Tru Stories

WindSky

Chapter 6 - Learning the Art of Friendship

September 2003

(about 3 months later)

Dear David,

Hello, my friend. It's been a long time. Luckily, time is not really the great eraser of all things. You know I love you.

Are you doing well? Having not written to you for a while I'm not sure what to say, but it feels good to be writing, especially since I thought I wouldn't write for two years.

I've been finding, these days, that I scare a lot of people off with the way I feel about relationships. I hate half-hearted relationships, you see, and most people are very scared of that. If I try to relate to anyone in any real way they usually become uncomfortable.

I'm absolutely amazed, though, at how many people there are who have nobody who cares for them. All you do is love them a little, and it's as if life has been breathed into their hearts. It makes me so sad to see sometimes. There are so many people my age who are suicidal, abused, neglected, rejected, and lonely. Everyone is lonely. Well, not everyone, but it's a very common disease. I've decided to live according to one of the most important things I've learnt about relationships with people: build them up by loving them, and love them by building them up. Since loneliness and insecurity have attacked the world so drastically, this is the only way of fighting the war. I say war because it truly is a war. When you try to build up a lonely, self-hating, and often suicidal person, you are at war with dark things, and yet you have to be so gentle.

I am a woman now. I've just begun to realize that I'm not a child anymore. I can be pretty immature sometimes, and I still have all the hormones and mood swings of an adolescent girl. In that sense I am a child. However, I have changed a lot over the last few months I think. Somehow, something has changed. I haven't had very many problems to deal with of my own, but God has sent me the abused and raped and hated people, and something about them has changed me. I'm not sure how to describe it. I've spent the last couple of months weeping and tired and drained and yet I feel an unusual inner strength and sense of inner quietness. In this sense, I have begun to think that perhaps I am a woman.

How are you, David? I hope you are well.

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

I'm doing well. I have become much more detached, almost mellow, in the last few months. It is an interesting change of orientation. The tone and quality of my teaching/healing work has changed accordingly. Yet there is still lots going on -- too much to describe. Good stuff, though.

I'm glad to hear of your work with hurt people. You seem to be doing very well, developing genuine compassion.

People are scared of relationship, yes -- terrified. But as you know, relationship can be beautiful, when you know how to make something positive of it. It is about love, and becoming. Relationship is, in fact, part of the Way of Truth. "You know my disciples by their regard for one another" -- something like that.

My whole life has been built on walking down the path with people. Going through things, living in relationship -- and even sharing the presence and power of God in and through relationship. God heals people through me, and I am healed by people who live God's love to me. This is delightful, and effective. There are difficulties we go through, but those are spiritual opportunities for growth. As long as we are committed, we get through it all.

When you think about loving and healing, remember that relationship has several valuable forms. Loving down (charity and healing for those less fortunate) is a valuable form. But that is only one form of many. Other parts are loving across (loving spiritual peers), and loving up (loving spiritual elders).

When we speak of up, down, and across, these are in no way value judgments, because every person is absolutely equal under God. We refer only to differences in experience and spiritual understanding. Those differences determine the kind of relationship we're in.

I have no doubt but that you have your peers and your elders in your life. But even so, I know that one day, you will delight more in the company of spiritual peers. How refreshing that will be -- real relief from being the big sister, the big fish in the little pond.

And then, if you are lucky, you will meet and accept elders in more depth. And you will love them, and they will love you. This relation is the exact mirror image of the loving down situation. Just as you are the elder to those you try to help and heal, you too will have your elders. And you will need them, and benefit from their service to you, just as the people you help are now benefiting from your service.

Everyone needs support, a shoulder to cry on. Everyone. Including, for example, me. I am healed and counseled by my closest intimates. Without that, my life would be really draining. And so, you need the complete set: up, down, and sideways.

Glad you are doing such good things.

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

I agree about the relationship thing. I haven't been that lucky, though. I feel a bit alienated a lot of the time. I recently realized that I had (and still have, to a degree) an irrational fear of rejection and abandonment, which was interfering with all my relationships. After I discovered this, I opened up a lot, but I'm still lacking true fellowship in my life. I'm a bit lonely to tell you the truth, because I can't talk to anyone about anything real, especially not at school. Nobody is interested.

At church I have good friends, but there is a superficiality that is very hard to break through. It's not as bad as it is with the rest of the world, but it's still there. People seem to think they always need to be doing fine just because they are Christians. What rubbish! Everybody suffers. We are all human. Jesus had emotions. I wish people would just be honest!

There are a couple people at the church who I really respect, but they always have their hands full. People are attracted to them like bees to a flower. Every time I see them, somebody is talking to them, crying to them, being counseled by them, etc. Or else they are simply surrounded by people who want to be in their presence, so I don't feel like I can pull them away to have a private conversation.

I sometimes talk to this guy at school. He's the head of the Student's Christian Association, and he's very passionate about trying to be a good servant of God. But he's also a very extroverted type, and although he does care, he tends to miss important things and do things carelessly. It would be very difficult to have a deep relationship with him.

So really, I'm pretty lonely. I have one friend who I can really talk to about stuff. Her name is Terry. She's not my age, though. She's 35 and has kids. She has a lot of problems, but she is a good woman, and our relationship is really pretty good.

Thank you for your letter. I am glad to hear that you are doing well.

With Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

I sympathize with what you're up against when it comes to relationship and loneliness. Most people are afraid to be honest, and are scared of real feeling and emotion. This is unfortunate, indeed, though it is understandable enough. And then, yes, there is that good happy Christian facade you mention. Sometimes even the crying to Jesus gets fake, because people think that's the "right" thing to do. All this supports the tendency to avoid the risk of honesty and deeper relating.

We must be patient with this, because spirit adaptation takes time, and willingness. People will embrace superficial happiness before real happiness, superficial passion before real passion, etc., until they grow mature enough to embody the real thing. "When I was a child, I clung to the things of childhood. When I was a man, I put away the things of childhood." Or something like that.

My feeling has always been: "The world has its limits. But those limitations are unacceptable to me. I need something more, and if there is to be more, I must help create it." In that spirit, I spent years crying in the wilderness, looking for kindred spirits. Years! Then, when I found someone, I related to them all I could, and loved them as best as I could. Out of that prayer and effort, I gradually created a fellowship in which my heart could be expressed openly, and so could theirs -- at least, to the extent that they each wanted to. And that has grown. This has saved me from the worst despair.

I know that when it comes to relationship, your luck has been slim, and that you have tried hard. This is a tough world, as you see! Well, keep trying, because God helps those who help themselves. I know you know that luck is only part of relationship creation. So, for ourselves (and for God's sake, and for the sake of those souls out there who are ready for something more) we must go for the higher brass ring as best we can. We must try to find that deeper, more humanly supportive fellowship. Knock, and it shall be opened. This, too, is a kind of defiance: "Yes, I will be graceful about this loneliness for now, but no, ultimately, I will not put up with this! I have faith in God, and in my own creative potential, to find the way to something more akin to what God would have be."

Anyhow, sounds like the 35-year-old with kids is a good intimate for now.

God will answer your prayers, my dear. All of them! Have faith, as I know you do. Despite the pain and challenges, you're doing pretty darn good. Life experience is softening you. I knew it would. God be praised!

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

I know what you mean about fakery in the church. I've seen enough of it now for a lifetime. It bothers me so much to see people use something good to indulge in their own ugliness and stupidity.

What worries me more though, is that I think I've been involved in this horrible thing of misrepresenting Jesus. Largely because, like you said, I've been very unlucky in relationships. And there is still dirt in there that needs to be washed away. There is a lot still broken in me. I know that healing is not cheap. I think God wants us to work hard with Him for these things, because if we didn't it wouldn't mean anything to us, and also because it gives us the opportunity to actively love Him by striving against the odds toward Him. The only thing is that I am so impatient that I want to skip all the work and just be perfect now.

My problem is, I'm not really present to anyone. Sure, my family would mourn if I died, but that always happens. That doesn't mean I'm really anything that much in my family. I always get interrupted when I speak, and my whole family thinks I'm a bit odd, and the rest of the world is pretty much the same. There are a lot of people who I'm friendly with, but none of them are really my friends.

It's very easy for me to blame the world and say it's because other people aren't as spiritual as me, but then, I see many people who are more spiritual than I am, and they have friends. So I must begin to wonder at some point why nobody wants to be my friend. And in fact, why nobody has ever wanted to. It's true that when I was such a rebel, I was surrounded by quite a few people, and we could relate to each other because we were all the ones who went against the rules. But there's little value to that kind of friendship. I discovered that as soon as I started to play by the rules (or, the rules I thought were good, at least).

I feel as if this shouldn't bother me as much as it does. I admitted my loneliness to someone the other day and they told me I shouldn't worry so much, since I have God. Very easy to say, but even God Himself said, "Man was not meant to be alone." Nonetheless, I do feel like I'm overreacting. All of a sudden, all the loneliness and rejection I've suffered all my life has hit me in one breathtaking blow. I'm left moping and feeling very ashamed of myself.

Anyway, back to the question: what is wrong with me? I know I have a lot of faults, but so do many people. I don't understand. Maybe I just don't know how to have friends. You know me pretty well, what do you think?

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

You may not have friends, but you are not a lost cause. I hope you do not despair too much. Turn your tears into good works.

You surely could have friends. But for that, you might have to retrace your steps and see where you got off the trail.

Your problem is not so much the bad things you've seen or experienced, though that is certainly a factor, but mostly, it's that you feel a lot, and you don't know how to handle that well.

You are a super-woman in the respect that you feel so much. I have met, in my life, a number of such women. They often have a hard time getting a grip on their feelings, and feelings of love seem to be the hardest for them to deal with. Even when their negative reactions are way out of control, it's usually nothing but a cover up to avoid having to deal with their loving emotions. They have a terrible phobia about loving in a manner that fits how strong they feel in their love. It would be "off the hook," you know, or too vulnerable. These loving feelings are actually extremely beautiful, in essence, but they are programmed to hate them anyway.

Human devotion -- the love of one human being for another -- is a deep and wonderful thing. And, female devotion is especially profound. A woman either goes with her heart, or else she lashes out to keep that from happening. You do a lot of the second thing. You feel so much; so you have protected yourself by being hard, or scared, or whatever. The more you tend to want to love, the more you tend to rebel -- against your own heart, basically. If you look at your experience, you will notice that every time real love has awakened in you, within a few weeks -- or even days -- you freaked out, or became negative. This was your way of avoiding the feeling and vulnerability that comes with love.

When we think of real love relationships, we are immediately involved in an inner battle, a struggle with inner forces that fight over the soul. It is really a spiritual struggle. To overcome ego and pride and become love is to become what God made us to be. This is the ultimate value of your struggle. The angels are pleased when someone breaks out of the fear prison and finds their own love.

You could certainly win that battle. And by so doing, you could be a great friend to people. You could get back in the human race, and have friends. But of course, that would take a lot of losing face, cause you have a lot of face to lose. It is a long road, like learning to play the violin.

You have a lot of love, and you also have a lot of pride. But as you know, love and pride don't mix. One has to go.

Friendship has been made difficult for you by a certain rebellious quality with which you have identified yourself. Your rebel spirit extends not just to authority, but also to the way you relate to many people. Like in the old days, you really told me off, and blew me off, many times -- even when you were out of line. Of course, you were expressing yourself; what you felt, or what you thought was right. And that obviously has some merit. It's good to be honest.

But there is a deeper level of honesty. When you are being honest in one way, perhaps you are not being honest in a more important way -- in your soul. The question there is: when I am contentious toward others, is that really honest? Or, if I was really honest, would I be more kind and gentle?

In my experience, I find that it's necessary to almost worship people. I realize that's a controversial thing to say, and Christians in particular have a problem with that, but, people are God's creations. They are beautiful, and worthy of whatever love you can offer. Christians are just scared and hung up like everybody else. But they defend their hang-ups with the Bible, while other people defend them by saying that the world is a dangerous place, etc.

So much of relationship is about being devoted to someone. Giving your heart. Being good to them. Loving them in ways they can feel and appreciate. Coming from a defensive or offensive place doesn't work for that.

So there's this softening going on in you. It will continue. And someday, your spirit will cry out for love, and you will be willing to pay love's price. Love's price is the surrender of ego, of pride, etc. Resist the temptation to put up crosses against deeply loving God's children. Give them your heart, and forget the fart. You know.

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

I know you're right about being devoted to people. I wouldn't use the word worship, in the sense that I understand it, but I think we can still live for the people we love.

I wish I could speak more confidently about such things, but sadly, I don't know much about devotion. I've learned to try to build people up and love them, but the part about devotion I don't even understand in my head, never mind in my heart or experience.

My problem is not only with being able to love people, but also with accepting it when people love me. I don't know why, but when people do love me, I don't handle that well either. Sometimes I refuse to believe that they actually do love me until later, and then I feel like such a moron. I don't know why.

I think I learned this quite early. I remember when I was eight years old, I had a hard time with the other kids at school. So, pretty soon I decided that I hated other children (small child's logic, I guess). Then, later on in the year, two girls actually reached out to me, and, believing that they were just doing it out of pity, I told them that I was fine by myself. I think I've been doing the same thing ever since. It's a deeply ingrained habit that is extremely hard to shake off.

What makes it worse is, I've always had a really hard time with people. A lot of people think I'm weird, and so they just stay away from me; and they can be really mean sometimes, and treat me like I'm not even a human being. So I've learned not to expect much kindness from people in general. I don't know what I do to attract that kind of treatment, but I guess I must be doing something.

Jesus said:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I think he's talking about being love, which includes being "gentle and humble in heart." That is what I want to be, but I have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

David, I will admit that I find this relationship with you very difficult. I also admit that I haven't been a good friend to you at all. I find it difficult for a number of reasons, most of which I don't really understand. One thing is, I find it difficult not to be teaching you anything. I know that sounds very prideful, but that's how I feel. I would want to be telling you things, but instead we always talk about me and what you know about me. Now, that's great, and I am an idiot for trying to push that away before, but there it is.

You are very patient. I'm glad you didn't leave me in your exasperation. Thanks. You mean the world to me.

God bless,

Mana

(A few hours later)

David,

I've ruined every relationship I ever could have had, and hurt every person I've ever loved in the process. How dare I have the cheek to think that I'm rejected? Look what I've done to others!

I told you the story about those two girls who wanted to be my friends, and how I just pushed them away. Well, the same thing has happened over and over again. I spent the last couple of hours thinking about it, and I saw that I have done this with dozens of people, all my life. I can't believe it!

When I was ten, I had two guy friends who were eleven (yes, I have had friends, I just didn't think of that because I've been so busy being lonely). We were real friends. Then we grew up a bit, and when I was about twelve, the one guy, Derek, started to get really sweet and gentle with me. He would buy me books because he knew I liked to read. But guess what I started doing as soon as all this started. Yep, I pushed him away. The second guy, Garth, asked me out a few months later, and I said yes, but then I became so distant from him immediately that it ruined our friendship.

Then there was Nina. She was my best friend when I was twelve. She was used to being the odd man out, like me. She would say things like, "I'm so glad I've met someone like you." "I'm so happy to finally have a friend." She and I were good friends, but I rejected her too, because of something she was doing that upset me at the time. I feel so guilty about that. I must have hurt her so much. I hope whatever damage I did to her has been healed now.

I don't know why I do this David. I've hurt so many people. How could I?

And now I am doing the same thing I've always done. There's this guy at school, named Frank. He is a very passionate person. We started talking at a local youth group one day, and he told me how he used to be a Catholic when he was a kid, but he found that to be meaningless to him, so he left when he was 13 years old and became a regular Christian. His parents have never forgiven him. Pretty brave for a 13-year-old kid, huh? He is quite a leader among the young Christians around here. I was weary of him at first, because he is such an extrovert, and I tend to be weary of extroverts. But I know that's wrong, and very judgmental.

Since he told me his story at youth that day, we have started to be friendly. We talk about things, and we pray together. Then, a few days ago, he noticed that I was feeling a lot, and he suddenly took both my hands in his and said to me, intently, "I want us to be accountable to each other, okay? If I have a problem, I come to you, and if you have a problem, you can come to me." I said yes to that, but I've been avoiding him ever since. Why am I such an idiot? No wonder I'm so lonely. I guess I really do have a lot to learn.

Love,

Mana

P.S. Gee, my dad just got robbed in Athens. He phoned here a minute ago sounding rather distraught. Apparently they took everything, but my mom had gone somewhere else and she had the traveler's checks, so they still have those.

My dad left about nine weeks ago to work in England, and my mom joined him about two weeks ago so they could have a holiday together. Until they come home, my granny is looking after us girls.

My dad is doing quite well in himself since he went to Europe. Before he left he was very depressed, and had been for a long time. You know when you are with someone and it feels like you are being pressed down on so hard by their presence, because they are so heavy -- their words, their face, their posture, their walk, everything is heavy. After he left for Europe he wrote to me and told me that he had accepted that God loves him and forgives him. I haven't seen him since, but he seems happier in the letters he writes. I am very glad about that.

_______________

Dear Mana,

You did well to see the problem of pushing people away as a life pattern. That's good. It will help. Remember, you are not the only one who does this. I have been writing a huge article for the web about that problem. I might finish it in a week or two, and then you can read it if you want.

Everybody who pushes people away asks: why do I do this? The real answer is, there's no truly good reason for a pattern like that. So if you're looking for a reason, you're looking for an excuse.

There is a difference between superficially (or psychologically) why, and spiritually why. Superficially why, there are millions of reasons, and those reasons are usually used for justification. Like: I was mistreated when I was eight years old, etc. Many psychologists call that deep, but I call it superficial, because it is not truly a matter of spirit. It is something more of a survival reflex. It relates to the animal mind. It is automatic and ingrained, but not really deep. The spirit is deeper and more powerful than lower mind, animal instinct, etc.

Spirit relates to choice. Spirit calls a man to choose for the good. Even negative spiritual choices are made -- they are not reflexes -- even though later, they may appear as reflexes. For example, the decision you made to hate other kids when you were younger; that was a choice you made, at that time. And then, you kept making the same choice, so it became ingrained.

Neurotic patterns reflect the soul's choices. Thus, we create our physical and psychological reality with our spiritual choices. That means, spiritual choice rules! It might rule for better or for worse, but it rules.

Once you are conscious of a negative pattern, and you realize that pattern results from a choice, then you can change the pattern. So, in this case, now that you realize you are choosing to push people away, you can also choose not to push them away. All you have to do is resist the impulse to push them away when it arises.

You get your power back when you realize you can choose differently. Spiritually, there is no excuse. There are only the laws of life and of God. So, there is very little point in looking at the superficial reasons why. All the things you told me are intelligent things to see -- it shows brains and humility, both. But what happened to you at school when you were younger really doesn't matter in the end, because it doesn't get you out of the spiritual obligation to live God's rules. That is spiritual surrender.

And, of course, when it comes to being a friend, it would help to love people, too. That's the positive side, and we need that side, right? Being a friend is not just about not pushing away, it's also about loving.

Why don't you do this with the guy who wants to "be accountable" with you? He has reached out. Give him a chance. And, care for him. Be good to him. Why the heck not? You will probably get in deep right away, and you will have to dial back a bit, because you're such a thoroughbred, high horsepower girl. But, that's something you really need to learn to deal with, because it is your cross to bear. Running away is just not good enough. You have to learn to take powerful forces and control them, so that they don't run your life, and keep you from being able to have close intimacy with others. Right? Of course! To solve a problem, you have to face it, and work with it, you know.

Think of this friendship struggle as a spiritual struggle, and you're seeing it for what it is. The spiritual struggle is this: If we commit and surrender to love others, then we're obliged to love them from then on. Ego, or pride, doesn't want to be obliged to love. It's like putting a bridle on that wild horse. It's like taking up the yoke of Christ.

I use the word worship to suggest a feeling of deep respect, admiration, and sweetness that characterizes love. People are always trying to minimize the value of other people, so they won't "have" to love them too deeply or wholeheartedly. This attempt to dismiss people manifests as judgment, fear, and disrespect. My feeling is, simply, people are beautiful, they are manifestations of God and worthy of good love -- even with their faults. God forgives, so should I. That is what I mean by "worship."

There is no friendship without respect, and there is no love with great fear. So, for you to be happy, you are going to have to make different choices. You can choose to accept what you know: that people are not bad, and that they deserve your love, and that you can love them. God will certainly support you in that choice -- because it's a choice to love in a very beautiful way.

Love,

David

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Dear David,

You're 100% right. Choices! Choices! I really don't have any excuse.

And it's really useless to dig around the past looking for excuses, because the past is so blurry -- what we remember about things changes, depending on what mood we're in. When I described "hating" the other kids at school, that was an exaggeration. I did have resentment towards them, and I was afraid of being rejected, but I didn't actually hate them. Sometimes I even liked them. I guess that goes to show how much it's about choice. We even choose what we remember most.

The funny thing is, just before I received your letter I was looking at an old school book of mine from when I was eight years old, and I saw -- in what I wrote back then -- my tendency to make excuses. Getting your letter about that has really driven it home for me. I'm seeing now what I have been doing for a long time.

I've typed up a piece from the old workbook for you to see, so that I can write to you about it. It was a worksheet that the teacher gave us to fill in. The stuff written in capital letters is the teacher's questions, and the rest (with the bad, 8 year old spelling) is my answers:

IF YOU WERE TO BECOME AN ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?

"I would like to be a big, hairy, strong, distrucktive, naughty bigfoot."

WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND YOUR DAY THINKING ABOUT?

"Find some thing of my own kind and some one to be with me because I can't go on alown with out a friend in the world.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE?

I would tell them that "I'm sorry I'm being so distrucktive and naughty but I have no friends and I can't amuse my self very easily sitting in a cave waving torches around like in the movies. That's boring! Can you imagine doing that all day and all night for the rest of your life. Well I can imagine it but it would probably be very boring."

 

I have never grown up I guess. "I'm sorry I'm being so naughty and destructive BUT..." I still do that, don't I? There's always an excuse for everything.

I have to start making a constant decision to be positive and responsible for my own actions. To be productive instead of destructive, and to go out and make friends. I think I even still do this: "I'm going to sit in my cave and wave torches about because nobody loves me." Talk about not taking responsibility!

Well, now I'm just making myself laugh. This is actually ridiculous.

I'm now determined to start choosing love, and to continue to choose love for the rest of my life. I'm going to start with my family, and Frank, and with you. So now that I've told you that, you can let me know how I'm doing as I go. Of course I really want to love everyone, but I think that maybe it's a good idea to start by focusing on just a few people.

I am going to give Frank a chance. There's no reason why I shouldn't want to be his friend, you know, I'm just a bit of a moron sometimes. David, I am actually a little scared about it. Nervous, I mean. I still don't really think I know how. I guess that's a bad sign. But God is love, so if I choose love, then surely He will do it through me. The funny thing is, I thought I had already chosen love.

You mentioned in an earlier letter that you've become more detached. That made me wonder. Why have you become more detached, and what from?

Love,

Mana

P.S. I know this may sound like a funny question to ask at this point, but, do I tire you out? I know you love me, David, so that's not what I'm asking about. I'm asking if I tire you. Sometimes I worry that you are "putting up with me" because you're a charitable person. I want to be somebody who you enjoy having a relationship with, rather than a burden. You must be totally honest with me, David, no matter what that means. I need you to, okay? I'm not just being emotional here, I'm asking you this stuff for a reason. I need constructive criticism, even if it's harsh. The truth hurts, but the truth is what I want.

Please know that I won't be such an egomaniac forever. One day, I will be free of all this. And when that happens, I will be lovable not just generally, as God's creation, or a manifestation of God, but as an individual.

_______________

Dear Mana,

I do not mean to generalize you with agape talk -- that you are God's creation, a generic child of God, etc. That is the opposite of my life. I recognize you in your uniqueness. The trouble is, you are not ready to validate who you are very much. Who you really are needs to come out more, but it is not yet available, and you are very strongly in control about that. You have all kinds of thoughts that keep who you are in prison.

I'll grant you, it takes time to grow, but you must grant me, it doesn't take half as much time as people make it take. Too much fear, not enough faith.

I'm glad you're going to accept the friendship with Frank. Now don't freak out too bad, and don't puff it up into too big a deal. It's just a friendship -- you're not getting married, okay?

That said, of course you feel nervous. Who wouldn't be nervous about doing something they aren't used to? You just need to remember that you are not scared of love -- you are only scared of the ways you have reacted to love in the past. And naturally, you are scared of the pain and trouble those reactions have caused. If you remember that, you will realize that love is not to be feared. And you will realize that what you need to do is make the effort to control those reactions that ruin love. God will do the rest.

You have chosen for love, like you said. So no more doubting that! In fact, you have chosen for love since a long time ago. But you have also created a habit of "going with" ego reactions against love. When you have a habit, it comes up. The ego automatically asserts its junk when it feels threatened by your possibilities for love.

So, your job under God is to say to fear: "Get thee behind me!" Your job under God is to resist those lower, automatic reactions each time they arise -- or as often as you can. They may arise every two minutes. It doesn't matter; you just do your job. Whatever junk arises, it's just junk, just habit. And none of it means that you did not choose for love before. Your ego is telling you that, to weaken you. It's just that, as long as your ego has any power, you are obliged to keep it in check. That's all.

Here's what you can say about this: you re-assert your pre-existing choice for love every time you refuse to buy into ego, fear, pride, etc.

Excellent choice!

You asked why I had become more detached, and what from. The answer is: I have learned, for the zillionth time -- but this time very deeply -- to respect the free will of the people I serve. Oftentimes, people make choices that are detrimental to their spiritual growth. They will even react violently to their most beautiful experiences or realizations. They don't want to be that conscious, or that vulnerable. The spiritual aspect of a person may celebrate such things, but even so, the ego tends to react against the feeling of change. And often the ego wins in that struggle. Turning away from the truth happens 90% of the time. Always has, but for many years, no matter how many times it happened, it seemed so tragic. I used to find these things terribly depressing. For me, it was like watching an old friend go back to drugs, almost. But finally, after many years of watching these cycles, I got some space on it. I have learned now to accept that people must make their own choices, and there's nothing I can do about it. Also, I used to push more on people; now I just give what I can, and then wait and see what people will decide. As a result I live a much more laid-back existence.

About your other question: You do not tire me, really. You are only a drain when you get to be real negative or combative, and you have improved greatly in that area. I have nothing "harsh" to say to you whatsoever. Maybe the truth hurts a bit, sometimes, but not much, really. When you recognize the truth, you actually feel liberated. It's like, having a clue at last feels joyful, deep in your soul. I can give you the straight scoop without having to be harsh.

There is nothing that is important for now that I haven't already told you. If you want to not be a burden, practice the things I have taught you.

I am charitable in that in almost all my relationships, I give much more than I receive. That is because most people don't give too much. So, I just pull the plug if it gets too far out of balance.

The truth is that what you have to give is not apples for apples. You cannot give knowledge in exchange for knowledge. Sure, I don't know everything, and you will surely teach me some things -- and already have -- but still, I am already a multi-millionaire in the knowledge department. So, if you want to benefit me, you have to give what God gave you to give -- your heart, your friendship. These things can benefit me greatly.

Also, you can benefit me by disciplining your mind more. In the long run, you will tire me out unless you are coming from a positive place frequently. Depression is obviously tiring after a while. What raises you up is what makes you an uplifting influence on others. If you are willing to get excited, to be impassioned, and to share that, then you can give others energy. Otherwise, you cannot give much.

I cannot tell you that devotion excludes anything, because if I did, I would be lying. There is a way to be devoted to a fellow human that is right. That right way does not put the person to whom you are devoted above God, but it does raise them way up compared to where most people hold others, with their cheap, mediocre loves. I simply would not have an intimacy that is like the very best that most people have. It would disgust and disappoint me. I will not live in a lie and call it an intimacy. The truth is in the heart. The heart is full of love and passion. But it depends on what people want, what they get.

You have a lot to learn about love, and relationship, and human devotion, and a ton of phobias to get through, and that will take time. But, if you really want to get through them, you really can, and I can show you the way through it.

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

Thank you for your directness. I really do appreciate it. I'm very glad to have you, David. I think you are the only person who is honest with me. That's one thing that should be in the church, but is sadly lacking. I've been a Christian for over a year, and have received nothing but praise, and that's what people seem to think love and encouragement is. I certainly don't find it encouraging, because I know when praise is misplaced, and the praise I get often is. People seem to think that I am a very strong Christian, but I think it's mostly because I am impressive when I speak about spiritual things. After we have meetings, people will often come up to me and say things like, "Thank you, that meant so much to me." On the one hand, I am glad I can say things that are helpful to people, but at the same time, it feels wrong to look so good and not be so good. But my intention is not to look good.

Yes, I see that I have phobias about devotion. I do feel devoted to people when I love them, but I will usually think up all kinds of reasons why they aren't worthy of it, or how they'll hurt me if I give them my heart that much, or how I'll scare them off if I do that. It's just like you explained earlier, about replacing devotion with judgment, fear, and disrespect in order to protect ourselves. Wow!

I see how, just the idea of letting go of control and allowing oneself to love with all of one's self sounds beautiful, and yet, if I am completely honest it sounds terrifying. It's like, "What happens next?" even though I doubt that it could be bad. It's our pride that tells us that if we aren't in total control of the situation then everything will go wrong.

Devotion can't be play-acted, and I certainly don't want it to be. I want to really be devoted to God, and to the people I love. I know very well that my pride gets in the way, and I know that I have a long way to walk. But when I look back at where I was a month ago, I can see improvement. Still, it does feel like I am taking forever to get where I want to be. I am impatient to get there. My problem is figuring out whether it's good to be patient with oneself or not. Does being patient take away from wholeheartedness? I think so. But then, so does being impatient, in a way.

I feel like the more I grow the more I realize I need to grow. Spiritual growth, because it demands change in every area of your life, is easy to resist. But since it began I've wanted nothing else as much. My mom even thinks I'm a bit strange, because spirituality is all I ever read about or talk about. She says that I'm an extremist, and worries that after a time I will go back to the other extreme, and be a rebel again. I doubt that, I don't think it's that easy to forget about God.

The thing about you is, when you're around, things definitely do happen a lot faster. I have grown so much during the times when we have been writing together. And I want you to know, I am grateful.

I know that love and devotion are good, and what God intended for us. It is a war against ego for me to get there, but it's a war that I'm willing to fight. I'm really glad that you're here to help me fight this war. And I promise, I will not disappoint you in the ways that others have.

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

Here's an idea for love:

Your quote:

"I see how, just the idea of letting go of control and allowing oneself to love with all of one's self sounds beautiful, and yet, if I am completely honest it sounds terrifying."

Try thinking if it might actually be more honestly expressed this way:

"I see how, just the idea of letting go of control and allowing oneself to love with all of one's self sounds terrifying, and yet, if I am completely honest it sounds beautiful."

I have confidence that if you deeply think about it, and pray on it, you will find the second version to be more true to your spirit.

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

Thank you David, you have a good way of making miracles seem possible after all.

I want so much to love now. I wake up and want to love all day. And the world is starting to look different. Today I was just standing there waiting to be let into class, and I looked around me, and it was as if I could suddenly feel and see people's hearts. I wanted to cry because I saw so much thirst in each person. So much need, so much fragility. And then I wanted even more to love them, because I saw how hungry they are for it.

I can suddenly see the pain in people that I didn't realize was there, or, not to the extent that I do now anyway. My eyes gradually are opening more and more to the people around me. It's truly like a light has been cast over everything, and now I can see clearly.

Love certainly does break down barriers. There are these two girls at school who I have wanted to be friends with, but I didn't know if they wanted to, so I never approached them. But today I found out that they both do want to.

One of them I approached myself, and we had a great conversation. I even told her about my realization that I tend to push people away, and she said that she thinks she does the same thing.

The other girl approached me, and she said something that just about knocked me off my feet: she said, "I really want us to be friends, but I don't want to push myself on you." That was a shocker. Of course I want to be friends with her. Obviously, I've been giving the wrong impression.

David, I wonder what you and I will talk about when I'm really starting to grow up, spiritually -- when I no longer have so many personal problems for you to help me with.

Speaking of growing up, that is definitely happening quickly all of a sudden in physical age. In less than four months I'll be 17. I almost can't believe it. I met you when I was 15. Although that seems like ages ago, it also feels like it was just yesterday.

Would you mind telling me about your life again? You told me the story once before, but it was over a year ago, and I would love to know more about it. You know a lot more about me than I know about you.

You know David, I know this may sound bad, but it is comforting to me to realize that you haven't always been as you are now. It can be overwhelming to see you from down here. I can't see any weaknesses because I'm looking at you from underneath. I know you're human, but you are more than the kind of human I'm used to.

Here is a poem I wrote today:

MY THIRSTY HEART

My heart, my heart!

How it cried for the day,

How it sang for the sunlight

For it wanted to play.

My heart was a beggar,

It searched for love among the dead,

But it searched in vain

For they gave it hate instead.

Now it's drank its full,

Now my heart is warm,

Now there is no pain,

No unbearable storm.

My heart, my heart!

Do you hear how it sings!

It's found true love now,

It flies on eagle's wings.

 

Thanks for all your answers.

God bless you very much!!!!

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

By gosh, she is getting it! Praise God. 'Tis a great day for the angels, you betcha. Now, keep walking down that road, little flower, and extending yourself sincerely to people. In just one more mile you will find great treasures -- treasures of the heart and spirit.

Nice poem! God's love is grand. But I hope the poet doesn't mean, behind that, like the usual religionist, that the love of God is the only true love -- and that no love between humans could ever be true. That implication is terribly problematical, as well as terribly common. We need to soar beyond that if we are really going to be God's eagles.

What will we talk about in the future? There are many possible things. We can talk about teaching, because there are many universal experiences you will face in trying to teach. Trying to help people is a great dance, and the things you will run up against in trying to develop that art are good for the soul. The teacher always learns at least as much as the "student," in trying to teach.

Developing the teaching is also important, and we might talk about that.

We can also talk about relationship -- especially when you get old enough or willing enough and go for that. Relationship becomes a huge grist for the spiritual mill. Lots to talk about, and even more to be. That will certainly be a hoot.

Also, we can relate somewhat as peers. That part can grow as you grow into your own humanity, and let go of some of your fear.

It's good that you have some respect for my elder-ness, but it is not too overshadowing. We talk as friends, in many respects. The only exceptional thing about me is my commitment to truth and to people. Besides that, I have plenty of faults and vices. Heck, if you are seeing me from down below, then you should be able to see my asshole!

I may be "more than the kind of human you are used to," but that is a good and helpful thing. Your soul would feel a great void without someone who knew something more about the path than most people do. There is a part of you that will never be satisfied with the depth of spirituality that characterizes the mainstream approach to religion. God brought me to you to help satisfy that part.

My story, again? Okay. I was a monk for many years, in different styles. I wanted God, and I did not want the world. Therefore, I was like a mystic. But what happened was, after a long time of that, I realized I was stuck.

The first stuckness was because I wanted to do it my way. I followed what I thought God wanted, but it began to seem like God had this bad habit of telling me to do the kinds of things I was already doing. Obviously, my concept of God's will was bent! Then, I had a teacher who really kicked my butt with discipline. It was like boot camp. I seriously needed that. It pried me off doing things my way, and taught me about surrender and discipline.

Anyhow, even with the discipline, I still ended up stuck on a plateau. No matter how hard I worked, it seemed like I wouldn't get any farther.

Up to that point I had been running away from people. I felt that people were a direct distraction from God, and strongly feared that being involved with them would be very foolish, spiritually -- a dead end, or a detour at least. My attitude toward people was: you can hang around me as long as you don't get in the way of my seeking God.

But I realized that in running from people -- or in my case, from women and gold -- I was running from God. I needed relationship. I needed to relate rightly to people in order to relate rightly to God, and vice versa.

In the end, I surrendered. I decided to live in relationship to others. I committed to going through anything and everything anyone wanted to go through with me. I would face every problem between me and each person I knew. I talked and talked, sat there and sat there, for months, and years. Through this, I learned more about the God/people connection. It became clear to me that my relationship to people is my relationship to God, because they are not separate. I used to say, "I only have one relationship. It is my relationship to God/people." I either love everything, or nothing at all.

Then finally, there was the agape vs. personal love thing. I had to learn to love people personally, not just generally. People need and deserve to be loved for who they are, as unique and beautiful individuals. Yes? Yes. Like the thing you felt in your recent letter, "Do you like me, or are you just loving everybody?" etc. Well, that's the question all right! For everyone.

My dear, when it comes to miracles, they are not so uncommon. Take God's dare, I say!

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

Don't be silly. In that poem I wrote, I was thanking you for loving me so truly, and for showing me the love that I can have and be. I know that people can love. What a hopeless case we would be if we couldn't! Yes, I found true love when I found God, but I was speaking in human terms.

I've made some attempts at disciplining my mind lately, because I remember that you once said it was necessary for staying in a good state. I have found it to be quite hard. I haven't been able to keep my mind from wandering. I know it can be done, but I've been very unsuccessful so far.

How on earth do you learn thought control other than controlling the external influences? I don't know so much about that. I have gotten rid of things that I know can have a negative effect on my mind. I've tossed out dark music and turned down dark movies. But I know that's not enough.

Philippians 4:8 -- "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."

That's what I want to do. My only question is: how? How do you make your mind stay on track?

Have you ever had somebody try so hard to love you that you want them to leave you alone? How do you deal with that? I know a girl who saw me cry in church a couple a weeks ago, when I was feeling lonely and not knowing what to do about it. I tried to get to the bathroom unseen, but she followed me there and gave me a hug that lasted about ten minutes. Now everytime I see her she's on top of me, hugging me over and over and over again. Even in the middle of prayer, when I might hope not to have somebody on top of me, she comes and puts her hands on my back and is so sweet I can't bear it. But at the same time, I can't bear to avoid her, because she is obviously trying. How do you get somebody like that off your back without being mean or hurtful? So far, I think the only possibility is to talk to her directly, because a more subtle approach will undoubtedly go right over her head. I'm not judging her for that, it's just a fact.

Also, how do you deal with a person who is a terrible flirt, but who you want to be friends with? I have this problem with Frank. I find him hard to understand, because in his search for God he is one of the most sincere people I've met, and yet in his relationships he doesn't seem sincere. He honestly flirts with everybody, and he charms male and female alike. I know that in itself doesn't make him insincere -- that can just be a personality trait -- but I find myself feeling uncomfortable with it. You see, he flirts with me the same way he does with everyone else, and it seems almost to cheapen everything to me.

Last but not least, I wrote you this poem today:

TO DAVID

I know a man

who makes flowers grow,

whose hands create warmth

even in snow.

 

He works in the garden,

planting young seeds,

and with gentle caring

he dresses and feeds.

 

I know a man

whose music is sweet,

he brings joy to my heart

and dance to my feet.

 

I know a man

who beats on love's drums.

I've heard his song,

and I have come.

 

I know a man

too lovely for me,

but he's patient and gentle

so our friendship can be.

 

I love a man

and I'm glad that I do.

I love a good man

and that good man is you.

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

Thanks for the poem. I love you too.

You asked:

"How on earth do you learn thought control other than controlling the external influences?"

Yes, it is hard, but mental discipline is something you can practice. The mind is like a wild horse, you have to bring it back time and again, every time it wanders. All the monks in the world practice mental discipline in some form or another, and we practice it around here. Counting to ten when something bothers you is mental discipline. Rejecting negative thoughts and choosing to focus on the positive is mental discipline. Disciplining negative internal reactions is mental discipline. And also meditation is a form mental discipline. You should read the instructions for how to do Unification on the web site. If you want, you can start practicing that.

It is good to minimize bad influences, at least reasonably so, but it is also necessary to take responsibility on a deeper level. You should never fool yourself into thinking that bad influences are your biggest problems. Your biggest problems are your negative tendencies, and your wayward mind. There are bad things out there, but there are worse, more dangerous things inside a person. Inner change is real change. Yes?

Now, about your other questions:

THE AFFECTIONATE GIRL: It is very difficult and awkward, this thing about the girl. I appreciate your care for her feelings. She is sincere, and she is trying her best, no doubt. But I think you will have to tell her, as gently as you can, that when you are in prayer, you find that you can get into it better when someone is not touching you, etc. I think she can hear that. But you must take great care to acknowledge her love and her care, her good intentions. Some people do get carried away with one form of expression or another. You just have to speak to her with great tenderness, because of her delicate soul. Okay? Remember, it is important to people not to be offensive to others, especially by mistake. People actually want to know if they are doing something you don't like. So in this sense, she will be relieved, on some level, that you told her.

THE TERRIBLE FLIRT: A terrible flirt is very difficult to be friends with -- if his flirting is serious. If it is just a game he is used to playing with everybody, it may not mean much of anything. In that case, you can just tell him, gently and sincerely, that you would be more comfortable if he would cut down on the flirting part, and just be serious and straightforward with you. But if he is actually lusting after you, that rarely dies easily. It takes time, and serious discouragement. And mostly, it takes minimizing contact, because almost any contact will tend to keep it very much alive. Often, in the case of lust, the only thing you can really do is avoid him as much as possible, and let that lust die out in him. So it depends on what his flirting really represents. Okay? You have to figure that part out.

I will gladly help you with things like this as you go along, okay? This is important. It would certainly be nice if you could keep your relationship with Frank going. But you cannot stick your head in the sand if lust comes into the picture significantly. In that case, avoidance is about all there is.

Thanks again for the poems.

Love,

David

_______________

Dear David,

Frank flirts with everyone. It's his personality to do so. He just is a flirt, and always has been. Luckily he is a bit less flirty with me. But he gets very intense. Sometimes when we are talking he will look in my eyes in the most intense way. I think I can deal with all that though. He is a good friend, and I am very sure -- 100% sure -- that he is not lusting after me.

I imagine that if I were to get into a serious relationship with a guy, I wouldn't really know what to do. I know it would be a real, intimate relationship, because I wouldn't want anything less. At this point, I don't think I would know how to deal with a relationship of that nature. I'm still getting into friendship love.

I don't think I'm really missing out on much when it comes to the teenage dating scene. To be honest, it doesn't really look very appealing from where I stand.

David, I want to be humble. I have been asking God over and over for months to work on me to make me humble. How do you know when you are humble?

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

I'm glad the thing with Frank isn't lust, because then it is so much easier to be his friend, since that's what you want to be. I would say, go for it. And that means, try to create some time to talk to him. Who knows? You might really be able to help him. There are things you know that he could really benefit from, spiritually. This would be a Divinely productive exchange.

Not that I would ever hold it against a man that he feels lust. Hormones are natural. But it truly can be difficult when one person is looking for one thing, and the other person doesn't want that.

Regarding getting into a relationship with a man: I agree with you that it's good to wait on that for now, since you aren't ready for it. Better to learn to love in the context of friendship first. And yes, the teenage dating scene would not be fun for you.

Someday you will come to know -- even though you already know this -- that you actually have a lot of womanly magnetism. And that means, before you are going to be able to get deep in with men and do a good job of it, you will really have to get your head screwed on good and right -- especially when you are hanging around with people who don't have a full grip on their hormones yet, because you would have to handle a strong chance that they will be attracted to you and get sidetracked in some way that is not good for them.

But if a man sincerely extends himself to you, in a good spirit -- not perfect, but decent -- then maybe that is a God-given opportunity. I feel an obligation to serve those who approach me. That is just my job, to help those who show up. So, most of the time, you kind of have to surrender to that, and do whatever you can reasonably well do with whomever God gives you. And it looks like, for the moment, Frank does fit in that category.

How do you know when you're humble? You're humble when you're humble enough to be constructively self-suspicious, but not so humble as to curse the creature that God has made in you by having an excessively negative self-image.

Now, don't worry about this, as I know you might tend to, because this is just a practical thing: Slow down a bit for me this next week. I have a bunch happening with my friends, and I need to get some work done.

Love,

David

_______________

October 2003

Dear David,

Okay, I can slow down. I'll let this letter be the last one I'll send for a little while. This week I will work on putting everything I've learnt into practice consistently.

Controlling one's mind seems even more difficult now that I'm serious about it. I know it's worthwhile, though. I don't think I've ever looked very closely at what goes on in my mind for any real amount of time. It tends to just do what it wants, and I do nothing to control it. I'm beginning to see how much more I need this than I thought.

By the way, why is my relationship with Frank so important to you?

Love,

Mana

_______________

Dear Mana,

Your relationship with Frank is so important to me because what is important to you is automatically important to me. And, what is important for you is important to me. Relationship is up for you right now. And, as it happened, Frank has offered himself to be your friend. Wow, a man friend!

And as you know, relationship is just an incredible chance to learn things. I, as your friend, and as a reasonably smart guy, see the Frank thing as a great and God-given opportunity for you to grow. It is almost too good to be true that he is such a little star mini-leader in your church group. That is so perfect.

Are you worried that maybe I am not jealous? Or are you thinking I'm pushing you into it? Not really. You never knew what it would mean to have a friend, especially a man, but I am one, so now you know. Or at least, you are sure learning fast.

As your friend, I'm supposed to support you in the things that are good for you, spiritually. And you and I have no doubt, relationship is one of those things.

Ta-ta,

David

 

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