Bridge #3 (cont)

Some more thoughts on being a bridge in the church/christianity area:

I want to make it clear that I have not turned my back on the Bible. I stated that I have not turned my back on organized religion, but this may not have been clear regarding Christianity’s holy scriptures, the Bible. I still value the ancient writings. I still go to them on occasion. But what I am saying is that the Bible is not the first place I go when I search for truth.

I believe that I am holding the biblical writings closer to the way they were intended to be viewed, not in the way the Church has proclaimed they should be viewed. They are stories, stories of people trying to make sense of the divine. They are inspired (although from a purely biblical point-of-view the inspiration can really only be applied to the Old Testament!).

Much of the way the Bible has been proclaimed by Church has been in order to strengthen Church’s hold on peoples’ lives. If “salvation” can only be gained through Church’s involvement, then Church grows in importance. If however, people come to see that knowledge and experience of the divine can be achieved without the help of Church, then Church diminishes in importance in society. Therefore we can be assured Church will fight to the bitter end the sorts of views I am espousing.

Some of the shifts in belief this has led to in my experience are as follows:

  1. There is no judgement! God does not judge. And therefore we are not to judge–ourselves or others! This is huge! Especially in the conservative circles in which I have spent most of my life. Rather than judgement, the divine realm teaches. God wants us to progress in our spiritual life. “Judgement” implies failure or success. Not in heaven! Rather, there is evaluation. Did that particular decision result in growth? Or did it set you back? We incarnate in order to learn certain lessons. At the end of each life we take a look and see how we did with those lessons. Did the accomplishment of a particular task lead us to moving on to the next step in our spiritual growth? Did a not-so-successful lesson mean we will have to learn that particular lesson in another life? It is not so much a “do-over” as it is a learning environment. We are shown our past life in a completely, overwhelmingly loving way how we did. And we get to participate in the evaluation and decisions about what needs to be done next.
  2. The entire question which obsesses Church and its people is that of redemption. Church teaches that Jesus “died for our sins”. His death and resurrection was for our salvation. This entire area of doctrine I leave to others to discern! I don’t know the answers. I believe that Jesus was probably an historical figure. And likely was crucified. But the whole dying for our sins bit I have serious questions about. That doctrine seems entirely too, too close to what I mentioned above–a way for Church to have power over peoples’ lives. There are exalted beings in the Spirit realm. Of that I have no doubt. I’ve met some of them. And I believe Jesus was one of these. But certainly not the only one. If he has some preeminent position above all other spirit beings, I concede could be possible; of the higher levels of heaven I have limited knowledge. But I know Jesus is up there among the most powerful and wise beings in the divine realms. He still speaks today. To many of his followers.
  3. Regarding the written scriptures, one more point: whenever spiritual messages, God’s “word” if you will, get written down, it is almost impossible to continue to hear God speak. This has happened over and over again throughout history. Consider the Jewish scriptures. For several centuries, over many generations, God spoke through wise beings usually called prophets. If you read the Hebrew scriptures, these prophets were often very dynamic and interesting people. They proclaimed the messages of heaven to the people. Mostly these messages were transmitted orally through multiple retellings of the stories. When these got written down, roughly around 500 years before the time of Jesus, the dynamic, personal, exciting messages largely ceased. By the time Jesus lived on earth God’s word was largely discerned through a study of the written-down record of what he had spoken many years earlier. Then consider the Christian writings, the “new” testament. Jesus lived a few decades on earth; he gathered some followers. They told and retold the stories they had learned from Jesus and had experienced through sharing life with him. Again, as these original followers began to die off, their followers decided they needed to preserve these stories. So anywhere from 30 to 70 years after the time of Jesus, and the following two to three centuries many accounts were written down and circulated among groups of followers. There were incredibly diverse interpretations of what and who Jesus was. But at some point around 300 years following Jesus’ time on earth, Church leaders held conferences to decide which of the these writings were to be preserved as a record of the history of Church. The writings they rejected were largely destroyed, in order to present a unified picture of who Jesus was and who his followers were and were to be like. In the period following, in which we still live, nothing was permitted to be added to these writings. The Bible, as it came to be called, was complete. All of our messages from the divine were to be discerned through studying the scriptures. Do you see the pattern? They followed almost precisely the pattern of their Jewish forebears. After writing down the scriptures, direct messages from God ceased. Heaven became silent. It fell to study, discussion, proclamation, arguing, etc, to determine what God says.

In my personal journey with God I have moved beyond the need for Church and its doctrines. I will listen to God’s word wherever and through whomever I encounter it.

Bridge #3: Church/Christianity

Years ago, when moving to a new city and connecting with a new church, a leader in that church stated, “We are not biblicists.” I had not heard that word before. I had a sense what he meant by that, but certainly not a full idea of what it meant to be a “biblicist” or to not be a “biblicist”. That concept is much clearer today than it has ever been, in my life. I most certainly am not a biblicist!

I think I was a biblicist in the past, for much of my life. Truth was determined by what the Bible said. In earlier church experiences we would spend huge amounts of time and effort in studying the scriptures and hearing God speak through them.

Just a few years back now, as I was visiting with a friend who I knew as a fairly conservative evangelical Christian, I made the statement that I no longer went to the Bible as my first source of truth. “What?” he screeched (pretty much, anyway!!!). It is inconceivable for conservative Christians (“biblicists”) to entertain such a concept. Indeed, for me, in the past, this was inconceivable.

And I have to admit, it has taken me decades to get to this point: past the point of being a biblicist. My development has been painfully slow. I do not learn quickly, I guess. I do believe, and believe very firmly, that it has been God who has gently and slowly, at my own pace, led me to this point of belief. It is God’s Spirit who has led me beyond biblicism.

I use the term “God” here, only because of my past experience. That is how I viewed the divine for most of my life, and it still feels the most natural way to refer to the Spirit dimension. But be aware that my view of “God”, of who God is, of how he/she operates, has changed radically over the years. My former, biblical, view of God is rapidly disappearing. This view is being replaced by my experiences of God, the divine, the spirit realm, the universe.

Although it is very simplistic to say it this way, my view of God has gone from being a mostly intellectual exercise in studying the scriptures to being an experience, a knowing. A few years ago my wife shared with me a video of Carl Jung being interviewed late in his life by a BBC reporter. The reporter asked him, “Dr Jung, people want to know if you still believe in God.” The wise old psychologist was quiet for a bit. His reply was something like this: “Believe. I have trouble with that word. Believe. I know that God is. I know God. I don’t have to believe.”

Wow!! I could immediately identify with that idea. I have experienced the divine; I have experienced the spirit realm. I don’t need to believe. I know!!! And that is so much more powerful and real than any intellectual exercise in understanding God through written documents. Does that make me a “gnostic” Christian? I’m not sure. It’s not a really important question to me. [If you read the “Out of Winkler” section of this blog site, you will understand a little of what I have been through in my journey to arrive at this point in my life.]

It has been an exciting journey to get here. And “arrive” is not the correct term, either. Because I am still walking the walk! I am still on the journey. And I expect I will be for the remainder of my eternal existence. In fact, this journey has me in a bit of a conundrum right now!

When looking back on my life, there were times when I thought I knew pretty much. I thought I had it together. I had answers for most of life’s difficult questions. And especially was this true in the area of faith and theology. Now, I have experienced so much more; I know so much more than I ever did back then; I have grown so much, and am so much farther ahead. And yet, I feel in a way that I know so much less. Thus the “conundrum”! Because a large part of my increasing knowledge includes a vastly increased understanding of just just how much I do not yet know! So while in the past I felt I knew a pretty large percentage of what there was to know, now, though my knowledge is greater, I am aware that what I know and have experienced is just a small percentage of what there is to know (and experience!).

So how does this make me a “bridge” in this area of my life? I feel I have moved beyond orthodox religion and am now a more spiritual person. I have moved beyond a book religion to a personal experience of the divine. I have moved from learning from predecessors (including the biblical writers) to learning first-hand who “God” is, and what the Spirit realm is all about.

I have not turned my back on organized religion. I still value my upbringing in the Church. But I no longer feel a need for Church. I occasionally attend; I am a member of a local congregation in Calgary. But not because I need Church for any sense of “salvation”. I just like the connections. I enjoy the people who are part of my local congregation. I like the pastor (who, by-the-way, knows where I stand on this issue!!).

And I do not know what my place in all this is, or will be. My transitioning to this new position is currently pretty much a private one. And I am very happy for it to be this way. I have quite dramatically switched my view of myself in relation to the divine. But I have no drive to force this view on others. I am content to live my life quietly, contemplating what Spirit might be doing in our world. I seek wisdom from various sources. I pray daily. I listen to what heaven is saying to me personally. But I do not sense any earth-shaking role in helping others make a similar transition. I do not foresee this changing in the future. But I am open to whatever comes. If my being a bridge will help others, I would be very glad and willing. But I don’t know if that will ever occur. We will see!!

Bridge #2: Class

It has been quite awhile since I blogged “Bridge #1”! I live a busy life: what can I say?!!!

I am on holidays this week, sitting in a fancy hotel in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico! What a life! Santa Fe is absolutely, stunningly beautiful! While I have travelled through the state of New Mexico numerous times in my life, I had never been to or through Santa Fe. What a blessing my life has been. I have experienced so many things, have been to so many places, know people in many places, and in various walks of life.

This contributes to the view of me being a bridge between classes. I grew up in a working-class family. My father was a farmer, then turned to welding as an occupation. He then became a maintenance foreman, later a maintenance electrician. He could fix anything. He had an appliance repair business for awhile. I relied heavily on him to fix things around our house whenever he would come to visit. But he never finished high-school, at least not until later in life. And I grew up with a strong identification with working-class people. People who wore hardhats, carried lunchpails to work, were often found in dirty coveralls and with dirty hands.

I myself have dabbled in various trades. I operated machines in a book-binding shop. I worked for awhile as a mechanic’s helper, doing light mechanical work. (I have done a couple motor overhauls, which is a bit above “light” mechanical, but overhauling was never a huge part of any job I had.) I helped erect a metal farm shed; I have worked at several locations in construction, helping frame houses, pour concrete, etc. I have painted houses as a job. I have driven truck for periods of time. One summer I spent on a wheat-harvest crew, driving truck and combine from southern Oklahoma to northern Montana.

And I have gone on to obtain a Master’s degree. I have worked in several professions, including assistant nurse in a hospital, residential treatment facilities, church leadership including pastoring/preaching, suicide prevention coordinator giving educational presentations to schools and various professional and corporate agencies, chaplaincy in both hospital and correctional settings.

And currently I am a city bus driver, very much a “blue-collar” job. I have been doing this for nearly twenty years, and love it!!

I especially love driving in industrial areas of the city, taking people to their jobs, then home in dirty clothes, smelling of hard labour. I can easily talk to them about the travails of working for a living, finding a job, dealing with bosses, balancing family life with work, you name it. I’ve done most of that, and can relate readily.

But I can also mix easily with professional people. Because of my education, because of my experience in various professions, I can talk to professional people on their level. Not, of course on a technical level, but at a collegial level.

What all of this past experience in various levels of working class and professional circles means to me, I am not sure!! But it has been an incredibly interesting life; I have seldom been bored!

Having jumped around at various occupations and jobs, means I have never followed one career track for very long. Which means I have not advanced nearly to the level of many of my peers. It is tempting sometimes to look at my life as not very successful. But I don’t. I have very few, if any, regrets about my past. I made decisions at stages of my life using the best knowledge I had at the time. Sure, as we can all say, if I had it to do over again I’d make different decisions. But that sort of attitude usually results in thinking that if knew then what I know now. . . Which, in the end, is futile thinking. I did not know then what I know now. But I trust that back whenever, when I was making a certain decision, I had the knowledge to make the best decision I could at the time.

So this week I am in New Mexico, mixing with colleagues of my wife, all of whom have degrees, most of them with graduate degrees, some, like my wife, with post-graduate training and education. They are all attending an academic conference of Jungian psychology. And I feel completely comfortable rubbing shoulders with them. I don’t feel inadequate or less-than. I know that whatever level in life a person achieves, whether academic, financial, occupational, etc., everyone has similar struggles. I guess that is one advantage my very varied life has given me: a perspective to view life from different angles, from different strata if you will. For while western civilization likes to pride itself on being relatively class-less, there still exist class distinctions, like it or not.

I have experience in different classes within our society. I have experienced life at various socio-economic levels. And it is all good. There is no one class which is “better” than another. Earlier today, at a lecture at the psychology conference which brought us to Santa Fe, the speaker talked about material “success” not necessarily bringing happiness and satisfaction with life. I have the latter; I don’t necessarily have the former! And I am totally okay with that!

Bridge #1: Chronology

In posts the last two months I mentioned receiving a revelation about being a bridge. This bridging has occurred in my life in several ways. Today I want to talk about how I see myself as a bridge in time, or between time periods.

I was born on a farm in southern Manitoba. In the early fifties, when I lived there, we had no indoor plumbing. We had an outhouse in the summer. In the winter we had a portable toilet in the basement. We would huddle under some of the asbestos covered heating ducts from the furnace (which in my memory were like octopus arms, weaving here, there, and everywhere!).

The house was heated with coal. A room in the basement was to store the coal. This was fed through a chute from the outside. Coal would be hauled in by truck, and then dumped into the basement. The furnace was then fed by shovelling coal into it.

We had a cistern in the basement, basically one concrete room, with no door, but open at the top. I remember peering into it a few times. It was always very dark and looked quite sinister. We as children were often warned not to play near there, and certainly were never to climb into it!! During the winter my father would drive his pickup to a lake about ten miles away where workers were busy sawing (by hand!) huge blocks of ice out of Morden Lake. These were then loaded onto wagons or trucks. My father would dump this block of ice into the cistern to slowly melt and supply us with water. During the summer my mother would walk across the yard to the barn where our well was. We would hand-pump water into pails and haul it back to the house.

In fact, this feature of our farm likely saved my life! I am not sure exactly how old I was, but quite young. I was playing in the barn, around the ladder which went up into the hayloft. This ladder was just boards nailed across two vertical studs in the outside wall. Because bales of hay were often thrown from the hayloft down to the main floor through this hole where the ladder was, a lot of loose hay would build up around this area. Somehow, climbing and playing around this ladder, I had gotten myself turned upside down and wedged between the ladder and the wall. My head was down in loose hay and my nose and mouth were getting filled with dust and hay. My mother came to the well to get water and heard my feeble cries and came to rescue me. If not for the timing of this, I probably would’ve suffocated.

When it was time for our weekly bathing, we had a tin tub which was placed in the middle of the kitchen. My mother would have water heating in the kettle on the stove. Mixing this boiling water with cooler until the temperature was right, us boys got to bathe first, oft-times more than one in the tub at a time! Then my father would bathe, adding hot water as needed. Then the tub was emptied, and my mother would bathe with fresh water.

We had a phone in the house, like you now see only in museums, mounted on the wall, with an earpiece on a cord, a mouthpiece mounted on the wood box of the phone. There was a crank on the side of this box. I am not sure exactly what this crank did, but was probably linked somehow to the power needed to operate the phone. We were on a party line of course. And I remember at least once when my parents went to the neighbours a mile down the road, leaving me home (around age eight or nine) with my two younger brothers. They left the earpiece hanging by its cord. This way I guess the party line stayed open and they could periodically listen to see if all was quiet in our house. We were supposed to be in bed, sleeping!

I grew up in the 1950’s and we always had motorized transportation of course. But I can also boast of going to school by horse-and-buggy or horse-and-sleigh! Our road was a dirt road. When rain made it impassible our neighbour would hitch up his horses and, coming by our house, I would climb aboard and ride with him as he took his daughters to the one-room country school a mile and a half from our house. In winter when snow drifts closed the road, he would come by with horse-and-sleigh. I remember wrapping up in thick blanket or robes.  In the buggy I was fascinated watching little balls of mud being flung high into the air and come dropping down beside the buggy.

While performing my current job of driving city bus people sometimes ask me how long I’ve been driving. I mischievously answer, “60 years!” I began driving truck and tractor on the farm around age eight. My father would proudly tell the stories of my helping with harvest. I would sit in the 3/4 ton pickup at the edge of the field and watch as my father pulled the combine slowly around the field. When the combine hopper filled up, my father would wave, I would put the truck into low gear and slowly drive across the field. I would pull the truck right up beside the combine and could judge very well exactly where to stop so my father could empty the grain into the truck. When the truck was full, my father and I would switch positions, he driving the truck six miles to the elevator, and I driving the tractor, pulling the combine around the field. My father told of returning to the field and seeing me up at the hopper, moving grain around with my hands to the empty corners in order to be able to keep on going until the truck returned to empty the hopper.

Another driving story: My father had left the pickup a half mile from our yard, out at the highway, with a tank of water (I guess drinking water). The dirt road was muddy and he feared getting stuck. One morning he said he was going to walk down and get the truck. I replied that I wanted to go get it! My mother did not like the idea but my father allowed me to do this. So I walked the half-mile down to the highway, started the truck up, and slowly drove it up the slight grade to our farm. I don’t think I drove fast enough to shift gears, likely just idling it slowly along. At the turn into our driveway, my father said he was watching me approach. I was going too fast for the turn and he was afraid his trust in me was misplaced. He thought I would crash into the ditch. But I wrestled that truck around the corner and into the driveway. My father said it leaned over quite severely but I was able to keep it under control. I didn’t know what all the fuss was about later!! Between my mother and father!!

Sundays we would drive the ten miles into town for church services. Often we would visit my maternal grandparents after church, and often with other cousins present. My Grandpa Janzen had a television! This was really special in those days. Sometime during Sunday afternoon the TV set would be tuned to one of only two or three channels, to receive “Lassie”. In grainy, often snowy, black-and-white we watched enraptured each week’s episode.

So, my beginnings were fairly primitive by today’s standards. But I have so many fond memories of that farm and my foundation in life. I was nine years old when we moved off the farm and into a small town. Which also was a good experience. But I am always proud to identify myself as a Manitoba farm boy!!!

Now, of course, in the span of my life, I am blogging, on an iMac with a 27″ screen. I have an iPhone. I built, owned and flew my own airplane. I travel by airlines to numerous parts of the world to visit. The world has changed drastically during my nearly-seventy years. But I can remember my simpler early years. I can understand an older generation when they talk about the “hard times”. And I can also enjoy the relatively easier lifestyle I now live. I have bridged the times from hard-scrabble Canadian prairie life to life in a modern city.

Table of Contents

first posting: INTRODUCTION
Chapter One: BEGINNINGS
Chapter Two: CHARISMATICA
Chapter Three: INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY
Chapter Four: SEMINARY and BIBLE
Chapter Five: APOCALYPTICA
Chapter Six: BABYLON
Chapter Seven: NDE’S
Chapter Eight: PAST LIVES
Chapter Nine: TRUST
Chapter Ten: BARNABAS AND BEYOND
Chapter Eleven: PHARISEES
Chapter Twelve: THE MAGDALENE
Chapter Thirteen: SOUL REGRESSION
Chapter Fourteen: MY OWN PAST LIVES
Chapter Fifteen: BETWEEN LIVES
Chapter Sixteen: WHAT NEXT?
Chapter Seventeen: DOES IT FIT?
CONCLUSION

CONCLUSION

So, I have come to this spot in my path, now in the early months of 2013. As anyone knows who lives their life consciously as a journey, the path doesn’t end; it continues. And so my own trek continues. Where it will lead, only Spirit knows. And he isn’t telling! At least not the big picture. I find he leads step by step. We only need to see the next small bit of where we are going. We can trust that he is the one who holds the entire picture in mind and knows where he is leading us.

Please, dear reader, view this little exercise as a snapshot in time. There will be more to the road than shared here. I continued to put off posting this final chapter in my life’s story which I call, Out of Winkler. I am so aware of how much more there is to learn, of how much farther I have yet to go on this road of discovery. But I also feel the need to bring this particular saga to an end! And so I post what I call “Conclusion”, knowing that it is in no way any sort of conclusion, just the point where I am now, the place in the road where I have come to at this time.

As I continue down the trail, I will be sharing further experiences on my blog on the Urban Monk website, under the “Journal” heading. It has been an exciting hike thus far; I expect the excitement to only increase as we all head down the path. There are lots of predictions about this time which we live in. Who knows what may yet transpire?

What is clear to me is that old paradigms no longer apply. I get into discussions over some of my ideas, and I find that I am continually put into categories under old paradigms such as liberal/conservative. If I am talking with someone who views them self as conservative, and I espouse ideas they cannot accept, I am labelled as “liberal”. I certainly do not view myself as a “liberal” Christian! I consider myself still firmly in the “conservative” camp. However, I recognize that my open-mindedness may be viewed askance as quite “liberal” by some. Perhaps a label I could accept was one we sort of adopted in the 1970’s, and that is “radical”. (See my chapters on that era, around chapter three.) I can easily consider myself a radical conservative evangelical Christian.

One paradigm on which I sense myself moving from one end to the other might be a paradigm on revealed truth. If you mark the ends of this continuum as biblical truth on one end, and spiritual truth at the other, then I can accept that I am moving radically along this line. Most of my life I received truth as it was revealed in scripture. I spent great amounts of energy and time studying the Bible, praying and meditating, searching for truth as God was revealing it through his book. “God’s will” was a constant topic of discussion.

As I have moved through life, documented in the previous chapters of Out of Winkler, I have increasingly begun to accept truth as it is revealed through experience, both mine and others’ experiences. I cannot view myself any longer as a “person of the book”, or a “book Christian”. This viewpoint I see as limiting, and even a hindrance to my growth as a spiritual person. I do not reject biblical writings. I see the problem more as one of traditional Church interpretations of the Bible.

And I do not see the Bible as the only truth, the only source of truth. God continues to speak to people today. Just look at some of my blogs on this website and you will see that I accept truth coming to us in many ways. And I think God’s Spirit is increasing his contact with us, teaching more and more, and teaching us more quickly than ever before. So I guess it would be fair to say that the end of this continuum which I am moving out of could be labelled as book, legal, law type of faith. The end toward which I continually feel myself drawn could be labelled as Spirit, divine, spiritual. And in my trusting walk down this path, I no longer feel an urgent need to have all the answers. That need was certainly part of my journey when I was closer to the book end (pun intended?!!!) of the paradigm. The way I view this at present is that my faith was very much based on my intellect, my ability to figure out the answers, my ability to understand. Now I see my part in this as really a simple trust. I trust Spirit to lead, to show me the way, to use me as it sees fit. I allow my life to unfold bit by bit as it is meant to unfold.

As I come to the end of this part of my spiritual journey I do sense an increasing urgency from Spirit. We have been given tasks to do. There is a reason why each of us is on earth at this particular time, in our own particular location. We must be about those tasks, whether they are big, or small and seemingly insignificant. The part each of us agreed to play is of utmost importance, not only to our own spiritual life and well-being, but also to the well-being of the planet, and indeed the entire universe. It is time to be awake, grow in our spiritual consciousness, reach out to aid each other on the path, and thus fulfill our destinies.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – DOES IT FIT?

Does it fit? And how does it fit? These are questions raised by my experiences in soul regression. Even more generally, what does all of this have to say about what Spirit is saying in our time, and to our generation? I am almost done recording my spiritual journey up to the present. What have I learned over the years? What has God been teaching me? How do the things I am being taught currently fit with what I have learned in earlier stages of my life? Where has Source been leading me? Where does Spirit want me yet to go in my life? And why have I been led in the way I have? Why has the Divine led me on this particular path which seems so at odds with my earlier belief system? Why do I so often feel out-of-step?

As I have said several times throughout this account, I no longer believe in pure coincidence. I believe that everything that happens to us is by design. Therefore, I have to believe that there is a purpose in my being taught the things I have learned thus far in my life. There has to be a reason I have been led into experiences which directly challenge earlier beliefs.

So as I bring this story to a close, for now, I want to offer a few observations.

I have been amazed the past few years at the growing awareness in my surrounding society of spiritual phenomena. There was a time, perhaps a decade ago, perhaps about the turn of the century, that my wife and I were talking about our own growing spiritual awareness. At that time we were aware of only a few people around us who were traveling a similar path. And most of those awakening souls were not part of organized religion. I was an exception! At times we despaired at the small size of this movement. So few seemed to be walking a path of ascending in their spiritual lives. One day my wife ran across an article, in another context, which talked about the concept of critical mass. This article dealt with the fact that it does not take a majority to influence society. A relatively small number within a society is able to effect change.

This gave us hope! And certainly this encouraged us to motor on, each in our own quiet way, doing what we are able to spread the message of what God, the Source, the Divine, was working at in our day. This motivates us to continue to live our lives as we have, believing implicitly that what we are doing is in line with what Source is doing. We do not have to see the bigger picture; we only need to see what is set immediately before us. We can walk confidently into the black unknowingness of the future aware only of who is leading us and who is in ultimate control.

We are now more than a decade down the path from when we first became aware that we were being called to be part of a new way of thinking, a new way of believing. We were becoming increasingly aware that Spirit was moving in new ways on this planet and that we were part of that new move. During this time we were aware that the numbers of people who are opening up to God are increasing. And the numbers are increasing exponentially; it is an exploding movement. And it is exciting! We are so glad and thankful to be part of what the Divine is doing in our time and in our world.

We do not expect the path to be easy these next few years. I think there will be much distress, much discomfort, as systems of this world continue to disintegrate. It will not be fun. But we also know that we are infinitely cared for and loved. We know that there are many others with us on this journey. We must support and comfort one another as we walk bravely together into the future.

Before I leave this account, there are a few things I want to say yet under the heading: “Does It Fit?”. While my blog, which can be found under the “Journal” category of the Urban Monk, will be dealing with many of these topics in the coming months and years, I feel it right to at least briefly share some thoughts on how all the things God has been teaching me recently might fit with the way I was brought up, with the way I was taught throughout most of my life.

I no longer think it matters much exactly what or how I believe. As I stated way back in the introduction, “heretic” is a purely human concern. When I stand before God, I will not be asked how orthodox my belief system was! Therefore I no longer give nearly as much importance to the particulars of belief, scripture, theology, etc. Ultimately it is of little concern to me. I don’t have to know how everything fits. I don’t have to know whether it fits at all! That is up to Spirit. That is up to higher and wiser minds than mine. But I am still a human being with a brain! I still puzzle over things; I ask questions and seek answers. Therefore I do have some ideas about how some of these things might fit with my earlier ways of thinking. So, in somewhat point form, here are some questions, and accompanying thoughts.

1.  What does my new way of thinking say about heaven?

Heaven is a place where we continue. We continue to grow; we continue to learn; we continue to work; we continue to relate, to have friends, to love and care for one another. Heaven is also a place where, while we continue as individuals with our own personalities and minds, there is much more one-ness of thought, much more unity of understanding, than there is here on earth.

2.  What does this say about God?

God is the loving Source of all. Everything that is and moves and has its being comes from God. God is the definition of love. Without God there is nothing. God is all.

3.  What does this say about the afterlife?

Death is an illusion; we cross over effortlessly. Very quickly after our physical death we begin to regain our consciousness of coming home. This is where we belong, where we originate from, where our closest companions are.

4.  What does this say about judgement?

In the afterlife, in heaven, there really is no judgement, at least not how we think of it here on earth, in our various organized religious systems. True, there is evaluation, there is review of our spiritual progress through various lifetimes, and especially of the life just completed. After all, in that realm, truth reigns supreme. But judgement in the sense of guilt or shame or regret comes primarily from within our own selves. We may feel profoundly guilty over having really blown it! But our Spirit companions, teachers, and guides will probably communicate this as disappointment that we failed to learn and grow. This is all done in a sense of teaching. What do we need to learn now? How do we grow from this experience? What sorts of tasks will undo the mistakes we may have made in that life?

5.  What does this say about religion?

Organized religions are human efforts to gain some understanding of the ineffable, the divine, the unknowable, the mystical nature of being. Religion does play its role in society. In that sense we can say it is a gift from God. But it is certainly limited in its role. Many there be who transcend the need for religion. And religion has difficulty understanding those individuals and often will not tolerate them. There is in the Christian writings a statement that the Jewish religion out of which Christianity emerged was a “custodian” or “supervisor” (Galatians 3.24). In a recent discussion about this someone stated that perhaps the Church is now the “custodian” of our faith, in the same way that Judaism was for the people in previous times. That idea seems to me a very good way in which to view organized religion, if perhaps a bit simplistic.

6.  What does this say about salvation?

In the unlimited expanse of the Creator’s love and acceptance, everyone has their chance. In my own conservative, evangelical background, the sense is that a once-and-for-all sort of decision needs to be made in order to experience salvation. There is a definite element of fear instilled in adherents that we need to get it right; there are no second chances. Fortunately God’s grace completely transcends those ideas! In the reality of the Spirit world the sense is of wanting to grow toward oneness with the Divine mind, rather than the Christian sense of being either in or out. We are created with the longing to grow toward God. That is what motivates us to grow, to become more spiritual, to express God’s love and acceptance. It also provides a profound sense of being able to relax about all this. There is no urgency, in the sense of fear of missing my one chance at salvation.

7.  What does this say about evangelization?

Certainly, in the world into which I am entering, there is a sense of wanting to spread the word. But it is more in the sense of wanting to help others grow in their own spiritual awareness. Aiding growth in spiritual consciousness is a very different enterprise than trying to convince someone of the superiority of my religious arguments. It becomes a matter of heart, as opposed to a matter of the mind.

8.  What does this say about gospel?

The gospel, or good news (same word, same concept), is that we are here in order to progress, to grow, in our own spiritual consciousness. And as we individuals do that, we also are part of, and contribute toward, the overall growth of the spiritual evolution of the entire planet, and to some extent, the entire universe.

These are concepts with which I really am not well-versed. I don’t understand very clearly how all this fits into the big picture. I don’t see the big picture. All I know is that I am responsible for the task given me before I was born into this life. So “spreading the gospel” can take an infinite number of guises. Everyone has their own part to play. It might mean great and wonderful achievements. Or it might mean reaching and influencing one other person during our lifetime. It might mean primarily an inward, solitary type of growth, without much outward influence. It might mean affecting multitudes. We cannot judge.

9.  What happens when truth comes up against long-held beliefs?

The truth of direct experience versus faith: do we question the veracity of our experience? Or do we alter our beliefs? I asked this question on FaceBook awhile back. The answers I received were 100% on the side of shifting our beliefs. And some of those answers came from friends I know to be very conservative, devout, biblical Christians. This surprised me somewhat. Because what I have seen in Church throughout my life is that we do not want to go (either physically, or mentally) into areas where our orthodoxy gets questioned. We are taught not to go there; we are exhorted not to go there. That is one reason why my own spiritual path has at times caught me off guard. My background and training would not have predilected me to go the path I tread. For that reason I tend to use language like, “God had to drag me kicking and screaming into this!” Where I am today is not the natural outgrowth of my earlier life. Thus I am forced to believe that it is Spirit who has led me here; it is not something I went looking for.

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN – WHAT NEXT?

I spent the months following my soul regression sessions processing what I had experienced. I journaled my memories of the sessions, my reactions and impressions of the things I had learned. I listened to the recordings and made further notes from them. At one point, about halfway through my BLSR session recording I began transcribing almost word-for-word, in order to better recall what I had experienced, and to save it for posterity.

I came away from the session thinking that the soul-regression process was simple enough that I could do this. But I assumed that training to become a hypnotist would be long and complicated and not something I could consider at my age (in my sixties). So I never really gave that serious thought.

In September, I ran across a brief synopsis of Michael Newton’s work. This came from a book completely unrelated to soul regression. At the very end of the synopsis was one paragraph on another therapist using Newton’s methods, who had written a book, Linda Backman. I decided I’d like to read her book. A search around local resources came up empty.

About the same time, Peggy asked me if Linda Backman wasn’t the name of the author whose book I was trying to locate. She said Linda was coming to Calgary to give a workshop at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo coming up at the end of September. I immediately enrolled online and made arrangements to attend. This involved a fair bit of juggling since one of the choirs I sing in was doing two concerts that same day. I had to wedge this workshop in between these performances. I went mainly to hear what sort of person this Linda Backman might be, and to buy her book, if I was suitably impressed.

Well, I was impressed, I bought her book, and I armed myself with material on classes she was teaching over the next year. A brief talk with her indicated that becoming a hypnotherapist was not all that complicated, or time-consuming. She operates out of Boulder, Colorado, a location Peggy and I have driven past dozens of times on trips to visit family. So Linda seemed accessible. And then I discovered that some of her courses are taught via tele-conferencing, making them even more accessible.

Wow! Coincidence? I think not! Definitely not! I signed up for the first step (to learn the hypnosis process), and then signed up to become a past-life soul regression therapist. As I write this, I have almost completed this initial training in PLSR. Part of the training, of course, involves doing some practicum sessions with friends and family willing to be guinea pigs. And let me tell you: the exhilaration that comes from leading others into a past-life is almost as profound as having a past-life experience myself!

I came away from my first session thinking, wow, this actually works! And the client had such a profound experience that her first expression upon coming up out of trance was “Wow!! That was so much more than I thought it would be!”

My next step, coming up, is to do a course in between-lives soul regression (BLSR). This is taught in-house, in Colorado. So, as I write, I am preparing for a trip there, and an intensive five days of training. Several of my practicum clients have already let me know they want to be guinea pigs for that next stage of my training! A single past-life session just whets the appetite for more.

After that, we will see. As stated earlier, I try to operate quite immediately, in the present. I do not look or anticipate very far ahead. So my current focus is on the between-lives training. If that leads to a private practice as a soul regression therapist, I would love it. But I don’t know if it will. Only time will tell.

I am also beginning the process of developing this website under the name of Urban Monk. I hope that it will become an instrument for promoting regression sessions, and also a forum for sharing this journal of my spiritual travels. Even writing this account brings no certainty for the future. Should I publish it, seek a publisher, self-publish, or what? Offer it only online? I don’t know. I just know that writing this has been an exercise in obedience to Spirit. I was told quite distinctly in meditation to write this, even given the title (I don’t know what I will do if a publisher wants to publish, but wants me to change the name!!!).

POSTSCRIPT: I decided to post this journal online, and to do it one chapter at a time, over a period of time. Since writing this account I have seen the Urban Monk website developed quite satisfactorily. My son, Isaac, has helped me immensely in setting it up, doing the artwork, and being an encouragement along the way.

Since I wrote these “Out of Winkler” chapters some months ago, I have successfully taken the BLSR course in Colorado, and have completed a number of practicum sessions, working toward my certification.

I am certainly encouraged in this work by God’s Spirit. A lot of affirmation comes my way through prayer and meditation. I see soul regression work as being of great benefit to the spiritual awakening of the human race, in addition to the obvious benefits to the individual being regressed. But, I will deal with more of those sort of ideas in the following chapter, and in the conclusion. More later!!!

CHAPTER FIFTEEN – BETWEEN LIVES

Wow! Where do I begin? The afternoon, between-lives soul regression (BLSR) lasted twice as long as the morning, past-life soul regression (PLSR). And it was profound!

The session began with another PLSR, as most BLSR sessions do. This time I was taken back to medieval times where I was a stable hand for a wealthy landowner. And again, as in my life as Frank, I was good at what I did. The details that emerged over the course of the session were that I was called Brand; I had been an orphan, but had made the most of my life. Rather than run wild on the streets, I had begun learning about horses by just hanging around the local stables. This was occurring in a smallish town somewhere in Europe. 1600’s was the time period.

I learned how to handle horses, how to harness them, shoe them. In exchange for my helping around the stables, I was able to get enough to eat and survive. Somewhere in my youth, my eventual master took notice of me and my ability to handle horses; he hired me on as one of his stablehands. Over the years I became his most trusted and senior hand.

The session began with me at the door of the stable. Another hand was having trouble with a rather spirited horse and I went over to help. I was able to talk the horse down. The horse allowed me to saddle him and lead him to the front of an impressive looking manor house. It was dark. My master came out, thanked me, jumped into the saddle and was off.

Because of my service to him, my master had given me a small house at the edge of his property to live in. Prior to this, I had slept in the stables along with the other stable hands. Once I had this cabin I began fixing it up, as it had become quite run down through non-use.

I began to court a woman who worked inside the house, in the kitchens. I had noticed her, but because of my humble background, couldn’t really pursue a relationship. After getting the cottage, I felt like I could offer her some sort of life. We married with the blessing of the owners. But as this was well into mid-life for us, we never had any children. Belinda was afflicted with quite severe arthritis. We were a fairly quiet couple. We did not talk a lot, but had a very warm and caring relationship.

As we got older, we began to discuss what would happen to us. As our abilities declined, would we continue to be of use to the master? Would he allow us to stay in “our” house if we got to the point of not being useful to him any more? My own relationship with the master was friendly, but very much servant-master. I sensed that he liked my work and service to him very much, but I did not hear much direct praise from him. Therefore, Belinda and I were quite concerned. Her abilities in the kitchen were declining, and I was getting older and less able to handle all the physical aspects of the work with the horses.

The last few years of Belinda’s life, she was hardly able to work at all, being bedfast much of the time. Some of the women she worked with in the house would come to our cottage to take care of her. She died several years before me, and I ended up alone. But the master allowed me to bury her on his property, and allowed me to continue living in our house, which by that time had taken on quite a cheery atmosphere with all the work Belinda and I had put into it.

I continued to go down to the stables, and always had a calming influence on the horses, but I was not able to do very much. Again, I was concerned about how my days would end. I needn’t have worried. As I declined in health, the master himself came down to the cottage and saw me, making sure I was okay and that my needs were being met. He ensured me I would be buried beside Belinda. This was very gratifying for me, considering my extremely humble beginnings in this life as Brand.

When I died my awareness lifted effortlessly above the scene. I surveyed it only briefly before moving on up. As I was rising up, the therapist asked me at one point to look back and see if I could yet see the curvature of the earth as it receded. I looked back and was surprised that I could already see it as a complete globe! Also I was aware of a wall of bright yellow, golden flames on my left as I rose. This intense light in no way impeded my vision.

At one point, I approached an arch suspended in the sky.  There were stars all around. The arch was sort of lit up more on the left, reflecting some of the light from the wall of flames, which by now was coalescing more into a huge ball of light. At first I thought I was cruising next to the sun, but as I moved up, this light turned out to be something different.

As I got closer to the arch, I slowed down and paused in front of it. I became aware that the arch was only one part of an entire series of arches arranged in improbable conjunction with each other at different angles and varying heights. All these arches resembled the most magnificent arches I had seen a month earlier, on a trip to France. These were graceful, sweeping to incredible heights and intertwined in a most delightful way.

Upon encouragement from the therapist, I slowly moved through the arch. I was still in mid-air, approximately two-thirds of the way up from the bottom of the arch. These arches, by the way, were not supported by anything. They just hung there in mid-air with no foundation. Also, by this time, I was aware that I appeared as a whitish, fuzzy ball, like one of those child’s toys which are just round furry balls with large black eyes sewn on.

As I moved through the arch I felt a slight tingle, sort of like a mild electrical shock. It was not unpleasant, just there. At this point the therapist suggested I approach this golden ball of light to find out if it just might turn out to be my spirit guide. I knew from my reading that one of the common, if not universal, characteristics of BLSR‘s is meeting up with our spirit guides upon entering the astral realm. These guides are heavenly beings assigned to guide us, teach us, help us through our various experiences in our various lives, and in between. They would be what is commonly thought of as a guardian angel.

Sure enough, as I approached the golden ball of light, I became aware that this was indeed my spirit guide. He (although beings in this realm don’t necessarily have gender, they often appear to us in one gender or another, mostly for our own comfort in relating and renewing our connection with them) said, “Welcome home!” Almost immediately he enveloped me and lovingly began restoring my energy. He indicated (again, to use words like “said” are misleading; communication occurs, but not really through speech forms) that I had expended much energy in this previous life as Brand, and he would heal me.

After I was restored, I found myself outside him and beside him. We continued moving through the sky, (I think we had already been moving while he was enveloping and healing me). I was quite aware that all the “stars” around me were other beings, but right where we were, it was just the two of us. As we moved, he began leading me through a series of aerobatic maneuvers. We did loops, various sorts of rolls, whooping with laughter! I would glance over at him as we did these effortless maneuvers. His large black eyes appeared to me as an eagle’s. I sensed his smile, although neither of us had mouths!

I gradually became aware that we were slowly making our way toward six “stars”, which appeared to be in a line. As we moved toward them in a relaxed and gentle way, having loads of fun soaring through the sky, I became aware that these six lights were beings, and I began to suspect they might be my Council of Elders.

This is another characteristic of entering the heavenly realm. Everyone appears before some form of group where their life just lived is evaluated. Although many titles are used to describe these groups, I will call mine the Council of Elders, a common term.

These Elders are very exalted, wise beings. On earth we would call them angels; maybe even terms like “archangels” would be appropriate. I was aware that these were supremely advanced beings with much wisdom. They appeared to me in human form, gradually becoming such as we approached.

Without going into a lot of detail, I had quite a long session with these Elders. During this time I was shown brief glimpses of two more past lives, including my first incarnation on earth. This occurred in primeval times, in a jungle, probably in present-day India. I was part of a hunting party of five. We had formed a semi-circle around a large animal, which turned out to be a tiger. The leader of the party was at the middle position of the semi-circle; I was on his right. As we got closer and closer, the tiger became aware that he was trapped up against a high rock wall. Most of our stealthy movements were directed through hand signals from the leader. As we closed in, the tiger turned and leapt high in the air toward us. We all, as one, flung our spears at him. As the tiger came down he scraped the leader, scratching him quite deeply. One of the other party jumped on the tiger and finished killing him with a stone knife, as the spears had only slowed him down, not killed him. We then looked after our leader and his wounds, dressing them as best we could out there in the bush. Then we five hoisted the tiger and returned triumphant to our clan. There was much rejoicing, both at the meat from the animal, but also from the magnificent skin we would have to demonstrate our wealth. The leader of this hunting party turned out to be the soul of my present-day brother, Wesley, who I have mentioned earlier as referring me to certain books and such.

The other life I was shown, in just one brief episode, occurred in Mayan times. This scene was introduced by one of the Council of Elders who had a medallion around his neck which had a human face on it, the outside edge containing figurative sun rays. I was a Mayan priest, part of a group of priests whose job it was to observe the skies and make calculations. As a Mayan priest I was aware that the leader of our guild was not a good man. He was cruel and oppressive, but I chose to ignore this. I felt powerless to do anything about it, but more than this, I turned a blind eye and pretended that the evil was not going on.

The lesson I was shown from this past life was that every religious leader is human. In Mayan culture, leaders were held up as divine, or near divine. Looking at Mayan ruins today, you can see that association with the divine. The top leader would have been viewed as God. But the medallion worn by my Elder showed that even though he might be depicted as a sun, or sun god, he was completely human, and subject to human failings. This past life explains the roots of my skepticism of organized religion today!

When my session with the Council was over, and I had been basically told I had done well, the six Elders stood behind their regal marble table and saluted me. They assured me I am doing well in my life as Dennis, that I will continue to play behind-the-scenes sorts of roles, that I will be a positive influence in peoples’ lives, that I have what I need to accomplish this, that I am wise, that they support me, and so on.

I prostrated myself before these extremely wise and exalted beings, so overwhelmed at their complete love and support of me and who I am. I was completely speechless. Then they begin filing out from behind the table. The first one, the one who had led the proceedings, came to me and took me by the hand to raise me upright. One by one they shook my hand, looking me in the eye in encouragement. As they filed by and to my right, they pulled up the hoods on the cloaks they are wearing, and gradually disappeared.

So, I know, without any doubts whatsoever, that I am loved, cared for, supported and protected by very powerful and wise beings in the heavens. I can move forward with confidence that I am led in the right path. I proceed with confidence that I am supplied with everything I need to accomplish the tasks I have yet to do in my life as Dennis.

The next step in this session was to take me to my group of spirit companions, my spiritual family. But much time had elapsed and I already felt so overwhelmed that I chose to end the session. The spirit family we all have is yet another common dynamic of our soul lives. I hope some day to do another session and be able to meet these soul friends of mine.

The general information about these soul groups is that they consist of souls who were all created around the same time. Thus they tend to be of similar maturity. They are often involved in the same sorts of projects. They almost always incarnate together in order to assist one another in their earthly lives. In various lives they can play different roles. A husband and wife in one life might end up being a parent/child duo in another, or best friends, or siblings.

As we join with a fetus in order to begin our earthly sojourns, we go through a fairly complete amnesia as to our true identity as soul beings. There is scriptural support for this process. Jesus, our leader, the one we are to follow and emulate, “. . . did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form . . .” (Philippians 2.6-8). When we are born we empty ourselves of the awareness of our spiritual natures, and take on human form. We then spend our lives trying to recapture who we are and what we are about, what we came here to accomplish.

I came away from my soul regression session very full. This experience will remain with me for the rest of my days, I am sure.

I returned home from this experience without any awareness that there was anything more in store for me than what I had already experienced in my soul regression sessions. How naive! Read on!

CHAPTER FOURTEEN – MY OWN PAST LIVES

During my first soul regression, I was taken back to my soul’s most immediate past life. As images began to come to mind I initially saw myself, my former self, from overhead. Gradually the scene cleared, and I began to see things through “my” eyes in that life. During the regression I went back and forth between these modes, seeing things from “outside”, and then actually seeing the scene through the eyes of my former self.

Without going into a lot of detail, I discovered a life lived, beginning in the 1880’s, in Illinois, U.S.A. I was a young man just setting out in life. I was assisted in buying some land outside a small town, which I proceeded to farm. The assistance came from my father and one of his friends. I had been born in Pennsylvania, where the rest of my family lived. My father’s friend lived in this small town in Illinois, thus the connection.

My name was Frank Sawyer. I was successful. I built up quite a good farm, which I later bequeathed to one of my sons. I had three children, two sons, and the youngest, a daughter. One of my sons was killed in the Great War. In my later years, my wife and I moved into town, living in a simple house, nice, but in no way extravagant. I was sought out by people in the town who admired my wisdom, simple and down-to-earth. I was not a leader by any stretch, but just a citizen of that town who was well-respected by his fellow citizens. I died in 1928, survived by my wife and two children.

Following my death I, as a soul, was able to rise above the scene, observing my funeral in the small church my family had attended all our lives. My entire life as Frank Sawyer was normal; there were no traumatic events. Sure, losing my son in the war was very sad, and I mourned deeply. But all of that was viewed by me as a normal part of life. Death was accepted matter-of-factly.

I learned that I was a very strong, stable, thoughtful and wise person. Though not in any sort of formal leadership, I was sought out, respected, solid, quiet. I learned later that this is a sort of theme that carries through my lives. I have always been a strong and respected person.

This affirms who I am today as Dennis. I have influenced a significant number of people during this lifetime. While I have occasionally sought out leadership positions, I have never been particularly successful at them. And I, even before all this soul regression stuff came along, had come to terms with that. I have seen that I can just live out my life in the circumstances in which I find myself, and be content with that.

But, I’m beginning to get ahead of myself! Some of these lessons only became clear after my between-lives session in the afternoon. So, let’s move on to that experience.