David's Desk


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

I want to write about zombies. Why zombies, of all things? A couple of reasons. First, I thought you might like to read about something different from all the social and political upheaval and conflict going on this month here in the United States. And second, I’d like to celebrate Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year. In an election season that seems filled with nothing but tricks, it’s nice to think of giving away treats!

I realize that Halloween is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have always loved the spookiness of it, the dressing up in costumes, the groups of children trick or treating, the decorations that can turn an ordinary house into a borderland between the realm of the living and the subtle regions beyond the physical world.

Since our children have grown up and gone on to homes of their own, we don’t decorate as lavishly as we used to. A few ghosts and skeletons strategically placed in windows here and there, and that’s about it. Nothing as elaborate as the zombies I once had clawing their way out of graves we’d created on our front lawn.

Ah, zombies. They’re very popular these days. “Zombie apocalypse” has become part of our cultural lexicon. The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television. One can make, and many have, all kinds of analyses about what this means in our collective psychology and the metaphorical significance of the surge in zombie-ness as it relates to popular sensibilities. Simon Pegg, the British actor, has produced a classic zombie satire, Shawn of the Dead. In one brilliant scene in the movie, you see dozens of commuters going mindlessly to their jobs, and in the next scene, the zombie apocalypse having struck overnight, you see dozens of zombies moving mindlessly about—and there’s no difference between the two groups! The same blank stares, the same aimless motions, the same lack of vitality and life characterize both.

Modern zombies, though, are not the same as the ones I encountered in classic ghost stories when I was growing up. In those stories, part of the horror lay in the fact that you didn’t know what was animating the dead. What mysterious force brought corpses back to life? It was supernatural, through and through. Further, zombies didn’t arise in mindless hordes, seeking human brains as a late-night snack. The zombies I read about were solitary for the most part and, like a heat-seeking missile, were aimed at a specific person or group. They rose for retribution or to right a wrong. They were payback for someone who had violated justice in the universe. They were instruments of karma, rebalancing something that had gone out of whack due to someone’s actions. The laws of life and death were overturned because someone had done something to overturn the moral laws governing creation. (A classic, and wonderfully understated, example of this is "The Monkey’s Paw", a short story by W.W. Jacobs, first published in 1902.)

Modern zombies, though, are a disease. A supernatural or moral reason for the dead to rise doesn’t fit well into modern sensibilities. We want a rational cause, a technological explanation. We’ve banished the supernatural as a cause for fear and substituted science and technology in its place. Therefore, the zombie apocalypse is a pandemic.

It used to be the zombie was a force of nature, left unexplained. When a child on Halloween dressed up as a zombie, he or she became a supernatural creature. Now, they’re just a plague victim. The modern zombie is someone infected with a virus. Further, unlike the classic zombie who returns to the grave once justice has been meted out, the modern zombie can be cured or at least stopped, if only the right antiviral medicine can be discovered. The misuse of science visits horror upon us, but the right use of science can restore order and normalcy. All very rational.

This makes zombies a medical phenomenon, strange and horrible, yes, but ultimately explainable. Science and technology may have gone wrong, but they are familiar, part of the world we know. The modern zombie is frightening and dangerous; it can kill you. But so can cancer, or ebola, or the flu. It’s a danger that can be met and understood and potentially overcome with the right knowledge. We may be threatened but our worldview is not. The classic zombie, however, was a force of mystery from another world altogether, one beyond reason and science. This made it far more unsettling, for it demanded a revision of our worldview. It proclaimed the existence of the irrational and the unexplainable. Society doesn’t think in these terms much anymore, which is why our modern zombies are, well, pedestrian and ordinary, products of moral relativism even while being decaying and horrific.

I’m writing in generalities here, and I’m hardly an expert on zombie literature and films. But these are my impressions. I bring them up not simply because I’m getting into a Halloween spirit, but because I think this shift tells us something important.

The zombies I read about growing up were agents of a living universe. They could exist because in some manner the world itself was magical and alive in ways humans didn’t fully understand. The modern zombie, though, truly is the walking dead because we see the world itself as dead: unliving matter to be used however we see fit and never mind the consequences. Now, with climate change and other environmental challenges, we see this “dead” world rising up to confront us.

Our image of apocalypse, whether caused by zombies or something else, is one of destruction and collapse. The familiar world is torn down, and yet, fundamentally, it remains the familiar world, though with a new element—the walking dead—within it. These zombies are a disease, and we can think of them in those terms.

But the word “apocalypse” originally meant “revelation,” the gaining of new knowledge that changed how we thought and saw the world. An old order based on different conceptions might come to an end as a result of this new knowledge but not necessarily in destructive ways.

We face challenges in the world—poverty, corruption, a dehumanizing greed, terrorism, disease, climate change, to name a few—that are more horrible than anything that will knock on my door today and yell “Trick or Treat!” Meeting these challenges calls for a true apocalypse in the form of new ideas, new vision, new knowledge, a different way of understanding ourselves and our role in the context of a living world. This would be less a “zombie apocalypse” than an “awakening to life” apocalypse, as the argument could be made that we are the zombies now, shuffling towards the end of a civilization and eating our own brains as we go.


There is a power that each of us has which can make possible a positive and abundant future for all of us and for the world as a whole. There’s nothing magical or esoteric about it. It is available to us every day, and many people do make a point of using it. But it can be overlooked because it operates on a different scale and in a different way from how we usually think about power.

I think most of us would understand power as the ability to accomplish something, a force to make something happen or to get something done. This might be muscular power to physically implement one’s will, or intellectual power to persuade and compel. It might be the power that wealth brings or political or social status. It might be power granted by an organization such as the government or the military.

Whatever its source, power is seen as a capacity to impose, to compel someone or something else to do what I want. Power becomes a commodity that is not equally shared in a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers. Some people have it and some people don’t, and in most human societies, the latter are far more numerous than the former, which, of course, leads to abuses and imbalances in human relationships.

Because of the consequences that can follow when one is on the receiving end of power in the service of dominance, we seek after it so that we won’t be subject to those consequences. This quest for power can itself become fraught with destructive and hurtful results. We can descend into a social-Darwinian mindset in which only the most powerful can survive, much less prosper. We favor competition over cooperation.

The power to impose is inherently insecure because the foundation on which that power rests can change or disappear. As a commodity, power can be won or lost. I can amass a fortune and then lose it. I can be elected to a political office and then be defeated in the next election. I can work out in a gym and develop a powerful physique and lose it to an accident or illness. I can occupy a favored demographic position and then lose it to changing population dynamics or social norms.

The power that I’m referring to, though, is different. For one thing, it can never be lost; we always possess it. We may choose not to use it, but we cannot lose it. For another, we all possess it equally. Some do not have more of it while others have less. It is not based on wealth, social status, organizational membership, race, religion, gender, or any of the many other means by which we usually measure the presence of power. It is not a commodity, and its use is not part of a zero-sum game. It does not produce winners and losers, only winners.

Broadly speaking, this is our power to choose how we relate and connect to others. The results of such choices always affect someone else or the world around us. The scale of the effect may seem small, but it is never inconsequential; in fact, the consequences can ripple out widely, often beyond our ability to foresee or to know.

We are constantly affecting each other through our thoughts and feelings and the behavior towards one another that they inspire. I don’t have to have a dollar in my pocket to give you a compliment that may brighten your day, for instance. I don’t have to have any special social status to treat you with kindness.

While a competitive society bids us struggle to be “in power,” a holistic society that can bring wholeness and healing into the world bids us to develop the skill to “empower.” This means using the power of my presence to enhance your experience of the power of your own presence.

I like the word “empower” to describe this capacity we all have to engage with one another in mutually supportive and beneficial ways, ways that make each of us a winner. However, when we think of being empowering, I would like us to think of it as more than just giving something—our own power, perhaps—to someone else or of doing something beneficial for them. These things can certainly be helpful, but there’s a deeper potential at work here.

To describe this deeper power we each have, let me introduce a hyphen to “empower” and turn it into “em-power.” This could be seen as short for “emergent power.” This is the power—the capacities—that emerge when two or more people connect through mutual respect, sharing, and cooperation. This power doesn’t belong to anyone but arises within everyone. It is the power of synergy, a power of wholeness. It draws out the best in all who participate.

This is not an abstraction by any means. Anyone who has been part of a successful team knows what this is like. Being part of a group whose members mindfully and deliberately work to support each other and draw out the best in each other is a joyful and profoundly empowering experience. Now imagine if the team was humanity itself, all of us learning to both stand in our individual sovereignty and power and be empowering with each other, allowing a power of wholeness to emerge from our connectedness.

The ability to em-power is always part of us. We exercise it when we choose to honor another and deal with him or her respectfully and with a desire to discover the power we can unfold through our cooperation and kindness. We lose it when we seek to dominate, to go from being empowering to being in power.

The shift from struggling for power as a commodity to enjoying and nourishing emergent power in which everyone is benefitted is the shift that I feel humanity is struggling with at this time in our history. Empowerment—or em-powerment—goes beyond how we relate to each other and defines how we relate to and empower our world. It is what I call a holopoietic power, the power to create wholeness. Nothing, it seems to me, is more needed on our planet today. The important thing—the hopeful thing—is that we don’t have to seek for this power; it is not available only to a few. It is always present in the heart of each of 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.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

February, 2018 - LIFE EXPECTANCY

My friend and Lorian colleague, Rue Hass, an exceptional counselor and teacher, sent me an interesting email the other day in response to some writing that I’m doing.  Here is what she said:

I’ve been hearing on the news that for the first time in a long time the life expectancy rate is going down in the US, especially for men, as the opioid crisis continues to ravage the nation.

When I hear this news, I am captured by the phrase “life expectancy.” Of course, in common usage it means how long people can expect to live, on average. But the poignant deeper sense cries out to me of our diminishing expectations of what a life can hold.  I think we as humans are losing our vision of possibility for our lives, for life itself. A diminishing life expectancy.  

I was struck by this because I’ve been having similar thoughts about how we think of ourselves in relationship to the future. In the early Seventies, one of the first professional futurists, Frederick Polak, wrote an important book called The Image of the Future. It was a historical study of various images of the future and of the cultures that held them. He demonstrated that when a society or a culture lost its image of the future, it went into decline and eventually collapsed. He warned that this was the situation in which our culture was finding itself. We were losing—or had lost—our image of the future.

What Polak meant by an “image of the future” was not simply expectations about what tomorrow might bring or anticipation of new technologies. He was careful to draw a distinction between a “true” image of the future and an image of progress. The latter, more often than not, was really an image of the past projected into the future; life would go on as we know it, but it would get better and better. An example would be the television show Star Trek. It certainly presented a picture of a future civilization—and an optimistic picture, at that—but everything in that show was simply a projection of what we already knew. Yes, the technology was advanced, but the people weren’t. The world of Star Trek was a familiar world (necessary, of course, if television audiences in the Sixties were going to relate to it).

Polak defined an “image of the future” not as a prophecy or expectation of any form the future might take but rather as an exuberant embrace of the future itself as a horizon of possibility calling out the creative, exploratory, confident spirit of the society. The form of the future didn’t have to be familiar; it didn’t have to be simply a continuation of what was already known or being done. The power of the image of the future was that it opened doors of potential; it confronted the society with the unknown but in a welcome and anticipatory way. The future would be better not necessarily because it would be filled with improvements over the present but because it was the product of the society’s creativity and spirit of discovery. Who knew what wonders might unfold? Who knew what people might create? How exciting to look forward to finding out!

Polak was confirming through his historical study what common sense would tell us: a society grows when people are filled with a spirit of possibility and potential, when they have, as my friend Rue pointed out, “life expectancy.”

We are plagued in our time by a sense of diminishing possibilities. Climate change, political dysfunction, economic disparities, dwindling resources, the sense that our children and grandchildren will not inherit a better world than the one we were born into: all these things drain away our image of the future, in Polak’s terms. They reduce our expectations of what life can bring and of what can be accomplished.

The key behind what Polak observed through his studies is that possibility does not lie in the realm of events alone but in ourselves. A powerful image of the future that inspires and excites is not about what we can expect in the world but about what we can expect of ourselves. Hope is not wishful thinking of what we would like to happen; it’s about opening the doors of imagination and creativity to bring new ideas and new behaviors into being. It’s recognizing that we can embrace the future because we can embody and bring forth possibilities.

Whatever our physical life expectancy, we can expand our expectancy of life and of ourselves and in the process transform our world with a new image of the future.


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


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

January, 2018 - THE B’S

First, I wish you a most happy and joy-filled New Year.  This year we will travel 4.5 billion miles through space as the solar system orbits around the center of our galaxy. I hope every one of those miles brings blessings to you!

When I was a child growing up on an American air base in Morocco, my paternal grandmother came from the States to live with us for several months. I remember her saying, when someone was excited about an idea, that he had a “bee in his bonnet.” I always thought that was a funny expression. When I first heard it I had no idea what a “bonnet” was, and later, when I learned it was a type of hat, the image of bees buzzing around in it made me laugh. I had to grow older to fully appreciate the aptness of the saying.

When thinking about 2018, I have some “B’s” in my bonnet. They are my reminders to myself on how to engage with the months ahead.

The first is Be Prepared. One thing about the future these days is how unpredictable it is. The world is changing in many ways right before our eyes. This can certainly be disconcerting, but it doesn’t have to be disempowering if I have prepared for change as best I can. For instance, friends of ours almost lost their house in the recent wildfires near Santa Barbara, California. The flames came within yards of their home before firefighters, aided by a sudden shift in the wind, fought them back. Yet my friends were not caught by surprise. Knowing fire could be a possibility, they had made preparations to ensure their safety and the preservation of the possessions they most cared about. Similarly, we live on a major earthquake fault. Recently, my wife and youngest son went through a six-week disaster preparedness class so that we know what to do and how to help should anything happen in our area.

Preparation, though, isn’t restricted to physical or financial readiness to deal with sudden change. There is psychological preparedness, too, much of which comes down to being able to trust oneself and those around one. What is the solid core of identity out of which you can function with skill and confidence? What are the solid relationships of connection, love, and friendship that can provide mutual assistance in any time of change or trouble? What inner preparation can you do in addition to any outer actions?

My second B is to Be Resilient.  You can’t prepare for everything. Journeying into the future is always a journey into the unknown. Life has a way of introducing the unexpected into our lives, both good and bad. Being able to bounce back from the unexpected is an important skill; it allows us to dance with life even in the moment it seems to tread on our toes.  

When I think of resilience, I think of a toy I had when I was a kid.  It was an inflatable boxer that was weighted on the bottom. I could hit it and knock it down, but it would bounce back up. We can be like this, too, if we have the metaphysical weight of our values and principles to ground us. Knowing our own inner center of spiritual and psychological “gravity” gives us resiliency, providing the strength we need to rise above circumstances that otherwise would knock us down emotionally, mentally, or even physically.

 A third B is Be Adaptable. This is similar to resilience but I don’t have to be knocked over to be adaptable. Indeed, my ability to change, to improvise, and to adapt to what is happening in the world allows me to partner with the world around me. This does not mean that I surrender my core principles and values just to “fit in.” That is not adaptability; that is conformity. Organisms adapt to changes in their environment or they perish, but the adaptation preserves their essential identity. A crow doesn’t adapt by becoming a sparrow; it adapts by learning new crow behavior.

Adaptability is all about learning, taking in new knowledge, being aware of what is happening in the world and how to connect with it. It’s about being attentive and willing to try new steps in the dance of life. It is a willingness to go beyond “business as usual” to learn new ways of being, something that I feel will become increasingly important for all of us in the days ahead. Old ways of treating nature, treating others, treating ourselves simply are not working the way they once did and are becoming sources of danger rather than of creativity or progress. A world of climate change, for instance, is not the world our parents and grandparents knew. A world of the Internet and cyberspace isn’t, either. What changes do we need to make to honor our individuality, our humanity, and the sanctity and wholeness of our world? How do we now need to adapt to ensure a positive future?

My fourth B is Be Optimistic. Why not? Pessimism, doubt, fear, despair, hopelessness are all emotions that make us less capable, less resilient, less adaptable, less creative. Facing the future, if I need to learn to dance with life in new ways, why would I want to tie hobbles to my legs? What I need is vision, hope, confidence in my ability, our ability, to rise to the occasion and do what is right and positive for the future of humanity and our world. Optimism and joy keep my juices flowing, my mind alert, my heart open. They are fuel for positive change, a fuel we most certainly need.

Finally, my fifth B is Be Kind. Whatever shape 2018—or 2019, or 2020, or any future year—may take, we will always need kindness. I could call it love, but that is a heavily weighted word. I may not feel I can always be loving in dealing with the world, but I can always be kind. Kindness lives and works in the little things we do; it doesn’t take much to be kind in the moment: a smile, a soft word, a willingness to listen, an offer of a cup of coffee, the presence of an open heart. What it does take is awareness, attentiveness, and willingness.

Preparedness, Resiliency, Adaptability, Optimism, Kindness:  these are the “Be’s” that are buzzing in my bonnet. May their humming bring music and blessing to your life in the New Year ahead.


Everything that Incarnational Spirituality has to offer stems from this recognition of the light within each individual life. As the new year begins, consider exploring your inner light by joining us for Journey Into Fire: Awakening to the Light of Self. From January 18-February 21,  Lorian Faculty Member Julia Spangler will gently guide you through practices and processes to understand and attune to the power of being yourself in this world.


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 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.


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.


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DAVIDS DESK #124 - "You Shall Not Pass"


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 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.


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 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.


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.


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.