Generic Is Beautiful

by Jerry Kvasnicka

Generic_Cola_Cans_1980sNo matter the product, I always opt for generic if it is available. Why should I pay more to have my oatmeal subjected to more processing and put into a fancy container? When I want oatmeal just plain oatmeal will do, thank you, and the box it comes in will end up in the recycling bin no matter how aesthetically appealing it is.

I’m reminded of the time a few years ago when I went into a supermarket and purchased a 32 oz. bottle of catsup for $1.23. Similar bottles of brand-name catsup were priced from $1.50 to $2.48. Generic catsup is good. I think it tastes better and is better for you than the national brands. The latter contain an assortment of additives, preservatives and flavorings, while generic has little more than tomatoes, vinegar salt garlic and onion powder.

It has always amazed me that people are willing to pay more for something that has been glamorized, processed and otherwise tampered with. I once offered a friend of mine some delicious organic carrots from my garden and he turned away saying he didn’t trust anything that didn’t come off a supermarket shelf. I’ll admit to increasingly moving in the opposite direction, distrusting anything that does come out of a supermarket!

A thriving “generic” intentional community

Back in the 1970s the spiritual community of Sunrise Ranch maintained a policy where everyone, no matter what their job or job performance, received only room and board and a small monthly stipend of $40. In other words, you could say it was generic. Did this result in uniformity, mediocrity, lethargy and freeloading? Just the opposite in fact. I rarely observed anything but excellence and maximum creative output. And relieved of the need to struggle for the dollar or organizational position, people lived harmoniously and happily together. This demonstration project is still going strong, ample proof to me that competition and monetary incentives are not required to ensure high output and quality performance.

Unless held in check by government, competitive capitalism tends to widen the gap between rich and poor and fosters worker and consumer exploitation. The have-nots strive to get what is held by the haves, creating a culture of crime and violence. Lawyers and a massive judicial system are necessary to defend these criminals and settle the inevitable corporate disputes. With several companies trying to sell the same or similar products there is massive duplication of physical plant and equipment as well as marketing and distribution systems. Consumers are subjected to dehumanizing marketing techniques and deceptive sales pitches to get them to buy. And there is little hesitancy to rape the environment to save jobs and preserve corporate profits.

Faced with all of this, I’ll take generic. I don’t need a dozen varieties of catsup to choose from, ranging all over the map in price and packaging but containing essentially the same thing. Yes there can be variety within the product line—some catsup a little more spicy, some with barbecue flavor, etc. But don’t try to convince me that catsup in a squeeze bottle is better than catsup in a glass bottle or that a red and green label ensures higher quality catsup than a red and white label. Or that Hine’s tomatoes have it all over Del Monte’s. I don’t want hype. I want catsup! Just think of the resources having one quality brand of catsup would free up. And it would probably cost half as much.

Relief from the gimmickry and manipulation associated with product competition

The same argument can be made for having one airline, one phone company, one computer maker, one manufacturer of electric mixers, one school system, one car maker. What an enormous savings this would mean in terms of the duplication of plant and equipment, managerial functions and distribution facilities. And all advertising and marketing schemes could be eliminated. What a joy to read a newspaper or an online news site free of ads or watch a network TV program free of insulting sales pitches. Also legal staffs and fast-talking salesmen would gradually become a thing of the past. What a blessed relief to be free of all the gimmickry and manipulation associated with product competition. No longer relentlessly driven by the struggle to compete human beings could begin to recover their sanity.

Does this mean socialism or communism? Is that what is being advocated here? Certainly not! These ideologies, products of conditioned human thought, are totally antagonistic to natural law and the way life actually operates. Ideological systems represent an attempt to artificially induce and control a creative impulse innate to human beings. Using ideological artifice to compel what is already natural is absurd! And destructive!

What is needed is for all such contrivances to get out of the way so that life can operate without interference. Under capitalism competition compels people to produce. Under communism the state compels people to produce. But these coercive and dehumanizing devices and all mixtures thereof can be dispensed with when people honor the incentive to achieve and reveal the excellence inherent in their own nature.

Is someone going to tell me that human beings are incapable of innovation, competence, efficiency and creativity unless stimulated by competition and monetary enticements? This is absolute nonsense. Rewards are really only necessary for those who have yet to grow out of greed or sloth. Isn’t it about time we all abandoned our childish ways and started to behave like the mature men and women we inherently are?

Virtue is its own reward

Virtue, indeed excellence in any form, is its own reward. Yes, I realize we all need to earn enough to make a living. But if the emphasis is on “earning,” sooner or later we die of consumption—consumed by the struggle and the supposed rewards of the struggle. But if emphasis is on the expression of excellence from moment to moment, I’ve found that life unfailingly provides exactly what is necessary for the continuous experience of abundance.

Injecting competition into the public school system through school choice and teacher “pay for performance” programs is being increasingly advanced as a way to improve educational standards nationwide. But, I ask, what are the long-range consequences of having teachers and schools teach for dollars and other material rewards rather than for sheer love of teaching? What effect will this have on our national values?

There has even been talk of abolishing the (generic) public school system altogether in favor of all private schools, which presumably would compete with each other for dollars. Again, I ask, what would happen to equality of educational opportunity, a value our country once honored? Are we more interested in producing an intellectual elite than in raising the educational level of all citizens?

When I was working as a custodian for the local school district my work supervisor came up to me one day and warned me that from that point forward he would be coming by without prior notice to inspect and evaluate my performance, in part to determine my eligibility for a pay increase. As if knowing that he would be coming by would cause me to really “shape up” and work harder.

Excellence: my only level of performance

Well, guess what? It didn’t affect my performance at all! I only have one level of performance whether I’m supervised or not: excellence. I’m delivering excellence now and I’ll deliver it tomorrow and the next day and the next. My performance is generic. It won’t improve one iota if, instead of being given $10 to do a job, I’m given $10,000.

I only know how to do things one way—the best of which I am capable. It’s basic to my nature (and to yours as well). Who needs a monetary crutch? And if we let our performance consistently reflect the excellence of our nature, maybe we could dispense with supervisors!

“Generic” derives from root meanings that denote “original” or “universal.” The original state of creation, the paradisiacal garden state of the earth and human consciousness, was the generic state. This pristine condition was lost when human beings allowed themselves to be enticed by claims of the serpent-mind (representing self-will) that an already perfect state could nevertheless be made better through what amounted to scientific research and development.

So with this in mind Eve consumed what instantly became the “forbidden fruit” and the human race started down the long road from magnificent golden apples free for the picking to the pathetic, pesticide-laden and scandalously priced counterfeits I’ve often seen on supermarket shelves today.

The universe is evidence of a magnificently coordinated generic system

Notwithstanding this earth aberration, the universe itself is a beautiful generic system. It contains amazing diversity, yet everything moves naturally and easily together in a harmoniously functioning whole. When I look up at Mars and Jupiter on a clear night I have no sense that they are competing with each other for light or orbital space. I sense that they orbit the Sun not out of coercion but out of love, and from their mutual love for the Sun springs a love for each other.

Similarly with suns orbiting their focus points in each galaxy and galaxies orbiting a central Sun of Suns. Love, harmony, order…this is the resplendent theme of the universe. And its generic product is light, an infinity of shades and intensities, but basically just light, light that doesn’t compete with the darkness but simply shines. Surely we would be wise enough to let this be our model rather than some “new and improved” product of human thought!

Authentic spirituality is generic. It is “primal spirituality,” the innate, intuitive knowing of the truth of love that resides at the core of every human being. Primal spirituality recognizes that despite all their surface differences human beings are essentially one. Life is differentiated in an infinity of human and other forms, but they all spring from one generic core of love.

So of what value are the religions of the world? Yes they represent some measure of spiritual differentiation, but I feel this is overridden by the division and conflict they have created in the body of humanity. Surely it is time to return to our generic core of love, the primal bond that links all of us together as a human family. Generic is beautiful!

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 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.

Prayer: Directed vs Non-Directed

by Jerry Kvasnicka

prayer-401401_960_720During a lively dinner table conversation I once participated in the subject of prayer was broached. A young woman described an experiment involving garden vegetables. One group of plants was given “directed prayer,” i.e. experimenters prayed specifically for a large yield from each plant. Another was offered “non-directed prayer,” i.e. the whole group was just generally enfolded and blessed. A third group was given no prayer at all. Other factors—sunlight, water, soil conditions—were the same for each group. Results: the biggest plants and the largest and most plentiful vegetables were in the group given non-directed prayer.

The woman and others at the table agreed that this throws into question the conventional religious approach to prayer, where God is entreated to confer specific benefits upon individuals and groups, and vindicates meditation and spiritual radiation groups where the primary concern is simply to bless the earth and its inhabitants. Whatever one’s religious or non-religious persuasion, the experiment confirms the power of human consciousness to influence events. It should be noted that the plants offered directed prayer outperformed those given no prayer at all.

Prayer not intended to process a human wish list

But the experiment also suggests that prayer, in its finest and most natural sense, has little to do with directing God to process a human wish list and everything to do with opening individual and group consciousness to the healing and renewing current of life. Life, God, whatever you want to call the spiritual energy running this whole show, certainly has no need for the human mind to direct it.

In genuine prayer and focused meditation my notions of what would be good for the world, the nation, my city, my family, me, are set aside in favor of simply clearing a space for the transformative energy of life to flow into and through me. In true prayer I in effect declare, “I hereby take full responsibility for the state of my world and open myself as a channel for the blessing of life to pour into it.” In this sense my prayer is the way I conduct my life.

Regarding the wars that are currently raging in the Middle East, I’m sure combatants on different sides are praying to their version of God to lead them to victory and American families who have sons or daughters in the combat zone are praying for their safety. Also churchgoers, mosque attendees, antiwar demonstrators and almost everyone is praying for peace. Even if God has the least interest in any of these requests, there is no way they can be answered to the satisfaction of everyone. Life simply doesn’t respond in this way to human petitions, no matter how noble and humanitarian they may be.

My prayer for peace only answered as I am peace

I wonder how many who pray for peace allow their prayers to be answered in the only way such prayers can be answered—by being peace in their living. World peace springs from inner peace. Maintaining calm in myself and the world of activity I center is the only way to calm the planet. And peace is not antiwar or nonviolence. Peace never opposes anything. It is a positive state of alignment with the larger celestial order.

Politics has long been and continues to be an exercise in directed prayer. For example, chaplains to the U.S. House and Senate direct God to uphold and strengthen the nation by assisting its leaders to solve the great problems of the day, and the leaders themselves direct their personal prayers and energies to this task. I suspect that God is frequently asked—sometimes in public, more often in private—to help get a specific bill out of committee or passed by the full chamber on final reading.

This whole direction process—directing solutions to problems and marshalling the life force necessary to implement these solutions—contradicts natural law and the working of life’s creative process. Because it represents an attempt to manipulate rather than cooperate with life, the long-term results are invariably destructive. Yet human beings have become so habituated to this politics of manipulation that they no longer can even conceive of anything else.

Results not the point of non-directed prayer

There is another way. Instead of activating the mind to brainstorm solutions the emphasis in non-directed prayer is on quieting the mind and clearing it of clutter. This makes space available in consciousness so that the course of action most in keeping with the natural rhythms and pulsations of life can reveal itself. In directed prayer and function everything is geared toward the achievement of a specific result, a result satisfying the mind’s notion of what is good. But in non-directed prayer and action results are incidental. All that really matters is opening mind and heart as fully as possible to the flow of life in the moment so that its re-creative power may have maximum effect on earth.

This flow is the prayer and whatever changes it produces are celebrated, not judged. Those who consistently let themselves be this living prayer in service to the larger celestial order acquire wisdom and the capacity to accommodate an ever greater range of the creative process. They can be trusted to competently interpret and administer the creative process in relation to any circumstance that comes to them in life. Here is genuine leadership and the basis for spiritual government on earth.

No more political campaigns!

As the current campaign for President of the United States graphically demonstrates, few things are so ugly and debasing as men and women grasping for office in an election campaign. But if the approach I’ve outlined here was fully implemented, it would abolish them! Instead of a candidate seeking political office, directing multitudinous energies and prayers to this end, the office would, in effect, seek out the candidate! There would be no need for a vicious dehumanizing struggle.

The very notion of seeking office is contrary to life. Quite often it tends to spring from the arrogance of attempting to impose the will of the conditioned human mind on the creative process. The appalling mess now on earth is the product of centuries of attempts to govern on this basis.

Native American wisdom

Long before they heard of voting and the need to assert their “political rights,” Native Americans let their leaders emerge in a sacred rite of natural selection. Tribal elders took counsel together and in the stillness of meditation a chief was raised up by the Great Spirit. What a blessedly simple event compared to the clamor, mudslinging, exhaustive schedules and financial corruption typical of a modern campaign.

The true political process is one of non-directed prayer as I have described it. In fact this is the natural process of leadership selection in any area of human activity. Nothing is demanded, nothing is sought. In an atmosphere of stillness and letting go to the wisdom of spirit an unconditional blessing of life is released and the result, though not sought after, is as healthy and abundant as a thriving garden full of vegetables given non-directed prayer.

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

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

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 of 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

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

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.

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

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:


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.


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.


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.


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

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:


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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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.

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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