To my readers on this blogsite…
I have made a serious error and this note is to apologize for it. On Dec, 28 on this blog I published an anecdote about my son’s class of young school children giving a Christmas Concert nearly 20 years ago, with children holding up letters that spelled out CHRISTMAS LOVE. The story went on to say that one little girl had held her sign…the ‘M”…upside down by mistake…and so the words spelled out CHRISTWAS LOVE.
I want to tell you something now that is remarkable to me…and somewhat sad. I have been contacted by the author of that story, Her name is Candy Chand and it is a true story. She is a published author, and the story is hers. How could I have remembered it and written it as if it was my own?
The story itself was not typed up by me just the other day. In fact, it has been in my computer file for at least seven years. I went into my back-file the other day looking for the perfect copy to share on my blog a few days after Christmas. When I came across this story, it was written just as you saw it here in this blogspace on Dec. 28. That is, it was written in the first person, describing an experience that occurred with my son 20 years ago. As I read the old story I smiled, actually experiencing it as a memory in my mind, from my own life.
Now Ms. Chand has contacted me to inform me that the story is hers, has actually been published by her in more than one place (including a book), that it has been circulated around the Internet, sometimes with credit to her, sometimes not, for something like ten years, and that she would like due and proper credit for her authorship. I am embarrassed to say that her story and the “anecdote” that I attributed to my own life have apparently the exact same wording except for my personal introductory sentences.
All I can say now — because I am truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it to me over the internet ten years or so ago. Finding it utterly charming and its message indelible, I must have clipped and pasted it into my file of “stories to tell that have a message I want to share.” I have told the story verbally so many times over the years that I had it memorized…and then, somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience. I am aghast at how improbable this sounds, even to me, yet I can find no other explanation for how this story came out of my mouth in Candy Chand’s words.
I certainly have no desire or reason to intentionally or deliberately pass off anyone else’s work as my own. Obviously in a blog that is widely read, on a website that is a global portal drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors hourly, I could never hope to “get away with” something like that. Nor would I have a motivation to even try.
I have heard of the mind playing tricks on us, and memory, too, but I have never experienced anything quite like this. I have nine children and I attended many Christmas concerts as a proud parent through the years as they each made their way through elementary school. I can see, much to my astonishment, that what I apparently did here a long time ago was remember this story as something that must have happened to me. Otherwise, how did the story get into my mind? It’s been there for many years, and I’ve told it for many years as an example of how a “mistake” can actually reveal great truth.
As a published author myself, I would never use another author’s words as my own. Yet I have apparently done just that — although with no deliberate intent to do so. As evidence of my state of mind in this regard, I have shared other stories on this blog and on the forum on my personal website, where I have actually said that I did not know where the material originated or who the author is, but that it was such a wonderful story I had to pass it on, just as it was passed on to me.
I did exactly that in my Dec. 24 blog here. Often, I have even asked the readers of my blogs if they know who the author is, and if so, if they could tell me, so that credit might be given. I did exactly that on the Forum on my personal website on Dec. 27. So I have a history of acknowledging when a story has come to me from another source, known or unknown. These things fly around the internet, as we all know, and a few years ago I encountered exactly the same experience, when something that I wrote actually came back to me five weeks later as the writing of the Dalai Lama. That does not excuse what happened here. And I am shocked to find that my re-telling of Ms. Chand’s anecdote over ten years’ time has made it seem, indeed, as if it happened to me.
My apologies to a fellow author. I take passing off someone’s else work as one’s own as a serious matter, as does Ms. Chand. I hope that she will accept my personal deep regret that such a thing occurred. I never would have believed it could happen. A thousand apologies. Abject and real. To you, my readers, as well. And to myself, an invitation for me to look at how the mind works. I am astonished at my own mental failing here.
In view of this error, I have offered to Beliefnet to discontinue my blog, effective immediately, as I certainly never wished to cause any embarrassment for them, nor discomfort or displeasure for Ms. Chand. I have enjoyed my blogging experience here and will miss it, as it offers a wonderful opportunity to place thoughts before a very wide audience. However, I do understand that Beliefnet needs to be able to rely on the accuracy of its bloggers’ postings, and in this instance I have failed to meet that standard.
Thank you all for your understanding, and I hope that you will continue to visit the Beliefnet.com site to engage in many lively explorations and discussions with its many fine bloggers.
Neale Donald Walsch
I hope and trust that you had a wonderful New Year’s Day! And today we move into the third part of the Triad Formula, which is the First Step in a Three-Step approach to dealing with change in one’s life.
In the third part of The Triad Formula I decide that I am who I say I am, and my experience is what I say it is. This may all seem circular, but there is a method to the madness.
I have a vivid memory of a woman who spoke up once at one of our Conversation with God Foundation’s ReCreating Yourself retreats. She had been sexually abused as a child by her uncle, and she spoke about it in very calm terms. She spoke also about a woman’s support group that she had attended on a regular basis, and remember how, when she told that group about her experience, its members raised their voices in concern. “You should be furious about this!” they told her. “How can you speak so calmly?”
“Well,” she had said, “that was a long time ago, and besides, I understand why he did what he did, and I’ve forgiven him. So I’m not angry anymore.”
“Not angry anymore?”, they protested, “How could you be not angry anymore? Don’t you know what happened to you?” Then they told her that she had apparently “sublimated” her feelings and buried her rage, and was angrier than she knew. “A walking time bomb,” they called her. The only problem was, she didn’t feel that way. Her experience is what she said that it was, and she became unwilling to “buy into” the way others in her group told her that she was supposed to be feeling.
I never forgot this example of Personal Creation. The exterior experience of this woman was not different from the experience of many other women who have been abused as a child, but her interior experience was remarkably different. She simply chose to hold the experience in another way.
In my own life, when something crazy or unwanted happens, I never ask myself, “Now, why did that happen…?” Rather, I ask myself, “If I could give that a reason for happening, what would it be?”
I assign everything a reason, rather than looking for one. And I decide how I am going to feel about things, rather than looking to see how I feel. And I choose with great deliberation my responses to everything, rather than watching my responses from the sidelines as if I was not the major player in my life.
The Triad Formula is the first of three steps in The Change Process. That is, it is one of those teachings that, once internalized and utilized, can turn around one’s entire life. Yet it is clear that understanding, accepting, and integrating the three statements of The Triad Formula into our lives is not easy for many people.
Those three statements again are…
1. Nothing in this world is real.
2. The meaning of everything is the meaning I give it.
3. I am who I say I am, and my experience is what I say it is.
In order to embrace and effectively utilize these truths, you would have to change everything in the way you look at, and experience, life.
Tomorrow, we continue our exploration of The Change Process.
On the final day of this year, as the calendar page changes, let us talk more about how we can use spiritual principles to deal with changes in our life.
Yesterday we explored part one of a three-part Change Process derived from the messages in Conversations with God. Today: Part Two.
This second part puts you firmly in command of your experience. You may not have changed anything in your outward reality, but remember, it is the experience of it that we are out to change.
You, and you alone, decide what anything means to you. You, and you alone, get to choose what matters and doesn’t matter, what is “good” and what is “bad,” what is “okay” and what is “not okay.” You, and you alone, get to determine whether you are going to react positively about something or negatively about something–or, interestingly, have no reaction at all. Your emotions are entirely under your control. Your feelings are what you want them to be.
“That’s not true!” you may protest. “I don’t want to feel bad, I just do.” Yet this is not so–and the sooner you understand this, the sooner you will move to mastery in your daily living. You do want to feel bad or you wouldn’t. The trick is to look deeply into the moment to see why you want to feel bad. The answer to that question unlocks everything.
To reiterate, you decide, and you alone decide, what something means to you, and how you are going to respond to it. Yet this is a decision that most people make based upon past feelings, experiences, understandings and desires, or future fears, apprehensions, wishes or desires.
None of this has anything to do with what is going on right here, right now.
The idea, as Eckhart Tolle made so brilliantly clear in The Power of NOW, is to stay in the moment. I have come to see the real power in this in my own life.
When I “come from yesterday,” I frequently overlay meanings on things that are happening right now that are not in those things inherently, but that I have placed there as a result of a previous thought about them–or about something similar to them–from my past. (Going to the dentist might be a good example.)
When I “come from tomorrow,” I overlay an idea about some imagined future (and usually some imagined fear) on the events of today. These future realities may never come to pass (in fact, my life has shown that they rarely do), but what they often do is ruin any chance I had to maximally profit from the experience of the moment.
Only when I get out of my past and stay away from my future can I genuinely experience what’s happening right here, right now, within the context of just that: what’s actually occurring in the present moment. And–free from the interpretations of the Past and the Future–I can give that occurrence any interpretation I desire.
This was the greatest liberating lesson of my life. When I learned this, I understood at last that my experience of everything that is going on, is going on in my mind. I can stare into the face of events and I can choose to be whatever I wish to be with regard to them. I can be “okay” or I can choose to be “not okay.” I can be “happy” or I can choose to be “unhappy,” I can be “optimistic” or “fearful,” “powerful” or “powerless,” “complete” or “incomplete,” “destroyed” or “reignited”.
The decision is all mine. The meaning of everything is the meaning I give it.
Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I’m off. You take the day off, too! And we’ll meet here again on Friday! Oh, and…HAPPY NEW YEAR!