|Posted on June 18, 2016 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
This is from the Introduction to my new book - Experiences with God:
Throughout history, religion has played a central role in the human story, and yet, the state of the human race today causes people to wonder sometimes if religion has been more of a curse than a blessing. A great deal of conflict results from the different approaches people take in their religious beliefs. Sometimes these conflicts fuel violence and wars.
Nevertheless, religion at its best inspires people to live exemplary lives of great empathy, compassion, and service to others. Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King immediately come to mind, but there are countless others throughout history who have been deeply moved and inspired through religion.
Today, the word religion can trigger such negative reactions that many people will say, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” In this book, we will employ the words spiritual and spirituality much more often than the word religious, but first, we’d like to explore the essence of the word religion, because there is a lesson for us all here. While many people have become sour with religion, especially the institutional variety, it’s important that we don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Many scholars believe that the word religion originates from the Latin verb ligare, from which we derive the word ligament. Ligare means “to connect” or join together. Combined with the prefix re, which means “again,” the word religion can be translated as “to connect again.” So if religion means to connect again, what is it that is meant to be reconnected? Our simple answer: God and human beings.
In our view, religion in its simplest purest form is any human activity that is practiced for the purpose of reuniting humans with God. From that perspective, a person who is walking in the woods talking to God is practicing religion. In fact, many people have had more profound experiences communing with God in nature than they have had while participating in a church service on a Sunday morning.
We think this is often what people are really trying to communicate when they say – “I’m not into religion; I’m into spirituality.” Many people are not completely fulfilled by participating in formal religious activities such as worship services, rituals, and theological studies; they would rather have a personal spiritual encounter with God.
So if the essence of religious practice is to help God and humans reconnect, how do we go about accomplishing that? We have found that there are specific spiritual techniques that we can use in order to connect to God. We will share some of them here in this book. Also, it has been our experience that there are obstacles that can contribute to a person’s feeling of alienation from God. We will explore some of them with the goal of finding ways of overcoming these blocks. The purpose of this book is to provide simple, concrete, practical techniques and ideas that are designed to produce real, direct, and personal experiences with God, our Divine Source. We will also share with you examples of everyday people who have employed these techniques.
This is not so much a book of theology as it is a book of what has historically been called mysticism. The Collins English Dictionary defines mysticism as “a system of contemplative prayer and spirituality aimed at achieving direct intuitive experience of the divine.” Mysticism is that branch of religion that has the direct experience of God as its goal. Throughout human history, there have been individuals who have had powerful mystical experiences, and in this book, we will introduce you to some of them.
In our view, there is nothing more beneficial to a person’s life than having a direct personal experience with God. That is because the main feature of such an encounter is the discovery that God is a Being of unconditional love. Knowing that we are at our essence the beloved children of a Heavenly Parent is a powerfully transformative realization. When we know that we are loved absolutely, that knowledge has the power to heal us from our suffering, give deep meaning to our lives, and empower us to achieve our highest potential.
|Posted on June 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM||comments (1)|
The most vivid memory I have of the New Yorker Hotel is from May 13, 1979. There in the hallway of the 30th floor, I was introduced to my wife, Connie, for the first time.
Recently, I was made aware of another story surrounding the New Yorker Hotel that has special meaning for me – three floors above the spot where I met my wife is the room where Nikola Tesla spent the last 10 years of his life.
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor who possessed one of the most brilliant minds of all time. He is famous as the man who designed the generators that harnessed the power of Niagara Falls in 1895, the first large-scale hydroelectric project in the world.
The son of an Orthodox priest, Tesla was a mystic who had out-of-body experiences from the time he was seven years old. As a child, he saw a photograph of Niagara Falls and prophesied that one day he would harness the power there. He came up with his idea for alternating current (AC) in a vision he received while watching a sunset in a park in Budapest. Another example of one of his prophetic ideas was his realization that matter and energy were interchangeable, an inspiration he received years before Einstein demonstrated the same idea with his Theory of Relativity. He is a person some would describe as “spiritually open.”
I feel an affinity for Tesla because I believe he was a mystic who was being inspired by the spirit world. In my view, many great scientific inventions have come as revelations from heaven. I believe that heaven was working through Tesla, and others like him, to advance God’s Providence. Tesla was very idealistic and hoped that his inventions would be used for the benefit of all humanity.
One of the things I appreciate about Tesla is the fact that he was not limited by his Orthodox upbringing to reject ideas originating in other faith traditions. For example, Tesla had a warm relationship with Swami Vivekananda, the Indian sage who came to the United States to speak at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893. Vivekananda believed Tesla had the potential to help bring about harmony between the ideas of religion and science; Tesla adopted the Vedic words “prana” and “akasha” in his writings to denote “energy” and “matter.”
Tesla immigrated to the United States in 1884 with a letter of recommendation addressed to Thomas Edison. For a time Edison employed him in West Orange, New Jersey for the paltry sum of $18 a week, but after a dispute over pay Tesla resigned. This is unfortunate, because Edison could have learned a lot from Tesla. For example, Tesla understood why alternating current (AC) was such a better system for delivering electricity than the direct current (DC) to which Edison was so committed. It appears that Edison’s stubbornness and Tesla’s pride resulted in the dissolution of a partnership that potentially could have been the greatest scientific team-up in history.
In particular, I wish the two of them had collaborated on the most interesting of Edison’s projects – the “spirit phone.” In an interview with American Magazine in 1920, Edison announced that he was working on a device that would allow the living to communicate with the dead. His statement caused a national sensation; and the magazine received more than 600 letters from people interested in the device. Edison died in 1931, before he could realize the dream of the “spirit phone,” but I’m convinced he would have had a much better chance if he had Tesla by his side to help him.
Tesla died on January 7, 1943. At his funeral, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia delivered the eulogy. He remarked that “…a man who was 87 years of age died in his humble hotel room. His name was Nikola Tesla. He died in poverty, but he was one of the most useful and successful men who ever lived.”
That “humble hotel room” is room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. There is a plaque on the door commemorating him, and there is another one on 34th Street attached to the outside wall of the New Yorker Hotel building.
In my view, we can best commemorate Tesla by continuing the work of harnessing science for the benefit of humanity, fostering unity between religion and science, harmonizing religions, and supporting the dream of the “spirit phone.” Who knows, one day you might pick up your phone, answer a call, and recognize the voice of Nikola Tesla on the other side.
|Posted on December 22, 2012 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
Recently, I saw the movie “Lincoln” at my local theater. While I thought the movie was well done from an artistic viewpoint, I couldn’t help being a bit disappointed. For one thing I thought the portrayal of the President’s wife as a nagging, threatening shrew was unfair, not believable, and a little over the top. But more than that, I regretted that the movie never answered the simple question – Why?
Why was President Lincoln so committed and determined to secure freedom for the slaves once and for all? What was the source of his strength and conviction? To answer this, the movie would have had to explore the President’s spirituality, and that was something it was unwilling to do.
Today, a reader on my Facebook page and a friend at a dinner party both told me they appreciated my latest book, “Reconciled by the Light Book II: Spirit Messages from a Teen Suicide, Adventures of a Psychic Medium,” because it answers the question “Why?” that the movie left them wondering about.
In the chapter entitled Abraham Lincoln Heeds the Call of Spirit, I point out that it is well documented that both the President and his wife were Spiritualists. That means that the Lincolns were adherents of a religion, widely popular at the time in both the United States and Great Britain, which believed in life after death, and that it was possible and commonplace for communication to take place between Heaven and Earth.
As a result, both the President and Mrs. Lincoln made extensive use of the services of mediums, those gifted individuals who have the sensitivity to convey messages between the living and those who have moved on to the world of spirit.
At one of these séances, held in the White House in the presence of witnesses such as Congressman Daniel Somes of Maine, the Lincolns requested that a young trance medium by the name of Nettie Colburn do a reading for them. She had been visiting Washington in hopes of acquiring a medical furlough for her ailing brother who was serving in the Union army.
When Miss Colburn went into trance, she conveyed a message from a male spiritual presence that uttered “almost divine commands.” The spirit exhorted President Lincoln to go through with the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, urging him to “stand firm to his convictions and fearlessly perform the work and fulfill the mission for which he had been raised up by an overruling Providence.”
After the message, Congressman Somes asked the president, “…whether there has been any pressure brought to bear upon you to defer the enforcement of the Proclamation.”
“…It is taking all my nerve and strength to withstand such a pressure,” President Lincoln replied.
Afterwards, the president turned to Nettie and laid his hand upon her head.
“My child,” he said, “you possess a singular gift; but that it is a gift from God I have no doubt. I thank you for coming here tonight. It is more important than perhaps anyone present can understand.”
Later, when the time for enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation came due, President Lincoln ignored those urging him to defer it, and went ahead and freed the slaves.
At another séance held a few months later, President Lincoln was urged by Spirit to visit the Union troops at the front line with his family. He followed this advice immediately; the result was a dramatic restoration of morale among the troops.
You can read the whole record of Lincoln’s participation in spirit communication by reading Nettie Colburn Maynard’s memoir, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist?: or Curious Revelations From the Life of a Trance Medium, which was published in 1891.
I’m not sure why this part of the story was left out. I know that director Stephen Spielberg is not afraid of the subject of spiritualism. After all, he produced the movie Hereafter, which is an excellent exploration of the subject of spirit communication and mediumship.
I’m just guessing, but I think it more likely that it has to do with the fact that the Lincoln movie used historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book as its main source, and I don’t get the impression she is very sympathetic to the spiritualist part of the story.
Whatever the reason, it’s a sad omission. If we are ever to reverse the moral decline of our culture and revive the spiritual health of our people, we are going to have to invest our resources in reacquainting newer generations of Americans with the profound spiritual heritage that is at the root of America’s founding, development, and success.
The movie Lincoln was a golden opportunity that was missed.
|Posted on July 25, 2012 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
I’m really enjoying the A&E program “Psychic Kids.” It’s about children who see spirits and don’t know how to handle it. A professional medium and a psychologist bring a few kids together each week and help them overcome their doubts and fears. The progress the kids make in a few short days is inspiring to behold. It is an amazing show! If you want to see real actual mediumship in action, I can’t think of anything better. If you have Netflix or Hulu you can watch the back episodes as well.
|Posted on September 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
“I can understand the greatness of God but I cannot understand his humility. It becomes so clear in him being in love with each one of us separately and completely. It is as if there is no one but me in the world. He loves me so much. Each one of us can say this with great conviction.” — Mother Teresa, from Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom, p. 12.
I found this quote from Mother Teresa recently while reading a short book of sayings from her, and it really grabbed me, because I had a similar experience with God years ago while praying in the woods near Accord, New York.
I had been struggling with my faith, and a dear colleague counseled me to go deep into the woods until I knew I had total privacy, and then “lay all your cards on the table” to God. In other words, she wanted me to tell God exactly how I was feeling. She especially wanted me to make sure I expressed any bad feelings, bitterness, or anger I was holding on to regarding God. That was a scary proposition, because the God of my Catholic upbringing was a scary guy. I figured she must have some special weight with God, so if I said anything that got him mad, she could stop him from zapping me with a bolt of lightning.
So I began by talking about my miserably lonely childhood, and accused him of being a heartless uncaring God, who was ultimately responsible for all human suffering.
Then something amazing happened; he showed up. I could feel his presence so strongly that I burst into tears. He stunned me by saying:
“You are right. I am responsible, and I accept total responsibility for the situation.”
Like Mother Teresa, I was shocked by the absolute humility of God’s heart. He was apologetic to me personally, saying he was sorry for the suffering I had experienced in life. These words were accompanied by the most powerful atmosphere of absolute unconditional love, so strong that I couldn’t stop crying. I felt totally accepted, understood, and embraced. What a feeling!
Even though I had thought of myself as a spiritual person for years, it wasn’t until that day that I truly “fell in love” with God.
He ended by inviting me to talk to him like this regularly; he said he could really help me in my life if I did so. To this day, my minimum goal in life is to carry on this conversation with God as the anchor of my life.
I’m pretty sure that anyone can have an experience like the one I had. To do this, we must go to the place where God is. If we have misconceptions about God, these misconceptions can actually block God from touching our hearts.
For example, some of us are convinced that we are such miserable sinners that we don’t deserve God’s love, so if God tries to hug us, we can’t receive the hug because we think we’re not worthy. So we have to be open to letting go of our concepts about God in order to give him a chance to make contact with us.
Finally, I believe the only reason God was able to break through to me on that occasion was because I was really desperate and ardent for answers. Secondly, I was honest, both with myself and with him. I discovered that he is not offended by any sincerely held feelings we have towards him, good or bad. What’s important is that we express them. By doing that, it allows him the opportunity to tell “his side of the story.”
I’m so grateful for that day. It was a true “rebirth” for me. I discovered I had a truly loving Heavenly Father, who has been my most trusted friend ever since.
|Posted on August 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM||comments (0)|
I’m very excited to report that the Morris Pratt Institute, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has added Reconciled by the Light to its curriculum. It is now required reading for those studying to become ordained ministers in Spiritualist churches. The Morris Pratt Institute is part of the Bureau of Education for the National Spiritualist Association, the “mother” organization for the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC).
Reconciled by the Light has been assigned as a textbook for studying in the Pastoral Skills training program.
As a graduate myself of Morris Pratt’s Educational Course on Modern Spiritualism, I am humbled and honored that my “alma mater” has seen fit to add my book. I hope that countless more people will be blessed and edified by the contents found in its pages.
|Posted on December 24, 2010 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
While it’s difficult to say exactly who the “Three Kings” are, it is possible to shed some light on the matter. We can begin by discussing who they were not. First of all, it is almost certain that the “Three Kings” weren’t kings at all.
The Bible has no reference to any kings visiting Jesus. We are familiar with the “Three Kings” reference because of artistic interpretations of the Nativity and because a favorite American Christmas carol begins with the words “We three Kings of Orient are…” This song is not very old in light of the long history of Christianity. It was written in the 19th century by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., an Episcopal priest who served as rector of the Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
What the Bible does mention is found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. It speaks about gift-bearing “wise men from the east” coming to visit Jesus. That’s it. There are no other clues as to their identity. The Bible doesn’t even mention how many there were. Historical records vary widely from as few as two to as many as twelve.
The strongest clue comes from early Christian writers who referred to these “wise men” as “Magi.” We know a lot about Magi. Magi is plural for magus, the root from which the word magician developed.
Specifically, Magi are practitioners of an ancient religion called Zoroastrianism. They were purported to be knowledgeable and wise regarding spiritual matters. It was said that they could give prophetic messages and sometimes foretell the future, and that they could use the stars as signs to help them do this.
Some scholars believe they were astronomers, some believe they were astrologers. In my view, they were probably both. The Bible gives a strong clue that the wise men were Magi when it records them saying:
“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
This sounds very much like something a magus would say, for they believed it was possible to discern the mysteries of God by studying the stars.
When we study the facts surrounding Zoroastrianism, the idea of Magi visiting Jesus sounds plausible.
Although there are perhaps less than 200,000 Zoroastrians today, they were in ancient times a great Middle Eastern religion, and the major faith of the Persian Empire until the advance of Islam uprooted them about 1200 years ago. Some scholars believe Zoroastrianism was the first monotheistic religion, while others believe that Judaism holds that title.
In comparing Zoroastrianism to Judaism and Christianity, we find that Zoroastrianism contains ideas that became important tenets of the later theologies. For example, Zoroastrianism teaches that although the world is full of fighting between the forces of good and evil, the struggle is not a futile one; someday, with the help of a God who is all good, the good side will ultimately win, and evil will be vanquished. Also, the Zoroastrian religion contains the concept of a leader called the Saoshyant. The Saoshyant is one who will "make existence brilliant". Literally, the term means "one who brings benefit." In common usage, this term refers to a future savior or Messiah-figure, who will spread divine truth and lead humanity in the final battle against the forces of evil.
Taking all these things into account, it makes all the sense in the world that
Magi from the Zoroastrian faith would visit a baby that they believed might have Messianic characteristics. If Jesus was the awaited Saoshyant, they had every reason to be excited.
|Posted on December 6, 2010 at 2:34 PM||comments (0)|
In previous Blog postings, I have written about my conviction that God continues trying to communicate with the human race, even though many who embrace the Jewish or Christian tradition are convinced that God only spoke through the prophets of the Bible. From this viewpoint, since nothing has been added to the Bible since the Book of Revelation, it means God hasn’t spoken since the first century.
In reality, the history of the last 2,000 years is sprinkled with Divine encounters – from those of Christian mystics such as Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena -- to the more recent phenomena of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and Induced After-Death Communications (IADCs).
A recent record of an encounter with the Divine can be found in David Hose’s book Every Day God. (For those of you who have read my book, Reconciled by the Light: the After-Death Letters from a Teen Suicide, you will recognize Rev. David Hose as the minister who made early contact with my son after his suicide.)
Every Day God reveals a God similar to the loving parent that Jesus spoke about, and not at all like the Old Testament monarch that was so quick to become angry and dole out punishment. I cannot overstate the fact that, in my view, this book is the most significant revelation since the Book of Revelation was written almost 2,000 years ago.
The messages in Every Day God are clear, easy to read, and are relevant to our modern day circumstances. They have a way of explaining profound spiritual truths – which are often difficult to express in everyday language – in a way that anyone can relate to.
Importantly, they explain the fact that the dwelling place of God is not in some mysterious location on a mountaintop or a far off Heaven; the place to find God is not outside, but inside, in the deep center of our heart and mind. The book reveals common sense and practical guidance on how to achieve our own personal encounter with the Divine.
Although Every Day God is currently unavailable in bookstores, I’ve managed to locate a few copies from the publisher, and they will be available on my website, on a first-come, first-served basis at my website bookstore.
If you are interested in obtaining your own copy of Every Day God, just click on the "Book Store" icon on my website, or copy and paste the URL below into your web browser:
|Posted on November 11, 2010 at 10:56 AM||comments (0)|
Thanks to Brett Dungan for sharing this link with me; please take the time to view this You Tube video of interviews with people who have had Near Death Experiences, or NDEs. The descriptions of what they saw after leaving their bodies and entering the Spirit World are accurate and exceptional– they might even change your life.
NDE is the term for someone who becomes clinically dead but then revives, sometimes through CPR or some other medical procedure. While the patient is “dead,” he or she often has the experience of feeling the soul rising up out of the body. It is then able to look down and observe what is going on in the hospital room; doctors and nurses are often astounded when the patient, after being revived, is able to tell them what they were doing and saying in the room while the patient was supposedly “dead.”
Next, the patients will usually experience rapidly moving through a dark tunnel with a bright light at the end. Coming out into this light, they describe a world that is so beautiful it is hard to put into words. They experience a feeling of total peace. They describe direct encounters with “beings of light” such as departed loved ones, angels, and even God. They sense that they have arrived at their true home and are surrounded by a Divine embrace of unconditional love.
Please make time to invest twenty-six minutes to watch this.You will be inspired, thrilled, and deeply moved. It might be the most profound video you’ve ever seen.
|Posted on September 11, 2010 at 2:26 PM||comments (0)|
Some people are prone to place too much emphasis on receiving messages from mediums. Sometimes this is evidence that the person is inappropriately seeking others to do all the work in providing solutions to life’s challenges, and shying away from taking personal responsibility to face these challenges him or herself.
This can be problematic if one blindly makes life decisions based on what the person hears(or thinks one hears) at a reading. Instead of thinking for oneself, one is allowing either another physical human being, or some spirit entity, to do his or her thinking.
The best thing to do in this situation is to simply, and in private, inform the person of the nature of mediumship – both its strengths and its weaknesses. Explain that even the greatest of mediums cannot get every spirit communication perfectly accurate. Because of the nature of spirit communication, messages have to be translated or filtered through the brain and particular personality of the medium, and it’s easy for things to get lost in translation. It’s important to use common sense when considering spirit messages. Explain that spirit entities are just people like ourselves, and have their own beliefs and biases like we do; they are not to be over relied upon as their opinions and beliefs may be just that – opinions and beliefs – and unless they resonate withour own common sense, intuition, and reason, they should not be accepted blindly without careful consideration.
Encourage the person to ponder their own ideas about what was received in the message,and how they would handle the situation in the absence of the message. Invite them to carefully reflect on the implications of the message before making any hasty conclusions.