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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
by Jerry Kvasnicka
It 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.
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 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 email@example.com
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Why are we so different from one another? I have always been rather curious about this and consider the fact of human diversity to be at least as fascinating and worthy of celebration as the fact of human unity. We are such a varied lot. On the physical level there are differences in height, weight, skin color and tone, hair color, eye color, basic physical abilities, ad infinitum. On the mental level, differences in IQ, talent, interests, aptitudes, ad infinitum. And on the emotional level the differences are even more vast and complex. How do we account for this infinity of differences, seeing that in essence all are one, all derive from a common life source?
According to astrologers, of which I am one, the positions of the sun, moon and planets relative to a band in the sky called the zodiac may be one way of accounting for human personality differences: each individual is, in effect, “stamped” with the unique configuration of influences that exist at the time of his or her birth in human form. Quite a few years ago another approach to this matter of differentiation came to my attention in the form of a book called You Are a Rainbow. This small paperback written and published by the University of the Trees community in Boulder Creek, California, is based on the life experience and exhaustive consciousness research of Christopher Hills, founder of the university and author of such books as Nuclear Evolution, The Rise of the Phoenix and Creative Conflict. Dr. Hills and the community became widely known for the development and distribution of Spirulina, a near miraculous health food derived from plankton.
But back to the question at hand, which is how to account for human differences. Here is a brief summary of how this matter is approached in You Are a Rainbow: Light, upon passing through a prism or multifaceted crystal, is divided into the colors of the rainbow. What you are and I am in essence is comparable to a beam of white light. At the time of birth into physical form on earth our light in effect passes through a prism and is differentiated and expanded into a rainbow of many colors. There are, as we know, seven primary colors in this spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Each of these colors, for purposes of our analogy corresponds to a particular life energy or quality of consciousness. Using one word to describe each of these life energies, we might come up with something like this:
Red – Physical
Orange – Social
Yellow – Intellectual
Green – Emotional
Blue – Conceptual
Indigo – Intuitive
Violet – Imaginative
During the span of our incarnation in material form on earth we have at our disposal a physical, mental and emotional capacity that consists at least in part of this rainbow of life energies. We have the potential to express the full spectrum of the powers and qualities present in our rainbow, but it has been found that one of these levels is generally dominant in the expression of a given individual. In other words, the kind of capacity we have may be dominantly physical or dominantly social or dominantly mental, and so on. One who is sensitive to auras will actually be able to see the color around a person’s body that corresponds to the energy most natural to that person. The dominant color can also be found by using a small divining device called an “aura pendulum,” which can also be used in a psychological/physiological healing procedure called “aura balancing.”
You Are a Rainbow includes a separate section on each color written by a member of the community in whom that color is dominant. There is a handy chart listing the positive and negative qualities of expression for each color, as well as the deepest needs, aptitudes and biggest challenges associated with each. Though the main emphasis throughout the book is on the uniqueness of each color and associated energy level it is also stated that “Hand in hand with our work on ourselves as individuals goes our work towards a group consciousness in which we tune to others’ frequencies and, in so doing, tune to the Universal Frequency that is the synthesis of all notes and colors and which we call the vibration of the Rainbow Body.”
I do have some reservations about this approach, however. Beautiful as it is in many ways it nevertheless strikes me as being offered to, and even in some measure offered from, a material or form-oriented level of consciousness. How can the rainbow help me to discover and develop my personality? seems to be the over-riding concern. As such it is likely to be used by many aspirants merely as a technique for self-realization and self-improvement rather than a means of greater service to the whole.
Nor, I feel, is the reader of the book sufficiently impressed with the fact that each individual is much more than the qualities and characteristics inherent in his or her color or even in the full Rainbow Body. This is but an aspect of the Being that I am and you are, a Being that is not a mere absorber and re-radiator of light but the light itself. However, if we approach You Are a Rainbow from above rather than below the rainbow, it can be of considerable value in helping us to understand and account for human differences and to more fully manifest the Reality that in truth we 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 in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Lori Rock, STANDING IN THE LIGHT® Teacher and Facilitator
Of all the New Year’s resolutions we can set for ourselves, what would be the one underlying quality that would help all of them? What one factor would help you achieve a better diet, a more appropriate exercise regime and more joy in daily life? Being more aligned with Your Self, being more aligned with Source.
All the characteristics that we would like to improve about ourselves, all the projects we would like to manifest and all the ways we would like to serve Mother Earth and Humanity have at their core the need to know what our part in the Divine Plan is and the passion and perseverance to take the steps to achieve that Plan for ourselves, individually and collectively. The Divine Plan is the interconnected puzzle that We have developed for Ourselves in order to play out our experiences as humans here and now. It may sometimes feel like someone outside of ourselves developed this puzzle as a cruel joke or an elaborate party trick. But, Mother Earth and Humanity have always been involved in this plan as a fully volunteer army. There was no ambush, no draft and it isn’t a punishment for some egregious behavior toward a superior being. We are inter-related and One with the entire universe. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we can feel the joy of no longer viewing ourselves as victims.
This is why it is imperative to feel and know the connection and alignment with Our God-Self, with Source, in order to be able to sift through cultural and systemic influences and, instead, realize the inner wisdom and guidance that will help us heal the daily struggles and rise above the distractions that hold us back from being the higher version of ourselves that we know we can be.
Before I started on this particular path, I knew there was an interconnectedness between what I saw as my reality and the Universe. But, I didn’t realize or comprehend the extent of the possibilities and the power to change my reality by tapping into those Universal Truths and Energies available to us all. The Universal Truths are that we are not alone, we are loved and we have the wisdom and power to act with the love to bring more joy to ourselves, our world and our universe. Anything other than this full and complete recognition of Our True Selves is the illusion from which we need to awaken.
We need to eliminate any false belief that only a chosen few are capable of navigating the truth and wisdom available to us all. We also need to eliminate any feelings of unworthiness or lack of self-confidence that keeps us from seeing the Divine Power and Divine Love that is the real truth of who we are. The awakening can be done gently, step by step, as part of the Divine Plan. We can start that awakening, now.
I have had some great teachers who have helped me become more mindful of my connection and alignment to those Higher Aspects of My Self and to clear fears of truly remembering who I am, why I am here and how I can help. It is my path, passion and desire to help others to recognize and realize this within themselves, as well.
What is your path? Have you found what your piece of the Universal puzzle is? I would love to help you find your path.
Lori Rock is a STANDING IN THE LIGHT® teacher and facilitator, as well as an Eminent Reiki™ Master Teacher / Practitioner. She teaches classes in Fort Collins, CO, and leads week-long retreats at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. Contact Lori at email@example.com, www.iamstandinginthelight.com and http://sunriseranch.org/standing-in-the-light-sitl-program-retreat-0315/
By Elizabeth Fritzler
Lose weight. Eat less sugar. Practice guitar more often.
New Year’s resolutions like these are fairly common in America. Weight loss and fitness goals regularly top the list of most popular resolutions. One trip to the gym on January 1 will show you just how many more people occupy the treadmills than in December.
“I swear I’ll keep it this time!”
We all start the year with the best of intentions: this time we’re really going to follow through! We’re going to make it all the way to December 31 without reverting to our old ways! We made a resolution for a reason—because we want change!
But if every New Year’s Eve, you find that you didn’t stick with your resolution (don’t worry, 92% of people are in the same boat), perhaps it’s time to think about some different ways you might facilitate change in your life.
The secret to resolutions that work
I’ll share a secret with you:
The most effective New Year’s resolutions—that is, the ones you’re most likely to develop into habits—are less self-punitive and more altruistic than weight loss.
One resolution that works quite well is generosity. Why? Because generosity begets gratitude, and gratitude begets a positive outlook on life. By doing things for others, you may be surprised to find that after just a short period of time you begin to see the little things for which you are thankful. This paves the way for a greater sense of life purpose, lower stress levels, and stronger identification with community life.
What can you commit to?
Now it’s time to get specific. What does generosity look like to you, in a way that feels fulfilling and keeps you going back for more?
Maybe it’s donating your time to a community center, where you read to kids once a week. Maybe it’s always giving your significant other the bigger slice of cake. Maybe it’s inviting old friends over for a home-cooked meal, or offering to give someone a ride home, even if it’s out of the way.
Acknowledging your accomplishments is another key to success. Use a calendar or journal to record your Random Acts of Generosity, and be sure to make note of how you felt after giving. Whatever you do, just make sure to establish how, where and when your generosity will take shape each day or week.
What if I fall off the wagon?
Unfortunately, no matter how good our intentions are, life will sometimes get in the way of our plans. You may not find you’re able to be as generous as you want, 100% of the time.
But you know what? It’s okay.
If you fall into bed after a particularly busy day and realize you’ve forgotten your Random Act of Generosity for the day, know that tomorrow is a fresh start and a new chance to try again. The point of a New Year’s resolution is to nourish your health and happiness, not set you up for failure. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
Get out there and get giving!
The best thing about consciously activating your generous side is that it’s flexible. You have the freedom and power to choose how, when and why to give. Whether you’re building trails or teaching a stranger how to juggle, your generosity will cultivate a greater sense of self-worth and better the world around you at the same time.
What resolutions have you kept in the past? What do you intend to do this year? Let us know in the comments below.
By Elizabeth Fritzler
One of my favorite scenes from the movie Office Space involves an unfortunate character and a scarcity of birthday cake. In this scene, cubicle dwellers gather around their loathsome supervisor and a cake while singing a lackluster rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Milton, a hopelessly inept employee, refuses to pass his slice of cake down the line and mumbles, “Last time I did not receive a piece.” He is swiftly cut off by his simpering coworker with an abrupt “Just pass.” Sure enough, the cake slices run out, and poor Milton is left empty-handed.
Have you ever felt like Milton? Like you’re completely justified in doing what you can to make sure you get your fair share of the cake, but get shut down or scolded for being selfish in your efforts?
The problem could be that you’re operating from a scarcity mindset, and in doing so you’ve come to believe that there aren’t enough resources to go around. Whether it’s food, jobs, money or living space, we’ve been taught that the only way to succeed is to get ahead of our neighbor. This leads to all kinds of troublesome emotions and actions: jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, mindless consumerism, and theft, to name a few.
The PBS series Affluenza illustrates this feeling of lack quite well. The show traces the effects of mass consumerism on the earth and interpersonal relationships. Though you can probably guess what those effects might be—more debt, more waste, more misery—the show does present a positive side. People have the power, through simple and committed action, to stop the consumer madness and focus on the people and things that really matter in lives.
Today, this message is not new one for most people. But in the 1990s, at the time of the show’s broadcasting, detaching yourself from the rat race was not only a new idea but a seemingly impossible one. How could you begin to disentangle yourself from social pressure to wear the trendiest clothes or to ignore ads that swallow the sides of everything, from buildings to school buses?
Fortunately, over the past 20 years, people have begun to rethink their definitions of happiness. In doing so, they have stopped operating out of fear of scarcity. They have started trusting in life to take them by the hand and show them new opportunities. In choosing to keep the confines of social competition at bay, many people are becoming inspired by gratitude for what they already have. This is the shift to an abundance mentality: realizing you’ve had enough stuff all along and that there’s plenty more of it to share with others.
Abundance is largely in our heads. To be sure, focusing on generosity won’t pull you out of extreme poverty, nor will it instantly dissolve your credit card debt. But the more we focus on what we do have—rather than on what we don’t—the more we start to see how unhappy it makes us to grasp for the unattainable.
Scarcity and abundance share one quality: contagion. Belief in having enough or too little is infectious either way. You may have already found that your generosity has helped form a network of equally gracious acquaintances.
If you haven’t found that network yet, there’s good news: you can be the leader in this collective movement toward a flourishing world. Offer small acts of kindness and generosity, and watch how the world around you responds. Help out where you see need. Unexpected opportunities and rare experiences might present themselves to you, rather than waiting for you to chase them down.
It may seem like a big task to shift your perspective—and it is. But daily commitment to little changes, like many things in life, holds great potential for rapid transformation. You may even find that your definition of abundance evolves as you express gratitude for the world around you!
Abundance is everywhere—especially in the garden
submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Recently, to my great dismay, the color television set in my living room began showing double images on the screen. I called a TV repairman and informed him that everyone has two faces. “Oh, that’s not unusual,” he replied. “It’s an election year.”
This didn’t actually happen of course, but when it is an election year in the United States voters need to make a decision about what candidates to vote for. However, I would like to consider a different kind of decision, probably more important to each of us as individuals than deciding how to vote. What I have in mind are the decisions we periodically make relative to major changes in lifestyle, career, education, marital status, place of residence, etc. On what basis do we make decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of many others for years to come?
In my own experience one of the most critical periods for such decision-making was the time before, during and after graduation from high school. Should I go on to university? If so, should it be immediately or following a year or two in some kind of a job? What course of study should I pursue? What kind of job can I get now that would help prepare me for college? Or what kind of college training can I get now that would prepare me for my life’s work? Incidentally, what is my life’s work? And if what some people say about the world shortly coming to an end is true, why bother about any of this anyway? Etc., etc.
Let’s bring this down to a specific case, for instance that of a friend of mine named Peter. Peter graduated from high school several months ago and spent the summer working on his grandfather’s farm in Iowa. Now he is back in the city, staying with his parents and wondering what his next move should be. On the one hand he has an interest in drama and theater arts and would like to receive further training in this field at some college or conservatory. On the other hand he is intrigued by the possibility of going out and simply getting a job to see if he can make it financially in the world. He doesn’t have any specific skills that would qualify him for an immediate high-paying job in some craft or trade but feels he could learn carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, salesmanship, anything. Or he could begin, as a close friend of his is doing, by sacking groceries in a supermarket, and gradually work his way up. Still there is that lingering interest in acting, the feeling that somehow his destiny is here and that he would be shortchanging his potential if he ignored this and just the basic need and capacity he has for additional formal education. Peter knows he stands at a crossroads and occasionally almost agonizes over what to do.
Any suggestions for Peter? Any suggestions for others facing a similar circumstance? Certainly there are many who know something of this seeming dilemma, perhaps even you among them. If so, you’ve probably had the experience of spending incredible amounts of time and energy repeatedly going over the alternative courses of action in your mind, weighing all the “relevant factors” (money, training, aptitudes, likes and dislikes, short-term versus long-term advantages, locations, friends, etc., ad infinitum) and earnestly trying to imagine what life would be like if you did this…this…or this.
Have I any magic formula for helping those in the midst of such predicaments to make a decision? Unfortunately no, though I would suggest that we come to refer to them and think of them not as predicaments or dilemmas but as special times of opportunity, challenge and change. In other words, think positive, be positive, about them. Fear has no business here. Nor does impatience. Decisions of this magnitude may take a while to emerge. Give it some time, and I don’t mean time spent mentally laboring to figure things out. I mean time for the invisible vibratory factors to work through and clarify. In the meantime, pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. The vital clue capable of resolving the whole thing is very likely to surface through simple doing in the now.
However, there is one factor or set of factors that I believe is more important than all the rest for people who want their lives to really count for something while they reside on the planet. I refer to “the whole.” Can our level of vision be raised from what we think we need for personal development, security and satisfaction to what is needed in the larger picture? Can my personal and often ego-driven needs, my interests, my aspirations and career goals be entirely subordinated to the question of how I can make the greatest contribution to what is working out on earth at this time—i.e. the all-encompassing creative cycle by which the world is being healed, restored and ultimately transmuted?
But we would be wise not to develop an answer to this question based on mental speculation; it is so easy to get lost in a haystack of bright ideas and to rationalize a course of action that is worlds away from an actual contribution to the whole. I’ve found that for anything approximating a right decision to be made in this regard it is helpful to have a close association and perhaps even an integral connection with trusted mentors—leaders of integrity who know and have assumed responsibility for what is happening on earth. There is an emerging spiritual body on earth, a collective focus of the energetic currents working to transform human consciousness and restore the planet’s alignment with the cosmic whole. It seems to me that only out of spoken and silent interchange with the leadership of this body can the way of fullest service open before you, me or anyone keen to participate in what is actually the greatest venture conceivable to men and women.
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-five years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo credit: Unsplash.com/Carli Jean Miller: carlijeenco.com
By Elizabeth Fritzler
“I should really do more yoga.”
How many times has this thought, or something similar, crossed your mind? If you’re anything like me, you probably lost count a long time ago. I could use any excuse to rationalize my failure to get on the mat: not enough time, too tired, too hungry, not in the mood.
I know I’m not alone in my poor self-discipline. It’s tough to jam time for a personal practice into the crevices of my already busy life, and I’m sure you feel the same. But we read endless blogs and articles about how beneficial a daily personal practice is, and despite our excuses, we’re always left with that nagging feeling that we should be more committed.
Recently, however, I discovered there was a missing piece that could have been influencing my reluctance: a warm, welcoming space in which to practice. I didn’t have a dedicated area for my yoga mat, and the greatest amount of floor space I could muster was a bit of carpet with my bedroom furniture shoved in the corners. Even then, I would usually end up hitting the corner of the bookshelf or my bed when I swung out my arms and legs.
It dawned on me that if I really wanted to do more yoga, I would have to find a way to get more excited about being in the room. For those of us living in a small space, this can pose problems. Luckily, it’s not just the amount of space that makes a difference; it’s how you prepare the space, too.
Ultimately, I found I was much more likely to do yoga once I had properly set up the space, both physically and mentally. Not only did I create a warm surround, but I also warmed up to the activity in my mind and body.
If you’re struggling to stick with your practice—or start it—you’re not alone. Whatever personal practice you choose, be it yoga, writing, meditation or something else, you can create a more purpose driven life by being consistent. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track:
1. Make the area inviting. No one wants to meditate, draw, or dance in a freezing cold room under glaring fluorescent lights. Decorate your space with warm colors and pleasant smells. Life hack: cover an incandescent light bulb with a manila envelope to create a soft yellow glow in the room. If your personal practice involves exercise, make sure you have a comfortable place to rest. If you’ve vowed to get outdoors every day, take something with you, like hot tea in a thermos, to enjoy on the way.
2. Mentally prepare. Even taking a few deep breaths before you begin can help center and focus your energy. Do a check-in with yourself before you start. If you’re hungry or thirsty, take care of those needs first. Low blood sugar isn’t conducive to a creative atmosphere. Take note of your emotions and thoughts, too. This isn’t to say that you should banish any negative energy before beginning your practice, but be aware of that energy and use your personal practice to work through it.
3. Save the date. Schedule time for your practice on your calendar, and create a reminder if you think you’ll forget. You might also ask a friend to join you. This creates accountability for both parties while encouraging you to persist. Don’t feel like working on your short story today? Too bad! Your friend will be ringing your doorbell to join you any second. There’s no backing out now.
4. Scale it back. A personal practice doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out experience. If you’re having trouble sticking with a routine, consider taking a step down from high expectations of yourself. Start with gratitude in the morning: name three things you’re thankful for before you get out of bed. Work up to more time over a period of days, weeks or months.
Your personal time is important. The self-love and creativity you cultivate during your practice will continue nourishing you for the rest of the day while helping you find purpose in your life. As mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning…a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”