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Real Myss - Powell's Bookstore - November 1997

Real Myss - Powell's Bookstore - November 1997

Caroline Myss was in Portland, Oregon at Powells Books on November 23rd, 1997 to give a talk and sign copies of her new book, Why People Don't Heal. Powells employee Robert Gerke had the opportunity to interview Ms. Myss about her book, and about her previous book Anatomy of the Spirit

Robert Gerke (RG): You say healing & transformation is something one has to do on one's own. Given that the American life-style is very individual & isolating, are we Americans uniquely predisposed to this sort of inner work or does our individualistic style tend to cripple us from getting healing energy from other people or other spiritual forces out there?

Caroline Myss (CM): Let's take a look at that. Our style is very individual and yet at the same time we are very drawn to groups. Both are true. As far as the individuality is concerned, I think we are a culture in which pursuit of the self is strongly supported by the culture that has emerged in the last forty years around psychotherapy and spirituality. These two new systems of self exploration introduced into our culture were pathways into the self that really didn't exist before.

For all the independence that we could say Americans had, it was political independence far more than it was intuitive or psychotherapeutic independence. That's relatively new, that's the last forty years. Growing up evolving next to that at the same time was the Feminist Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and other social movements that encouraged the self to really skyrocket.

I know, from lecturing all over the planet, that we are the country where individuals can more easily separate from traditional beliefs than anywhere else I've ever gone. I definitely believe that Americans are more predisposed to self investigation because we have a much more liberal society and we are probably the first culture to genuinely challenge the power our tribes have over our thinking.

Whether it's England, Australia or South Africa, these countries are intrigued but terrified with what you might think of as the 'New Age Movement.' We, however are plunging into it every which way: we're just very comfortable with that. At the same time, I think we are also very comfortable with the group mechanism of it. We've transferred from biological family groups to support groups. We've formed different types of tribes to evolve through group processes, again even as individuals.

This is where I ponder this idea of the self. I think we've definitely taken the deep journey into the 'Who are we,' and 'What am I all about,' and 'What's my life purpose.' We've definitely taken a plunge that way. We've opened up doors in mysticism and exploration of human consciousness in a way that I don't think other cultures have done. Simultaneously, I think because of that, we've built a New Age culture that's very, very strong. Even though it's individual it's strong; both are true simultaneously. Just like we have support systems for individual growth, we have both worlds operating at the same time. Other countries haven't yet reached that point so far.

I was teaching in New Zealand and South Africa this past Summer. When I talked to people, their response was that they would love to work on themselves the way we do. But, they didn't know where to go and they were afraid if they started working on themselves that they wouldn't have any support. That's not what we say here, we just jump right in. Many people, once involved in self analysis, are uncertain of where it's going to take them, but they know they can't go backwards.

RG: I've gotten a lot of insights and excitement out of your work. I've exposed many of my friends to your work and got a few of them interested in it. What can one do besides developing a meditation & prayer practice? On a practical level, what can I do to help stay in touch with the insights you've laid out?

CM: When I put together the 'insights' you mentioned, I deliberately went after something broader than meditation. To me meditation is certainly a wonderful thing to do but it's a spiritual discipline that takes place privately behind closed doors, it's one part of your life. I think it's just as important to study, focus, pay attention, and investigate how you operate in the non-meditative state.

RG: That sounds like the Gurdjieff concept of 'observing yourself.'

CM: Absolutely, but not just 'observing yourself.' Why are you observing yourself? Not just to observe, that's not good enough. Observation to me is a noun, action is a verb. You can observe that every time someone comes around you, your stomach twists in a knot because this person intimidates you. But it is not enough to know that. Once you know that, my next question to you is, 'What are you going to do about that?' You could say, 'You know I'm insecure and blah blah blah.' Then I'd say, 'What are you going to do about that?'

I'm a really strong proponent of action, noticing something doesn't heal squat. I don't care how many observations you make or how good of an observer you become, that does not help you. Nothing helps you until you take an observation and convert it into actual action, then you start making choices for yourself. You start recognizing: I can either remain passive about change and say to myself, 'Obviously I'm projecting, obviously it's something in me.' Or you can say, 'This isn't good enough, I want a much clearer, stronger sense of myself.'

When I teach people, when I have students, or in the books I write, I really say, 'Do something.' Do something about yourself: don't just assume a passive stance. Especially since writing this book Why People Don't Heal, I tell students; 'As we are approaching the turn of the millennium, we've had 40 years of being in a strong therapeutic culture as well as a strong spiritual culture. We've had access to vocabularies we've never had before. It has given us time to form pathways behind our eyes as well as in front of our eyes. We are a whole different culture than our parents were. During this time we've taken a look at the missing links in us, what's made us weak, and what's made us frightened. We've had permission to look into our vulnerabilities.'

I tell my students now,'You've had enough. Now look into your strength.' I am really tired of people coming to me and complaining about their childhood. I've had it. I've had enough of people telling me why they are so weak.

RG: That's your whole 'Woundology' concept which I think is exactly right.

CM: Yes, I've really had it. I feel like saying to someone, 'How long are you going to waste the precious gift of life mourning over the fact that you didn't have this perfect childhood, when in fact nobody has a perfect childhood?'

I have to say that I had a really wonderful childhood but, nevertheless, part of my childhood was a real insecure arena at school. Nobody has a perfect childhood. At some point you've got to say to yourself,'I've got to get over this because I'm wasting my adulthood.' Many people are waiting. They have confused healing with becoming perfect and with making their life perfect. Until they reach that state of perfection they aren't moving on, that is nonsense. It is this kind of attitude I really cannot support anymore. I tell people, 'Get rid of your wishbone and get a backbone. It's time to really move forward with strength instead of identifying yourself by your weaknesses and your wounds.' This is enough.

RG: OK, back to my original question... certainly you're not against meditation but you're saying in itself it's not enough?

CM: You have to jump into yourself, not just to find where the pain is, but to find where the guts are and what you're good at. Nobody is investigating what they are good at. Nobody comes to my workshops and says, 'I've got to celebrate the fact that I am so talented that I love it, and I really love who I am.'

I had six people in this last workshop who came up to me and said variations on the same theme, 'I'm not getting better and I keep looking back into my childhood. I can't find anything I can credit to this. I don't know where things are going wrong, I can't find the negative memory.' Then I said, 'If you can't find it why are you trying to put one in? Why are you doing it? Just go forward with your life and go find something good about your life and stop trying to find something bad about your life.'

RG: In your tapes you talk about the power of gratitude. I think you are completely right about that. Gratitude is a powerful thing.

CM: Absolutely, it's the power of gratitude. You know what else it is? It's the power of getting past shame. Getting past the embarrassment and shame of admitting you're good at something, or that you like who your are. We are embarrassed about that. I say to people all the time, 'God you are good at this.' You know what they say?, 'Oh well it's really nothing,' and I say, 'Stop it - you should say you'd better believe I'm really good at this and this is just the beginning.' We are totally culturized to be embarrassed about what we are good at and to be public with what we are not good at.

RG: I'm intrigued with this idea of how can we support ourselves through our own transformation. Occasionally you'll have a family member who can understand you, often you won't. You'll have some friends who understand you and others who won't. You have various connections that are helpful. Obviously, you're going to make some new friends and lose some old ones. Do you have anything else to say beyond that? Are there divine angels one can look to or inner levels of yourself? Where should one look for support?

CM: I think what you said, you look for it in friends, but you also look for it in yourself. You look for support also in living a life that can give you support. Your creativity can give you support, it doesn't only have to be from a human being. That's one of the reasons I encourage people in the transformation process to not just look for a human being to support them.

Certainly I can't say enough about the support that comes from love. That's number one, as well as the capacity to leave people who can't support you, and you will always find that. You will always find someone who you've bonded to because you've had a wound in common. When you finally say, 'You know what, I think I'm getting over this,' they will not crack open a bottle of champagne. They won't because once you are over this, your friend is afraid that you'll have nothing to talk about together.

The other things that are tremendously supportive are the investigation of a new talent in yourself, creativity, taking up a new hobby, or doing something to signal that a new phase of your life has begun. These are remarkably supportive. It just doesn't have to come from another human being. Life offers us a lot more in many ways then just from support groups and conversation. It can come in a number of other ways. When I tell people that, some people can handle it. Other people are so involved with humans that they can't imagine support other than verbal.

RG: Back on the non-human level, you mention in your book that when we incarnate our soul chooses a dozen archetypes to team up with. For example, how in touch are you with your own archetypes and is that something you advocate people working on?

CM: I love that question. I started to get perceptions in about 1989 when I was doing readings with Norm Shealy on a very regular basis. I began to get impressions of a person's archetypal 'guidance systems' and how they were connected with the struggles they were going through, like the wounded child or the angry warrior, for example. What I saw was that these archetypal connections had a great deal to do with: one - the lessons that person was involved with at the time, two - the power they were supposed to learn to manage at the time, and three - how their physical body was responding to the stress of that lesson.

Everyone has a child archetype: that's a given. This means that everybody has the universal lesson of the maturation of that part of their character...not to make it an adult, but to take the child quote 'fears' and walk them through a maturation process. You will have experiences in your life that are absolutely set up to challenge the weak child inside of you, and that's the archetypal instruction phase.

RG: So you might 'sign up' for a tough parent in that process?

CM: Absolutely. The child has many faces. You can have an orphan, a brat, a wounded one, an abandoned one...the child has many, many faces. I meet a lot of orphans. Of course I'm using the word symbolically, and their behavior is that they are always looking for parental figures to adopt them. Inevitably what's going to happen?

Every single parental figure they get close to will not do it. They will always be disappointed until they themselves are able to challenge this and say,'I have to parent myself.'

My work in archetypes has taken me into the study of what I believe to be absolutely accurate, which is that each of us has a contract of twelve significant archetypes. Four of them are universal to all of us. We all have a child, a prostitute, a saboteur, and a victim. But then we have eight that are really unique to ourselves. We can certainly have the same ones, but you will have your cluster that's unique to you and I will have mine. I have a very strong teacher, you might not have a teacher at all, but there will be a lot of other people that have a teacher archetype. I don't have a mother archetype; there are a lot of women who do, but I don't.

Take a look at your archetypal wheel, all of your twelve. What I teach my students is that you can actually outline the lessons that are going to come into your life based on the evolution of each of those archetypes in your life.

RG: How do you find these archetypes in yourself?

CM: By studying the concurrent, repetitive patterns in your life of the lessons you need to learn.

RG: How many different archetypes are there? As many as there are occupations?

CM: No, a couple dozen maybe. In one sense it's sort of paradoxical because there are a given stronghold of solid archetypes that have numerous faces. For example, the Goddess manifests as the crone or the oracle. She's got a lot of personas, there is a lot of clothing in her wardrobe. There is the maiden, the mother, they all come under that female energy. Then you have the male, and he can be a knight, warrior, or the hero, for example.

RG: So once you've identified your archetypes, then you don't go down the same 'mistake roads' again, or do you go down them with more consciousness? What's the plan?

CM: It's so rich. This is one of the things I really enjoyed putting in this book. Once you get a sense of the archetypal force that you're involved with, then you can detach a little bit from your life, and recognize that you have to go through this certain type of stress. You realize that you have to go through this learning, that you have to go through this experience. Therefore, whether I go through it with you or anybody else, quite frankly, is irrelevant.

So if the lesson is one of me learning about my victim and challenging that, does it really matter if you are the one who victimizes me or if it was Tom, Mary or Jane? It doesn't matter. They are just messengers in my journey. If I can step out and see that the victim has got to go through that, then it makes it 100 times easier to forgive my victimizers than condemn them.

RG: It's a way of depersonalizing them.

CM: Absolutely. That embodies the lessons of two of the greatest teachers that we've ever had: Buddha and Jesus. It fits right in there - Don't shoot the messenger, they are just trying to help you out. I think it's incredibly profound. If you understand that, it gives you what you need to let go of a wound. It also means your life is going to change in the blink of an eye, and that's what makes people so terrified.

RG: You change your parents from being these tormentors to being like the weather. The weather is something impersonal that you can't control. You just learn to deal with it?

CM: You could say you change them into actors in a kind of life drama. That doesn't mean at all that you ever stop wishing that your parents had been different, because probably everyone will wish that. You always want a close parental relationship. That in of itself is an archetype, the close tribe, the close family.

What it does allow you to do is step out of it a little bit and look at it from a larger perspective and think, 'what did that person go through when he/she was growing up? What lessons did they have to learn? What did I represent to them? What was really going on here? Was my mother more the child, and I had to be the mother? Did we have a reverse situation going on?' Those types of insights are incredibly powerful.

I've found that this material is an incredibly valuable tool. Its also a very frightening one because it ignites change. People don't like to change, that's why they don't like to heal.

Inherently, we can begin to reorder our perceptions and allow some airspace in. Rather than perceptions like, 'Oh look how hurt I've been. Let me see from a different angle how hurt I've been,' we can change them into perceptions of, 'I wonder if there was a reason for this? What can I learn from it? How many other people have to learn this? How am I going to move beyond this?' Thoughts like that dilute it instantaneously.

This is terrifying for people because their life will have to change. If they can get to the point where they are willing either by force or by illness to recognize 'I've got to get out of here', seeing the situation symbolically is the quickest way out. The quickest way out is to get absolutely impersonal and then take up your bed and walk.

RG: Are you up on the Mayan calendar? In the year 2013 what do you think will happen?

CM: I give a lot of credit to those types of prophecies. Where I have to walk cautiously is that I'm never quite sure how to interpret what was said. I do take seriously the year, and the whole idea that cultures of that kind of spiritual mindset genuinely had access to prophetic data.

These were cultures in which the quote 'prophet archetype' genuinely led the way...Ezekiel, Elija, this was a prophet era. For the Mayans, Native Americans and other peoples, prophecies were normal for them at that time. For the year 2013, I'm sorry to say that I feel that this is the end point in which Nature can recover. I think that we're already past a point where we can catch up with what we've made. I think the destruction has been so severe and so thorough that by the year 2013, we might well reach the point where we are in global fights over water rights and fights over all kinds of ecological system mechanics because they won't be working anymore.

I think simultaneously, we've already begun to see that Nature is kicking back. Volcanoes are erupting, there's the El Nino situation, this and that. I think things are only going to get worse and worse. Every year we are going to have more floods, more droughts, and more imbalances. I don't think that it's going to stop. I don't think this is a phase, I think it's going to get more extreme every single year. I think that the economic system, as in all the financial problems in Asia now, will continue to get worse.

The situation is much worse, I think, than we can even realize. Every single day, I think there is such a shift in the stability factor. Things go up and down like it's as if we've been electrocuted every single day. You can see it in the imbalances on the planet.

I think that's one of the reasons why people find it so difficult to hold center and not be depressed one hour and then be fine the next hour. They're happy one minute, then they are unhappy for the next three hours. People grab onto a state of ecstasy. If they are happy one day, one day, they are grateful.

We're living in the shadow side of ourselves so severely. We're living in a time where we are more interested in the management of each other's dishonor than the maintenance of our own honor. We are in the shadow side of humanity so deeply that it in itself prevents a healthy culture. That alone is its own crisis.

When I look at the year 2013, according to the Mayan calendar, this is the end. It's a wipe out. I think that something will happen. I follow visions and I really do believe in the Madonna. Her M.O.[style] has been that she shows up right before global crises: right before WWI, and right before WWII. She tends to appear to children, so nobody can charge them with having found the material and putting together a fabrication. Part of what makes the messages so significant is the innocence of the children's minds.

Madonna has told these children at Medjugorje [Bosnia] that there will be seven years of mercy followed by seven years of justice. I don't know when the mercy period is ending but I suspect soon. She also said, 'I'm not coming back to this planet anymore,' as if she wipes her hands of this. That, to me, is pretty terrifying.

RG: This intrigues me. Are you an optimist or a pessimist or what are you?

CM: Everybody asks me that. I'd have to say I'm kind of a realist. I am definitely not someone who thinks everything works out in the end and that everything will just be fine. No, I don't do that. I think that we are in for a lot of trouble. Do I think we'll survive? I don't know.

What is survival? On the scale of this galactic arena of life that we don't even know how big it is, how important are we on this planet? I think against that background, if you're asking whether this grain on the beach is crucial to the survival of the whole beach, I'd have to say not so. If immortality is a fact, which I believe it is, what difference does it make if we don't survive the next twenty years? If we don't physically survive, does it really make that much difference? No.

RG: So you're OK with dying?

CM: Well, you want to know the actual truth? I'd be totally fine if I did it with my family. I don't want to be left behind. I would not want to go on living, and I don't think I could very well if my whole family got wiped out: my brother, my mother, my nieces, and my nephews. I would virtually become a useless human being or a very bitter one...certainly a very non-productive one.

So if all of us had to be taken at the same time, in some blast all right, if that's how it is, that's how it is. I just don't want to be the one left behind. I don't want to have to mourn for them.

So am I afraid of death? You know what, I don't think so really. I'm afraid of dying in a sense because it's painful, it's horrible, and usually disease ridden. If I was going to die, I'd just as soon not see it coming. I'd take that death. I think the whole idea of disintegrating and finding yourself bedridden and all, God that is horrid. But being dead, no that doesn't bother me. I've had a near death experience. It really does exist.

RG: Back into the world of the living, what do people project onto you that isn't true?

CM: People forget I am just like them. They are beginning to say, 'Oh you have a temper? You get tired?' I had a workshop I was doing the other day. I had been on a long book tour. I try to have a very open, pleasant personality, because that is natural to me. But there comes a time, there comes a moment when you just can't have another conversation, you just can't.

I operate like a car, which means I can go at ninety miles an hour until there actually is no fuel in the tank. I don't start slowing down at a 1/4 of a tank. When I slow down it's boom, it stops and I'm down.

So I'm sitting at this table and this woman sits next to me and it's dinner time. I had taught all day, and I was hugely tired as two full weeks of activity was catching up with me. She sits down and starts telling me this involved story about herself. I looked at her and said, 'Can I be honest with you for a minute?' She said, 'Sure.' I said, 'I'm not listening to a word you are saying. I actually can't hear a word you are saying. I feel you are telling me something very important to you and I'm not doing any justice to it. You can tell me it later but not now.'

I actually told her tell me later, I want to honor your story and all she heard me say was, 'I'm not listening to you.' So I got a letter from her in which she said she was so disappointed in my character. I've reached a point in a lot of people's minds that I'm not allowed any tired zone and I'm supposed to be able to make time for everybody. I did a workshop one time that was a big mistake. We had to do it on one of those entertainment ocean liners because we couldn't find another place to do it, and that was our mistake. On the off hours they had this little casino and I threw in some quarters into the slot machines there. It was 11:00 pm at night which is definitely my time. One of the students came up to me and said, 'Can I talk to you about something?' I said, 'No, it's 11:00 pm, leave me alone.'

The next day, the same person said, 'You know, I would have never taken you for a gambler.' I said, 'Good, because I'm not.' I looked at her and said, 'The only reason you're saying that is because I didn't stop putting quarters in that slot machine when you asked to see me. I'm not going to let you get away with what you just said.' The other thing is now I go to workshops and people actually say, 'Oh I touched her.' What is that? What kind of stuff is that? I mean I can't stand that stuff. I tell people when they introduce me to not say anything foo foo, I don't like that. Just say, 'Here is Caroline.' I do my talk and I leave.

I work so hard at this, I don't dress fancy deliberately. I won't come off in any pretentious way, shape or form, because I know what happens when people do that. I will not teach in such a way that says, 'You have to stay in contact with me otherwise you will never get enlightened.' I don't do any of that stuff because I don't want any of those responses. It's incredibly uncomfortable for me. It's so uncomfortable for me there aren't words for it. I don't have the wardrobe for that stuff. I'm as common as mud. I'm not a glamor person, I'm not any of that stuff.

RG: To me that's one of your appeals, that you have 'New Age' concepts combined with street smart reality.

CM: So when people start that projecting stuff I just tell them, 'Knock it off, do me a favor and please knock it off.'

RG: Do you read people anymore?

CM: No I do not. There are too many people who want readings, and I can't accommodate that. A couple of years ago, before I started writing Anatomy of the Spirit, I thought maybe I'll start doing a couple of readings. I said that to a workshop group and there were about six hundred people in that workshop. Within one month I had almost 1,000 requests. Who could do that? People would be booked from now until the year 2001 with me.

I'm on the road now [Sunday] and I'll be busy until I go home Wednesday. I'm home Thursday, Friday, Saturday, then I'm on the road again Sunday. I don't want those days at home booked. I've been going since the middle of October. I don't even want to talk to anybody on those days except my family. I won't answer the phone. This is my precious time and I have so little of it that I'm finally getting to the point where I can say I have boundaries and I do not want to talk to you on a holiday.

I really resent people who won't respect that, because I've gotten to the point where you feel like you're giving your lifeblood, you're giving your personal life. I have a relationship at home. He never sees me, so what little time we have together is ours. I'm not compromising that for anybody. I'm not going to do it, I've done it for years. And, I'm taking 1999 off.

RG: The whole year?

CM: Yes, and I'm taking a group of people to Egypt.

RG: Why Egypt?

CM: Because of this organization called 'Power Places.' They put together workshops in power places. They take people to places like the Celtic territory, the Mayans area, etc. They asked me if I would like to take a bunch of students on a two week workshop to Egypt. I said, yes, and it's scheduled for January of 1999. 1999 is the year I want to write Contracts, the book on all the archetypal dynamics that I've been working on for seventeen years.

RG: Contracts will be the full title of the book?

CM: No, Sacred Contracts, The Agreements We Make Before We Incarnate.

RG: That's your next work?

CM: No, I'm putzing around in a book now. My next book is called, Invisible Acts of Power. My Contracts book should be out at the end of 2000.

The question is [new topic] do we think that the people in our culture will become a strong enough culture that they will take all the therapeutic assistance they've had and switch it around and start putting their energy into....

RG: Healing the culture as opposed to themselves?

CM: Yes, that's exactly right. I look at this one community that I'm very close to, which is Findhorn. I love that place but it has really fallen on it's face. The reason its taken a real nose dive is that it started to attract resident members whose focus was themselves. As the months and years went by in the eighties this really gripped. Then in Nineties they became resentful of the outside people who would come there. Those outside people were going there for an education, and they were paying the community's bills, yet the resident members were still resentful.

Now that's exactly what I see here in people who decided they would go into consciousness. They don't want to do anything about it but in themselves.

I'll tell you what else intrigues me is how afraid people are of being the conscious person that they say they want to be. I have started to ask students, 'How many of you are really interested in becoming conscious?' and all their hands go up. Then I ask them, 'How many of you would be willing to give up everything in order to become what you want to become?' Now they kind of think about that because inherent in their gut they know the way they answer this is what's going to happen, which is the reverse of a prayer.

We know in our gut if we say, 'Yes I really would give up everything for this,' somehow it will play out that way. So if we sit back and say, 'Well I'm not sure,' what we're trying to do is slow down the speed that we will get to the goal, or to give ourselves the illusion that it's more in our hands then we think it is. But what I'm so intrigued with is that people like to visit. This is what they like, they like to visit consciousness in a bookstore like this.

RG: Someplace you can leave?

CM: Yes, they like this, they like the consciousness bookstore. They like to sit here and have a consciousness organic cup of coffee and then they like to return to their life and deal with the two worlds inbetween via therapy. Their thoughts are, ' I can't get to consciousness because this life is still bothering me.' Not so. They can get there. They don't want to because the rules are, we all know, that the journey between that world and this one is a solo flight.

I can't become conscious on the behalf of someone else. If you and I were a team, I can't do it for you. You can't do it for me. Which means if I really start walking across that bridge it's going to be by myself, and maybe you'll come with me and maybe you won't. I've got to be willing to leave you behind and you've got to be willing to let me go if that's the commitment we've made, first to ourselves and then through each other as it were.

RG: Do you think our current situation is like the title of James Hillman's book: We've had a 100 Years Of Psychotherapy And The World's Getting Worse?

CM: [laughing] That's something I like, I could endorse that.

RG: We have all this introspection. Are people going to rise to the occasion and use the power they hopefully have gained, or are they just going to keep....

CM: You know Robert, I think that's the core of my message. Are you actually going to do something now or are you going to hang out in your wounds? Are you actually really going to do something? Maybe that's why my work is enjoying, what, seven minutes of popularity right now, because I'm screaming at people,'Enough is enough! You've got to get on with things. You just can't stay there.' Do I really think it's going to happen? I sure hope so. I think that there are people who are actually kicking in gear. Maybe energetic mathematics are in our favor. One healthy person beats a thousand...

RG: Well there is the critical mass theory or the hundredth monkey idea. I'd be curious what the actual numbers are.

CM: Yes, but I certainly know that I don't support a wounded person anymore. Except there is one category I don't tamper with. I would never go up to a parent whose lost a child and say, 'Snap out of it.' I don't mess with that one. What I will say to a parent in that case is, 'There comes a point in which you realize your life is going on. You don't forget your child but your life is going on. You have to find a way to make your life go on minimally at best but at least start somehow.' They are in a different ball park than someone who is still getting over their bad childhood.

RG: Any last thoughts in closing ?

CM: I feel like I'm telling people on one hand to take out your life insurance, and that on the other hand there is hope. I'm an endless believer in faith and I deeply believe that the Gods are behind survival. I also think that the Gods are a very independent force that say, 'Hey look, we've given you the best we've got. It's up to you to listen to it.'

I think we have a very parent-child relationship with God that says ultimately daddy will come and pick up the pieces. I don't believe that anymore. I don't believe that at all, so I really think we could be looking at some traumatic years.

Every time I turn on the sink faucet and run water, I get this impression to be grateful for every drop because there is going to be a day when nothing comes out of it. It's an image that haunts me. I have to say that I think we are really going to have rough times, if for no other reason than to see if whether or not we can live by the principles we've been saying we can live with: sharing, brotherhood, forgiveness, and that all is one. I'm not sure if we can do that.

Today after my plane landed, the stewardess said that there were some people who had to catch a connecting flight. She asked if everybody would please sit in their seats and let them come out. Do you think anybody did that? They couldn't even give a person 15 seconds.

I just marvel at the shape we are in. I'm just hoping that at some point, we can become congruent. I'm not congruent yet, I've got to work with myself. I don't want to present myself like I'm one thing but really I'm different. I'd have to say I'm trying every single day to walk a little bit more the way I'm teaching, because I'm going to get clobbered if I don't. I don't want to get clobbered. I want to do the best I can. So my last words to people would be, 'You'd better start. You've got to live according to the truth that you've got in your head now. I think the years of giving us a break are over. They are just over.' You know it and I know it, there is no more. What do you believe?

RG: Serious global economic problems, ecological catastrophes, nuclear war, or rampant viruses are all very real possibilities.

CM: I don't know why I'm laughing, they are all so bad.

RG: It's a miracle we are doing as well as we are. At the same time, I try to enjoy life immensely.

CM: I do too. We didn't get to that point. I adore being alive. I have a ball. I love my friends, I love my family, I love gambling...that's what my family and I do when we are together. We start these ridiculous card games. We have these gourmet feasts and play card games for nickels. I think the most I've ever won is two dollars & fifty cents.

'Real Myss' by Robert Gerke. Copyright 1998

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