Please read Part 2, a continuation of this interview, click link at end of post
Some of us march to the beat of our own drummer. Louis Bourgeois is one such person. A spiritual teacher, mentor and author of more than a dozen very personal books (available at Lulu.com), Louis continues to write about his own life experiences from a personal perspective, and that act of writing has anchored his spiritual awakening.
Louis’ world is about not following the path of what is expected, but being open to receive. It is as if Louis is a bird sitting in a tree. Suddenly, without knowing where it is coming from or what it means, he feels a desire to fly. His wings beat with a passion fueled by the universe. What he will experience when he gets there is yet to be determined, but he is willing to find out. He no longer chooses to do anything just because that’s the way it’s always been done.
His story, like our own, is about healing and about forgiveness. He is a longtime student and teacher of A Course in Miracles. Louis is co-founder of The Oasis Center for Conscious Living based in Stillwater, MN, along with Lynn Koll, where they help to empower individuals through programs to introduce the guiding principles for Conscious Living: Oneness, Awakening, Stillness, Inspiration and Simplicity. Lynn writes this about Louis: “He is walking the path of a warrior as he willingly follows his heart. He awakens each morning to downloads of wisdom and inspiration, and his love of writing and love for humanity have helped to bring these ideas for the OASIS Center into form.”
Louis leads gatherings in Montana and Costa Rica, helping you to transform and “actively ‘die’ to the old forms that no longer serve you in your personal evolution.” His path is freedom, and his smile invites us to join him there. His current writing is entitled Big Love.
What is Big Love?
Louis Bourgeois: Big Love is the expression I use to describe the energetic principle of the universe (aka god) as it seeks expression through you. I am a longtime student and teacher of A Course in Miracles, and I know the limitation inherent in the Christian language. We are called to share a “universal experience,” and for this we need a more universal language. To me, an “energy language” appears to be the most universal. Everyone I meet and communicate with seems to respond positively to this new language.
In essence, our function is simply to serve as a portal, conduit, channel or bridge by which Big Love can express itself in our world.
Why are you devoted to the teaching known as A Course In Miracles?
LB: The teaching for me isn’t really about the book, it’s about the relationship with the energy that, in part, produced the book. That energy basically grabbed me when I was 21, when I had my first experience of the voice coming to me saying, “You have to follow my guidance.” Even though I didn’t believe in anything at the time that would support this, I was willing to do that. That’s what A Course in Miracles is all about.
I just knew this was my path, and I will devote my life to this teaching. It was a no-brainer. I just knew right away.
You write, “My world is a place for giving to, rather than getting from” and you define this as a core teaching in A Course In Miracles. Can you elaborate on that for us?
LB: The actual quote in the book is when Jesus says, “Forgiveness is the reversal of the getting principle.” And I remember reading that and going, “Wow!” That totally made sense to me. Being a wordsmith, I enjoy certain word play, like when I talk about the words sacred and scared – the only difference is seeing, moving the “c,” so it’s seen differently. Most of the things that are most valuable to us, that would really help transform us, are the things that are going to scare us the most, because we know we’re going to be shattered by these experiences.
This is why so much of my life, and my own personal teaching, is really about undoing this whole belief system we have around good and evil. That’s what the old mind does. It divides things, makes a hierarchy of things and tries to separate things into camps to give us a sense of stability: “Oh, I understand the world. There’s good and there’s evil. This is what you want and this is what you don’t want.”
The basic principle in this forgiveness, reversing the getting principle, is about changing our belief. If you believe that you are a limited, small, fragile, vulnerable human being, then you look around your world and you see the world as a place to fulfill your needs, because you are a needy, empty thing. The shift is recognizing that your soul is fulfilled, that you don’t need anything from the world at all. I mean, the world is still maybe a place to enjoy, but you don’t need it. You don’t need those things to make you feel whole, happy and free. You get that sense from your inner relationship, and now this world becomes a playground. It becomes a place where you can enjoy living and celebrating and giving – that you really have something to give.
What do you mean when you say that each of us is only a dream that we made up?
LB: I am referring to the story of who we think we are. If we think that we’re this person, then that person is just a collection of beliefs and ideas and memories and all of that. Eckhart Tolle talks about that a lot, that you are like a basket. You just keep putting things in the basket and then show people the basket, “This is who I am.” So, it’s really just this dream. It’s something that is made up. It’s like anything we’re experiencing in the sense that we are creating it. It doesn’t have a certain reality, but it’s our experiential reality. Often, people misuse the word “dream” like there’s reality and then there’s the dream, and never the twain shall meet. It’s not. Everything that we’re doing is really a form of dreaming.
Even like when I had this relationship with Jesus, I was dreaming it. I was imagining it. I was making Him up. He doesn’t really exist. I don’t even know if the historical Jesus ever existed, and to me that doesn’t matter at all. He, the manifestation of this consciousness that we call Christ Consciousness, shows up in a form that much of the world is comfortable calling Jesus, but that becomes problematic. It was important for me to start using a new language, Big Love, that would break out of the Christian dream, that God is this one individual personification, that if you don’t believe in that, if you don’t trust that that’s your salvation, then you’re missing the boat.
That is limited thinking. What I’m about really comes more out of this kind of New Age vision of say, John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” Imagine a world beyond the limitations of religion, which are all just different dreams. Different people dreamt that this is how it is, and then a whole bunch of people thought, “Wow! We love that person’s vision, so we’ll create a religion around that.” All of these different dreams are, to some degree, at odds with each other because people are trying to make that dream real, like this is correct and yours is wrong. Everybody is just doing the best they can to interpret something that is really beyond our mind’s ability to fully comprehend.
You write that in Truth there is no divine anything, apart from you. No god. No Jesus. Some may find this blasphemous. Please elaborate.
LB: All religious symbols are just that. Words are symbols. Santa Claus is a symbol of abundance and generosity, and to many small children this symbol becomes a real figure, a treasured belief. God, or Jesus, to the unawakened Christian mind, is similarly a symbol of one’s own divinity. But most want to keep the symbol apart from the self, as the self (ego or tribal mind) is fully identified with its littleness. Most prefer to deny and project their greatness, as it appears to their mind utterly grandiose to own this divinity for themselves. Again, old forms like the Church reinforce this illusion.
All great mystics and teachers have spoken the same blasphemy: you are the “god” you seek. Jesus himself could not have been any more clear in his teaching, that each of us is exactly as much the “christ” as he is. In our time of awakening, more and more of us know this simple, radiant truth.
You describe these as the four phases of spiritual awakening: Preparation, incubation, illumination, and expression. Can you elaborate on those steps?
LB: Someone else actually had made up these four stages of creativity, comparing creativity to KÃ¼bler-Ross’ stages of acceptance of death. Years ago I wrote a book called, The Great Ah-Ha, Genius, Creativity, and God, in which I say that in any form of creativity, which is really a form of birthing, there has to be a death process.
We do a fair amount of preparation for whatever our creative expression is going to be, and there has to be, then, a process where we let go. We step away from the dogma. If our creative expression is the piano, there are years of study with a teacher, but to really come into one’s mastery, you have to let that whole thought of “I was the student” go – then move into this other realm. Sometimes it takes months or even years to develop. If the true mastery is going to evolve, one day there is an awakening. You just kind of get it, like “Wow! I am this thing.”
Like, with my writing, it became so easy one day, when it became absolutely effortless. I knew that with all of my work in developing the craft of writing, there was a shift at some point when I recognized that it’s no effort at all. In fact, it’s just like breathing. Instead of me even thinking that I’m doing the writing, it’s like I’m the instrument through which this writing is coming through.
This process really is a spiritual experience. That’s why I think getting into a new language where we’re talking more about energy and creativity is way easier for the masses to really accept than religious language. There are a lot of highly creative people who aren’t necessarily religious at all. In fact, they maybe even consider themselves atheistic, but they really know the joy of creativity.
If you can talk about this spiritual process in a language everyone can understand, then it brings everybody together.
Jesus, in A Course in Miracles says, “We need to have a universal experience.” For me, this is one way to talk about it, by seeing ourselves as inherently creative beings. There are joys in creativity and we’re looking for the way to be this creative expression. There is a developmental path that we’re all on, and it will look like this: preparation, incubation, illumination and expression. If you are mentoring someone, you can tell where they are in that process. If the person is saying, “I’ve just done all this work and I know I’m really ready, but I just feel kind of stuck,” you know where they are. They’re in this process where they just have to totally let it go, and just go on a retreat for a month or a year and give up any idea that they know anything about what they’re ready to do. And then watch it as they suddenly bubble up.
That’s what I offer in Costa Rica, creating the right context in which a person could really let go. Often it means letting go of all the structures, all of the comforts, all of the routines and things that keep someone in that place where they’re not going to get the breakthrough. If you can consciously go through this breaking down process, that’s what really prepares the ground for the breakthrough. That’s the tricky part, the incubation. It’s a process of just dying and letting go of old forms.
That’s the most difficult part of this Circle of Life, this process of creativity, and that’s why many people don’t really come into full mastery. They get stuck in that part of it, that third quadrant. They become impatient. It’s so hard for people to trust. That’s why, for instance, in A Course In Miracles Jesus says, “Everything that you will do as a teacher of God, everything that you will do as a creative expression of the Divine, depends upon trust. That’s the foundation.” Another term for incubation would be the development of trust.
How does emptiness relate to authentic power?
LB: That’s a great question. Eckhart Tolle talked about that I think pretty well in The Power of Now. He used different words. Emptiness would be one word, spaciousness, or words that again are pointing toward that experience in A Course In Miracles that we would call the Holy Instant.
This ties into creativity, that process of letting go, incubating, finding ourselves one day in this place where we’re totally empty. Years ago when I did this book on creativity, it was fun to research all these different people – scientists, painters and musicians – and read so many stories about how they had this experience of Eureka! It was always when they were taking a shower or just doing nothing. They were in this empty, easy, happy, place and boom! It came through.
It’s so important that people develop the capacity for emptiness or stillness, because with the busy-ness of your person out of the way, then this spiritual force, which I call Big Love, has access. You become this conduit via your emptiness for It to appear, in whatever form, however you are prepared. If you’re Mozart, you’re prepared to receive it as a composition. But it doesn’t matter. It would be the same thing. The experience that I would have or he would have or you would have or anybody would have is exactly the same experience.
You go into this place of emptiness, you are in a relaxed state, and the creativity comes. Then it starts to take a form as your particular preparation is overlaid. But the same energy, Big Love, that is in a Mozart composition is in every acorn or every seed, right? It’s an energy that just wants to become all it can be. What it will be is determined by the genetic code or the preparation of a creative being. The energy is exactly the same.
There is this really simple elegant process that happens, and our job is simply to develop the capacity for emptiness or stillness, in addition to preparing our craft, whatever we’re going to do. The secret is the opposite of what the popular mass-marketed Secret’s about, which seems to be about acquiring more. The real secret, that Eckhart knows and any of the masters know, is the opposite. It’s the ability to become empty. Look at any of the ancient Taoist teachings or Sufi teachings. All of the mystics know this, and they all talk about it in their own way.
Tell me about the Oasis Center and how that was created, how it came to you.
LB: It’s been something that’s been incubating and manifesting for a number of years. Its latest incarnation is certainly much more real and successful because of Lynn Koll and the energy that she brings to the equation. It began with a vision I had when I was very young. I saw the word “oasis,” so everything I do has the name Oasis attached to it.
Let’s talk about the five words that are a part of that and what they mean to you.
LB: Lynn and I were sitting together and she was bringing in her creative energy. She liked the idea of the word being an acronym, which is always kind of fun. Once I called OASIS “one association supporting integration of the self,” way back then when I was much more Jungian and intellectual, saying, “Oh, yeah, we’re integrating.”
Now it’s “oneness, awakening from stillness, inspiring simplicity.” It’s really much more about how to live one’s life, about helping people in this time of transformation, about helping people learn these foundational energetic principles. This is so necessary, as we’re going through what A Course in Miracles called, “The Celestial Speedup.” Everything is accelerating.
The idea is this whole oasis rests on a foundation of stillness, and that’s really the center of it. The stillness is that point out of which we have the experience of oneness, and out of which our life manifests in simplicity and creativity. Lynn added the energetic part, the awakening, and the inspiring parts to it, filling out the acronym. I find it is really useful because those three principles are so essential for people to understand stillness.
The experience of oneness would be like what Jesus would say in A Course In Miracles, to have this universal experience of love’s presence. You could say oneness and love’s presence are exactly the same thing. Eckhart Tolle very pointedly did not use “love” much. He did not use “God” much either, just because they are so heavily laden with so many interpretations. Love is so difficult because people think about love like God’s love and then human love, but the way that most people think about love tends to be about caring, about being kind and sweet. That’s just one aspect of this prism.
Love is this white light that is the inspiration for all creativity and everything. It is the dynamic energy behind all of nature. It is also the energy behind all the cataclysms and all the things that are part of this natural energetic flow of life, right? It’s like that little beautiful acorn that wants to be this oak tree. Sometimes it can’t do what it does. Forest rangers know that these forests have to burn every 100 years, and there are certain things that, in order to germinate, need the intensity of the fire. People think, “No, that can’t be love, seeing Bambi’s home being brought to the ground.” But, it is.
The whole cycle of death and rebirth.
LB: All of it. This is part of the big teaching that I think we’re getting mature enough to really hear now – this undoing of opposites, like there is an opposite of love called hate, or there’s an opposite of good, called evil. It is simply not true.
So the Oasis Center is not a physical structure, but it’s a source of teachings for people?
LB: All the things that we do have three levels of functionality. A lot of what Oasis Center is about is directed toward the individual and his or her own development of that Oasis Center within them. It’s the inner experience of one’s function as an expression of the Divine. As an organization, Lynn and I and others are supporting that individual process, because without that the rest of it is meaningless. At a community level, there are gatherings and things that would help support that individual process of awakening. And then there is the global part, which is about what is happening in the macrocosm of humanity and the earth changes that are happening, and 2012, and all of that.
I’m more interested, as a spiritual teacher, mentor, in supporting people in their personal awakening process, moving into their mastery, and I have a big interest in the global piece. Lynn’s main thing is the community part of it. So, it really works well together.