I am currently re-reading this book cover-to-cover. It had a huge impact on me when I first read it a couple of years ago. Bernstein's theory is that Nature is attempting to reconnect with humanity and heal the split that has widened over millennia, effectively pulling us back from the brink of extinction. Some individuals whom he calls "Borderlanders" are more sensitive to Nature's outreach and they often manifest symptoms of what is being done to earth, animals and nature. As Bernstein says, these people don't feel "about" what is going on: they FEEL IT. They are often categorized as pathological, and while many have had trauma in their lives, there is something sacred about what is coming through them. I saw Bernstein speak at the SF Jung Institute a couple weeks ago and it really hit me how much his theory makes sense. Has anyone else read this book????

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I just finished reading this for my final project. Stunning and it has had an enormous impact on me as well. I am a Borderlander and I broke down crying when I read his description of the symptoms. It helped me put things into context and made even more clear my work in this world.
I am happy to see this discussion as I credit the Bernstein book with being one of the motivators to finally get me to Pacifica. I'm not sure I concur with his idea of a new consciousness trying to come through the collective--I know he wanted to sell a book but I prefer to remain agnostic on this point--but the recognition of what is already there was for me, as it sounds like it was for you, Katrina, a huge relief!

I remember experiencing the same literal example that is in the book, (encountering the trucks of cows headed to slaughter) and being useless for days afterward.

I could go on but mostly just wanted to chirp in in hopes of keeping connected with others in the borderland as we work and engage together in community.
Vonda; Thanks so much for your comment. I saw Dr. Bernstein speak recently in conjunction with his friend and colleague, Johnson Dennison, a Navajo medicine man. The two had a short but lively exchange as Dr. Bernstein pointed out that Johnson Dennison believes the consciousness is already there for all of us--we are just disconnected from it. I think this is an easier way for me to swallow the concept as well. Of course it's already there!--and I had the impression Dr. Bernstein was agreeing though it's not quite how he wrote the book (a few years ago now).
I agree with both of you...the consciousness is already there. What is emerging is our reconnection. It must!

Hi Bonnie:

I haven't read Prof. Bernstein's masterpiece but it brings to mind the same 'philosophy' which undergirds the wilderness therapy movement.  The likes of R Rohr, Dr. B Lane, Dr. D Woods and others have spoken of persons who have undergone their own "painful transformations" through rites of passage (and adversity).  These are the same souls who "wild animals can finally relate to" again!  Some men have come out from their MROP experiences with wild stories of having been greeted by desert lizards, coyotes, ravens, etc. and them realizing, maybe for the first time in their lives, that they're part of a greater consciousness and the Cosmos!

I'm also reminded of one of my favorite poets, Michael Leunig, who once penned this poem about the sacredness of the "wounds & the gifting" in our lives:

When the heart is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it,
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it.
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

~ Michael Leunig


I have been thinking a lot about this poem lately

about how we relate to suffering

I was working as a counsellor in a small Maori community
Among other things all I did was treat 'emotional' wounds
and try to help them to find optimal conditions for their transformation of healing...

the pain in the soul...

how to heal it?

perhaps it is our tendency to deny the 'wound' that makes it necessary
to expose it in order to heal
that it isn’t the healing in it self that is painful , but that we cover up
hide and try to pretend we are okay when we're not.
So then it is the trust to open and let the wound be seen for what it is
that is painful ...the process of coming out in open air…

Feeling the real pain (and the concomitant joy) of being a ‘borderlander’, possibly?       Alan

This is my first visit to this group. I want to read the Bernstein book, and I'm also somewhat afraid to.  I've had the same type of experiences as Vonda mentions. It is so very painful!  I do donate to groups for humane farming, but I can no longer read the material or see the pictures. I remember driving through SF's Chinatown about 20 yrs ago, and being stuck behind a  refrigerated truck unloading  dozens and dozens of butchered young pigs hanging from hooks at the top of the truck. I was stuck there for about 20 min. All i could do was cry and pray. 


Alan thanks for your post and Michael Leunig's poem!

Ruth - I hear your fears and honor your vulnerability around this issue. Being especially sensitive to suffering in the world is both a gift and a heavy load to bear. Just so you know, I found reading Bernstein's book very healing as he advocates strongly that therapists hold the space for Borderlanders to be what they are and remarks how Borderlanders are doing the work that perhaps many others are unable to do.

I heard him speak last year and he really emphasized that we must not allow ourselves to focus on or fall into despair but instead to seek to understand how the earth needs us too and our being hopeful and seeking to enter into supportive and reciprocal relationship is the best thing we can do. That helped me realize I was actually unconsciously clinging to the despair in some ways and to begin to release it....Hope this helps, and I encourage you to pick up the book soon....
Thanks Bonnie, That does help! -Ruth


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