The Gathering Room: Drawing Light From Darkness

– Hey, everybody – Hey, everybody – How you doing out there? – I wonder if they’re there or not – I don’t know – Well we can’t really know – How could we know – Are they there, is Donna there? Is Wendy from Guelph there, at least? – I bet Don is not there, because Donna – Is here – Is here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains with us At a place called the Art of Living Retreat Center, which you should all go to because it’s awesome – And its so beautiful – Beautiful, up here in the mountains And the staff here is just unbelievably They’re all like, Jesus, right? – Ooh, look at them aaaw, hello, hello Ooh, let’s see, well see Wendy Powells just got in ahead of me So I was just going to jump in at the beginning, you guys to say that, you should all check out Martha’s piece in Maria Shriver’s Sunday paper today ‘Cause it is on the hot topic and I think it will help everyone a lot And, so go check that out If you just Google Maria Shriver Sunday paper, and you should also subscribe to it ‘Cause it’s good – And now Martha Beck, ladies and gentlemen, – Hello, how you guys doing? We still don’t, let’s see, how many people we do, do we have our hundred yet? – [Martha and Rowan ] No – Not even close – [Rowan] We changed the time on them So – Yeah, we changed the time because I just finished presenting a seminar and then I have to run Well, I have to be driven by Row, to the airport in Charlotte (Martha squeals) To fly back to my new magic place in Pennsylvania – Someone told me today that they like it when I do this (Rowan laughs) So I’m just going to do it more – It’s just constellate And not just me, anyone, anyone who is presenting Row’s She’s going to become the bee live bomer – Yes – So, yeah, I seen people coming in Oh, Donna, who was here is on a car from the airport, but she’s still with us Take that Wendy from Guelph, did we see Wendy from Guelph yet Wendy, I love you I don’t care if you’re here or not – [Rowan] Or in Guelph – Or in Guelph Or wherever Guelph is I still love you I just don’t even care about Guelph – I think Wendy Powell, is Wendy from Guelph – Aaah – Is that you Wendy from Guelph, Wendy? – Yeah, oh, thank you, Wendy – She was first, sorry Donna – In Sunday paper – Oh, the rivalry continues So, yeah, we’re having a great time up here and we’ve got 151 people on, so let’s go ahead and start So, the title of today Donna says, “I love Wendy too.” The title of today’s topic is, pulling light from, through darkness, from darkenss – [Rowan] Drawing light – Drawing light – [ Martha And Rowan] Through darkness – Sifting light, through stygian, no, it’s drawing light through darkness And I shouldn’t be joking about it because it’s been a week Hasn’t it? Hasn’t it, been a week? For women, for men, for survivors of assault on both sides of the gender line, for people who have fluid gender, for people Like, it’s been a moment that I think, we’ll look back on as historical I think that image of Dr. Ford being sworn in, with that face, you know, knowing that she was, as she said, terrified to be there, knowing that she is now in hiding from death threats, and, and then everything that followed I think it’s not going to fade from history quickly I think those are iconic images of a conflict that has been brewing in the human species since time began And is now coming to a kind of crisis point And I think the reason (Martha coughs) Is that for the first time, see, I’ve talked before about the pyramid of power, which has created almost all social structures that, become large, tribal bands often have a very flat hierarchy There’s no, there’s not a lot of people dominating other people, because the band is small and everyone is needed to survive And, and it takes a certain number of people, before it starts organizing into pyramids, ruled by the strongest, the most brutal, the most willing to dominate others So, all societies have had this pyramid shaped form, but, I’ve talked before about how I think there, there’s a new society coming, which will be based It’ll be shaped like the flat surface of a pond And everybody’s energy will enter that pond like a droplet that creates waves of impact And the degree of power depends on the degree of presence So, that’s a whole different topic My point is, that technology, has advanced to the point where the power to speak to the world,

is now in the hands of anyone with a smartphone or a friend with a smartphone, anywhere in the world So this is why Thomas, it’s Thomas Wolfe I can’t remember the name of the guy who won the, you know, the Pulitzer prize two years ago for writing a book called, The World is Flat And what he meant, was that technology has given one individual, no matter how impoverished, the potential to speak to nations Massive amounts of wealth, it took hundreds of thousands of man hours, to take the message of one person, out to millions of people Now, every single one of us can do it with the touch of a button So, it is a different environment, into which this age old conflict erupted And it triggered the ever loving socks off me because some of you may know that I wrote a book in which I sort of called someone to account for the sexual violence that I experienced And, and in by, by implication called, I questioned an entire authority struction, structure in a major organized religion And, you don’t do that without getting death threats and credible death threats, is what the, the detectives called them So, I’ve, in a small way been in those shoes I wrote about this in Maria Sunday paper, so sorry for the reiteration, but it really triggered me and it triggered, my loved ones, and it triggered, the people at the seminar where I was teaching And I know that as I go into the airport world today, I’m going to be walking through a sea of people who are also triggered, for various reasons There were women who sat, stood up at this retreat and said, that they were afraid of all men There were the sweetest men, you can imagine, taking care of us, participating in the group And I’m sure hearing all men are bad or all men are dangerous, is, is as painful to them, as anyone, as the pain of anybody, hearing that a group they belong to, is universally bad So, wow, the intensity of this strife, and the way it’s centered in such a powerful and insignificant way, on the, on the Supreme court, you know, which is even, I think more powerful than the presidency – [Rowan] Absolutely – Or Congress or anything I mean, the judiciary is it’s just a few people, you know, and their personal biases have impact on millions and millions of individuals And (Martha clears throat) So you couldn’t ask for a more dramatic display of this particular type of conflict Now, if you’re out there going, “But what about him, he was crying too.” You know, compassion for him, I hear that I also agree with those who say that Dr.Ford had to be absolutely without emotion, absolutely credible, absolutely calm Or she would have been immediately discounted, where judge Kavanaugh got to be, raging and self-pitying And I also know, from experience and from study that people who commit extreme harm without conscience And I’m not saying he’s one of them, but I’m not saying he isn’t People with personality disorders who are the only guys who assault people by the way, their primary self, their primary emotional state, is self pity And they cry a lot, and they feel victimized all the time They are not like, “Haha I am the evil one and I will overcome you.” They’re like, “It was not my fault, I am being attacked, now you know” Sorry, sorry, my energy is getting too high (Martha laughs) And the computer may break So, I also know that there are people who are falsely accused by women or, or men with personality disorders, who make stuff up I think that’s very, very rare, but I also, when I was going through this myself, I remember thinking, I was reading judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was helping create the system of legality in our country And one of the things he wrote was, “It is better for a hundred guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be imprisoned.” And I thought, “Yeah, that’s the way the justice system should be biased.” If you’re going to put people in prison, you should really, really know that they are guilty And if some innocent ones go free to keep it other innocent ones from imprisonment Okay On the other hand, all the healing systems

So they embraced by the populace that the medical system, the psychiatric system, it’s better for a hundred people who are making stuff up to be believed than for one person to be disbelieved when she’s telling the truth Okay, so this is where I sort of came down on this And I just want to say, this is not a case of someone being put in prison This is a case of someone, who needs to be the most upstanding specimen of humanity that we have, being put in a position of enormous power or not There is no question of him being imprisoned So – [Rowan] It’s a promotion – Yeah, it’s a question of, does he get promoted or not? (Martha chuckles) Does he get to have power over millions of people or not? So I’m not able to hide my bias, today I’m not And I think the situation made a lot of us unable to hold our bias in a bands because you can’t say, “well, there’s good on both sides.” Not when the decision is whether or not someone gets put on the Supreme court You either think he should be on it or think he shouldn’t be on it Neither, there’s reasonable doubt, that he’s the right person to be there, but there’s not So, I hope I’m not inciting further range and stuff What I wanted to say, was that there is nothing darker, than this face of human interaction, nothing This is, this is, another version of human trafficking and child abuse and cross, you know, forced prostitution, even slavery I mean, there are, there are categories of, of domination and abuse that are sort of embodied in this conflict all over the place And there are those of us who feel like this should not even be a question Whether someone should be allowed on the Supreme court with a reasonable possibility that they’ve committed a felony and not been prosecuted It feels really, really like the lunatics are running the asylum It feels really dark, really, really dark And my first reaction was to go into despair Not to go out and try to, hating, men because I don’t want to do that Not to try to radicalize the system because I’ve watched radicalism grow into the same kind of violence that it hopes to eradicate So, we basically go into a fight or flight response, which is fight, flee or freeze Okay Some of us want to fight I’ve felt that, that outrage Some of us want to run, let the survivors take care of themselves I’m out of this, I can’t handle this darkness Number three, freeze I’m in despair, I’m going to bed, I’m pulling the covers over my head I had all three of those responses As a survivor myself, and as I’d lay there in the dark, with the covers pulled over my head, I went back through what I’ve learned over and over again, dealing with my own experience of assault, dealing with what happened when I told, which was worse, in many ways And then dealing with seeing the replication of that, over and over and over and over, year after year, decade after decade I went back inward, because I believe, that what we see in the world, we can fix in ourselves And if there is darkness that we perceive in the world, the way to find the light is to go to what we truly are, which is not a bunch of monkeys in socks, beating each other over the head with bananas or whatever, and looting and pillaging each other and violating each other That’s not what we are in our essence What we are in our essence is light What we are in our essence is truth What we are in our essence is ultimate compassion And what we are in our essence can not be harmed, can not be harmed That light can’t be extinguished Darkness doesn’t have that power If you walk into a room with the sun blazing through the windows and you take a candle and you blow it out The darkness doesn’t spread to the room But if you take a candle, into a darkened room with no sunlight That little light will start to abate the darkness It will start to eradicate it It will fill it with itself It actually doesn’t fight the dark It merely fills it with itself Love does not attack injustice

In the end, it fills injustice with itself, love But do not think that that means saying, we love people who commit assault and we let them run the country It means, that we follow the light within us, which tells us how to deal with injustice And sometimes that means saying, no, it means saying no to someone else handling our bodies in ways that are not right And it means saying no, to people handling society, in ways that are not right It is the essence of civil disobedience, whether it’s you alone yourself, or whether it’s you in community with others And you know, Dr. Martin Luther King jr, was, was one of the greatest examples of this We find the light inside ourselves And then we gather, and all these flames being lit, because we will not be violent, because we will not turn assault on assault, because we insist on love and we will not allow injustice to go unnoticed or uncommented on When we gathered together, we become a blaze and it’s not even just all those little flames together It’s that, as we gather together, the shades get ripped off the windows and the sun streams in Because that is the eternal light, and it does not assault And it does not rage And it does not dominate it illuminates So my practice was to go inside and find the little flicker of a candlelight that was still blazing inside myself and focus only on that For quite a while, I just asked to be alone I asked, Row to a leave so that I could meditate And I found that flame, and I started to pay attention only to it And I realized, I’ve realized a long time ago, that we have, what’s called an attention aperture And when we focus it on darkness, we’ve blocked out everything Well, when we focus it on anything We block out everything else So as Jack Gilbert, the poet wrote, “To let injustice be the full measure of our attention is to praise the devil.” So I focused everything I had on the flame inside me, which said to me, “Sweetheart, it’s okay first of all, I was there when everything happened to you Secondly, you are this light What happened to your body What happened to your mind Could not touch me, could not change your soul one aorta And I am stronger than darkness, says the light calmly.” And then I went over, all covered with tears and snot and started talking to about a hundred people And I told them where I was, because I’m on an integrity cleanse and I can’t lie And the gathering of all those candels, of all those lights, became a blaze And I started to believe, that because things are different because we can communicate now, because there is solidarity and there’s honesty, and there is openness This time’s going to be different Whatever happens with Kavenaugh, this time it’s going to be different because it’s the match that lights, the flame, that blazes through tens of millions of souls And they can’t bring us all down Not when we’re together, it’s going to rip the shades off the windows That’s what I think So wherever you are, I hope you can find that light inside yourself And I hope you can feel it burning brighter because right now there are 222 of us in communion Now some of you may be upset, like what I said or the way I said it That’s okay Again and I’m not perfect But I hope you can hear that at my heart When I’m trying to extend to you, whoever you are including sexual predators is love, not the acceptance of assault, but love, the love that wants to save cruelty from itself And if we can feed that flame, we will be, we will be the light that dissipates this darkness, once and for all, perhaps So given that, I still have a few minutes, I talk and talk and talked because I didn’t really know what time it was, actually ‘Cause it’s a weird time But – [Rowan] Ten minutes – I’ve 10 minutes, to answer questions So if anybody has anything, that you want to put up there, go ahead and put up your comment or question

and we’ll talk about it – Can I say something while we’re waiting for- – Please do – Questions, is Martha said this, but I just want to really underline it that where, where the way I’ve been working through this, I keep coming back to this This power that we have is our voices And if we can bring that, the power through love through calm, through having done, the things that Martha is talking about in ourselves and share it and create these gatherings and keep tweeting, and keep sharing and keep this vortex of love and strength together It’s bigger This is bigger, than that Those hearings, as horrific as they are And I just feel so moved And so galvanized by women and men who care about this and who want to see a different kind of power structure, not just in this country, but in my country, in all countries You know, keep talking and, and, and I would suggest, I don’t know if this is too much But, look for opportunities to use your voice in a way that is not the same as, you know, be Dr. Ford in your manner And let’s use her as a – Now look for questions – I don’t usually do this – Okay, here we go Nina – Okay, Nina, “How do we talk with people that we completely disagree with? People that say, ‘What about my husband? Does this mean someone can accuse him and ruin his life?” Martha help me find the light in this question.” Well, what I would say is, there is such an overwhelming bias toward not believing that people have done bad things That the only way I could possibly endanger your husband, is if he had done something, that deserved to be brought to the light It’s very, very rare, that someone can successfully bring off a false accusation We’re told that it happens all the time, but the people who say that are the people being accused They’re not the people you really want to go to, but I promise you I had an experience at Byron and Katie’s nine day at school We had to do a worksheet, on a group of people we feared And I chose sociopaths And then, sorry, this is a spoiler alert After you do this worksheet, you have to dress up like the person you’ve chosen So there were people dressed as terrorists There were people dressed as gunmen, you know, like a lot of different groups Some of them were afraid of like other racial groups or whatever And they had to put on that countenance, and that, then you go in and you mingle And the experience is supposed to create empathy, with the very people you’re afraid of And I was like, “Sociopaths, how do I dress up as a sociopath? They blend in, they look like the rest of us.” And then I thought, “But what they do is they mess with people So what am I going to do?” I thought I could steal things from people, and give them would have give them back later But I couldn’t, I couldn’t make myself do it I thought, “Oh, a lot of people are off sugar here I could put candy bars in their bags, their canvas bags, that they give you.” And then I thought, “No, I couldn’t.” I just didn’t have it in me So what I did was I got candy bar wrappers, and I took them candy out, threw it away, and then went around and putting candy bar wrappers in people’s bags as my sociopathic behavior And I learned, I did not come to feel like a sociopath, and “Oh, aren’t sociopaths wonderful And they’re just feeling hurt inside.” Nooo What happened is that my fear of sociopaths went way down because it was almost impossible, for me to do something like that without being seen I, and I ended up thinking, “Oh, no I’m going to have to kill that person Now I’m going to have to kill that person.” Because people kept seeing me, even though I was really taking pains to be cautious The fact is, that when violations happen, there’s usually evidence And when there’s absolutely no evidence, the justice system is so biased that as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A hundred guilty men go free to prevent one innocent man from being prosecuted.” Everything is biased to protect the innocent, even if it means that the guilty go free, as a result, many of the guilty go free I still think that’s a wiser choice than just locking people up But the innocent need not fear If you are innocent, you’d need not fear, because Dr. Ford is about as credible as a person can get And still people are like, “I don’t know, you know.” Like, it’s much more likely for a guilty man to go free than it is for an innocent man to be abused and, or to be falsely, successfully prosecuted And you can just tell people that, like, well,

if your husband did something then he’s in danger, if he didn’t, he’s not, you know It’s far more likely that he was molested and he’s accuser, his molester never will be prosecuted Okay, so, and nothing that you can say is well, what if my husband, what if your husband is assaulted, and he needs the help of just people? Wouldn’t you like to see a system that will listen to him? ‘Cause all of us are more likely to be victims than we are to be persecutors Okay So Karen says, “How do we energize to do the work, to be peaceful warriors in a light of the current culture and feeling outnumbered?” We just did an exercise, where this in the seminar I was teaching And some of you who are coaches or who have been to some of my live presentations have seen this I have to say it to you now But when we do, I do it in live presentations, because you can feel it in the body We do this little simple exercise It’s kind of like an arm wrestle And you, first you test your strength against another person And it’s usually pretty evenly matched and people are struggling against each other And then one of the two people goes into a state of deep connection to love And I usually have people like, remember a moment when they were in total peace with a with a sleeping animal or something, very, very nonthreatening And when they felt one and suddenly the person who is in that state of peace becomes able to absolutely crush the other person with literally no effort Well, tiny, tiny bit of effort It’s just that it is phenomenal And it is like magic And it’s inexplicable Well, you can explain it as consciousness being in charge of matter, which I think is the truth, but it teaches people And it’s taught me over and over how going in to one’s own integrity, stillness, love connection, keeping your state of consciousness and your state of mind completely focused on the oneness with something you love means that you barely have to pay attention to all the horror to start changing it To start you create you generate a field, which is very powerful and fear and hatred and aggression also generate fields But compared to the energy of love, they are inconsequential Very few people have been able to hold that, but people who do it like Nelson Mandela or Dr. King or Malala used to fly in Taliban, occupied Afghanistan or Pakistan They’ve been able to change the world, by staying in that place of complete integrity, complete compassion, complete power So from there we act, and we may do a lot of stuff We may put people in prison, we may stand up and speak out We may take people into our homes and comfort them I don’t know what it’s going to make us do, but when we connect to love, it acts with vast intelligence to bring the light through the darkness – Beautiful I just want to hark back for a second, to Martha’s point about the, it’s far less likely for an innocent person to be prosecuted or imprisoned And I just do want to raise Kellie’s point, because it is, is a question of power – Mmh hmm – And power structures and not just gender And I think that the point is very well taken Kellie, that, that there, there is so much injustice that needs be – That’s a really good point – Yeah – A really good – So this isn’t a gender, this isn’t just gender This is the hour – It is much more likely that a man will be believed as opposed to a woman And this is sociological research This is not my opinion It is much more likely that a man will be believed, if it’s a, he said, she said thing, and it is much more likely that a person of color will be ignored, denied, or falsely accused than a white person, that is just what’s happening here And as a result, people who are the most oppressed, it’s like a black belt test for the development of power and compassion You know, you have to all those folks, who marched with Dr. King, mostly African American, some white, all of them had to dig way, way down, through the levels of rage and natural, just horror and outrage They had to dig so far down that they found the light and nurtured the light in themselves until it dissipated that amount of pain inside the self And then, they gathered, and then they were able to create some change But you know, the work continues I will not say the fight continues, because they weren’t fighting They were gathering, they were loving and they were standing for truth

or telling their stories They were sharing solidarity comradery, and they were speaking to the whole world and saying, “We won’t be silenced and you can’t kill us all.” And now we can do that, so much more easily you guys Now let, let us gather not in rage and persecution of the persecutors Because that makes us them, let’s gather to tell our stories in the open and to reach for the light in ourselves and then offer it to others and ask for help finding the light, If we can only feel the darkness And together, we start to blaze and it will be a blaze such as never has been seen before in the history of the human species Am sorry I didn’t take a ton of questions today I guess I had a lot on my mind, but I hope you’ll keep talking after I sign off, long after I sign off Keep talking every day, keep processing this every day Because the grassroots really can change the world And I truly believe that’s the only thing that can So I love you I’m holding you in my heart, and I’ll see you again next week (kisses)