What Now?

I’m in Colorado for the next four days … sort of.  I’ll be attending (sort of) a conference on the future of the world.  Actually, I’ve subscribed to the webcast of all the presentations in the main ballroom.  Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world will be addressing topics such as:

Spirituality
Tribalism versus globalism
The disparity in wealth
Fake news and hate propaganda
The misuse of sexuality
Racial abuse
Environmental degradation and the denial of climate change
Immigration and protection

How do we deal with massive change?  How can we create an inclusive world in which we accept our differences and see them as an opportunity to build something new?  “What’s next for human evolution?”

The older I’ve become, the more I’ve been living in “I don’t know.”  Sure, I’m smart enough to think through complex issues but multiple mysteries of life continue to present themselves.  Perhaps the rational mind is only a part of the puzzle solving.  Can I open to insights that seem to come from elsewhere?

Starting tonight on my laptop, I intend to fall into “beginner’s mind”.  With the glass close to empty, what will Spirit fill it with?  What connections will emerge over the next four days?  What moments of serendipity will say hi?  To what extent could I have been a presenter at the “What Now?” conference?  I do know that I have a part to play.

Tomorrow through Monday, I’ll give you my take on what I’m hearing.  Perhaps windows will open for all of us.

If you’d like to join in, go to integrallife.com.  On the dropdown menu, choose “Live”.  Scroll down to “Upcoming Broadcasts” and pick “What Now?”.  Scroll some more until you see words in orange: “Click here to purchase the webcast.”  It costs $125.00 US.  If you become an Integral Life member, it’s $100.00.  You need Google Chrome or fancy browsers that I don’t recognize.  Internet Explorer won’t work.  The first session starts at 7:00 pm tonight.

See you there?

Pope Francis

My impression is that Pope John Paul II was a good guy.  I feel the same about Pope Francis.  Looking at that smile of his, I’m sure that he and I would have a good time over coffee at a sidewalk café in Rome.

I read today that he’s writing a book called Dear Pope Francis, his responses to questions posed by thirty kids from around the globe.  The article talked about how determined the Pope was to give deep answers to the soulful questions the children asked.  “Often, he looked off into space and tried to imagine the child in front of him.  And in his gaze I saw care, love.”

Those young folks deserve no less.  They need adults to neither look down nor look up at them … just eye to eye, on the level, one human being to another.  It’s not important that one of them is 79 and the other somewhere between 6 and 13.  There’s the wisdom of accumulated years, and then the spontaneous insights of youth.

One boy asked, “Will the world be again as it was in the past?”

Pope Francis responded, “There are those who manufacture weapons so that people fight each other and wage war.  There are people who have hate in their hearts.  There are people who are interested only in money and would sell everything for it.  They would even sell other people … No, when the time comes, the world will not be as it was.  It will be far better than it was in the past.”

Children need to hear hope, to hear love, not just from famous human beings such as the Pope, but from all us adults.  They also need to see this on our faces and in our deeds.  Are we strong enough to let go of antagonism, entrenched opinions, and a general malaise?  Yes we are.

 

 

Books

The boy, too, had his book, and he had tried to read it during the first few days of the journey.  But he found it much more interesting to observe the caravan and listen to the wind.  As soon as he had learned to know his camel better, and to establish a relationship with him, he threw the book away.

from The Alchemist (a book!) by Paulo Coelho

I own hundreds of them, accumulated over the last forty years.  So many about spiritual matters, lately focused on Buddhism.  So many novels, lately focused on Stephen King.  I do believe I have every book he’s published.

I’ve been more of a collector than a reader.  It’s somehow comforting to see them sitting on the shelves of my bookcases.  But sometimes I reflect on the fact that I’m 66 and that I’ll never read them all before I die.

I’ve taken thousands of quotations from the ones I have read, trying to hang on to the essence of what the author was telling me.  I’ve created “Categories” of topics and have started arranging all the words into them, to create a power not possible from just a few isolated quotes.  Trouble is, I virtually never wrote down who said what, so my ambition to publish all of this wisdom in several volumes seems thwarted by the illegality of it all.  Guess I would be sued left, right and centre.

My latest plan is to complete the sorting into topics before I die, have the books published through Blurb, find 500 organizations that might find my work valuable, put the books in bubble wrappers, each addressed to one of those places, pay for all that postage … and put them in the basement.  When I die, my executor would mail them all away, adding extra postage as needed.

I need to consult with a lawyer to see if my estate could be sued after the books are received.  Oh my.  I appear to be a very strange duck.  But I don’t want decades of quotations that resonate with my Spirit to crumble into dust.

Still .. wait a minute.  Wouldn’t it be a pretty major letting go if I dumped all my recipe cards of quotes and just trusted that the wisdom therein would reach humanity via another route?  In the movie The Razor’s Edge, the character played by Bill Murray ends up at a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas.  The lama instructs him to walk up to a little hut amid the snows and to meditate there for some time.  Our American friend takes a few of his treasured books, a couple of blankets and not much else.  After a day or two, he’s getting pretty cold, and the scarce wood is all gone.  In a moment of realization, he takes out one of the books and rips off page after page, dropping them into his little fire.  Oh my again.

Now what, Bruce?  I don’t know.  There may be delivered books, a world of insights, and a world of lawsuits.  Or perhaps all will be silence.

 

 

Eighty-Four Days … Part Three

There are a lot of good ideas in life, and I’ve subscribed to many of them.  I found myself opening during the retreat, and ideas moved to truth.  The head became my heart.  Such as …

Love them all

Not just my family and friends.  Not just nice people.  Everyone.  Even those who sometimes grate on me.  We all hurt.  In my finer moments, I feel huge compassion for the people I meet.  Great love.  All of us face loss, blame, pain and disrepute (the Buddha’s words).  Short or tall; male or female; young, medium or old; angry or serene; pretty or handsome in the eyes of the world or not so.  I will sit with them all.

Do no harm

No hurtful speech.  No gossip.  No wishing that things don’t go all that well for them.  No comparing.  No making them “less than”.  No pushing past someone to get what I want.  And when I do harm, I will feel remorse and apologize.  We all deserve this.

Everything changes

I can try to keep my youth, my vibrancy, my financial well-being.  I can try to keep the people I love close to me.  But sometimes my good fortune floats away and the world is black.  And eventually I will be separated from all those I love.  Jody is no longer with me in body.  I’m no longer teaching kids.  My childhood friends are hopefully still on the planet, somewhere out there in the world.  And raging against the night is just not it.

***

During the last few weeks of the retreat, my periods of sitting meditation became ever more peaceful.  And I couldn’t keep my head up.  A few minutes in, it would just flop.  I made great efforts to “correct” the situation, all to no avail.  I stood up, but very soon my legs wouldn’t hold me, and I sat down again.  I tried bowing my head in perfect alignment with my body.  Slowly I teetered to the left and the speed increased so that I had to snap out of the peace to stay erect.  I leaned my whole body somewhat to the right, seeking a balance point but still I rolled left.  Eventually, I found balance by leaning way to the right, maybe at a 45 degree angle.  I worried about my head smashing into my neighbour’s chair arm.  For some moments I was deep into my heart.  In others fear ruled.  Always I was fully alert to my environment.  Finally I let go and let it happen.

I meditated this morning, again my head way off to the right.  Oh well.  Guess I won’t make the centrefold of Meditators’ Monthly. 

***

That’s all I feel like writing today.  I wonder if there’ll be a Part Four.  I wouldn’t be surprised.

Mastery of the Moment Part Three

Where is the power in all these attitude choices?  How can they make a difference right in this moment?  Let’s say someone cuts me off in traffic.  How can I hold onto my peace of mind, rather than letting that driver control my level of well-being?  Am I supposed to remember the 45 possibilities among the 22 choices and magically pick 3 or 4 that allow me to stay calm?  Let’s see … which ones would I choose?  How about Source Internal, You and Me, and Not Important?  Yes, they’ll do fine.  But how do I access them at 100 kph on the freeway?  I could open my laptop with one hand, turn it on, go to “Posts” on my WordPress page, locate “Mastery of the Moment – Part Two”, and scroll down to find the choices that seem to fit the moment.  But maybe I’d better keep my eyes on the road!

For that presentation in 1988, I laminated 1″ x 2″ yellow cards listing the attitude choices.  Do I whip one of those out of my shirt pocket?  Do I start the week thinking about only three of them, such as the ones up above?  And then bring those ones to mind as I hurtle down the highway?  I could start with three new ones every Monday.

Maybe I should use all of the choices only in retrospect.  If I have an A > B moment (see Part Two), I could analyze it later to see how I might have handled the situation differently.  Perhaps enough analysis would automatically bring A > B > C to consciousness in the future, as my neighbour’s right rear bumper slips by Hugo’s front left.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what to do.  The ideas are powerful.  The trick is to harness them, like a cowboy calming a bucking bronco.  I’ll figure it out.  I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

Small Bodies, Large Souls

It’s time to let the kids do the talking.

There’s a Grade 5/6 class at St. Jude’s School in London who have done a lot of praying for Jody and me.  They sent love to two people they’d never met.  They also sent me a book – The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – along with messages of caring.  So lovely.  I visited the students yesterday and told them how special their love is.  Of course they love their moms, dads, brothers and sisters, and their friends, but to reach beyond, out into the world with their sweetness … oh my.  What the world needs now …

Here’s what they had to say:

I know the loss of your wife Jody has planted sadness into your life.  Don’t let that stop you from being who you are.

Life is like a spirograph.  Once one line ends another starts.

Just remember that Jody in a good place and will always remember you.

Get well soon from your loss.

I know its hard to lose someone close.  Jody was probably a really sweet person.

Keep going and keep your wife in your prayers forever and keep her in your heart with all your strenght and your love.

You need to be strong and not to have a heavy heart, because Jody loved you and even though she died, she is actually living everlasting life with you, right by your side.  So don’t just sit there and weep.  Sit by Jody’s tree and fell her spirit in you.

I have a good song to sing that might cheer you up.  It is the song Happy.  So keep that in mind and you will hopefully feel better.  She was probably a very special lady to you.

I hope thease leaves cheer you up.  Hopfully you can recover from this.

Jody is in a better place now.

Mr. Kerr I am so sad to hear of the loss of your wife Jody and hope that she goes to heaven.

Daniel always helped Freddie through rough times just like you helped Jody through her tough times.

Jody may be gone but you still have your special memories just like the special tree you and your wife share.

One day my moms couisim had cancer.  She had it for a year.  That year pasted by and now she is still alive.

You must struggle but I will always keep you and Jody in my prayers.

Mr. Kerr, we hope you feel better and you always know that she is in your heart.

I know how you feel.  Papa died from cancer.  He is very nice when I see his grave and my grandma.  It reminds me of him.

Bruce, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

I had experienced a horrible, sad story too.  She was a little girl who’s name was Adison.  She was a very close friend of mine and she passed away from a car crash at Costco.

I am very sorry for your loss but we all die when it is our time.

Well I hope this letter cheered you up a bit and that soon all their leaf letters will too.

I hope you can overcome your loss just like me and my family did.  I know it’s hard not to think about your wife, but just think of all the things that you can still do.  Good luck!

(Crying)

Thank you, kids

Categories – Part 2

Given gibberish in old WordStar files, to the rescue came Martin, my computer guy.  He recovered the contents, converting the files to Word and placing them on my laptop hard drive.  Yay!  As well as the phrases and sentences, the files are full of random symbols.  I’ll have some major editing to do.  That’s okay.

So … all those full categories were from the 1980’s.  Thirty years later, in addition, I have five inches of piled white 3 x 5″ index cards, crammed with quotes, plus 464 pages of thoughts I’ve inputted into Word.  All of this random.

“What do you want to do, Bruce?”  And the answer comes swiftly:  “Before I die, I want to put all these quotations into categories, adding and subtracting subjects as a reflection of me as a 70-, 80- or 90-year-old, rather than the WordStar youngster of 35 that I was in the era of big blue binders.  I want to publish the results through Blurb and somehow get the books into the hands and hearts of people who will appreciate them.”

So there.

How many pages am I talking about here?  The one binder that I still have is 248 pages.  So double that to include the resurrected contents of the missing binder … 496.  Add the 464 pages in Word, and then whatever five inches of index cards would amount to – 200 pages?  So … drum roll please … that comes to 1160.  The maximum number of pages that Blurb allows for their trade books is 480.  Therefore to do all this would take three volumes of “Transformational Subjects”, averaging say 400 pages.  Whew!

A few questions seem to be poking out through the vines of my mind:

1.  Who would I give these books to?  How would I find folks who’d like to read about one bloke’s take on life?

2.  For close on forty years, I’ve plucked quotations from books and articles without writing down who the author is.  So if I self-publish this potpourri of wise thoughts, am I going to have hundreds of people suing me for using their words without permission?  (Wow, that sure sounds paranoid.  Or maybe true.)

3.  Do I really want to spend a large portion of the next five years pulling all this material together, arranging it to my liking, designing the books and publishing them?

4.  If I don’t share these perspectives on life with whomever wants to hear them, why exactly have I been poring over index cards for four decades?  Have I done all this just so I can get a little more evolved?  I don’t like that.  I see my job as being a contribution to people near and far.  How can I keep all this stuff hidden?

Time to sit quietly, Bruce, and think.

I want to publish these ideas
I’m willing to be sued
I want to leave something behind when I die

Do it, Bruce

Categories – Part 1

It all started back in 1973.  I had just moved to Vancouver and was hanging around used book stores.  I found myself gravitating to the “Religion” section, with an emphasis on “Eastern”.  I bought a book called The Importance of Living, written in 1937 by Lin Yutang, and was enthralled.  Many more purchases followed.

At some point, I began to write down quotations that resonated with me.  And I’ve never stopped.  By the mid-1980s, it was time to computerize all these little pieces of paper.  Jody and I had bought a desktop computer (no laptops then) plus the WordStar word processing program.  I started typing.  Many months later, all the insights I’d collected were on my hard drive.  I backed them up on 3.5″ diskettes.

Next, I needed to organize these thousands of ideas.  So I created my categories, an effort to make the world’s wisdom (or my view of it) accessible.  Here were my A’s:

5     Abiding, Standing, Resting, Stillness / Motion
10   The Absolute
15   Accepting, Letting, Allowing / Resisting, Rejecting, Analyzing, Judging
20   Action, Doing, Expression
30   Always Already, Prior To
37   Anger, Upset
38   Animation, Life, Aliveness
39   Annihilation / Survival
43   Appropriate, “Right”
55   Attention
75   Awakening, Being Awake / Being Asleep, Dreaming
77   Awareness, Sensitivity, Being Conscious, Listening, Hearing
78   Awe, Wonder

Perhaps some explanation would be appropriate.  “Always Already” refers to a state of being spiritually awake, one that we don’t need to reach for.  It’s within us at all times, waiting to be uncovered.  “Annihilation” points to a letting go of a sense of “me” or “mine”, while still acknowledging that I need to navigate through the challenges that society presents.

The task then before me was to plug each quote into a category, or maybe more than one.  I called them “Transformational Subjects”.  I don’t know how long that took, probably more than a year.  What I was left with was two huge blue binders full of thoughts, each page cradled within a clear, yellow-bordered page protector.  I remember asking Jody if she would buy me page protectors for my birthday.  She did.

Sometime in my past, one of the binders disappeared.  So sad.  Just now, I looked through the one I have left … 248 pages of double-spaced vibrating words.  When Jody and I eventually bought Microsoft Word, I used to wonder how I’d convert the old WordStar files.

Last fall, I found all the diskettes, but when I inserted them into the disc drive of our desktop computer, all I saw on the screen was gibberish.  WordStar was long gone.  What intense sadness.  Why, oh why, had I done all this decades ago?

The story continues tomorrow.

A Course in Miracles

This work was published in 1976. An “inner voice” dictated the content to a psychologist named Helen Schucman.  Although it’s Christian in tone, many have said that the Course points toward universal wisdom.  I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Here are some quotes:

I am responsible for what I see
I choose the feelings I experience
And I decide upon the goal I would achieve
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for and receive as I have asked

Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Herein lies the peace of God

I rule my mind, which I alone must rule
At times, it does not seem I am its king at all
It seems to triumph over me
And tell me what to think
And what to do and feel
And yet it has been given me to serve
Whatever purpose I perceive in it
My mind can only serve
Today I give its service to the Holy Spirit
To employ as He sees fit
I thus direct my mind
Which I alone can rule
And thus I set it free
To do the will of God

There is no more self-contradictory concept
Than that of “idle thoughts”
What gives rise to the perception of a whole world
Can hardly be called idle
Every thought you have
Contributes to truth or to illusion
Either it extends the truth
Or it multiplies illusions

What would you see?
The choice is given you
But learn and do not let your mind
Forget this law of seeing
You will look upon that which you feel within
If hatred finds a place within your heart
You will perceive a fearful world
Held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed bony fingers
If you feel the Love of God within you
You will look out on a world of mercy and of love

Reality brings only perfect peace
When I am upset
It is always because I have replaced reality
With illusions I made up

The world that seems to hold you prisoner
Can be escaped by anyone
Who does not hold it dear

When you have learned to look on everyone
With no reference at all to the past
Either his or yours as you perceive it
You will be able to learn from what you see now

Seek not outside yourself
The search implies you are not whole within

It is your thoughts alone
That cause you pain
Nothing external to your mind
Can hurt or injure you in any way
There is no cause beyond yourself
That can reach down and bring oppression
No one but yourself affects you
There is nothing in the world
That has the power to make you ill or sad
Or weak or frail
But it is you who have the power
To dominate all things you see
By merely recognizing what you are

Only your mind can produce fear

You will fear what you attack

No one who loves can judge
And what he sees is free of condemnation

The real world is attained simply
By the complete forgiveness of the old

Teach only love
For that is what you are

When you meet anyone
Remember it is a holy encounter
As you see him you will see yourself
As you treat him you will treat yourself
As you think of him you will think of yourself

Is it an evil to be punished or a mistake to be corrected?

You heal a brother by recognizing his worth

You cannot know your own perfection
Until you have honored
All those who were created like you

There is no journey
But only an awakening

Your task is not to seek for love
But merely to seek and find
All of the barriers within yourself
That you have built against it

With love in you
You have no need except to extend it

Remember that you came
To bring the peace of God into the world

Why wait for Heaven?
Those who seek the light
Are merely covering their eyes
The light is in them now
Enlightenment is but a recognition
Not a change at all

Simply do this:
Be still, and lay aside all thoughts
Of what you are and what God is
All concepts you have learned about the world
All images you hold about yourself
Empty your mind of everything
It thinks is either true or false
Or good or bad
Of every thought it judges worthy
And all the ideas of which it is ashamed
Hold onto nothing
Do not bring with you one thought
The past has taught, nor one belief
You ever learned before from anything
Forget this world
Forget this course
And come with wholly empty hands unto your God