In the middle years, I often created sand tray depictions of my inner life. Over and over again, they revealed a psyche divided between the World of Man and Heaven on Earth. Now, in this wisdom stage, the conflict between the conceptual and mystical sides of the brain has resolved. I feel like Lao Tzu: Having transcribed my spiritual opus, I leave it here and cross the river to the other world. May you find what you need in this revelation.
I noticed recently that visits to this website have dropped off since my last post, so I would like to suggest that spiritual realization is not about always moving on and seeking the latest thing - that's too often the subtle pull of spiritual addiction - it's about stopping all the seeking and awakening your consciousness in the present, and if you have read, understood, and practiced the experiential exercises laid out in these books, blogs, articles and interviews, the goal of knowing divine consciousness would be realized. If not, then stay and explore the material presented here. The fundamentals do not change. You already have awakened consciousness, it's your birthright, it's waiting for you in the right hemisphere, you just need to experience it, and the directions for finding that are everywhere in this work. I stopped writing because I have shared what I came into the world to share, but it's all still here. I invite you to stop seeking it in the latest popular place and instead practice finding it in the present until it finds you. The work we do on ourselves affects all sentient beings and the entire cosmos.
With love, blessings, and gratitude, John
I am stepping away from my active life in the world for the present. No plans, no commitments, no goals. I'm 74. Should I be doing something more, something "productive" or "worthwhile?" Can I give up my life plan? Do I even need a life plan anymore?
It's quiet in this moment. I am no longer focusing on the next thing. No webinars, articles, interviews. I could resurrect that life though I don't think it would be good for me. And I know that the next level of awakening cannot happen in my present form. So, I'm retiring. I've lived in a straitjacket of my own making for too long. Like a spent toothpaste tube, I cannot squeeze any more out. I'm done.
It's been a long run - psychology, mysticism, teaching, writing, climate activism. I'm not sure if I made a big difference in the world though I deeply love my family, friends, clients and students. Was I true to my gift? I think so and I believe that's all we are really asked to do. I shared what I came here to share.
What will I do now? A voice replies, "Just live. Grandfather. Father. Friend. Husband. Mystic. In the warm sunshine. In the quiet. In the wonder. Relaxing. Preparing. Seeing. One day leaving. The only way to grow now is to 'let go and let be.'"
It is time to serve my soul, to release it in a world steadily brightening as de Chardin's Divine Milieu, and to love as I was meant to love in my final years in this gorgeous place. As often the case, with each step into the heart of wonder, a new path appears - always found in the present moment. A recent illness and family health crises finally convinced me that this change was overdue. Time to move on. I am in transition.
I move now in another consciousness, a sacred one. The serious seeker will find the path leading here in my books, but I have moved on from the explaining phase. I am in the release phase. I am free. I help the world now in a new way but that, too, transcends conventional explanation.
I wish you peace, joy, grace and many blessings. I wish you love. I wish you awakening. Thank you.
I've been writing and lecturing on conscious aging as a spiritual and mystical experience for over twenty-five years. Then, more recently, I came to see that a spiritual and mystical awareness of life is also critical to our survival in the rapidly escalating climate crisis, so I wrote, Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis in support of climate activism. But now there's even more. As the coronavirus burst upon the scene, I realized that climate change was only one of a new "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." The storied marauders of old – death, plague, war and famine – had morphed into the coronavirus pandemic, rapidly-escalating climate disruption, uncontrolled population growth, and the unraveling of modern civilization.
We are now heading into a sustained global crisis of unimaginable proportions. I fear for the future of my family and friends, as I'm sure you fear for the future of your loved ones, and I worry for the future of the human family and life itself. But this is also an invitation. We are being called to reinvent our lives, our work, and our civilization in a new consciousness of Creation. The old world was rife with manmade problems – political corruption, wealth inequities, global warming, overpopulation, homelessness, racism, sexism, and ageism – it's time for a new one. That's why I wrote, Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in a Time of Crisis.
This post, based on the book, was written for anyone over 65 wrestling with fear, despair, insecurity, and loneliness in this time of crisis, but it also applies more generally to everyone. A blend of psychology, self-help, spirituality and mysticism, it's meant for all audiences - everyday people and spiritual seekers - who need facts, respect, compassion, and meaningful resources to light the path ahead. My goal is to move us from denial, fear and paralysis to growth, inspiration and engagement.
How Can We Respond to this Rising Global Catastrophe?
As a psychologist, minister, and writer on conscious aging, I see preparing for this collective crisis in Five Dimensions: practical, psychological, spiritual, mystical, and the wisdom of the sage.
1. Practical: Obviously, we need to survive. We need the basics - water, food, shelter, medicine, safety. We also need an accurate account of what's happening in the world from week to week to act accordingly. The more we plan in advance for long-term adaptation, the better our chances of survival. This is a matter for all of us at local, regional and national levels, using science, technology, agriculture and politics to developing wide-ranging contingency plans to work together in the years ahead.
2. Psychological: When we lift the lid of denial, the magnitude of our impending trauma feels crushing and unbearable. Its scale is terrifying and mounting anxiety and distress can break our resolve and our spirits. We erupt angrily, hide in denial, or go numb, responses consistent with our deepest animal instincts of fight, flight, or freeze. Tragically, a fourth emotional response also beckons – collapsing in despair when hope dwindles. None of these reactions will help us adapt to this changing world. What we need most in the beginning is mutual support, compassion and understanding, tenderly holding our troubled and frightened hearts until basic stability returns and emotional reorganization can begin. And, we must always remember community. Rather than isolating ourselves in fortresses of fear and paranoia for survival, we need to stay in community. Remember that isolation breeds depression, hopelessness, and fear; especially in sustained crises, community is the cure. Divided, we cower, together we can be an amazing force of healing, creativity and commitment. Reach out. Communicate. Ask for help. We must be there for each other.
3. Spiritual: Everyone has personal spiritual beliefs of one sort or another – beliefs about ultimate issues like the meaning of life, the value of love, the nature of suffering, what happens at death, and the transcendent dimension by whatever name. These beliefs may be religious, spiritual, humanistic, aesthetic, cosmological, or grounded in scientific wonder and awe. One of the gifts of spirituality is that it can provide a supportive framework of hope and deep understanding in times of hardship or crisis. When terrible things happen, we ask profound questions about the significance of the event that go beyond physical facts to the level of transcendent meaning and purpose. Our spiritual and religious beliefs, readings, and prayers can stir answers and comfort us, help us bear the unbearable, find new meaning of our struggle, and provide hope for the future. They can also deepen our connection with the divine through prayer, contemplation, meditation, ritual, fasting, art and dance. By creating a real and felt connection to the sacred, we experience religious truths for ourselves and kindle new depths of love, compassion and hope.
4. Mystical: While mysticism has been disparaged and misunderstood for centuries, the word simply refers to the firsthand experience of the sacred. It's not weird, "woo woo," or far out. We've all had big or little mystical experiences, like the stunned amazement of meeting our newborn child for the first time, standing in silent awe gazing up at ancient redwoods, falling in love for the first time, feeling the palpable holiness of a sacred place, or simply being deeply present at the passing of a loved one. In these moments, the mind stops its chatter, perception heightens, and we subtly experience the sacredness that pervades Creation. Mystical Experience is a breakthrough of the divine into personal awareness that reveals the absolute sacredness of life. Why is this critical? We have removed ourselves from Creation. Our waking hours are now spent in artificially insulated environments separated from the natural world - cars, houses, offices, stores, coffee shops, and jobs; worse, our consciousness is totally consumed by TV, cell phones, head phones, video games, the internet, news feeds, social media, endless conversations, and our own unruly chattering minds. We don't see the sacred world anymore! That's why it's in crisis. But we can learn to experience it directly and immersion in the sacred presence in Creation can provide guidance and motivation we need.
5. The Wisdom of the Sage: As we grow older, we integrate our life experience, practical survival skills, evolving self, and our psychological, spiritual and mystical resources to nourish the wisdom of the sage – one who can stand in the fire, stay focused, and provide meaningful and inspiring leadership. We find the authority of the moral voice, a voice that speaks for humanity, all sentient beings, and future generations, and the vision of the mystic, who sees the sacred nature of life on Earth. We create our most mature self, we help build loving community, and we invite all to participate in healing the planet. We use the practical savvy acquired in decades of life experience to approach problems from a wiser perspective.
Engaging these Five Dimensions of response to this challenging time can be immensely helpful, but there is another profoundly important step and that's your own transformation.
I want to invite you now to explore your own unique contribution to healing humanity and Creation. Below is a guided imagery exercise for discovering your soul's deepest calling in this challenging time. Have no expectations, go deep, and see what you find. If you wish, you can record these instructions and then play them back to reduce the distraction of reading (give yourself 15-20 seconds between instructions for the process to take hold).
1. Begin by taking a couple deep breaths and settle comfortably into your chair, your body, your being. Take your time. Relax. Let this meant to be a peaceful, gentle, and inspiring experience.
2. Let your thoughts slow down, unwind, and come to rest. Release the questions, distractions and issues of the day and center your attention deep inside, descending into the rich dark inner space of self or spirit. Breathe slowly and let each breath take you deeper.
3. Now picture yourself standing by a clear pool of water in a beautiful natural setting on a lovely day. You might hear birds chirping or leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. Feel the warm sun on your face and shoulders. Smell the grass or dirt beneath your bare feet. Just be there, fully present, patient and trusting.
4. You have come to this sacred pool to seek guidance in finding your own best way of caring for the world. To help you succeed in this quest, silently call out for any friends, allies, ancestors, spirits, wisdom figures, angels or other beings whose support you value. Who do you want to be with you in this inner search? Imagine asking them to come and help you understand and find this work of your soul. Picture them coming forward and standing around the beautiful clear water with you. Feel them joining you, aligning their highest energies with yours.
5. Open yourself also to the deep energy of the sacred Earth that holds and embraces you, to the stars and the cosmos that sense your existence, and to the divine being, however you conceive it, and feel its loving Presence surround you.
6. Now think of one question about your reason for coming here. Any question you like. Let that question become clear inside. Now, in the silence of this deep inner space, standing beside this pool, supported by wise and loving beings, silently ask that question and look deeply into the water. Be still and patient. Wait until some kind of answer rises - an image, metaphor, feeling, figure, idea, place - whatever. Take your time. Let your question be a mantra.
7. Reflect on what has been revealed. How might it help you answer your question? Hold it dear. If nothing has come to you, save the question in your soul and wait for a revelation to come later on when the time is right.
8. Now thank the beings who came to help you. Express your love and gratitude for their assistance as they now depart and feel their gratitude as well for the work you're doing on yourself and in the world.
9. Find your way back to the present, to this moment, and your normal experience of self and body, and when you're ready, open your eyes and get re-oriented to where we are.
10. Finally, take a moment to reflect on your experience. What does it mean to you? Later, be sure to write about it and see what else it may have to teach you.
My goal in this post has been to help you begin to prepare for a journey that will change the world. It's time to get ready. We are the Earth's healers and saviors – how we live, work, love, celebrate and care for each other and all of Creation will profoundly affect the lives of our friends, partners, children, grandchildren, and descendants, and the ultimate destiny of humanity. You are here at this time in history for deeply personal reason as well. Find it in your soul and let it guide your personal response to humankind's biggest challenge. As we prepare for the coming storm, we change ourselves so we can change the world.
We are born into being – the flow of early childhood consciousness in the here-and-now – and then move progressively into doing – goals, plans, schedules, responsibilities, purposes, and expectations. Compulsive doing runs out lives for decades and then, like an old machine, begins to fall apart.
After finishing my last book, my back went out. Pain - sharp, stabbing, burning, aching, relentless – down-shifted me into "Park." I could barely function. But I had grown weary of the doing mantra anyway. After months of debilitating pain, I knew the activity phase of my life was over. I consulted a psychic. She told me that it was time to live the mystical consciousness I have been writing about for the past quarter century. Now, at 74, I sensed that deep call of time to a new stage in being. I always knew this moment would come. Mysticism is always about living in the sacred moment. My pain, powerful and insistent, had been a friend. I dropped out of all my professional commitments in search of a live in the divine milieu.
Divine Union as Mystical Creation
Reality as sacred being, consciously experienced and released from the labyrinthine prison of thought, invites a new awareness - the pantheistic perception of the imminent divine as everywhere, everyone and everything. It's a discovery we have to experience to understand and it's an ongoing practice.
In this shift away from mind-driven work, my consciousness dissolves into the omnipresent divine Consciousness and I arrive at the mystical center of Creation creating. I join in the constantly-miraculous birthing of divine reality. In this always-new moment, I also discover the new possibilities of mystical activism.
Mystical activism is about dwelling in sacred consciousness as a way of affecting the whole. In this union, I experience divinity everywhere and release my conceptual identity as someone-trying-to-do-good-in-the-manmade-world. As Presence, I am divine consciousness constantly renewing a divine world.
The mystics have long told us that the present is God's conscious being. Because we are all one, uniting my consciousness with the divine awakens and magnifies the collective awareness of Creation. Every moment that is consciously experienced in this way spreads the subliminal and sublime experience of Heaven on Earth. We are like tuning forks - as mine vibrates, so too does yours though you might not notice until you learn to sense the divine vibration. In this way, union with sacred consciousness and being constitutes a powerful path of activism - mystical activism – and we discover that for the texture of reality is love.
Leaving the World of Man
Two days after these realizations, my pain begins to diminish. I dreamt of an 18th century frigate leaving a busy port through a narrow channel out to into a wide sea - a birth canal from the World of Man to my soul's new adventure in consciousness.
There are moments when I fully sense, see, and know that this reality, this space, this present moment is one conscious being no matter how it might otherwise appear as separate things. In my mind's eye, I see the one imminence smiling, letting me know that everything is it including the consciousness I thought was "mine." I was never separate. In these recurring moments of entry, the happiness of the One becomes my happiness. I am being welcomed back to the beginning.
Which brings me back to mystical activism. If I am the All, I can change the All from the inside out, from the center of unity, by being an open channel spreading love through everything, awakening a new Creation. As the poet becomes the poem in the writing, the divinely-centered mystic becomes the creator in the awakening. In mystical oneness, we each join the spiral dance of renewal. I am It and my consciousness erases the illusory thought-world harming humanity and the Earth.
You Can't Fix the World's Illusions
We don't easily change the World of Man from the inside because the World of Man itself is the problem. Everything we do simply adds to our conceptual separation from divinity. To make real change, we need to completely dissolve the construct world in thought-free consciousness and let the divine world renew itself. We then invite the experience of Creation to be the new world, letting it fill our consciousness, and then live from the sacred reality of beauty, perfection, radiance and love. Concepts only lead to more concepts.
It's Always Here
Sacred consciousness is always here for everyone, filling all space and time. Sadly, people don't know how to experience this awakening, but it never abandons anyone, even in the greatest calamities. Be still and know that all is divine being, even me and you no matter what else we may think or imagine. In the experience of divinity we become divinity and to find our ultimate nature and purpose.
Do you think this crazy? Let us all be crazy, too. When I close my eyes, I realize it's not "my" consciousness in there, it's God.
Nothing is ever the same as before - not people, places, things, or conditions - but judging them the same means we fail to see the world anew and instead keep recreating the old one. We miss the divine world of Creation because what we think we see is simply what we think. We don't really know what a single thing is. That realization alone can open the doors of sacred perception.
And seeing the divine world is the greatest gift we can experience and share. It activates the perceptual change critical for humanity's renewal and rebirth. We wake up and discover who and where we really are. We see that our beliefs have been illusions. Love is now. Love is the only thing.
How to find this always-new consciousness in these grim times of toxic smoke, COVID, climate destruction, rampant political corruption, racism, wealth inequality, and failed leadership? Living in God-as-Reality brings us home to the values that will save us: love, compassion, peace, inclusion, sharing, beauty, and the grace of Presence. It's here even now.
And here's the way home. Find the miracle in the sensory-perceptual moment - breath, beauty, wonder, peace, joy, and the always-present possibilities of love. It's always about childlike innocence and wonder. Find the miracle and join the meandering dancing flow of the moment. Whatever it may seem, in reality, it's all God creating God. That's the miracle.
In Matthew 18:1-5: Jesus said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Since my last blog, I have been publishing articles and doing interviews about our "crisis in Creation," specifically the coronavirus, climate change, population explosion and threat of economic recession. You can find them in "Quick Links" in the right-hand column of the website. I am also writing a new book on the global crisis for my own demographic - people over 65. As a result, blog posts have been missing but please don't take this as evidence of disinterest or neglect. More will come. Thanks
As a prospective mystical activist, what can you add to your tool kit on climate change that would be truly helpful? Can mystical consciousness change your beliefs, perception, and even the experience of the climate crisis, in ways that would make a difference? Consider this…
Left-brain thinking – beliefs, expectations and values – create the "reality" we call the World of Man; it's like an action film full of drama, danger, humor, and struggle. Right-brain mystical consciousness, on the other hand, reveals the divine world here and now; it's like walking out of the theater and discovering the infinite beauty of the Creation is already here. The question I pose to you is this: Where do you want to live…in the collective illusion fostered by left-brain thinking that masquerades as waking life or in the always-present divine world of Creation here and now? You can leave the theater-of-mind at any time.
Left-brain thinking damages Creation with war, pollution, and exploitation. Yes, thought can be amazingly creative, but it needs to be in the service of awakening love, not for personal power or self-aggrandizement. Right-brain mystical consciousness discovers the extraordinary gift of Creation right where we are, inviting us to live in the "peace of wild things" – of stars and dirt, seasons and eras, birds and plants, smells and sounds, the ongoing three-billion-year evolution of Creation. She guides, feeds, protects, and teaches us. Nothing else like the divine Earth exists anywhere in the universe. And it's all around us when we learn how to see again. So, if you want to change the world, begin by changing your mind: bring right-bring mystical consciousness into left-brain planning. Find out who and where you really are.
One more thing. Mystical consciousness is divinity's gift to humanity in this climate crisis. In mystical consciousness, we cease acting selfishly, dwell again as part of Creation, and know intuitively what to do in the moment. We are home. And the steps for entering mystical realm are so simple:
1. Stop Thinking.
2. Heighten Awareness.
3. Experience the World Exactly As It Is.
4. Come into the Sacred Presence Through Pure Consciousness (for consciousness is Presence)
5. Focus this Awakened Consciousness on the Being of your Own Being (which the mystics tell us is the very substance of divinity)
6. Let Yourself Be Moved by Love, Joy and Wonder into the Divine Flow of Creation.
Mystical Activism is simply mystical consciousness in action. As this state of consciousness can be learned again, work with it, experiment, and expand your sacred awareness until you get the "hang" of it, and then apply it to your life and your activism. The world looks very different in this awakened state.
Preamble. So that we will all be on the same page, I want to present an overview of the climate crisis. I know this material is hard to face but I will not apologize for being an alarmist – the alarms have been going off everywhere for years. If we are going to survive, we have to face the grim and looming reality of rapidly accelerating global warming.
So here goes: As you know, the Earth is getting hotter every month. Heat-trapping CO2 is higher than it's been in 3 million years and the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. This June was the hottest month on record and July just broke that record. In fact, fifty heat records were broken this week on the east coast! Glaciers are melting, oceans are rising, warming, acidifying and losing oxygen, and the Earth's normal homeostasis is beginning to fail. Even with immediate action, runaway heat could continue for decades.
What are the consequences of global warming? As we have already seen, global warming radically changes weather all over the Earth, creating dangerous heat spells; ferocious hurricanes, tornados and forest fires; monsoon rains; expanding deserts; dying oceans; an escalating tide of climate refugees; and massive species extinction (150 species of plant or animal go extinct every day – it's called the 6th Extinction). Many scientists believe we have already passed the tipping point and that increasing temperatures will continue no matter what we do. Others have said that we may still have 18 months to forestall the worst outcomes.
Adding to this nightmare, we have the mounting pressure of population growth. When America was founded, there were less than one billion people on Earth. When I was a kid in the fifties, the world had 2.6 billion people. Now it's 7.7 billion. By 2050, we will exceed 9 billion people on Earth. Because we lack the sustainable resources to feed this growing population, we borrow dangerously from the future - emptying aquifers, cutting down forests, over-fishing the oceans, and poisoning nature with pesticides. Earth's growing overpopulation will result in polluted water and air; superbugs and new parasites (mosquitos will expand with warming climates and longer summers, bringing Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, Flesh-eating Bacteria, Brain-eating Amoeba, Tick-borne diseases, Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus); microplastics in our oceans, soil, air, snow, and bodies; overwhelmed hospitals; rising crime; more deforestation and wildlife deaths; widespread food shortages; regional conflicts over food and clean water; desperate migrations, and war. All this greatly multiplies the burden of global warming on the Earth's diminishing resources.
And one more thing - the corruption, ignorance, passivity and denial of many elected officials still represents a horrifying obstacle to climate action. For example, the Amazon rain forest, which plays a critical role in climate regulation, is being deforested at a rate of over three football fields a minute because its president has given the green light to illegal land invasion, farming, logging and burning. The recent UN Climate Conference revealed that governments are nowhere near meeting the critical goals of the 2016 UN Paris Climate Agreement. Our own president has called climate change a "hoax," plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and deregulates environmental protections everywhere.
And, of course, we, too, are the problem because of wealth inequality, consumer habits, and CO2 footprints: when we fly, drive gas-powered vehicles, eat meat and dairy, and live high-carbon lifestyles, we are the wealthy 10% that generates 50% of the greenhouse gases.
It should be obvious by now that we are in terrible trouble. Climate activists say we are potentially facing a collapse of biological and social systems threatening civilization as we know it. This existential crisis will affect every living thing and every aspect of our lives. We don't know where this nightmare is going and can't simply stop or reverse it. Science is working on it. Governmental and grassroots organizations are beginning to mobilize. The news cycle is finally admitting the crisis is real. And we are each trying to change our own behavior and take political action. But this disaster is already happening and it's coming right at us. What we do – or don't do - now will affect countless generations to come.
Experience Your Feelings
Our pain and anxiety for Creation arise because we are Creation.
We feel her feelings.
Avoid Compulsive Doing
Climate guilt, fear or despair can drive us into frantic doing.
In desperate busyness, we often ride roughshod over Creation's healing.
Center Attention in the Deep Silent Self of Creation
Silence is immersion in the divine Presence.
Focusing on inner silence separates the real from the unreal.
Cultivate mind-silencing spiritual practices to wake up and see.
Dwell deeply and steadily in Creation's unitive consciousness.
Pervading all of Creation is the Creator.
Let Action Flow from the Presence in the Moment
Pure consciousness is the Creator's Presence.
Find your work in that Presence not simply from beliefs.
Sacred Action flows from immersion in the Presence: simple, natural and effective.
Ask Creation, "Where am I needed most right now?" and listen deeply.
Act with the discerning heart of loving compassion.
Acting from pure consciousness we affect the whole of Consciousness.
Inhabit the peace of the Divinity.
Creation Will Show You the Way
Stay in dialogue with Creation to see what she needs (not what you think she needs).
It's not action vs. contemplation, it's contemplation-in-action.
Awakened consciousness enlivens the divine Self.
Embody the Self in your activism.
Prepare for death so you will have the courage to act fearlessly
Like everything in Creation, we will die but new life follows every death.
Death is a doorway not an ending.
Pay Attention to Synchronicity
As I write this, my puppy pulls out the book, I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj.