Brain Damage

It’s been almost a week since I had my MRI experience. Since writing my last post, I have had a lot of tests and doctors appointments. Now I am home with the puppies for ten days or so. Stephanie is holding up both ends of an important mission for both of us in Brazil. There is an encounter happening at our Cacao farm and with the spiritual healing center next door. We have ten people staying in our house, and it would have been difficult to cancel on short notice. So Stephanie and I said a hard good bye and I watched her leave for the airport in an UBER. I could not drive her, since I am still missing the uppoer left quadrant of my visual field.

I walked right into a tree branch the other day. I’m sure it would have looked funny to any observer. I was walking the dogs with my nephew Quanah. We had strolled into the Grove for coffee in the morning yesterday. Walking home I was on the left side of the bike path so people could pass to my right. There is a tree branch hanging down from the left side, and as I approached it stayed in the upper left of my visual field because my eyes were focused down and to the right towards oncoming walkers and bikers. I continued straight down the path until the branch hit me square in the face about an inch and a half up and left from my left eye. I never saw it. It was funny because I was in the middle of expressing to Quanah that I thought I might be able to learn to ski safely by scanning around with my visual field to make sure that I saw other skiers or trees. So much for that idea!

But those episodes are pretty minor and a little bit funny. I had an electrocardiogram the other day. I did not understand why I needed to check out my heart on account of my having had a stroke, but low and behold, they found what they were looking for. It appears that I have a Patent Foramen Ovale, which is a little hole between the two upper chambers of my heart. They took an ultrasound image of my heart and then injected a bunch of air bubbles into my arm. I watched with the technician, and angel named Susanna, as the bubbles filled, and then exited, the chambers of my heart. Ninety percent of the little bubbles entered the atrium and then went down in to the ventricle and then toward my lungs through the pulmonary artery, but a few of the bubbles went through a little hole from one atrium to the other, and then down and out through the aorta.

It did not seem like much of a problem, and a little bit of research shows that I probably have had this condition for my whole life without knowing it. But it turns out that little blood clots or arterial plaques that come into the heart from the whole body are supposed to be filtered through the lungs before being pumped through the arterial system. But with this little hole, some of these particles can skip the trip to the lungs and pass directly into the aorta, and then a couple of them went into my carotid artery and into my brain, where they caused me to suffer a stroke. That’s one theory anyway. I am inclined to give it some weight though, because the neurologist ordered the test to see if I had a PFO that might explain the stroke, and I did. So that seems pretty clear to me.

But the horizontal explanation does not capture the full picture. I made two prayers for 2023 that I worked into a notebook after two weeks of meditation and discussion. I was really trying to boil down my experience in 2022 into a couple of concise prayers for 2023 that would make my life optimal.

The first was I prayed to more fully connect with the Warrior Spirit that has been my guide and companion since we encountered each other in the top of that magical canyon near Telluride in the summer of 2021. I can’t believe it’s been that long already. The second prayer was for peace and harmony in my home, and specifically, peace and harmony in myself in my home.

This little stroke is a gift that answers these prayers. As for connecting to the Warrior Spirit, this happened right away. My channel has been wide open since this occurred. When I first started with this experience, I was asked to decide how I was going to respond to this situation. The Warrior spirit guide within me was very clear. It said, you at this moment have the opportunity to choose how you will respond to this situation. You have the opportunity in this moment to choose what is important to you and claim it. I was shown that my condition has an amazingly wide range of potential outcomes. I could start to heal and recover from this stroke. My brain is a plastic and flexible organ. It can grow new neurons and retrain other neurons to perform the function that I have lost. I can adapt by learning to shift my gaze a little to the left to fully utilize my functional visual field.

On the other hand, at some point in my life, I will learn of the condition that will bring about my death. It could come in the same way “sir, have you ever had a stroke…?” So this could work out anywhere form full recovery to death. But life is not like that. Life only ends with death, so eventually I will have to face the same passage. The spirit guide was showing me that I have an opportunity to practice this right now.

How will I respond to this? The first word that came to me was “FAITH” It’s a very easy answer. I have faith that everything that comes to me is for my highest good, including this condition. I trust the divine will and the divine plan, and I surrender to it. I can do all of the things that are available to preserve my health, but at the same time, I must accept the certainty that from this world I will eventually depart. And we have but one choice to make. Faith or Fear.

The Fear is an abyss that lies just beside me. I only have to start to wonder if I could have another stroke. What if this is just the first episode of my gradual decline? STOP… there is nothing for me down that road of FEAR. It is a bottomless pit of despair, and it’s important not to take the first step into it.

Humor is another virtue. I was cracking up with my son Wylie about Brain Damage. Hey Dad, how are you? Well apart from a little brain damage, I’m just fine! Also, Brain Damage explains a lot of behaviors. “Oh my god, I can’t believe he just said that! why would he say that?” Answer… “Brain Damage.”

Brain Damage may not explain everything, but it explains a lot.

That same day I was in the kitchen holding a bell jar full of salted sunflower seeds. Stephanie was in the kitchen right in front of me, and Wylie was there too. I raised the jar to my lips and drank some sunflower seeds without thinking of it, and Stephanie was appalled. SO Gross! Why do you do that?!?

“Brain Damage?” I offered. “NO” She said… “that’s a pre existing condition!”

Wylie looked wryly at me… I don’t think Brain Damage is going to cover everything Dad. But it was funny.

The second prayer, peace in my house, is already here. The value of feeling peace and harmony in my home is so clear right now.

There are so many other lessons I am receiving. They are coming faster than I can write them down. I am receiving so much gratitude that my personality and identity are intact. I have the same intelligence and the same joy in my heart. Sure I can’t see everything, but I can see a lot. I can see my cursor on the screen and everything to the right of it. That is all I need to be able to write on my computer. It’s all I need to play backgammon.

We have had lots of funny and loving moments. “I can do that!” has been my refrain. If this is the new way my brain functions, that’s fine. I will take it. I accept this existence with so much joy and gratitude. I can live with this if it does not get any better. This is a gift.

I am also now so much more open to receiving love. I’m 55 years old and I suffered a stroke. I am so grateful for the love and kindness of the people around me, and none of it is a threat to my marriage or my well being. Before this happened, there was a tendency in me to avoid being close to people. I never wanted to be that creepy old man with inappropriate attention to the ladies or whatever. But now, I’m Granddad who had a stroke. Not a threat to anyone. I am super grateful for my loving wife who cares so deeply for me, and who loves me so much. I am not about to screw that up. And seriously, I think at this point in my life it is perfectly safe to assume that any other relationships I might have are purely platonic. I am free from these concerns and can be so much more open and friendly now. This is truly a gift. I am both free and content. There is so much more to learn.

I love my life.

Day One of Recovery

So here is my first blog post of 2023, and I am really really so grateful that I can see my cursor and everything to the right of it.  I am very sure this could be a lot more difficult than it is.  It is a little difficult on the guitar not being able to see the neck to the left of the finger I am looking at at any moment.  I can’t see if I’m on the fifth fret playing C or on the seventh fret playing D, in the funky way I retuned my guitar for Daime music.  

It started last Wednesday night at about 2:15 in the morning when I woke up with a headache.  I had an intense migraine.  Not something that has ever woken me up before as a matter of fact.  When morning came, I saw that I had a really intense visual aura going on.  I could not see anything to the left of my nose.  Right Eye, Left Eye, Both Eyes … does not matter.  Left of the nose world did not exist.  It took me a couple of scares behind the wheel to realize that I could not safely drive.  

Once I was coming down the bridge on Hardee Road, at night, in Coral Gables on the way home from South Miami.  At the bottom of the bridge was the intersection with Riviera Drive, which has a traffic circle.  I looked at the circle and saw there were no cars coming around from the left, so I entered the circle.   A giant white Cadillac Escalade with its lights on drove out of a tear in the fabric of the universe with its horn blaring.  It had been approaching the traffic circle from Riviera Drive to my left, and signals from that part of my world were not being translated into the three dimensional world that my third eye creates inside my brain that I call reality.

The reality generator, or the part of my brain machine that creates my three dimensional world just does not create an upper left quadrant anymore.  

But I can see the cursor here on my computer, and I can see to the right, and somehow, this is exactly what I need to be able to do to type and write on my computer.  

I found out that I have a real journey ahead of me today in the MRI machine.  I went it for two pictures of my brain, one with contrast, one without.  Chunk chunk chunk beeep… MRI takes a long time right.  But I’m chill.  I believe that I had a Migraine and that there is nothing to see on the MRI.  Just part of the process.  Ruling things out.  So after they are done, the guy pushes the contrast ink into the tube that was in my vein, and I realize that they were only half way done.  Chunk chunk chunk beep… then beep beep

Can you hear me?  “Earl can you hear me?” I go by my middle name Spencer, so it took me a second to catch on.  Yeah I hear you.  What side of your field of vision is your disturbance on?  Upper left. Ok….

“Earl, have you ever had a stroke or anything like that?”

Um excuse me, why are you asking me if I have ever had a stroke?  It’s so ironic, because I often receive criticism that it’s not what I said, but how I said it that hurt someone  I get it now.  You don’t ask someone who is in an MRI machine if they have ever had a stroke!  That’s funny right?

Of course, they can’t tell me anything.  But they say they are calling my Doctor right away and suggest I do the same thing.  Dr. Cava.  I have a good doctor.  There are findings … I have an appointment tomorrow with a neurologist, he called and said to take aspirin and a blood thinner.

So this is 2023.  My stroke was in 2022.  January, yes it was, but I am a member of the Santo Daime Church, and our last work of the year is the Kings Day work, which for our Church was January 7th.  I attended that work with my half blindness and played guitar with my eyes closed because I could not see the guitar neck and it was very disorienting.

So the disease, the illness, the thing that struck me, was 2022, and I prayed to leave it in 2022 when we surrendered our works for 2022 and received them for 2023.  I definitely left the disease in 2022.  2023 is all about recovery.  

I have been writing in this blog for a year now, and have wandered a little without really having much of a story to write about.  But this is the blog story of my episode and about my miraculous healing.

Another funny thing is I had a pre existing appointment to get my Medical Marijuana Card today, so I bought legal weed in Miami today for the first time.  

There are some very very funny things that have already happened.  I was dying laughing with my son Wylie about how brain damage excuses everything!  Hey mister, you can’t eat that in here!  What’s wrong with that guy!  Oh I’m sorry … Brain damage.

Brain damage explains SO Much.  But this is only the start.  I can already feel that the dead and weakened neurons are being eaten up, and new ones are being laid down right beside them, and my brain is reprogramming.  This is actually going to be an upgrade.  Or my mortality.  Or both.

It is also an opportunity for my spiritual path to demonstrate it’s worth.  Because I have been a good student of Mestre Irineu and Padrinho Sebastião.  I get to pick the path that my consciousness takes through the world, and this disability is a gift.  This is a gift.  Everything from this moment forward counts.

Christmas Letter from the Warrior Spirt

I remember checking the mailbox everyday at boarding school. We did not have easy access to a telephone, and there were no cell phones or emails or social media, and so we treasured letters when they would arrive. I remember receiving a letter from a girl, Susan, from my home town that she sent me in a box of cookies. The paper had absorbed the oil from the cookies, and the oil made the paper translucent. She had written on both sides, and so the writing on one side completely obscured the writing on the other side. I tried everything I could think of to make the words legible, but to no avail. The words were forever lost, and I felt acutely the pain of their absence.

I also remember writing letters with strong emotion, and then walking down to the mailbox to retrieve them. Ricky don’t lose that number, send it off in a letter to yourself. I am reminded of those times when it took a week or more to send a letter and receive a reply. Now communications are instant, and irretrievable, and part of a permanent record. It seems that we communicate our reactions instead of our responses.

I remember also how we used to share the news of our lives in letters. News did not travel so fast, and so in a letter, from Camp or school between home or a loved one, communicated the salient details of our lives. Sometimes the treasure of a photograph would come inside the envelope, and I would pin it on my cork board in my room. I remember taking pictures on film, 24 exposures per roll, and winding the roll onto a wire wheel in the dark and then working in anticipation to develop the negatives and then make prints. The faces of my friends and family, the events of the day revealed one shot at a time.

Today is Christmas, cold and dreary in Miami. We spent the morning at my Mom’s with lots of family and a couple of friends. We exchanged gifts, all wrapped in bags with tissue, and enjoyed company and coffee and food. Then back to the house for a lazy Christmas afternoon. And so now is the time, the week, to start thinking of the New Year. I like to make a prayer for the New Year, and so now is the time to start thinking of it.

Last night, we got together with our Church friends and sang the hinario of Mestre Irineu. At one point during the night I felt a strong prayer come to me. I felt the spirit say to me, “I am here, what do you want” And the answer came to me. “I want my love for my wife to be more resilient.” And in meditation I received a beautiful understanding.

I saw how when someone I love is upset with me, there is a part of me that gets wounded, like a child, and as a result, I behave childishly. I can feel inside of me where this wounded part is, and from this part bubble up stories about the “others” motivations and intentions. These are the stories of a wounded child. When I speak or act from that energy, it is transmitted to the other person, and a cycle of painful communications starts, and this takes me out of the love vibration that is always available to all of us.

In my meditation, with everything perfect, I was able to see a better, more mature way to respond. I was shown a small example of something that had disappointed me, and how I had gone on to create stories about why that had happened. The stories were far more upsetting than the event itself. My first thought was that these stories I tell myself are “all bullshit,” but then I saw that I can tell myself true stories or at least better stories instead, and instead of reacting with defensiveness or bitterness, I can act with compassion toward myself and toward the other person.

I realize that this is the same lesson that I am learning over and over, but this time it seemed to penetrate a little more deeply. There is a hymn that says “smooth out my heart, so that I can love, and the offenses of my brothers, I may know how to pardon”. (“Aplanai meu coração, para eu poder amar, e as ofensas dos irmaos, eu saber perdoar”). I was able to see how spiritual mastery, the buddha, the Christ, the Warrior Spirit, has a heart smooth like the stones of a river. I saw how my heart is full of old wounds and jagged edges that catch and stick and cut.

So as I create my prayer for the new year, it starts with this. My prayer is to smooth out my heart so that I can love. So that love can be more resilient, and I can be happier.

Merry Christmas.

Warrior Spirit – Guarding the Gateway to your Consciousness

I am sitting here on the sofa with my laptop with a vague desire to write an essay, and not much is coming up, and so I am just writing what comes naturally to me. My dog Frankie is sleeping just to my right, and the rain ins falling in a steady downpour. It’s that heavy tropical rain that causes the pool to overflow. It is unrelenting. I have had quite a journey over the last couple of weeks. It feel surreal that so much has happened while so little has changed.

I have long held faith that it is the expansion of the consciousness that will be able to save the Earth, but really it is not the earth that needs saving, it is we who need saving. The Earth will continue its journey around the Sun for another 4 billion years regardless of whether we blow ourselves up. We may bring about a mass extinction as part of the process of our own demise, but look how many fabulous creatures rushed in to fill the void that the dinosaurs left after their time had passed. The void we leave will not last any longer.

The true battle we are waging right now is a battle of consciousness. There are so many forces that drive us through fear to see each other as separate from ourselves. In my experience, the news is a primary entry point into my mind. I am constantly being thrown off my center by the news. For others maybe it is social media, or maybe television. But for me it’s the news. Will Bolsanaro dispute the election results in Brazil? Did Qatar ban beer sales at the world cup? Is Zelensky going to draw us into World War III? What’s going to happen to our civil rights now that Roe v. Wade is in the trash bin of history? What is Elon Musk doing with Twitter? What is Bitcoin doing today?

Remember back in COVID when the Federal Government printed out checks for $1,900,000,000,000 and mailed them out to people? They did not actually create anything real in the world when they did this. Not so much as a single apple was created when those checks were signed and sent. Suddenly legions of “Bored Apes” had spending money and time on their hands, and so they invested the new money in Crypto and NFT’s and Meme Stocks, and then they lost all of that money when the whole thing turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, and so the money went back into the hands of the Wall Street Fat Cats, which is exactly where it was when the whole thing started. Next thing you know, it’s easy come, easy go, and we have to watch the big Orange loser dominate the News cycle for another two years. Those checks did not create anything, they simply captured our attention for a while.

Our attention shifted from COVID to the war in Ukraine to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. No doubt our attention will shift to the next cycle in short order. It does not really matter so much what the object of our attention is, as long as we feel anxious and divided. It does not really matter so much what we believe, as long as we divide ourselves into two roughly equal camps and hate the other side. We live in a world modeled after the Super Bowl. Think about it. Does Fox Television care whether you like the Patriots or the 49ers? Not so much, as long as you pick one side or the other and care a lot, then they have your attention for the Super Bowl.

There is such a battle going on for the control and occupation of our minds that we often lose touch with the simple truths that make us who we are and that give us our true peace and happiness. When we feel lost in the waves of the world of illusion, we can firm ourselves in the divine eternal presence that surrounds us all the time. We can anchor ourselves in what is real and in what matters. The Earth has been traveling for billions of years with our sister planets as our Sun streaks around the center of our galaxy. The next news cycle is nothing more than the brownian motion of our existence.

We had a beautiful Concentration the other day, and I shared a reading from the Gospel of Padrinho Sebastião in the middle of it. The basic theme of the reading was a reminder to stay centered on what is real in the divine truth and to not get carried away with the dramas and concerns of the world of illusion. “In the Sun, in the Moon, in the Earth, and in the Sea. I sought this truth and I know where it is….” that was the line from the hymn that was quoted in the reading. The divine truth is there for all of us to see, yet we get caught up in the world of illusion and forget our divine nature.

I have long admired how my wife Stephanie starts her day. She goes into her “she cave” and does a series of movements synchronized with prayers, then she draws a spread of tarot cards and writes in her journal and then she meditates for a little while. She starts just about every day with her ritual, and it sets up her frame of reference for the whole day.

I have been working with my coach and trainer to develop a similar practice based on the breath to center myself and restore my connection to what is real and divine in the world. The breath is where our spirit attaches to our material body. Think of this literally. You can manipulate your breathing, but you cannot stop it. Even if you manage to hold your breath long enough to lose consciousness, it will start up again automatically. This is the place where we have a choice, but also have no choice. Just like we are here alive and incorporated in our body. Most of us do not have the ability to decide to disincorporate from out bodies as a voluntary act. We are stuck here in that sense. But we do have a lot of free will about how we will conduct ourselves while we are here.

The same it is with the breath, isn’t it? We don’t have a choice about whether to breathe, but we have a lot free will about how we will breathe. And it is here that I have found a path to regaining my center.

For me the pattern that works the best is to breathe in for eight beats of my heart, hold for four beats, and then breathe out for eight more beats, being sure to expel the last bit of stale air on every exhalation. This comfortable rhythm of about three breaths per minute brings me back to my body and to my center.

And then I let my thoughts go to the Sun and the Moon and the Stars and to the Earth and the Wind and the Sea. I feel connected to the clockwork of the planets… Jupiter has passed its opposition, and the opposition of Mars is upon us. I love looking at the planets in the night sky, and it is Mars that is taking center stage right now. Just go outside in the evening and look to the east. Soon it will be straight over head at midnight.

In this practice of breathing and centering myself with these forces of divine nature, I can feel my parasympathetic nervous system taking over. I feel hope instead of anxiety. I feel that life is long instead of feeling that life is short. I feel that love comes from the divine and radiates through us to everything we gaze upon. And from this point, I can be the gate keeper to my own consciousness.

What are you going to let into your mind today?

Healing Power of Prayer

It all started on November 3rd when I took my wife, Stephanie, for a scheduled visit to the hospital. While I was waiting for her I was reading from the book “The Hidden Life of Jesus” which is a translation of the adventures of a Russian explorer in Tibet who found ancient manuscripts in a Monastery that recorded the travels of Jesus through India and Kashmir and Tibet before he returned to Jerusalem at the age of 30. I read the passage featured above about the imperative of honoring and taking care of the women in our lives. I had no idea that my wife, my mother and my daughter in law would all be in the hospital that week. I actually took the photo in the family waiting area of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine family waiting room.

I am writing this as much for myself as for any other potential reader so that I can remember and hold on to the powerful lessons that I learned last week. These lessons sound so commonplace–love and family are the most important, it is our spiritual integrity upon which we must rely to get us through tough times, faith is the antidote to fear, with prayer we can overcome anything… that sort of thing. They are lessons one might find on the Get Well cards they sell in the hospital gift shop. But when we stand by the side of the people we love while they face critical health emergencies, these basic lessons take on new meaning and relevance.

In telling my story, I want to start with Halloween, which was a carefree and joyous moment. I knew at that time that my wife would be having a minor scheduled out patient surgery in a couple of days, but we were not overly concerned with this. We expected she would have a little bit of pain, and need some rest, so we made arrangements for our dogs to stay with their Auntie, and we cleared our schedule so that we could devote ourselves supporting her rest and recovery. That was Monday, and everything seemed fine. I spent the evening in a goofy costume in our front yard shaking an oversized Maracá made from a small goard and passing out candy to children.

We had friends visiting us that day on their way to Brazil. They were going down to Rio de Janeiro for the 40th anniversary of the Santo Daime Church there known as Céu do Mar. This is the home of my Padrinho Paulo Roberto and Madrinha Nonata, who were the first people to bring the sacramental tea that is the center of the Santo Daime religion from the rain forest. I felt a little torn as our friends prepared for their departure, because the celebration at Céu do Mar was something that I ordinarily would not want to miss. But I had received a very strong feeling of trepidation that I should not go down for the celebration. It felt like danger, but I did not really understand it. Sure, Rio de Janeiro can be dangerous, but I’ve been there many times, and there was not any reason to think it was more dangerous now that it was in the past. Still, I had this strong feeling that we should not go down there to join the festivities.

And having decided that we would not go, we went ahead and scheduled Stepanie’s surgical procedure. We said good bye to our friends and wished them well on their journey. I felt torn about our decision not to go. Lots of people were disappointed, and I felt some regret. I did not have a clear understanding of why I had felt so strongly that we should not go.

That was all on Monday. The next day, I received a call from my son Charlie who was traveling with my grandson and my daughter in law in North Carolina. They were going to visit my son George who recently moved with his girlfriend to Greensboro. Upon arriving in North Carolina after a long drive, George called and let them know he had COVID and that they should not come to stay with them. So they went to Ashville to enjoy some fall colors. Simone had a sharp pain in her stomach, which they thought might be appendicitis.

They went to the hospital and saw she had a kidney stone that was having trouble passing. It was quite large, a full centimeter in diameter, yet the doctors saw that it seemed to be passing on its own. They sent her home with instructions to return to the hospital if her condition deteriorated or if she developed a fever. That night, she did develop a fever, and she returned to the hospital for emergency surgery. They detected bacteria in her blood and admitted her to the hospital and gave her intravenous antibiotics to clear up the infection.

This was a bit of a scare, but everything worked out ok. We were all grateful that the episode occurred at the doorstep of Ashville’s brand new hospital where she received excellent care instead of in the middle of the Amazon rain forest which is where she was born and where her family still lives. If this had happened there, it would have been very grave indeed. I thought to myself, maybe this is why I did not go to Rio. But really, I was not at all essential in helping Simone. I was in Miami while they were in Ashville. I could have done everything I did from Rio just as easily as I did from Miami.

Stephanie had her procedure on Thursday the 3rd day of November. I spent the day in the car shuttling her from home to the Mamography department and then to the hospital and then back home again. Her procedure went very well. We had set aside all day Friday for her to rest and recover.

We had healing work scheduled in our Santo Daime Church for Sunday. There was a conference in Miami about using psychedelics to treat PTSD and other conditions over the weekend of November 4th, and a representative, Glauber, from the Santo Daime in Belo Horizonte, Brazil had been invited to speak. Padrinho Alfredo, who is the leading spiritual authority for our branch of the Santo Daime, personally asked our church to hold a healing work on behalf of Glauber and some of the attendees at the conference.

The Santo Daime Church practice revolves around the communion with the divine through a sacramental tea that we call Daime. The constituent plants used to make the sacrament are the same plants as are used to make Ayahuasca. The experience of communion through the Santo Daime Church is very powerful. However, it is not used as a medicine to cure disease in the way most people think of medicine. Rather the Daime is a sacrament which opens the doors to communion with the divine, and the healing power comes from the prayers and divine connection.

We asked everyone from our local current to do their best to attend, and we invited some visitors to help. This was a big effort for us on the heals of Stephanie’s surgery, but it was also very important to honor the request of Padrinho Alfredo. The work was scheduled to start at 2:00 pm in the afternoon on Sunday the 6th of November. I thought maybe this was the reason I had felt so strongly that I should not go down to Rio. Maybe it was because I was needed to lead the healing work.

Friday night I was exhausted. I was happy that my wife and daughter in law were doing well, but the stress of helping them and preparing for the work, combined with a few nights of less than 5 hours of sleep had really taken their toll. My wife asked me to make chicken soup, Jewish Penicillin as she called it, to help her heal. It was so restorative. I went to sleep right after dinner. I was so tired, I slept for 9 straight hours, and woke up bright and early.

Thank god I thought, that the sleep would help me prepare for the work Sunday. I got up in the morning on Saturday and ran through the healing hymns on my guitar to prepare for the next day, and then I started packing my bag to go to a workout with my personal trainer and coach Katie. Katie had been a little under the weather, so I put a little pyrex bowl of the chicken soup in my bag with an orange and a chocolate bar from our little chocolate company to give to Katie. I was in a good mood and looking forward to my session.

Then my world changed. My phone rang on my way out the door. It was my step father. I was about to get in the car and almost sent the call to voice mail. But I was not in any particular hurry, so I thought I’d see what he was up to. I answered the phone and he told me that he thought my Mom might be having a heart attack. He had called 911 and asked me to come over immediately.

As I pulled out of our community, the ambulance went by with sirens blaring. I knew they were going to my Mom’s house about a mile away. They raced past the little side street short cut staying on the main road, and so I was able to arrive about a minute before they did. I parked my car on the street outside my Mom’s long gravel driveway and waited for the medics to arrive so I could enter the code for the gate to let them in. The drive is long and lots of tree branches hang low, and so they had to walk the stretcher and their gear up the drive. David was waiting at the front door.

The medics took my Mom’s vitals. She was complaining of chest pain, but her heart seemed to be working ok. They said they did not think she was having a heart attack, but it was a good idea to go to the hospital just in case. Thank God, because it turns out that she had a blockage of the main artery feeding the heart and was at the very beginning stage of a major Myocardial Infarction.

They put her in the ambulance and David and I followed in the car. When we got to the hospital they were wheeling her in on the gurney. We got to the room and the ER doctor confirmed that she appeared to be having a heart attack. As they prepared to move her to the Cath Lab, her heart stopped. The dreaded monotone beep and an alarm sounded. The doctor raced back into the room and they revived my mother with the defibrillator paddles and CPR compressions. From that moment everything took on an entirely new level of urgency.

We went to the waiting room while they operated on her. An hour went by. Then two hours. No word yet. I was very concerned. I felt called to go down the hall to see if I could learn anything, and just as I arrived at the security doors the cardiologist came out. He informed me that my Mom had suffered a major heart attack. They had placed a stent in her primary coronary artery to open the main blockage, yet they were not able to open a blockage of secondary branch of the artery which remained blocked.

I was admitted to the room where they were working on her. A doctor was working with an arterial line in her leg. There was blood on the sheet around it. I saw her in her bed with an oxygen mask over her face. Her eyes were open and she was talking to me, but it was very difficult to understand her. Her lungs were filling with fluid, and so they needed to sedate her and intubate her. I held her gaze as she lost consciousness and told her I loved her and to please hold on. I was not sure if I would ever hold her gaze again. They hurried me out of the room so they could intubate her and continue working. After another couple of hours, they moved her into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

I entered her room. It was full of machines. There was a rack with about 8 different medicines all going into her IV bag. She was heavily sedated, and holding on to life itself. We made arrangements for my sister to fly directly from San Francisco, and thank God we were able to get her on a plane on short notice. I held my Mom’s hand and asked her to hold on for the seven hours it would take for my sister to arrive. Finally, around 11:30 Saturday evening, my sister arrived at the hospital. I was completely exhausted. I went home to sleep and promised to return the next morning at the crack of dawn.

There was an eerie calm in the room Sunday morning. The parking garage at the hospital was totally empty as were the halls and corridors. I made my way upstairs to relieve my sister who had spent the night in the chair by my Mom’s bed. The room was dimly lit and rhythm of the ventilator and the occasional muted alarms of the several machines monitoring her heart created a surreal soundscape. It felt like I had arrived on the command deck of a spaceship.

They told me that my Mother’s condition was very grave. She was in the bottom 10% of patients who make it to the ER, and at 81 years old, this was quite a shock to her system. They wanted to give me hope, but at the same time they did not want to give me unreasonable expectations. The palliative care nurse made her appearance and wanted to know if they should try to revive her if she had another episode. She was very nice, but I had to hold firm and let her know that we were focused on recovery and return to health and not ready to consider palliative care. The staff at the Surgical Critical Care Unit were onboard with this mission. At no time did they ever give up on her. We did not give up either, nor did she.

I called my Padrinho and he told me that it was up to me to do a special prayer. He told me to take some of our sacrament and call upon the healing guides of our doctrine and of Jesus Christ, and to pray. He told me to miniaturize myself in my vision and enter her heart to bring the healing. He said they would hold a healing work for her in Rio de Janeiro.

I stayed by her side until about 1:00 in the afternoon when my sister returned from taking a shower and getting some food. The Church is about a half a mile from South Miami hospital. I had told Glauber the day before about the situation, and I had asked him to lead the work in my absence. Stephanie asked what she could do, and I asked her to be strong and lead the singing for the work. Remember she was also recovering from surgery, and instead of taking care of herself, she was helping to lead a seven hour long Santo Daime Cura. It was her maracá that would set the tempo and hold the work. It was her singing that everyone else would follow. What I was asking her was no small feat. But she firmed herself and held down the work. Her strength and firmness in this situation were nothing less than awesome.

I walked over to the Church at about 1:20 in the afternoon. This was just after talking to the palliative care nurse. My Mom was sedated, and intubated. Her cardiologist had given her a 25% chance of living. She was, however, stable at the moment. I asked if they could remove the breathing tube and let her wake up again, and they said maybe the next day. With this grim news I walked to the Church.

About 30 people had arrived for this work, including visitors from Orlando, Dallas, and the west coast of Florida. Everyone had been informed of the special purpose for the healing work to pray for healing for my Mom. Stephanie had selected and printed several pictures of my Mother and they were arranged on the center table around the double bladed cross that marks the center of the work space.

I oriented Glauber to the sacrament which we had produced at our sacred ceremony which happens at a safe location many hundreds of miles from Miami. I advised him as to how much he should serve. At 1:45 in the afternoon I took a serving of the sacrament myself and walked back to the hospital. The force arrived fast and strong as I was walking. A line from a hymn that my Madrinha Nonata had received came to me very strongly. The line says “cuando eu chegava em sua casa, eu ja estava irradiado.” The hymn recounts a story of her father, Padrinho Sebastião, who established our branch of the Santo Daime in the village of Mapia in the middle of the Amazon. According to the story, he had gone to his brother in law’s house to do a healing there, and the line says “when I arrived at your house, I was already irradiated”. Which means that he was already actively channeling the healing guides.

I felt myself irradiated as well. The hairs were standing up all down my arms and I felt a shiver down my back. The force of the sacrement was growing beyond what I would normally expect from a small serving of sacrament. I went up to the hospital room and relieved my sister who went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. My Mom was sedated and sleeping. The rhythm of the ventilator set the tone of the room. Occasionally one of the machines would chime a soft alarm… blood pressure, blood oxygen, heart rhythm, temperature. All of these data points seemed to rely on the myriad machines and tubes. A balloon pump in her aorta, that had been threaded through her femoral artery, helped maintain blood pressure.

I entered into concentration and prayer. I prayed for the Daime to bring healing to my Mother. I opened my vision and imagined myself becoming very small and entering her artery and traveling to her heart. I prayed to activate what we call “biophotons” which are pulses of light that are created by our intention, I saw the biophotons appear and they were obliterating dead cells in her heart. This was new to me. I had never thought of obliterating dead cells as a part of a healing process, yet this is what I saw happening. This does not at all reflect any special healing powers or abilities on my part. Instead, I was just channeling and bearing witness to the divine power summoned by all the prayers that were being made for my Mom at the time.

I have learned something about treating an intubated victim of a heart attack. The ventilator machine supplies supplemental oxygen. When my mom was first intubated, the oxygen level she was receiving was 100%. Verious medications also supported her blood pressure and other factors. The strategy is to gradually reduce the medications and the supplemental oxygen. Once supplemental oxygen is reduced to 40% and the medications reduced significantly, then they can remove the breathing tube. When I had left at about 1:00, the doctor had informed us that the earliest this could happen would be the next day. The subtext was “if it is ever possible.”

After I finished my prayer and meditation, I opened my hymn book and softly sang the healing hymns of Padrinho Sebastião. I could feel the energy of the healing work that was going on in the Church just a half a mile away. I could feel the energy of the prayers from Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Céu do Mapia and across the United States. There was such an outpouring of love and support from our brothers and sisters in the Santo Daime.

I remember the exact moment when things shifted. I was singing softly a hymn that says “Jesus Christ, is on the earth, he is a great healer, he heals whoever seeks him, according to their merit”. I felt a wave of emotion come over me and I prayed “oh god, please let my mother and me be deserving of the healing that we are praying for.”

At that exact moment, a nurse tapped my shoulder and asked me to leave the room so they could remove my Mom’s breathing tube. At first I was confused, because the doctor had predicted that it would not be possible to remove it until the next day. But the data points supported this action. The oxygen was at 40% and the medications had been reduced. The conditions for removing the tube had been satisfied, and the best practice is to remove it as soon as this occurs. I went outside texted my step father that they were removing the tube. I sent that text at 3:04 pm on Sunday the 6th of November.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon her condition continued to improve.

My mom and I have a running joke that if I fail to visit her for a glass of iced tea, or if I fail in some other way to perform the obligations of a good and loyal son, that she will report me to the Chinese and my social score will be reduced. So for instance, I might say “Mom, please don’t tell the Chinese, but I can’t come by this afternoon.” That sort of thing. At the end of the afternoon on Sunday I looked at my Mom, who was awake and conversant in her bed, and I asked her “Ok Mom, I’m glad you are better, but tell me, what are we going to tell the Chinese about this?” She laughed. This was at about 7:00 in the evening. I had been there the better part of 13 hours, except for the one hour I had gone to the Church. My sister was planning to stay the night in the recliner chair in the room.

I left the hospital and went over to the Church. As I entered, they were serving the final serving of Sacrament. The singing of the healing hymns had just ended and they were preparing to celebrate by singing the beautiful hymns in the hymnal “Nova Dimensão” (New Dimension) which was received by Padrinho Alfredo. I accepted an ample serving of sacrament and sat in a chair in one of the rows of men. I did not have my uniform, which we call a farda, and so I sat down in my blue T-shirt and jeans. Glauber was in my usual chair at the head of the table and Stephanie was sitting by him. I gave a report on my mom’s condition and everyone cheered they were so elated.

Over the course of the next few days, my Mom’s condition improved very rapidly. On Tuesday the doctors mentioned that by the end of the week she should be able to leave the Surgical Critical Care Unit and move to a regular hospital room. This was such good news. However, when Thursday came, there was simply no reason for her to stay in the hospital at all. She went straight from the SCCU back to her home. Thursday evening she was walking up the stairs, her dogs were jumping in her lap, and she was drinking iced tea. Her recovery was nothing short of a miracle. Truly.

It’s a funny thing when faced with such powerful direct evidence of divine intervention and the power of prayer. I was blessed with a revelation as to how this mechanism works. In this revelation I saw the present moment as a small boat on a vast ocean. Across the vast ocean is the infinite possibility set of everything that could possibly happen in the world from that point forward. When we pray, or set an powerful intention, we do not change the ocean or any of the coast line that contains it. We simply bring the reality we have selected into our conscious experience. All of the other potential realities still exist. Nothing changes when we pray except our path through the multiverse. Every possible version of the future exists in the infinite probability set, and we create our experience through prayer and intention setting.

But many simply cannot see this. A few in my family commented that it was only my Mom’s determination that go her through her ordeal and they credit the presence of family with helping her to maintain her motivation and drive to live. Of course, this is true. My Mom would not have pulled through if she had not held on to the determination that she wanted to live.

There was a moment in the darkest hour, when my sister was on her way, that I could feel my Mom’s spirit in the room. She was unconscious and intubated, and I spoke to her from beside her with my hand on her shoulder, careful not to disturb all of the wires, tubes and catheters that protruded from her bed. “Mom, I said, please hold on until she gets here.” I felt her spirit return to her body. And from that moment she started to heal.

The truth is we all have a choice. We can see God in everything, or we see God in nothing. When we see God everywhere, then the signs of God’s power are obvious and the signs are numerous. When we see him in nothing, well, we simply do not see the signs or any of it. How bleak. For me, standing witness to my Mom’s recovery while people all over the world prayed, was nothing short of a miracle. It has renewed my faith. It has brought me holy peace. And this is what my Mom reported. We asked her if she remembered anything, and she said, as she lost consciousness and held my gaze at the beginning of the ordeal, “I felt peace.”

Everyone is ok now. My daughter in law will be returning next week. Stephanie is fine, and my Mom is watering her orchids. Thank you God and Thank you to all who prayed. Thanks also to those who did not pray, but who showed up anyway and offered support in the material world.

Sweetness and the Fifth Chamber of the Sacred Heart

Recently I have been thinking a lot about some of the teachings that I received recently on a spriitual journey in Sedona, Arizona with Carissa Shumacher. Carissa is a full body channel for the spirit of Yeshua, and she has published a book, The Freedom Transmissions, of the wisdom she has received in her channeling. One of the critical lessons she shares in the Freedom Transmissions talks about the four chambers of the Sacred Heart. They are Simplicity, Stillness, Stability and Surrender. These are the four conditions that we must cultivate in order to enjoy a sense of inner peace, or divine peace, which creates an inner environment for our experience of life. If we have these four aspects in our hearts, then we can more easily stay in a state of inner peace regardless of what is happening outside of us in the horizontal world.

I was thinking of these four different qualities, and it occurred to me that one builds upon the other. I do not remember if this is my own original thought, or whether it is a bit of wisdom that I remember from Carissa’s channeling, but I suppose that does not matter much, because wisdom stands on its own regardless of who received it first. In this concept of the four chambers, the first is simplicity. Simplicity is a state of being that we can actively manage in our activities in the world. We can cultivate simplicity like growing a garden. If our lives are overly noisy and complex, it becomes impossible to maintain the other aspects of the sacred heart. We cannot work very effectively on inner stillness and stability if our complicated lives are constantly throwing us off balance. So simplicity is where we can first engage in the path to inner peace. We can cultivate simplicity in our lives.

Once we start doing this work, we will see that stability is the benefit of cultivating simplicity. By reducing the impacts of external events, we create a stable interior platform. From this stable platform, we can enjoy stillness. If our internal world is constantly in the balance, shifting one way and then the other, without stability, then we cannot stay still. But if we have stability, we can rest in stillness. And from here, we can start to connect to the divine that is within all of us.

That concept of the divine existing within all of us is such a powerful concept, and it is also the concept that sent Yeshua to the cross. If we all have access to the divine within ourselves, then we do not need other people to access the divine presence. Institutions of religions have no purpose if a single individual can access the divine directly. To access this divine presence, we just need to sit in the stillness and silence that we are permitted when we enjoy stability in our interior world, and this stability is built upon a life of simplicity.

And when we start to connect with our interior divinity, we can start to receive impressions that can guide us in the conduct of our lives. And this is the next step–surrender. We still have to listen and follow what we find. We may not like these instructions very much if we have a lot of pet addictions and obsessions in our lives. This examination of the conscience that we can engage in the stillness sometimes brings up aspects of our shadows that we would rather not encounter. It is this discomfort itself that causes us to complicate our lives. The divine instructions are usually very simple and to avoid them, we make our lives very complicated.

So once we cultivate simplicity, we can create stability, and from stability comes stillness, and from stillness comes surrender to the voice of the divine within us.

These practices feel a bit ascetic to me. I imagine John the Baptist and the early Essenes meditating in their caves above the valley of the Dead Sea. So many of our spiritual practices are ascetic, and these practices definitely do help. They are common across so many cultures. The strongest ascetic practice I have ever witnessed is the practice of the Yawanawa people of the Amazon when they go on a sacred “dieta” in communion with the sacred plant “Muka” which is the manifestation of the divine eternal power on earth. To enter communion with this power, one must exist alone in the jungle for several months on a diet that maintains life just above the limits of starvation and dehydration. It is an intense practice to bring a person closer to God, but not one that has ever called to me personally.

We have less extreme versions. And that gets me to the revelation that I have been receiving. Sweetness is the fifth chamber of the sacred heart. It is the essence of the vibration of peace that is the ultimate goal of spiritual practice. Sweetness is kindness to the self, and from here, we can extend kindness in the world around us. Sweetness is what binds compassion to peace. This reminds me of the core teachings of Thich Naht Hanh, who recognizes that the purpose of a meditation practice is to experience happiness and joy in life. So the purpose of the ascetic life is not to cultivate harsh conditions and suffering, it is to create a beautiful interior platform that can support the growth of sweetness within.

I came to this revelation suddenly after several days of conflict. I had been suffering in miscommunication with the people closest to me. Lots of words were exchanged, but the words I said did not seem to penetrate, and the words I received felt harsh and lacking in understanding. It was not until the words stopped and the sweetness came out that the misunderstanding stopped.

I tend to get so trapped inside my head, with lists of reasons, and explanations and misunderstandings. But the body knows so much better. A gentle gesture, a soft touch, a gentle smile can communicate so much better sometimes. All of this work on the path of the Rainbow Warrior. All of this practice and all of this work, it can seem like a lot, and it can feel so harsh. But the remedy for this, the salve, is sweetness. First to ourselves, and then to others. Thus sweetness is the fifth chamber of the sacred heart.

Journey of the Warrior Spirit – How to Know Our Authentic Selves and Recognize the Roles We Play

It has been a few weeks since I have sat down to write, and a lot has happened in the meantime, and what follows is a direct instruction that I have received for my own benefit. It is addressed to “You” and in this case, “You” is “me.”

You have been on a journey toward the discovery of your authentic self this year, and you are just starting to see the larger picture of all the smaller lessons that you have been learning. This understanding is bringing you peace in your interpersonal relationships and satisfaction in your life. You are starting to see that you can live in a state of inner peace and participate in the world, without letting the affairs of other people interfere with your own internal way of being. For a long time in your life you have saught the approval of others, and felt happy or sad depending on the degree to which you are successful in eliciting positive responses from people.

This causes you to play different roles in different situations so that you can satisfy the expectations of others. You are one way for your family, another for your church, and yet another for your employer, and still another for the public. These different personas are the roles that you have played on the different stages of your life. Everyone does this to a certain extent.

And so you met the Warrior Spirit of the Rainbow Wind at the top of the Canyon, who dances with the Sun and the Mist at the Top of the Canyon and casts Rainbows all around. The Warrior Spirit plays no roles, he just dances and his dance is a prayer. The lesson of the Warrior Spirit is to present your authentic self before the divine. It has been a long journey from your childhood to where you are now, and you have a long journey yet to go before you fully embody your divine self. But for now, you can be satisfied that you have arrived where you are, that you are on your journey, and that you may take your rest from time to time as you walk your path.

In this journey the first lesson you have had to work on is to recognize and know your authentic self. This has caused a lot of upheaval in your personal relationships over the last several months, because you have upset the expectations of people who were counting on you to continue to fulfill the same roles you had always fulfilled in the past. And you must have patience and compassion for this process, because it is you who is changing the agreements you have made with others to live separate and apart from your authentic self.

The process of growing into your authentic self has had two separate aspects. The first has been the process of coming to know your shadow and who you really are. You have always wanted to take the right actions in the world, but you have been afraid of your own interior animal nature which sometimes can be attracted to things that you have judged to be “bad” in some way. You have not wanted to admit or recognize these aspects of yourself, and therefore you have denied your own true nature and created a “shadow” self which you do not even want to look at.

The first part of your journey was to recognize and embrace all aspects of yourself as you were created. You were created by God and you are fundamentally good, and there is nothing wrong with the way you were built and designed. You have made promises to people to comport yourself in particular ways so that you can build the structures of your life together, and it is honorable to live in accordance with these agreements that you have made. For an easy illustration that is free from your small minded moral judgments, we can look to an analogy of preservation of a natural resource, say a fishing ground.

Imagine that all of the fishermen in a village recognized that they had overfished the reef outside their village, and so they all agree to let the section of reef recover for a few years. And so the fisherman sail over their traditional fishing ground and put out their lines farther away. It is tempting to every fisherman to cheat the system and drop their lines into the recovering water, but they resist this temptation and continue sailing farther out so that the reef can recover. They can acknowledge and admit that they are tempted to fish on the reef.

But in your society, you do not accept your natural selves and desires. You live as if you were a fisherman who would deny that he would even like to cast his line in the near shore waters. You deny your essential nature because you are afraid of what you might do and the judgments you might receive from others as a consequence. And you therefore have denied that this aspect of yourself even exists. You white wash yourself so that you appear perfect in front of others. This is the birth place of hypocrisy.

And so the first part of your lesson is to embrace your shadow and evaluate your agreements. You honor your agreements in your daily life, because it is by honoring agreements that you can build the structures of your life like home and family. If you were to go running off after every temptation that came in front of you, you would accomplish nothing in the world. You would just run in circles seeking external gratification. This is not the path to a happy and fulfilled life.

However, you must embrace yourself as a child and creation of God. If left to your own devices free from the judgmental eyes of others, what would you really do? Really you would not do anything inherently bad, because you are inherently a good person. You can trust yourself to act according to your internal guidance because you are essentially good. You might face occasional temptations to indulge your material appetites, but you have developed sufficient discernment and self control to act according to your higher values.

So the first step of this journey for you has been to come to know and embrace your authentic self. You are a creature of God, God is in your heart, you are essentially good. and there is no aspect of yourself that you must reject, judge or hate. With that understanding you can make and honor the agreements in your life that enable you to build structures and meaning. That is an ongoing process of constant adjustment and re-evaluation. You are free to alter any agreements in your life that no longer serve your highest and best good.

The second aspect of this lesson is to recognize the roles that you have played in your life. You have seen these as separate personas that you inhabit as necessary to navigate different situations. You have your cocktail party persona, your work persona, family thanksgiving persona. And you have the roles you play.

You have seen that growing up, with your physical deformity in your chest and your situation at home, that you stepped into the role of the hyper independent capable problem solver. You did not trust that you were worthy of love simply because you are part of the human family, and it is human nature to love each other. You cut yourself off from others thinking that you were somehow not worthy of this basic interaction. And so you became a solitary person with a love of nature, animals, reading, and you learned to get by on your own. You found security in the role because it gave you a reason that you could hold on to and believe for why people needed you around. For your early adult life from the age of 21 to only recently, you have relied on your capabilities to justify your social relationships.

But you learned that it is not the same to be needed as it is to be loved, and so you attracted needy people into your life. These people did not give love back to you, instead, they put hooks in you to keep you close because they believed, with your encouragement, that they needed you and your capabilities to be ok themselves. You yourself have, until very recently, encouraged exactly this behavior. You felt insecure about your own worth as a human, and then believed that people would only accept you if you continued to supply exactly what it was that you supplied to get them to like you in the first place.

Do you remember the show you were putting on way back in 2006? Do you remember the juggling of plates and the Spencer Stewart Show? Do you remember struggling to keep your wife, your boss, your family happy by always being the competent one who got the job done? Do you remember when this entire facade collapsed under it’s own weight and you lost all of the structures that you had built? And then your turning point came in 2011, when you found your spiritual path, and you first found people who loved you even when you had nothing to offer in the material world?

This was the start of your journey to your authentic self, and it has taken you another 11 years to arrive at the point that you are now.

Your next lesson is to always inhabit your authentic self. This is what is meant by the lines in the hymns from the Santo Daime about “I live with my master on the small boat that sails in the sea”. You in your small boat with the master, is you in your heart with your divine connection. You can call this Yeshua, you can call it Jesus, you can call it the Buddha within, you can call it your divine light, or your soul, or whatever you want to call it. But it’s essence is this. You live in your sacred heart and you are the divine child of God that lives there in your sacred heart. You must know and love this authentic being that you are.

And then the next aspect of this is your multifaceted prism shield that extends out from your third eye in front of you and then wraps all the way around your back. You wear this shield out in the world, and it protects you in your interactions with others. This is very different from the different personas you used to employ. In your old way of being, you yourself would leave your authentic self and adopt a different persona according to the needs and expectations of every moment. This also served to protect your authentic self from the judgments of the world, but it also had the effect of hiding your authentic self even from you. The ego structures thus created were weak and defensive and required tremendous effort for you to maintain. This caused you exhaustion, concern, and suffering.

So you learned to use a shield to protect your authentic self as you go in the world, while always inhabiting your own heart. This caused some upset in your relationships, because you no longer invested so much effort into soliciting desirable reactions from other people. This multifaceted shield is a beautiful gift you have received from the Warrior Spirit.

And now you are in the next phase. Now that you inhabit your authentic self, and employ a magic shield to hide and protect your sacred interior self in the world, now it is time to start putting down the roles and fantasies that have been the center of your life.

Instead of playing roles to please others, your new way of being will be to always give the best of yourself in pursuit of your divine mission. Say that again. Your lesson is to always give the best of yourself in pursuit of your divine mission. Simple as that.

Lessons from Kaua’i – Firming myself in the Peace of Spirit

I have spent the last couple of weeks here in Hawai’i. We started on the Big Island and then came over here to Kaua’i to spend time with our friends from the community here. Here in Hawai’i I feel very removed from my life on the mainland. The six hour time change means it’s already late afternoon at home by the time I finish my coffee, so any work I might do arrives pretty much after everyone there is done for the day. It seems like even the most simple communication has a two day lag time.

I started to feel this as we crossed the 2640 miles of open water between the California coast and the lava crust airstrip at Kona. There is no fuel along the way. The regular aircraft radios do not work. The internet does not work either. There is nothing but the fuel in the tanks, the constant breathe of the engines, the night sky, and 2500 miles of open water. And so upon arriving here and landing where the black lava field falls into the deep blue ocean, it feels like we have landed on another planet or the Moon.

A lot of energy has been moving over the last couple of weeks. We had the new moon in Leo on July 28th, and then we had the full Moon in the Lion’s Gate on August 11th, and a lot was shifting during this time. I had two communications from people that I have had difficult relationships with in the past, and several “crisis” situations in business, the church community, and my family that seemed to require urgent attention. Most of this energy was just drama, but it is easy for me to get caught up in it in the moment.

From so far away, however, there is really only so much that I can do. There are so many demands that pull my attention away from my present experience in Hawai’i. For the first week of being here, I tried hard to keep up with everything on the mainland, but then in the middle of the week, when we packed up and changed islands, I had to let go of the effort to keep in the loop and trust that everything will be fine until I get back. I hear Padrinho in my ear saying “reduce your sense of self importance.” The concept that everyone will be fine without me is a big step in that direction.

I felt a lot of tension in my body from this energetic division. And once I gave up on trying to stay connected on the mainland, I felt myself really finally arrive here in Kaua’i. This island offers such a gentle and loving embrace. I feel so at home with all of my brothers in the community, and it feels good to work hard outside to prepare the grounds for the spiritual works we have done here. Good hard working brothers make good company and help me feel strong and grounded.

As I felt myself arriving and grounding here on these 5,000,000 year old lava flows that created Kaua’i, what came for me was peace of spirit. I felt in my own body and psyche that I am all A Ok. Sure there are a lot of things going on in the mainland. Sure there are people who are upset because they do not know how their needs are going to be met. Sure there are lots of people who might be disappointed that I am not responding at the moment to their urgencies. But what I have deep in my Solar plexus right now is feeling Irie–which is to say that I have a sense of peace of spirit, that everything is ok here and now an in this moment, and that I am very fortunate to love all of my relations.

So here’s to the islands, and here’s to firming ourselves in the Peace of Spirit that we receive when we are truly present with the Sun the Moon and the Stars, the Earth the Wind and the Sea. All of that is here in Hawai’i.

Peace

Two Ways to Look at Love

A friend of mine asked me for the definition of love the other day. I reached into my spiritual tool box and started to try to put into words a description of Universal Love. I have heard it said many times on the spiritual path that we are supposed to love everyone and everything, and I was doing my best to come up with a definition that could be written down on a flash card. Universal love in twenty five words or less. She was not impressed at all.

“No” she said. “That’s not it at all. Love is a special connection between two people. When you say you love someone, you are talking about a bond between two people. It is the glue that holds them together in a relationship.” She went on to point out that all this spiritual talk about love and about how we are supposed to love everything and everyone removes the meaning from the word.

I have been sitting with this for several days. How can I reconcile these two notions of love? I think the only way to do so is to recognize that the word love is used to describe two very different energies.

The first, the Universal love, or spiritual love, is really a way of being. When we talk of spiritual masters like the Buddha or the Christ, we see that these masters have love that comes from the divine and then when they look out upon the world, love is the lens that they look through. In this sense, love is like a set of rose colored sunglasses. We look out on the world through the lens of love, and then we love all of the things that we see in the world.

The second notion of love is very different. When we say “I love you” to someone, most people think this means something significant. This is where I was running afoul with my sloppy language. It is one thing to understand the principle of universal love and to say that I love all beings as I love myself. Actually, that would not even be true in my case, because I have not achieved anything close to that level of spiritual perfection. There are plenty of things in the world that I judge and dislike. But at least I understand that concept, and if I were to develop true spiritual mastery, then I would be able to say I love all beings.

It clarifies my thinking when I consider relationships that have ended with people who I once had a special bond with. When these relationships have come to an end at a few painful crossroads in my life, the first stage of separation is a very painful process. I have still felt a lot of energy between myself and the other, but the feelings are very difficult feelings. It hurts when we suffer a severance of these relationships. It feels like a limb has been amputated.

So imagine people are like birds or fish. There is a flock of parrots flying around my neighborhood right now, and I can see the little green noisy parrots in the palm tree outside my window. All of the birds in the flock are pretty much the same to me. Let’s say I love the parrots. This does not mean that I love any one of them in particular. There are a bunch of these green birds in the flock, and I love them all. Easy enough to understand.

But lets say I start to feed one of these parrots in particular, and that we start to develop a relationship, until one day, this particular parrot bites me really hard. I will have gone through several stages of relationship with the parrot. First, this bird was a member of a flock, and then I felt about it like I did the rest of the flock. Then I made a special relationship with it, and had a friendship, and then this relationship soured when it bit me. I know have special feelings for this one parrot as a result of the relationship we have together.

So now that the relationship is over, it does me no good to carry negative feelings towards this parrot any longer. I should return it, in my mind and heart at least, to the flock. I should seek to restore for myself the feeling of loving all the parrots that are in the flock, and not having any particular feeling toward this one member.

The same happens with people. When we walk down the street, we see people everywhere. They are like birds in a flock. We can have a sort of universal love feeling towards all of the people we see when we walk down the street. Then, when we enter a special relationship with someone, we can call this love, and we feel a special bond with one person in particular, and we walk the road of a love relationship with them. Sometimes this goes on for life and all ends well, but for most relationships, they end sooner than that, and this causes upset right? And so now instead of love, we have these injured feelings. We look at this one person as different from everyone else.

This happens in all kinds of relationships, not just romantic relationships. We can love a new job, love our coworkers, love our boss, but when things don’t go so well, then love quickly turns.

So the first kind of love is a Universal Spiritual Love that says a lot more about us than about a particular relationship that we have. This is about looking upon the world with kindness and forgiveness and tolerance. If we look at the world through this lens, then we will have warm hearts and good feelings. On top of this we have our special relationships, and these we have to nurture and care for.

And so what have I learned? I have learned not to throw the word LOVE around so carelessly. I have been guilty of saying “I love you” to people without being clear about whether I mean something special. When I tell someone that I love them, I want to be clear that I am talking about appreciating the special bond we share. I need to be clear that I am not talking about my spiritual frame of reference, but about my feelings in particular towards a special relationship.

I am very fortunate that I have several close loving relationships in my life. I am also fortunate that I have some understanding of how having a loving frame of reference can make me a happier person. But I’m not going to confuse these concepts anymore, and I think I’m going to be a little slower to reach for that word so I do not reduce the significance of it when I really do mean it.