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Sorry, No Opinion

by Jerry Kvasnicka

EPSON DSC PictureWe live in the age of the public opinion poll. No issue can arise without a polling organization or media team immediately taking to the phones to solicit “for” or “against” responses on alternative courses of action. Presidential performance polls are taken almost daily, as are polls evaluating local officials and their decisions. And of course during Presidential election campaigns polls are rampant.

When I became a news reporter for a Cheyenne, WY radio station my first job was to poll residents on how to finance a new criminal justice center (i.e. jail). After two days on the phone I not only had lost my voice but my interest in polls, a disinterest that has endured to this day. Should a poll taker call to ask what I consider Colorado’s number one problem, my quick reply would be “Polls.”

Americans put so much store in polls because in our democratic tradition it is considered so important to have opinions on virtually every subject under the sun. Everyone is encouraged to “take a stand” on abortion, gun control, capital punishment and Middle East diplomacy, and those who won’t face social ostracism. A person who attends a dinner party without opinions might as well come naked.

Opinion bazaars such as radio talk shows and newspaper “letters to the editor” columns abound, and the “sacred” rite of voting is itself just a glorified opinion poll. The plain fact is that a person without opinions is considered to be…well, as Gelett Burgess put it in Reader’s Digest: “If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.”

The universe is not governed by opinion polls

And yet I would contend exactly the opposite: a person of strong opinions is effectively dead. Opinions clog and stifle the mind, cutting it off from the opinionless energy of creation. Life is no respecter of human opinions. God doesn’t take polls to decide what to do. Universal government is from the top down, not the bottom up.

What kind of solar system would we have if planetary positions and orbits were determined by poll? How would our physical bodies function if the brain were under the constant necessity of polling the individual cells of the body? Such notions are clearly absurd. But this hasn’t stopped human beings from trying to do the impossible: govern themselves from below on the basis of opinion rather than opening their minds and hearts to what is higher, the imperatives of universal design and control.

Of course the time-honored rationale for forming opinions is that they are necessary for us to plan out our lives, make decisions, know what to do from moment to moment. Oh really. In their original state human beings acted on the basis of direct observation of events, not on the basis of interpretations of events made by the conditioned human mind. The chemistry of the situation combined with life’s unfiltered impulse determined the course of action. In a sense decisions were unnecessary. Everything flowed effortlessly.

But this rich and beautiful state came to a screeching halt when, out of a colossally misguided effort to improve the process, the “independent” opinion-forming human ego was born. “Original sin” is no deep, dark mystery. It occurred with the formation of the first opinion.

Our minds were not designed to form opinions

Is life without opinions possible? I would submit that life is not really possible as long as opinions are held! Opinions block life. They interpose the human mind between the flow of spirit and human action. The mind was not designed for this kind of use. Opinion formation, though it now seems second nature, is in reality quite unnatural to the mind. It knocks the mind out of alignment with the larger celestial order.

Spirit, the essence and energy of creation, the unconditioned self, call it what you will…this is the “command and control” center, not the mind. The latter is useful as an instrument of perception, but goes out of its depth when it tries to devise actions and govern life based on the information it gathers. Responsive to spirit, the mind is useful and effective. But when it attempts to seize control and rule by opinion, individual and collective disintegration ensues.

Elections are nothing but glorified opinion polls

The election for President of the U.S. has occasioned a firestorm of opinion, sending pollsters and talk show hosts on a roll. But would it be possible simply to observe the fact of an election, neither supporting nor opposing any particular candidate or political platform, recognizing that at bottom all elections may be reduced to differences of opinion and can be anticipated as long as human beings continue to indulge their fatal fascination with opinions?

“But elections put people in positions of power and these people can make decisions that impact your life and the whole body of humanity. How could you not have strong opinions about this?” Okay, but if I let the liberal and conservative arguments and all of the passion associated with an election determine my own thought processes and motivations for action, if, in other words, I develop opinions, I would simply be compounding the discord that elections inevitably generate. There is absolutely no reason whatever for turning feelings or thoughts into opinions; it can only interfere with the healing and restorative cycle at work on earth.

“Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” Wise counsel from the Psalms. Observe what is happening, but don’t rush in and try to figure out what is wrong and what can be done to put things right. Don’t succumb to “opinionitis.” Maintain your transcendent positioning.

The key to planetary healing

Is this an argument for aloofness and complacency? Am I suggesting that we retreat to a spiritual ivory tower to live in private bliss while the world goes to hell? Absolutely not! Few are more concerned that our troubled planet be healed than I and few more religiously follow current news events. But I would be totally useless if I left the only place from which healing comes. Plunging into the earth with the hope of sorting things out there we betray what is truly sacred. An eagle bound to the ground is less than an eagle.

Radio talk shows are particularly notorious for trumpeting opinions. Hosts and callers see them as opportunities to showcase their reasoned and deeply felt positions on government waste and corruption, defense spending, civil rights, campaign reform and the like. I listen to a lot of these shows, certainly not for the purpose of forming opinions or even of acquiring useful information that I can use to impress my friends with how much I know. I listen for one purpose only: to vibrationally invite all callers, hosts and listeners to come out of involvement with opinions.

No more talk shows: what a relief!

What would happen to talk shows if all opinion ceased? I for one wouldn’t mourn their demise. News analysts, commentators, talk show hosts and assorted talking heads would be out of a job. How sad! But maybe there would be enough space on the air for the truth to be heard. Silence, even recorded silence, would be a blessed relief!

Someone suggested that “the trick is to hold opinions without letting opinions hold you.” To which I’m tempted to reply, “Get real!” Not even a master equivocator or clever schizophrenic could pull this off. It’s impossible. A person who holds opinions is held and controlled by opinions. The course of wisdom is to avoid them altogether.

Yes, I am aware of Gil Stern’s sobering words in The Wall Street Journal: “Pity the people who have no opinion, for they shall go through life without a bumper sticker.” It is a sacrifice I’m prepared to make. Life without opinions is possible; indeed without opinions life can thrive again.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-seven years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org

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Transcending Culture

by Jerry Kvasnicka

A juvenile white-bellied sea eagle soaring above the shore of East Wallabi Island, off the coast of Geraldton in Western Australia In the 1988 Presidential election year I found myself employed as the campaign manager of a friend of mine who was running for President of the U.S. under the banner of the Human Party, an alternative party he founded that was designed to embrace people of all political viewpoints and parties. The two of us were touring the country giving public talks and doing radio, television and newspaper interviews. A lot of people around the country were responding positively to our idealistic vision of an all-encompassing party, but we ran into resistance at a university in southern Florida.

The students were from various Latin American and European countries. While they were quite willing to question and even abandon their political loyalties, they stubbornly clung to their respective cultures, even seeing our campaign as an attack on their cultural backgrounds. After a long and exhausting question-and-answer session it became clear to us that these students were so entrenched in their cultures that there was simply no way of opening them up to a more expansive perspective.

Does my culture determine who I am?

Our experience certainly convinced me that culture and its corresponding mindsets can be quite limiting, at times even prohibiting movement into more integrative patterns of thought and action. Cultural conditioning can foster a kind of addiction; it becomes the equivalent of a drug that one must have to preserve a sense of personal identity and stability. It seems that many people are not able to define who they are without reference to culture.

I believe my great grandfather, Vaclav Kvasnicka, came over from Czechoslovakia sometime in the 1800s. I understand that my ancestors were brewers of kvas, a fermented bread beverage, quite alcoholic, still popular in Russia. My grandfather, Albert Kvasnicka, didn’t attempt to carry on this trade in the U.S. Instead he became a wheat farmer. He also learned English and adopted American ways, pretty well abandoning the culture of his forebears. Nor do I know anything about making kvas and I don’t speak any Czech. So I guess I’m culturally free to this extent.

American political culture

Yet there are many other forms of cultural conditioning to which I and all of us have been exposed. American culture, eclectic as it is, is still a culture. Particularly during an election year many people become involved and even embedded in U.S. political culture, vigorously promoting liberal or conservative candidates and ideologies. The ferocity with which they hold to these positions is equivalent to religious fervor, strikingly evident at political debates and campaign rallies.

Religion is another form of culture. Believers cling to their beliefs, traditions, holy books, rites, rituals and holy places with almost unimagined zealotry. Apparently they cannot conceive of life without these cultural supports. Christian and Islamic fundamentalism are examples of how all-consuming this kind of fanaticism can be.

Facebook culture

Another kind of culture has emerged with the rise of the Internet. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide what amount to second lives for many people. And, by the way, there is a computer program actually called Second Life that allows a person to live in a “3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat.” It is intended to be more engaging than real life. A couple years ago I became a Facebook member and soon realized I could spend entire days responding to all the traffic coming to me and could be totally swallowed up by Facebook culture. So in what seemed to be a desperate move to preserve my sense of reality and sanity I clicked on the unsubscribe link.

Finally I would mention a culture that stirs the emotions and engages the devotion of human beings almost more than any other. I refer to sports and athletics, also the “fitness craze.” In Colorado we have “Bronco mania.” For decades the lives of my parents were dominated by the fortunes of the Denver Broncos football team. My father painted a pickup truck bright orange and blue, plastered it with Broncos paraphernalia and led Broncos parades around the state. They also had lunch at the home of Broncos coach Red Miller and his wife. I seem to have inherited something of this mania, finding it challenging to watch a Broncos game without getting swept up in the emotional frenzy.

The cult of fitness

Football culture is just one of the sports cultures. There is also baseball culture, basketball culture, hockey culture, golf culture, tennis culture, skiing culture, surfing culture, bowling culture, track and field culture, gymnastics culture and, as noted above, physical fitness culture. The latter has spawned a whole industry of fitness equipment, diets and exercise programs. I think it would be difficult to find anyone in the industrial countries of the world who is not at least partially immersed in this pervasive health culture.

As the symbol of the Human Party, my friend who was running for President selected the golden eagle. I wrote a poem called “The Golden Eagle” for our campaign newsletter. Here are the last three verses:

The red tape, the petty bickering,
All the stuff of earth-bound politics,
Are but meat for this bird,
Symbol of love’s consuming fire.

Symbol also of being that transcends
The rise and fall of human affairs,
And acts less to please the part
Than benefit and bless the whole.

Look up! Behold, the golden eagle,
In whom all may find identity and union,
And together birth a new America,
A new world.

Can a similar stance be taken with respect to human culture? Can we somehow soar above it all, breaking out of cultural compartments into the freedom and vast perspective the Whole? It is possible to one whose self-definition is no longer enclosed in these compartments but has risen into what I would call the truth of Universal Being, the power of creation at the very core of every human being. Recognizing that this is our very nature, our essence, is it really so difficult to allow our consciousness to enlarge enough to accommodate this transcendent stance?

God culture

Whatever the word “God” means to you, could you conceive of God being stuck in some human culture? I trust not. God’s vision is all-encompassing and His presence ubiquitous. God culture embraces and transcends all cultures. Well then, we who are made in the very image and likeness of God and appointed as God’s representatives on earth were made for God culture. In true identity this transcendent culture is the culture most natural to us.

As such we are what I would call “cultural creatives,” as opposed to a “cultural compulsives.” The latter can easily become addicted to one or more human cultures. The former, being fundamentally identified with God culture, see with transcendent vision and encompass the whole of heaven and earth.

In human culture but not of it

As we maintain this comprehensive positioning we are culturally free, free to move in and out of all human cultures at will, without danger of slipping into identity with any of them. We may relish the uniqueness and beauty of human diversity, even deeply engaging in it, while always retaining our essential unity with the culture of the Creator. In other words, we may be in any human culture but are always of God culture.

Here on Sunrise Ranch where I live we offer a week-long class called “From a High Place.” In fact the class is currently in session as I write this. This is a high place in consciousness that is attained as we recover our true identity as agents of creation. From this exalted space the landscapes of human cultures are seen to spread out below, cultures that we enter at will and use in sacred service, yet always in our core soaring above it all in the exhilarating air and culture of Universal Being. And, by the way, it is only from here that world transformation may unfold.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community west of Loveland for twenty-seven years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org

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Bring It On! Confrontation as an Essential Spiritual Practice

by Jerry Kvasnicka

imagesBeing normally a rather easy-going and reserved person it’s hard for me now to imagine how, as part of my youthful rebellion against the institutional church, I stood up in the midst of a worship service in front of several hundred people and shouted down the minister just after he had concluded his sermon. The anger this occasioned throughout the congregation was perhaps most poignantly focused by the man sitting next to me, who threatened to kill me if I ever stepped into the church again.

I suppose something was accomplished by my defiant act; several young people gathered around me as the congregation filed out, indicating they felt the same way and praising me for my courage. But basically my confrontation with the church establishment just fueled anger and aggression that could have degenerated into outright conflict, especially if weapons had been present.

In other words, this was destructive confrontation and is certainly not the kind of confrontation I would endorse in writing this article. When coming from ego and from unwholesome involvement in the human drama confrontation is inevitably destructive. Our world full of disagreement, conflict and chaos is ample testimony to this. As are the current political campaign debates for President, laced as they usually are with name calling and assorted personal attacks.

Creative confrontation vital to spiritual work

Contrast this with what I call creative confrontation which to me is an essential part of spiritual practice. There is one basic requirement for this kind of confrontation: acting from one’s highest vision of the truth of love or, it might be put, from inner stillness, holiness, wholeness and grace. When coming from this true point of centering, i.e. our divine nature, we can move boldly forward to confront any and every circumstance no matter how negative or threatening it may be.

In fact this is the very essence of our spiritual work. We came on earth to confront problems and issues of all kinds because, coming from the truth of ourselves, we have the capability to embrace these things in an ascending process. They are grist for our creative mill. Without anything to face on earth, how could we do any actual spiritual work?

We do this work primarily by engaging with the patterns in our own consciousness that are triggered by our sense perceptions of external circumstances. For example, listening to or watching a newscast puts a lot of material into my consciousness, and if there is a willingness to confront these patterns with the truth of love at my core, they may be transformed and transmuted, lifted into the creative process, all of this drawing resonant substance in the mass consciousness of humanity to the truth of love that I represent.

Creative confrontation via “subtle activism”

This is the essence of “subtle activism,” a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in leading-edge spiritual circles. Its chief proponent, Dr. David Thomas Nicol, describes it this way: “Subtle activism is both a new discipline and a growing movement that brings together spiritual practices with emerging insights into how we can begin to shift our world in a positive direction through the power of our individual and collective consciousness. It both opens intriguing new horizons of transformational practice, and serves as a way to integrate inner development with outer engagement—bonding communities together in a mission of healing and positive change.”

I think this world service or what I call world radiation gains greatest potency when we courageously confront the challenges that are most personal to us. For example, those who are
astrologically inclined may have some sense of what a “grand cross” is. It involves four planets that are in 90 degree relationship and is sometimes referred to as a “cross of crucifixion,” bringing life-long challenges. I have such a configuration in my natal horoscope as well as an exact conjunction of Saturn and Uranus. The latter is said to cause nervous tension alternating with depression throughout life with possible breakdown in extreme circumstances.

This is exactly what I have experienced in life, sometimes with so much intensity that it’s been difficult even to remain on the planet. A few years ago a psychotherapist handed me this diagnosis: “general anxiety disorder, panic anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.” What a handful to deal with! But I’ve found that in spiritual orientation it is possible to creatively confront these tendencies and to even give thanks for them, for they open up tremendous avenues of blessing and service.

Creatively confronting fear

Fear is of course the primary and most powerful emotion that I experience. Great! With the human race virtually convulsing with fear these days as terror and violence increase on earth, here is a wonderful point of connection I have with human consciousness. If I am able to creatively confront my own fear, this puts a message into the mass consciousness of humanity that creative confrontation with fear is not only possible but generative.

How can one creatively engage with fear? Not by trying to ignore it. Not by trying to suppress it or escape from it with drugs, alcohol, etc. Not by trying to fight it in any way, for fighting only gives more energy to what is opposed. I’ve found that the only way to creatively confront fear is to welcome it as a friend, to warmly invite it in. I know it has been said, “Perfect love casts out fear.” But fear can only be cast out if it is first welcomed in and loved.

Uplifting dense dysfunctional energies

This kind of personal confrontation with fear, anger, shame and a host of other negative patterns in consciousness is the very work spiritually awake people are here to do on earth. I like the way this work is described in a piece called Sustaining the Galactic Blueprint by Peggy Black and the “team”: “In this reality of polarities and free will, the manner in which a transformation can take place requires a star being to fully embody and experience the very dense dysfunctional energies as their own. Once these experiences have been felt, endured, observed and anchored in your personal electromagnetic mental and emotional field, they are yours to transform and uplift. Remember you are an alchemist, here to transform and uplift dense dysfunctional energies.”

As star beings and divine alchemists we are ready, indeed eager, to confront everything that comes to us. By the way, when two or more people are coming from this place of underlying agreement, issues that might otherwise divide them and lead to serious disagreement can be creatively confronted. Even the strongest differences on policies and ways of doing things can be resolved without conflict. Oh that something of this might be known in politics and government!

So bring it on! However dense and difficult, however painful and perplexing the things that put in an appearance in the course of our lives on earth we are here for creative confrontation. “For this cause came I into the world.” Only as there are those who consistently engage in this work of transmutation is there any possibility for regenerating human consciousness and realigning our precious earth with the cosmic whole.

Jerry K. - 2013 Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community west of Loveland for twenty-six years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org

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Spiritual Politics: Oxymoron or Real Possibility?

by Jerry Kvasnicka

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce again in the United States we are in the midst of election for President and members of Congress. Backed by large campaign treasure chests and ample staffs of supporters, aspirants for office are again engaged in fierce competition for votes and in the process making lavish promises to recharge the economy, enhance our status in the world and otherwise produce a peaceful and prosperous state for everyone.

Despite the antics of Donald Trump, somehow this time around it all seems so boring. Do we really need to go through this same exercise again? For those of us who are surfing excitedly on the new spiritual tide emerging on earth, the old political games seem so anachronistic and irrelevant, so contrary to the redefinition of humanity that is increasingly coin-of-the-realm in spiritual circles.

Clergy malpractice insurance!

The new understanding that our nature is basically spiritual and divine came home to me as I recently contemplated an article on clergy malpractice insurance. Yes, you read correctly, clergy malpractice insurance! The market for policies to protect ministers who counsel parishioners is apparently growing.

A case before the California Supreme Court brought the issue to the fore several years ago. Twenty-four year old Kenneth Nally, a former UCLA student, struggled for years with bouts of depression until he discovered Grace Community Church of the Valley, an evangelical Bible church that considers sin the root of all human problems.

Nally joined, attended all services and even began studying to be a minister. But the depression flared up again, despite frequent counseling by Grace’s pastors, and Nally finally took his own life. His parents later filed a million dollar suit against the church, accusing the counselors of negligence for telling their son that his problem was sin instead of referring him to a psychiatrist.

Our nature is fundamentally flawed?

However, psychiatry doesn’t have the answer either, even if it may have deferred the suicide by convincing Nally that his depression was the legacy of childhood trauma or guilt. Though they may not use the nomenclature of sin, grace, etc., traditional psychiatry and all forms of counseling by the respected advice-givers of our society operate from the same basic premise: our nature is inherently evil, inadequate, flawed, violent, maladaptive, dysfunctional…pick your term according to the level of your sophistication.

In short, there is something fundamentally wrong with human beings and life is at best a three-score-and-seven year struggle to overcome this state of limitation, only to go down in the end. “Civilization” is the sum of these individual struggles and is essentially the laborious and futile attempt on the collective level to cope with and somehow keep in check the “evil lurking in the heart of man.”

Ken Nally was sold a “bill of goods.” He was deceived. The church is in fact guilty of negligence. But then so is the home, the school, the government…every human institution has done exactly the same thing. We all deserve to be sued, for not only have we bought the same goods, we have enthusiastically participated in marketing them to others, making it possible for the myth of inadequacy and inherent evil to permeate every nook and cranny of human emotion, thought, behavior and culture. Here is the core of the conditioning that has kept the human race in bondage for thousands of years.

The politics of manipulation and coercion

And this the field on which the game of politics has been played. In consequence it has degenerated into the art and science of how societies can best control the rapacious and destructive tendencies of their members. Successful dictators are able to dominate and subdue the evil nature by overpowering it with more of their own. Successful elected leaders are able, at least in the short term, to find solutions to the problems created by the evil nature and to thereby maintain the fiction that human beings can permanently peacefully coexist with it. Whatever methods and systems of control are used, it all springs from a politics of manipulation and presents a dismal and pathetic spectacle that could indeed depress anyone who really takes it seriously.

But why take it seriously? It isn’t the truth. It is all based on a lie. Human beings are not inherently evil, helpless victims of their own defective nature, consigned to a hell-on-earth struggle with a God-given state of limitation. “The goose is out of the bottle.” Inherent evil, original sin, universal impotence, animal ancestry…it’s all a myth. The only thing wrong has been our willingness to accept the notion that something is wrong and try to live on this basis. The problem, if there is one, is not sin but belief that there is such a thing as sin, and the time is certainly at hand to lay aside all beliefs in favor of the truth.

Replacing the lie of limitation with the truth of wholeness

What truth? The truth of wholeness, completeness, oneness with whatever created the earth and the rest of the universe. The truth of beauty, order and majesty at the core of every human being on the planet. The truth that human beings are here to exercise dominion through intelligent stewardship, not domination through manipulation. The truth, as one person wrote in a letter to me, that “man, male and female, is present on earth to translate through daily living the central pulse of Universal Spirit into coherent meaning at this level of creation.” The truth that you and I are beings of enormous stature and creative potential whose sphere of responsibility includes not only the earth but the solar system beyond.

This “new” understanding of human nature (actually it’s as old as human existence) obviously implies a new politics and a new role for the politician. The politics of manipulation is properly replaced by the politics of co-creation. Politics ceases to be the tedious work of balancing and keeping in check the competing interests that spring from the old sense of self and becomes the delightful art of coordinating the essentially harmonious interests of those who sense their oneness with Universal Spirit.

Wise administrators of the creative process

In essence the politician assumes a leading role in translating the impulses of universal government into coherent meaning and operative form on earth. He or she functions in the center point where the creative cycles that embody the earth’s mission in the cosmos cross over into human consciousness and are given initial release in thought and word. Yes, it is spiritual work, sacred work, and the politician properly sets a tone of integrity and absolute fidelity to the character of Universal Spirit in his/her living.

Here is but a faint and fleeting glimpse of what is potential in politics and government, one of many fields where transformation can occur when this new stature of man is accepted. That this vision is so far beyond anything that can presently be conceived of by mainline politicians and the population at large is indication of how totally immersed we have been in the lie of sin and limitation. But we might be surprised at how readily this vision can be actualized once we stop courting the lie and awaken to our true stature of excellence and authority. Not only awaken to it but accept the mantle of leadership it implies and actually begin to live on this basis.

I’m reminded of the age-old story of the lost child of royal ancestry who, upon being found and told he was king, refused to return and accept the throne, preferring instead his life as a street beggar. A similar choice is being offered to human beings today, and depending on their response, the earth will remain in the gutter or assume its royal role in the universe.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community west of Loveland for twenty-six years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org.

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What Is Your S.I.Q.?

by Jerry Kvasnicka

S.I.Q.S.I.Q. stands for “spiritual intelligence quotient.” It has to do with the spiritual discernment and consequent expression in living that results when consciousness is primarily informed by the universal essence that connects us all rather than by reaction to external factors. For personal and planetary health S.I.Q. is far more important than plain I.Q.

When I look out at the world that human beings have made I am tempted to repeat the words of one my favorite bumper stickers: “Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.” Yes, there’s plenty of I.Q., plenty of “brilliant” ideas concocted by the human mind. But there’s very little S.I.Q., without which life as it was created to be cannot flourish on earth.

People with high I.Q.s developed nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. People with a high I.Q. developed genetically modified organisms, ‘blessing’ us with GMO crops and foods. People with high I.Q.s developed pesticides and herbicides that are killing our bees. People with high I.Q.s devised a process for getting oil out of the ground called fracking that uses massive amounts of water, contaminates the water and causes earthquakes in some areas. People with high I.Q.s devised land use policies that contribute to desertification. And people with high I.Q.s came up with the internal combustion engine; it runs our cars and trucks but spews carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that contributes to global warming.

Problems spring from solutions!

Oh what wonderful things have been given to the world by people of high intelligence! News commentator Eric Sevareid hit the mark when he said, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.” Another way of putting this is “Today’s problems are yesterday’s solutions.” The human mind, uninformed by Spirit or what we might call Universal Being, was never intended to govern this planet.

In the United States hundreds of thousands of laws have been put on the books by the U.S. Congress, all for the purpose of solving problems and creating a just, peaceful, prosperous and happy state for everyone in the country. Has anything even remotely resembling this come to pass? Certainly not, and the underlying reason is low spiritual intelligence.

Religion lowers spiritual intelligence!

How is spiritual intelligence increased? An obvious answer might be: religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Human religion lowers spiritual intelligence. Why? Because it is the product of the human mind and human imagination, not of any real connection with Spirit. Religion interposes a veil of beliefs, doctrines, creeds, holy books, rites, rituals, relics and assorted salvation formulas between Spirit and human consciousness. Spirit has a difficult time penetrating this veil, if it can get through at all. Clogged with religion human consciousness tends to languish in a helpless victim state of identity.

“We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” This bumper sticker states the truth. But most human beings in effect affirm the opposite: “We are human beings trying to have a spiritual experience.” And I might add that they use religion and all of its paraphernalia in an effort to induce this experience and have some kind of connection with God. But as long as identity remains at the level of a mere human being trying to connect with a remote and often punitive God, spiritual intelligence remains at a low level and the world continues to slide down the road to oblivion.

To increase S.I.Q. it might be useful to begin with the affirmation “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still, clearing mind and heart of all the mental and emotional clutter from out of the past, human consciousness is then in position to experience the communion with God that is already present. Yes we are already in communion with God and always have been. We just haven’t been aware of it and feel we need to somehow manufacture it by external means.

God is worshipping you!

Worship is one of these devices. For many human beings worship involves coming together in a church, mosque, synagogue or temple to reach out to a distant God via prayers, hymns, scriptures, sacraments, etc. But for those who have awakened to their already existing communion with the Most High, worship becomes something radically different. David Karchere, spiritual director of Emissaries of Divine Light, beautifully describes this:

It’s not hard to see how the efforts of human beings to be religious, or even spiritual, so often cut across the already-existing reality of the presence of what God is, if that word God has any meaning at all. And what really has to happen for there to be a change in human experience is a breakdown of whatever veil there is in the human mind and heart that doesn’t understand how the reality of God is worshiping them now, already.

Knowing that you’ve been worshipped, is worship of God an effort? Do we have to go through some great ritual, ceremony, or reach some high religious fervor in order to worship God? If we need rituals and ceremony, it’s to break down the veil that’s present in our own heart—the veil of unseeingness, the veil of ingratitude—so that we can know what’s already true: we are being loved, we are being worshipped. Knowing that you are loved, knowing that you are worshipped, is it hard to love and worship back? Is that an effort? Not at all.

This is a radical departure from the common conception of worship and of communion with God. Instead of making an effort to worship God, this is saying that God is worshipping us! And so worship becomes primarily the celebration of an already existing fact. Yes we can still engage in singing, praying and various forms of ceremony in a service of worship, but the experience is different when the dynamic is celebration of divine imminence rather than reaching out to a distant God.

You are a Temple of the Living God

“Be still and know that I am God.” Speaking this, feeling this, living this, being this raises spiritual intelligence. As I do this I come home to the truth of who I am: a spiritual being, a representative of Universal Being, an angel incarnate. As Uranda, founder of Emissaries of Divine Light, observed: “Truly man, as God created him, male and female, is the Temple of the Living God.”

To this one might reply, “Well, I certainly don’t feel like a spiritual being, let alone a being that God is worshipping.” Okay, but could it be that your feelings are giving you false information? Your mind and emotions, like mine, have probably been conditioned for decades to believe that you are a mere human being, a victim of circumstance and, if you’ve been exposed to Christianity, a helpless carrier of original sin. The first step toward spiritual intelligence is to delete this mental and emotional default programming via a process of conscious deprogramming.

Replace habitual reaction with divine action

How does this work? It’s very simple. Begin with the assumption that you are a spiritual being, a representative of God on earth. Pretend if you must. Then no matter what comes to you or who comes to you, simply act as though God might act in relation to that circumstance. No matter how habituated you are to react to the situation on the basis of impulses arising from the conditioned self you have known, respond to the situation from your highest vision of how a spiritual being made in the very image and likeness of God would handle it.

This begins to establish a spiritual baseline in consciousness and from there spiritual intelligence may increase. Because the more you override habitual reaction in favor of activating the highest and finest qualities of character and the unconditional love at your core, the more you realize, “Why I am this! This is my very nature!”

We know what we express. Express Spirit and know Spirit. Invest everything we say and everything we do with Spirit and our S.I.Q. continues to increase. And this not only increases individual S.I.Q. but, perhaps more importantly, raises the spiritual intelligence level of the whole body of humanity and serves to save our precious planet Earth from the excesses of ordinary I.Q.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-six years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org

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Wisdom From the Back of a Car

submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

bumper sticker #2As I stated in the initial installment of this series I find a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers and keep a list of them handy for illustrating and driving home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements. Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some more of my favorites:

GOD WANTS SPIRITUAL FRUITS, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS

Religious nuts are hard to crack. They’re so embedded in shells of beliefs, doctrines, rites, rituals, rules and relics that even the most effective nut crackers generally fail to open them, and even if the shell is cracked the nut inside will often crumble in the process. Obviously God (or what I prefer to call the creative process of life) finds it almost impossible to penetrate and work with this material.
Religious beliefs and behavior, even though socially acceptable and seemingly innocuous, are actually evidence of spiritual derangement, of disconnection with the creative process, and are threatening to the life of the individuals embedded in these structures and the life of the planet. An illusory world has been created on this basis. This world and the human condition that pervades it are comparable to an insane asylum, and religions provide the primary impulse that spawns and perpetuates this insanity.

The root of the insanity may be found in the idea that meaning and fulfillment in life come from something external, i.e. beliefs, rituals, holy books, saviors, saints, temples, sacred sites, etc. The truth is that meaning and fulfillment come from within, from the pure and inexhaustible fountain of life at the source of every person’s being. When this fountain is allowed to flow into an individual’s thinking, speaking and behavior the surrounding environment is watered and begins to participate in the flow. Delicious spiritual fruits result from this flow, fruits that are soft and pliable, unlike the hard nuts of religion that only serve to block the flow.

I’M LOST, BUT I’M MAKING RECORD TIME

This is pretty much the story of human beings on earth since their fall from grace. In the book of Job in the Old Testament, when the Lord asked Satan from whence he came, Satan said “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Human beings have been going to and fro in the earth and up and down in it for thousands of years and, especially in these days of advanced technology, making record time But except for a smattering of individuals who have discovered something of the truth of love and how life operates, the human race has been lost and has been making excellent time toward oblivion.

I have frequent dreams of being lost in a large city and struggling mightily to find my way back to some familiar landmark. The harder I try, the more lost I become. Panic sets in and I begin to make record time running or driving from street to street, around this corner and that corner, up this alley, through this backyard, across this field. It is exhausting and I finally collapse in a heap of frustration. Once again we have a metaphor for what is being experienced by the whole body of humanity.

Here is a closely related bumper sticker to the one we’re considering: DON’T FOLLOW ME, I’M LOST TOO. At least the person is honest enough to admit being lost. Some religious, political and educational leaders give the impression that they have found the answers or even the answer and have attracted many followers on this basis, when the fact is that they are just as lost as everyone else. Oh and by the way another bumper sticker that goes with this syndrome is WHERE ARE WE GOING? AND WHY AM I IN THIS HANDBASKET?

These games of lost and found can only be played by human beings who are enmeshed in the human drama and are looking for the answer in something external to themselves. It is this very involvement with externals that has created a world of illusion in which people perceive themselves as being lost. Disconnected from their own Inner Reality, directions and answers are sought in something from the environment, often some form of religious faith. Obviously what is required is reconnection with the Reality, the I AM core of every person’s being.

This God center never has been and never will be lost, so there is certainly no need to search for it. No need to search for meaning and fulfillment or for enlightenment; I am already filled full of everything I need for fulfillment; I am already enlightened, which I discover as I shine the light that I am. When I am coming from this place in creative self-expression I find my spiritual home, and my world transforms in record time.

I THINK, THEREFORE I’M DANGEROUS

This is unfortunately true, because the way 90% of human beings think is not really thinking at all; it is just reaction to factors in the environment. This reactive “thinking” produces all kinds of destructive effects. In fact it has produced all of the violence, corruption, disease and all the other forms of human suffering peculiar to the human condition on this planet. We live in a mind-made world, and the deplorable nature of this world is the result of the mind being used in the wrong way. From the moment of birth human beings are conditioned to “think” reactively, using analysis, deduction and so-called logic. The entire educational system is based on this. We are taught that the only way to achieve success in life is to analyze and manipulate external circumstances to so-called advantage.

It has been said that the human mind is like a parachute; to work it must be open. The question is, open to what? To external circumstances in an attempt to solve problems and arrange things in a way that seems to satisfy my wants and desires? No, whatever created the mind never intended it to be used in this reactive way. The mind works the way it should when it is open to what I refer to as Source or Spirit, to the Fountain of Life bubbling up from within. When the pure water from this Fountain flows over the waterwheel of the human mind, fresh and enlightened thoughts emerge to enrich the environment. But when the mind is used reactively, stagnant water from the cistern of the subconscious is lifted up to the waterwheel and the result is the human condition with all of its corruption and conflict.

In other words, the human mind is properly a servant rather than the master, an instrument of control rather than the control itself. The expression “I think, therefore I am” is attributed to the philosopher Descartes. This elevates the mind to a position it should not occupy. The truth is “I am, therefore I think,” i.e. Being first, then thinking. And when human beings come together utilizing this kind of creative thinking magic happens as the possibilities inherent in Source are allowed to manifest. In the spiritual community of Sunrise Ranch where I live creative thinking and magic thrives in the Creative Field Groups and Transformation Groups that meet regularly, quite a contrast to what comes out of the think tanks and study groups operative in human government and academia.

DON’T BLOW IT, GOOD PLANETS ARE HARD TO FIND

This bumper sticker allows me to sum up pretty much everything I’ve said in this series. The way human beings have behaved on this magnificent planet has unfortunately put it in great jeopardy. There is a very real possibility that this Earth project could be thrown on the cosmic scrap heap. In fact I’m rather amazed that the greater Universe has for so long tolerated the “den of iniquity” that human beings have created and sustained on the planet. I can only explain it to myself by referring to what has been called “the grace of God.” Whatever it is that created this project evidently still believes that we can finally get it together.

And the only way, as I see it, that we can get it together and avoid blowing this uniquely beautiful creative experiment is to fully embody the love that fueled and formed the basis of its creation. However, what the world needs now is not love, sweet love, but the truth of love. It is the interpretations of love by the reactive human mind that have brought the Earth to the brink of disaster. It is impossible for the reactive and self-serving human mind to know the truth of love. It has to get out of the way; indeed it has to dissolve. And the only way that can happen is when primal spirituality is recovered, i.e. when our innate, intuitive knowing of the truth of love and of Being is actually expressed in living. Otherwise it lies buried in the subconscious mind and the reactive mind is in control.

So here is the formula for saving the Earth: let us be the creator beings that we are by fully embodying the qualities of divine character in our living. It begins with the individual and works out from there to transform the Earth. The answer is not in religion; the answer is not in politics and government; the answer is not in science. The answer is in me and you and the spiritual body that emerges on the basis of our expression of the truth of love. Yes I know that astronomers have discovered some other earth-like planets in the galaxy, but frankly I can’t imagine how another planet could be more beautiful and offer more scope for creative expression than the one we have right here. So please let’s not blow this unmatched creative opportunity!

Jerry K. - 2013 Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-six years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org

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Bumper Stickers I Love

bumper sticker #2submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

I am open to inspiration and insight from any source, and so when a catalog of bumper stickers arrived in the mail for me one day, I decided to open it instead of instinctively throwing it into the recycling bin. I was delightfully surprised by the treasury of wisdom that I found, and I now keep the catalog of these succinct gems on top of my desk so that I can quickly bring them up to illustrate and drive home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements.

Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some of my favorites:

WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE

Our essence is spiritual, not physical. We are here in physical form on earth to release and experience this spiritual essence. We are certainly not the products of evolution out of primeval slime. We as creator beings were here first and the rest of creation in effect devolved out of us. Yet human beings have believed and acted as though exactly the opposite were true—that they somehow evolved out of lower forms of life and are thereby relegated to a subhuman existence that must forever struggle to rise out of the human condition, perhaps only in some kind of heavenly afterlife.

No, it is right here on earth that we belong. This is the arena for action; this is why we incarnated—to bring heaven down here. Human religions have, in effect, turned the bumper sticker around: WE ARE PHYSICAL BEINGS TRYING TO HAVE A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. When this physical origin of human beings is accepted, the only recourse for attempting to experience something spiritual is for the human mind to develop concepts and beliefs of what it thinks spirituality might be like. So this is what it has done and this is what religions are—piles and piles of human concepts, fabrications, by-products of human imagination. Considering the deplorable world of illusion that has been created on this basis, isn’t it about time we got back to reality? WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE!

WHEN YOU’RE OVER THE HILL, YOUR SPEED PICKS UP

It is commonly assumed that as you age, you slow down, physically, mentally and in every other way. But I’m discovering that those who are spiritually alive, who are aligned with the creative process of life, actually pick up speed in terms of mental and even physical dexterity, artistic ability and across-the-board creative capacity. I’m now in my seventy-second year, no doubt qualifying for over-the-hill status, and while there are a few physical tasks that I now find slightly challenging, the rest of my capacities are fully on line. And then some! Wisdom does indeed come with age, and with wisdom comes an acceleration of creative output.

The increase of speed that is possible to older individuals is also possible to older organizations, older communities and older movements, provided once again that they are spiritually aligned with the way things work. The spiritual community where I live (Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado) is now sixty-eight years old, probably one of the oldest intentional communities in the United States. The communal wisdom accumulated over these years has allowed for an expansion of our capacity to welcome and encompass people. We frequently host groups of around one hundred people for a week or ten days at a time, and last summer Sunrise was the setting for the Arise Festival, bringing several thousand people to our land. In these “senior years” our speed has definitely picked up!

GET INVOLVED…THE WORLD IS RUN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP

Several years ago, being unemployed and having very little money, I applied for a job as a janitor and was hired. My initial assignment was just two nights a week cleaning the offices of a power company. Turnover among janitorial employees is high because many just don’t show up consistently. Because I consistently showed up I was promoted to three nights a week as part of a crew cleaning a large recreational facility, and then a few months later I was made supervisor of a six-person team cleaning an enormous computer manufacturing complex five nights a week. I don’t believe my success in this field was due to any particular cleaning prowess but rather to the realization by the owners of the janitorial company that they had a “golden employee,” a man who unfailingly showed up for every job, always ahead of time, and followed through until everything was done.

So many people in our world just don’t bother to consistently show up for the physical jobs they have to do, costing the economy billions of dollars. But far more costly is the failure to show up for the spiritual work we have to do. This is why we incarnated after all. In the spiritual community where I live there are frequent gatherings where concentrated spiritual work is done, work that generates a current of radiant blessing to be offered into the body of humanity. How important it is to show up for these times. Even if nothing is said, just a person’s presence brings so much power and influence in terms of providing an additional sounding board for the spiritual tone that is being sounded. Oh how the universe longs for people of quality who consistently show up to offer their highest and finest in every circumstance!

GOD, PROTECT ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS!

Those who purport to follow God can be some of the most ruthless and murderous people on the planet. To cite just one example, the Lord’s Resistance Army is a guerrilla group operating in South Sudan, the Congo and the Central African Republic. Its tactics include mutilation, torture, slavery, rape, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers and massacres. The movement is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium. There are a large number of militant Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, including the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly noted for its brutal treatment of women and strict enforcement of Sharia law.

While the excesses of Islamic extremism, where many are ready to kill for their faith, are rare in the United States, extremism of a different kind thrives in many fundamentalist churches. Preachers, sincerely believing they are speaking the Word of God, may not threaten to kill non-believers in this life but they do threaten hellfire and damnation in the “next life” unless a particular salvation formula is accepted. And, really, any form of proselytizing, any effort, no matter how polite, to impose one’s beliefs on another is equivalent to violently invading the sanctity of their being.

Yes, God, please protect me from your followers! The question is, do they really know You? A follower, by definition, is separate from God and can only develop concepts and beliefs about God, and considering the collection of superstitions and fantasies evident in the world’s religions, these ideas concocted by the human mind are way off the mark. I don’t think God wants followers; God, the Creator, Universal Being—however God is defined—wants leaders, people who are willing to take responsibility for being God in action on earth, people who don’t see any separation between themselves and the Creator and therefore don’t fabricate ideas about God. The latter can be dangerous!

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, GROWTH IS OPTIONAL

It has been said that the only constant is change. This especially rings true at this point in the 21st century where massive changes are taking place in climate, politics, culture, the world economy, etc. If one is able to roll with these changes, easily adapting to them and even using them as springboards for growth and additional creative action, then all is well on the personal level and something positive is put into the collective consciousness of the body of humanity. But human beings are notorious for resisting change and seeking to preserve the status quo at all costs. For many the prospect of change seems terribly frightening and they will fight even to the death to prevent it.

One example that comes to mind is the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The ban has been supported by the county’s intransigent Islamic clerical establishment. Clerics reportedly believe that lifting the ban and generally giving women more freedom would lead to increased premarital sex and adultery. Saudi security officials have said that “enforcing the ban is part of protecting the monarchy against sedition.” Saudi Arabia also forbids women from travelling abroad, opening a bank account or working without permission from a male relative. Even Saudi King Abdullah acknowledges that women will someday drive in the country, but for now he and other officials there have opted to resist change and the growth opportunity that accommodating change brings.

The classic musical that illustrates resistance to change is “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, the father of five daughters, tries to keep his family and Jewish religious traditions intact in the face of strong pressures to let go of these customs from his three older daughters. There is mounting pressure in these days on all religious and cultural traditions. The creative process of life simply will not be blocked anymore by the structures in human consciousness, no matter how old and how revered these structures are. To put it bluntly, human beings are increasingly being given the choice to either let go and grow or dig in and die.

Lest we end on a down note, here is an auspicious bumper sticker for all who are willing to let go and grow.

SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org.

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Edited excerpts from a radio interview done with James Twyman June 16, 2011

Submitted by Larry Pearlman

Peace is a process. It’s something that we’re going to create and develop and share over time. I think it’s dangerous to think that some magic wand is going to be waved over the heads of humanity and from that moment on there’s no longer going to be any conflict or war.

People sometimes ask me if I think that we’re ever going to get to the point where there will be complete peace and the cessation of all violence. You may be surprised at my answer, but I don’t really think that that is how it works. This world that we’re in, this world that we created in order to learn certain very important spiritual lessons, this is the world of duality. This is the world where we learn from our mistakes, where we learn from everything. One of the things that we learn from is the way that we relate to one another, both skillfully and unskillfully. This is all of the evolutionary trek, both individual and collective, that is bringing us to a spiritual maturation.

So maybe there comes a point where each individual makes that choice to such a degree and such a level that they no longer have a need to reincarnate, if you believe in that. Or we move on to the next schoolroom, the next classroom, where we have different lessons. The main thing that I’ve learned over all these years that I’ve been doing this work, over all the years and decades that I’ve been in spiritual practice, is that I don’t know anything. So these are my theories, just like we’ll all have our own theories.

I don’t really know what is meant to happen here. The only thing that I really do know is that I am meant to continue to choose peace in very dynamic ways in my own life, and to try and share that whenever I can. How this ends, what happens, I’m not attached to it, because I know that in the end we’re all going to see that we created this world and we can create a better world. And in doing so, peace may happen in exactly the way that you described. I hope it does—that would be wonderful. But I’m not attached to it, to tell you the truth. I’m more attached to the spiritual growth that’s there.

I think the thing that is happening is that we are beginning to focus much more on the ways that we are the same, rather than the ways that we are different. I mean, you brought up the situation in Ireland, and I think that’s probably a very good example, because clearly, whether you’re in northern Ireland or whether you’re in the Republic of Ireland, they’re all Irish. And whether they’re Catholic or Protestant, in the end, does not supersede the fact that they’re really the same.

The one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve traveled around the world, often to these war zones, is that we’re not really all that different from one another. If we could begin focusing on the ways that we are the same, and build from there, as opposed to the way we’ve been doing it, which is to begin where we are different, beginning where we are the same fosters a new attitude that ultimately does lead to peace. Now, of course, the Internet has been fantastic at that. I mean, we have broken down boundaries and walls in ways that we never would have thought possible twenty years ago, mainly just through connecting through the Internet, email, Facebook, whatever. And this is an exciting time to live in—there’s no way around that. I mean, we have opportunities here today that are just remarkable.

I remember the first time I was invited to Iraq, back in 1998. I was invited there by Saddam Hussein himself to perform the Peace Concert there in Baghdad. I was pretty nervous because of course I thought, “These people are so different from me—what’s going to happen? Am I going to be safe?” and all of those questions that one would ask. Without going into too much detail, it was one of the best experiences of my life. After I did this major concert there in Baghdad, they had a party for me. It was one of the most fun parties I’ve ever been to, and all we did all night long, really, was sit around singing Simon & Garfunkel songs! And this was in Baghdad. So we really were a lot more similar than I thought that we were.

It also makes me think of how I got into this work in the first place. You may remember that twenty-five years ago this year, there was a gathering that took place in Assisi, Italy, the home of St. Francis, where for the first time in history, the leaders of the twelve major religions of the world came together, not to have discussions, but just to pray. Each one brought a peace prayer from their tradition, and there was an amazing, beautiful gathering where each one of them prayed that prayer. Those are the prayers that I ultimately arranged to music, which is another story.

That was the beginning of something very important, especially in terms of our spiritual history and the way that we relate to one another in religion. Even though obviously all the different religions are very different, they all have a common denominator, and that is that desire for peace. Everyone has a peace prayer.

We see this happening in so many ways. Allowing these boundaries, between individuals, cultures, and nations, to continue to dissolve, is what ultimately is going to lead to peace.

James Twyman
James Twyman is an internationally renowned, best-selling author, filmmaker and musician who has a reputation for traveling to some of the world’s greatest areas of conflict, sharing his message of peace.

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The Substance Behind Money

Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

“Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.”  So wrote Bill Vaughan in Reader’s Digest.  A lot of people have a problem with money, and the primary problem seems to be not having enough of it.  High unemployment and a recession-prone economy have intensified the quest for money, and the more desperate among us are resorting to lotteries and games of chance, highly speculative business ventures, get-rich-quick schemes and even crime in order to somehow rake in some bucks.  I understand that the U.S. Mint once mistakenly printed on a run of its gold coins:  “In Gold We Trust.”  This inscription might as well be put on all coins and currency, for it accurately represents the human obsession with money.

Yet it is universally acknowledged that money has no intrinsic value, that it is merely paper and serves only as a medium of exchange.  Of what is money the medium?  What does it represent?  Ultimately and ideally money represents life itself.  Whatever increases or facilitates the flow of life on earth has value or, as I like to think of it, substance.  An ear of corn grown by a farmer obviously has substance; it is substance.  Because this substance has the capacity to sustain life when it is consumed by human beings or livestock, it has value.  The farmer who, along with nature, assists in the generation of this substance is entitled to compensation in money commensurate with the value of the substance.

This is a very simple example having to do with a tangible commodity.  The corn can be seen and touched.  But a great deal of substance generation is intangible.  The most refined substance generation occurs at the spiritual level.  Worship and meditation, to the degree that these are free of religious beliefs and concepts, generate a purity of spiritual substance that I refer to as “pneumaplasm.”

In actual fact all substance originates at this level, and substance generated at the physical and mental levels is just a denser form of pneumaplasm.   This spirit-substance connects spirit with form, essence with existence, heaven with earth, God with creation.  It is the mechanism by which all life on the planet—indeed in the whole universe—is sustained and is the repository of all value.

Now back to money.  In an ideal state, money, the medium by which human beings collectively acknowledge and measure value, would flow in the direction of pneumaplasm.  In other words, it would flow to those who, by virtue of the purity of their hearts and beauty of their expression, were generating the most refined spiritual substance in their living.  But in their fallen state of consciousness, human beings have grossly interfered with this natural flow.  Their primary concern is to accumulate the medium rather than generate the substance that the medium represents.  Addicted to the symbol, they have forsaken the reality.  The result is an unspeakable mess on earth.

Pneumaplasm is sacred and money, when it is allowed to flow in accordance with pneumaplasmic generation, is also sacred.  But when human beings, acting out of ignorance and greed, attempt to manipulate this flow to suit their own purposes, the whole process is profaned and polluted.  All money is tainted as a result, and some of this filthy residue inevitably attaches to those who use it.

The way to begin recovering true values, in a world where values are totally twisted, is to put the quest for money completely aside in favor of generating pneumaplasm.  By devoting the whole of our energies to the expression of the highest qualities of character by living with as much integrity and nobility as is possible in this mixed-up state, we can begin to restore a natural flow.  I have found that when true generation is the focus in living rather than making money, enough money will be provided to meet daily needs.  And the money that does flow in on this basis begins to lose its taint.  In other words, purity of motive in generating spiritual substance engenders a purification process that begins to clean up money and everything else in the environment.  Here is the only legitimate form of “money laundering.”

So pneumaplasm, the “golden substance of being,” is the true coin of the realm, and as long as that is consistently generated in living, everything else, including money and all other forms of material sustenance, will take care of itself.  Within the envelope of this substance there is no anxiety whatsoever about not having enough.  Even in material circumstances that are very modest, the experience is one of abundance.

In ancient days, there was a man named Job who exemplified this natural flow.  He was considered “the greatest of all the men of the east,” with enormous herds of sheep, camels and oxen and all manner of other property.  It is also said that Job was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.”  In other words, his generation of spiritual substance was pure and plentiful, and because the state of consciousness at that time was relatively clear, his right generation brought vast wealth.  But the time came when it was all taken away, and he was smitten with sores and boils all over his body.  Though his wife advised him to “curse God and die,” Job continued to put first things first, upholding his integrity and giving thanks for life.  His health and wealth were restored, the latter not only restored, but doubled.

Money/wealth ultimately flows toward pneumaplasm, even though in the short term human beings have disrupted this natural flow, believing money to be a shortcut to happiness and fulfillment.  Although there are more people making more money on earth than ever before, human beings as a whole feel more impoverished than ever.  Why?  Simply because they have neglected the generation of pneumaplasm, without which money is worthless.  If human beings persist in this fixation on a symbol at the expense of the reality, they will find their lives mightily disrupted as the right flow is restored as it inevitably must be in accordance with natural law.
Jerry #2Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years and can be reached at jkvasnicka@emnet.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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Issue # 1

       Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
While we frequently hear of global summits and conferences on such issues as climate change, the world economy and AIDS, it isn’t often that news comes to us of gatherings that address what is perhaps the key causative factor underlying virtually all of the world’s problems, namely overpopulation.  Or do we seriously believe that an earth without human beings could environmentally and economically threaten itself?  No, there is really only one reason why ecological catastrophe looms:  too many Homo sapiens vying for a slice of the planetary pie.  Until this fundamental issue is addressed, the plethora of programs to patch up the planet will all be for naught.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, world population reached seven billion on October 31, 2011.  That this milestone fell on Halloween perhaps indicates the devilish nature of the problem!  The online encyclopedia Wikipedia estimates births per year worldwide at 134 million and deaths at 56 million.  At this rate world population is expected to grow to as much as 10.5 billion by 2050.  This is far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet, especially considering that 90% of the growth will occur in underdeveloped countries.  And since one person in the U.S. annually uses 50 times the energy of one Bengali, population growth in the industrial nations, though slower, will put enormous stress on world resources.  Despite these sobering facts, programs to limit population growth often have low priority or engender outright opposition from political conservatives, religious organizations and prolife groups.  Wikipedia notes that “the use of abortion in some population control strategies has caused controversy, with organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church explicitly opposing any intervention in the human reproductive process.”

Why?  Why this stubborn refusal to apply discipline in this area?  Obviously we are dealing with mindsets embedded in the deepest levels of human consciousness.  In the opening chapter of the Bible, God reportedly commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply,” and perhaps the fervor to reproduce represents one way human beings try to compensate for their failure to observe the rest of God’s (life’s) commandments.  If people are not secure and fulfilled in the expression of their true nature as representatives of the Creator on earth, then having children may be a way of compensating for this lack of meaning and purpose.

Do we suppose that today God (or whatever this term represents to you) is still urging us along the path of accelerated procreation?  I very much doubt it.  The message I’m getting in the stillness of meditation is something like this:  “All right, already!  Enough is enough!  With all due respect, may I suggest that the totality of life in the universe is in no way diminished by the failure of human beings to reproduce?  Life can manifest in an infinite number of ways, and right now it would be better for the earth and for the cosmos as a whole if it manifested in ways other than the multiplication of human forms.”

Religionists down through the ages have labored under the illusion that the earth is a “soul factory”—i.e. that it’s primary purpose is to mass produce souls (human beings) for the kingdom of heaven, where they have a chance to go after death.  I suspect this notion is a baseline belief of the prolife movement—people who insist that life is precious.  Indeed it is, but the supreme value of life is degraded when it is forced beyond the saturation point into human forms.  The universe is less interested in quantity—the gross production of human forms—than in quality—the creative output of the earth system.  The point has now been reached where quality will be better served by fewer births rather than more births.  For those whose identity is in the individual human form such an idea may be anathema.  But for those who have expanded their vision to embrace the larger purposes of the celestial order, the need to limit human forms is easily accepted.

So the “soul factory” delusion is one element of human conditioning that must dissolve if we are to move from indiscriminate breeding to wise life management.  Another is the belief that my significance and sense of fulfillment are shortchanged if I do not have children.  This belief is deeply rooted in cultural traditions throughout the world, particularly in developing nations where population growth has been so explosive.  Again, it is a matter of basic personal identity.  If identity is at the level of human flesh, obviously the more of it one can produce, the more seeming significance one has.  But if identity has risen to the level of Spirit, to the nature and purposes of Being, then it is seen that meaning and significance come from within and in no way depend on external accretion.

Something similar could be said about sexual activity and the supposed need to be loved by, and have sex with, another human being.  Again, if identity is at the level of the human form with its drives and impulses, fears and insecurities, sexual intimacy will seem crucial to personal well-being and significance.  But if identity is with the essence of Being that informs the form, passionate love for that provides total fulfillment.  This certainly doesn’t rule out relationships, even of a sexual nature.  It just puts first things first.  Sex becomes a creative option rather than an irresistible urge.

Another deep vein of conditioning concerns the notion that human forms must be saved and preserved at all costs.  We find medical doctors making heroic efforts to keep brain-dead babies, hopelessly mutilated accident victims and vegetating elderly alive at some level.  Some scientists drive themselves relentlessly to find cures for AIDS and Alzheimer’s or to discover the miracle drug that will prevent aging.  Why?  What if they were 100% successful at keeping people alive indefinitely? Would the earth be better off with all these forms on it?  I think it would be overrun in short order and probably have to self-destruct.  Though we may be reluctant to admit it, it is actually a blessing that human forms pass away.  Given the present state on earth, aging, disease and natural disasters are nature’s defense against the human plague.  In this sense we can actually give thanks for them.  Sure it would be nice if the earth had a way of clearing itself of clutter without causing so much pain and suffering to human beings.  But as long as they insist on maintaining impurities in themselves and show little interest in voluntarily limiting their numbers, these uncomfortable options are the only ones nature has available.

Clearly what is called for is spiritual education on a massive scale, so that people of all countries and cultural traditions begin to glimpse their inner worth and the creative role of the earth within the universal whole.  Changes in consciousness consequent upon individual spiritual awakening should prepare the way for lifestyle changes that will gradually rid the earth system of its nemesis:  the resource-eating human breeding machine.

What this comes down to for each individual is this:  Am I willing to relinquish embedded religious and cultural beliefs about children, birth, death, heaven and hell?  Am I willing to acknowledge that life is too precious to be imprisoned in vegetating and unwanted human flesh?  Am I willing to let irreversibly deformed, depraved and decaying human forms mercifully return to their maker, even if it means my own?  Am I willing to alter my own sexual habits for the sake of planetary stabilization and healing?  Abstinence (yes abstinence!) may be indicated.  The world’s population could be brought into balance if human beings would stop reproducing for just one generation!  But how many would be willing to make such a sacrifice for the benefit of the whole?  Yes, these are seemingly hard choices, but they are actually very easy when identity rises above personal wants and desires to embrace cosmic design and purpose.

Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at jkvasnicka@emnet.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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