by Jerry Kvasnicka
We 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Living things have a natural radiance. You can see it everywhere in nature. The sparkle of a flowing river, the mountain bluebird come springtime in the Rockies, the crocuses and daffodils bright and full of color. Life moves naturally through every living thing. Life and love can move naturally through every human being. And human beings have the capacity to withhold that current. They can divert it internally or choose not to express it. A person who is allowing the current of love and life to move through them has a radiance around them.
People notice that radiance even if they don’t know what is happening. Some people are drawn and some push themselves away. There is always some resonance within a person to that radiance and a choice is available to allow oneself to be drawn as life is to life, love is to love, or to judge this experience as foreign and something to be feared.
It might seem unusual that a person would fear this current of life. But think about it, if you allowed more of this current to move through you, what would happen? Your life would change! Does that hit a chord of fear in your heart? Many people prefer the mundane, the familiar…no surprises, nothing expected from me, no discomfort brought by the new. What is interesting is that the discomfort of the familiar and the mundane has become so expected that a person doesn’t realize they have little or no joy in their life. There is a whole, holy, alive world to know and share. The choice is often made to keep this current unto oneself to serve one’s own purposes and the opportunity for creation and communion is missed.
To me, this is the experience of a slow death. Most everyone knows the saying “you are what you eat.” People who eat whole alive foods have a different vitality than those who eat processed packaged foods. This expression is similar to another one I know, “you know what you express.” If you express love and life you know that reality and the radiance of it surrounds you. This radiance is inviting and also protective. Radiant people are not looking to their environment for happiness, they are creating their world by expressing life. They are protected from the world around them because it is not the source of their identity or purpose. They do not rely on the external world for an experience of joy.
At Sunrise Ranch we invite people to know this experience. You can change your life and create a radiant world by expressing the qualities of life. Your countenance can have the quality of a shimmering star or a blooming flower. Radiance is a natural consequence of life current. It is available to you now as you read these words. When you allow your radiant expression out you begin to see it everywhere. What a wise and exciting choice. I invite you to choose it now.
JANE ANETRINI is a coach and teacher of Primal Spirituality. She assists people to find their own inner wisdom, strength and vitality. Jane is a Doctor of Chiropractic who has been practicing for 36 years.
by Jerry Kvasnicka
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.
Another kind of culture has emerged with the rise of the Internet. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide what amount to second lives for many people. And, by the way, there is a computer program actually called Second Life that allows a person to live in a “3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat.” It is intended to be more engaging than real life. A couple years ago I became a Facebook member and soon realized I could spend entire days responding to all the traffic coming to me and could be totally swallowed up by Facebook culture. So in what seemed to be a desperate move to preserve my sense of reality and sanity I clicked on the unsubscribe link.
Finally I would mention a culture that stirs the emotions and engages the devotion of human beings almost more than any other. I refer to sports and athletics, also the “fitness craze.” In Colorado we have “Bronco mania.” For decades the lives of my parents were dominated by the fortunes of the Denver Broncos football team. My father painted a pickup truck bright orange and blue, plastered it with Broncos paraphernalia and led Broncos parades around the state. They also had lunch at the home of Broncos coach Red Miller and his wife. I seem to have inherited something of this mania, finding it challenging to watch a Broncos game without getting swept up in the emotional frenzy.
The cult of fitness
Football culture is just one of the sports cultures. There is also baseball culture, basketball culture, hockey culture, golf culture, tennis culture, skiing culture, surfing culture, bowling culture, track and field culture, gymnastics culture and, as noted above, physical fitness culture. The latter has spawned a whole industry of fitness equipment, diets and exercise programs. I think it would be difficult to find anyone in the industrial countries of the world who is not at least partially immersed in this pervasive health culture.
As the symbol of the Human Party, my friend who was running for President selected the golden eagle. I wrote a poem called “The Golden Eagle” for our campaign newsletter. Here are the last three verses:
The red tape, the petty bickering,
All the stuff of earth-bound politics,
Are but meat for this bird,
Symbol of love’s consuming fire.
Symbol also of being that transcends
The rise and fall of human affairs,
And acts less to please the part
Than benefit and bless the whole.
Look up! Behold, the golden eagle,
In whom all may find identity and union,
And together birth a new America,
A new world.
Can a similar stance be taken with respect to human culture? Can we somehow soar above it all, breaking out of cultural compartments into the freedom and vast perspective the Whole? It is possible to one whose self-definition is no longer enclosed in these compartments but has risen into what I would call the truth of Universal Being, the power of creation at the very core of every human being. Recognizing that this is our very nature, our essence, is it really so difficult to allow our consciousness to enlarge enough to accommodate this transcendent stance?
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 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 email@example.com
There is an ongoing process that we’re all involved in, of giving birth to ourselves. There are words to a song about lives we’ve lived before. I can identify quite a few “me’s” who have been present on this planet in my lifetime, people I thought were me. They were a version of me but they weren’t really me; it was partial. And those creations of me are coming through consistently as I allow them to emerge. And that’s a birth process, because the “me” I knew myself to be twenty years ago does not have a whole lot to do with the one who’s here now, or the one I will be tomorrow or the next day. So it’s an ongoing process. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen all at once that all these new things show up, but it’s very exciting when they do. It’s not necessarily comfortable, but it’s exciting.
There are so many similarities between the birth that takes place in each of us consistently and the birth of a new baby. One of the things that isn’t is that once a new baby is on the way, once labor has started and the baby is on its way, you can’t stop that process. The baby is going to come. Unfortunately, that’s not true spiritually speaking. We can get in the way of the new us—the new “me” who’s trying to appear. We can get in the way because there is discomfort in something new showing up, something unfamiliar. And it may not be just my own discomfort. It may be the discomfort, and often is, of the people around me too, that I’m no longer that familiar person that they knew as me.
I think a lot of relationships break down for that reason—that there’s this customary way that two people are together, and when change occurs in one, the other one tries to resist that. Maybe they both try to resist that. The feeling may arise “Oh, that’s too scary!” or “Can I trust it?” The relationship will end up breaking down if the newness is not allowed to happen. There needs to be space for the new.
If I don’t allow change in me or another, then I’m in a state of arrested development. And many people are, because they stay with what’s familiar, what’s comfortable.
You can hold back when it comes to something new of you, of the creator-being that you are, trying to put in an appearance. You can get in the way of it. But you do get in the way of it at your peril, because if you do not allow it to come through, then rather than an exciting new venture and an exciting new experience showing up, it’s downhill from there! You may see a lot of jaded, disappointed, sometimes embittered people who don’t realize they can still make another choice. They can still allow the truth of them as a creator-being to come through.
No one knows what the new will look like, but the coming forth of your being is vital. The truth of who you are is within you and wants out. The creator within is ready to create and birth and your emergence is a result. It may seem scary, the unknown often does. What is scarier is holding on to that which is passing away and no longer serves you. I offer you my support in this process. This is a wonderful way to live our lives together.
Maureen Waller discovered, after searching for many years, that it is possible to transcend our human conditioning. True being and inherent leadership are in fact present within each one of us. Maureen has a passion for connecting with people and, through that connection, offers the gifts that she has received through the Emissary program.
by Jane Anetrini
There are many spiritual disciplines and practices that have been developed over the years. Their purposes are many: enlightenment, happiness, transformation, creating community, to name a few. I personally have tried many. I have had prayer practices, ceremonial rituals to honor the directions, the moon and the seasons, reading the animal cards, physical cleansing and more, all of which have provided a blessing.
I would like to name a practice that works for anyone. I know it allows for transformation and an experience of fine atmosphere and healthy relationships. It is the practice of expressing fine character. There are references to what that means. One of them lists the qualities of good character as: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. That’s a good list! I have found there are many more: honesty, kindness and patience, to name a few.
The expression of fine character results in a loving creative atmosphere. When there are two or more people in agreement about expressing fine character, there begins to be a safe place for creation and adventure. Moving into the unknown can be scary. Moving into the unknown or the unfamiliar when surrounded by friends with good character can be thrilling. The fear of being judged can diminish in the presence of respect and kindness. When a person starts something new they will look like a beginner. What else could you expect? Looking like a beginner can be embarrassing, so people don’t try new things. Looking like a beginner, while being surrounded by patient, respectful people, lowers the risk of feeling foolish.
Here at Sunrise Ranch, we invite people into the opportunity to live together in fine character. The atmosphere of a group of people doing that together is inviting and restful. It feels like true home. I have found myself feeling supported and cared for in this atmosphere. At Sunrise Ranch we know it is possible that people will come to be with us and will touch that atmosphere and may learn that we encourage each other in this way. It is a privilege to live in a nurturing environment that supports our overcoming our conditioned patterns and habits, where people are committed to bringing forth the fineness of character.
We can all rise to the stature that is natural for a loving person. I invite you to join us, wherever you are, and see the impact it has on you and your world.
As soon as something is born, it begins to die. That might seem a little extreme but there is truth in it. That is the way of the physical. Everything operating in the physical world experiences the effects of time. This manifests as aging and/or a decline in usefulness or productivity. Nothing lasts forever, as they say. Of course, this is looking solely at the physical from just the physical perspective.
In life forms like plant and animal, there is a natural developing, growing and maturing until hitting a peak, and then the decline begins. Everything is born, grows and then it dies. Nature has a set course and reproduction keeps the whole thing moving, over and over again through time.
Objects, things and items exist at their peak when brand new and then age with use over time, accruing wear-and-tear. Is there any way out of this slow downward cycle of decline?
With things, it’s easy. Just love it a little. Replace the old and broken parts with new ones. Or maybe everything works and you just want different furnishings and accessories to provide a fresh look. We do this all the time with our things. Heck, we even do it with our bodies. Where do you think the term “face-lift” came from? But there is so much more to us than just the body, that part of us that is manifest in the physical form.
There is an internal reality that exists outside of time, space and form. This is a reality of Being that each one of us is inherently connected to as human beings. When the busy mind and body slow down and a person allows themselves to sink into stillness, they are able to experience their own being-ness. We are each connected to an infinite creative well from which all life springs forth into expression. This is the source for the essential substance of creation, which gives the power and ability for something to exist.
This realm is known as the spiritual realm, the birthplace of all things that come into the experience of creation in time/space. This is where new comes from. The mental, emotional and physical realms of ourselves are where things can then be made new. This newness of thinking, feeling and acting can then create for ourselves a new experience of life.
All of experiential reality is subject to the laws of operation for the dimension of existence they inhabit. We humans live in the third dimension, one of form with physical mass in a spatial reality that appears to move through time.
The laws that govern the higher realms of existence are able to influence the laws of realms in lower dimensions. What this means is that things that are not normally possible actually end up happening despite the fact they are seemingly impossible. We call these miracles. Every time something is made new, whether it be a physical thing or a belief structure or an emotional response, it is a miracle.
The realms of possibility and miracles are vast and our connections to them are through our own inner spiritual connection, through our own sense of being. Whether it is turning water into wine or turning an unpleasant experience into a joyful opportunity for learning, we call it a miracle because it wasn’t thought to be possible. This can only happen if there is something operating out of a higher set of laws that precedes and overrides the physical laws (laws of physics) from a deeper layer of cause and effect.
In our own human life, we have a tendency to follow patterns and are known as creatures of habit. We have certain sets of beliefs and emotional reactions that are predictable. We follow a certain path and end up developing a line of probability for how our life will turn out.
What is that magical power that allows a person to start over, wipe the slate clean and create a new experience for themselves? How can we imagine something beyond anything we’ve ever known and draw a possibility out of the ethers into a manifest experience and a living reality? How do we take the old, tired thoughts and feelings and refresh them with new vigor and life?
It is not something we can consciously force to happen but, rather, something we can open to and allow to happen. It starts with choosing to love the possibility we desire to experience rather than fearing the one that we don’t want to happen.
That power of possibility comes from the realm of spirit and is sometimes even referred to as the glory of the “human spirit.” It is actually the power of love. Love is the substance of creation that allows for Life to be born, express, and to be made new. Love is the great redeemer of all that is and ever was or will be. Love provides new insight to be able to see with fresh eyes. Love gives strength to move forward and create even when the surroundings are not conducive or cooperative. Love fuels our passions and strengthens our bonds with what is real and meaningful in life. Love makes all things new.
It seems like a simple answer. Almost so simple that it could be overlooked and disregarded as truth. Love is the beginning of all opening to the realms of possibility. Anything other than love just creates limitations. Imagination is what shows us the door. The willingness to allow, accept and let is what opens the door. Love is what gives us the ability to walk through the door to the other side.
Love offers us the opportunity for all that is old and no longer serves to be flushed up and recycled into the great universal storehouse of energy. Now there is a new space available for something new to be born! That could be a new form and it could be a new experience of the forms that are already there.
You may not be able to walk on water just by deciding that you will love more of your life. But you may find that you can walk through your fears and discover an entirely new life available to you. Your health, your attitude, your success, your relationships and every part of your life opens up and is available for healing and renewal. The higher vibrations of the choice for love allows for things to move and shift energetically in a way that opens possibility, changes circumstances and allows all things to be made new. Love today.
Written by: Gary Goodhue
by Jerry Kvasnicka
I remember dancing to the song “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf back in the late 60’s. As I danced with abandon something deep within me seemed to compel the realization that wildness is basic to my nature. I now feel this is true for all of us. There is an aspect of our divine nature that is wild, a complement to the vastness and intricacy of the divine imagination. As a captivating slice of wilderness demonstrates, nature certainly is elementally wild, and we, being intricately linked to nature, partake of this intrinsic wildness. Our being is not fulfilled until this wildness is allowed expression.
But wildness that is totally out of control can become chaotic and destructive. There are multitudinous evidences of this in the world in which we live. In fact, given the realities of terrorism (for example, the Friday the 13th massacre in Paris by Isis) the threat of nuclear war, environmental degradation and a host of other seemingly insoluble problems afflicting (and caused by) humanity, a good case can be made that the whole world has gone destructively wild.
Destructive vs creative wildness
Yet there is a wild side of our nature that craves expression and will not be denied. Consistent suppression of this impulse could result in psychological imbalance or even psychosis. So the challenge is to express it in a positive, creative and life-enhancing way, something that I find can only happen when a person is in right identity. When personal identity springs from ego, the “small self” or involvement in the human drama, wildness is bound to be destructive. But when it issues from truth of oneself (i.e. the cohesive power of love at the stable core of Being) beautiful and wondrous things can emerge, all in an easy, natural and safe way.
In the late 1960’s a wild streak ran through the body of humanity creating “flower children” and the hippie subculture along with revolutionary developments in music and other forms of art. I found myself swept up in this turbulent tide, and since I had little idea of who I was and my purpose in life, my inherent wildness expressed itself in unconstrained, rebellious and even violent ways.
“New Left” and “Acid Left”
In 1968 it was the “New Left” that consumed my attention. I became a charter member of the Colorado College chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and led marches against the war in Vietnam. I remember demonstrating in front of a line of soldiers at Fort Carson as helicopters hummed overhead. I defamed an army uniform by festooning it with flowers and wearing it to a war protest in front of the local Selective Service office, and by the way, being hit in the stomach by two Vietnam veterans. I remember a party at my house where I served wine and talked to a guest who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for blowing up electrical towers.
In 1969 it was the “Acid Left” that took center stage in my life. In other words, I became a hippie. I ran a young adult crisis center for the Colorado Springs Council of Churches. In actual fact it was a hippie crash pad where psychedelic drug use, all-night parties and group sex were rampant. The city’s number one drug distributor lived in the basement and paid his rent with any drug I wanted (LSD, mescaline, marijuana, etc.) on any given night. On my last LSD trip I had to be restrained from jumping off a balcony after going to see the movie “Midnight Cowboy.”
Yes in those years it could be said that I was wild, but it was obviously not a healthy and life-enhancing kind of wildness. Thinking of the chances I took back then it is something of a miracle that I was not arrested and forced to serve time. But I suppose it was necessary to move through that destructively wild period before I could begin to discover the truth of who I am and what I came on earth to do. And coincidentally to discover how the wildness within me could be expressed in a creative and constructive way.
A wild theatrical production
Not long after I moved to Sunrise Ranch and began to seriously connect with the truth of who I am, I simultaneously began to discover ways of releasing my inherently wild spirit in positive and uplifting ways. One project in particular stands out in this regard. It was a ninety minute play that eight of us performed at Sunrise, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and at the Colorado Springs center of the University of Colorado.
The play was called “Wizards of the Zodiac,” and featured two astrologers (Zeke Zodiac and Walter Wizard III) presenting a natal horoscope to a client. The first part of the play we focused on all the negative aspects of the chart—the squares and oppositions, the afflictions, the challenges. And when the client was thoroughly devastated by all of this we lifted him up by revealing all positive aspects of the chart—the trines and sextiles, the fortuitous conjunctions and most of all the beauty, wonder and glory of “the thirteenth sign,” i.e. the sign of true being that transcends the twelve signs of the zodiac.
We had no script for the play; our words and actions came spontaneously in the moment. The two astrologers dressed in costumes sat behind a large table that was spread with assorted psychedelic paraphernalia and occult accessories, including several candles, incense, a human skull, a steaming cauldron filled with dry ice and two flasks filled with a wine Zeke had made called “marigold madness,” about 80-proof! We also had a lighting and sound technician bringing special effects and four “dancing girls” who danced and sang at various times during the play to music we had written.
Loosing the divine imagination
I’m quite sure this was the wildest mid-week service ever given at Sunrise Ranch. But despite its outlandish façade, it was not some explosive and potentially destructive outburst from an unconstrained heart. There was Mystical method to the madness and Providential purpose to the preposterous display. We mined the divine imagination and gave it refreshing and radiant release.
The very core and essence of our being is love. In fact love powers everything in the universe. It is an overwhelming and irresistible force that can manifest as integration or disintegration, creation or destruction, depending on one thing: control. Love is analogous to fire. When under control, such as a furnace, fire provides useful heat. When out of control, such as a forest fire, it can be devastating to trees and people.
For the wild energy of love to be creatively and constructively released by human beings there must be the control of truth. But unfortunately the world today is a sad spectacle of love gone destructively wild. A tremendous volume of love is being released but where is the control of truth? Terrorists, for example, are willing to give their lives for what they love, but look at the destruction they bring.
Tempering love with truth
What is the truth? Put very simply the truth is oneness, oneness with each other and, more importantly, oneness with the divine, with the Creator, with Universal Being. It honors the sacredness of all life and the creative process that ultimately governs all life. Once a person connects with this process through the consistent expression in living of the highest and finest qualities of character he/she begins to know the truth. And once this base of truth is established love can express at will in wild and wondrous ways.
My personal template for how this happens is a song I used to listen to over and over again as I transitioned from unconstrained and chaotic wildness to purposeful and divinely-inspired wildness. “Down By the River” by Neil Young features a slow, steady beat of percussion and base guitar throughout. But on top of this beat an electric guitar goes literally wild with a captivating cascade of sounds that used to take my breath away. Improvise, rhapsodize, harmonize, even introduce dissonance, all made possible by the foundational beat and rhythm, which to me symbolizes the truth.
Some words of a poem by Hermann Hesse seem to capture something of this:
One shaft of light breaks through the jagged clouds
That brilliant shaft dissevers teeming generation
Into both deed and war, and in a frenzy of creation
Ignites a gleaming terrified new world.
All changes where the seeds of light descend,
Order arises, magnificence is heard
In praise of life, of victory to light’s great end.
Now joy and pain, words, art, and song,
World towering on world in arching victory throng,
With impulse, mind, contention, pleasure, love.
That brilliant shaft emanates from the divinely wild impulse of love, and in absolute fidelity to the design and control of truth, births unimaginable wonders and magic. For this cause we came into the earth. “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Free to be the wild beings we inherently are.
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-seven years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jane Anetrini
“Full Self Emergence is a seven-month residential program at Sunrise Ranch. It is for people who have awakened to the creative spirit within them and who are ready to let it out.”
That is part of the description of our Full Self Emergence program. And there is so much more!
Each individual who has made contact with the creative spirit within them, touches that longing to allow it to emerge more fully. Some try the arts, some try the outdoors, and others start new relationships. All these things can help and ultimately what is found is that this creative spirit is you, and it is eager to be expressed in everything you do and say. It has always been present and even though you may have lost touch with it, it is still there, it is the reality that is you.
Often we have learned to participate in our world in a way that allows us to fit in, that makes others happy, or just doesn’t cause any waves. This Full Self Emergence program is designed to teach and create experiences that allow the true reality that is you to be known. It is a work-study program that allows spiritual principles to be learned and engaged with in one’s work, relationships and creative expression. These principles are the same creative principles that are demonstrated in all primal spirituality.
Here is an opportunity to be with others who are also interested in their emergence. You will be surrounded by a community of people dedicated to their own transformation. You will be supported by community members who have dedicated their lives to living this way and who are offering the atmosphere and opportunity for others to come to know more fully the core reality of themselves.
This course has been designed so that the participants come to know more deeply the incredible design of their Being and how all aspects of it are part of one’s inherent creative expression. Your body, mind, emotional realm and spiritual expression are all vital to you as a Creator-being. Below are some testimonials from those who have completed this seven-month program:
“Full Self Emergence is a useful program for individuals looking to become more powerful and empowered manifestors of their own greatness. Having a model for the creative process and being surrounded by others devoted to their own illumination and that of the world can contribute to the clear expression of one’s own divine essence.” – Sherwood Dunlop
“Full Self Emergence has literally done exactly that for me! More of my potential and capacity for life has come into expression from doing this course. I used to feel like I had parts of myself that were sleeping that I just couldn’t jump-start. I have since come into a greater confidence and clarity of how to meet life head-on and maintain peace and presence while giving the highest and finest of myself to my world.” – Gary Goodhue
“The Full Self Emergence program was a total game changer for me. I went into it looking to work on certain life events and relationships and ended up with a new and freeing way to be with myself and my world. If you are done with the way you feel when you wake up in the morning, if you are yearning and ready for a fresh take on life, this program is for you!” – Keahi Ewa
Come let us assist in letting that which is inside you out into your world.
Written by: Jane Anetrini
By Dorian Black
So, strictly speaking, I am not a grandfather. But with numerous nephews and nieces and their children and grands and greats, plus dearly beloved friends of all ages, it does appear I am called to such a role.
Of course, no one wants to be preached at. Or to be told we did it better way back when! Certainly I never accepted such imposition. What I do recall enjoying in the presence of my elders was simply to sit with them and savor their conversation or their silence. Here, to my youthful mind, was a beautiful being, clothed in perhaps decrepit flesh, who had lived bravely. Courage poured out of them, strengthening the sinews of my heart.
Now, in my 80th year, can I be that bringer of courage to others? Not if what I have to offer lies only in the past. The old ones I remember with joy flooding my heart even now were those who had no time to stop living.
Like my Aunt Esther, a woman of elegant beauty in the early photographs, whom I knew in her 70s, living alone in a one-room shack her dead husband had constructed of plywood and insulated with old newspapers to keep out the Manitoba wind. Once a week in summer she would walk ten miles to the nearest streetcar and ride into Winnipeg for her pernicious-anemia liver shot at the hospital. She would then visit her older sisters and catch the last streetcar out of town for the ten-mile moonlit walk home. In my early teens I enjoyed riding my bike out along the Red River, always ending with a quiet visit in Aunt Esther’s garden.
Well, times are different now. But I can assure myself that a grandfatherly presence is never out of date.
Dorian Black has been a member of the Sunrise Ranch community for forty six years, offering spiritual leadership in many areas.
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by Jerry Kvasnicka
Being 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 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 email@example.com