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Incarnational Spirituality in Daily Life

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Questions

By Freya Secrest

When I was in high school I didn’t like questions. Asking a question felt like showing my ignorance and that made me uncomfortable. My home environment had put more emphasis on finding answers. A good question was one with a specific and defined response that I could produce quickly.

That changed in high school. I remember my 11th grade Government class discussions where the favored question was one that evoked a dialogue. “Good” questions in that classroom were those that moved beyond a specific and obvious answer and invited discussion. I distinctly remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally asked a question that was given the label “a good question.” It generated a dialogue around our experience of a democratic principle rather than an answer memorized from a book.

Then in college I was faced with questions that had no objective answer or goal of dialogue, but aimed to evoke more of an individual subjective reflection. That is when I first was introduced to this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke in his book Letters to a Young Poet:

…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Living into questions – that was a whole new connection that my previous schooling had not really developed. I was intrigued, but it was still just an idea and a bit mysterious. I wasn’t particularly good at asking questions with patience and certainly not good at taking time at that point of my life to live into them, as Rilke suggests.

My ease with questions has grown as I have gotten older.  It has become more of a life-long process than I anticipated. I have developed more appreciation for the distinction between the inquiry that a “dialogue” question could help to shape or expand and an “answer-oriented” question which could lead to a solution for an immediate issue. And I have gradually found more ease with taking the time I need to acknowledge my questions and to “live with” them.

What I notice now as a growing point for my questioning is the way in which I am learning to not just “live with” my questions, but to “live into” them in order for an answer to emerge. This process, living into questions, is becoming clearer for me. I have observed the process requires that I am clear about what is true for me currently in a situation and then standing honestly and openly in that place. From there I can let myself be curious about what else is around. This has built a new relationship with questions and it unfolds from a place of curiosity and my own interest in newness, rather than from meeting others’ expectations.

This new connection to questions is helping me to find my way of living the answers. In this connection the focus shifts from a relationship to the question, into testing my relationship with an answer and noticing if it increases a sense of coherence in me. For example, my husband and I have been looking for a new house to be closer to family. In visiting houses for sale, I hold the question, “How does the envisioned image of living in this house and neighborhood feel in my body? Does it bring a sense of openness or hope?” With the understanding that there are many possible responses, this living into a question helps me to recognize and in the end expand my place of ease with what is true and coherent for me.

Also, I am noticing my attention focuses around the connection between the questions themselves and answers that emerge; there is an attitude of possibility that holds them together within a wider field of interest. To really hold a question over time requires me to entertain a spirit of invitation to both question and answer– a spacious field of potential within myself that facilitates something to emerge from their interaction.

At this layer of inquiry, I find I hold more of a frame of “we” rather than “them” or “me”. There is an ecology of question and answer that is made up of all aspects and participants in an issue. I am interested in letting new information emerge both within myself and within another and any answer must somehow include all involved. In the example of my search for a new house this means I am not focused only on the house itself, or my perceived needs. I begin to think of the way I can relate to the world when living in the overall environment of that particular house; the natural world in that location; animal and human neighbors; what I can contribute to the overall ecology; and what I can learn and how that new relationship will shape my activity and my attention. With this I am called to live into the whole ecology of an answer and with the ripples that reverberate (as far as I can see and feel) from that particular configuration. It involves relating to overall facts, to where I can stand and contribute, and to how I can recognize and support other needs and truths in the situation.

This third layer of questioning is the one I am actively exploring in my life right now. Such questions do not shift me away from a responsibility to settle upon an answer and take action;instead they widen the circle of resources and responses I can draw upon. I have come to understand my questions now as invitations that serve to open up possibility for my future. And answers are about discovering the ground I can stand upon to build that future.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

Reconciling India

By Susan Beal

My husband, David, and I, went to India for two weeks in December. Siddhant, a beloved exchange student we hosted many years ago, was getting married. His family arranged for us to spend a week with them for the wedding festivities. We decided to spend a second week at a spiritual community planned around utopian ideals that we hoped would be restful after the wedding week.

There is little to rival the beauty and splendor of an Indian wedding. It was an overwhelmingly sensual experience – food rich with ghee and spices, henna paste painted in intricate designs onto our hands, trumpets and drums beating out wedding cadences, riotous dancing in the blazing sun, dazzlingly embellished clothing – everything swirling and teeming with colors, sounds, flavors and textures so unlike our quiet life in rural Vermont.

From left to right: Susan’s husband David, Siddhant and his wife, Susan

As Sid’s “American parents” we were welcomed as honored guests and treated like family. We participated in pre-wedding rituals we barely understood, were fed more Gujarati wedding food than we could handle, and were loaned traditional clothing so we were properly attired. Everyone wanted to meet us and tell us stories about Siddhant and his family or ask us how we liked India. Despite cultural differences between traditional Indian and American weddings, there were enough similarities to provide context and give us an emotional anchor. Through it all, we felt supported and protected by the warm hospitality of Siddhant’s family. And had we returned home at the end of that week, our trip to India might simply have been a delightful, if at times overstimulating, experience.

But as soon as we left for the Chennai airport and boarded the plane for Pondicherry, we had no one to mediate or interpret the intensity of India for us. I hadn’t realized how much the energy field of Siddhant’s family had buffered us from the psychic and sensory extremes of India. The sheer sensory overload began to catch up to me as soon as we left, not only from the wedding week, but from the scenery that flashed by us in disturbing polarities: ancient temples, ornately carved; gaunt, hard-faced women cooking meals for their children on rubble-strewn sidewalks; waves glittering on the Bay of Bengal; waiflike child beggars tapping on car windows; glossy cows strolling majestically through green fields; mounds of plastic trash tangled in the roots of banyan trees.

I suspect many of the readers of this blog, like me, are very sensitive to energies and environmental influences. I’m particularly sensitive to sound. I’m used to mostly natural sounds in Vermont—wind, birds, the sound of the brook, an occasional passing car. India was teeming with people, colors, noises, and smells unlike anything at home. The racket in India exacerbated the difficulty of taking in so many unfamiliar sights. The cacaphony of two-stroke rickshaw engines, diesel engines, blaring horns, barking dogs, rattling air conditioners, cement drills, and jack hammers made it hard to find my own center.

Despite my sensitivity, David and I are easy-going people. Normally we’d have taken such things in stride as an expected part of adventure in a new place. But we also knew we’d need down time to maintain our equilibrium. We thought we’d arranged for just that—a quiet, contemplative week to digest the wedding experience. Instead, the community we’d hoped would be peaceful and welcoming was opaque and almost impenetrable to casual visitors. We’d envisioned a serene setting, a meditative oasis, but the same scenes of deprivation and suffering were everywhere on the outskirts. Our guest house room, though clean, was stark and ill-lit, and filled with curry fumes from the kitchen exhaust fan below our glassless window. Hot water and electricity were intermittent. To top it off, we’d both picked up parasitic infections in the first week – the infamous Delhi belly. It seemed fitting that my digestive system was roiling along with my emotions. 

The morning after we arrived at the community, we came upon a tiny puppy lying, unmoving, in the heat of the sun by the side of the road. The owner of the café nearby said the puppy been hit by a motor bike. He seemed unconcerned, and his apathy was understandable. Why worry about one little dog in the midst of so much other human and animal suffering? The wall my heart had built to cope with the grief and intensity of India started to crack. I wanted to help the puppy. I wanted to walk away and not face the tide of utter helplessness I’d felt since we’d arrived. I didn’t want to drown in that tide I’d held at bay, and I struggled as I stood there, between opening my heart or closing it, trying to help or turning away. I struggled with my American assumptions in the midst of Indian realities. Suddenly it felt like a test, my heart being weighed on a scale.

Hesitantly, I asked the café owner for a bowl of water and a towel. I washed the puppy’s wounds, nestled her in the towel, gave her an energy healing with the help of my inner colleagues, and blessed her. Though I didn’t think she’d survive the night, I resolved to find out if there was an animal shelter, or at least a concerned person who might help. I couldn’t do anything for the begging children, or the women raising families on landfills, or the skeletal cows eating trash, but I could do something for this puppy. I clung to her welfare in the midst of my overwhelm as a tiny act of love I could take to buoy my drowning heart.

I teach a form of meditation called Yoga Nidra, which means yogic sleep. It’s deeply restful and restorative, but one of the most powerful practices within it is called playing with opposites. First you focus awareness on, say, an emotion like fear, noticing how it feels in the body. Then you focus on the opposite emotion—perhaps safety. Then you move back and forth, noticing differences in how the body responds. And then you hold both opposites in awareness simultaneously— hard to do intellectually, but revelatory when you surrender to it as a felt sense in the body.

We tend to think of opposites as, well, opposite; but in practicing yoga nidra, I’ve discovered that sometimes they’re the same energy in the body, just interpreted differently by the mind or psyche. For instance, joy and grief feel strangely similar – a strong sensation of energy in the heart, although, given my different associations with them, they moved differently in my body. Grief feels stuck and lumpy; joy shines and flows. Yet when merged, they melt into each other and become a radiance in my heart center.

No matter how much we might try, we can’t escape our cultural and individual biases and the way they influence our perception. In these times of increasing sensitivity to the flashpoints of prejudice and privilege, all I can claim about my experience of India is that it was mine, and it was up to me to integrate its extremes within the context of my own life. One day, while leaving the elegant courtyard of our inn, I almost stumbled on an old man lying in a heap of rags on the sidewalk. I looked at him and then around the street. People – Indians and white tourists alike, were streaming past. I steeled myself, and walked past, but my heart tore apart. It took the little puppy to help me find a way to back to my center. Tending to her helped begin to reconcile the opposites of India in my heart. All the love and kindness I’d experienced during the wedding, all the horror and helplessness I’d felt in the face of so much deprivation and suffering, narrowed down to a single point when I decided to try to help that little puppy.

She made a seemingly miraculous recovery by the next morning. She was up and about and wagged her tail when she saw me. Even the café owner seemed surprised and happy by such a turnaround. But alas, we didn’t save that puppy. We had gotten the name of a member of the Auroville community who worked at the animal sanctuary and promised to search for her. He never found her, although he found several others while searching and brought them to the safety of the sanctuary. 

Our bodies can make sense of what to our minds may seem like irreconcilable differences. But because our intellects often resist what our bodies understand, the body often reconciles such extremes through illness or injury. I was nauseous and utterly without appetite for over two months after returning from India. I lost 15 pounds and felt anxious and haunted. I cocooned in my safe, quiet bedroom for days on end, grateful for silence and stillness in which to slowly decompress and integrate. The whole trip to India—the joy, the pathos, the beauty, the horror—seemed to pivot on the moment I decided to help that puppy. All I could do was surrender to my body’s slow and steady healing, and wait for my appetite and energy to return.

What I’ve learned from the practice of playing with opposites in yoga nidra is that wholeness springs, in part, from the willingness to embrace it. Wholeness is implicate and ever present, waiting for us to recognize it, but our resistance to bridging differences and our love of neat categories can make us blind to it. It’s a common belief that beauty and joy are fragile, and even obscene in the face of suffering and degradation. We in the West seem to need dichotomies to make sense of the world. Our legal system is built on duality, as are our political and religious systems that define right and wrong for us. But the funny thing is, when you hold space for seeming opposites, when you really feel them in the body and the heart, the mind quiets down and paradoxes collapse. It’s not unlike eating food, in which something that is entirely separate from us, through digestion, becomes part of us.

One morning in India, while stopped in traffic in our taxi, I saw a toddler in the meridian, tied by her ankle with a strip of plastic to a shrub. Trucks, cars and auto-rickshaws whizzed past her on all sides while she poured water from a plastic bottle into the dirt and patted the mud onto her bare legs. She looked happy, utterly absorbed in play. A woman I assumed was her mother was knocking on car windows ahead of us. Just beyond the woman, a young boy and girl dressed in tatters were trying to cross the busy highway. Arms linked, they skipped and danced between cars, advancing and retreating across lane after lane of chaotic traffic. They were laughing as if it was the best fun in the world to make it safely to the other side.

I cannot know what lies ahead for that mother and her children. It’s difficult not to judge their lives from the standpoint of my own, and I feel many varieties of guilt and confusion. But the obvious joy of those children is what stays with me the most. It is there, in that innocent union of joy and suffering, where wholeness lies, and our divided hearts heal.  


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

From the Archives: The Fires of Joy

By David Spangler

Editor’s Note: From the Archives features reflections by David Spangler that are out of print or not readily available to members of our community. This essay was first published by Yes! Magazine in May of 2004. You may read the original post here.

Part of my spiritual practice is to “stoke the fires of joy.” This seems to me especially important at a time when the antithesis of joy is unleashed upon us and upon the world once again.

There are many images I could use to describe what I feel here. One that comes to mind is of a lighthouse. When the storm breaks and all is fierce winds and lashing waves, it is a lighthouse that penetrates the darkness and keeps the ships from crashing into the rocks.

Now that war has come, we are on stormy seas. The rocks of despair and depression, anger and fear threaten to sink our inner energy and vision.

There are many dangers—new diseases, famine, pollution, starvation, and so on and on—that confront us with stormy inner seas and challenge our humanity.

Yet, around all this and permeating it, is the presence of what I think of as the sacred, and it has power, too. Its power is rooted in love and in the sheer joy of life, of engagement, of making connections, of being part of wholes larger than ourselves.

I think of joy as an inner quality that is like medicine within the world. It is healing and restorative, vitalizing and protective. In the days ahead, the spiritual forces will be called upon even more for healing and grace, regeneration and blessing. They in turn are empowered by the inner medicines we supply—the joy, the love, the vision, the forgiveness, and the gratefulness, the light that we can produce.

I believe we forget the power of joy at our peril, for when we lose it, we can sink beneath the waves and become, to switch metaphors, breeding grounds for the forces of despair and destruction, frustration and fear. We become part of the storm, not part of the lighthouse. I don’t have an exercise or specific practice to recommend here. We each know what brings us joy. But there are two elements I would offer.

The first is simply to allow joy to be in us. I may feel in the midst of a world of sorrow and pain that it is somehow wrong or shameful or at least selfish to feel joy. But does my anger or fear or hatred or despair or depression remedy the world’s pain? Perhaps there are situations in which they can be of help by motivating me to change or to create change, but most of the time, they drag my energies down.

We may think of joy as selfish, but anger, fear, hatred, and certainly depression and despair are infinitely more selfish and self-involving. Joy is a quality that by its nature reaches out to more than just ourselves. It enlarges us, expands us, gives us a reason to keep on living and striving. Joy gives wings to my heart. Depression and anger are stones that weigh it down.
Will I become insensitive to the needs of others or the suffering in the world if I am joyful? No. I can be selfishly happy but not selfishly joyful. Joy does not blind my eyes to others. But fear, depression, despair can make me insensitive. They can lead me to denial. I try to escape into pleasure, distraction, addiction to avoid the pain, to blunt the suffering, to take the edge from despair.

Joy does not lead me to escape. It leads me to embrace the world with all its suffering and all its wonder and creative powers.

So do I have a right to be joyful? In a world of war and despair, do I have a right not to be? Shall I deny the world the gift of a buoyant heart and mind that can attune to the powers of spirit, the powers of love, the powers of the sacred, and the power of humanity to change and to grow?

Joy is not denial. Joy is not placid or resigned acceptance. Joy is a passion for the well-being of all and a courage to shape the world on behalf of that well-being. So the first step is to give ourselves permission to be joyful.

The second is to pay attention when life brings joy to us. It is a cliché, but still true that little things like sunsets and children’s smiles can bring joy. A flower can bring joy. Being with a friend can bring joy. For such a powerful force, joy can enter our lives in such small and trivial ways. Pay attention!

Keep alert! Joy can ambush us at any moment. It is a fierce warrior that wants our hearts as its captives, so it can liberate them to new possibilities and to a power to heal and transform. Surrender to its claims. Be open to its arrival. At a time of war, we should welcome the joy that is power, the joy that is peace, the joy that is medicine for the ills of the world.


There’s still time to sign up for David Spangler’s upcoming class, Fiery Hope:Forging the Creative Path. In this week-long forum (May 17-23) David will explore hope as a spiritual force that can be harnessed to transform one’s experience of life and positively impact those around us. For more information and to register, click here.  

Love Song

By Goeff Oelsner

What is precious is distilled at dawn

as sun peeps over the transom of morning

as newborn light burnishes your body

GAIA

with your migrant cloud-herds

vagrant tribes of upper air

with your azurite necklace of lakes

tangled skein of rivers

with gushing knots of ice melt

drip of thin rivulets over stone

with your maze of hairy roots

heft of hoary branches

with transparencies of cricket song 

bird song inlaying silence at dawn

with your spired and lucid crystal choirs

O blue jewel swaying on a stalk of sunlight

GAIA

What is precious is distilled 

each dew wet dawn 

we are dew-wed with you


If you have a story you’d like to share of your personal experience with Incarnational Spirituality, please email drenag@lorian.org. 

An Encounter with Stones

Essay and Photos by Akiko Mizutani

“Wow… I know this.”

It was a breathtaking moment, looking at the “Howe”, the first card that came out of the box of “Card Deck of the Sidhe”. And each time I placed a new stone card in front of me, I felt unique energy flowing. Holding the “Altar” card, I understood this was what I had been waiting for.

 

Some years ago, I encountered hidden “iwakura” stones at a privately owned land on the top of Mt. Rokko, a highest mountain in Kobe, Japan, where I live. “Iwakura” is a general Japanese term for megalithic structures such as pyramids, dolmens and stone circles like Stonehenge in England, which were probably made or arranged in ancient time based on some sacred intention and purpose. Some iwakuras are mythologized; others are hidden and forgotten.

I instantly fell under the enchantment of these megaliths seemingly without reason and  became a member of the conservation group protecting them. Every weekend for over two years I participated in activities like tree thinning, mowing, removing soil from the stones and measuring them. During this time I met many iwakura researchers and enthusiasts and heard a lot stories based on their research in archaeology, animism, mythology, and shamanism.

Some say these stones might be over ten thousand year old; others says these megalithic structures might be only a part of wide spread stone structures in these “sacred” mountains. Nobody knows the ancient truth but everybody has their own inspiration and sense of awe towards iwakuras and their hidden history.

 There are many iwakuras around Kobe. As I became more familiar with them, I felt like I was one of the people who first designed and built them with inspiration and guidance.

Gradually my inner voice started asking, “What were they trying to do? What kind of wisdom and power did they use? What kind of contacts might they have been trying to make? What can I do in order to reactivate that now, in this materialistic world?”

These internal conversations and fascination for iwakura led me to other preserved megalithic structures scattered over other regions in Japan. Generally speaking, they are usually hidden deep in a mountain, erected on the tip of a cape or enshrined behind old temples; therefore visiting iwakuras means to travel countrysides and walk around in sanctuary areas. This search naturally refined my sensitivity and connection with nature, with the subtle realm, and with the spirit of Gaia.

   

Two years later, in 2015,I quit my full-time job and shortly thereafter I got a “call” to create flower essences in Mt. Rokko. During the year I created 13 bottles of essences — 9 from wild flowers and 4 from the field of iwakuras — following my inner guidance and inspiration. I named them “Coming Home Essences” because I felt that they would offer energies to people that would help them remember their own Self-Light and Sovereignty.

 

As a “mere” housewife, however, I struggled to find words to theoretically describe the energy of these essences. Even though I needed to talk  about them as they gradually became popular among my friends, I couldn’t find suitable explanations or descriptions in the field of the more traditional flower essences. This struggle propelled me to dive deeper into my own spiritual journey and led to an encounter with the Transformation Game from Findhorn Foundation and my dear teacher Mary Inglis. In turn this led me to Incarnational Spirituality and “The Cards of the Sidhe”. 

Now I am exploring an alchemical way of using these Cards in combination with my essences — now the series has 22 bottles — and am excitingly awaiting what comes next.  Thanks to the Lorian Association for this wonderful opportunity to share my personal encounter with Stones and the Sidhe.
 


Akiko Mizutani will be attending Co-Creative Spirituality: Shaping Our Future with Unseen Worlds starting on September 22. This collaboration between Findhorn Foundation and Lorian Association serves as an invitation to step toward a new human identity which fully recognizes and honors our partnership with the subtle world. If you’d like more information about this upcoming event taking place at Findhorn, please click here.

The Evolution of Incarnational Spirituality

By David Spangler

Editor’s Note: The Lorian Blog is currently featuring posts on the topic, “Lorian: Who We Are, What We Stand For.” Blog contributors are regular writers and also newer voices who have been exploring Incarnational Spirituality in their own unique ways

The development of Incarnational Spirituality has been in every respect a collaborative adventure. It never has been the product of just one mind. Over the years, it has been a collaboration between me, a variety of non-physical individuals in the “subtle” worlds, and my fellow Lorian colleagues and associates. Incarnational Spirituality has also been enriched and broadened by contributions made from many of the hundreds of people who have studied it in Lorian classes.

Incarnational Spirituality, or IS, began with a challenge. One day, around the turn of the century, I was out for a walk and was reflecting on the many challenges that humanity was facing. As sometimes happens on such occasions, I was joined by a subtle being who kept pace with me for a while, obviously listening to my thoughts. I said something to him about the problems we faced as incarnate persons. I no longer remember precisely what I said. But I remember his response very clearly. He said, “The challenge of humanity is not that you are too incarnated. It’s that you’re not incarnated enough.” Then, apparently feeling he had planted a seed, he disappeared.

This statement was wholly unexpected and surprising. I remember standing by the side of the road, trying to make sense of what my invisible companion had said. How could we not be incarnated enough? How could we be more physical than we are? Upon reflection, though, I realized he didn’t mean that we needed to take on more physical matter. He meant that humanity wasn’t properly or sufficiently connected with its world in energy and in consciousness. In some manner, our incarnational process, whatever it might be, wasn’t as complete as it could be or needed to be.

This idea so intrigued me that I wanted to understand more. I felt that this being was challenging me to look more deeply into the incarnational process—the dynamics of energy and consciousness by means of which a soul takes embodiment in the physical world—in order to find insights that would be helpful to people seeking to make contributions to human spiritual advancement. So, I began using my connections with the subtle worlds to research the nature of incarnation.

I already had some information with which to start this research. I had known of the principles of Sovereignty, Self-Light, and Generative Identity since 1965 when, as described in my book, Apprenticed to Spirit, I began working with a partner from the subtle realms, a being I called “John.” He also introduced me to the realization that we did not simply incarnate into a body but into a field of energy that embraced the body but much else besides. I called this our “Incarnational System.” At the time, these ideas were not presented as elements of the incarnational process. Rather they were important parts of my training to work from a position of wholeness and integration with a variety of beings from the non-physical dimensions. However, I realized when I began researching incarnation itself that these ideas and principles were integral to that process as well.

I also had had an experience when I was seven of remembering the steps my own soul had taken to become embodied in the physical world; I awoke to and re-experienced my own incarnational process. Although each person’s incarnation is unique, there are patterns we all share in common. Therefore, this memory gave me a place to start.

The research process largely consisted of turning my mind’s eye clairvoyantly upon some stage or aspect of the incarnational process and then working to interpret and articulate what I was seeing. In this, I had help from my subtle colleagues, who would from time to time make their own suggestions or offer helpful information. I felt that we were exploring the topic together, each of us coming up with insights. I’m sure they could have simply said, “This is how incarnation works, David,” but that was not their way. They were not interested in transmitting information—revelations from on high—but in fostering understanding. That understanding was more than a collection of mental concepts; it was a lived experience.

One of the principle tools of this research was through my classes and workshops.  I used these events as opportunities to test what I was experiencing about the incarnational process, seeing if the way I was understanding and articulating it was helpful or even understandable to anyone else. At the same time, almost every time I held a class, one or more of my subtle colleagues would take it as an opportunity to suggest an exercise or two to see what the results would be.

I was upfront about this process, even whimsically and affectionately calling the group of people who regularly worked with me in road-testing these concepts and exercises as the “Guinea Pigs of Light.”  Their insights and reports contributed much to the shaping and deepening of IS.

Likewise, my Lorian colleagues, using the basic principles of Incarnational Spirituality, began teaching their own classes and bringing their own life experiences and expertise to further expanding the development of IS. This has been vital to the growth of IS. After all, I see things from a certain perspective and bring my own history, biases, and experience to the way I describe and explain Incarnational Spirituality. Others bring different perspectives, often seeing things I do not or going more deeply in areas where I have no training or experience. This enriches the whole body of IS knowledge and practice, giving greater dimension to insights I have had while offering new insights I could never have produced.

My subtle colleagues have been very clear over the past fifty years of the objectives of this work. Fundamentally, it is a work of fostering wholeness within both the person and the planet. Their primary goal is to contribute to the many ways humanity must learn and is learning how to live and work in harmony with the Earth. The wholeness and well-being of Gaia and of the community of Life that shares this world is the goal.

This wholeness cannot be manifested by physical means alone since the planet is more than just a physical entity. There is a vast subtle ecology at work as well, one in which humanity participates even if unconsciously. Further, many of the connections that need to be made for us to be “more incarnated,” as my contact said years ago, are made using subtle energies and tools operating within the subtle dimensions, as well as in the physical world. Being able to partner and work collaboratively with the subtle worlds is a critical element both in bringing wholeness to the Earth and in bringing wholeness to our own incarnations.

But working with the subtle dimensions requires being able to stand in one’s integrated and balanced identity, in one’s sovereignty and personal wholeness. It’s at this level that there is work that each of us can do, and it is the nature of this work—and how to do it—that is the focus of Incarnational Spirituality. Ultimately, we are asked to be “Gaianeers,” able to work in harmony with Gaia to bring wholeness into the world, but we begin this task by fostering that wholeness within ourselves and in our connections with each other.  That is the immediate work of Incarnational Spirituality.

The nature of this work is that it cannot be done—nor even defined—by a single person. It arises out of a collaborative, collective effort. It’s a bit like farming. A person might start the process by providing some seeds, but then it is up to all the farmers, working in the unique conditions of their own land with their own climate and soil, to plant and nurture these seeds in their own way. And as they do so, more seeds are created and more new knowledge is generated on how best to plant and grow them.

I have been privileged in working with my subtle colleagues to produce a few seeds, but now everyone who plants them in their lives, who begins living and experimenting with the ideas and principles of Incarnational Spirituality and finds new applications for those principles in their own environments and work, is a vital part of IS’s development and evolution. It’s this that makes IS alive, dynamic and relevant as a calling to be the generative and radiant individual we truly are.


If you have a story you’d like to share of your personal experience with Lorian and Incarnational Spirituality, please email drenag@lorian.org.

 

Finding Sanctuary in the Subtle World

By Karen Johannsen

Editor’s Note: The Lorian Blog is currently featuring posts on the topic, “Lorian: Who We Are, What We Stand For.” Blog contributors are regular writers and also newer voices who have been exploring Incarnational Spirituality in their own unique ways. Today’s blog writer, Karen Johannsen, is a Lorian colleague and author of Full Moon Magic: Invoking Spiritual Energies for Personal and Planetary Transformation, available in the Lorian Bookstore.

In the mid-eighties I think the universe must have conspired to catapult me into a whole new level of consciousness. Several life altering circumstances converged to expand my concept of the world. The first thing that happened was I came across the material put out by Machaelle Wright and her research center in Virginia, called Perelandra. I began using her flower essences and reading about the deva kingdom. She introduced me to the concept of co-creating with nature. That nature is a living intelligence and that we are hardwired to work in cooperation with these living beings. That they hold the blueprint for our evolution and they desire to work with us to assist us in our own processes of expansion. This was a completely new idea to me. At first, I have to admit, I resisted it because I suddenly felt overwhelmed that I now had to consider nature in making decisions…about my garden, about how I treated the earth, about my life. It seemed like just too much to take in.

About the same time I came across the Findhorn experiment and started reading Dorothy Maclean and David Spangler’s work. It reinforced this idea that the subtle worlds were real and accessible. My resistance vanished and I realized that I carried a deep longing to be more in sync with nature and her cycles.

About this same time I decided to go to graduate school to get my Masters in Transpersonal Psychology. I wasn’t at all clear about what I would do with an MA degree, but I felt compelled to begin this study. With young children at home I studied part time and it took me five years to complete my work. During that time there was another huge expansion of consciousness for me as I began processing and looking clearly at my own life. I emerged committed to begin a practice as a psychotherapist. But as I unraveled some of my own issues I began to see the dysfunction in my own life and my marriage.  

Three years after graduating, in 1990, I ended my 33 year marriage. Terrified and uncertain, I began to use some of the tools elucidated in the Perelandra work. I connected with a MAP team, beings in the subtle realms, who worked specifically with me and whatever issues were coming up for me. I would enter these sessions full of fear, doubt and uncertainty and would emerge 40 minutes later in a complete state of calm. Nothing external had changed. Internally my whole perspective was transformed. With the understanding that I had learned from David’s work and the Perelandra material, I was even more convinced of this field of subtle energy. And connecting with these special beings several times a week strengthened my belief and washed away any lingering resistance.

During this transitional time another practice I incorporated into my life was connecting to trees. I had always loved walking in the woods and now that I understood the true nature of that world I began walking in a different state of consciousness, really noticing the trees, asking to be connected to them, asking to be blessed by them. I decided to pick a tree that was along my walking route and just sit with my back against its trunk. Every day I would go there in so much anguish and fear and would feel the energy of the tree filling me with strength and solidity. I would visualize the roots of the tree supporting and grounding me. That earth energy was palpable and healing and sustained me through this life transition I was experiencing.  

Each of these practices helped me to deepen my faith in this unseen world. I began to long to be in sync with nature, to somehow honor and participate in her changing seasons. I began a practice of going out each morning to sit with my bare feet on the earth, giving thanks and sending gratitude to the overlighting deva of the land and blessing the angel of my hearth, feeling my connection to the subtle worlds deepen. I could then begin my day from a place of peace and alignment.  

My longing also led me to begin holding full moon meditations in my home as I was drawn to a practice that would align me more deeply with all of nature’s cycles. I have been holding these ceremonies now since 2002.

It is through these monthly gatherings and the practices inspired by my work with the subtle realms that I am strengthened and empowered. Each month I feel the qualities of the astrological signs pouring into me. Consciously receiving them, I strive to express them from my highest nature.

Before every full moon gathering I invoke the four directions, the astrological energies, my MAP team, the deva of the land and the angel of my hearth and other beings of light I work with, giving thanks for their participation. I ask that they bless each person who enters my home, that they may feel welcome and safe and receive whatever they might need. I have heard from so many people that entering my home feels like being in a sanctuary. One day my daughter came to visit and I was not home. She sat in my meditation chair and as she meditated this is what came to her.

May all who enter this house feel truly welcome, just as they are.

May all who enter this house dwell in ease of body and mind.

May all who enter this house feel the comfort of belonging to family.

May all who enter this house receive that which truly nourishes.

May all who enter this house be inspired to communicate that which is honest and true.

May all who enter this house know that in this place they may rest, free of judgment, scorn or expectation.

May all who enter this house feel the trees, the sky, the light and the birds surrounding and supporting them.

May we all take the strength and goodness we receive here and

Share it with the world.

This is my prayer to those unseen beings every month when we meet and I am forever grateful for their presence in my life and in my home.


If you have a story you’d like to share of your personal experience with Lorian and Incarnational Spirituality, please email drenag@lorian.org.

DAVID’S DESK #130 – HEARTLAND SECURITY

David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2018 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

DAVID’S DESK #130 – HEARTLAND SECURITY

Four years ago, one of my “subtle” (i.e. non-physical) colleagues said to me, “You are at war, but you don’t fully realize it yet.” His comment has been borne out by recent events detailing the extent to which Russian hackers and “bots” are utilizing social media in the United States to exacerbate existing tensions and divisions through the spread of misinformation. Nor is it just the Russians. ISIL has been using websites and Internet propaganda to radicalize individuals towards participating in their brutal form of violent jihad. Not to be left out, various hate groups in the United States and other Western democracies have been doing the same, all using the instant availability and openness of social media networks to advance their agendas. These are just the organized groups. We are also beset by uncounted numbers of individual “trolls” who take advantage of digital anonymity to spread negativity and conflict.  

If invading enemy tanks were rumbling up the streets of New York or San Francisco—or London, or Paris— the threat would be obvious. We would know what to do and how to respond. We’ve done it before, as when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Physical combat we understand.

But this war is different. It is a war being waged in the imagination, in the mind, and in the emotions. It is an “info-war” that is harder to spot, harder to define, harder to know just when we are being invaded, particularly because it enlists our own prejudices, our own fears, against us. Weaponized misinformation is challenging to defend against because it touches us in our beliefs: it invites us to accept and believe what we want to believe, whether it’s true our not. It uses confirmation bias as its ammunition. We feel affirmed in our worldview (whatever its limits), which makes us willing colluders with the very forces that wish to tear us apart.

What is even more subtle and dangerous, though, is how this war masquerades itself. Different as it may be from past physical conflicts, we still see it through a familiar lens as one human group versus another  It is the Russians against the United States, ISIL against the non-Islamic world, hate groups against people of races, ethnicities, and religions different from their own. The methods of attack and defense may be new but the adversarial narrative is not.

This war, though, is really an attack upon the human heart and its ability, in each of us, to craft a positive, planetary future. It is an attack upon our ability to walk beyond fear and to connect with each other.  It is an attack upon our ability to love and to see ourselves in the other. It is an attack upon our ability to grow and expand and give expression to what President Abraham Lincoln so aptly called the “better angels of our nature.”

It is an attack upon a larger, wider, deeper knowledge of who we are as human beings. It is an attack upon our ability to cooperate, collaborate, and co-create a positive future for all of us and for the world as well, upon which our lives depend.

Success in this attack depends on us not seeing that in this conflict, Russian hackers, ISIL jihadists, members of hate groups, and individual trolls are targets as well. Their hearts are being crushed, too, their humanity limited. But if they are not the deeper perpetrators of this war, who or what is?

In one sense, we are all under attack from old habits; ways of thinking and feeling that are outmoded in a planetary, digital Age; the pain of old wounds that have festered in the collective unconscious but are now finding release; suppressed animosities given new opportunities to express themselves; the karma of humanity’s suffering. In this context, perhaps the cartoonist Walt Kelly said it best on Earth Day, 1971, when he had his character Pogo say, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”

There is another force at work, though, which I choose to characterize as fear of the unknown. Few people like change. This is true even when it’s obviously beneficial; it’s even more true when the consequences of change cannot be wholly foreseen and may involve loss of some kind. Change isn’t safe.  It’s scary.

There is no question in my mind that right now we all stand as human beings at a tipping point. There are too many things happening in the world and to the world for life to stay the same as it’s always been. The choice we face is not whether or not to change but whether we will fear and resist or whether we will rise to the occasion and bring something new into being.

The war raging around us is a war over this choice.

Never before in human history have we had so many tools and so much power to bring us together as a planetary species in harmony with the world. We have access to modes of travel, communication, and cooperation that would have seemed godlike and magical only a couple of centuries ago.

At the same time, never have we been so faced with the tools and power to cripple, perhaps even to end, life as we know it. This need not be through physical destruction and annihilation. It can be through a retreat into ever-shrinking armed camps, buttressed by having only the information we wish to have, true or not, and defended by walls of thought, feeling, and action that keep away anything that is different, anything that might challenge our tiny status quo. We don’t have to kill ourselves to kill off the largeness and promise of our spirit.

This is the real war that surrounds us, whatever conflicts appear on the nightly news. It is fear of expansiveness, fear of change, fear of openness, fear of love, fear of difference, fear of cooperation aligning itself against the promise of the human spirit.

It is an attack upon the spiritual heart—the human heart—of who we are.  

It calls for us to rise to participate in “heartland” security, to protect the largeness of heart that is potential in all of us and to give it opportunity to grow, expand, and express.

Ironically, this is the easiest of all wars to fight. We do not have to bear arms, we do not have to dress in uniforms, we do not have to accumulate around us the armaments of war. What we do need to do is refuse to let our hearts and minds be shrunk. We must refuse to collude with fear and hate. If someone unknown on the Internet tells me to fear another American, I can respond by saying, “All Americans are my sisters and brothers. We may have different beliefs, but we are united as Americans.” If someone unknown on the Internet tells me to fear another race, another nationality, another religion, I can respond with a loving heart and say, “No!  All humans are my sisters and brothers. The future rises or falls on our ability to stand together in mutual respect that can see beyond our differences.”

In other words, we can imagine ourselves as being larger than our prejudices, larger than our fears, larger than the ideas that would limit and bind us in ever-smaller communities of bias. This is a war of imagination. Imagination powered by love is our greatest means of winning it.

When we stand in our Heartland and the love it can hold, then all the world becomes our Homeland, and all life our fellow citizens.

This is a war we must win. This is a war we can win. It just takes knowing who we can be, who we all can be together, and letting that truth dispel the misinformation that would tell us otherwise.


From March 1-28, join David Spangler for Subtle Energies I: Standing Whole. In this four-week class, David will guide participants as they explore the subtle sides of their natures. Understanding this aspect of yourself and learning to integrate its capacities in daily life is a key to being whole. Class will be held on our online educational website, Lorian Education, where materials can be accessed 24/7. Additionally, David will host five live webinars that participants can also download for their personal use. For more information and to register, click here.


David Spangler is a guest contributor to Earth Rising: Our  Sacred Destiny To Heal Ourselves and Uplift Our World, Together with David Nicol, beginning March 1.  For more information, click here

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