March 12 through 26, 2014
Um … can we talk a little more about this?
Slowly, I open my eyes to the beautiful view that surrounds me as we lie on the bank of the lake near a series of waterfalls, the melody of trickling water and birdsong a gentle refrain. “Of course, Michael, we can talk about anything you want to discuss,” I reply.
[By way of explanation, I have recently acquired a set of ten CDs of nature sounds, one of which I find so relaxing and conducive to a nearly meditative state of mind that I have become addicted to spending an hour in the early afternoon most days totally immersed in it. The CD is entitled “Morning in the Mountains.” It is the sound of a murmuring brook or mountain stream flowing downhill over rocks and boulders accented by the song of various species of birds. The interesting thing about this CD is that, although entitled “Morning in the Mountains,” it could just as easily be called “Afternoon by the Lake” or “Evening Walk in the Gardens.”
So, I’m sure it will come as no real shock to my regular readers to discover that, with the help of these lovely sounds, I have been spending what some might call an inordinate amount of time lately in what Thomas Moore called “regular excursions into enchantment” in his book The Re-Enchantment of Every Day Life – at Neverland (when I’m not thoroughly absorbed in proofreading Conversations – Volume 2 for errors in preparation for sending it to the publishers, that is.)
I am sure, too, that it will come as no great surprise that Neverland Valley Ranch was, is and will always be my idea of heaven on earth. Its beauty draws me like few other places on this planet. Sitting on the retaining wall outside the gate or wandering it freely in my imagination, it is the home of my heart. Its tranquility, natural beauty and love-laden aura provide a magnetic pull similar to that of the North Pole on the compass needle of my soul.
The CD I mentioned takes me there with very little effort on my part. Just plug the CD into the player, snap on the headphones, turn the volume to 6 or 7 and I’m there – no seat belt, flight attendant or heavy baggage to maneuver.
Since getting this CD, I have spent many pleasant hours on the terrace outside the French doors of The Library, sitting on a deck chair with Michael as he reads an ever-present book … chasing each other around the fountains as carefree children … walking through the gardens hand-in-hand, sitting by the side of the lake, walking over the beautiful stone bridge … or just relaxing beneath one of the many trees. As a matter of fact, the producers of this CD should probably be charged with contributing to the delinquency of this major.
In one of my most recent visits, I saw again the scene I had tried to paint of Michael sitting beneath a giant tree with his mismatched ankles crossed, reading Conversations – Volume 1 with my little dog by his side (as described in Installment 55.) This time, he did not have Sir Impalot with him and I was carrying Conversations – Volume 2. I handed the book to him … directly into his living hands … and my heart was so full of emotion that I promptly fell asleep (which is not an uncommon occurrence with this CD – the sounds invoke such a deep state of relaxation and serenity it’s hard not to fall asleep.) I call these afternoon excursions “power naps” and I find them extremely refreshing and restorative.
In my mind, I equate them with the morning meditation sessions with which I have failed so miserably at keeping up except at a much more reasonable time of day. They have become my substitute; I am really NOT a morning person (except, apparently, when I am on Pilgrimage to Michaeland.)
On this occasion, we are sitting on a blanket on the grassy verge beside the lake. I am leaning against a tree and Michael is lying on his stomach, reading Volume 2 with his torso supported on his forearms. He turns to me and hands me the book and I quickly turn the pages to find the installment number to which he is referring (Installment 71) before I fall asleep to the gentle strains of flowing water and birdsong.]
Which part did you want to talk more about?
Well, in this conversation, we were discussing the difference between the reactions of an adult to emotions like joy and a child’s reaction to the same emotion. Right?
Yes, I remember. Let me go and get it. I have the book right here, my dear. You said:
If a child is moved by the ‘spirit’ of joy or laughter, he surrenders himself to the moment and experiences it fully and completely. If an adult is moved by the ‘spirit’ of joy or laughter, he looks around to see if anyone is watching, tells himself that it’s silly to feel so elated, “don’t be an idiot,” he says to himself, “don’t make a fool of yourself.” So, who is egocentric?
Yes, that’s the part I’m referring to. By the time the adult is done checking to make sure he doesn’t make a fool of himself, the emotion has passed and the ‘spirit’ that wanted to move him to express it is gone. He has missed an opportunity to be joyful.
The thing is this same man often wonders why he is never joyful, happy or filled with that sense of wonder. He asks himself, “Why is my life such a constant struggle when everyone else seems to be laughing and having a good time?” He sees his friends laughing and judges them (in his own mind) as displaying unacceptable behavior because they ‘are making fools of themselves’ and, therefore, he is conflicted – wanting to feel joy but shutting it down every time it approaches within five hundred feet of him. “Proper men don’t behave like that,” he thinks.
Now, would you mind putting the next paragraph here?
Of course, Beloved.
The difference is that the adult has learned to be self-conscious – or aware of himself from the ego’s perspective at all times … even when he (or she – ahem) is totally alone and knows that there is no one around to witness his display of joyous communion ‘in spirit.’ He channels all his emotions through the filters of that ‘self-consciousness’ to arrive at ‘unacceptable’ emotion (an emotion which does not fit into that false self-image he has created and which he has learned from a society that adheres to principals of conformity) … or acceptable (an emotion that does fit his false self-image.) Acceptable and unacceptable are judgments like right and wrong or worthy and unworthy (which we’ve discussed before.)
There you go, Baby.
Thank you. I wanted to discuss this whole concept of self-conscious … as opposed to SELF-conscious … in more depth because I didn’t want you or your readers to be conflicted about it.
We’ve talked about all of us being on a journey in these Conversations. I’ve referred to it as a “massive move toward consciousness.” By that, I mean becoming aware of who we really are as opposed to who we have convinced ourselves to be aided by parental edicts, abetted by religious injunctions and supported by societal pressures. In other words, it’s the difference between self-consciousness (false) … and SELF-consciousness (truth).
All of us are much more than the labels and roles we have accepted or the definitions we have agreed to, as we’ve been saying all along. As children, most of us are supremely self-confident, sure of our place in the cosmos and free of limiting self talk. We play with our imaginary playmates, have tea parties with our dolls or teddy bears, talk to our trucks and tractors and are blissfully unaware that we are making fools of ourselves. We don’t care! We are having fun … until some adult or older sibling comes along and laughs at us or tells us to “stop being silly … act your age.”
At that point, we begin to notice that our parents, teachers and society have certain standards of behavior to which we are expected to conform. We begin to stifle our imagination to win approval from our authority figures and we form a new self-image which is not who we really are at all. This false image becomes our ego; it begins to take over our lives, hiding our real selves behind layers of false judgments, labels and definitions that accrue over time
It reminds me of the Native American story about the little boy who goes to his grandfather and his grandfather tells him about the battle that goes on inside us all.
“My son,” he says, “the battle is between two wolves for dominance over our thoughts and actions. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
“The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The wide-eyed boy asks, “Which one wins, grandfather?”
The wise old man replies simply, “The one you feed.”
We are feeding the wrong wolf by giving it all of our attention. We have given it dominance over us, allowed it to tell us who we are and what we can accomplish by feeding it with our focus.
So, if we use the case of your life as an example, we end up with an entirely false idea of who you are. Breaking free of that false idea of yourself becomes difficult because you have believed that lie for so long. In addition, that lie has been supported by many of the events and behaviors of others in your life. You mentioned in one of our earliest conversations that you were told you were ugly as a child; so was I. You are not ugly and neither was I, but we both believed that lie for years and that belief shaped how we viewed ourselves, affecting us long after the people who had uttered that falsehood passed out of our lives and coloring our actions, limiting the things we gave ourselves permission to attempt and holding us back from achieving our dreams.
It is this false self that keeps us shackled. Only the true SELF frees us from those false judgments and definitions; only in getting to know and experience who we really are do we become who we were intended to be – a spark from the Divine Flame of endless creativity, limitless abundance and the perfect peace of ONENESS.
I know better now because I see things much more clearly in the reflections each of you hold in your hearts, but it was a concept that required healing when I arrived at the eternal side of my life. We are still working on getting you to see yourself more clearly, but have no fear; we will get there (either before or after you get here) because TRUTH runs marathons. We are in this for the long haul.
This applies to all those lies you were told and believed for most of your life – like you are fat, untalented, can’t draw, don’t dream, are not spiritual enough to meditate, are not smart, are inferior, are not worthy … and on … and on … and on. All of these lies are buried deep in the soil of your childhood.
I tell you what … you have read parts of a book that really touched me when I read it … so much so that I wanted to make a film about it because the author’s story so illustrates the principals we are discussing.
Do you mean They Caged the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch?
Yes, that’s the one. Can we talk a little bit about this book?
Of course, we can talk about it, mon ange.
Are you sure it won’t make you too uncomfortable?
No, but if I have you here with me … I’m sure I can handle it.
God bless you for your faith in me. Can you tell me why you were so afraid of this book?
Well, I had seen parts of an interview you conducted with the author and filmed at Neverland. From what I could gather from your interview … and your empathy for Mr. Burch … I surmised that his book would not be a comfortable read for me because my own childhood shared many of the same kinds of trauma that Mr. Burch describes in his book. Therefore, I was reluctant to open that can of worms.
In one of our earlier dialogs, you described an event in your childhood that we discussed in relation to your inability to dream. Would it make you uncomfortable to repeat that part of our earlier talk here?
No, Michael, I think I can do that if you think it’s important. From Installment 21 (March 23, 2011 through April 2, 2011):
Okay, well, very few of my readers already know this, but my biological father was an abusive, alcoholic veteran of World War II. My mother tried to control his drinking, but often it devolved into abuse. One day, tired of putting up with the arguments, he decided to end them. He hung himself in the basement of our little home (which closely resembled 2300 Jackson Street, a little four room house.) My mother, brother and I had gone to the store and came back and the dog was barking. We kept our dog in the basement when we weren’t home. She was a boxer named “Star-Linda” because she had a big white star-shaped marking on her face. My mother asked my brother and I to go and get Star to quiet her down. My brother and I found my father hanging from the basement I-beam. I was five; my brother was nearing seven-years-old.
I don’t remember these things … I have no mental pictures to accompany what I was told much later when I was sixteen … I completely blocked them out. My mother told me that my brother and I received counseling, but I don’t remember that either.
Thank you. We discussed this occurrence during our conversation about why you couldn’t visualize clearly – or dream – and we began to practice regular visualizations to heal your perceived inability, but also to positively affect the outcome of Conrad Murray’s trial and replace your negative inner emotional climate with more positive intention. And the results of those visualizations were spectacular; I think you would have to agree.
Absolutely, I agree.
Will you trust me again?
Michael, you are my soul. How could I not trust you?
I love you more. You have to know that.
The incident we’ve just discussed was not the end of the story of your childhood, was it?
No, my dear one, not by a long chalk.
Do you feel comfortable enough to talk about the rest of the story? [Michael’s voice deepens in an impression of Paul Harvey.]
If you feel it is important … and relevant to our topic, Beloved … I trust you implicitly.
Okay … um … as a result of my biological father’s suicide, my brother and I were placed in the same kind of institution that Mr. Burch describes in his book. In our case, our family referred to it as a ‘boarding school,’ but it was an orphanage run by nuns, just as Mr. Burch describes. The St. Vincent Sarah Fisher Home for Children was located in a suburb of Detroit instead of New York. I found out a few years ago that my mother asked my grandmother and grandfather to help her take care of us while she figured out what kind of job she could get (she, like many women at that time, had never worked outside the home before) … and they refused. So, my mother placed us in this institution and we lived there for three years (very much the same amount of time Mr. Burch wrote about in his book.)
Let me repeat my earlier statement. I do not remember any of this. I only have a few brief flashes of memory from this time of my life. One memory I do have is of me being very ill with rheumatic fever (I found out later) during which my life was feared for … and awaking or regaining consciousness to see a Sister of Charity standing by my cot, with her starched white wings (picture the Flying Nun) glowing against the high ceiling of the dormitory or infirmary or whatever.
Thank you. I want you to know … I am so hugging you right now.
So now that you’ve read a little bit of Jennings’ book, can you tell me your impressions?
Yes, definitely, Michael. My first impression is that I was right. This book is not a comfortable read for me. There are too many similarities between his story and mine. These are memories that I really do not want to disturb by reading his very vivid recollections of his childhood.
My second impression is a profound sense of gratitude.
Gratitude? I don’t understand.
I know, Michael; it seems like a strange impression, even to me. Let me see if I can explain. Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt a sense of being inferior to the rest of the world which has carried through all of my adult years because of this lack of memory. I would hear friends say things like, “I remember playing on the living room floor with my dad,” and I would smile on the outside … but inside I was crying with envy because I didn’t have such memories … or a dad I could respect (fear is another matter, entirely) and play with. When my mother remarried and my brother and I returned to what most of the world would consider a “normal” family environment, it was anything but normal. My stepfather was abusive … physically towards my brother … sexually towards me … and left us in no doubt, whatsoever, that we were ‘less than’ the two children he had with my mother. So, there was never that family bond; that had been seriously broken by three years in a “boarding school” and an abusive stepfather whom I certainly never played with on the floor.
So, I kinda went through the majority of my life with this “poor, poor, pitiful me” attitude, feeling inferior to all my superior acquaintances who had wonderful memories of family play and togetherness. Nor did I ever have a father-figure that I could look up to … and learn from … and love … until I met YOU.
Reading Mr. Burch’s extremely and powerfully emotional recollections of being dropped off and just left at an orphanage by a mother who didn’t explain to him what was happening and the cruelty he endured at the hands of the nuns entrusted with his care … the cold, impersonal way his fear, uncertainty, feeling of abandonment and guilt because he didn’t know what he had done wrong and homesickness were viewed by those women and the way he was expected to “toe-the-line” and “follow the rules,” many of which he didn’t even know, made me realize how truly blessed I am and how merciful God is. While I haven’t returned to the book to discover the rest of Mr. Burch’s story (mostly because I don’t think I’ve fully processed the parts I have read, yet), I have come away with a profound sense of gratitude to a merciful and loving God for blessing me by erasing my memories of what must have been an extremely trying and traumatic experience for a five-year-old child.
That’s okay! Take your time; there is no rush. We are in this for the long haul.
So, a curse became a blessing when viewed from a slightly different perspective, right?
Exactly, my heart … exactly!
Have you seen my childhood?
I’m searching for the world that I come from‘Cause I’ve been looking around in the lost and found
of my heart
No one understands me
They view it as such strange eccentricities
‘Cause I keep kidding around
Like a child
But pardon me
Do you see how similar your childhood was to mine? We were both abused; we both felt abandoned and rejected; we both turned that abandonment and rejection against ourselves … felt we have done something wrong … that it was our fault. Do you understand how your fears of rejection … of being unloved … are rooted deep in the soil of the experiences you had as a child?
And I want you to notice something else for me. What kind of childhood did you guarantee for your own children? Did you repeat the mistakes of the past … or did you redeem them? Did you reject your own granddaughter when you were faced with a similar choice to the one your grandmother made … or did you erase that choice by accepting that beautiful child into your life and your heart? We’ll talk more about these points in a minute.
This is not the way childhood is meant to be experienced. We’ve become so separated from our humanity … so wrapped up in judgment and busyness and responsibility … that we’ve forgotten to nurture our children and give them the tools they will need to heal our mistakes.
Your lifelong struggles with feelings of inferiority … your fears of being rejected and abandoned have a very firm basis in being rejected and abandoned as a child … whether you remember it or not … and those experiences have shaped your false image of yourself as unlovable, unworthy, incapable of achievement, inferior, unattractive, etc. … until very recently, that is. This false self image took you over completely and the more you fed it with your attention, the firmer its grip became. The firmer its grip, the more your reality conformed to the expectations your false image allowed you to believe. And …
I know, Beloved Angel … I know!
WHAT YOU BELIEVE, YOU BECOME!!
Exactly! You became all those things your false idea told you were true; or, at least, you thought you did. You are not the scary stories you’ve believed for so long … none of you are! You are not the experiences of your childhood and you can break free of all those nightmares just by becoming aware of who and what you really are … by becoming SELF-conscious.
In truth, the world wants you to believe that you come from the fertilization process of an egg and a sperm … just a random collection of biological material. There is nothing random about it. Your body may be a collection of biological material, but YOU belong to eternity; you are an expression of divinity which has chosen to experience itself in temporarily material form for the sole purpose of remembering your divinity … in other words, of becoming SELF-conscious.
Now, to return to the points I made earlier about your own actions and choices when faced with similar challenges, we’ve talked in great detail about the Symphony in the Key of Love in our earlier dialogs … and you’ve recently read about “soul groups” and “soul families.”
Yes, James Van Praagh’s Growing Up in Heaven mentions soul groups and families.
Our Symphony in the Key of Love is just another, more poetic, perhaps, illustration of a “soul group.” And it should come as no great shock to you to contemplate the possibility that your family relationships … parents, siblings, grandparents … are all part of your “soul family.” The actions and choices of each member of the family affect the family as a collective … either advancing the family in the evolutionary process … or impeding that advancement.
Our family’s opportunities for choice in particular aspects of life (such as responsibility) are repeated until the individual accepts responsibility for his/her actions, forgives past errors and moves forward in full knowledge and experience of his or her true nature. In this process, the “soul family,” too, gains the experience and advances in its evolutionary goal. So, too, does the “soul group” because we are all ONE in this Symphony in the Key of Love.
So, your grandparent’s choices have been repeated in your life and your choices in response to similar situations have produced different outcomes than theirs. The errors of the past have been redeemed in the present. Now, you have to work on forgiving the cultural and individual influences that produced the earlier outcomes. And that’s what we’ll be working on next.
In ancient cultures, like the Native American culture we mentioned earlier, all the generations of a family remained in close contact. While the father provided food and the mother cured the skins and wove the cloth for clothing, the children ran free under the watchful eyes of the older generation, who told them stories of their youth and taught them the lessons they had gained from their experience. In our culture, we are divided into “nuclear” and “extended families … us and them … and often isolated from each other by distance.
Native American grandparents would have been insulted to have had your mother’s question posed to them; in their cultural heritage, their participation in their grandchildren’s education and nurturance provided their sole purpose for existing. It was understood that they would be there and help care for them. It was one of the societal agreements by which they governed their lives.
As humanity has gained in technological advances, it has lost the technology of its humanity and its measures of “quality of life” have shifted to “economics of life.”
In an earlier discussion, we talked about healing the child within and a suggested visualization was proposed.
Yes, Michael, I remember. It was Installment #69 (January 1 through January 11, 2013) when we talked about dedicating the year as “The Year of the Child.”
Right. Did you find these visualizations easy?
Uh … no … I didn’t.
Can you tell me why you found them difficult?
Well, I think because I have no memory of this “child within,” I couldn’t find anyone I had to forgive.
[Michael laughs.] You’re kidding, right?
I’m sorry I shouldn’t have laughed at that. It was insensitive, but are you serious?
Yes, Baby, I am dead serious. How can I forgive what I don’t remember? I didn’t think I had anyone to forgive.
God bless you!
[Jan gets a visual of Michael turning towards her by the side of the waterfall. He sits up and crosses his legs, placing his hands in “Namaste” and bows slightly forward from the waist.] Your innocence is so beautiful.
Do you trust me?
Of course, I trust you, my Sweet King. We would not have gotten this far in this conversation if I didn’t.
Okay, would it be okay with you if we work on this together? Because I think Jennings’ book has made you realize something, hasn’t it?
Oh, indeed, it has, Beloved. It appears I have a whole world full of people to forgive. As a matter of fact, just about everyone who knew me as a child!
Yes, and as each of them is forgiven and the burden of pain and rejection and guilt is released, you will realize that all of it contributed to the beautiful soul you really are … and become more SELF-conscious.
We can do this here, by the lake and waterfall while you take your “power naps” in the afternoon. Is it a deal?
Oh, my love, you do, indeed, drive a hard bargain. [Jan laughs.]