fccChamber

The Spirit Nation

Rhyming communication, enhancing realization

 

Be active in the preparation of your station

For the ongoing calibration of your vibration

To a higher elevation in this material nation

 

In a sincere affirmation of divination and holy individuation,

Follow the gentle condensation of sensation through meditation

And receive vital information for your present incarnation

 

As a body manifestation, you are a living presentation

Of unlimited transformation

Through the faithful application of divine inspiration

 

With your concentration of creative imagination,

A light-filled pulsation moves throughout creation

Sparking the formulation of a new generation

Of conscious consideration and collaboration

 

Enjoy the revelation and infinite celebration

Of pure joy and elation through the transmutation

Of the illusion of separation from the spirit nation

– Gary Goodhue  – “Rajazuhl”

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Lead Them – Live Them

We have an opportunity here, you and I

To change the world, standing side by side

With love in our hearts and kindness in our eyes

We have strength and we shall not compromise

 

We don’t need a preacher, what we need is a teacher

So do not speak at me; see with me, do with me, be with me

The words that you say, they have wisdom and strength

But you choose not to implement and that is the shame

 

The teacher in me, sees the teacher in you

And I ask, that you see that teacher too

We’re all on a journey, each one our own

But together we can learn, and we can explore

 

New things can be scary, they take patience and time

Share with me your talents and I will share with you mine

Adventure, discovery, vision, and rhyme

Each a tiny little part, on this journey through time

 

Don’t seek the answers, please seek the truths

And together we shall create the fountain of youth

Our numbers grow larger and our tribe grows stronger

And when we come together, the world with suffer no longer

 

You speak wisdom and truth and your words are full of juice

So I ask of you,

To lead them, to live them, don’t just speak them

Lead them, live them, don’t just speak them

– Courtney Bohlman

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Bluebird Wisdom

I took a walk in the forest to speak with the trees,

in search of that something that everyone seeks.

So many wonders and questions that fill up my mind,

to help me understand my purpose this time.

Suddenly she came, as perfect as could be.

A blue bird singing this song from a tree.

You are the beauty you seek and the beauty you see,

please continue to shine do not dim due to me.

We both have our own light, our own creation to share,

give into yourself and i will see you there.

Then I asked her with the deepest sincere,

who are you and what are you doing here?

I am nobody and everyone, all at once,

merely a reflection in a mirror that you can touch.

Just trust me and be, then over time you will see.

I then looked at her, confused with disbelieve.

But you look so peaceful so happy so free.

A natural state born to both you and to me.

You are the beauty You seek and the beauty You see,

please continue to shine do not dim due to me.

We both have our own light, our own creation to share,

give into yourself and i will see you there.

Call it a gift, or a blessing if you must,

but please understand that in this we must trust.

Then the wind blew in and danced with the trees,

that is our Mother Earth and she is speaking to me.

Do what you must to be able to see

the beauty in all, the divine within me.

You are the beauty you seek and the beauty you see,

please continue to shine do not dim due to me.

We both have our own light, our own creation to share,

give into yourself and I will see you there.

Then with the blink of an eye I could no longer see

but suddenly felt her presence deep within me.

My heart was full, my mind had slowed,

my questions now answered but I never needed the words

– Courtney Bohlman

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Opportunity in Extremity

by Jerry Kvasnicka

Phoenix_Rises_by_c_t_elder

If human beings have demonstrated anything in their somewhat less than glorious history on this planet, it is a reluctance to alter their thinking and behavior as long as they are essentially comfortable. It often requires a state of depression or even desperation brought on by the loss of health, of a loved one or a job before a person will consider abandoning self-determined goals and habitual ways of doing things in favor of something new. The total failure of a personal agenda can, if there is a willingness to acknowledge it and assume responsibility, bring about a breakthrough of understanding, a positive change in life direction. In other words, to borrow an expression from conventional religion, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”

This is why I’ve never been terribly concerned to “comfort the afflicted” in the sense of providing assurance that things are just fine the way they are and former ways can be returned to with impunity. Things are not just fine insofar as the afflicted person is concerned, and continuing in former ways only ensures further downward movement to the grave. It is sad but true that, given the aversion to change, a period of emotional and physical suffering may be necessary before there is an admission that “I can’t go on this way” and that personal plans and purposes must be subordinated to something higher – call it God, the Creative Process or the Universal Whole.

Religious conversion is not the opportunity God seeks

However, this change is frequently interpreted as a religious conversion experience resulting in a “born again” Christian or its equivalent in other religions. While this may be a step away from blatant forms of self-centered and materialistic living, belief in God in this context shortly becomes a convenient way of rationalizing and excusing continuance in the former self-centered and isolated state. The individual may be programmed with the notion that he or she is a “sinner,” that it is in fact natural to sin, but that this is okay as long as there is periodic confession and the reception of forgiveness.

Fundamentally in such case there has been no change. Identity remains at the level of the self-serving ambitions and desires that created the crisis in the first place, only now a whole vocabulary and socially acceptable belief system is available to explain and justify the false state and, in effect, conceal what is really happening, even from the person in whom it is happening. It may be said that the God of religion is really no God at all, just a concept invented by human beings to sustain the illusory state of self-centeredness.

There is, in other words, a need to keep moving. If, after the rebirth brought on by a shattering experience, a person gets stuck at the level of religion or in any system of concepts—political, scientific or metaphysical—then further “extreme” experiences may be necessary to jolt the person out of separate, conditioned identity into a realization of unconditional oneness with Universal Being.

God seeks access to the earth through human beings

Unfortunately only the ultimate experience of death is able to shatter the veil of separation for most human beings. But this veil can dissolve while a person is still alive, and this is the opportunity God seeks: to unite with human beings and to be represented by them at this level of creation. God’s opportunity then becomes our opportunity, and in the resulting union, the word “God,” which has served to maintain the state of separation, can take on an entirely new meaning.

It would be nice, I suppose, if the maturing process didn’t require any pain as a stimulus (and in rare cases it doesn’t), but given the general state of immaturity on earth, the rigidities in individual and collective consciousness, this may be the only way life has of getting our attention. It may take experiences of enormous destruction and loss of life to impress upon the body of humanity the need for massive and drastic change.

The threat of nuclear annihilation, regional wars, earthquakes, floods, climate change, diminishing oxygen due to deforestation, holes in the ozone layer, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, Islamic terrorism and the continuing potential for a world debt crisis…all of these are useful signals that something is way out of whack on earth, that humanity is no longer in step with the process established to operate the planet.

Doomsday Clock moved closer to midnight

This extreme state on earth recently prompted scientists in charge of the Doomsday Clock to move it up. Quoting from a news release by CNN: “The world is closer to doomsday. That’s the message from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which moved its iconic Doomsday Clock up two minutes. The clock now stands at three minutes to midnight, the ‘latest’ it’s been since 1984, when the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union was a major issue. ’Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity. And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of leadership endanger every person on Earth,’ said Kenneth Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in a news release.”

Observing this, there may be some whose minds crack under the strain. Wonderful! They may crack open enough to admit a new way of seeing things, preparing the way for change. Change, not in the world out there, but in oneself. Since the state of the world merely mirrors the internal states of human beings, unless changes are made in individual consciousness, God has no opportunity and nothing is achieved.

Solving human problems pointless and futile

Only a few have seen this. For the vast majority humanity’s worsening extremity means efforts must be redoubled to solve problems, to come up with alternative food and energy sources, pollution control devices, strategic defense systems, drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, currency exchange interventions, mind development and creative visualization techniques, all of this for the purpose of holding together the fundamentally flawed state a little longer.

Finally a few people, often after years of frustrating effort, are conceding that no matter how hard human beings try to bail water out of the sinking ship with their buckets of “new” ideas and techniques, the vessel is doomed. Doomed, unless there emerge a sufficient number for whom man’s extremity becomes God’s opportunity, for whom the world crisis becomes my crisis, and who awaken to personal responsibility for a change in consciousness.

The fundamental crisis on earth is an identity crisis, and man’s extremity will only become God’s opportunity when human beings finally begin to identify with the Creator rather than the creation. Science is not the answer. Nor is technology, education, legislation or the God of religion. There is no answer to the escalating state of turbulence on earth but to come out of it and participate in the process of discovering what it means to say, “I am the answer.” Where are those who will prove this out in their day-to-day living?

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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FREEDOM

A lifetime spent since days of childhood and school

Getting by… just trying to fit in, look good and be cool

I find I’m governed by expectations of an exterior world

So I allowed myself a box into which I crimpled and curled

The largeness of myself, being bordered and confined

I fell asleep and forgot that this box is all in my mind

Now I awaken aright and scream without making a sound

As I suddenly open my eyes and take a good look around

Misperceptions and projections; the blame and the pain

Showing me my world disconnected with a victim gone insane

“Out of the box and off with the filters”, I shall boldly say

“The freedom of life unlimited is alive in my world today”

So I must self-respect and replace the misplaced blame

With the eternal burning truth of the three-fold flame

Here – Power, Wisdom and Love come together as one

And now my soul is purified by the wind, rain and sun

Viewing life afresh, for the first time through new eyes

I look within, once again, to find great Truth on the rise

And with the peace of gods, a white dove descends from above

Reminding of my cosmic place – as a Creator Being of Love

 

-Gary Goodhue – “Rajazuhl”

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Life Resurrected

Spring does bring regeneration as nature calls forth for birth and growth and new life cycles begin

And I’m reminded of a life once lived as Love incarnate, that transcended death around to life again

I honor and celebrate that life example greatly given and embodied some few short millennia ago

Preserved and anchored into the grid so as to know what the spirit of humanity would one day show

Regeneration, resurrection, re-creation and unlimited, beautiful and creative forms of life being born

Happens in the empty, receptive space following death, dissolution and all attachments being shorn

Cracking the shell and melting the hardness, breaking through and opening space to let and to allow

The most heavenly and finest frequencies of love and life, existing eternally in the moment- here now

They can begin once again to move right in, set up shop, get comfortable and make a home in the mind

Gently infiltrating dissonant patterns and perceptions until the spirit of creation is all the mind can find

As nature very gracefully shows… to release, dissolve and surrender clears the path and calls into play

The spirit of resurrection-fueled by Creator Love- for life’s abundance to come forth and re-pave the way

Rich, full and vibrant; Love surrounds and soaks into the self, and life is seen again, yet with new eyes

As separated senses of Self fall away revealing the Wonderful One Within as powerful, loving and wise

Potently present, perfectly aware, peacefully perceiving being and existing in the patterns of perfection

A journey of ever ascending heights of inter-connective perspective, repainting the canvas of perception

Kinetic, colorful, coordinated molecules of light dancing ecstatic concerts of harmony and shared elation

Undulating waves of joyful reveling in the matrix of the mystery and knowing I Am in the shared creation

Another blessed soul awakens and the divine intelligence of nature surges forward in following her plan

Infinitely resourceful, wholly committed and ceaselessly working toward the conscious evolution of man

– Gary Goodhue – “Rajazuhl”

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4 Reasons to Apply for Full Self Emergence

2014 community at Arise

What sets Sunrise Ranch apart from other retreat and conference centers?

Although it’s one of the oldest intentional communities in the country, Sunrise Ranch is more than a neighborly surround. It’s a spiritual body, a teaching and demonstration site, and an eco-minded farm and garden. Many residents joined the community by participating in Full Self Emergence, a residential spiritual internship.

Full Self Emergence includes discussion and study groups, individual coaching, and participation in job roles. Participants also learn about attunement, an energy medicine practice that allows access to internal self-healing using the endocrine system. They take seminars and trainings held on-site, such as The Art of Living and The Deepening.

So why apply for Full Self Emergence? Here are the top reasons:

1. Immerse in community living. This is arguably one of the main reasons a person might decide to become a resident. There’s a comfort in knowing neighbors and coworkers by name, as trustworthy individuals wouldn’t hesitate to help someone in need. My parents’ and grandparents’ descriptions of their childhood neighborhoods come to mind: kids atop bikes, adults stopped on the sidewalk to chat, snow that remains pristine white from lack of driving pollution.

2. Experience personal transformation. Discussion groups and personal coaching are integral parts of Full Self Emergence. Community living also implies support for goals and aspirations. People come here to find their voice. Their calling. Their talents and potential. Armed with that self-knowledge, they create what they want to see in their world.

3. Develop life skills. Interns assist with essential roles in the community on a daily basis, in areas such as maintenance, publications and administration. Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “Work is love made visible.” This adage could be Sunrise Ranch’s mantra. Work contributions increase personal responsibility and become a way for people to show love. The residential nature of the internship develops teamwork skills and allows participants to rely on their innate strengths and talents to perform job functions.

Community members

4. Use powerful spiritual principles. This is perhaps the program’s biggest advantage. Spirituality becomes interwoven with work, study, relaxation, and every other facet of daily life. Full Self Emergence facilitates spiritual growth by allowing each person the freedom to explore their purpose as a human being on earth.

Full Self Emergence teaches enlightened living within the context of a supportive intentional community. For more information, or to apply, visit our Full Self Emergence page.

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Life Experience, Not Just Job Experience

Full Self Emergence internship

You may not find spiritual internships listed on a university brochure, but such opportunities do exist around the world. The Ananda Center in Portland, for example, offers internships in yoga and community service. The Toronto School of Theology and Hamilton College provide more traditionally structured internships for college credit. And the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) selects 23 people each year to volunteer for a Tibetan Buddhism awareness program.

A spiritual internship? What’s that?

Whereas traditional interns receive college credit in exchange for work at a company (with many hoping to land full-time jobs after the internship), spiritual interns look for benefits beyond the resume. Concepts such as personal growth, leadership and service to others take priority. Interns often live with a balanced schedule of work and class time for learning spiritual principles.

These programs aren’t necessarily religious. In an article in Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association’s publication, Visitors, former intern Laura Siders describes her experience in grief counseling as a “healing and spiritual internship.”

Who participates?

Spiritual internships aren’t just for individuals in their early twenties. People of all ages are welcomed and encouraged to participate, especially those committed to meaningful work and making a difference in the world.

What does a typical day look like for a spiritual intern?

The schedule can vary as much as the teachings. Some programs hold spiritual activities like karma yoga a few days a week for an hour or more at a time, while others make meditation part of the daily practice. Work and service assignments cultivate mindfulness, gratitude and generosity.

Of course, personal time is often factored into the internship structure. Besides homework like journaling and reading, spending time in nature can be a major component of the curriculum. Many programs are hosted in idyllic natural locations, making hiking and outdoor activities easy to access and an integral part of the educational experience.

Yoga at FSE

Where can I find a program to join?

Unfortunately, there are few online directories listing different spiritual internships; however, you can use retreat directories like Find The Divine and All About Retreats to find organizations of interest to you and inquire about internships directly. You might also consider browsing the Fellowship for Intentional Community or Conscious Tribe websites for opportunities.

Does Sunrise Ranch offer spiritual internships?

Yes! Sunrise Ranch’s spiritual internship is called Full Self Emergence. The program begins April 6 and lasts 7 months. Interns live on the property and learn principles of Primal Spirituality (the innate spirituality with which everyone is born). They then practice those principles in everyday living, surrounded by the support of a conscious community.

Want more information? Visit the Full Self Emergence page for more details or to fill out an application.

When is the best time to apply for an internship?

The sooner the better. If you’ve been looking for a way to learn more about yourself, a spiritual internship is for you—and this can be the year you make it happen.

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Location, Location, Location….

by Larry Pearlman

I’m on the move again. No, that’s not right. I’m still on the move would be more accurate. Since my last post, which was way too long ago, I drove up to NJ where I spent 4 months with my friends Phyllis and Deb (more on that later) and then flew down to Costa Rica for four months with my sweetheart where we facilitated two incredible retreats. About a week ago I left a beautiful hot springs in tropical Costa Rica to return to NJ and enjoy the beauty of snow-laden trees. Is one better than the other? Well…….I think most people would choose the hot springs but both have their pros and cons. Both have aspects of wonder and beauty. Both offer opportunities for either complaint or appreciation. The real question for me is simply, where is the right place for me to be right now?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it comes to location, isn’t that really the right question to be asking for all of us? If you are in the office or at your job site but all of your thoughts are about being with your family or on the golf course, then how effective are you really being in your life? And that goes the other way around just as well. Are you REALLY with your family or your fishing buddies if you can’t get your mind off of work? The secret to living a fulfilling life is simply BEING WHERE YOU ARE. At least that’s one way to look at it. Another might be, BEING WHO YOU REALLY ARE. But for purposes of this blog we’re going with the first one.

Where do I need to be right now?

So, back to the question of, “Where is the right place for me to be right now?” That question can be applied at the macro level, considering where you should be living, and just as well can be applied to the micro level such as who to sit next to in church or what table to take in a restaurant. The latter two examples might seem trivial but they are just as important as the first question. Why? Because each question is really simply asking, “Where do I need to be right now?” Answering that question requires only that I let go of my pre-conceived notions, habits, and external pressures and surrender to the Divine wisdom that is inside of me. Where I sit at church or what table I take in a restaurant may determine how I can positively impact a person who may need what I have to offer. Same is true of which house I buy or apartment I rent, what job I accept or business I start, where I choose to vacation or spend the weekend.

Thinking about and analyzing every aspect of where you should be right now would drive you insane and render you useless. The point is that you can’t figure it out mentally, so just relax and see what comes to you. The wisdom is already within you and is easily discerned by simply opening up to it. Don’t expect the reason to be crystal clear to your left brain either. An example might help here.

Last July I was in Florida and considering where was the right next place to go. I had choices. The year before I had been with my friends Phyllis and Deb as Deb went through chemo and a mastectomy. She was scheduled for reconstructive surgery in August and I wanted to be there to celebrate that with them. There were two people in Arizona that I wanted to interview for the book I am writing. There were friends in Colorado that I wanted to visit.

A plan began to form that seemed to make perfect sense. I would spend July and August with Phyl and Deb to celebrate her healing and new breast. Then I would drive to Arizona but go through Colorado where I would stay for whatever period of time seemed right at the time. After completing my interviews in Arizona, along with visiting friends and relatives there, it would be time to return to Costa Rica for the Retreats that Susannah and I would facilitate. Great plan and it felt right to my intuition, so off to NJ I went.

A change of plans

Things did not go as planned. Deb’s cancer unexpectedly got very aggressive and spread to her abdomen, liver and lungs. She had an intense reaction to the new chemo and landed in the hospital. Her surgery was cancelled and, instead of our anticipated celebration, we were faced with Deb’s rapidly declining health. I realized then that this was the real reason I had come to NJ – to be with Deb and Phyllis during this trying time. I cancelled my plans for Colorado and Arizona. I knew that I was in the right place. I was with Phyllis when Deb was brought home from the hospital and just two days later I was at her bedside when she passed away. I would not have wished to be anywhere else.

So four months later I am back with Phyllis and once again I know this is where I should be. It feels like I’ll be doing more travelling this year but all I know for certain is that I am in the right place right now. If you have any stories or comments about knowing where you should be, I would love to hear them.

Larry retouched by Don ReilyLarry Pearlman is the author of Journaling the Journey: 25 Spiritual Insights to Light The Way. Larry is a personification of the evolution in consciousness that recognizes that spirituality and the material world are not mutually exclusive. While working 32 years in corporate America he has taught courses in “The Art of Creative Living” and served as a faculty member for “The Opening,” an 8 day experiential class in discovering your full potential. He served in the Peace Corps in Ghana 2007-2009 and then lived for three years at Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual community in Colorado, where he hosted a radio show, “Evolution in Consciousness.” For more information, see his website.

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Fulfilling Mission – A Personal Story

by Jerry Kvasnicka

way-to-eternityIt was his passion for service that allowed the legendary Arthur of old to draw the sword Excalibur out of the marble stone and anvil in which it had been set by Merlin the Magician. This in turn allowed Arthur to claim his sovereignty and be crowned king of the realm. But it all began and was made possible by Arthur’s passion to serve.

I also have a passion to serve. Indeed it almost seems I was born with it. It was this passion to serve that allowed me at the tender age of twelve to suddenly realize what my mission in life is. It came to me at the conclusion of a service of worship at the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As I put it then: I am here to serve God and to do whatever I can to help God save the world.

Having defined my mission it now became a matter of finding the most effective way to fulfill that mission during my time on earth. I initially interpreted my mission within the context of the Christian faith, so it seemed logical to me, after obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver, to enroll in Princeton Theological Seminary to study for the ministry. I graduated three years later with a Master of Divinity degree.

I then set off across the country to find a church that would “call” me to be its pastor. In the Presbyterian system a ministerial aspirant is required to have a “call” or request from a church within its system before he or she can be ordained. After much travel in the Midwest and along the West Coast I finally found a small church in Tacoma, Washington, that agreed to have me as its minister.

Ordination denied

So I then returned to Colorado Springs to be ordained, thinking it would be a mere formality. I went before the committee of ministers that was sponsoring my candidacy for the ministry. The chairman of the committee said, “Jerry, after carefully considering your case we have some reservations about approving you for ordination. In fact, we feel you are psychologically unfit for the ministry.”

Well, I was totally shocked out of my mind! The chairman’s words came as a devastating blow to all my hopes and dreams relative to fulfilling my mission. I couldn’t imagine why they had any doubts, unless perhaps it was my criticism of the Seminary’s boarding policy during one of my years there. Can this really be happening? After spending all these years preparing for the ministry and now it was being denied to me! My mind and heart were shattered.

The chairman, seeing this, offered an alternative, a ray of hope perhaps. “Jerry, if you agree to take a series of tests with a psychologist we’re in touch with in Denver and he feels you’re okay, we’ll reconsider ordination.” Well, I didn’t know what else to do, so I agreed to meet with the psychologist. However, the sessions and tests took a number of months of driving back and forth to Denver, and because of the delay the church in Tacoma withdrew its call.

I think the committee was somewhat surprised by the psychologist’s conclusion that I could function in the ministry. They agreed to ordain me but only of course if I should obtain another call. Meanwhile, I was getting somewhat tired of all of this and began to entertain doubts about whether the fulfillment of my life’s mission necessarily involved function within the Presbyterian Church or any established religion.

Developing a “fringe” ministry

So instead of setting off across the country again in search of a church I began to explore the possibility of developing my own ministry, particularly to young people on the fringes of society. I developed connections with antiwar activists, political radicals, hippies, drug users and an assortment of religious and social dropouts. I became a charter member of the Colorado College chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society, the most radical antiwar group at the time. I purchased a mimeograph machine and ended up printing the thousands of leaflets and handouts for the many antiwar demonstrations and rallies that I helped to lead and speak at. I also did printing for the local Black Panthers, the Women’s Liberation and an antipoverty group (“Core Area News”).

While I appeared to embrace the causes of these groups and people, my actual interest was simply to develop connections that would allow me to offer service in simple and unassuming ways. I did not seek to lay a trip—religious, political or otherwise—on anyone. In simple expressions of what I call divine character qualities—integrity, generosity, consistently showing up and following through, courage, humility, thankfulness and kindness—I made an impact on those I was with. There were some opportunities to offer personal counseling, but for the most part my service simply took the form of providing a point of stability in the midst of the turmoil that many of these people on the fringes were experiencing.

A second church opportunity – the Young Adult Project

As serendipity would have it, the Pikes Peak Council of Churches, a coalition of churches in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area, was about to form a project designed to minister to disenchanted young adults. The executive director of the Council, an older woman whose daughter I knew, was impressed with what I was doing with the antiwar activists and hippies that I was working with and asked me if I would head up the Council’s Young Adult Project. I was understandably reluctant to get involved with the institutional church again, but since I was promised a lot of latitude to operate the project as I saw fit, I agreed to assume the position. It also helped that the Council gave me a small budget to work with.

My initial task in forming the project was to locate a facility, preferably a sizeable house, that could serve as a “young adult crisis center,” a place where young people in need of temporary food, shelter or just a friendly face could come. I combed the neighborhood between Colorado College and the business district and eventually came upon a “for rent” sign in front of an old three-story mansion. The house at 10 Beverly Place had twenty four rooms, four fireplaces and a living room the size of a small auditorium. I assumed the rent for such a facility would be way out of reach. Imagine my surprise when I was told it was renting for a mere $75 a month! Why? Because it was scheduled for demolition to make way for high-rise apartments. But, as it turned out, not for several years.

So I immediately rented the house and moved into the master bedroom on the second floor. Lured by the low rent I had no difficulty getting three male friends of mine to move into the house with me to serve as additional staff to run the center. One of my first actions was to hang a large sign on the front of the building: “YOUNG ADULT PROJECT OF THE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.” This sign provided wonderful protection from raids by local police, who may well have suspected that drug use and other illicit activities were going on inside.

A wild spring and summer

Though I didn’t count them, during the spring and summer of 1969 possibly hundreds of young people came to 10 Beverly Place, some just to hang out for a night, others staying for several days. The house was especially popular with soldiers from nearby Fort Carson who appreciated a few hours away from military life and an opportunity to be with the many young hippie women who frequented the facility. There were generally two or three parties going on in the house twenty-four hours a day. Maintaining some kind of stability and order in this circus atmosphere was quite a challenge. My phone was tapped by the FBI and, unbeknownst to me, a military intelligence agent was assigned to infiltrate the Young Adult Project, as it was thought that I was counseling young men to avoid the draft.

One of the soldiers who frequented 10 Beverly Place, upon his discharge from the army, noticed that his final check was for several hundred dollars more than he was due. So he decided to have a fling at the army’s expense. He hired a rock band from Boulder and spent the rest of the money on several cases of beer and wine. The rock band set up in the living room, but we needed a few more people. Once again, as serendipity would have it, the state convention of the Students for a Democratic Society was meeting at Colorado College. So I went over and invited everyone to come to 10 Beverly Place when the meeting was over. They came, about seventy-five to eighty people all together, and the wild party continued into the early hours of the morning. My job was to serve drinks behind a bar we had set up in the dining room. I remember serving one man who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for blowing up electrical towers.

My introduction to LSD

One day in June a man by the name of Peter Christopher arrived along with four younger men that he referred to as his disciples. Father Peter claimed to be a disenfranchised Anglican priest and to have a “Tripmasters Degree” from Timothy Leary. He and his followers took over the basement of the house, and with his considerable culinary skills Peter began preparing all of our meals as a way of paying for his stay. Peter and his disciples were frequent users of LSD, as were several others in the house, and they all seemed to be having amazing experiences.

This aroused my curiosity, and it also reinforced a question that I had been asking myself for many months in my young adult ministry: If I am really to offer the most effective service possible to these people, shouldn’t I have some knowledge of what they are actually experiencing? So after Father Peter agreed to obtain LSD of the highest quality and to program my trip to maximize the beauty and wonder of the experience, I decided to take the plunge. On July 2 I “dropped” a tablet of LSD and was waited on hand and foot by two of Peter’s disciples. Music, food, walks outside—everything was precisely programmed to provide an experience of remarkable beauty, wonder and glory. And that is exactly what it was—fantastic beyond words and opening up a whole new dimension of reality to me, a vision of paradise.

From that point forward I used LSD and a handful of other psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and mescaline on a regular basis. I felt this personal experience of psychedelics enabled me to interact more effectively with the young people I was serving, in addition to expanding my own mind exploration. But it was almost inevitable that the executive director of the Council of Churches got wind of my drug use and was quite disturbed. A meeting of the board of the Young Adult Project was called, and despite my rationalizations for psychedelic indulgence, I was dismissed as director and asked to move out of 10 Beverly Place.

Another low point

So once again it seemed that fulfilling my mission to serve had reached a dead end. I had no idea what to do next or even where to live. A sympathetic friend that I met at the First Methodist Church where I had conducted some Project meetings said he was living in a house on St. Vrain Street with two other men and that there might be a possibility of staying in the basement. Well the basement turned out to be more like a dungeon than anything fit for human habitation. Nevertheless I moved in and designated it Jerry’s Underground or THE JUG.

It was a real low point. Only two activities remained of my “ministry.” I still printed materials on my mimeograph machine for various fringe groups, and I was frequently asked to speak to service clubs, church groups and school classes on what young people were experiencing on psychedelic drugs. There was a lot of curiosity about this in the community and it seems that I was the only “hippie” in Colorado Springs who cared enough and who was articulate enough to attempt an explanation of the psychedelic experience.

However, I intuitively sensed that psychedelic drugs were not the answer for me or for anyone else seeking a meaningful and fulfilling life. The highs obtained in this way are only transitory and there are negative side-effects such as bad trips, loss of sleep, adrenal exhaustion, etc. So with all the extra time I now had I began to explore other paths that promised fulfillment. Most notably in this regard was Zen Buddhism. I spent a couple hours every day staring at a wall while focusing on numbers and breaths until only nothingness and occasionally a white light remained. It was very relaxing and sometimes for an hour afterward everything seemed to have a special glow. I eventually concluded that I had achieved enlightenment. So now what?

A fortuitous encounter with the media

Then one day in early 1970 I responded to a knock on the door of the St. Vrain house. Standing on the porch was a young woman who claimed to be a reporter from the Colorado Springs morning newspaper. She had been assigned by the paper to do a series of articles on drug use in the community and wanted to do an interview with me, having heard that I was something of an authority on the subject. So I invited Valerie in and we instantly struck up a beautiful friendship. I soon discovered that she was not only sympathetic to the hippie subculture but could well be a part of it herself. Incidentally, she introduced me to the field of astrology and got me started doing natal horoscopes for hundreds of people over the next 45 years.

About a month after I met Valerie one of the men living in the St. Vrain house moved out and she moved in. On March 31, in her capacity as a news reporter, she scheduled an interview with the agents and promoters of the rock group It’s a Beautiful Day. The group was to give a concert at the city auditorium and the paper asked her to do an article in advance of the performance. She set the interview up in the living room of the St. Vrain house and invited me to sit in. The promoters not only brought recorded music of It’s a Beautiful Day which we hooked up to our powerful stereo, they also brought an ample supply of very powerful marijuana. In what has got to be one of the most unusual “interviews” ever conducted, seven of us sat in the living room passing around joints and soaking up the music.

Enter George Emery

In the midst of this zany scene there came a powerful knock at the front door. I momentarily shuddered with fear, thinking the narcotics squad had finally caught up to me. I cautiously peeked through the curtain to see who was on the porch. I saw a man immaculately clothed in a suit and tie, but with hair down to his shoulders and a full beard. Surely the local police wouldn’t have this much ingenuity, so I opened the door to see what this curious creature wanted. The man almost burst through the doorway, gave me a great bear hug and said, “Hi, Jerry. My name is George Emery and I’ve come to open up a whole new way of life for you.”

In a normal state of consciousness my inclination would have been to resist such an advance, but under the influence of marijuana I found myself basically powerless before the onslaught of this man, as was the case with the others in the room. George quickly realized that we were all pretty wasted and immediately took command of the situation. He had us all stand up, hold hands and sing a song with the words: “Love, we are love. Love, we are great love. Truth, we are truth. Truth, we are great truth.” And so on with several more verses highlighting life, joy, peace, etc. Then we sat down and he began speaking about an LSD trip he had taken in 1965 under the direct guidance of Timothy Leary. But he said there’s a better way, a way to a natural high, and that he had just visited a spiritual community three days before that he called “the highest expression of life I have ever seen.”

The place to which he referred was Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains northwest of Loveland, Colorado. George was a Methodist minister conducting a “ministry to the disenchanted” in Arizona. On a tip from a friend he came up to visit Sunrise and seemed to know instantly that he had found a new home. On his way back to Arizona he stopped in Colorado Springs to attend a conference of Methodist ministers. Sitting around with a group of ministers during a break in the conference he asked the question, “Is there anyone in the city who you would say is kind of on the fringes of the church and trying to run a ministry similar to what I’m doing with the disenchanted in Arizona? Maybe he’s even a thorn-in-the-flesh of the local church establishment.” My name immediately came up and George, true to his impetuous nature, stood up and asked if someone could drive him over to where I lived “right now!”

Following George’s lead

So that is how we connected on that great day in the halls of serendipity. Listening to this very unusual man on that afternoon in late March in a state of mind heavily influenced by marijuana it seemed I was hearing the voice of God giving me instructions on the next step I was to take in the process of fulfilling my mission. However crazy this seemed something told me I had to follow his lead. Before he left George said he was giving a presentation that evening at the Methodist Church and we were all invited to come. Obviously the others in the room were not impacted in the same way I was, for I was the only one who showed up at the evening gathering. But it didn’t matter. I knew I was on a sacred mission quest.

I ended up going to several presentations by George, as he extended his time in Colorado Springs. A small group was formed of those who responded to him, and a man (Bob Ewing) from the Sunrise Ranch community was sent down to provide focus and leadership and to form a center. Though I almost constantly felt the compulsion to visit Sunrise Ranch for myself, it wasn’t until several months later (September 8) that I personally set foot on the property. The atmosphere was just as George had described it: people of all ages seemingly on a natural high, bringing forth the finest qualities of character in their living and savoring the beauty, wonder and glory of life.

Sunrise Ranch, Eden Valley, Loveland, Colorado – my new home

In April of 1971 I closed out my affairs in Colorado Springs and moved to Sunrise Ranch. What an opportunity to be with people every day who share my passion to serve. In fact the introductory four-month class that I attended during that spring and summer was called Servers Training School and graduates were referred to as “servers.” Sunrise residents of course serve each other and the community but an even greater emphasis is put on “world service.” This is not a self-serving, self-absorbed community seeking to isolate itself from the larger body of humanity. The purpose is nothing less than “the regeneration of human consciousness.” The stated objective emerging from the community’s strategic planning process reads: To create a clear and committed body of people around the globe who embody the presence of divine being and who bring a profound teaching that transforms the world.

Could I find a more effective vehicle for fulfilling my mission “to serve God and help God save the world?” I don’t think so. But these days I deliberately avoid using the word “God” to describe my mission and the mission of Sunrise Ranch. The word just brings up too many concepts and ideas, most of which are associated with religion, and religion is notorious for disconnecting a person from the reality represented by the word God. David Karchere, the spiritual director of Sunrise, frequently uses the term “Universal Being,” a term I also resonate with.

All of Sunrise Ranch is dedicated as a teaching and demonstration site for this essential wisdom—both the inner knowing of Universal Being and the practical application of that knowing. This is why we practice and teach sustainable agriculture and farm-to-table food preparation. This is what is behind all the workshops, conferences, concerts and courses that we offer. This is what we teach in our internship programs and in all our courses for spiritual awakening and personal development. Sunrise Ranch exists to embody this truth and to bring it to the world. We believe that Universal Being is doing its best to incarnate and express fully through each person, not as a separate reality but as the core reality of who they are. And when it does, that person becomes whole and creates wholeness in their world. They bring healing to the land, to other people and to the planet. Whole people—whole world. (From “Honoring Universal Being—The Philosophy of Sunrise Ranch” by David Karchere)

Addressing Cause, rather than treating symptoms

Saving the world as I state it in my mission is certainly not a matter of preserving the world that human beings have made. That world is the product of the human mind detached from Universal Being, from the very Reality that created the world. That world is the product of involvement with effects—material things, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, political loyalties, addictions of all kinds, an infinity of human wants and desires—rather than centering in Cause. I’m not interested in saving this mind-made world. That’s why, though I respect those who are working in these areas, I’m not personally involved in “save the whales” campaigns, other attempts to preserve the environment, antiwar efforts, famine relief, providing shelter for the homeless, etc. Laudable at these efforts are in many ways they are still just treating symptoms and are not getting at the root cause of the deplorable state that human beings have created on this planet.

That cause has to do with human consciousness, for the external world is merely a reflection of what is present in consciousness. And since human consciousness has fallen into the morass of effects, the most effective service that can be offered on the planet is to raise consciousness up to the level of oneness with Cause or Universal Being. This is the work I want to be doing, and this is exactly what we are doing on Sunrise Ranch in all of our classes, workshops, internships, our Full Self Emergence program, basically everything we do here. We engage in a great variety of work projects and other activities and often develop some real competence, even expertise, in these areas, but our essential work is spiritual. In a world where leadership is often associated with power, status, wealth and academic credentials, the leadership we offer is simply the expression of the finest and highest qualities of character in everything we do. In so doing we connect with Cause and the Creative Process operative in the Cosmic Whole.

To me this is the highest form of service that can be offered to whatever brought this planet into being and to the body of humanity that has been wandering so long in the wilderness of the human drama. It could be said that Sunrise Ranch and the larger Emissary program are instruments in my hand that allow me to most effectively fulfill my mission to serve. It is as though I have found the Holy Grail and, drawing forth the sword of truth (Excalibur), I am now able to claim my sovereignty and issue a decree to my world: Come home, my people, to the truth of love, the truth of Being. Come home to your angelic nature and be the Creator Being that you agreed to be in this incarnation.

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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