Interview with James Blanchard Cisneros
Author of ‘You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy’ with Jennifer Reinfeld, Executive Director of Children of the Earth United
1 – “You Have Chosen to Remember” is a very interesting title. Can you explain the meaning behind this powerful statement?
To remember means that you knew before. A memory can be hidden for a long time, but this does not imply that it is not within you now. You might, at the present moment have no recollection of it, yet it lies their, somewhere within your heart and mind, in patient wait for you to awaken to it. A memory can be reawakened through joy. If you focus on joy, memories of joy might be brought to the surface. If you choose to focus on your true self, or as I choose to call it your Godself, then memories of your Godself will also be brought to the surface. It is what you focus on, in each moment, that you will experience.
All knowledge resides within you. I am not close to being the first person who has said this. Somewhere within your heart, you feel this statement to be true. You feel you know more then you are currently expressing. It is in going within and moving towards those paths that offer you peace of mind, joy, and are in alignment with your present values where you will remember your Godself. Be not pressured into a path simply because others say it is the ‘correct’ or ‘popular’ way to grow. Within your heart there lies a memory of your Godself. It is this memory you search for, and it is this memory you will remember. Once this memory is remembered, you will find a place that you have never left.
Rejoice, for there is nothing more for you to learn. There is nothing more for you to learn because all wisdom already resides within you. This book’s hope is simply to assist you in remembering your true nature. Any time you are not at peace is because you have forgotten your true nature. This book will assist you in remembering what you have forgotten. Yet even in forgetting there is good news and it is this: you must have known before to have forgotten. In fact, once you begin to remember you will but smile for you will suddenly recall that “yes, I feel as if I have always known this, this is familiar to me, I am at peace with this information”. It will feel right, and you will be at peace, for truth brings about a peaceful state. My brother and sister, all truth lies within you. You might have temporally forgotten this, but you have now chosen to remember.
2 – I found “You Have Chosen to Remember” to be truly illuminating on many levels. There is a gentleness and simplicity in the words you use, but the energy behind these ideas is deeply profound. What inspired you to write this book?
Thank you, I appreciate those comments because it is absolutely possible to express truth through gentleness and simplicity. Truth is much simpler and gentler than your ego will currently allow you to acknowledge. The ego will have you believe that truth is too complicated to understand and too difficult to implement. It does this in order to sell you on its ‘truth’. It outlines its plan, even drawing you a map of the laws and principles you must follow to obtain it. You are thankful for the ego’s assistance, you see everyone in your general vicinity basically following this same map, and thus you feel it just must be the way the ego says it is. What the ego fails to mention is that there is no treasure at the end of this map, for it ends up taking you nowhere you want to be and offers you nothing you truly desire. Now, please understand two points:
One, I am in no way saying that the material world or what is achieved by following the ego’s map is in any way bad or negative or not worth pursuing. You must allow your brother the freedom to choose his own way, allow him his freedom and you will be set free from your judgment of him. If you choose to advise him, that is fine, but be not attached to him following your advice. My friend there is a fine line between advice and control. Choose control and you will find your relationship controlling. Your brother will grow the best way he knows how, and he will find great peace and freedom once he truly and personally realizes that the ego’s treasure map has nothing real to offer.
Two, when I speak of ‘truth’. I am in no way saying or implying that my way, my truth, is the way, or the truth. Please be assured of that. I am simply offering what I have found that offers me peace of mind and joy in the present moment. This may or may not be useful for you. If you find it useful, then I am truly honored to have been of service. If you disagree or do not find it useful then again I am truly honored that you took the time to read what I wrote, and know that I have absolute and total respect for what you choose to believe in.
You ask what inspired me to write this book? It started as a personal exercise, and I still consider it more a personal exercise than a book. Clarity was and is my goal in this exercise. One night of focusing and obtaining clarity will save you days or even months of confusion. When you start feeling confused or dissatisfied with your life or current situation, take a night for yourself, quiet the mind and ask your soul how you can make these feelings clearer. Fine-tune the picture in your mind. Take time to clarify these issues. Put these thoughts on paper. Be precise. The more precise you can be, the quicker you can gain clarity. Such clarity will assist you in making better decisions and save you time.
Once you decide what you want from your life, your mind sets the intent and puts out a goal, you then commit to achieving this goal. The soul or Godself then magnetizes into your life so-called accidents, coincidences, people, and events to allow you the opportunity to accomplish this goal. Regardless of how they manifest, they occur in order to assist you in achieving your goal. Spiritually, the clearer you are in understanding that everything that occurs is an assistance, the more peace you will have on your journey towards achieving this goal. Mentally, the clearer you are in setting up guidelines and steps to attainting your goal, the faster you will obtain it. Physically, small steps taken towards your goal, small successes, allow the mind the peace to know that it is getting closer to achieving its goal. The clearer your purpose, the clearer your goals, the less energy you waste, the quicker you accomplish what you desire.
3 – The messages within your book present brilliantly simple strategies for subtly shifting beyond limited thinking. As someone who has been regularly reading spiritual books for 15 years, I am taken by the way “You Have Chosen to Remember” provides excellent support for developing a conscious state of awareness. How did you develop the ideas within your book?
My friend, there is nothing easier than being who you are. When you say “You have Chosen to Remember” provides excellent support for developing a conscious state of awareness, I thank you, but again I am simply reminding you of who you already are. Being who you are takes no effort at all, it is an effortless accomplishment. What can be hard is trying to be who you are not. When you limit yourself in any way, you are being who you are not. When you are in a stressful state, you are being who you are not. When you support any activity that is hurtful to yourself or others you are being who you are not.
The ideas within this book were developed by understanding and finding clarity in regards to what offers me peace of mind and joy in the present moment. I began at the beginning and tried to understand what offered me peace and what offered me stress, what offered me sadness and what offered me joy. A journal has been useful to me. Giving myself time to think and question my life is also important. Jotting your feelings and emotions on paper allows you to look back to see how you reacted to certain situations. Even just a couple of hours a week can be extremely helpful in obtaining clarity. If your goal is peace of mind and happiness, then try to support activities, emotions, feelings, actions and reactions that support these goals. Writing in a journal allows you to separate those activities, emotions, feelings, actions and reactions that support peace and joy and those that don’t. Looking back, you might see times when you thought you were correct in reacting the way you did, yet this ‘correct response’ might not have offered you peace of mind and joy. In such a case, a decision between being right or finding peace and being happy might need to be taken. The result that you value most will be the one that you will support. The value that you support will be the value you will experience.
Read and find groups that assist you in developing more peaceful and happy lives. Speak to people, ask them what fulfills them. People are more open to speaking about ‘growth’ issues than your ego might be willing to let you believe. There are innumerable possibilities for development. Many times I have perceived myself as a teacher in a conversation only to learn lessons I would have not as easily remembered and understood without the interaction.
4 – There are many simple, gentle and awakened strategies in “You Have Chosen to Remember” which inspire the reader to live in the oneness. Which idea was the most transformative in your life and why?
Trust God. This is one of the most transformative ideas I have remembered. Now someone might say ‘so what’s the big deal, most people trust God?’ And I would ask: do you trust God? If you were asked this question, your immediate response would probably be, “Yes, I do trust God”. Also, if you were asked: Do you ever worry? Again your answer would probably be, “Yes, I worry sometimes”. But my friend, let me say that if you truly trusted God, then you would never worry. In any specific situation, you cannot fully trust God, and also worry. If you choose to worry in any situation then know that you are not fully trusting in God.
Trust God or worry, those are the two choices you have in every situation. Trust God, and be at peace. Worry, and you’ll experience stress. Your choices are that simple, and you will make your life as peaceful or stressful as you choose to make it. Trust God and be at peace, this is all that is asked of you. Yet, over and over again, people choose worry over trust, and make their lives a living hell.
Your level of peace is in direct correlation to your level of trust in God. The more you trust God, the more peace you will experience. The less you trust God, the less peace you will experience. If you choose to completely trust God, then stress will not be a part of your experience. If you experience any level of stress, it is because you have chosen not to fully trust God.
You might be trying to convince yourself that you can do both at the same time. But, how could you fully trust the creator of the universe with a specific event in your life, and also worry that God is not carrying it out with your best interest in mind? Now, you could say that the Creator does not have your best interest in mind, and therefore you are worried, but somewhere deep within, you know that this is not so. For how could the father of peace, happiness, kindness and love have anything but your best interest in mind? It is this that you need to remember anytime you experience worry or stress in any situation.
5 – What do you feel was your most transformative life event or experience which boosted your “remembering”?
In college, I remember asking myself: “What is truth?” “Why are we here?” “What’s the whole point of life?” I asked myself these and other questions. After about 10 minutes, when I received no satisfactory answers, I decided that the only people who probably had answers to these questions, that understood what truth was, lived somewhere in caves in the Himalayan mountains. I therefore chose to put those questions aside, and pick up the nice cold beer in front of me.
There are quite a few “transformative experiences” that I share with the reader. I will talk about one specifically. It was the month after graduating from college. I had decided to go to Europe for a few months before starting my “real life.” An uncle of mine had an apartment in Paris where I spent a few weekends of my stay. During one of those weekends, a friend of my uncle, Olaf Halverson who lived in Miami, had come to Paris and stayed in that apartment. He was celebrating a second honeymoon with his wife Mirianne. One night, he invited me to dinner.
When the teacher is ready, the student will appear. Equally so, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. During those couple of hours, I just heard something different. I listened to and understood concepts that I had previously, in my 23 years of life, had believed where unavailable to mortal man. He spoke of concepts such as forgiveness, peace, love, religion, death, and God in such a simple and nonjudgmental manner that I was truly in awe. Even though I was in awe, somewhere within, I understood that everything he was saying was something I already knew. It was more of a sense of a memory re-awakening than a lesson being taught. There and then, I said to myself, “I don’t know what this man is reading or what he is doing, but I am going to find out and copy every single thing he has done, read every single book he has read.”
A month passed and I was now headed to Venezuela to start my working life. Before heading south to Venezuela, I stopped by his house in Miami, Florida. I had not really shared how grateful I had been for his presence but I just made an excuse to go and visit him. We talked in the living room for a while, and I noticed that he had been reading a big blue book. I figured it was the bible. I remember being surprised because all of my previous encounters with bible readers had felt quite judgmental, and Olaf just felt, talked and expressed himself in a very nonjudgmental manner. Again, I did not ask about what he was reading, but as soon as he went to the kitchen, I ran to the couch were he had been previously sitting, picked up the book and read the title “A Course in Miracles.” He had mentioned this book a couple of times.
After leaving his house, I went directly to the bookstore. I bought the book, put it in my suitcase and headed for the airport. As I started my life in Venezuela, I also began to read the book. It was the first “spiritual” book I had ever read. I could not put it down. With every page, I was so thankful to know that I was not alone. Every page seemed to reawaken a memory of who I really was. I was not crazy for thinking this way. After twenty-three years, I had now found a partner who agreed with me. This partner did not think I was crazy, strange, different or alien.
I have since read a great number of beautiful books. But “A Course in Miracles” will always be my first love. And now that I live in Miami, I see Olaf, at least once every two weeks.
6 – What would you say are the key concepts presented in “You Have Chosen to Remember”?
I talk about peace of mind, forgiveness, love, trusting God, living in the moment, gratitude, joy and understanding. I simply state that if you wish these to become your experience, then you must allow them to flow through you. The more you allow them to flow through you, the greater part of your day and life they will become.
I invite the reader to take responsibility for his actions and reactions. To experience anything you must first allow it to flow through you. You do not so much react to outside stimuli, as you do to your feelings and emotions about that stimulus. You have already defined your parameters in regard to your physical environment. You only define a chair as a chair because you have been taught that that is what you call it; you have been taught how to use it and what it should look and feel like. Equally so, you react to your brother and his words or actions the way you have been taught to be the proper and correct way to react. You might have added or subtracted from how you react to certain words or actions, yet your boundaries and parameters are already set. If there are any boundaries and parameters that are now resulting in the reader losing his peace of mind and joy, then I invite him not to try to change the outside environment but to change his inner environment. It is by changing your mind that you change your world; it is by finding peace within your mind that peace can be found in this world.
I invite the reader to practice what they wish to experience. If you want to be free from judgment then allow your brother the freedom to be who he thinks he needs to be. If you want to experience love then practice loving your brother. If you want a more joyful life, then support activities that bring you and others joy. Many people support activities in their lives that bring conflict and stress to their life, and yet they still wonder why it is that conflict and stress fills their daily experience. Many people support boundaries and parameters within their minds that result in judgment, conflict and stress and they are still confused as to why judgment, conflict and stress fill their daily experiences.
7 – During these seemingly turbulent times, what do you think is the optimal course of action that a person can take?
The times are and will be as turbulent as your decision to focus on turbulence. There are also be many beautiful awakenings occurring every day, many miracles, much love growing and being expressed in the world. We have been taught by the ego to focus on the turbulence, to focus on the chaos, to make these our headlines, to fill our newscast with such energies. In a world of love there might be a few chaotic stories, yet it will be these stories that the media will choose to focus on. Different media groups will even fight each other to find and report on every possible angle imaginable. We look at these outlets as some sort of wise, intelligent truth teller. We think ‘This is what these well informed people are reporting, thus this is what must be important and real.
My brother, I see such incredible beauty being manifested and expressed every day that if you but turned to this channel you would swear you were in heaven. My friend, the choice to focus on heaven or hell is yours. What some might see as turbulent, stress filled times, I see but as a speck of dirt on a perfectly clean windshield. If you choose to focus on the speck of dust you will lose track of the road. My friend, there are no obstacles on this road, yet if you focus on this speck of dust you can still crash.
What do you think is the optimal course of action that a person can take? Well, each individual must look within and answer that for himself or herself. There are no wrong answers. But I will offer that every time you choose to judge your brother, every time you choose not to forgive your brother, every time you see yourself as separate from any brother, you are focusing on this speck of dirt. Do what brings you peace and you will wake up to a more peaceful world; do what ever offers hope and you will encounter a more hopeful world; do whatever brings you joy and the same world that you once cried in, you will now smile and dance in.