Making Life Your Friend

By Doug Marman

What’s everywhere but is hard to find? The spiritual path. Discovering it is never easy. First we must to go through a major struggle and search. Only a deep hunger and desire for the inner meaning of life can bring us to the threshold where the spiritual path is possible.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Beniamin Pop

“Stairway to Heaven” by Beniamin Pop

Why? Why is it that no matter how openly the path is taught and how simply it is explained, it’s still so difficult to find? This is the age-old paradox.

With the new understanding described in the book, Lenses of Perception, we have a new way of explaining what is happening: A new lens—a new way of seeing—is needed to recognize the spiritual path. It can’t be seen by only looking at the world as if we were standing on the outside looking in.

The problem is that changing our fundamental way of seeing is traumatic. We need to let go of how we view ourselves and our place in the world. Then we must pass through a zone of not-knowing, before we can recognize the reality of a new perspective.

As a result, people feel lost just before finding the spiritual path. This is a universal experience. It feels as if the whole foundation of life disappears before a new light dawns.

The spiritual path only opens up for us after we make an inner connection with life. This is why many people feel that something is missing. They felt closer to life as children, but they don’t know how to get that joy of discovery back. How do we restore the link?

The good news is that we never lose this ability. We’ve simply forgotten the path because we change our way of seeing when we grow up. Our objective, third-person view of ‘the world out there’ blinds us to our inner experiences. This is why we miss the subtle opportunities of the spiritual path all around us. The solution is simply to remember the lens we used as children.

"Boys Will Be Boys" by Amy Burton

“Boys Will Be Boys” by Amy Burton

Our childlike sense if wonder comes from a second-person point of view. This way of seeing doesn’t look at the world as an object. It sees everything as if it were alive, as if it were a living being.

Think of the words you write to a lover or a close friend. “I wish you were here. I miss you. I thought of you today…” You call your friends YOU. That’s a second-person perspective. Spending time with your friends creates invisible connections. These bonds are made from the second-person perceptions you share with them.

We can feel the same relationship with all of life. We only need to change our lens. That’s when we remember that we have always been connected and always will be.

But remember: If you want to make the whole of life your friend, you must be a friend. Look forward to every day. Greet your mornings and evenings with a kiss. Become a lover—not of the outer world—but of life itself.

However, this is just the first step in finding the spiritual path. Waking up to our second-person connection with life isn’t enough. The real change takes place after we find the “all-for-one” bond. This is what lifts us up out of our limited consciousness into something larger.

As I explained in, Lenses of Perception, the all-for-one bond is a special relationship that forms from second-person connections. It only happens when conscious beings connect with beings at a higher level, such as living cells bonding with an organism, forming its body. We see the same thing when employees follow leaders in an organization.

"Magic Forest" by Rodrigo Lozano

“Magic Forest” by Rodrigo Lozano

Therefore, the spiritual path begins when we find an Inner Master. That’s where our search is leading us.

Finding a true inner teacher links us to a higher consciousness that uplifts us. This connection is what allows us to experience the magic of the spiritual path. It’s an inner experience, and once we see it working in our lives the whole meaning of life changes for us.

Following the spiritual path requires a commitment, but not to an outer form or person—it’s an inner relationship. The same is true with all second-person relationships, they’re not held together by outer forms, they are inner bonds. Friendships and families survive because people are willing to make sacrifices for each other. That’s what keeps the bonds alive. The same is true for the spiritual path.

However, we need a whole new way of seeing, to understand what it means. This has nothing to do with belief. It’s all a matter of perception.

The commitment we make is not to the Inner Master directly, but to the uplifting wave of spirituality that flows through the all-for-one bond. This only works if the Inner Master is also working for a higher state of consciousness. As Lenses of Perception shows, the same force drives all of evolution. That’s why we see a hierarchy in the structure of life forms, with genes working for cells, cells working for organisms, and organisms coming together for the sake of societies.

The difference with the all-for-one bond on the spiritual path is that it connects us to an inner hierarchy. Thus, no matter where we might stand in that hierarchy, we always seem to be in the middle, since there are always those above us who we can learn from, and those below who we can help.

With the right lens, the invisible path becomes visible.

Spirituality and Atheism Are Not Opposites

By Doug Marman

Previously, I wrote about The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion.

Here’s a quick summary: Followers of religion look to outer forms for worship—whether a holy book, a savior, a sacred place, or God.

Seekers of spirituality, on the other hand, look more to inner experiences as the source of their inspiration. These can be simple feelings of a connection with life, or a deep sense of wonder that changes how we see the world.

This difference leads to a surprising conclusion: Spirituality and atheism are not opposites.

Religion and atheism are clearly at odds with each other. Atheists openly reject the existence of God. They see deities as myths created by human beings. Most religions, however, say that belief in God or a higher power is crucial.

These positions are polar opposites. How can spirituality escape this age-old battle?

The answer comes from what causes the conflict between atheism and religion: It springs from differing beliefs.

Belief, however, is secondary for those who walk the spiritual path. Inner experiences can occur at any time and change our relationship with life. So, it’s more important to stay open and listen inwardly to the purpose hidden in the present moment. Planting a flag in the ground to demonstrate our belief can limit our abilities to catch life’s subtleties.

bird-in-the-wind-800px-DavidMackenzie

Bird in the Wind by David Mackenzie

All of this means that spirituality-minded people can, at times, find themselves aligned with atheists in surprising ways.

For example, both atheists and spiritual seekers agree on the importance of searching for truth and that each person should come to their own conclusions about God and the meaning of life. The personal quest to understand is too important to settle for simplified answers passed down by others.

Traditional followers of religion disagree. Their teachings are built on practices and doctrines that have been tested and proven by thousands of people, over the centuries. They see their teachings as timeless, originating from a divine source.

As a result, religious belief often leads to the perception that there are outsiders and insiders.

This is an idea that both atheists and those who follow their own individual spiritual path oppose. However, they have different reasons for rejecting the idea of outsiders and insiders.

Atheists claim that the religious emotion of being on the inside—the feeling that they are “the chosen ones”—is irrational and based on superstitious thinking. Atheists want to have nothing to do with being in such a group.

Spiritual seekers agree that we shouldn’t be sorting people into outsiders and insiders, but for a different reason: Everyone can experience a spiritual connection with life. Neither birth nor belief are the deciding factor, because we all have this inner link. It’s only a matter of becoming aware of it. Therefore, those who follow spiritual paths often feel closer to the founders of religion than their followers, because the founders went beyond religious traditions to make contact with a deeper truth.

In other words, spiritual freedom is more important than being right, to those who follow their own path. Belief can trap and limit a person’s consciousness just as much as it can open new doors. Even objectivity and logical thinking can be way too limiting for the human spirit.

This unexpected alignment between atheism and spirituality is not just a theory. It’s real.

In her book, Science vs. Religion, Elaine Ecklund describes the surprising results of the largest study of scientists and what they really think about religion.

“Since surveys of scientists’ religious beliefs began nearly a century ago, no one has produced a study as deep and broad as Ecklund’s. Perhaps its most surprising finding is that nearly a quarter of the atheists and agnostics describe themselves as ‘spiritual.’”

Ronald L. Numbers, Professor of the History of Science      (On the back cover of Ecklund’s book.)

“Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate in “Science vs. Religion.” …

“Fully half of these top scientists are religious… Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves “spiritual.” One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in “wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence,” a sentiment many nonscientists—religious or not—would recognize.”

Josh Rosenau, Washington Post, May 30, 2010

Indeed, the sense of wonder is a spiritual experience.

However, another startling turn of events that recently occurred even better illustrates the ties between atheism and spirituality. Sam Harris, an outspoken critic of religion and well-known atheist, surprised even his own followers when he published “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.”

“Harris…describes [his book] as ‘by turns a seeker’s memoir, an introduction to the brain, a manual of contemplative instruction, and a philosophical unraveling of what most people consider to be the center of their inner lives.’ Or, perhaps most aptly, an effort ‘to pluck the diamond from the dunghill of esoteric religion.’”

Maria Popova, BrainPickings, September 15, 2014

Sam Harris has a moment of awakening that came from an inner experience. This changed his perspective on spirituality:

“It would not be too strong to say that I felt sane for the first time in my life. And yet the change in my consciousness seemed entirely straightforward… I had ceased to be concerned about myself. I was no longer anxious, self-critical, guarded by irony, in competition, avoiding embarrassment, ruminating about the past and future, or making any other gesture of thought or attention that separated me from him. I was no longer watching myself through another person’s eyes.

“And then came the insight that irrevocably transformed my sense of how good human life could be. I was feeling boundless love for one of my best friends, and I suddenly realized that if a stranger had walked through the door at that moment, he or she would have been fully included in this love. Love was at bottom impersonal—and deeper than any personal history could justify.”

Sam Harris, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, p. 4-5.

The key to spirituality is inner experience. Connecting with the presence of life can change us in deep ways. Belief isn’t necessary. In fact, the spiritual path often begins with doubt.

Spirituality and atheism are not opposites. In fact, they have more in common than you might think.

Waking Dreams — The Unfinished Story

A book review by Doug Marman

If you are familiar with this web site and the discussions here on Spiritual Dialogues, you have probably heard about “waking dreams.” David Rivinus has just published a new book that tells the rest of the story.

Always_Dreaming_David_Rivinus-540pxDavid explains the idea:

“Suppose life could be taken at more than face value. Imagine seeing the individual events of our waking world metaphorically—like symbols in a dream. How would that affect how we live, what decisions we make, who we associate with? This intriguing idea was one I began to ponder in earnest…”

Hearing David tell the story is like discovering the origins of the idea of the waking dream, since he was the one who introduced it to Eckankar. Few ECKists realize the role that David Rivinus played in spreading the concept. He led workshops on waking dreams around the world, in many different languages. His new book takes the subject to far greater depth.

It began in the 1970’s, after David graduated from college. He started working in a clinic with children who had emotional problems and brain disorders. At the same time, he was exploring the writings of Paul Twitchell and other new ideas that were being sparked by psychologists in those days. In particular, he became fascinated by Fritz Perls and his role-playing approach as a way of getting inside the experience of dreams.

The more David studied his own nighttime excursions, the more he realized that there must be an easier way to understand them. He began developing a simpler, more effective approach. That’s when a new thought hit him:

“It is the idea that there is essentially no difference between the dream world and the world of our waking lives. Through my own work and experimentation…I discovered that when one understands one’s waking life as if it were a dream and then acts upon the personal insights that are revealed by that understanding, the world takes on a whole new meaning.”

He began helping others use his new techniques and immediately saw the transformational impact it has. The idea that the world around us is a reflection of who we are and that we create our own universe isn’t new. Countless spiritual teachers have taught this down through time. But once we see the way our outer lives speak in the language of dreams, it changes how way we interact with our daily events.

If we can see that all the truly bizarre events in our lives have a deeper meaning, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that we are unconsciously shaping the world around us. The same problems keep happening to us over and over again for the same reason that we have recurring dreams: Life is trying to show us something. The experiences are telling us that we have an unfinished story. There’s an important lesson we need to learn.

Always Dreaming 2How is this possible? The idea that the outer world can act like a dream seems to defy science. But this isn’t true, as David spends a whole chapter explaining. The scientific process of cause and effect is logical, but the hidden meanings of life’s events are not. Logic will never explain them fully. If we reject the dreamlike quality of life, then we’re missing half of what it means to live in this world.

David writes his book for readers who want to understand the waking dreams in their lives, as well as their nighttime dreams. He also writes for those who want to teach and help others learn how to do this. He offers pointers on what works and what doesn’t. It is filled with real life stories and amazing examples of how waking dreams have changed people’s lives.

The stories come from the many workshops he has led on waking dreams in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico and throughout the US. His conclusion is that dream symbols are the vocabulary of a universal language, while at the same time they are highly personal. This, in itself, makes the idea of waking dreams a valuable message for our times.

However, I believe the importance of David’s work is that he shows us a way to move dreaming from an unconscious process to a conscious one. When the messages behind the personal events in our lives sink home, we can consciously take the reins of the seemingly wild subconscious forces within us. If we act on this new understanding, it changes us. We are then no longer the character in some drama. We become the author of the play.

If we’re interested in learning mastership of our selves, we need to master the language of our dreams. That’s when the unfinished story of our lives becomes finished. And in many ways, reading David’s book is like discovering the unfinished story about waking dreams.

David’s book, Always Dreaming: Gaining insights from the Metaphors of our Sleeping and Waking Lives, is available through Amazon and other booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/Always-Dreaming

David continues to lead workshops, give radio interviews, and help others understand dreams. You can get more information from his web site: http://www.teacherofdreams.com/

Prajapati

By Doug Marman

Artwork by Diana Stanley

(This article is an excerpt from The Silent Questions, pages 129-131. It describes an inner experience I had many years ago.)

Bare outlines of a wooded scene filtered into view. My attention locked on and I found myself projecting into a most beautiful world. Trees of bright green, with leaves that flashed in the sun, lined a rushing river. The river filled me with energy and lightheartedness. It flowed with water of blue-green, the lightest hue, like none I had ever seen before. I wondered where it came from.

Then, looking up, I saw the white majestic walls of cliffs and mountains soaring high into the clouds. The rock face fell straight and smooth at least 1,000 feet. I instantly thought of the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Northern Tibet.

I flew upstream searching for some falls where the cold, fresh glacier water crashed from above. I seemed to remember where this might be. But I suddenly swerved right, traveling at a tremendous speed and only half catching images of the changing terrain.

Off in the distance, I saw a yellowy glow reflecting off the trees. As I approached, a campfire revealed itself. Yet, this was no ordinary fire. Its flames filled me with an expansive feeling, as if it could awaken all the secrets throughout the worlds. It was a mysterious light that drew me to it, and I knew exactly why the moth will fly into a scorching flame. I felt this same desire within me.

Like a magnet, it drew me on, and as I approached I noticed that no warmth came from this fire. It spread out only a feeling as vast as space itself. My vision became crystal clear from this energy and I knew that all things grew in harmony with this light. Its glow washed through me and eased all my tensions. There seemed to be a soft sound coming from the light, like a babbling brook, which brought relaxation and an increase in understanding. I reached out to touch it.

My hand felt something solid. I jumped back, startled, for the figure of a man stood now where the fire had been.

Bowing at the waist, he introduced himself. “Prajapati, at your service,” he said with a smile. A merry look that sparkled in his eyes set me laughing at his gesture.

Here was Prajapati, the great Master who guides animals. Watching him before me was like finding the answer to some great mystery I had always longed to know. He walked softly to a stone, placing his hand on the smooth surface as if in some communication. Then he took a seat, pulling his knees up within his arms. He looked off into the distance saying nothing.

After a long period of silence, he turned to me and spoke in a voice that was clear and soft.

“Freedom is the law of nature!

“Nature exists on the breeze, circulating and touching all atoms. It is the call of freedom and the world is soothed by its song. Such shame that man lives and dies for civilization. If he put his faith in nature, I would show him his true kingdom.

“Man is heir to the throne, but his world is paced too fast. Whirlwinds of energy, like invisible tornadoes, dizzy the minds of billions. Where do they all hurry to? I have no idea.

“Yet I marvel at Man. Look what he has done! Man brought the smile to Dolphin. He brought softness to Cat. Loyalty to Dog. He has the gift of God!

“In days of old I walked openly with Man. Do you remember when we met in that glorious empire of Mu? That was the soft rolling land where all things grew without seed, for Life awoke spontaneously in the water and air. Cat was invited into Man’s temples there.

“I stood by the side of fishermen in Atlantis when they built that great bond with Dolphin. Then, in the Northern land of Europe, shepherds led Dog out of the woods to tend their flocks. Look, time has whisked by since then, but what has changed?

“Everything in your world is your kingdom. It is yours to uncover and awaken, for you can see its True Form. No others can see it for you. Forget not even the smallest one by your side, and even Rock and Stone will await your shadow when day’s work is done. Perception is your gift of creation!

“If you give freedom to all things, then you have the secret of nature. I can give you no more. Look to the Inner Master for all else!”

Prajapati stood up again and looked far away toward the horizon. His form gradually faded into a golden light, which grew and grew until there was no saying where it ended. This was truly his world!

The Key to Mental Relaxation

Photo by James Kunley.

By Doug Marman

Hundreds of years ago, people worked from dawn to dusk raising crops, milking cows, and taking care of their children. They were often exhausted, at day’s end, from the sheer physical work.

Today, we suffer from a different kind of stress. More and more we complain about our minds driving us like task masters. We can’t stop the racing of our thoughts. We worry about the chaos in our lives, as if the only way we can survive is by plotting the right path through an obstacle course. The mind isn’t easy to control. A night of peaceful sleep can be like trying to tame wild horses.

The easiest path to mental relaxation is not passivity, as many people think. We don’t need to turn off our thoughts. Instead, we need to work for Life, rather than looking for ways to make Life work for us.

It is refreshing and rejuvenating to be involved in doing something we love, especially when we see it reaching out and touching others. If we are absorbed in our work, knowing it is for a larger purpose, we forget about ourselves.

Spirit then flows out through us, relaxing us. It is deeply satisfying to our mind, because our efforts are aimed toward something—or someone—we care about. This turns it into something meaningful. Therefore, our actions become more spontaneous and natural, when we love what we do.

On the other hand, if we work only for our own gains, to earn money, or for recognition, then our focus turns in on ourselves. This reverses the flow of our attention and undermines our inspiration to do what we love. As a result, the mind becomes divided, and this is where stress begins.

Thinking too much about trying to get what we want robs us of our graceful connection with life. We stop flowing and moving with the world around us, and instead start fighting the forces of the world, as if they were all waged against us. We claw our way to survival. It becomes a perpetual battle that never ends.

Wouldn’t you rather be living a life with purpose—a purpose so compelling that it lights you up from inside? Following your heart means finding something you love. Not for your own benefit, but for others, to create something larger.

How do we learn what it is that truly warms us within? I don’t know. I can’t tell you how to do it, because there is no way of laying traps for love. You find it the same way it finds you. I don’t know how else to put it.

It is often unexpected, like a gift waiting for us one morning, from our lover. It can be so subtle that we miss the opportunity, if we aren’t looking for it. And that’s why searching is so important. It prepares us.

When I search for deep and satisfying love, I find myself considering unexpected paths. I’ll look anywhere. Then, when I least expect it, it finds me. It can seem small at first. But, if I care for it and follow where it takes me, it opens up like a flower.

To relax your mind, learn from the river. Every molecule reaches out to touch others, grasping gently, while churning and spinning and tumbling forward. The flow of water is an amazing dance. All the atoms are so enamored with what they are creating together that they forget about where they are going and what might happen next. Time disappears for them, in the moment.

Let your experience with life carry you along, in the same way. Become an atom in the river that flows out, touching the whole of life itself.

Nothing is insignificant to a lover. Every move and shape has meaning. Every whisper is a song. We can see it in even the smallest things around us. This is what makes life meaningful and relaxes the mind.

The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion

Meteora Monastery - photo by Dragan Sasic

Meteora Monastery in Greece (upper left). Photo by Dragan Sasic.

By Doug Marman

There is only one way to see the difference between spirituality and religion: Through experience. Only by walking the two paths can we see how different they really are.

They start off similarly. A person finds a connection to something larger than themselves. It might come from a book they read, a person they meet, or they could discover it by just being in a certain place. Whatever form it takes, it inspires the person and uplifts their view of life to a new perspective.

At first, it is just a glimmer, but the sensation grows that life is more meaningful than they realized. They find themselves involved in a new reality, at a higher level than ordinary life. This isn’t yet an idea, a pattern, or a teaching. In the beginning, it is simply an experience.

This is where the path forks. Actually, the difference is so subtle that it is easy to miss, because everyone takes the same next step. If we want to experience inspiration, we naturally return to the book, person, or place where we first found it, to feel that spark again.

The similarities diverge here. For religious followers, the form that uplifts them becomes the object of their worship. It becomes holy and sacred to them. They see it as the source of their experience.

On the other hand, for those who walk the spiritual path, whether they realize it or not, it is the experience, itself, that draws them on. Something comes through the words, or the personality of a leader, or the atmosphere of a location that inspires them. This flow of what we might call Spirit is what they are after.

The difference is subtle. In fact, religion begins with spiritual experiences. Therefore, it is almost impossible to distinguish a religious follower from a seeker of spirituality, based on the first steps of their journey. It is the tests of time that prove out which path they are on.

The most significant parting of the ways takes place when a person stops feeling inspired by the form that once awakened them. What do they do now?

Religious followers often question themselves, first. Was there something they did wrong, to lose the feeling of grace they once felt? Most religious teachers encourage this. There is actually a valid reason for this, since the experience of Spirit requires a delicate state of receptiveness; a willingness to align with a new perspective. The flow of spirituality is most dramatic when we willingly let go of our moorings to move with Spirit. This is so subtle we often don’t even realize what we are doing.

If we learn to grow into the new way of life that Spirit shows us, the spiritual experience changes us. It is as if we found a new state of being. This is the promise of inspiration: It alters us and the way we see life. However, once we’ve learned to see with new eyes, the books, teachers, or sacred grounds that moved us, may not uplift us as they once did. In fact, sooner or later the form can hold us back.

This is when we make a choice: Will we place our loyalty to the form above all else, or will we follow Spirit, itself? It isn’t easy choosing, especially if we realize how valuable the gift is that we received. We grew into a new life through the grace of that form. However, there is no middle ground on this decision. We must take one path or the other.

It is this crossroad where questioning one’s self produces different results. The religious follower concludes that the problem is with themselves. They are not worthy. They must have sinned in some way, to bring about this dark night of Soul, as it is called. This is the only conclusion they can come to, because they see the form as sacred, and this holiness exists outside of themselves. Therefore, they are dependent on that form.

Seekers of spirituality take a different course. The experience of Spirit has changed them in such a deeply personal way that it has become a part of them. It exists within them – not as if it took root – but more as if they remembered it was always a part of their being. Therefore, it is no longer something external. It is this experience of Spirit that matters, and nothing but this experience.

This is when they discover an amazing truth that changes their lives forever. They learn that when one door closes, another always opens up. Spirit shows itself through another form, leading us on, to change us again and again, until we can’t see any separation between who we are and Spirit.

When followers of spirituality question themselves, it is to see how they might be holding themselves back, or standing in their own way. What new change do they need to make? What new lesson is life trying to teach them?

The challenges of Soul’s dark nights are no easier. In fact, they can become more difficult as one grows spiritually…until the day comes when we realize that when we feel absolutely alone, with no purpose, this is Soul emptying itself of old meanings. After we’ve experienced this emptiness over and over again, we eventually realize that darkness comes before a dawn. A new beginning. A whole new life is ahead.

The difference between these two paths begins as something too subtle to recognize. Over time, they diverge in dramatic ways. Is it the form that is sacred, or the experience of spirituality, itself? There is only one way to learn the answer: Through experience.

The Masks of God

Masks of GodBy Doug Marman

(This article is quoted from The Silent Questions, pages 234-238)

If the people are Hindu, It has appeared as Krishna, Buddha, or Vishnu, so they would know him. It is Zeus to the Greeks; Jupiter to the Romans; Ishtar to the Babylonians; Varuna to the Aryans; Jesus to the Christians; and Allah to the Mohammedans. It has appeared to all in every age of this world since its creation. As the vehicle for God It has come in the form to which the people are most accustomed and by the name familiar to them.

These are the masks of God. The one timeless power guides and protects whoever may contact It in every age, yet we know no more of It than our own limited understanding. To see Its true form, to personally experience It in Its unlimited reality, we must remove the masks of God to look beneath.

No outer path, no holy book, no metaphysical formula can show It in Its full force. We must find for ourselves what is the truth behind all life. It is a personal journey.

“I have been asked what I mean by ‘The Beloved,’” Krishnamurti, a spiritual teacher who spoke out against the need for organized religion, told an audience in 1927. “To me it is all—it is Sri Krishna, it is the Master Kuthumi, it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it is beyond all these forms. What does it matter what name you give?”

Krishnamurti freed himself of the religious images that hide reality. He had pierced this veil. Yet, fifty years later, he admitted honestly that he still had not solved the mystery.

“Some element is watching over. . . ” he said. “Something is protecting. . . It would be speculating to say what. (What we know) is too concrete, is not subtle enough. But I can’t look behind the curtain. I can’t do it. I tried with Pupul Jayakar and various Indian scholars who pressed me. . . Is this something which we cannot discover, mustn’t touch, is not penetrable? I am wondering. I have often felt it is not my business; that we will never find out. . . We are trying with our minds to touch THAT.”

Our minds cannot fathom God in its true form, for Mind creates mirrors and masks that hide the true reality. Like a computer searching for the source of its own intelligence, Mind can only generate more and more theories that reflect upon itself. Soul Travel is the solution to this impasse. Meeting the God force on the inner planes leaves no doubt in the mind of the seeker, for it is a direct experience of Soul. Unless we free ourselves of the human state, we have not gotten beyond our small range of personal reality. We have not yet touched the universal.

“(The) figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight,” Carl Jung, the psychologist, recorded in his autobiography, “that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, ‘If you should see people in a room, you would not think that you had made these people, or that you were responsible for them.’”

Jung reached beyond the conscious mind to understand the law of the unconscious – a greater world than our personal opinions and narrow theories can imagine. There, thoughts and feelings exist of themselves and we are the visitors that experience them. How did Jung come to this discovery?

“Shortly before this experience,” Jung explains, “I had written down a fantasy of my soul having flown away from me.”

According to Jung, this was a significant event, because Soul is our connecting link to the inner worlds. Therefore, if one has the experience of Soul leaving, said Jung, this means that it has withdrawn into the inner worlds where it gives life and visible form to an ageless reality.

With Soul Travel as his key, Jung explored further, opening the way from within, but could never quite open the final door. He had many experiences, but where did his insights come from? Who was Philemon? What was this force that was leading him? Jung continued to search for the Reality behind the mask.

“Psychologically,” Jung continued, “Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and  to me he was what the Indians call a guru. . . In my darkness I could have wished for nothing better than a real, live guru, someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who could have disentangled for me the involuntary creations of my imagination.”

Why are we, like Jung, so unwilling to accept our experiences for what they are? Why do we only go so far in our understanding of God, and then stop?

At times it seems too hard to shake free of our beliefs. We cannot forget the opinions of the world. Everything rises up in our imaginations to keep us from using the keys that we have. We are afraid that our fictions of reality will crumble, leaving us with nothing, yet this crumbling, this falling apart of everything we’ve been taught is the threshold to truth. This struggle, this dark night in our lives is the shadow before the inner gift arrives.

It can be the presence of the God power, an unexpected spiritual experience, a sudden new awareness. It might be simply a feeling of love, or protection. It is different for each, but it is as if we have crossed some invisible line and found our lives are changed. We find an inner guidance leading our steps, yet here too we must see beneath the masks of God.

“While I sat in the cathedral this morning,” wrote a young boy in his diary, Easter Sunday, 1886, (and later published anonymously as The Boy Who Saw True,) “I was wondering about a lot of things to do with God, even though mama would say it was very wicked, because she is always telling us it’s wrong to question what we are told. Then suddenly I saw Jesus, and he said, ‘It is never a sin to think, my son, but it is not always wise to tell one’s thoughts to others.’ And he smiled that lovely smile of his, and was gone. So now I’ve been thinking all the more, because if Jesus says it isn’t wicked to think, I don’t mind what anybody else says.”

The next day a similar experience came to encourage this young boy to see behind the masks of God. Once again Jesus appeared, and said:

“Be not troubled, my son, for that which the multitudes believe to be true is only the faintest shadow of Truth, and much of it is not the Truth at all.”

This boy had no preconceptions about what he saw. He had that wonderful quality of youth to accept and recognize the love of God that poured through this being he called Jesus. Yet, he was soon to learn the truth about this, as well. On   November 25, of the same year, he wrote the following:

“Wonders never cease! Fancy, I’ve been wrong about Jesus all this time, and I found it out yesterday. But I don’t care. Whoever he is I love him just as much, and if he asked me to crawl on my hands and knees to London town, I’d try and do it to please him, though I know he’ll never ask me to do anything so silly. Anyhow this is what I heard him say yesterday, ‘My son, be not sad if I tell you that I am not Jesus, but another one whose name is of no consequence, but who has been your teacher through many lives. . . Bear this in mind, my son: it is not what ye believe but what ye are that weighs with the Exalted Ones, for They look into the heart and not into the head to find the shining jewel.’”

Behind all things flows the river of life. Out of the heart of God it comes to bathe the world and soothe it. Thus the Godman appears in every age to find those who are ready. He can take any shape. He could appear to one or many in contemplation. He can appear as a thousand or even a million different forms to a million different people at the same time. Yet, he is always the one that links up Soul with the path to God.

Each know him by a different name, yet often he walks amongst us, unrecognized. We can try to glimpse him beneath ancient images, but we will only find him in his true form on the inner planes through the direct experience of Soul. Then, through his words, we hear the sound of God. Within his eyes we find the light. We then can travel with him as Soul into the higher worlds of reality.

Only Soul, our higher self, knows when it is time. Only Soul can recognize the call. And when the moment arrives, only Soul of itself can remove the masks of God.

A Post Script & Parting Shot for Patti Simpson Rivinus

By Doug Marman

Patti's Wedding Picture

August 3, 1933 – May 4, 2011

When I first saw Patti, in 1973, she seemed larger than life. It wasn’t because she was giving a talk to thousands of people. And it wasn’t the fascinating experiences she shared about her time as personal assistant to the founder of Eckankar, Paul Twitchell, and the unique training she went through working for him.

It was the ease in her voice. The simple way she had of saying the most amazing things. It was her honesty, her sense of humor. She wasn’t trying to be anything but who she was, and somehow she made that seem grand.

In other words, she loomed so large because she wasn’t trying. She was just being who she was. In fact, she seemed to enjoy making fun of herself:

“…to my knowledge, I have never made the same mistake twice. Actually, that is not really such a remarkable feat, considering how many mistakes are available to us without our needing to repeat any. And I say, with some chagrin, that while I may not hold the record, I have accomplished a respectable volume of work in that category.”[i]

This only brought her more fans. To which she responded by assuring us that she didn’t deserve it:

“…no matter what I have done, or how often I might have appeared to be in a role of leadership, I have never been anything but a soldier in the trenches. Nor have I lost the sense of wonder, the sense of the miracle, that all this happened to me, a basically average, unremarkable human being.”[ii]

Unremarkable? Hardly. Patti’s life was extraordinary.

She taught a three week course in Beginning Japanese Cooking at Fassero’s International Ecole de Cuisine, only to say that she didn’t intend to repeat the experience because “There were too many things to think about and do all at once.”

She decided to take sailing lessons one day. A friend asked her, “Oh, do you have a sailboat?”

Patti helping Paul Twitchell with his microphone at an early Eckankar seminar

Patti helping Paul Twitchell with his microphone at an early Eckankar seminar

“No,” she said.

“Are you going to buy one?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then why in the world are you taking sailing lessons?”

Which left Patti speechless. Later she said, “I was dumbfounded at her viewpoint that there had to be a very practical reason for me to go to so much time and trouble.”

She was doing it for “the glory of new adventure; the challenge of pitting yourself against the unknown quality…the learning of a thing‒being aware of what and how it is, is the reason to do it.”

You won’t find more of an adventurer, who loves exploring the edges, the out-of-bounds areas, and the mysteries, with every project she takes on.

Especially now. Nothing’s changed.

* * * * *

When I sat down to write this article about the passing of Patti Simpson Rivinus, her presence surrounded me. It was unmistakable.

This was curious, since I knew she had already moved on to bigger and better things, in the worlds beyond this plane of existence. So, this wasn’t her, they were blessings: A gift wave she left behind. I’ve never experienced this before.

As I followed this wave, I saw it reaching thousands of people, friends, and family. I was amazed at how many Patti touched around the world, from all different walks of life.

Some knew her only from reading the books she wrote, or hearing a talk she gave, or from one of her many articles published long ago. Some knew her from art classes they took with her, or the sharing of a book, or a helping note she sent out of the blue. Or from her free counseling moments that she dispensed regularly, especially for those in need.

Let me give you an example. I got to see one of her unexpected acts of friendship, one day.

She called to say that she had just returned from a trip, and a stewardess on the plane had broken down in tears. Her husband had just died and she was completely lost. She didn’t know what to do. Patti took her under her wing, and asked if Karen and I could help.

We drove over together to spend time with the stewardess, who none of us knew, and to help around the house. We cleaned up, fixed some broken appliances, which her husband normally took care of. But more than anything, Patti just wanted to share some light. The results were unmistakable. You could see the spark coming back to the stewardess, as she started to perk up, feeling a new kind of energy that she had forgotten.

Life. It is so important, and Patti dispensed it like candy.

After the worst of the storm passed, we left the stewardess a little more hopeful than before, feeling that she had received an unexpected gift from people she didn’t know.

That was Patti. She was doing things like that all the time.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she would leave her friends and family with another gift, with her passing.

* * * * *

I’ve never seen anyone who left such a trail of grace behind her, as Patti did. I wasn’t the only one who experienced this.

Fred Foos wrote:

“I was in Portland on business all week and had the experience of Patti’s great golden pillar reaching into the Universal Source of All Being.”

Christopher Rivinus, Patti’s step-son, wrote:

“I am finding a ton of good memories sharpening in my mind. Patti came into my life at a critical time and so much of who I am today is because of her. Somehow over the last few days the big lessons she taught me, the critical lessons, are coming back to me. It’s as if she’s talking to me and reminding me of things I’d forgotten. Good things. Things about how the universe really works and things about who I really am inside.”

Rosalind Richards wrote:

“My husband and I took a walk tonight fairly late.  A few seconds out  of the house and we heard the train horn blowing a long, low and beautiful tone. It was very deep and noticeable because I don’t remember hearing the train before. After walking down the hill, we heard it again at a distance. It must have stopped and rang the horn again as it went on.  The tone now was at a lower octave.

“I thought to myself that this was Patti’s love. Then the symbol of another octave lower and there she is again as her love continues on into the other worlds. I thought about her, the whole walk. What a happy, loving, generous, bright Soul. What a thrill it was to hear her talk at Seminars with her wonderful humor. How much Paul trusted her and depended on her. How important she was to him.

“If I had any doubts about her sending love to me and others tonight, that was quelled through the Sound of the Train Horn. As I finished  the walk there it was again. Three beautiful whistles of Patti’s love and presence. How lucky we all are to have known her.”

* * * * *

This article isn’t going as I planned.

Patti smiles. “That’s life,” her presence says to me.

Her laugh is infectious.

She doesn’t want me talking about the past. “That old stuff?,” she says. If her death is about anything, she says, let it be about this moment now.

A presence that speaks such wisdom is rare. It can only be found with those who have moved into the universal life. This is a sign of mastership, which is not a title, but a state of being.

Patti is absolutely right, this moment of celebration about her life is about now, the experience and adventure of life. It’s not an ending, but a poignant turning point. It isn’t the closing of a circle, but a spiral that keeps growing.

“However,” I say to Patti, “I have a story that needs to be told. It starts in the past, but brings us something for this moment now.”

* * * * *

I had the pleasure of working with Patti, through the mail, in 1978, when I worked at the ECK World News.

Patti started EWN, an international news magazine. Paul Twitchell, the founder of Eckankar, had talked about his vision for such a publication, and it resonated with her. Patti got it up and running, and ran it for the first two years, from 1972 to 1973. Then, she turned it over to others.

One of her classic trademarks, when she was editor, was the way she ended every edition with her “PS.”

Sometimes PS stood for Post Script, a final comment for the edition, usually a funny quip. For example, she ended the September 1973 issue this way:

“Since last month’s issue hit the streets, homes, prisons and libraries, we have been receiving some interesting mail regarding Black Holes. It seems that readers everywhere have recognized that Black Holes are not necessarily ‘out there’ but right here. Many of us have chucked out forever such ideas as negligence, absent-mindedness, and the other nasty incriminations usually applied to mysterious disappearances. It’s been a great relief to those of us who tend to lose things to discover that we are not remiss after all‒but have just had certain items confiscated by some nearby insatiable Black Hole! I find this explanation very satisfying and much more to my liking than the idea I used to have that I tend to lose things. I personally suspect that I have more than one of these in my general area, but I thought I’d let you know‒that black shoulder strap handbag I usually lug around with me is one that has been positively identified.”

Other times, PS stood for Parting Shot. Such as this beauty:

Parting ShotAnd, of course, PS always stood for Patti Simpson, although she never once said that.

* * * * *

When I was co-editor of the ECK World News, I asked Patti if she would contribute an article. She sent a short piece that has always been one of my favorites. She began The Bombing of a Philosopher:

“One thing we are as sure of around here as death and taxes is that come spring the mockingbirds will reverse the natural order of things and begin dive-bombing the neighborhood cats. It’s one of my favorite things and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is just the fascination of seeing creatures jump out of traditional molds and do the daring and unexpected.”

This put her into a philosophical mood about the amusement of nature. She laughed at the ridiculous picture of the next-door cat running from the little bird. She ended her article like this:

“I was still musing about the silliness of the powerful cat when I heard the mocker shrieking again. I looked up thinking they both were back and I’d be in for some more fun. But only the bird was back. He was perched on a rosebush about five feet from me and there was no doubt as to whose shiny hair he had his eyes glued on. It was an eyeball to eyeball confrontation. I said, ‘You wouldn’t dare!’ He fidgeted and shrieked again and I suddenly remembered I had some things I should be doing in the house and I quickly disappeared behind the door muttering to myself.”[iii]

The Bombing of a Philosopher, was therefore both about her being bombarded by a mockingbird, backing down from the silliest of threats, and at the same time it was about her failure as a philosopher.

It’s easy to laugh with her, but what I love is the subtle way she hints at something profoundly moving. We love to sit back and observe life from a distance. We look out over the world and philosophize about the craziness of it all. The joke’s on us, since we are part of it. That’s where we belong, in the fracas, not watching from the sidelines.

This article also showed her love for the offbeat, especially when it included reversals to the natural order. I think that is why she wrote in such an unassuming way. In the middle of her most thoughtful articles and lectures, you still feel as if you were sitting next to her, having a casual chat.

For example, take the way she begins her book, Hello Friend, written for new students of Eckankar:

“It was one o’clock in the morning, in the Spring of 1980, when I was awakened by you…

“I know a lot about you. You have carried within you a deep yearning to know more about the nature of things. In your quiet moments you have asked yourself strange questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?

“You have within you the seeds of a revolutionary; a pioneer. You sense or know there is far more to existence than is commonly accepted and you can’t help being curious about the unknown, although there are moments when you wish it weren’t thus; moments when you wish you could be as satisfied and accepting of the safe, traditional forms as others seem to be…

“You didn’t tell me all this specifically when we met in the middle of the night. What you conveyed to me was that we are very much alike, you and I. And so, I have just written for you a fairly accurate description of me as I approach the path of Eckankar. There’s a name for this condition that we have. It’s called ‘Divine Discontent.’ It is the mark of the Seeker. And when I meet one, I call him or her, Friend.”[iv]

When she called you Friend, she meant it. She made thousands of friends down through the years.

This note came from one, the day after word of Patti’s passing got out:

“Many years ago, when I was introduced to Eckankar by my Dad, one of the first names I got to know was Patti Simpson. I really can’t remember how or why it stuck, but when I found her on Facebook, it didn’t matter. She just seemed to have this light permanently in her eyes that is so unmissable. I wasn’t very close to her even on Facebook, but for some reason, that name became engraved in me.

“She was a beautiful Soul…

“Know that from far away, in Nigeria, Patti meant something to someone and we will all miss her dearly.”

* * * * *

“Enough with the old tales,” Patti says to me. “It’s time for something new.”

“Okay,” I answer. “Then it is time to tell the untold story. But, first, let me give everyone a bit of background.”

* * * * *

At the peak of Patti’s popularity, in the mid-1980’s, she made a move that surprised everyone. She resigned from the long list of responsibilities that she held in the organization of Eckankar, and turned away from the spotlight completely.

She and David, her husband, also packed up all their personal belongings and moved, leaving California and all their friends, to live in a small town in Vermont, where Patti knew no one.

Few could understand why she would give up everything. Some wondered if she left in protest over something, but that was never Patti. I never saw her running away from anything, and she never had a problem speaking her mind. She was always moving toward something new.

Patti went radio silent on the subject until a few years ago. An ECKist wrote asking why she made such a change in her life back then. Patti answered in a letter dated, July 2007:

“The time came when my extensive work on the outer path was no longer where I needed to be. This became clear to me in many different ways. I needed to be doing my work on my own, with my own inner life, instead of such a public forum. Everything I ever found myself to be on the outer path, I continue to be, with the added richness that I work quietly and anonymously in the world with people who have no idea what I have done in the past.”

It wasn’t an easy change at all. It was one of the hardest things she had ever done.

She didn’t want to leave all her friends behind, and she loved the work she was doing. But inwardly, the message was getting stronger and stronger that it was time for a change. A big change. But she wasn’t quite ready.

That’s when she slipped on an icy curb and busted her ankle to smithereens, as she described it. Her bones were fractured in so many places that she required four separate surgeries, with pins and plates, to put her ankle back together. Now she wasn’t going anywhere.

She talked about the waking dream “accident” with David, who had been giving talks on the subject. They both agreed that the inner message was clear: It was time for her to make a clean “break.”

A while later, after her ankle healed well enough to get around, she got a request from a long time friend to be guest speaker at an Eckankar seminar. She wondered if maybe she could do this one last little thing, since it was coming from a close friend. So, she agreed. On her way to give the talk, she tripped down some steps and broke her elbow.

Then she knew that there was no choice except to go forward with life and see where it was taking her.

In a letter dated June 2007, she wrote to some close friends:

“You know, on the outer path, most of your friends are ECKists. Most of your work and your identity is that. Then you move into a small New England town and no one knows you and you have to start over, from scratch. David was a tenor and got involved with the music scene. Tenors are always in great demand. I did nothing at first except sit up on my mountain nursing my fiercely wounded ankle. My first contact in the town on my own were my dentist and my orthopedic surgeon. All the music people put up with me because I was ‘the tenor’s wife,’ but in the beginning that was all. It was total anonymity. So, I had to be Patti, pure and simple. I had to share my expertise, my humor, my time and work on very mundane levels.

“But gradually I emerged from my cocoon and became a person to them (and if you can do that with New Englanders, you’ve really done something.) I like to think of that time, in that small town of 13,000, as giving birth to myself. A new self, with all the experience and talents and insights I developed in Eckankar, but without the ready made audience of folks who loved and listened to me in the past. In ECK I was very known, very visible. In Brattleboro Vermont, I was no one. But when we left, people were crying, over both of us. 70 people came to our going away party.

“And since I’ve done this once, I have no reticence about doing it again. Every one of us have things to say, and to give, and we need to do that without tying ourselves, in any way, to an organization. That just helps us grow. Because we need to come from our own authority. We are co-creators. And we need to move into the freedom and joy and service of that space.

“All this is to say, I think Paul waited a long time to see us realize this.”

I agree completely with Patti, that this is indeed one of the lessons Paul hoped we would learn. But it is one of the hardest lessons to leave our old paths behind to find where life is taking us now. Yet, this is how the path of life works. We can’t be so caught up in our path that we miss The Path of life itself.

Paul put it this way, as captured by Patti’s trusty tape recorder:

“…the majority of ideas that go on in these fields of religion and philosophy have narrowed themselves down to a very narrow path. I can be a Christian or I can be a Moslem, I can be almost anything, but then I’m put into a strait jacket…

“So, what we have to begin to think about‒and I’m guilty of this point myself‒is that we can’t really say that ECK is even a path. It embraces so much of life because It is life itself. The only thing we’re doing is using certain exercises and certain ideas in order to open ourselves to this flow‒or whatever you want to call It, that is coming into us‒or we are traveling out to It. So we find that we are embracing the whole of everything and not a small, narrow path. And the minute that we begin to put ourselves into this narrow path, we have failed, because we then put ourselves on another path.”[v]

That’s “another path” because it is no longer the path of the whole of life.

* * * * *

Patti was a pioneer, always exploring. So, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when she suddenly left the spotlight, to lead a life of anonymity.

In the middle of her most serious writing, she would often say something like this, from her book, Hello Friend:

“…these are great and important things we are discussing. And I’m feeling neither great nor important. Such things are better left to the big guys. But just between you and me, I find small, simple things work the most profoundly.”[vi]

That is indeed where the spiritual path strikes gold. Not in the shining lights of fame, but in the small and simple things. It isn’t about finding glory, but the glorious moment of now, here, filled with the fullness of being.

You can see it in her artwork, during her anonymous years. Both the Dalai Lama and African Lady paintings show her upmost respect for the strength of individuality, facing truth in daily life.

Dalai Lama by Patti Simpson RivinusAfrican Lady by Patti Simpson Rivinus
The piece she liked best, however, is also the simplest, and one of her most recent. A red truck, in the stillness of a field. You can hear the quiet, far from the spotlights.

She wrote this note about her truck paintings, just a year ago:

“Living for many years in rural Vermont where almost every farm has at least one old truck and/or cars tucked away in the nearby forest or in a weedy forgotten place, I developed a deep love for this interesting phenomenon of rural America. The old trucks seem to be like old grandfathers, once strong and dependable, hardy workers, who can no longer produce, but remain beloved.”

Red Truck by Patti Simpson RivinusFor Patti, the painting was also autobiographical, showing her the completion of a good life: An old work vehicle put out to pasture. It wasn’t being used any more, but was filled with too many good memories to be sent to the junk yard. The telephone pole is a bit off kilter from the weather and years, symbolizing old communication lines that are now out of date, but were once used on a daily basis.

* * * * *

To understand fully the magnitude of what Patti was working on, when she turned to an anonymous life, we need to hear a personal story that no one knew. She never told anyone, outside of David, what had happened, until about a year ago, when she pulled me aside, in her home.

She said, as best as I can remember:

“Paul asked me if I would be the next Living ECK Master, but I had to turn him down.

“He told me that I had the ability. I could do what he was doing. But he didn’t ask his question directly. I was too much in shock at what I was hearing. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized he was asking me if I would be his successor.

“I still had four kids growing up, at home. I had Pete [her husband at the time], who had already sacrificed too much for my work. I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities as wife and mother.

“I had to say no, but I hated doing it.

“I knew I had to give Paul my answer in person. The next day I saw him, and I saw what a letdown it was.”

This happened after Paul had been poisoned. He knew he needed to find a successor. Even Gail, his wife, told him to pick someone, before it was too late.

I asked David if he would share his memories about this untold story. He wrote me the following, and gave permission to include it in this article:

Doug,

Patti being offered the position of the Living Eck Mastership by Paul was an incident that haunted her until only a few years before she died.

As you know, masters, when they really have something to say, rarely speak their minds directly. So Paul broached the subject indirectly to test the waters. Patti was anything but spiritually blind and she was certain enough of Paul’s “hint” that it put her into a near panic.

It was a double-edged sword. One blade of that sword was that she was forced to confront the possibility that she HAD understood Paul correctly. She imagined herself in the role that was‒she felt reasonably certain‒being asked and expected of her, namely, that she was to take over the leadership of Eckankar in the responsibility of its Living Eck Master. She saw herself, still in her late thirties, married and with small children, and with all the accompanying responsibilities that this role entailed, being suddenly catapulted through a series of intense initiations‒then being obliged to take over the guidance of a young spiritual movement with its growing number of chelas, each with his or her intense spiritual needs. (Can you imagine?) She knew almost immediately that she could not do this, certainly not at that juncture in her life; that her responsibilities on the physical plane‒her marriage, her children, her role as mother‒had to take precedence. There had already been one broken marriage in her young adulthood and she would not put her children through that experience again. She knew she had to refuse Paul.

That led to the other blade of the sword: What if she had misinterpreted Paul? What would this do to their close working relationship, now oiled like an exquisitely running machine, if she went to Paul and openly, directly (arrogantly?) turned down an offer that he had never actually made?

She was beside herself. But, as we all know, Patti was no shrinking violet. She mustered every ounce of her courage, went to Paul, and told him that she could not accept the role of the Living Eck Master; it was simply impossible for her at that time in her life.

If there had been any doubt at all in her mind up to that point as to whether Paul had actually made the offer, his reaction put it to rest. She told me that he said nothing, simply nodded his head in understanding and resignation and then she watched as he VISIBLY, PALPABLY, GRAVELY took the entire burden of the path back onto his own shoulders.

Her decision broke her heart. Paul was the individual on earth whom she respected and loved the most and she felt that, in that moment, she had profoundly let him down.

Until a few years ago, when you approached her with questions in regard to your writing of “The Whole Truth,” the only person she had related this incident to was me. She repeated the story several times during our marriage and never once did she alter a single detail. And always, there was the sense of misgiving, the fear that, especially in light of what happened during the Darwin years, she had made a decision that was horribly, horribly wrong.

The first relief she got was during our Vermont days. Patti was now in her 60s and she attended a workshop by an author and spiritual teacher named Richard Moss. He’s not associated with the Eck movement and Patti was there as much out of curiosity as anything else. But as we all know, sometimes the Mahanta speaks through unexpected sources and something Richard said struck home so deeply that Patti knew it had come directly from Paul. I wasn’t there so I will have to paraphrase the words, but the message was this: The first and most supremely important spiritual prerequisite to mastership is to be absolutely and uncompromisingly true to yourself.

Patti said that, as the meaning of Richard’s words began to sink in, she felt a burden lift off her own shoulders that gave her immense relief. She knew, at last, that she had acted correctly and that Paul had understood and had accepted her decision from the moment she had made it. That allowed her, finally, to share it with you a few years later and, at that point, she completely let the responsibility go. For her, it was a colossal weight removed.

Yet for me, sitting safely out of the line of fire, her decision, from the moment I heard of it, was nothing shy of awesome: I cannot imagine a more courageous act, done by a young woman exploring completely uncharted territory, and doing so leagues and leagues away from being in sight of any shore. What a blindingly bright light she was–and still is for that matter, in that even more vast arena in which she is currently working!

As this story would come up from time to time during our Sunday pillow talks, my own curiosity would lead me to ask any number of questions, the most puzzling of which was, “What about the Eck doctrine that claims only a male can be the L. E. M? Patti would raise her palms and shrug her shoulders, the message being crystal clear: “I know what it says and I also know that Paul asked me‒a woman‒to accept the job. So you go figure it out, then tell me and we’ll both know.” It was one of those wonderful, rich paradoxes of being married to Patti that made life so frustratingly and profoundly beautiful.

David

When I asked Patti if she would contribute to my book on Paul Twitchell, The Whole Truth, she jumped in with both feet. She dug out her old notes and recorded an audio tape for me on her thoughts.

She told me that this allowed her to finish a promise she had made to Paul, to write his biography. She felt her book, Paulji: A Memoir, was a personal account, and something more was needed.

I was thanking her for her help, while she was thanking me.

After we were done with the book, she got serious and said something almost identical to what she wrote in her book, Hello Friend:

“More than once, as Paul was talking to me, teaching me, sharing his life history and his visions, I would ask myself, ‘Why is he giving me all this? Why is he spending so much of his physical time and attention on me?’ Sure, he needed me to help free up his time to get his books written. But that was too obvious. And there was too much more going on for it to be only that.”[vii]

When she spoke with me, she still had this feeling that there was some other purpose that Paul gave this to her, and she felt the need to pass it on.

That’s when I realized what she was asking me: Would I take this from her? It was a subtle question, more on the inner than the outer, but I could see her need to fulfill this final task for Paul, to pass this on.

Outwardly, she asked if she could give me all of her files from her notes with Paul. I said that I would be honored, seeing the full meaning of the gift she was giving, and that I could help in some small way for her to let it go. It was the last bit of Paul’s mission that she carried with her.

She may have turned down Paul’s question about her being the next Living ECK Master, but I don’t think she ever turned down mastership. That was what she was working on during her years out of the spotlight, away from all the things that came so easily to her, thanks to Paul. To see what it meant to be ruthlessly true to herself, and to live from her own inner authority.

That is a sign of mastership, as I see it. And so is this gift wave she left behind, the trail of grace.

One week after word got out about Patti’s passing, David had already received an avalanche of emails. He showed Karen and me the stack. It was over two inches tall. Over a hundred messages from around the world, in three different languages, from Israel, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Nigeria, Argentina, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Columbia, Switzerland, South Africa and the US.

Thank you Patti for your presence, right now, and the way you encourage everyone to be themselves. You’ve made the meaning of it grand, indeed.

But, of course, it is only fair to let Patti have the Parting Shot. So, I’ll end with the last words she used in her book, Paulji: A Memoir. It seems even more appropriate now:

“The hour grows late. The story has been told and … well, Paulji, I think we ought to take off …”[viii]

 


[i] Patti Simpson, Paulji – A Memoir, published by Eckankar, 1985, page 74

[ii] Patti Simpson, Paulji – A Memoir, published by Eckankar, 1985, page 64

[iii] Patti Simpson, The Bombing of a Philosopher, The ECK World News, May, 1978, page 7.

[iv] Patti Simpson, Hello Friend, Illuminated Way Press Publishing, California, 1981, pages iv-vii.

[v] Patti Simpson, Paulji – A Memoir, published by Eckankar, 1985, pages 292-293.

[vi] Patti Simpson, Hello Friend, Illuminated Way Press Publishing, California, 1981, pages 113-114.

[vii] Patti Simpson, Hello Friend, Illuminated Way Press Publishing, California, 1981, page 171.

[viii] Patti Simpson, Paulji – A Memoir, published by Eckankar, 1985, page 306.