Street motion
Listen to this talk:
Michael Gott:
Who I Really Am
(10 min.) MP3
"Who I Really Am"
Transcript of a talk delivered by Michael Gott
Awakening Heart (Community of Mindful Living)
November 9, 2008 - Dallas, Texas

I really wanted to share with you, a Christian story tonight from Rabbi Yeshua, who was Jesus, the Christ as we know him better. And this story is attributed as one of his teachings. There was a man who had two sons, and the younger son came to the father and said, "I'd like to have my inheritance now, if you don't mind. A check would be fine." (laughter) And his father said, "Of course," and gave him his share of the estate. And the son went to a far land and squandered his riches. He said, I think it's you know, "Women, Wine and Song." I remember a Pentecostal preacher, who has since had an awakening, Bishop Carlton Pierson that I remember once hearing him preach when I was in that world. And there's an old song that we used to sing called, "Love Lifted Me," and it begins with:

Michael Gott, RScP…
Michael Gott
Michael Gott is the music and fine arts director at the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas, Texas. Along with being a licensed Religious Science Practitioner, he is a singer, composer, pianist and lyricist with nine albums to his credit.

I was sinking deep in sin far from the peaceful shore…

And I remember Bishop Pierson going, "Yeah, some of you are out there going, 'I was sinking deep in sin. WOOOOOO!'" (laughter) So, I just have this image of the son, in this far off land going, "Wow this is great!" And then, it wasn't great. He was seeking pleasure, pure please and that's hedonism, when we're only seeking our own pleasure. And he became destitute, he had no money and he was in this far off land and the only way he could find to eat was by feeding the pigs. He was at a point, he was so hungry, that he looked at this swill. He was feeding these pigs and he wanted to eat it. And to a first century Jewish person, this would mean, he was as debased as he could be, because the pig is the most unclean animal to that culture. And that he would want to eat with the pigs was just what Jesus was saying to his audience, which were first century Jewish folks was that this guy was at the bottom, as far as it could go. And it was in that moment... and I actually wanted to read to you... I have the Kind James bible on my iPhone... because I thought that it was really, yeah. It says that:

And he would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…

So at this point in the story, he's just at the bottom, it says he came to himself and thought, "What am I doing here?" And so, the rest of the story is that he went home and his father's good will and love and generosity was restored to him. And yet all he needed was given to him freely. So there are so many layers and meaning in this story, as with any good story... I've been reading Grimm's Fairy tales recently, they are wicked good. There are so many layers of meaning and symbology. And what the story means for me is that I can see myself in any part of the story; I can be the generous father, I can be, there was another brother who was of course jealous and I have seen myself play that role. But I most identify with this son and I have had some really, really dramatic and painful experiences of forgetting who I am and seeking, self-seeking which ends in wanting to eat with the pigs. I've had a lot of dramatic stories, but not in awhile. But in very small subtle ways I find myself, that's why I said that I am here to re-re-awaken again... I just... to become mindful. And I love that that is the primary practice of Awakening Heart is to be mindful with every step, with every breath, with every conversation.

So my relationship with the religion of my upbringing has been a very uneasy one the last few years. But it's relaxed because I've stopped caring what they think about me, pretty much. That was another thing, I've sort of become aware of is that, I heard someone from here saying, remembering who you are. There's a beautiful chant if we have time, I'd love to have us do that, I am remembering who I am.

I placed so much of my identity on what others thought of me for so long. I remember, this was a few years back and I don't know why this story came to me this week, but... There was a woman that I knew, and I felt that I should have known her better or known her well enough to know her last name and I didn't remember her last name and we were on the phone and I needed to get some information from her. So, not wanting her to think I didn't know her last name, I said, "Could you spell your last name for me again Ellen, I can't remember?" and she says pause, "S-M-I-T-H." You know, busted. You know I've learned a very simple practice around this, is just that you know, I can't remember your last name, to just tell the truth. It's just to say you know I know I know you, but I can't remember your name and where have we met or how do I know you? And they say, "I'm your cousin." (laughter)

You know there's such freedom in just being who I am, where I am, knowing what I know, not knowing what I don't know. Just being that clear and empty place where I feel like, what I call spirit or divine energy can flow though me. I love what you said too, Monica before we did our walking meditation, how the body is over here often and the mind is over here and we're not really in either place. It's amazing how much time I've spent, and I imagine the prodigal, the son, he was drinking and other things, and how present could he have really been? And it was only when it got so painful and so bad that he became really awakened. So, I think my intention now is to wake up more quickly, before I'm eating with the pigs. To wake up and to just remember life is so good, life is so good. There's a new song that we sang this morning at my spiritual community, Center for Spiritual Living:

There is one life living as you and me,
One light shining as you and me,
One love loving as you and me.

That's who we are. That's who we are. We are the essence, the creative energy of the universe, living a human life. No more and no less.

And we have sometimes, I believe, we have this, I'm going to say, I have this expectation that it should be different, that I should be different, that I should be more, that I should be something and I'm not even sure who placed it there. Was it just me? Is it that again that I am looking outside myself for my identity and I see? And this is one of the things I learned early on in 12-steps in recovery, was that if I am comparing my insides to your outsides, I lose. And I think that's another way we can actually become mindful... that this life, this is it. I became aware that... This was a hard week for me, it was emotionally and work-wise... it just was uphill, it was nothing major, just felt like I was really walking uphill all week. I had this amazing realization that this is my life too. It's not just the moments of achievement and fulfillment and greatness. And last Sunday we had this big celebration at my community, and it was wonderful. It was one of those moments of fulfillment and achievement and it was a high point and it felt so wonderful. And then when I was in the middle of this week when I was struggling a bit, I thought, this is my life too. This is my life too. Am I only going to be awake for the feel good stuff? Am I going to be awake right here and right now?

So, I think that's all I have to share with you tonight. Thank you very much for letting me be a part of your community and your circle tonight.

Transcribed by Sarah Lowenstein

▲ Return to Top