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David’s Desk

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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.


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.




Back in the days when I was regularly traveling to give lectures and workshops, I always tried to drive to wherever I needed to go. If time were an issue, then I would take a plane, but otherwise, I loved road trips. I loved seeing the various parts of the United States and getting to know my country from the ground up; after years of cross-country trips, there are only three States I’ve never had occasion to visit. The United States lives in me in my memory of all the different landscapes that I’ve seen. When I think of America, it’s all there for me, from Maine to California and from Washington to Florida.

As my family grew, my travel time diminished. I didn’t want to spend so much time on the road away from Julie and the kids. So, I began flying more. I enjoy flying, too (or I did when it was a more comfortable and less harried and crowded experience). There was a thrill to looking down and seeing countryside through which I had previously driven. Still, I missed the closeness with the land and with places and people that I experienced while driving. I had become a “flyover” person.

I don’t know when the term originated or started to become popular, but I became aware of it last year during the Presidential Election: “Flyover States.” These are the States in the middle of the country that air flights between the large urban centers of the East and West coasts regularly fly over. To be a Flyover State is at one level a simple description of a fact of life as more and more people live on the East and West coasts and take non-stop flights back and forth. But especially last year, the phrase took on additional meaning.  Flyover States were the homes of the “forgotten Americans,” the ones whose opinions and activities were not as important when compared to what goes on in places like New York, Washington, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the large metropolises on either side of America. To be a “Flyover State” carried connotations of being ignored, overlooked, not seen, or even disdained as being of lesser importance. Certainly, if a person’s only view of America is from 30,000 feet, he or she is not seeing and connecting with the country in the way a person does who is driving from one coast to another.

There are commentators who describe one of the divisions in this country, of which there currently appear to be many, as that between the heavily populated and generally more liberal metropolitan areas of the Coastal States and the less populated and often more conservative Flyover States. I’m sure there’s a truth to this, and the last election would seem to confirm this, showing again the intent of the Electoral College to give political power to States with smaller populations.

However, when I think of Flyover States, it conjures up an entirely different image for me. It seems to me that one of the many challenges facing us in this country, and for that matter in the world at large, is how easy it is to step into a “flyover state.” Such a state is not a place but an attitude that can arise when we encounter someone who is different from us. This difference could be political, religious, ethnic, racial, economic, or something as trivial as a difference in hairstyles or clothing. Unless we are compelled for some reason to engage with this person, we can “flyover” them in our minds and hearts. We can fail to encounter the territory of their life; we can fail to make connection.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this, both as the one doing the flyover and the one being “flown over” and overlooked. We all live at one time or another in our daily lives in a flyover state. The cumulative effect is that we come to know each other less and less, and spend more and more time clustered mentally and emotionally with those with whom we agree. “Flying over” pushes difference out of our lives or at least diminishes its impact. We see only what we want to see.

I believe that our hope lies in our ability to connect, and this requires that we walk into each other’s territory, at least enough to appreciate another even if we don’t agree with his or her positions and beliefs. Turning each other into flyover states will not help us going forward. The future depends on understanding. The major problems and challenges of the world are systemic and cannot be solved except through collaboration and cooperation. If we can’t go so far as to love each other, we must at least know and respect each other. This requires looking at our differences directly, up close and personal, and not dismissing or ignoring that with which we do not agree.  

At this time, our country is embroiled in problems caused by our various differences. If we hope to solve them, we must work to connect and live in our hearts and minds in united states, not flyover ones.

Join Julie Spangler and Susan Sherman, with guest David Spangler, for  Journey Into Fire. During this six week online class behind held on our Educational website, participants will explore their unique, human journeys and practical ways to experience the sacredness within.  For more information or to sign-up, click here.



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


Some years ago, a friend of mine wrote me to tell me that I was in the Encyclopedia Britannica under the topic of the New Age. Not having a copy of the Encyclopedia, I couldn’t check it out, but the next time I visited my library, I remembered and decided to look me up. Indeed, there I was! But as I read what had been written about me, I became more and more dismayed as there were statements about events in my life or things I had said that I knew had never happened or that I had never said. I was reading about an alternative David Spangler!

I’ve had more than one experience in my life of reading things about me that are not true but which fit the writer’s preconceptions or are what the writer would like to believe. However, I didn’t expect to find this in such an august document as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I knew the scholar who had written the entry by reputation; he was well known for his alleged expertise about alternative religious and spiritual movements in the United States. What bothered me was not that he had made the errors he had but that as a scholar, he had not tried to verify his information. It wasn’t as if I were inaccessible. At the time I had an active public career and was easy to get hold of. He could have simply written or phoned me and said, “This is what I’ve been told about you. Is it accurate?”  I mean, why not go directly to the source to ascertain the correctness of your “facts,” especially if that source is readily available?

Because of my training as a scientist and because I’ve been on the receiving end of misinformation and “alternative facts,” I’m sensitive to the need for good information and for sticking as closely as we can to the truth. But increasingly, we are living in a time when misinformation is more and more prevalent. The Greek poet and dramatist Aeschylus, living some five hundred years before Christ, said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Now, though, we don’t have to be at war for truth to suffer. We simply need to have an Internet in which anything can be said by anyone (usually anonymously) about anything and someone is going to take it as fact because it fits their belief system or their desire that it be true.

Back in 1959, a psychic said to me, “David, the time is coming when the astral plane will be materialized, and no one will know what to believe anymore.” The astral plane, for those not up on esoteric jargon, is a non-physical realm of thought and emotion in which reality is whatever we think or want it to be. Its other name is the “Plane of Illusion” because a person caught there loses the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. With the advent of the Internet, social media, twitter, and the like, I would say that that psychic had been wonderfully prescient, for there is indeed an illusory, “astral” feel about the digital world in which so many of us increasingly live and function. At the very least, as many others have pointed out, it allows each of us to access information that is tailored just to what we believe and are likely to accept. We can each live in our own private digitally supported thought-world, which is precisely what the astral place is like in esoteric lore and why it is regarded as a dangerous place if one is not discerning.

I believe firmly that our hope for the future rests on our ability to communicate and collaborate with each other, giving birth to both creativity and a wider, deeper vision that is enriched by our differences. We know ecologically that monocultures—the planting of only one kind of plant in a field, such as all corn or all soy, and doing so year after year—are not resilient or sustainable when confronted with environmental change. It doesn’t take much awareness to look around and see that nature depends on diversity. So does human creativity, especially in the form of collective decision making that some are calling “crowdocracy.”

But reaching across boundaries of thought and feeling, transcending differences, and being able to talk to and cooperate with each other requires trust. When truth is compromised, when everyone has their own set of alternative facts, when there’s no information one can truly count on—or the information isolates us through how we cherry-pick what we want to know and believe—then trust suffers. Trust is broken, at which point a creative and healing collaboration becomes difficult, if not impossible.

When our leaders in all fields play fast and loose with truth and make claims that reality is what they say it is, so that disinformation is the name of the game, we are playing with fire. People have always told lies and governments especially have always been deceptive, but in a time when the Internet diffuses information in ways that create a fog of “alternative facts,” not being scrupulous with truth is like lighting a match in a room filled with gasoline vapor. The result can be an explosion of distrust that makes any kind of fruitful working together hard to come by.  Given the planetary challenges that face us, we cannot afford not working together.

In esoteric lore, the astral plane lies between the physical world and the realms of spirit, the realms of love, wisdom, and wholeness. Symbolically, it’s as if one has to push through the illusions created by one’s own thinking and feeling in order to come to a place of truth. It’s a call for discernment.

We are certainly called to be discerning. But we can also bypass the “astral” and the realms of illusion and misinformation by simple acts of reaching out, connecting, listening to each other, making an effort to see truth beyond the illusions, widening our sources of information, and most of all, by learning to love each other. Love is the alternative to “alternative facts.” It allows us to build the trust we need to survive the storms of misinformation and distrust that seem to be upon us.

Join David Spangler, along with Julie Spangler and Jeremy Berg, for Recognizing the Note of Your Call– a free teleclass on Saturday, February 11, at 8am PT. Click here for more information or to register.



First and most importantly, let me wish you a very happy, prosperous, blessed, and healthy New Year as we welcome 2017 into our midst. New Year’s is always a special time filled with the promise of new possibilities. Of course, every day presents us with this same promise, but it’s more heartfelt at this time when the coming of midnight marks the passage from one year to another.There’s something about hanging up a new calendar on January 1st that adds to the drama of endings and new beginnings.

There are many traditions that mark this time of year and the celebrations of the Holidays. One that is renewed on television every year is the broadcast of the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed. This is not one of my favorite Christmas movies—it’s just a tad too preachy for me—but I have to admit that I can easily get drawn into watching it, partly because I’m a huge Jimmy Stewart fan and partly because of the power of the story. And I’m always uplifted at the end. I just hate all that I (and the hero, George Bailey) have to go through to get to it!

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the story of a man—George Bailey—who has great dreams and ambitions but at every turn sacrifices them in order to help someone else fulfill their dreams. Further, he runs a savings and loan that enables people to own their own small houses rather than having to rent homes from the movie’s villain, Henry Potter, a banker who wants to control the housing market and who is mean-spirited, greedy, selfish, and cynical about human nature. He is so bad he out-Scrooges Scrooge!

A crisis with his savings and loan drives George Bailey to the brink of suicide, feeling that his life has been worthless. But his guardian angel, Clarence, appears to show him what the world would have been like had he not lived. People whose lives had been saved by things he’d done would have died, his wife would never have married, and Bedford Falls, the town he lived in, would have become Pottersville, a dark, dreary, slum of a place. In the Bedford Falls that George Bailey helped to bring about, neighborliness, trust, cooperation, and goodwill dominated but in Pottersville, anger, distrust, selfishness, and competition were the byword.  

The main point the movie makes, and none too subtly, is the difference each of us makes in shaping the world in which we live. This is an important…no, I would say, a vital idea. But there’s another theme to the movie that is inspiring my thoughts right now as I write this month’s essay. That is the power of choice.

Within each of us is the potential to be a George Bailey but also to be a Henry Potter, just as within us is the potential to create a world based on goodwill and trust or a Pottersville world. Which of these potentials comes to pass is a matter of the choices we make. George Bailey makes choices to uphold neighborliness and helpfulness, giving hope to others; Henry Potter makes choices to create hopelessness and to diminish the sovereignty and power of others so that he can be on top. George Bailey wants community. Henry Potter wants wealth.

Of course, the movie dramatizes this in stark ways. The “Bailey/Potter” choices each of us faces daily are usually far less obvious or dramatic. Do I put someone else down with a disparaging comment so that I will feel better or superior in the moment or am I encouraging and supportive in my dealing with them? Do I create a “Bedford Falls moment” or a “Pottersville” moment? Whichever I choose, the choices ripple out in people’s lives, and in the process, the archetypal Good Community is either strengthened between us or weakened, and likewise the archetypal Pottersville, which is unfortunately a lurking presence in human affairs. We build our world through our choices each moment in each encounter no matter how unimportant or undramatic the moment may seem. Which is really what Clarence the angel is trying to show George Bailey: there are no unimportant moments when it comes to crafting a life, a society, or a world.

I think this year we will be presented with many opportunities to choose between creating a “Bedford Falls” or a “Pottersville.”  We always are, anyway, but it seems the world is moving in ways that highlight these two possible destinations for humankind.  This makes the power of choice that we each have even more important and critical. We are shaping our future. May we shape it wonderfully.

detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzan1Join David Spangler for To Protect and Defend, an Inauguration Forum from January 14-21. Like the Election Forums we held in the summer and fall of 2016, this week-long online gathering will be an opportunity to go deeply with David into an understanding of subtle activism and to blend our hearts, minds, and spirits in both individual and shared acts of blessing and Light for the out-going President Obama, for the in-coming President Trump— and most of all, for a divided citizenry. Click here for more information or to register.


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 ©2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at


The night after Thanksgiving, I walked into our dark bedroom and was struck by a vision I had forgotten about. Our bedroom is on the second floor of our house and looks out over the neighborhood, a view more open at the moment as our maple trees have shed their leaves. Two blocks away in a cul-de-sac, a house was glowing with tiny white Christmas lights and on its lawn, a tree had been trimmed in multi-colored lights.

Every year, these neighbors are among the first to put out their Christmas lights, always on Black Friday, which seems rather appropriate and symbolic. They are always the first house we can see from our windows that is decorated. Walking into our bedroom and seeing the house lit up, as if hundreds of little stars had descended from heaven to outline it in light, has for years now been a signal for me that Christmas time, Solstice time, Holiday time is upon us.  

In dealing with the aftermath of the Presidential election, in addition to hosting the Thanksgiving holiday for beloved family members whom we had not seen for some years, I had forgotten all about this ritual. So when I saw the house lit up in its otherwise dark corner of the neighborhood, it struck me like a welcome visitation from Heaven. I could feel tensions in my body that I hadn’t even consciously recognized I had suddenly relax. It was more than just greeting an old friend. It was as if order had been restored to my universe.

Seeing my neighbor’s house lit up reminded me that there is more to the world than mulling over the pros and cons of the new Administration. This is the time of hope celebrated for thousands of years in the Northern Hemisphere as the moment when light (and Light) returns to the earth. This is the season of the Solstice. Winter begins to give way to spring and to new life as the days grow longer and the nights shorter.

This is a time when we acknowledge that we all journey through dark places in our lives but if we reach out to each other in loving fellowship, we can bring the Light back. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, if you can be, or if not, then at least open to the potential of new life and new possibilities. If nothing else, this time of year can remind us there are things to look forward to and much to be grateful for.  

I get up early most mornings to write. It’s a time when the world is calm and peaceful, and my thoughts flow more easily. Given that it’s December, it’s also very dark as I move quietly through the house so as not to wake up anyone else. Glancing out the window, I see that my neighbor’s house is dark, too. The lights are on a timer and switch off sometime in the wee hours. But the tree on their lawn is shining as brightly as ever. It’s such an old symbol, almost a cliché: the Light shining in the darkness. It’s wonderfully reassuring, nonetheless. It touches something primal in me, something below the level of rational thought. The world may seem dark, but the Light is still there.

This Holiday season, half the country is rejoicing and half the country is in mourning. It will take time and effort for the divisions created over the past year to heal; it will only happen if we are able to truly listen to each other and hold each other in loving respect in spite of or even because of our differences. Even more, many of our fellow citizens are filled with fear over what lies ahead. How can we comfort them? Comfort each other?

The times are challenging, and not simply because of the Election. The world is going through difficult and dangerous times. Fear is everywhere, a darkening force. Now more than ever, we need to find ways we each can “light a tree” in ourselves and bring back the Light for each other, a Light of hope, of love, of confidence, of collaboration, of neighborliness. It may seem difficult right now, but it is the Season for it.

On Thursday, December 1, please join David Spangler for a Virtual Event— Healing our Divided World— hosted by David Nicol, director and co-founder of the Gaifield Project, on the Global Shift Network. Click here for more information.

hopewholenessPlease consider supporting Hope and Wholeness in the world by making a tax-deductible donation to The Lorian Association. Click on Support Lorian to donate online. Or you may mail a check to Lorian Association, PO Box 1368, Issaquah, WA 98027. Thank you for standing with us.


For those of my readers who live in the United States, this month we will be electing a new President. A few days from when I write this, half the population will be relieved, hopeful and happy and the other half will be depressed, angry, and fearful. It’s been that kind of political campaign, more rancorous and accusative than any in recent memory, revealing many of the fault lines that run through this country and divide it. It is a highly contested election.

Election is an interesting word. We associate it with political campaigns, ballots, and voting, but the word itself simply means the act of choosing. We don’t just elect candidates. We elect many things. We elect to do this or that; we elect to buy this or that; we elect how we will deal with this person or that person.  

Admittedly, this is a play on words. But in a month that is focused upon an election and its aftermath, I think it useful to call attention to all our “elections” and their aftermaths. For though campaigns like to proclaim that by electing their candidate, we are shaping the future, in fact it is through all our “elections”—all our choices—that we actually doing so. The future emerges from what all of us choose, not just on Election Day but every day. We are the “electors” of our future.

We know this but we may not always think through just what this means and how it works. We can readily see how the big choices in our lives—where we elect to live, who we elect to marry, the job we elect to do—can shape our future. What is not so apparent is that this is true as well of all the myriad small elections that take place all the time. For instance, choosing to greet you kindly—or at least courteously and with respect—when I meet you, rather than in a surly or impolite manner is an “election.” I’m choosing an interaction, and what I choose will have its aftermath, its consequences, not all of which may be apparent. How often have you had your day brightened just because someone said something kind to you or gave you a smile when you least expected it?

We put thought and mindfulness into our big “elections,” or at least we should. Who we elect for a political office will have ramifications that last for years. We should be thoughtful about this. A choice of a career or whom we shall marry will also have long-term consequences; we should be thoughtful about these “elections,” as well. All the big choices in our lives, the ones that obviously shape our future, should have the benefit of our deliberation and mindfulness.

But this is true for our small “elections” as well. Obviously some choices we make are more consequential that others—it may not matter much under ordinary circumstances what socks I elect to wear. But many seemingly small choices can have inordinate effects, especially where relationships are concerned. Who can measure the impact or the value of a timely smile, a kind word, a compassionate act in the hustle and bustle of everyday life? These are often the “elections”—the acts of choosing—that truly make a difference in a person’s life down in the trenches in which that life is lived. 

Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors, and all the other Federal and State officials whom we vote into office this month have their jobs to do, and how well and thoughtfully they do them will have an effect on society. But they’re not right here in my neighborhood, in my office, in my school, in my home. I’ve never met a President, but every day I meet neighbors, grocery store clerks, people in stores, waiters and waitresses in restaurants, and many others. I touch their lives, however briefly, and they touch mine. How I choose to engage them, the emotions I project towards them, the actions I take, the attitude I bear directly affect them. In the busy moments that fill and shape our day, these are the elections that count. We have the power through our choices to make someone happy, to make their work easier and more pleasant, to brighten their day. What President has that same power, living removed from the average person inside the official bubble of the White House?

It’s from these little elections that hope springs. If we want our world to change and be a better, safer, happier, healthier place, much of the power to accomplish this lies with us and our choices. Every day, every moment, we are electing who we will be, how we will act, and what we will bring to the world to make it a better place. This is the election that counts.  

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 ©2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at

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I’ve been reading an interesting book this week in preparation for an online Forum that James Tousignant and I are doing this first week of October about the current electoral tumult and how to be a center of clarity and calm in the midst of it. Called The Shipwrecked Mind by Mark Lilla, it’s about reactionaries, the counterparts to revolutionaries. Lilla says, “Reactionaries are not conservatives. This is the first thing to be understood about them. They are, in their way, just as radical as revolutionaries and just as firmly in the grip of historical imaginings. Millennial expectations of a redemptive new social order and rejuvenated human beings inspire the revolutionary; apocalyptic fears of entering a new dark age haunt the reactionary.”  

He then says later in the book, “The reactionary mind is a shipwrecked mind,” caught up in nostalgia for an imagined Golden Age in the past even as the river of time flows onward. “The revolutionary sees the radiant future invisible to others and it electrifies him. The reactionary…sees the past in all its splendor and he too is electrified.”

Lilla’s main thesis is that after a bit more than two hundred years of being in a revolutionary period, beginning with the American Revolution but given even greater momentum by the expectations of the French Revolution, we are now in a time when a reactionary sentiment is not only growing throughout the world but becoming dominant. The more technology changes and the faster societies change in response, the more that many people, feeling unmoored from the certainties of their lives, turn to the past. They see it through a lens of nostalgia and want to recreate what seems like a lost paradise.

From the Sixties through the Nineties, I was involved with the New Age movement, which began at least as a vision of a “radiant future,” even though later it devolved into a lifestyle choice more than a prophetic undertaking. During this time, I certainly met many revolutionaries in the sense that Lilla describes them, people who envisioned a transcendent transformation of human consciousness and society. I also met many reactionaries who felt we were losing—or had lost—something valuable and important in a rapidly disappearing past and wished to reclaim it. Sometimes the two merged in odd ways, as for example in people for whom the New Age meant a return to a mythic time when humans lived in perfect harmony with nature and the world around them.

In between the drive for a visionary future and the yearning to recreate a fabled past lies a middle ground, which is the present. This is where our hope lies. Both future and past are imaginary, the future because it doesn’t exist yet and the past because we remember what we want to remember and in the way we think it should have been. Only the present is real, pressing against us with the fierceness of immediacy, demanding that we pay attention.

This is personal for me for in some ways I was an odd duck in the New Age waters. Though viewed in some quarters as one of its founders, which is hardly true, or at least as one of its leaders and spokespersons, which is partly true, I never fully or comfortably fit into its more revolutionary aspects. I have no doubt we humans are changing, and I firmly believe that it is for the better in the long run, though we may have to learn some hard lessons along the way. But the place where all this is happening is here and now in the way we each engage with our world on a day-to-day basis. We shape the future every day, and we do so most effectively when we are mindful in the present of what we are doing. I was always the individual who said, “The New Age is right now!” If we see the potentials in the moment, we create our New Age every day in our lives.

Lilla says the reactionary is a “shipwrecked mind,” but in some ways, so is the revolutionary. Both have opted out of the river of time and are stranded on the sandbanks along the river’s edge. It’s just that the sandbanks are different. One is an infatuation with the future, the other with past, but being stranded on either makes one unable to be truly effective in the present. Note that I said “effective,” not “without influence or consequences.” Both reactionaries and revolutionaries make things happen. But much of what each creates becomes embroiled in conflict. In the smoke and fire erupting from their clash, they can miss the possibilities that are revealed to those who see them in the present and who honor what is now rather than what may be or what was.

The present is not imaginary, which makes it both reassuring and powerful but also scary and challenging. We don’t have the luxury, if we are to deal with it properly and realistically, of wishing it were sometime else, a future yet to be born or a past that has seen its day.  If we seem caught in the shipwrecks of imaginary times, then paying attention to the present and engaging it with courage and mindfulness creates the lifeboat that restores our power to navigate the rivers of potential that are always around us.

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 ©2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at

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