’t sexual. It was communal. Afterwards all we could say to each other was “That was nice.”

“In Mutual Awakening practice, we do not speak about our experience; we give our experience a voice. We are not looking at our experience and describing it. We are allowing that experience to take us over and speak through us so that even we are amazed at what comes out of our mouths.”

Ha! Am I wide enough to just open my mouth and allow what comes out? I think so … when I’m talking to a beloved. And maybe, just maybe, there are a lot of beloveds out there waiting for me to sing them a little number.

Red Light, Green Light

I love my cell phone.  It allows me to reach out to the world … talking to friends, buying concert tickets while standing in the most unlikely locations, reading the words of Ken Wilber or Stephen King.  Plus it has a cool red case.

I was charging my lovely device yesterday.  But it was time to go.  The light was red, indicating that charging wasn’t done.  I detached the cord and the display said “100%”.  And I thought, “I’ve never seen that light switch from red to green.  Think I’ll replug and sit for a few more minutes, and gaze lovingly at the light.”  So I did.

And so the mind proceedeth.  I was focused on my object of meditation for 30 seconds and then roamed off to another world.

“You’re not a very patient person, Bruce” … Return

“What’s wrong with you?  You just spent three months in a meditation hall.  How come you can’t maintain focus for more than a few seconds?” … Return

“What’s with all this self criticism?  I thought you came home with lots of love for yourself?” … Return

“This is silly.  You’re staring at a light” … Return

“What do these lights mean about change in your life, Bruce?” … Return

“I’m tired of this.  Why doesn’t this light turn green?” … Return

“It’s a plot.  That’s what it is.  Unseen forces are conspiring against me” … Return

“Let go.  Let it all go.  Green will appear when green is ready to” … Return

“Don’t look away!  You’ll miss the moment of change” … Return

“Concentrate!” … Return

Etcetera

Maybe eight minutes on, happily when I was looking at the display, red turned to green.  I caught the moment I wanted to catch.  And received a deep education about the wanderings of the mind.

I’ve learned that change in my life happens little by little.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that.  But the lights show me something else.  If I’m mindful of the moment, could there be instants of transformation just waiting for me?  I think so.  And now I’m watching for them.  Thank you, dear lights.

 

The Musicians of Orchestra London

I went to a concert tonight – 25 musicians playing classical music brilliantly in an old church with a wraparound balcony.  Up until a few months ago, these folks were the core of Orchestra London.  Then city council cut their funding and now the orchestra is virtually bankrupt.  How sad that our city of 350,000 no longer has funded classical music.

These players have a motto: “We Play On.”  And they most certainly do.  When we gave them a prolonged standing ovation at the end of the evening, there were tears in my eyes, and in those of several musicians.  Plus smiles all around.  We lightened their hearts, I do believe.

I sat in the third row, right in the centre, and I saw wondrous things.  The concertmaster (that is the violinist who sits close to the conductor and plays lots of solos) was a ball of passion.  He rocked forward and back.  He closed his eyes.  His notes, full of vibrato, were wondrous to behold.  At times, it looked like he was kissing someone.  At others, he seemed to be making love to his instrument.  The flautist was just as expressive.  Her head would dip and sway as she played her solo line.  And her long silver flute, usually held horizontally, would dip and sway as well.  It was all a dance.

The violinist closest to me had the most expressive eyes.  I was behind her and to the left so I could see her eyelashes move.  She would glance at her music, and then her eyelashes would rise as she looked at the conductor, keeping to the beat of his baton.  It was lovely to see.

I played cello from Grade 6 till Grade 13.  Why, oh why, did I give it up?  Tonight I watched the cello section intently.  When the cellist dips and sways, it’s a big instrument that moves around.

All these heads in motion.  All these eyes closing and opening again.  I couldn’t think of another profession where such expression is normal.  The average teacher doesn’t move like that.  Nor doctors, executives or plumbers.  It must be so cool.

We heard pieces from Mozart (composed when he was 17!), Wagner, Bartok and Haydn – different styles but the passion remained.  At one point, one of the musicians spoke to the audience.  She talked about classical music being “transformational”, beyond words.  Yes.  I was transported tonight to a land of tone and movement.  I’m glad I was there.