I’m here to speak about Bernard Poolman, who passed away on August 11, 2013. When I heard of the news at first, I had to re-read the words a few times to make sure that this is what I was actually reading. I was flabbergasted. In shock and disbelief. I didn’t expect it at all, I mean I had even thought before about what it might be like in the future one day when I am in my 50’s and Bernard is in his 70’s, what life would be like then. This was totally unexpected as there was no kind of illness leading up to his death. My initial reaction was to try and make sense of it – how it happened or what it means, so that I can understand it sufficiently to make some kind of value judgment on it.
The truth is that in reality death is just another part of life. Life is life and has no beginning or end as it is life, and thus with every death as an ending, there is also a new beginning. As I am writing this, I am reminded that Bernard was actually the person who assisted me to open my mind and see death in a different light – not as something negative to be feared and avoided as we are taught to, but to embrace the opportunity that presents itself within change.
There was some sadness within my reaction to Bernards death, but interestingly enough I noticed that there was actually a part of me that kind of wanted to be sad. The fact is that (once again, as I remember Bernard once saying) sadness is pointless, and if I really look at it self-honestly, the desire to cry is really a selfish thing. I say this because Bernard was a being who truly lived every breath like it was his last: he did everything possible while he was alive on this earth to support me and all life to self-realize. He had already since a long time ago given me and everyone else the necessary tools to be able to create a life of perfection, to create a heaven on earth for myself and all of my brothers and sisters. He truly did everything possible to enable people rather than be dependent on him, and for this reason, I or no one else require Bernard to be around any longer for us to do what is necessary to be done to create a world that is best for all.
The only reason I could find for wanting him to stay is to have some sense of security, that ‘everything is ok because Bernard is here and he is almighty’ – which would then be the exact opposite of his message and a selfish thing because as long as I have this warm feeling rooted in dependency, then I will not change.
Bernards death drives this point to home. It is like a father figure dying in the sense that there is this cold, hard realization that ‘oh shit, I am on my own now, it is all up to me’ – and it is perfectly fitting because again, this was the message all along and it only reflects to me where I had missed the point of it.
It is funny how even in death Bernard has me looking at myself in self honesty. Everything he ever did always lead towards this same outcome: to support others to realize themselves and take responsibility for themselves, and I have never met a being that was so selfless and so impersonal, and yet was ‘so close to me’ – although these words are insufficient to explain this because it was more than that: with Bernard, if even for a moment of being with him or in his presence, you truly experienced what equality was and could be, what it was like to be beyond separation, and one with and equal to another being that is truly you, living in another individualized expression. I had never experienced anything like it.
Of course I will miss him and his expression, but within living oneness and equality, nothing is truly missed because again, the point is not to stand as separate to this point but to actually become one with and equal to it.
So getting past how I relate to the death of Bernard, I would like to speak more on the actual man he was, for anyone who is interested to know from my own personal account. I first encountered Bernard through the Desteni forums in October 2007. He didn’t often write large posts nor did he need to – I was always amazed at how powerful and directive his words could be, and yet with so few words and such simplistic terminology. The things he would say rang throughout existence as they were words that seemed to encompass an understanding of life in it’s entirety – and so within this the words would also ring true in my own life. The kind of words that applied directly to everybody’s life which everyone could relate to, providing us with clarity and stability along with intrigue and fascination. In a short time and with a few simple words, Bernard had already changed my life and opened my eyes to new perspectives that I had never before fathomed, yet explained everything that I had been experiencing in my life and that I had yearned to understand. After some time of asking questions on the Desteni forums, the first words he had ever spoken to me “you will not understand with the mind” were groundbreaking and spoke volumes to me, having vast implications over my life and how I would perceive everything in my life from this point onwards.
I knew that although I did not always fully grasp what this man was saying, that his words and his message were something that I really had to come to understand if I was ever to understand myself and this world, which he had already shown me, there was much, much more to it than I was aware of. Through very tough times I was extremely fortunate to have him here, and despite being a person as dedicated, committed and busy as he was (he once mentioned to me that he gets about 1000 e-mails a day) he was always there to assist me when called upon. There were never any pleasantries or small talk with Bernard, something that might be unnerving, and yet it was never needed as the substance of your interaction with Bernard spoke for itself – no reaffirmations were ever need to convince yourself that your experience with him was a positive thing, as is so commonly the case in all other day to day interactions with people.
Through the stability and purity of his words, Bernard showed his trustworthiness and there was not a single human being that I would have trusted with my life any more than him. And when I say ‘my life’ – I do not mean in terms of my survival or self interest – quite the opposite, as in that sense he posed the greatest threat! And yet despite any fear of loss or change, Bernard always has and always will stand as the reassuring example and stability that this is process of self change that I am undertaking is what must be done, that this is who I really am.
In March of 2010 I was fortunate enough to go to the Desteni farm and meet Bernard face to face. When I walked into the kitchen of the main house for the first time, he happened to be walking directly towards where I had come in, immediately stuck out his hand to shake mine and said “stop following me”, which was something that was written on a graphic T-shirt I was wearing at the time, and coincidentally this statement made from my shirt related directly to my process. There were many of these kinds of funny moments. I was initially very nervous to be meeting what I considered such a great man, and yet by the time came that I actually met him, all of that completely vanished and it was unexpectedly natural and fluid, it is like his presence allowed me to really be myself, and contrary to how I can be, I found myself extremely quiet in his presence, as if every word I could speak, before I could speak it, was reflected back to myself and so before my mouth even opened, I knew whether or not I was talking shit.
I noticed that Bernard moved very fluidly in everything that he did, he was always working hard at something, he was extremely dedicated and yet always cool, and he was always being followed by about 10 dogs! Surely they also enjoyed the stability of his presence. Having conversation with him was fascinating – he would show me things about myself that I was not even aware of, he would explain things about myself and existence that I could barely fathom, and within this it was always implied that he had the faith in me to eventually get what he was saying, despite how small or insignificant I may believe myself to be. Bernard was a person who had absolute faith in the potential of the human, despite all evidence pointing to the opposite, despite how much we may not believe in ourselves, he did. And while I had some fascinating discussions about the ‘bigger picture’ of life, no conversation or task was ever too small for Bernard. As an example, there was a time that I was trying to figure out how the fizzy drink machine in the kitchen worked. He showed me effectively how to use it and that was it. A seemingly small thing and yet it shattered any kinds of delusions of grandeur I may have had about him.
I always expected Bernard to be ‘hard on me’, being aware that he was not one to accept anything less than ‘who you really are’ – and yet he never judged me, and was actually very gentle in giving me just exactly what was needed to assist me with a point – nothing more, nothing less. Bernard had truly given himself up in service of life, and all the most acclaiming words are not enough to describe what it is like to experience a being that is so trustworthy and so pure. It was not about what he did, it was about who he was, as all of his actions indicated that this was no acting job; he had truly gone inside himself and sorted himself out as the creation of who he was. He was that person that everyone wished they could be, the image and likeness of perfection that is possible for every human to become – and by no magical means; he had dedicated himself and walked through his own process of doing whatever it took, of giving up whatever was necessary to do what is best for all life and to be a being who could be trusted with life and was the true image and likeness of God.
It was an amazing experience, and yet it was very normal. It was very ‘special’ by contrast of what the human has become, something flawed and evil in nature, but in terms of what life should be like, it was just normal. He didn’t have super powers, he couldn’t fly or do things that would make you go ‘ooh ahh, look at how special he is and superior to everybody’, he had no extraordinary skills or talents or gifts put on display, he was, as he explained, ‘just a beast’, and his mind was darkness. “There is nothing, just darkness” He said to me about what goes on in his mind. And yet with no mind, this man had been more capable and effective than any human being I had ever met. With any person in any given moment, he seemed to know exactly what was going on with that being and exactly what to say which would be something that resonated right through the core of your being and prompted a response.
And throughout all the chaos and bleakness of our world and our future, he provided a faith that was rooted in reality and thus a stability through certainty, that eventually, we would find our way, that I would find my way, because there was only one way; life as all as one as equal – and now that we know the way, we are on our way through the process that is taking place on earth. One of the earliest things I remember reading that he said about his own story was that ‘if anyone else had been in my position, they would have done the same thing – that is the faith I have in man’.
Some of you who know of my time living and working in Thailand may also be curious to know that it was Bernard who encouraged me to undertake this experience, which I initially had declined, and I am forever grateful for it as it has been an invaluable life changing experience. It was also Bernard that encouraged me to take on the Desteni I Process course, when I initially did not participate because I believed I was not capable of doing it – this was another life changing decision.
I suppose I could go on and on about the implications of Bernards time here on earth and what he had done to change this world to become a better place and a place that is best for all life. He has shown us how significant we are, within the point of ‘who we are’ – that you matter and that your life can be of great consequence, if you are able to let go of the illusion of self as ego and embrace yourself as the physical, as that which is really life. It is a tough process and yet the most rewarding thing a person could ever undertake.
My main experience with regards to Bernards death is one of regret – but again, this is more of a self reflection of a point that already exist within me, so here Bernards death is assisting me to look at myself. As an ongoing point, which I also experienced with regard to my time spent on the farm, I regret not having done more, not having applied myself more, not having lived as Bernard did as his equal; having done everything possible to honor life in every single moment of my existence. Even in his death he stands. He stands as the example, something that can never disappear or be forgotten as its effects are here and will remain here as those who walk in his stead. And so even in death has his message remained consistent: let’s get this done! That to honor life and sort out our world is still priority #1. Bernards death has lit a fire under my ass to really have me question myself, just as he did in life – am I doing everything I possibly can to stand for life?
Bernard once joked about how when we say ‘good bye’, we are actually saying ‘good buy’ – and to rather say ‘die well’. To the mind this may sound appalling, but if you really look at it, it is a self honest statement because everybody dies, and everybody would like to die well and we would all like each other to die well because that would mean that we lead a life on earth that was worth living, where we honored all other life as ourselves as equals. Bernard was a being who truly died well.
Die well, Bernard. You will be missed, but your message and what you stood for will not.