Happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending. – Shakespeare
There is a tree east of the Gateway Community Building. It’s a wild-looking thing, weathered, bleached and burnt, with misshapen, broken branch stubs poking from the trunk. Aloft, huge branches stab the sky in every direction with long, unruly pendulums of mottled leaves. It’s been through fire and storm and looks ragged and old. It reminds me of some of the rough-hewn characters I’ve known, before they went through a Lemurian metamorphosis.
On the other side of the building is a younger tree of the same species that looks like it has been through a Lemurian metamorphosis. It’s been groomed, shaped into a graceful, lovely specimen. That tree reminds me of students and Order members who have the opportunity to grow up with the Lemurian studies.
I was encouraged early on to leave my cares and worries at the gate when I come onto Gateway. That could also have referred to my old world survival tools; best to leave them at the gate too. Something like surrendering your guns to the Sheriff in an old west town. But, accustomed to being defensive, I didn’t know then what that meant.
When I arrived in Ramona, I was a little like the old tree – shaped by adversity. I was recovering from divorce, ill, alone, working at a new job. Though I’d found the Lemurian Philosophy years before, the stubby remnants of old thought still collided with my newer Lemurian approaches. Sometimes I felt alone, misunderstood, misjudged. The very tools that helped me navigate out in the world, such as my New York sense of humor with teasing, sarcastic come-backs, sometimes brought conflict with fellow students or supervisors. Once, I made one of my usual barbed comments while working with a Fellowship member. He quietly mentioned that he used to joke that way too, but he had noticed that the humor is more kindly and warm here, so he changed his approach.
I’m still working on that! But as I spend more time in the atmosphere of the Lemurian Work, my old world survival tools are less important. I’m calmer, more receptive, more accepting of the guidance provided. This is my Lemurian metamorphosis. Gradually I’ve realized that some strategies that helped me navigate in the old world won’t be part of the new civilization. And this ragged, rough-edged, wild, burnt, unruly thing that I am, has taken root here.
Many students come to us tired, wary, scarred by the battle which is life in the old world. We extend our loving acceptance, while realizing that their survival strategies may not apply here. Over time, with kindness and compassion, we try to show them that it’s safe to leave their worries and cares, and their old world survival tools, at the gate. They can pick them up again when they leave if they want, but that need will diminish as their Lemurian metamorphosis works its magic. With the help of my fellow students, the Fellowship and the Elder Brothers, I enjoy watching our new arrivals, rough and smooth, put down their roots, and like these trees, glorify God’s earth with goodness while helping build the foundation of the civilization to come.
Experience is the best teacher; fools learn from no other. Franklin
When I was seven, my family visited an aunt in Chicago, where I discovered a little candy shop and bought five penny candies. Instead of eating them, I conceived my first entrepreneurial scheme: I would take the candy home and sell it to my friends! Glowing with the enriching possibilities of this venture, I carried it out in complete secrecy, and to my delight, my friends at home eagerly snapped up every piece of the candy. I felt prosperously content with the five pennies jingling in my pocket. For about a minute.
Then one of my wiser friends asked me how much I paid for a piece of the candy. “One cent,” I said. “You dumbell, you should have sold them for two cents so you could make money!” he scoffed.
Possibly no one who ever started a business, only to see it fail, ever felt more deflated than I did at that moment.
After awhile I felt the stirrings of commercial instincts again. My friend Larry and I decided to try a lemonade stand one summer. Due mostly to my mother’s culinary skill, it was a great success. She bought the groceries and baked cakes; Larry and I made and sold the lemonade. We split our earnings and then I paid my mother for the groceries.
After a few weeks, Larry proudly showed me a roll of dollars he had saved from our joint venture. I realized with a shock that I had nothing close to this much money. Why? I puzzled over this until my mother pointed out that I was paying for all our supplies, and Larry wasn’t paying a dime. “You’re clueless,” she might as well have said to me, “you should be paying your expenses before you split the proceeds!”
Then I sold greeting cards door to door, visiting friends and neighbors, taking orders for personalized cards, and delivering the boxes. This went well except I misspelled one family’s name and was stuck with the cost of replacing the order. By this time I knew the drill. “You deadhead,” I told myself, “Be careful with the details!”
Years later I organized a co-op in a remote area, providing the only store and steady supply of goods available to three local communities. Did I make more mistakes? Oh, sure. A major one came after the co-op members bought out our supply of rice and I ordered 20 bags to restock. Little did I know then that the breadfruit season was just beginning and no one would need or buy any rice for the next six months. I “ate” that rice. But the co-op was an eventual success for grateful people who had never had a reliable store before, providing jobs for those who worked there, a place to trade their dried coconut meat and buy needed items.
The clueless guy had finally learned a few things by then. And none of those hard-earned lessons has ever been forgotten. They didn’t come from books or lectures, but from experience. They are not just information to me; they are knowledge. And experience teaches best. Our experience makes us who we are, as we convert information into knowledge and, to the extent we use it only for good, into wisdom.
That’s why the Lemurian Philosophy is not just a reading course. It’s a training, with teachers to guide us and evaluations to check our growing understanding and competence in using its principles. By transmuting the Lemurian information into experience, we gain something that will stay with us always, through this life and into all those to come.