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Working with
Subtle Energies

by David Spangler
His insights and experiences with the non-physical dimensions of Earth.

The Call
by David Spangler
Who am I? Why am I here? The Call presents insights on what inspires, transforms, and sustains us.

Journey Into Fire
by David Spangler
An introductions to the core message of Incarnational Spirituality.
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David’s Desk

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DAVID’S DESK #126 – WATERBEDS

Back in the early Seventies, two married friends of mine decided to be early adopters of the latest thing in bedroom furniture: the flotation mattress, or waterbed. I happened to visit them not long after the bed was delivered, and they delightedly invited me to lie on it. I gingerly made my way to the center of the bed, feeling like I was crawling over a wriggling mass of Jell-O. Once there, though, it felt wonderfully relaxing, like floating on a softly undulating pool of water—which, of course, is basically what I was doing.

A couple of weeks later, I saw my friends again and asked how they were enjoying their waterbed. The husband gave his wife a rueful look and said, “We had to get baffles.”

“Baffles?” I asked.

“Yeah. They’re slats that are inserted into the mattress to break up the waves that can form in the water.”

He then told me that one night his wife had jolted into wakefulness with a painful cramp in her leg. Her thrashing about had created a wave in the water of the mattress that rushed over to her husband’s side and flipped him out of the bed onto the floor, bruising his arm.

My friend was laughing as he related this to me, though he admitted he hadn’t been laughing at the time. It is a funny story. But it’s more than that. Over the years as I’ve observed the effects of subtle energies of thought and feeling in our environment, I’ve had numerous occasions to think about it. It’s an ideal metaphor in many ways for our relationship to the invisible currents of thought and feeling that surround us all the time.

It’s as if we are all lying on the same waterbed. Though we live our separate lives on the surface, we are resting on invisible networks of connectedness. These connections create a collective human field which, like my friends’ flotation mattress, can transmit waves of feeling from one part of humanity to another. If people cry out with fear and suffering in Puerto Rico or Syria, for example, the subtle energy of their emotions are not confined to their physical locality but ripple out, like the waves in a waterbed. And when those waves reach where we are lying, we, too, can be “flipped out.” Our own personal energy fields can respond in unanticipated ways. Our mood may suddenly change, leaving us feeling anxious or fearful, angry or hateful, for no rational reason that we can discern. But because we believe that our thoughts and feelings exist in a private subjectivity within our own heads, we can fail to recognize that, like a radio or television set, we are picking up on information “broadcast” from somewhere else.  

If we identify strongly enough with these sudden and anomalous “flips” of emotion or thought, then we can add our personal energy to them. We propagate the wave onward through our collective “mattress,” increasing the chance that others will have their moods, their thoughts, their feelings flipped as well. And sometimes this “flipping out” can lead someone who is susceptible to take dangerous and hurtful actions in the physical world.

These subtle waves moving through our human collective field are undoubtedly given power and shape by media. The news is an almost continuous litany of anxiety-producing images and stories. We are bombarded on two fronts, consciously by negative information transmitted through news programs, radio shows, social media, and the Internet, and subconsciously by negative energies generated by the many ways in which human beings inflict emotional, mental, and physical suffering on each other.

The situation is not hopeless, but it does require our attention. We need to understand that our thoughts and feelings can have nonlocal effects and to take responsibility for what we project into the world.

One action we can take is exactly the same as my friends took with their waterbed. They got baffles to break up the waves. We can do the same, except in this instance, we are the baffles. Simply by refusing to give attention and energy to sudden “flips” or bursts of negative feeling and thought, whether stimulated by media or by some, hidden, unconscious, invisible subtle influence, we can stop a wave from developing and propagating further.  

Recently I was sitting in a restaurant chatting with a friend when I felt a sudden, unreasonable anger, even a hatred, for government employees. There was no reason in the world for me to feel this; it certainly wasn’t anything I was thinking about, and I don’t cultivate anger or hatred in any event. Yet the feelings were intense. It would have been easy and natural to identify with them.

I’m familiar, though, with how feelings like this can travel through our collective waterbed.  And knowing this, I knew it was time to be a baffle. I first acknowledged the feelings and didn’t try to push them away; in effect, I was holding the subtle energy in my own field so it wouldn’t travel on. Then I consciously invoked a feeling of love. I enfolded the anger in this love, and as I did so, the intensity of these strange feelings simply evaporated.

I didn’t have to know where these feelings came from. How could I know? These days, so many people are angry with government at all levels. My job as a baffle was not to pass them on, not to assign blame to anyone for generating them in the first place.  

Being a baffle means deliberately standing in a calm, loving, solid place, and this means knowing yourself. It means cultivating the kind of emotions and thoughts in the moment that you would like to receive from others, that you would find supportive, encouraging, protective, and loving. We can’t help broadcasting into the subtle environment, into the network of connections that tie us all together, into the waterbed of humanity. But we can choose what we project, and when we run into its opposite, as we surely will, we can then transform it or at least not pass it on.

I’ve focused on the transmission of negative energy here because that is what creates problems for us; given human habits, it’s what we are likely to fixate on, as well. We are hardwired to be sensitive to threats. But it’s important to realize that our waterbed can transmit waves of good feeling, waves of courage, joy, love, and support as well. This is a whole area of spiritual service in itself, deliberately being a source of the kind of positive creative energies we’d like more of in the world.  

With this in mind, when you suddenly feel happy for no reason or in spite of everything on the news, you feel that the world is an OK place and that good things will unfold, then you can “flip” for that wave. That’s the kind of thing we definitely want to pass on.


Are you seeking ways to develop your sense of self as an artist? Is there a book or painting sleeping inside of you and you’re looking for the courage to bring it into being? Or do you long to bring a creative spirit to your everyday tasks?  If so, join Freya Secrest for Incarnational Artist-In-Residence. During this hour-long webinar, Freya will share creative practices from her new book Showing UP: Practices for a Spirited Life and help you create a sacred environment to support your creativity. Click here for more information and to sign up.

DAVID’S DESK #125 – INFRASTRUCTURE

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 ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

DAVID’S DESK #125 – INFRASTRUCTURE

This past month has been a challenging one, and for thousands of people it continues to be so. The hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, and the earthquakes in Mexico have resulted in loss of life, homes and livelihoods. In Puerto Rico especially, we are witnessing what happens when a modern society dependent on electricity is suddenly deprived of power and infrastructures break down. In today’s world, it could happen to any of us.  

Aside from Seattle being a potential target for one of Kim Jung-Un’s nuclear ICBMs, our area is not threatened by hurricanes or floods, but, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, we do sit on a major earthquake fault where “the Big One” is expected to eventually hit. And Mt. Rainier, fifty miles or so to the south of us, is considered the most dangerous active volcano in the United States outside of Alaska and Hawaii. An eruption would cause widespread devastation and loss of life and property.

My wife and son are currently taking classes in disaster preparedness sponsored by the Federal Emergency Assistance Agency, FEMA. The idea is to create a resilient infrastructure of neighbors who can assist each other in the event of a disaster. As my wife put it, “We are being trained to be the band-aids to provide help before the professional first responders can get to the scene.” This involves obvious preparations as having food and water for each family member for a week, plus extra for sharing, as well as batteries, basic medical kits and other emergency supplies. But it also means knowing your neighbors: who has special needs; who has tools like chain saws; who is elderly and needs extra help; who has useful skills? The objective is to ensure your own household is prepared and to also ensure your neighborhood is prepared.

At the heart of this approach is a realization that the most basic, effective, and resilient infrastructure is based on cooperative human relationships: caring for and looking out for each other. There may be times in our future when governments and official institutions are stretched beyond their capacities to respond and help, at least for a critical few days or weeks. At such moments, what we have—what, really, we have always had—is the community we can build together.

This is why the strongest infrastructure is not technological but relational. It’s what we build in our hearts towards and with each other. It is founded on a sense of our own ability to rise to the occasion when needed and to help others even as we may receive their help. It is an infrastructure of goodwill and kindness. In the news recently, we have seen many inspiring instances of people in Texas, Florida, Mexico, and now in Puerto Rico falling back upon and contributing to this infrastructure. Further, this infrastructure extends beyond the immediate locale of the disaster but reaches into hearts and minds around the world who make what contributions they can of money, goods, services, and energy to help those in need.

There is another infrastructure that is important, though it is little recognized in modern society.  This is an infrastructure of subtle energy, life, and consciousness operating in the non-physical dimensions of the earth. I have rarely spoken of this in these David’s Desk essays, but those who know me know that as a spiritual explorer and teacher the bulk of my work is with these invisible realms of life. They are as objective and real to me as the houses of my neighbors where I live, as real as the trees in our yards, as real as my neighbors themselves.

It’s my experience that learning to work with this subtle infrastructure is an important complement to working with the many forms of physical infrastructure that make up society. It can never be a substitute for the latter but it is part of the larger, whole picture of being a prepared and resilient citizen in today’s world.  

Giving an in-depth picture of this subtle infrastructure and how to work with it is beyond the scope of this essay. If you are interested, I refer you to books I’ve written, such as Working with Subtle Energies, or to classes offered by the Lorian Association. All the necessary information is on our website.

However, I do want to offer one insight. I think of this subtle infrastructure as a linked network or community of beings whose lives are conduits for the flow of energies of life, vitality, healing, inspiration, and love. Though we are physical individuals, we can certainly participate in such networks, being able to both contribute and distribute the blessings these energies offer. We link into these networks through our own love and compassion and through the attunement of a calm mind and heart.

If you wonder if such an infrastructure does any good, consider the difference between an atmosphere of fear, panic, anger, and helplessness and one of confidence, calm, reassurance, courage, and love. The outer situation may be the same, but the psychic atmosphere can influence whether people find the inner stability to deal with the crisis or whether they give up in despair and despondency. The active channeling of positive, constructive, empowering, vital subtle energies into a crisis locale can assist the actions of those working on the ground to help and support their mental and emotional resiliency and creative decision-making.

When disaster strikes as it has in Puerto Rico, the subtle infrastructure is impacted by the storm of human distress, fear, and suffering, just as the outer infrastructure is damaged by the wind and water of the hurricane. You could say there is an inner hurricane as well. And just as there are human first responders who try to put the outer infrastructure back together, there are inner equivalents doing the same thing.

It is these beings I wish to help. I want to send them my positive energies in much the same way that I donate money to aid organizations that are supporting the physical first responders. In the latter case, I have to access my bank account and I need to find the connection that will send my money to the proper destination. The same is true when working to help the subtle infrastructure. In this case, though, the “bank account” is our reservoir of positive thought and feeling. If the subtle environment of Puerto Rico, for example, is being filled with fear, anger, despondency, and other negative emotions, I don’t want to duplicate those. I want to contribute energies that uplift and inspire, energies that will contribute to the mental and emotional—and physical—resiliency of the people there. I must first find and expand upon those positive energies, like courage, hope, and love. I need to create my “subtle aid package” appropriately.

Then I need to send it. I don’t have to have any special powers to do this, but I do need to find a resonance with the subtle infrastructure of Puerto Rico. I do this by taking time to learn enough about this country that I can feel a sense of it. Maybe I read about it on Wikipedia; maybe I find some YouTube videos of life in Puerto Rico. What is important is that I want to attune my thinking to positive images of the country and not see it only in terms of the destruction it is now experiencing. I want to develop a felt sense of “Puerto-Rico-ness” in my mind and heart, a felt sense of attunement to the land and people there. Then, using this felt sense as a point of connection, I ask the angels in charge of the subtle infrastructure there to receive my “aid package” of positive energies and distribute them as needed.

I could do this with the people around Houston, the people in Florida, the people in Mexico City, or anywhere else in the world.  When it comes to subtle work, distance is not a barrier.  What is important is the love and the felt sense of resonance that makes the connection.

We live in a world filled with many infrastructures upon which we depend. The physical ones can be destroyed, as we are finding all too often these days of climate change, terrorism, and war.  But the infrastructures of the human heart and of the subtle worlds are far more resilient and powerful—and dependable. Learning to work with these infrastructures is, I feel, the greatest preparation we can make for whatever the future holds.


Would you like to learn more about working with subtle infastructures? Consider subscribing to David Spangler’s Views from the Borderland. Subscription includes 4 print journals and two online forums. The cost for a USA subscription is $110. International subscriptions cost $130. For more information or to subscribe, click here.

 

DAVIDS DESK #124 – “You Shall Not Pass”

DAVID’S DESK #124

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 ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

You Shall Not Pass!”

There is a dramatic moment in the Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s acclaimed trilogy, Lord of the Rings, when the Fellowship is racing through the dark caverns of the mines of Moira pursued by a Balrog, a demon from the depths of hell. As they scurry across a bridge, the wizard Gandalf the Grey turns to confront the demon, drawing on all the power of his magic to make himself a barrier to protect his fleeing companions. Standing firm, he yells to the Balrog, “You shall not pass!”

Humanity is facing its own Balrog moment. Around the world, hatred is feeling emboldened to pursue and enforce an agenda of division and brokenness based on the false superiority of one group over another. This hate can take many forms and march under the banner of many causes. It has shown up as ISIS. It has appeared as extreme forms of nationalism. It showed up this past month in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hate will continue to appear in the future until there is no place for it in the world. For that to happen, it falls to each of us in our lives to stand up to this momentum of hatred and division and say, “You shall not pass! This shall not be your world!”

Spiritual teachers and leaders, as well as others, routinely exhort us to be loving towards each other and to not meet hatred with hatred. There are excellent reasons for this, for the spirit of hatred doesn’t care in whose heart and mind it lives, only that it is being given expression. But loving can be a challenge. There are few of us who do not have our own Balrogs lurking in the dark corners of our anxiety, ready to strike out at whatever causes us fear, ready to attack and destroy whatever we don’t like. But if we are truly to keep the forces of hatred from rampaging through our world, we can’t become Balrogs ourselves. Giving hate license to emerge, even if seemingly for a good cause, only exacerbates the problem. “You shall not pass!” applies to our own darker impulses as well.

There is a difference between establishing a boundary that says a firm “No!” to attitudes and actions that divide and cause suffering, and becoming hateful ourselves towards those who espouse such behavior. It requires self-knowledge and inner discipline to manifest the former and not the latter. It becomes easier when we make lovingness a habit. This can take many forms: kindness, compassion, honoring another, listening, learning. Love is a spirit of inclusion that accepts and honors the plurality and diversity of the world and is comfortable with complexity and difference. Love grows out of a healthy sense of sovereignty and respect for one’s own boundaries and care for the sovereignty and boundaries of others. It grows out of taking practical actions to demonstrate its presence and power. It grows out of consistent practice even when faced with circumstances that might otherwise appeal to and evoke our inner Balrogs.

We are complex people who nonetheless love simplicity. Simple things are easier to understand and control and therefore feel safer. This preference gives rise to monocultures, the attempt to reduce the complexity of the world into sameness, stripping away the hard edges of differences and rounding everything off into conformity of belief and action. Whether this monoculture is environmental, political, religious, racial, or cultural, it always flies in the face of nature’s diversity and the plurality of life. Ultimately, it can only be established through control and violence. Ultimately, it turns love into narcissism.

The arc of human evolution has been to engage with greater and greater complexity, both within the world and within ourselves. It is love that drives us forward along this arc, for it takes a truly loving heart and mind to be open to the diversity that is the nature of the world and the nature of who we are . Hatred pulls us back into an imagined world that bleeds all the colors out of the rainbow and leaves only a grey sameness and conformity, a world that collapses into itself. It denies who we are, what the world is.

It’s vital that when confronted with hatred, we take a stand to say in words and deeds, “This shall not pass!” Otherwise, when we let the Balrogs win, either in ourselves or in our societies, it is we who do not, cannot, pass into what is possible for all of us in partnership and collaboration.


This month the Views from the Borderland Subscription Program enters its 7th year. The program includes 4 print journals sharing David Spangler’s perceptions of the subtle worlds and two online forums where David Spangler and subscribers freely discuss material from the quarterly journals. The cost for a USA subscription is $110. International subscriptions cost $130. If you’re not already a member, consider joining us. For more information or to subscribe, click here.

DAVID’S DESK #123 – A BLAST FROM THE PAST

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 ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

Perhaps it’s the presence of August and the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer,” but I’ve not been able to think of a suitable topic for this month’s David’s Desk. I think my mind has gone on vacation!  Consequently, I’m turning to a previous essay I wrote about five years ago which is just as pertinent now as it was then. I hope you find this blast from the past interesting and useful, a tidbit of thought to carry into your own summertime.


My wife loves the science of geology, a topic I’ve learned to appreciate through her eyes. When we’ve driven through mountainous areas of Arizona and New Mexico she loves to point out the various colored layers or strata of rock indicating the different geological ages of the earth. Such strata are easy to see in such places. Unlike the Pacific Northwest where all the mountains are covered with lush forests, everything is stripped bare beneath the sun in the American Southwest. The mountain’s history is there for all to see.

We have strata within us as well. On the one hand, there is the deep history of the soul laid down over millennia and carrying ancient memories, and on the other, there is the history of current experience, laid down and changing moment by moment. In between these two is a range that is unique for each of us.  

Our experience of the world is influenced by which of these strata we identify with. The deeper the strata, the more my vision is one of long time-spans and depth of experience; there is a calmness there, a sense of perspective that no matter how bad or urgent things seem in the moment, they will pass. Nothing is bad forever; nothing is good forever. It is the perspective of age.  

On the other hand, the more the strata are close to the surface of my life, the more my vision can be captured by the flickering importance of the moment. The long view is not as evident; I lose perspective. Specific events, taken out of a context of history, seem more urgent, more demanding; I am less calm in their presence.

A number of factors have led to my thinking about these strata. I have always been a news junkie, taking after my father who listened to the news several times a day. So I start my day with one of the morning news programs on television. I can’t help but notice, though, that the intent is less to inform me than to quicken my pulse and engage my emotions with a sense of drama and urgency. From the way the headlines are written to the presentation of the anchors, everything is slightly breathless, the recitation of one crisis after another. Channel surfing, I find this is true of all the morning shows (and evening ones as well); the not-so-hidden subtext is to gain ratings over the competition not by informing alone but by entertaining.  

In these presentations, there is no sense of past or future, only of the drama of the moment, the urgency of what’s happening. It is aimed not toward a stratum of thoughtfulness and calm reflection but towards one of immediate emotional reaction and thoughtless opinion. If I were to live at that level of awareness, then my day would be filled with one disconnected event after another as one layer of experience is immediately replaced by another. Like a layer of loose shale that can give beneath my feet when climbing over stone, this stratum has no staying power. It gives way, potentially sliding me into one feeling of crisis or another. Economic collapse! War! Terror! Climate change! Celebrity divorces! If this surface stratum is as deep as I go, I condemn myself to lurching from event to event, never finding stable footing and feeling an ongoing anxiety about life and the world if not outright panic.

I think of this as the “stress stratum.” It offers little to calm me or give me a sense of safety and composure in the face of the challenges of modern life. It’s not without its attraction, though. For those who like drama in their lives, it keeps the adrenaline going. I remember years ago when I was a co-director of the Findhorn Foundation community in northern Scotland being asked occasionally by visitors, “How can you stand living in a community where people get along with each other? Isn’t it boring?” For many people, a good argument, a good crisis, a good fight, a bit of urgency provides desired spice to their lives.

There’s some rationale for this. Medical science has long known that some stress is good for us, keeping our minds alert and our boosting our bodies’ performance. The challenge comes when there’s too much stress or stress continues over too long a time. Then mental and physical capacities degrade making us less able to make good decisions or having the healthy energy to sustain effective follow-through to the decisions we do make. So the stress stratum is good to visit now and then, but living there all the time can have serious consequences for ourselves and for society as a whole.

We are all living in a world now that is filled with challenges; the possibilities for danger, for threat, and for stress are all around us. This is particularly true if our information about the world comes mainly through popular media where drama often trumps information and thoughtful reflection. In calmer times when events did not seem so pressing and potentially calamitous, living mentally and emotionally in the surface or stress stratum of our lives might not have been so problematic. But now we run the risk of being jerked back and forth by events, media, and the apocalyptic rhetoric of political forces. Caught in the loose and unstable shale of our thoughts and emotions, we are less able to find the depth of thought and perception that can provide a stable place to find our footing to make choices that will best benefit all of us.

In spiritual practice, it is traditional to urge the seeker to find a place of calm and serenity in his or her thinking and feeling to meet the world from a more effective, compassionate and thoughtful place. There are different ways of doing this, meditation and yoga among them. The idea is to find those deeper strata of life and consciousness within us and make them the foundation for our behavior.

In a materialistic world, we are prone to think of spiritual practices like meditation or the calming of the mind, heart and body, as optional lifestyle choices, a kind of accessory to getting on with being successful in life. But this is changing. The capacity to access a place of calm within ourselves in moments of crisis is becoming a survival skill. We can’t just pay lip service to the deep strata of our being as we drive by en route to a better job, a better house, a better car, a larger television, and more status than our neighbor.  Ask the thousands who are being displaced by the wild fires in the American West or the floods in the American South and Midwest, not to mention the refugees from the terror in Syria, or the potential chaos lurking just below the political, social, and economic surface of many other countries around the world. Without a capacity to find a calm center, they are at the mercy not only of the storms of events but the inner storms of their own fears and sense of helplessness. The deep strata of our being don’t automatically work miracles to keep us free from crisis but they do give us a solid foundation of resilience and hope that the stress stratum does not. Events may cascade around me forcing unwelcome change in my life, but if I can access the calm place within me, I can respond with strength. Otherwise, fear may rule, sweeping away my capacities to cope and transcend.

How might we find these deeper strata? Each of us must find our way of doing so; after all, it is our unique inner place of calm, not someone else’s. Yet there are avenues open to us:  prayer, meditation, body work like yoga, compassion, a reverence for life, giving service to others. For myself, I anchor my awareness in my body, finding my center of gravity, and then connecting to the earth beneath me and, with love, to the things around me. In fact, turning my attention away from myself and towards others or to the things in the world around me with love works because the deep strata of our being are soul strata where love is the dominant mode of expression.

In the mountains of the Southwest, the lower strata of stone that my wife and I can see as we drive by represent the ancient history of the earth. They are a testament of what has been. But in our lives, our deep strata of soul life and calmness are not our history but our present, if we choose them; more importantly, as crises come to us in the future, whatever they may be or however many there are, these strata are the foundation on which a promising future may be built, one that can bless all of us.

(Originally published at David’s Desk #62 – Strata)


Join David Spangler, Soren Hauge and Jeremy Berg at Mosswood Hollow from August 5-6 for The Wild Alliance: A Weekend with the Sidhe. For more information or to register, click here.

DAVID’S DESK #122 – BEING GAIA

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 ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

BEING GAIA

At the end of this month, Lorian will be hosting its first major public conference. I’m excited about it because of the excellent roster of international presenters it will have and also because it will be my first time giving public talks, other than online, in several years. I’m looking forward to it, and naturally, I hope you can come.

The conference is called “Gaianeering,” a term coined by my Lorian colleague Jeremy Berg to describe the many ways, inner and outer, that we can contribute to the wholeness of our planet and to our own spiritual development. Which is, besides to make a shameless plug for this event, what I’d like to discuss in this month’s David’s Desk.

In 1979, the British scientist James Lovelock published the book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. In it, he presented evidence that through the auto-regulatory systems of the biosphere, the Earth acted as a living organism. At the suggestion of his friend, the author William Golding, he proposed to call this organism by the Greek name for the goddess of the earth and the mother of all life, Gaia. This was the beginning of what was called the “Gaia Hypothesis,” co-formulated by Lovelock and the American microbiologist, Dr. Lyn Margulis. Although initially met with skepticism by their scientific colleagues, further research generated enough evidence in support of this hypothesis that it became accepted and graduated to becoming the “Gaia Theory.”

Both Lovelock and Margulis were Lindisfarne Fellows, members of the Lindisfarne Association founded by cultural historian and author, William Irwin Thompson. This was a gathering of scientists, artists, engineers, economists, historians, spiritual teachers, philosophers, and even an astronaut, all promoting a society committed to holistic thinking and behavior and working towards a positive future for humanity. As I was a Lindisfarne Fellow as well, I had occasion to meet and talk with them both at the Association’s annual conferences.

The theme of one of these conferences was “Gaia:  A Way of Knowing,” which later became the title of a book edited by William Irwin Thompson. The conference focused on the idea of Gaia not simply as a way of talking about the planet as a living organism but as a way of describing a more holistic, ecological, systems-oriented world view, a way of understanding the world as networks and patterns of interconnections, relationships, and interdependent wholes rather than as collection of discrete but separate entities. In other words, how would an organism think that was responsible for the vast, complex interactions that make up the ecology of the planet and that sustain all life? How would we think with such a focus?

I thought of this worldview as “thinking like a planet,” a way of thinking and engaging the world in ways that are holistic, ecological, and systemic, honoring the whole and the whole-within-the-part. It is a worldview that is native and instinctive to the non-physical beings who are my subtle colleagues, but it’s one that’s not so familiar yet to most of us living in the industrialized world which is historically based on a non-holistic, non-ecological way of perceiving and acting in the world. As we are seeing the destructive consequences of that approach, it seems to me the challenge of our time, for our survival and the survival of many other species that share the biosphere with us, is to learn how to “think like a planet.” It is for me a form of thinking that is infused with love and the willingness to nourish and foster life in all its forms.

What the idea of “thinking like a planet” also implies is that we are the planet. We are Gaia. If anything, this is what an understanding of ecology (both physical and spiritual) teaches us: that we cannot separate ourselves from the web of interconnectedness and interdependency that makes up the web of planetary life. We simply cannot affect one part of our world without affecting in some manner all other parts, including ourselves. Some of these consequences, as we are learning, can be disastrous. It is in our best interests to learn to think in terms of the whole system of which we are one part.  

We are Gaia, so let us think as Gaia.

This is what Gaianeering is all about. It is learning to think and act as if we are not only our human selves but an embodiment of the spirit of the Earth as well. As our power to affect the planet as a whole has grown exponentially over the past century, so has our need to be the spirit of Gaia—to become skilled and wise practitioners of Gaianeering—grown as well.

[If you would like more information about the Gaianeering conference this month, in which both practical and theoretical aspects of this theme will be explored, you will find it on Lorian’s website here.]


From July 8-15, join Rue Hass for Imagination, Shapeshifting and Loving the World. In this week-long Lorian Discovery class, you will engage in activities to help you understand the spirit of your own imagination, our human imagination and the imagination of the earth. Click here for more information and to register.

David’s Desk #121 – Thank You

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 ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

DAVID’S DESK #121 – THANK YOU

This essay starts my eleventh year of writing David’s Desk. When I started, George W. Bush had one year yet to go on his second term as President. Obama had been a United States Senator for two years and was starting to organize his Presidential campaign, though he was hardly a blip on anyone’s radar. Hillary Clinton was the favorite for being the Democratic nominee the following year.

Here’s another incredible thought. David’s Desk is the same age as the iPhone. It was introduced to the world and put on sale the same year as I began writing these essays. Seems like a lifetime ago, so ubiquitous and important have smartphones become in our lives.

Time, as they say, marches on.

What has been constant through all the changes of the past ten years has been your support. For this, I thank you.    

It has been an honor knowing that these little essays are going to be part of your life each month, hopefully providing inspiration and helpful ways of looking at things. As it says in the prologue, it’s my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey, and I do so as a companion sharing that same journey.  

Some months the ideas flow easily and quickly. I know exactly what I’d like to share with you and how to do so. Other months, I stare at my computer screen on and off for hours, even days, and wonder if I’ll ever have anything useful to say again. Frustrated when the ideas and words don’t come, I’ll think, “Why did I ever start doing this?” But then I think about you, dear reader, and what a privilege it is to share a few minutes of your time each month with the possibility and the hope of offering something that will at least bring a smile.

So again, thank you for your support and for giving me the opportunity to do this.

Much of my daily work involves writing about Incarnational Spirituality and about the interactions with the non-physical or “subtle” dimensions of life in service to the emergence of greater wholeness in our world. Most people would probably think of this work as “esoteric,” though for me it is perfectly normal and ordinary. In fact, conveying this sense of normality in dealing with the subtle worlds is a major objective of mine.

When it comes to writing these essays, though, I decided to refrain from discussing esoteric matters and to focus instead on the intersection of spirituality with our ordinary, everyday life. If anyone is interested in the esoteric side of things, I have written plenty of books on such matters, and I have a journal to which one may subscribe that is wholly dedicated to exploring the subtle worlds. Most people, though, are challenged (and delighted) enough with the ordinary aspects of life without worrying about non-physical realms. It’s to these people that I want David’s Desk to be relevant.

I also decided that I did not want to use these essays to warn about dangers or to raise alarms. There’s plenty in the world to be concerned and alarmed about, and there are dangers, to be sure. But many people are writing about these things. A strident urgency enters into our common discourse that can be appropriate at times but more often than not simply keeps our emotions stirred up to a fever pitch without offering resolution. We can find ourselves going through our days angry, afraid, and adversarial. For all that fear can provide a useful warning, anger can be justified and lead to positive actions, and there are things in the world to be opposed, these cannot be the mainstays of a life. They diminish our ability to be centered, calm, and collaborative. They crowd out love and hope, and they feed a desire to demonize and divide.

Consequently, I have chosen to write on topics that will give us inspiration, strength, and hope and that celebrate our generative and creative possibilities as individuals. As I say, tools for the spiritual journey.

Some months, though, when I sit down to write my David’s Desk, I feel a temptation to write to the news, to speak to events in the world as reported by the major media, on the assumption that what these reports stir up in our lives is something with which we all must deal.  Part of this comes from a desire to be “relevant.” But there is more happening in our world than just what we see or hear through the filters of the six o’clock news or the morning newspaper. Politics, economics, even the changes in weather, do not define nor circumscribe the richness of our lives—at least, I hope not! Being relevant means, to me, speaking to the spirit within us and how it may emerge on a day to day basis with hope, with love, with compassion, with courage, and with resilience. This is what I will continue to address in writing these essays.

Looking back at the past decade, I am amazed at how much the world has changed and how much it is the same, presenting us with the same challenges and the same potentials. We are all more interconnected than ever with our smartphones and social media, yet we are seemingly more divided as well. We can feel just as isolated, alone, and fearful as ever. Tweeting or posting on Facebook doesn’t alleviate this in the long run. For this, we must tap the spirit within us, the spirit that transcends boundaries and draws us together in mutual humanity. We must practice the timeless art of caring for each other.

The Romans built an extensive and impressive system of roads across their empire to facilitate the movement of their legions for conquest. Yet it was these very roads that the early Christians used to spread a message of love and peace. We are building digital roads that connect more and more humans together. We will probably see this accelerate and take even more astonishing forms in the next decade. At the moment these roads are often routes for hate and fear to spread, routes for war in cyberspace, routes for lies and misinformation. But they can also be roads for a new wave of love and caring to reach out to the hearts of men and women across the globe. Initiating, spreading, nourishing that wave is within the power of each of us, if we decide to use it.

The next ten years will be….well, interesting hardly begins to cover it. Transformative is probably not too strong a word to use if the past decade is any measure. How they are transformative will depend on you, on me, on all of us, in part on what we send marching down the new roads of cyberspace as well as what we do in the real world around us. And through it all, God willing, I shall continue to offer David’s Desk to help with the journey.

Thank you!


David Spangler’s quarterly journal Views from the Borderland is going into its 7th year! Click here to learn more and to subscribe.

DAVID’S DESK #120 – PAPER

PAPER

These days, at least twice daily, I stop whatever I’m doing and take a moment to stand in peace. It’s a simple thing to do. It’s certainly helpful to me, and given that we’re all part of an interconnected, interdependent world, I believe it’s helpful in the larger scheme of things. I would like to invite you to join me in your own way, but more on that in a moment. First, let me describe what “standing in peace” means to me and how I go about it.

As I indicated, I experience that we live in an interconnected world; we are part of a whole planetary system in which every part has an effect on every other part. Increasingly we are learning to appreciate how important understanding this interconnected wholeness is; indeed, our survival may depend on it.

I view peace not simply as an absence of conflict but as a heightening of connections which improves the health of the whole system. It allows for an increase in clear communication, cooperation, and coherency— three qualities important to the well-being of the world. Conflict, on the other hand, frays and severs connections. There are times when this may be necessary; it is possible to form unhealthy connections that need to be broken up, like removing a growing tumor from a body through surgery. But there’s only so much surgery one can perform before the body itself dies. Much better to strengthen the whole system by improving and strengthening the healthy connections that promote harmony and collaboration.  

In my experience, this is what peace does.  

My purpose here in this short essay is not to delve into the metaphysics of peace and conflict; one could write a book about that! I simply want to share a practice with you that I find helpful and that I believe, given a perspective of the interconnectedness of life, is also helpful on a wider scale. When I stand in peace, I am adding to a process that improves connectedness rather than diminishing it. Given what is going on in the world today, every little bit helps!

My practice can be broken down into five steps. These are Pause, Appreciate, Presence, Embrace, and Release. Together they form an acronym that makes them easy to remember: PAPER. Here is the PAPER process:

PAUSE – The first step is to pause whatever you are doing. Be sensible about this, of course. If you are in the middle of an activity that can’t be paused, like doing surgery, then wait until you’re finished.  But all of us have moments during the day when we can stop what we’re doing and just pause, becoming inwardly still.

APPRECIATE – The second step is to look around, see where you are, whom you’re with, what you’ve been doing, and appreciate these things.  I originally called this step Awareness, which is also an “A” word, but I realized that for me, it’s not just being aware of my surroundings but of how I am aware.  This is where appreciation comes in.  If my purpose is to stand in peace, I don’t want to be in conflict with my environment. I may not like where I am in the moment, but I can honor it and honor my being there. I can find something to appreciate, maybe even love, about where I am, and this spirit of appreciation translates into being at peace.

PRESENCE – My third step is to honor and appreciate myself, which gives me a sense of presence in the moment wherever I am. We are each a generative source of positive qualities and actions if we allow ourselves to be. We matter in the world. Who we are is important; for many of us, we are more than we give ourselves credit for being. By standing in Presence, I am affirming that I have something to offer to this environment and that I’m capable of offering it, even if I do so in silence with my spirit blessing to what’s around me. Another way of thinking about this is that through affirming my Presence and its value, I am not in conflict with myself. To stand in peace, I need to go beyond conflict with where I am (the Appreciate step) and conflict with who I am that may arise from negative self-imagery.

EMBRACE – Standing in Presence allows me to open my heart, blessing and embracing where I am, heightening my connections with my environment. Here, too, I originally used another word, Engage, for this step, but as with Awareness and Appreciation, I wanted to emphasize how I engage. Since peace for me is an active process that builds and widens connections, standing in peace means doing just that with my immediate surroundings. Embrace, for me, captures this felt sense of reaching out from my Presence with love to connect with where I am and who I’m with, thus generating peace.

RELEASE – The last step is to release the quality of peace—of heightened and harmonious connection—out into the world. I ask that those spiritual forces that hold humanity and the world in their love receive my peace and let it be wherever it is needed. I trust that what I generate in my small environment can be a seed that can grow to bless and affect much larger environments.

You will note that I don’t try to “send” peace anywhere. Projecting peace to troubled areas can become just a mental exercise; I’m “sending” an idea of peace rather than peace itself. Perhaps this may be helpful in its own way, inspiring others with that idea, but my approach is to create the experience—the felt sense—of peace and to offer the substance of this experience to the Powers That Be. To stand in peace, I want to be peace; I want to be a force for heightening connections and allowing harmony to unfold. For this to happen, I can’t just think about it. I need to do it. This is what the PAPER process is all about. It’s about generating peace into the world by doing peace and being peace in the concreteness of my surroundings.

Being and doing peace doesn’t have to mean resolving a conflict. There may be no conflict in my environment when I do the PAPER practice. But remember, peace in my definition is about fostering, heightening, and strengthening connections. This is what we do when we resolve a conflict; we create new connections that now promote harmony instead of disharmony. But I can heighten connections anytime, anywhere, around me and within me, through pausing, appreciating, being a presence, and embracing. By widening my definition of what peace does, I can see ways of doing peace in my world besides just being a “fire-fighter” putting out the flames of conflicts. I can build peace into my life and into my world that can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. Where connections are strong, communication is clear, and collaboration can emerge, the whole is benefited and conflict is avoided.

I said that I wish to invite you to PAPER the world with me. Heaven knows we need it. This is not something we have to do at the same time every day. Each of us can PAPER in our own way, in our own time. You need to discover the best way you can do this practice, making it your own. But the more of us that do stand in peace by pausing, appreciating, becoming a presence, and embracing, releasing the results into the world, the more our world will grow the connections it needs to transform the broken conditions that fill the news with stories of suffering, conflict, and danger. Be your peace and let us PAPER the Earth together.


Join David Spangler for A Time For Gaia, a free teleclass on Thursday, June 4, at 5PM PDT. Click here for more information or to register.

DAVID’S DESK #119 – DISCERNING NEWS

Since my last “David’s Desk”, a friend has died at the age of 117. We’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship for the past thirty-three years, but this past year, we’d gotten close again. The death came as a shock.

What died is our local newspaper, the Issaquah Press, which first started business in 1900. It was not like the New York Time or the Washington Post, but it was the voice of the community, a common source of news about what was happening in our town and in the region. When it needed to do so, it was also a source of good investigative journalism, keeping our local politicians and developers on their toes.

We shall miss it.

The death of newspapers is all too common these days as print journalism struggles to keep up with competition from all the digital media now available. It takes attentiveness to peruse a newspaper, taking time to think about what we’re reading rather than just responding to a tweet. Not everyone is now willing to spend that time.

What struck me this past month was that the death from financial anemia of our local paper came just as there was so much discussion and concern in other media about the proliferation and impact of “fake news.” While newspapers have certainly been instruments of propaganda, and I’ve personally seen instances where reporters and editors have gotten their facts wrong or misinterpreted what is happening, on the whole newspapers have been a valuable source of accurate information. Newspapers at their best can be an antidote to fake news. When the Issaquah Press died, I thought, “Well, there’s one less resource we have for finding the truth or for being informed about the issues of our community.” There are some roles and needs that digital media just don’t fill.

Thinking about the ease by which propaganda, misinformation, fake news, and out-and-out fabrications can now be generated and distributed to millions of people through digital media every day reminds me of a friend of mine back in the late Fifties and early Sixties. She was a terrific psychic and I remember her saying to me, “David, the time is coming when people will be challenged to distinguish between truth and lies, facts and illusion, and everyone will be living in their own private bubble of information.” With the arrival and growth of cyberspace over the past three decades, I’ve been watching her prophecy come to pass.

Finding truth is always important; decisions and actions based on falsehoods or misinformation can have damaging consequences. The first step towards truth is to be open to it, even when it means changing our minds. If all we look for is information that will confirm our own beliefs and biases, then we filter out anything that threatens or contradicts those opinions, even if it’s true and what we believe is not. We need to be willing to step beyond our private bubbles of information, as my friend put it so many years ago. Discernment becomes a survival skill in a world filled with daily attempts to manipulate our consciousness to someone else’s point of view.

My criteria for separating “true news” from “fake news” or propaganda, whether from the Left or the Right, is how much the source of the information wants me to see a limited, partial point of view that will engage me emotionally and stir me to conflict of some nature. It tries to convince me, stir my emotions, and bend my thinking, with no regard to my own sovereignty. It does not want me to think for myself but to accept without question the information and perspective being handed to me.

These days, everyone wants to turn me into a follower, it seems, even very worthy causes. In some cases, I’m OK with this, but I still want to choose out of my Sovereignty to support that cause. I do not wish to be coerced because they’ve made an emotional appeal or are trying to frighten me by telling me all the awful things that are happening or that will happen if I don’t support them.

When presented with news or other information, I ask myself if it adds to my understanding and compassion, making it easier to make connection with someone different from me, or does it seek to divide me from others, creating a feeling of “us” vs “them?” Does it make me resilient and more capable in my life?  Does it enable me to engage the world in a loving and hopeful way? Does it open possibilities.

There is no doubt there are frightening things happening in the world. I can understand the desire to build walls around ourselves for safety and to filter out any information that threatens us. But our safety in the future does not lie in fortresses or the mentality that creates them. It lies in how we can communicate, understand, and cooperate with each other for our mutual benefit and the benefit of the earth around us. The future belongs to the collaborators, not the separators. Fake news denies this and works to keep us separate. The good news is that we can choose otherwise.


Would you like the opportunity to meet David Spangler in his first public appearance in many years, alongside an international group of spiritual teachers and explorers? Join us on July 28-30 at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington for Gaineering: A Lorian Summer Conference. Click here for more information.

 

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