From my earliest experiences with the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, I found myself having a slightly different perspective on things. The few people I knew in MSIA talked about John-Roger as the Traveler. They quoted him and expressed great love and gratitude for him. Even though I hadn’t had the fifteen or twenty years of experience with John-Roger or MSIA that they did, from the first time I saw and heard John-Roger in person, all of that resonated as right and true with me. I understood why people felt the way they did. I soon did too.
Yet, I found myself wondering, “What about that other guy, John Morton?” Most people didn’t seem to share my interest. Seeing myself as outnumbered, I hesitated to speak up about what I felt inside.
This awareness began at my first MSIA event, a Wealth and Higher Consciousness workshop that John facilitated with Tom Boyer in early 1994. John-Roger was there as well and answered questions from the participants. Even though I had attended two home video seminars in the 1980’s, I left those gatherings sensing that they weren’t for me or at least not right for me at that time. I came to the Wealth workshop upon the invitation of a good friend who thought the experience might help me cope better with some challenges in my life. Eager for some kind of help, although I didn’t know what I was looking for, I decided to check out MSIA once and for all.
Throughout that weekend, there was on on-going process called “Giving and Receiving,” a process I had never experienced before. People placed money in a “Giving” basket. In the “Receiving” basket, they dropped index cards with the names of books, tapes or jewelry that they wanted. My finances at that time were very tight. My husband, two young children, and I had just come through Hurricane Andrew, had lived in a trailer for five months while rebuilding our weather beaten home, and were still in considerable debt from that experience. For me to even show up at the workshop had been a major stretch for our family budget. I felt I had a nothing more to give. I never put any money in the Giving basket.
There were many products that MSIA was selling that interested me. Although there was no requirement to give in order to receive, I didn’t feel right about asking for anything without giving something. Besides, I was getting so much from the workshop itself and the sharings by John-Roger, I felt I was coming out way ahead.
Early on in the weekend, John Morton auctioned off a new book by John-Roger. A man ended up buying the book for $750. As much as I love books, that purchase made no sense to me. $750 was three of my car payments! Later in the day, John gave away lots of products that people had requested. A few folks received Discourse and Soul Awareness Tape subscriptions, items I had not yet learned about. Whenever someone received a First Year Discourse subscription, the whole crowd applauded and cheered louder than they did for any other product received. I wondered why they did that. My friend explained that Discourses were books written by John-Roger and form the foundation of the teachings of MSIA. They cost $100 for a year’s subscription. You read one little book each month, she said. The tapes were for people who had completed reading the twelve years of Discourses.
My friend told me she was “On Discourses.” She said that was how reading the Discourses was referred to by those “in the Movement,” people who were studying the teachings presented by John-Roger through MSIA. As a psychologist, the idea of being “on” something or “in” anything didn’t sit well with me. In my line of work, if someone is “on” something or “in” something, we are supposed to do our best to get them off of or out of it.
My friend told me that the books and their message brought her great comfort and inspiration. She told me she didn’t see herself as “on” or “in” anything. To her, reading the Discourses and participating in the workshops and seminars was a matter of choice. She said that the Discourses helped her become more and more aware of herself as a Soul and as one with God.
Knowing I was searching for something, I figured my Soul was as good as anything. Reading the Discourses began to sound good to me. But, $100 was way beyond what I felt I could afford at that time.
By Saturday evening of the workshop, I had watched people receive lots of products. Before we left the room that night, my friend asked, “Why don’t you ask for Discourses? Put a card in the Receiving basket.”
“I don’t have any money to put in the Giving basket,” I told her. “It wouldn’t be right.”
“Who knows?” she smiled. “You might get them anyway.”
I watched some people drop money into the Giving basket and other people place index cards in the Receiving basket. As I walked by the table to leave the room, I picked up an index card and took it with me.
I’m still not sure what happened that made me write my name and the words “First Year Discourses” on that card. Maybe it was a sense of jealousy. Maybe I was testing the whole thing like, “Let’s see if this Giving and Receiving business really works.” Perhaps I just knew. For whatever reason, on Sunday morning which was the last day of the workshop, I put my card in the Receiving basket, assuming there was little chance I would get what I asked for. I figured people would be tapped out in the Giving department by that time and that I had waited too long.
The day progressed, and products were still being handed out by John. Late in the day, John announced that they had only a few more items to give away. After he gave away a couple of books and tapes, I heard him say my name. Then he announced, “First Year Discourses.” As before, the crowd cheered and clapped. An assistant took the box of books from John and looked around. I raised my hand, and she walked towards me.
As she placed the box in my hands, I was filled with a sense of profound understanding. I received because I had chosen to ask. I received because others who had more had chosen to give. I knew from the depths of my Soul that I had come upon a sacred gift, a blessing beyond words. I set the sealed box of books securely between my feet under my chair. Unable to speak, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with peace. Then I had the experience that convinced me to pay close attention to “that other guy.”
As the workshop was nearing its completion, from the back of the room an assistant announced that those of us who had received Discourses or SAT subscriptions as part of the Giving and Receiving had to check in with her and pay $50 before we left. She explained that the value of the gift part of the subscriptions was only $50, not the full $100.
I was devastated. I didn’t have the money, and I knew I couldn’t put anymore charges on my credit card. I thought, I’ll have to give them back. It was as if Santa was coming back down the chimney to take away my precious new toys.
From the stage, John Morton immediately announced, “No, we’re not going to do that. They’re free to those that received them.”
Over the microphone, the assistant reminded John that the MSIA Staff had agreed upon the half-price gift arrangement prior to the workshop. John remained steadfast and said that even with that being the case, he had announced that the subscriptions were free. Free is what they would remain.
I listened to the assistant’s reminders. They made sense to me. Still, I wanted to keep my Discourses. More and more, it seemed like those little books were meant for me. I pressed my feet tight around the box.
John’s tone became insistent. No, the people would not be required to pay $50.
The room became silent. I didn’t like the tension. I didn’t want the assistant to get in trouble. She was just doing her job. At the same time, I was in awe, unaccustomed to someone sticking up for me who didn’t even know me and over what I thought one could judge as insignificant little books.
“I told people the subscriptions were free.” John was adamant. “That’s how they will stay. I’ll take full responsibility for any problems that stem from this situation.”
Something inside of me moved. A tender, familiar place inside of me stirred, a place that hadn’t been touched in a long time. I wondered how this ordinary man’s voice arguing over some books could have such a sweet and perplexing effect on me. How could I feel such love, a rekindled kind of long lost love, within myself? And from such an ordinary almost silly circumstance.
Nothing more was said. The tension in the room eased. Everyone got to keep their free subscriptions. I breathed in deep and relaxed my feet around my box of books. No way would Santa ever take back my toys. They were meant for me after all.
Although from one point of view my experience was rather ordinary, I see how that experience opened my heart in a way it had never been opened before. It began my quest to learn all that I possibly can about my beauty and worthiness as a Soul on this divine journey home with God.
When I’ve shared this memory with a few friends through the years, others who received free subscriptions that weekend told me how moved, honored and protected they too felt from that experience. They were touched, like I was, by John’s integrity and his loving commitment to the students of the Traveler. We were all moved indelibly by his willingness to stand up for a few hungry Souls over a matter that to many seemed trivial.
I am so grateful to John-Roger for writing those grand little books. Being on Discourses all these years, has made my life become a most beautiful, wonderful ride. And to John Morton, my beloved Traveler, for making sure I got to keep them.
God Bless Us All