Good Dreams

Good Dreams

 

“The old dreams were good dreams. They didn’t work out but I’m glad I had them.”

(Robert Kincaid – The Bridges of Madison County)

 

Riding up the snow covered mountain in North Carolina in March 1981, half-sick, I wondered how I was going to be able to get through Fidelio. A tenor friend had talked me into doing Pizarro- a part that clearly lies too low for me- at a festival in North Carolina on top of a mountain. I had to take the part since there was no other way to pay the rent. Singing sick had happened many times before but I always managed to pull it off. As soon as I got there I explained that I had taken a cold and needed two days rest before beginning rehearsals. I had a routine for beating a cold in a hurry when I was performing. It involved taking a double dose of cold medicine, and sleeping constantly. In two days I emerged for rehearsals. I am sure they would have docked my pay if they could have because the atmosphere was definitely tense until I began to sing. In the sitzprobe (rehearsal) all went very well and no one could tell my voice had gone through a cold. Then we staged the opera. The stage director gave me a ridding crop for a prop. I used it to the hilt to play the Gestapo-like character of Pizarro. The director looked a little stunned and said, “Man when you get a prop, you really use it.” My voice held throughout the performance and my one Pizarro was over. But I wasn’t pleased with it because I couldn’t project my voice well in the lower range. I learned the hard way, ‘never sing out of your fach.’ I never sang Pizarro again.

We were snowed-in on top of a mountain in North Carolina. If we wanted to get to the airport we would have to go down the side of the mountain in four wheel drives, which is what we did. I felt like kissing the ground when I arrived at La Guardia and quickly cabbed my way back to my cozy apartment and my beautiful Blue Persian cat, Jenny. On the long cab ride my mind wandered back to my beginnings in Missouri.

I was born with heart disease, specifically Coarctation Syndrome. Most people who are born with that do not live very long. When I was born the syndrome was not even well understood, and so the kindly old country doctor that served our family didn’t really know what was wrong with Joe-boy except that he could hear a heart murmur and knew that my immune system didn’t work too well. I had a lot of athletic talent but was never permitted to play organized sports because of my heart. I felt sort of like a leper as a kid. There was this mysterious thing wrong with me that kept me from doing what other kids could do.

Finally, in 1967 when I was 19 years old, our doctor advised me to go have the best cardiologists look at me. We packed up the car and drove to Houston Texas where the great Michael Debakey was practicing at Houston Methodist Hospital.

They found the coarc in the aorta (a weakened collapsed part of the aorta) and replaced it with some everlasting Dacron tubing. They left the stenotic aortic heart valve untreated for some strange reason. Perhaps it was just as well given the state of medicine then in comparison to today. Unfortunately, after 19 years, my body had grown small blood vessels in the lower half of my body and my kidneys had learned to request high blood pressure. So the treatment was far from complete. Still, it gave me something of a new lease on life and I was able to go to college and begin to dream dreams.

College was not such a tough choice for a kid who lived his whole life in Carthage, Missouri. My grandfather, Vernon Shore, had been a well-known Baptist preacher during the depression and afterwards. I felt pressured to move into his shoes, not knowing just exactly where my shoes were at the time. I graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Southwest Baptist University the next year.

Southwest Baptist University was a beautiful place, situated in rural Missouri near rivers and lakes, in a small town. I liked it right away. I had this funny idea that I wanted to take voice lessons as well as study theology. After all, I had always sung in choirs and it had been a great joy in High School. I drew a voice teacher named Nathan McCallister who was a bear with a very little brain, a Baptist church choir leader with a voice that sounded just right for the job. He heard me sing in the first lesson and announced that I had no talent. Instead of assigning me the standard early Italian songs that all singers cut their teeth on, he let it be known that I was not even ready for them. He assigned instead, “Stand-in’ on the corner watchin all the girls go by.” After one semester I decided voice lessons were not for me.

SBU had some fine scholars on staff in the theology department but these were hard times in the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a whiff of controversy in the theological air regarding Biblical interpretation. I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I knew that I wanted to tackle theology head on. I wanted to do my best. I was always one of the top students in class but I was slowly inching towards theological positions that would be called “liberal.” I was becoming a rebel within Southern Baptists ranks.

I still had music in my life. Even though I had given up on voice lessons, I had been accepted into the choir. I was happy but a bit timid because there were a lot of music majors in it with “real” talent. To make matters more intimidating, the director, Dr. Cowan, was a star. He had sung with the famous Robert Shaw Chorale. He let us hear his rich, bass-baritone voice from time to time and we were all convinced that only Ted Harris had a better voice in all of Missouri. Ted Harris was a Professor of Voice who had sung with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Harris commanded respect and more than a little awe. The year that I arrived at SBU, Mr. Harris was preparing a role in Jerome Hines’ sacred opera on the life of Jesus called I Am The Way, which was going to be performed in Los Angeles. I sat outside Mr. Harris’ door listening to the indescribable sounds coming out of his office as he rehearsed. I had never heard anything like those sounds. I just wanted to sit there on the floor and listen, and hope he would continue to sing. Later Jerome Hines himself told me that Ted’s voice was tremendous at Los Angeles, sounding, in Hines’ words, “like a canon.” No small praise coming from Hines!

A lot of good things happened at SBU. One of them was that I was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities for my work in Drama. Another good thing was that I was licensed to preach. Part of the Bachelor’s degree program in Christianity involved a field guidance program. I went a few miles over to The First Baptist Church of Buffalo, Missouri and did a pastoral internship under Brother Glen Pence, the Senior Pastor. Actually, he was the only pastor. Back in those days churches had one pastor and a minister of music. We were trained to be the pastor for the church. An internship gave me the chance to feel what it is like to have responsibility for a whole church. They were simpler times back then, especially in a small town, but a pastor’s job was still largely the same. During the week you visited the sick, planned Sunday’s sermons, did a little pastoral counseling for people in crisis, taught a little Bible at Wednesday night prayer meeting, met with a few committees, and that was about it! That could be a lot, but many times it was not as involved and as demanding as a modern-day senior pastorate. Glen Pense liked modern scholarship and I fit right in with my liberal tendencies. I also did a little supply preaching at other churches and went out on week ends with revival teams from SBU, but things were not right with me inside. I wandered why I had never experienced a “call” to the ministry. My colleagues in theology could point to a specific “call” they had to the ministry. I tried to put it out of my mind. I was a scholar and scholars had things to do in the world. I would go to seminary to the most scholarly seminary Southern Baptists had to offer, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. There I would find happiness as a great scholar, or so I thought! I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in 1970 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and Drama.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky was the jewel in the crown of the Southern Baptist Convention. As I packed everything into my 1961 Buick LeSabre and set out on the interstate, I knew I was going to more than a seminary. I was going to the best the Southern Baptist tradition had to offer. That’s what I thought then.

The campus was Southern beauty itself, situated in rolling, Louisville green. This was the Yankee Stadium for a Baptist theology student. This was the House that A.T. Robertson built. Scholars taught here, great men like Dale Moody, Professor of Systematic Theology. He had studied with Barth, Tillich and Brunner, and actually lived with Brunner. His academic robes were from Oxford. When the faculty donned their caps and gowns, Moody looked like the Pope himself, proudly clad in his bright red Oxford finest. Of course, the Southern Baptists wanted no Pope and they certainly would not have wanted a scholar like Moody, if they had. For these were the McCarthy witch hunt days. Fundamentalists were rising in numbers like a hundred year flood that no one could stop. There were not enough theological sand bags in all the country to hold back these flood waters. The Southern Baptist Convention was teetering on the edge of Civil War, and like any Civil War, it would be very unholy.

The fundamentalists within the denomination were fearful of all that Southern Seminary stood for. They distrusted modern scholarship. They wanted the old time religion where everyone knew his place! And they wanted every modern professor and student OUT of the denomination. As much as anything, the war was about political power.

No scholar at Southern really believed that their fortified walls could be breached. Scholars like Eric Rust openly jousted with the fundamentalists in the classroom. With his English accent he would play with the word itself: “’Fun-dam-mental-ist.’ I can see the fun in it, and I can see the dam in it, but I’ll be damned if I can see anything mental in it.” And yet, this bravado struck many of us as a bit forced, with just a tinge of worry in it. The fundamentalists had made a charge, years earlier, at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City. An Old Testament Professor, Ralph Elliott, had been fired because he taught that the stories of creation in Genesis were not to be taken literally!

Ralph Elliott had gotten his Th.D. at Southern under the venerable scholar Dr. Clyde Francisco. Francisco was a wacky, wonderful professor who sounded sort of like Goofy reading Hebrew because of his deep Southern drawl. He talked about “thuh Bauble,” (‘the Bible’) and punctuated his comments with a “Hyulk, Hyulk.” He was prone to Southern pontifications, as when he would say, “Nawh (Now) I don’t denawh (deny) that a stupid man can be saved.” (Grand pause ) “But I denawh that a stupid man can understand thuh Bauble, Hyulk, Hyulk.” When he would counter the fundamentalists, he would say “Nawh, some people say that thuh Bauble says what it means and means what it says. But that’s not true! Thuh Bauble doesn’t say what it means. It means what it means.” But he was truly a fine scholar and he did not suffer fools.

“Whawh, Ralph Eliott,” He would say, “All he did wuz take mawh notes and publish um! Hyulk, hyulk!” And yet it was Francisco who, in the darkest hours, showed the most compassion for the fundamentalist brethren, refusing to condemn or judge them, standing firm in his faith. Francisco knew love, not fear. None of his jokes were intended to be cruel. They but took the edge off for the nervous young troops about to go to their first battle.

We all wanted to believe that the power of reason would dispel mob rule. But the line would not hold. The gates would be breached. A lot of lives would be lost in that Civil War. None of us came out the same person we went in as. We had such hopes, such dreams. Most of us had a long heritage of family allegiance to the Southern Baptist tradition, but we also had a little grey matter between the ears and we were searchers and shakers. The history of Southern Seminary showed us, or so we thought, that there was a place within the denomination for a deep, engaging, scholarly questioning of the nature of God, man and the universe, which did not cancel out our devotion or piety. These great scholars, Moody, Francisco, Honeycutt, Rust, Claypool, and others all showed us that there was a place for us.

Who would have believed it, that Southern would fall, the last bastion, and the hordes would pile in over the broken battlements, set fire to the books, and lay waste to a hundred years? A mind is a terrible thing to waste. How about thousands, of them?

It was not that Southern was really all that ‘liberal.’ By most denominational standards she was still a conservative ship. But in the minds of the fundamentalists you would have thought we had entered a different world. Faith had lost to fear and the hangman was doing great business. Professors mounted the gibbet one by one, refusing to confess to the fundamentalists’ fearful creed. Their necks but snapped while their hearts were full and love showed no taint. Aye,’twas a good day to die. We would all live again. That’s where we had ‘um, you see? The fundamentalists don’t really, truly, believe in the meaning of “resurrection.” We do! They but occupy a bit of ground now, a row of barracks full of fears. Love won. Love will always win in eternity.

I entered Southern as part of the last class. We were a fine bunch, all testing our limits as far as we could and searching for a place to stand.

The one student who always competed with me for top grade was an interesting fellow named Lynn Fann. Some might have called Lynn an odd duck. He played opera in the dorm, morning, noon, and night and drove everyone crazy. He had no real, serious voice but would fancy himself an operatic tenor as he sang along to the records. He essentially introduced me to Grand Opera. The only kind of opera we knew in the Ozarks was the “Grand Ole Opery.” Still, as a university student I had been introduced to some great singers and this experience whetted my appetite for more. I listened to records of most of the great singers of the second golden age of singing there in the seminary dorm, including one great bass from the Metropolitan Opera named Jerome Hines. He stood out not just because of his wonderful bass voice, but because he was also an evangelical Christian who witnessed on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. These great voices I heard spoke to me. There was something about the sound of their voices that grabbed me and I began to listen to opera in my room while I studied theology.

I grew more and more empty inside in seminary. I wanted desperately to be a minister but I felt very much out of place, like I didn’t really belong there. It was 1972 and while I was at my most desperate I cried out to God for help. I actually heard an inner Voice say to me, “Your sermons can be your characters on stage. The stage can be your pulpit. The audience can be your congregation. Now go put feet to your faith.” I had absolutely no reason to believe this Voice. Baptists do not hear voices. Maybe Pentecostals do but not Baptists! I had taken no voice lessons.

Nobody heard any special singing talent in me of this magnitude. Remember my only teacher in university, Nathan MacAllister, had even refused to teach me because I was so untalented. I had no reason to think that I could ever get on a professional stage and sing Grand Opera. It sounded like a stupid idea! But at some level deep inside of me I must have believed it. I wondered why I had never really felt a “call” to the ministry, but this experience definitely fit the description of a “call” to sing opera. Eventually, after fighting seminary another semester, I left, got an apartment across the street and a job in a pizza restaurant. When I wasn’t working I was listening to opera. One day in 1973 I opened my mouth to see if I could make a sound like one of those guys on the records and out came the essential sound that I have today. A couple of weeks later a friend heard me singing as he came for a visit and said, “Wow, you’ve got quite a voice. You ought to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.” I didn’t know what they were but I said. “Ok.” I sent off and got an entrance form. The first level of the competition was in Tulsa where I was supposed to sing five operatic arias. I knew none of course but I had records. So I picked out what I thought were the five hardest bass arias on the records and learned them by listening! Four were in Italian, and one was in Russian. Both languages I learned phonetically by listening. I can admit all of this now because the whole affair was such a miracle. In 1974 I went to Tulsa without a care in the world, sang without any nervousness and was easily named one of the winners. I seemed to be stepping into something that was very comfortable to me, something like a miracle.

People from Tulsa Opera were there and offered me beginning roles with their company as well as a scholarship to Tulsa University.

One of the judges was from The Santa Fe Opera which was also hearing singers audition for Apprentice Artists. Later I discovered that ten thousand singers across America were auditioning to become one of forty apprentices chosen for that summer season. An apprenticeship with The Santa Fe Opera was one of the most highly sought plums for a young opera singer trying to turn professional. The Artistic Administrator came back stage and said to me, “You haven’t applied to us but would you like to be an apprentice?” I didn’t even know what that was but I said, “Yes,” and my career in opera had begun. “This opera business is a snap,” I thought. Before going to Santa Fe, I made my debut with The Tulsa Opera singing a small but important part in Madama Butterfly alongside stars from The Metropolitan Opera. At Tulsa University I sang scenes from The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni, then packed up my old car and drove to Santa Fe in the summer of 1974 for a high profiled new beginning. When God opens doors, they open wide and people fall all over themselves to help you. But, as I would painfully find out later, when He closes those doors, no amount of pulling will open them.

When I won the Met auditions in Tulsa in 1974, representatives from Tulsa Opera Inc. offered me not only small roles with them but a scholarship to do masters work in voice at Tulsa University. Tulsa became a new home filled with supportive people who would become almost like a family. A voice professor from TU came back stage at the auditions and recruited me right then and there for his studio. I did not know at the time that he was trying to cabbage onto me to aggrandize his flagging studio. I found that out later as representatives from Tulsa Opera said, “Oh dear. You’re going to study with HIM? You need to study with Laven Sowell!” I had one or two lessons with the first teacher but I found them odd. He didn’t seem to have anything to say. I delicately changed teachers to Laven Sowell. Laven was chorus master at Tulsa Opera as well as Professor of Voice. He had his hand in all the vocal pies of Tulsa and everyone who was anyone studied with him. He was a large man with a jolly disposition and a big belly laugh. Everywhere he went he left a little of himself behind. His beautiful home displayed a love-affair with elephants. It was a fitting love affair for a large man with a large impact on life. Elephants of jade, stone, wood, all shapes and sizes, claimed his home as theirs. Students would bring him new elephants from all over the world when they sang in some far off place. Laven’s share of their spoils was a new elephant and pride in their accomplishments. He had heard me sing at the Met auditions so he knew my voice and was only too happy to get me into his studio. Laven said things to me that every teacher thereafter would say. “I don’t want to touch your voice. I just want to help you use it.” My voice came already to go. What Laven Sowell gave me, I have tried to give to all of my students since. He gave me love! He will probably be a little embarrassed to read this, but it is true. He gave me a lot of good musical and vocal knowledge as well, much of which I use to this day. Laven had studied voice with some very interesting characters and he therefore brought a very rich experience to the studio. As a young lyric baritone with a nice sporty instrument, he had toured with the Charles Wagner Opera Company. His voice still served him well and I wished he had used it more when I studied with him. He had sung small roles with Tulsa Opera alongside great singers from the Met before becoming chorus master. His experiences gave him a lot of stories to tell. Stories are important. They humanize an otherwise clinical study of voice.  Even though I came into the profession of singing with a technique given by God, I had a lot of wonderfully influential coaches and teachers who passed on their experience of singing.

In assessing the things that Laven Sowell gave to me, I could describe many musical items and vocal tidbits. I don’t mean to say that they weren’t important. They were. But I am looking back now at the truly wonderful things given, and they are not a relaxed jaw or five and nine tone scales. Laven Sowell cared about me and he shared himself with me. I will always carry something of him within me. I have tried to be as good to my students as he was with me.

I want to clarify something at this point. At the time that all this was happening I did NOT have the same perspective that I have today. I was inside a whirlwind! I was still deeply shaken by what seemed to be my failure in theology. Actually there was no failure in anything. I had just been “called” to sing opera. It may sound like it was all easy but it wasn’t. My ability to understand the things of the Spirit had never been developed. I didn’t want to tell anybody about hearing this inner Voice. I didn’t want to think about it! It was easy to run away from the pain of what happened in seminary by just immersing myself in a new profession, and that is what I did. I did not consciously think about viewing my characters as sermons, my audience as my congregation, or my theatre as my church. I just went to work being an opera singer. I know that is hard to understand now that I could have been so stupid, but everything had happened so fast. It was going to take me time to sort things out! The young man that studied in Tulsa with Laven Sowell was confused, and therefore insecure, posturing a little with an arrogance that anyone could have understand as circumstantial if they had chosen to look closely, and he was bursting with an incredible amount of talent and promise. Some people came alongside and chose to help me. Wonderful people in the Tulsa Opera Guild arranged for my introduction to the arts in Tulsa and made sure I could eat regularly! Thank you!

Jeannette Turner, the Director of Tulsa Opera, was a wonderful woman who mothered me and introduced me to “The Maestro.” Maestro Carlo Moresco was the conductor for all Tulsa Opera productions. Along with Tony Stivanello who staged, costumed, and made-up the cast, he was the head of “Instant Opera.” “Instant Opera” made it possible to mount operatic productions in regional companies all over America in just one week! One week for everything: sets, costumes, rehearsals for orchestra and principals. In seven or eight days the curtain could go up! That kept production costs down so that regional companies could afford to have opera in their cities. The geniuses behind “Instant Opera” were old Italian maestri like Carlo Moresco and Toni Stivanello who had a huge set and costume shop on Long Island which could supply all of Instant Opera’s needs. The local company supplied a chorus master, like Laven Sowell, and a local chorus which learned the music well in advance. Jeannette Turner called the artist managements in New York and hired the lead singers who had done their parts so many times they did not need more than a week’s rehearsal. Small parts were done by local singers, like Laven Sowell, who learned their parts well ahead of rehearsal week.

Instant Opera is usually spoken of derisively these days. But I would like to speak in its defense. Instant Opera allowed opera to spread all across North America to cities which otherwise would not have had it. It gave young singers like me a chance to sing alongside great artists and learn by doing. It gave America a taste of the Italian tradition in singing and it gave the audience more than its money’s worth! Today it is in vogue to mock Instant Opera because it did not give the new stage director cult full sway over a cast for six weeks. Let me tell you. I have been a part of that scene and many times the opera we produced in Instant Opera was a better artistic product than what came out of a narcissistic stage director intent on using the stage and everyone on it to showcase his own little, and I mean little, mind! Instant Opera kept opera an essentially vocal/musical art form which it is historically. It kept the vocal/musical art of the individual singer front and center. People do not come to opera to see the beautiful sets, or to see the acting, although both are nice to see. They come for the vocal/musical art of the great performer. The sets and costumes can be beautiful. The acting can be great. The singers can be young and slender. But if there are no great voices being used artistically, opera as an art form will die! Only dilettantes do not understand this. Unfortunately, there is a whole forest of them running the opera world.

Maestro Moresco ruled by complete intimidation, the old Italian way of insuring that quality in the art-form would continue! He made his entrance from the back of the auditorium with a trench coat, the collar up around his neck, hands in his pocket, looking like something out of The Godfather. He was Don Corleone! You didn’t cross him! He had been in America many years but had learned only about ten words in English. When he needed to tell the orchestra to “mark” a particular section in the score, he lacked the words, so he would scream at them, “Sign, sign, sign.” How he screamed at the orchestra! When they dissatisfied him, he would shout, “Peegs! You play like-a peegs!” He knew every note of the orchestral score by memory and could solfegg the entire opera. He would cue the orchestra from the “si bemolle.” I was scared to death of him. I thought he might have me taken out and shot if I missed the cue. The old Italian conductors could be counted on to give you a clear beat with the baton and a clear cue. There was no prompter in Instant Opera except The Maestro, and you no-a-wanta-miss-a the cue. The Maestro could turn you to stone with one glare of his eyes from the podium! Opera was serious business to the Italians. The “new” conductors often had unclear beats–cake mixing in a circle was a favorite, or the constant up and down of a confused wrist intended to make us look elsewhere for clarity! Bruno Bartoletti was such a “new” Italian conductor. Famous as the conductor at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, he could not be bothered to conduct in a pattern. He looked sort of like a bird with a broken wing as he curved his wrist towards himself and conducted everything up and down, never making eye-contact with the singer and never demeaning his position by giving even a hint of a cue. All of that music stuff was our business as the singers! None of that pretentiousness characterized “The Maestro.” His beat was clear. He kept perfect eye contact with everyone on stage and he never missed a cue! I don’t know how he did it, but everyone felt the gaze of the Maestro’s eyes. Once in a rehearsal of Madama Butterfly, for my debut in 1974, I was singing the musically tricky part of “The Bonze” and made a mistake in my entrance. The Maestro stopped the music. There was utter silence. I have never been so terrified in all my life. Finally the silence was mercifully broken by the coach, Marienka Michna, who literally leaped between The Maestro and me, begging for another chance. I got it right the second time!

Later in New York, in the early 1980’s, after The Maestro had been ousted in Tulsa by the new director, I coached some of my Verdi roles with him. I loved him dearly! Why, you might ask? What did The Maestro give to me? Let me tell you. The Maestro generously gave himself to me. He gave me the entire history of Italian singing. No words can describe the love of opera which he passed on to me. The Maestro was a heritage and he gave it to me probably without even knowing it. In his time a conductor grew up in the theatre, learning its entire art before he went to the podium. He even learned how to play the anvil on stage in Il Trovatore! He learned the art of singing as well as the art of making an orchestra sing. Moresco was the past, in a very good sense. As I observed him, worked with him, coached with him, he gave me that past. He gave me Tosi and Mancini, Lamperti, Garcia and Marchesi. He gave me Caruso and Ruffo, Stracciari and Granforte, Toscanini and Boito, Tebaldi and Del Monaco, Corelli and Bastianini. He gave me the sun of Italy in the middle of the Midwest! And he gave it all to me in his arm! As that arm moved during my coaching’s, The Maestro spoke. The Maestro gave. Thank you Maestro!

I never turned into a great conductor, although I have taken the baton from time to time and conducted this or that piece fairly well, but I have never forgotten the Maestro’s arm! If, while I am teaching you, dear ones, I begin to move my hand like the conductor I am not, please understand. It is the Maestro I am remembering. I will try to give myself to you as thoroughly as he and others like him gave themselves to me.

The Metropolitan Opera Auditions were a national search for new operatic talent conducted in stages. The district level was for all singers in the state. Three or four winners were chosen to go to the regional level which comprised several states. One winner from each region in the US and Canada went to New York to the Metropolitan Opera for the National Semi-Finals. Ten winners were selected to appear at the Metropolitan Opera for the National Finals. In the earlier years, one person would be selected from the ten to be given a contract with the Met, but that practice had changed. The Met was no longer interested in hiring people that way. The National Finalists were usually given scholarships and sent on their way out into the operatic world where the prestige of being a National Winner or Finalist would hopefully contribute to career building.

In 1974 I had won the district level in Tulsa and I expected to win at the regionals in St. Louis. I was sure my voice was better than everybody else’s and victory had to be certain. In fact, absolute fame and fortune had to be certain! I knew nothing about taking care of my voice or preparing for a contest. I expected my voice to be there whenever I wanted it and at top form. On the very day of the regional competition, I got up early, had no breakfast, and drove my old car 350 miles to St. Louis. There I expected my miraculous voice to knock everybody down the way it did in Tulsa!  By the time I arrived in St. Louis, my body was dehydrated. My voice was dry and crackly and I felt none of the power I had felt in Tulsa. Undaunted, I went out on stage to sing, expecting to bowl people over! I thought I sang well, but nothing happened. Nobody paid me any attention. Some soprano went on to win and go to New York for the next round. I was infuriated! The judge was a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera named Lucine Amara. I was furious with her and shot her daggers with my eye contact. She returned a nice smile. (Five years later we would be friends and colleagues but not this day!) What had happened? I thought this opera business was supposed to be a snap! Licking my first real wound I drove back to Tulsa to prepare for my first season at The Santa Fe Opera.

The Santa Fe Opera was an oasis in the desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico. John Crosby’s father had made millions in the Cuban sugar trade under Battista and he bought an opera company for John.  It was a beautiful setting in that magical New Mexico desert. The theatre was open air so the magic of the New Mexico night mixed with the opera. When Madame Butterfly pointed in the distance to “Nagasaki” she pointed to the lights of a real city in the desert shining through the back of an opera stage. Santa Fe had made a name for itself in the opera world by staging unusual works in this beautiful setting, using a combination of established and young singers, and having the best apprentice program in the world. Forty apprentices were chosen from over ten thousand singers who auditioned annually. Our main function in the summer season was to provide the chorus for all the operas, but we also sang small parts, served as understudies for the principals, coached with staff, took voice lessons and learned stage movement. The theatre was situated in the middle of a large ranch which also housed rehearsal stages, halls, a swimming pool, and the Crosby ranch house itself. Apprentices were paid virtually nothing, around $400 per month, out of which one had to pay all living expenses, including housing!  I had dreams now of doing something with my voice and with this art-form called opera. But the dreams were not clear yet.

The staff voice teachers for apprentices were a husband and wife team named Andy Field and Audry Langford from The Cantica School of Voice in London. Richard Gaddes, the Artistic Administrator, had been an accompanist for them in their studio and he had brought them over. Santa Fe always kept an English connection. Audry Langford had sung as a coloratura soprano at Covent Garden in the distant past. Now she had a lady bass voice, about three octaves lower than she used to sing. Age had sadly not been kind to her. She looked sort of like one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Andy was a soft spoken man who had never had a major career, but he had sung some oratorio in England. Together they taught a type of voice production which was essentially empirical (that is, it did not employ mechanical and acoustic information) and which claimed to desire the “freedom” of the voice. “Freedom of the Voice” is the ubiquitous philosopher’s stone of voice teaching which all methods claim! I drew Andy as teacher and found him a sweet, supportive man. He liked my voice very much and compared it to the great bass- baritones he had known in his youth, Covent Garden stars like baritone Paolo Silveri and bass Boris Christoff. Like Laven Sowell, he said, “I don’t want to change your voice. I just want to help you use it better.” Also like Sowell, the main thing that Andy Field gave me was love and encouragement. Andy professed amazement that I had only just started singing. I sounded, he professed, as though I had been singing leading bass-baritone roles for years in the world’s great opera houses!

With classes in stage movement, languages, make-up, I began my new life in the theatre, thinking very little indeed about God!

In the fall of 1974, when I returned from my first season at The Santa Fe Opera, I found Tulsa changed. Jeannette Turner had retired as Director of Tulsa Opera and the winds of change were in the air. A new director was hired who wanted “ensemble opera” as opposed to Instant Opera. Most regional companies were attracted to a new American national opera-form which wanted young, attractive singers, obediently flexible in rehearsal, good diction, obedient to the stage director’s every whim. America’s “ensemble opera” was both good and bad. It was good in that it wanted bigger budgets for regional opera companies and better quality of acting on stage. But it was bad in many other ways. It began a “new” look at opera as an art-form that did not need great singers. Mediocre singers would do just fine if they were attractive, moved well and had good diction! Ensemble Opera thought it could attract the television and movie audience if it just boosted the visual quality in opera. The moguls of Ensemble Opera thought that if opera were to survive into the 21st century it had to change. The problem was that they were willing to change it away from the essential vocal/musical nature of opera. After all, they thought, most Americans are ignorant of the vocal quality standards implicit within the heritage of historic opera. Give them young, attractive, slender singers (if less talented vocally) on a well-dressed stage and drain off some of that television/movie revenue for “opera,” and if the moguls happen to get rich in the process, well this is America!

As you can imagine, one of the first things Mr. New Director did was to fire The Maestro. Mr. New Director was a soft mannered, slick talking fellow, affable, so sincere. He sold it to the Board. The Maestro was gone. Jeannette Turner telephoned Tulsa Opera from her retirement and inquired, “What’s going on there?” She was summarily informed by an underling: “Jeannette, we are going to do things differently now.” That was the last contact she had with the opera company she had nourished. She died not long later. The diagnosis may have been cancer but I know it was because of a broken heart!

Mr. New Director acted towards me very differently than Jeannette had. To her, I had been the darling young discovery with all of this talent. She and the good ladies of the Opera Guild had found me out in the cabbage patch of life and were only too happy to bring me in, dress me up and show me off as a “find” for Tulsa Opera. Mr. New Director played along with the program for a while as though he had inherited me along with the furniture but it was obvious his heart was in a very different place. Mr. New Director provided a new experience for me in opera, opposition! That should have given me pause had I maintained any spiritual discernment. God had opened doors for me and people had fallen all over themselves to help me. Now, all of a sudden, here was a powerful man who stiff armed me! What did that mean? It meant that God was trying to get my attention. I was not learning. Instead I became even more prideful and offended that ANYONE would dare oppose me. MY voice was obviously superior and that should be fully respected by all!

These were really days of learning, not chastening. My arrogance as a young singer was just a posture I took to protect myself from going insane with all this talent suddenly heaped on me. I was going to have to learn about good and bad administrators in opera, and my karma would bring them to me.

I was preparing to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions again in 1975 with a view towards winning the whole thing. I was commanding my voice much better than I had in the previous year and I had learned a lot of literature. When it came time for the district round again in Tulsa, I found myself with a bad cold. A “little Voice” which I had almost forgotten said “Wait until next year.” Hum…What was that voice? No matter. I wanted to do things my way. I entered anyway, singing over the cold and easily winning the district level again. This time it would be different at Regionals. I took with me to Kansas City a group of supporters from Tulsa for my very own cheering section. For my position on the program, I drew last place, number 13. Last place is a tremendously advantageous position because it gives you the last word. The worst position is first place. Nobody remembers you by the end. I sang Macbeth’s aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” with a long sustained high A flat.” I felt very good and it seemed to be my night. The judge, the Assistant to the Artistic Administrator at the Metropolitan Opera, sent word back stage that he would like for me to sing an aria which was not on the list. I politely refused and sang the aria on the program. I brought the house down in Kansas City and was named the winner. Some of my competitors were singers of some acclaim in the region, like baritone James Ditsch, a student of the noted teacher, Paul Sommers, at The Conservatory of Music in Kansas City. He was highly favored. Ditsch later told me he went over the list of singers with Sommers, asking about each one, and when he came to my name, Sommers told him, “Oh, don’t worry about him. He doesn’t have much of a voice.” I had sung for Sommers once in 1974 before entering the Met Auditions for the first time. Apparently he had not liked my voice then because it was not bright enough to suit his taste.  After the contest I saw Sommers in the hall and spoke to him. He looked sort of sheepish and said, “I have to admit it. You really brought the house down.” His star, James Ditsch did not even place. The next morning, Feb. 23, 1975, the most respected critic in the Midwest, gave me a review in the Kansas City Star comparing me to one of the greatest of past baritones, Lawrence Tibbett.

“One could close the eyes and imagine what it might have been to hear Lawrence Tibbett when he was in his early twenties. A Verdi baritone. No doubt about it.” John Haskins, The Kansas City Star

I didn’t think any more about that little voice that said I should wait until next year. The next round was the National Semi-Finals in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. I had never been to any city larger than Tulsa, but I had tunnel vision and felt ready to head on up to the Big Apple. The only problem was that when time came to fly to New York, I had a pretty bad cold again! No one had ever told me not to fly with a cold and I thought I had to go, so off I went. On the flight to New York I blew my nose many times, thinking nothing of it. When I got off the plane at La Guardia, I was as deaf as a post! Infected mucous had blown back into my ears and the compression of the cabin had sealed it in there. The Met sent me immediately to the best laryngologist in the whole world, Dr. James Wilbur Gould, who treated all the Met stars. He told me that my vocal cords were alright but my hearing would only come back gradually. He could not tell if I would be ready for the Semi-Finals in a week. He put me on Erythromycin and prednisone and wished me good luck. The Met people were very nice. “If you want, you can come back to the Semi-Finals, next year.” There were those words again! I suddenly remembered the internal Voice telling me in Tulsa to wait until next year. So what do you think I did? Did I say, “Yes, I’ll go back to Tulsa now and return next year”? I’m sorry to say I didn’t. I wanted to do things my way. I stayed and tried to coach with the Met coaches without being able to hear. The day before the Semi-Finals, my ears popped open and I could hear again. But I had lost a lot of time and confidence. Who should show up at the Gala Concert but Lynn Fann from seminary days! We had occasionally written since seminary and he had shown up to see this miracle of my voice which he still couldn’t quite accept. I sang well in the Semi- Finals, though not as well as in Kansas City, and received a grant from the Met National Council. I had also made the cut and was one of the Final Ten. Now I had a week to coach my arias with the Met’s best coach, Maestra Alberta Masiello, who would also play for me at the finals. Miss Masiello, as she was called–she hated ‘Maestra’- had been a mezzo soprano with a brief career many years ago at the New York City Opera. I don’t remember exactly what cut her career short but I seem to remember that she suffered from excessive stage fright. Since the 1950’s she had been the best coach at the Met., knowing the Italian repertoire commandingly. Every conductor at the Met respected Miss Masiello tremendously. If I thought Maestro Moresco was intimidating, Miss Masiello gave the word new meanings! She smoked those little cigars incessantly, even while coaching, regardless of the singer’s pleasure or allergies! Her mezzo soprano voice had descended to the depths of a foggy lady bass in which she intoned commands. She never smiled. She never once said anything complimentary, but she would eat you alive for any mistake. Moresco was a pussycat compared to her! I sang my best arias for her and hoped for something nice. Instead she looked down at the piano and intoned somewhere around low C, “You need Italian badly. Go see Maestra Cozzi!” I was stunned. Nobody had ever complained about my Italian before, not Moresco, not anybody at Santa Fe. I felt deflated like I was back to square one.

I went to see Maestra Cozzi who ushered me into her quaint apartment at the Ansonia Hotel. She treated me in a grandmotherly way. I expected her to bring out tea and cookies. She began her Italian lesson speaking to me as if I were about four years old. I left in an hour thinking I had been to the Twilight Zone. Miss Masiello never said anything about my Italian after that. In fact she never said anything except that she did not want me to sing Macbeth’s aria because “the high A flat is not written and otherwise it only goes to a G flat.” It was my decision to make, not hers, and something inside me told me that I had to sing Macbeth’s aria. But I let her talk me out of it. Inside, my funny little feeling was getting worse and worse about all this. Miss Masiello wanted me to sing The Prologue to I Pagliacci and Valentin’s aria from Faust. Once, while singing The Prologue, I held the high G at the end a long time, and Miss Masiello stopped. With a stern look on her face she snapped, “No, if you hold the high G that long I will come down without you! You may hold the A flat!” I let her rough manner eat away my confidence. The Prologue was jinxed!

There were singers at the Met then who saw me as a winner who could get a contract. One of them, tenor Douglas Alstedt, took me aside and said, “I think you really have a shot to get a contract. Go for it.”  The Finals were a Gala Concert to a sold-out Metropolitan Opera house. They were to be broadcast live on radio all over the US and Canada! The Gala started at 2:00PM. That means I should have gotten at least eight hours sleep and awakened by 9:00AM. Instead I got up about 11:30AM and did very little vocalizing. I arrived backstage at the Met to find my own dressing room with my name on the door! I went in and tried to warm up but a lot of the voice was not there. It was not working the way it had in Kansas City. Everything about this trip to New York had thrown me. I was not quite ready for it. That little voice made sense when it told me to wait a year. I simply had no experience of how to awaken and enliven the voice for a matinee. I walked into the wings to await my turn and there was Doug Alstedt to wish me luck. I walked out on that enormous stage and felt totally alone. This was not like Kansas City. There when I walked out, power walked out with me. At the Met, on that stage at that time, I was just Joe Shore. I tried to start The Prologue but only about one third of my voice came out. I blustered my way through it. Finally the last climactic page came where I always had excelled. The climax is on a high A flat, the ultimate note for a baritone. Most don’t even have it. But I had it, just not on that day. I went up for the A flat and tried to hit it and it cracked! I got off of it quickly and went on. The final note was a high G, almost as high, and I hit it and held it a good while. Miss Masiello did not come down without me. The audience cheered but I knew I had lost. This was not the voice that had won everything for me. In the wings Doug Alstedt tried to make me feel better. “Don’t worry about that,” he said, “MacNeil goes out there and does that all the time.”  The second aria went better but still not up to my standards. As you have guessed by now, The Met offered a contract to another singer, a young lyric soprano. I went back to Tulsa feeling utterly defeated and deflated.

Wouldn’t you think I would have gotten the message by then? Some part of me must have gotten the message because, thereafter, I began to pray before I would go out on stage. I don’t mean a nervous prayer like, “Please don’t let me crack anymore!” Rather, I would have a quiet time in my dressing room and I would pray a prayer that came out of me, like this: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, flow through me like water through a pipe so that the people may see you through me.”

All that God had done for me had been His response to my prayer for help in seminary. Even though I was going to have to learn many things the hard way, that little prayer I prayed in my dressing room kept me going. I can truly say that after that I never let an audience down. My voice never failed me, and God was able to use my voice to affect people in a deep way.

I went back to Tulsa in May of 1975 to a hero’s welcome. But I didn’t feel like a hero. I felt like an “also sang,” and my voice was not an “also sang.” I had to prepare to go back to Santa Fe for my second and last season as an apprentice in the summer of 1975, hopefully to leapfrog into the status of artist. Being one of the ten National Finalists in the Met Auditions in 1975 definitely helped my image at Santa Fe. I was given good roles to understudy and even a small but good role in the regular season. I got to play the part of the Grandfather Clock in Ravel’s, fantasy opera, L’Enfant et les sortileges. I was inside of an enormous grandfather clock with its weight suspended on my shoulders by straps, dancing around as I sang high F sharps and G’s!

That year I decided to live alone. I found an adobe cabin next to the Pecos Wilderness area and set up housekeeping with my Blue-point Himalayan cat, Ali Baba. The cabin was thirty miles from the opera but the drive was worth it. My Buick LeSabre got rid of those miles in no time. It was hard on Ali Baba though and I thought of getting him a playmate. One of the apprentices had a Chocolate-point Himalayan that he was going to have to give away because of allergies. I got Mocha. She was the beautiful cat of my dreams, but she had not been spayed and was just coming into heat. One night I left to go to the theatre and I accidentally left a window open the tiniest crack. When I got back Mocha was nowhere to be found. I grabbed a flashlight and began a search for her that lasted a good portion of the night. When I got up in the morning I found her. The neighbor’s dog had dragged her body back to his yard. Apparently, that night she had managed to get out the window-how I will never know–and follow her instincts. A pack of dogs had chased her and killed her. When I saw her body, all torn up, I just lost it. I started screaming and crying.  I am narrating this because this experience became a “substitution” that I used for years to bring to life Rigoletto’s discovery of the body of his little girl, Gilda. What happens to us in life is what we use on stage to make the stage come to life.

At the end of the season, the apprentices performed an evening of operatic scenes. There I did my first Rigoletto, performing the most difficult scene of the opera. Act 1 scene 2 contains the duet with Rigoletto and Sparafucile, the aria, Pari Siamo, and the long duet with Gilda. It is surely the most difficult scene for Rigoletto. Eugene Kohn, who later became famous, conducted. Friends from Tulsa came to see it. James Sullivan, director of the Arizona Opera, was also there and he hired me for my first major role as an artist. I was to perform “Tonio” in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci.

As I drove back to Tulsa, I knew I was also driving back to say, Good-bye. It was time to move on up to the Big Apple, and slowly but surely there began to develop in the back of my mind, a dream of doing opera my way. I dreamed of opera where the singers acted as well as actors on stage or screen and sang with the beauty and power of the great singers of the golden ages of singing. I dreamed of making people’s lives better because they had seen opera.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen Friend. Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University.  By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary my fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole” Opery but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental.  Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in.  Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be.

He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol.

In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t.  Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice.  I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it!  I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.”  It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang.  The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively.  It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. The music he composed was beautifully full of sweeping melodies and well constructed scenes. The image of Jesus bothered me as a “liberal” theologian. I thought of it as a literal, Sunday school character, based on an evangelical literal reading of the Bible. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for?  In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, and most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one- upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.”  Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities.

In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and who I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way.  The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the November cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it?  Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired.  That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting of to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door.  Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick.  More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” What the hell? I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on; when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any  re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain and performing in such an “evangelical” spectacle. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally. I performed new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t!

Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia.  Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital.  I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do,  but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted. It might have lasted an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep. You can call it a dream if you want but it was not a dream. I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.”  He turned around with a big smile all over his face.  I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.”  He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it.  He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage.  Even though I could not be there, we had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge, had done so.  I was happy, truly happy, to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried.  Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones.  “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen.  Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice.  We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes.  I had learned my lesson!  Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking.  He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards.  “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene.  We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill, while the rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F and all went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic.  There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on but he barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next and I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp.  The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim.  Finally the end of her aria arrived.  I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity.  What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.”  I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again! No way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades!  I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room.  Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make- up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer aria which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome.  He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did.

I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier and not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

 

More Thoughts on Journey to the Christ

Journey to the Christ: The Road to Enlightenment

 

It would be helpful if we agreed on what the Christ is. Some think it is Jesus’ last name, “Jesus Christ,” like Joseph Shore. Some think of it in the narrow terms of literal minded Judaism, the “Moshiach,” or in Greek, “Christos,” but none of these meanings serve any real purpose. Just what is the Christ? You had better want to know. The Christ is the only real part of you. It is the Love that God created as you, and nothing you can do can change it one bit. It is real and eternal and it is the Mind God shares with you. A Course in Miracles gives us a clear picture in its section called “Clarification of Terms.”

 JESUS – CHRIST

“There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality. Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs. God does not help because He knows no need. But He creates all Helpers of His Son while he believes his fantasies are true. Thank God for them for they will lead you home.

“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

“In his complete identification with the Christ, the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

“And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

“Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

“Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

“There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son. And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.”(ACIM, Clarification of Terms, 5.)

**********

Every time you have a loving thought it is shared with God through the Christ Mind. You DO know the Christ every time you love, but you have not identified with the Christ as your only Mind. You still think you are an individual mind (and body) with all sorts of “personal” wants and goals. Thus your self is split off from your Self. The little self is an illusion but how we cling to it. We have to learn many lessons in order to give up the little illusory self.

I know the Christ. The Christ is the love of God. If you read my messages/essays in my group The Pleroma, or on FaceBook, you will hear the Christ speaking to you. My messages are “channeled” through the Christ Mind. These messages come through me like water through a pipe. After I have written them, my little self reads them, and tears flood my eyes. I am ready to give up little “Joe Shore” but what more must I do to identify with the Christ Mind completely? I am on the trail of the Christ. I am willing to do my lessons and if they take a hundred more illusory lifetimes, I will go to class and do the work. But I have seen Heaven’s gate. I have felt the Christ in me. I have done and am doing His work to save God’s son. I see the goal post in sight. I want to be the Christ, so that Joe Shore no longer lives but Christ lives in me. I have accepted Jesus’  mission to flood this illusory world with the Love of God.

I wrote a little letter to my ego this year. Here it is:

“Letter to my ego from a Higher Me: ‘Joe….Joe, listen.’ Think of being on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Yup, that’s you. There are some things I need to say to you. You know I think you are an illusion and you think I want to get rid of you. I know that sounds pretty frightening to you. But let me tell you something, Joe. ‘I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.’ You were perfectly made for me to learn the lessons I needed in this lifetime. Yes, you could be harsh and authoritarian, but you could also be informative, inspirational, and daring. You were the image of the Aries for all his strengths and faults. I guess you probably miss all the intellectual debates you used to have, and the authority you held as a theologian and then a university professor. Those positions perfectly fit you. But they could not last because you had more lessons to learn. I forgive you your faults and I thank you for your daring, inspirational, actions. You are going away but fear not. You are going away with my love and thanks! Thank you, Joe. You were the best, brightest, most talented of your generation. Accept this truth and this love, and don’t worry about tomorrow. It will all be OK.”

Still, my willingness does not obviate all the lessons I must learn to be the Christ. I’ll bet some of you think that Jesus’ disciples went to heaven and stayed there! Well, they didn’t. They had MANY lessons to learn. They understood Jesus so poorly. They have been reincarnating and learning their own lessons. The real “Saint” Paul now lives a life today as Nick Bunick.( http://www.nickbunick.com/) Obviously, he needed more work. When he wrote, “Now no longer I live but Christ lives within me,” he was apparently quite mistaken.

I have had lengthy periods in which I identified with the Christ Mind in me. The longest was six weeks last year. I shared it with you:

“A stillness has come to me

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.

“The Glory cloud of God will fall on us. Be grateful that it will fall. Nothing in all your life has prepared you for anything like being under the Glory cloud of God. You will not be able to stand. The body cannot stand in the Glory of God. In the Glory cloud there is the weight of holiness and as much as our spirits belong there, the body does not! The body will groan, shout, and travail under the Glory cloud. But your spirit will never want to be any other place than in the Glory of God. We belong in the Glory cloud of God. We are the rays of His Glory. When the Glory cloud falls the spirit remembers its true home. We know then that we are not a body, but a spirit and a part of the Great Spirit of God. The holiness we feel under the Glory cloud is our holiness as well. But the body can only groan or bark like dogs. In the Glory cloud we speak the language of the Spirit. No human language can work in the Glory cloud.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.

“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.

“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies. The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Let us leave the world of unforgiveness behind and live in our Love and our Song. The Song is not formal music. It is the eternal call to Home that the spirit hears in every rock and leaf, every grain of sand, every child’s face, every dog and cat’s response to our love for them. The Song is in you. I hear you singing it so sweetly. Oh precious Jesus how the world sings the song you know so well, the song of Oneness in praise of the Love that we are. The world that was created by fear and anger we can now view through the eyes of newness. No longer must we see the world as separate factions fighting one another. We have forgiven the world of strife we created. Forgiveness now rests on our brows and on the world’s. Now can we see Heaven’s reflection made so perfect in the world. Now that Love has come into aching hearts, the need for time is almost gone. The One Song sings beautifully throughout a world which knew it not and all creation gives thanks to you and to the Creator. Now do we see the steps to Heaven’s gate on which you stand. Now we have no need for the world which served us so well with lessons to be learned. The time for learning is over. The time of the great rejoining has come and every tiny part of all universes has come to join the One Song we sing. And tears of joy come in recognition of the vast ages of time we have entered bodies to remember our eternal Self, One with the Creator, AND WE ARE ALL THE BELOVED. Gently do Heaven’s doors open to receive back its One Son. Gently does the Creator’s arm reach out and gather His Son back to Himself. Less than a tiny moment was taken to heal the tiny mad idea that seemed to set the Son on His long journey. The time for time is over. Now in eternity does all-encompassing Love flow unimpeded through a universe of spirit created by the Song. Forever shall we flow. And shall our little days as individuals be lost forever in Oneness? Oh no, dear ones. Every loving thought you ever had, every loving deed, is perfectly remembered within the Christ Mind that flows through Heaven. And now we say Amen for the time of learning is over and the time of rejoining has entered eternity, with you my loved ones, with you, and you, and you, and you, with your animals and children and every thought of love that lighted your little mind as an individual. Home safe we are, and we shall never leave again. No more dreams will enchant us. We are Home. Love has found itself at last…at last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enlightenment, little by Little

In the ceaseless chatter of the brain there is the constant urge to project the opposite. There is a thought of love and the brain projects an opposite. There is a thought of happiness. The brain projects an opposite. What would it be like if we learned to stop projecting the opposite? It would mean that the mind has stilled and stilled the brain as well. Only Love’s Presence would be sensed in everything. The student workbook exercises in ACIM are a very good way to help us with this problem. As long as we project the opposite, this world of separation will remain strong, and we will have to work hard to keep our peace. The lessons of the workbook help us to become aware of our thoughts so that when the urge arises to see something negative, the mind brings up a lesson: “The Light has come. I have forgiven the world.” When I am tempted to see myself as some low image, the mind brings back, “I am as God created me.” When I am tempted to believe in “magic” the mind brings to me, “I am under no laws but God’s.” Gradually we are learning right mindedness, and dispelling separation. Gradually you have more periods of Peace than you do of anxiety. We always thought that Enlightenment was something that came all at once, after long periods of study, yoga, meditation. We made such people who did these things to acquire Enlightenment “special.” WE wanted to be them but we didn’t want to have to live an ascetic life!!!! And we thought that once you were enlightened you stayed that way, or maybe would just disappear one day into the heart of God. It never occurred to us that little bits and pieces of enlightenment come to us all the time as we forgive one another, refuse to engage in attack thoughts or hold on to grudges. We were just waiting for that moment when we would be able to walk six inches above the ground, or on water. Then, we would know, or so we thought! But we were still dissatisfied. Enlightenment was our GOAL and so we were unhappy with the life we had. That is one of the clues that tells us our quest–any quest–is an ego trick. The ego wants to have its cake and eat it too! But any enlightenment that maintains a dualism, an I-Thou relationship is not worth a plugged nickel.

In the summer of 2014, with the help of partner, Burnaby Lake, my right mindedness opened me up into a six week period of enlightenment. I shared it this way:

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.
“The Glory cloud of God will fall on us. Be grateful that it will fall. Nothing in all your life has prepared you for anything like being under the Glory cloud of God. You will not be able to stand. The body cannot stand in the Glory of God. In the Glory cloud there is the weight of holiness and as much as our spirits belong there, the body does not! The body will groan, shout, and travail under the Glory cloud. But your spirit will never want to be any other place than in the Glory of God. We belong in the Glory cloud of God. We are the rays of His Glory. When the Glory cloud falls the spirit remembers its true home. We know then that we are not a body, but a spirit and a part of the Great Spirit of God. The holiness we feel under the Glory cloud is our holiness as well. But the body can only groan or bark like dogs. In the Glory cloud we speak the language of the Spirit. No human language can work in the Glory cloud.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.
“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.
“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.
“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”
“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.
“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.”

My first reaction to its lifting was gratefulness that I had it for 6 whole weeks. But then I had to question, “Why did it leave after six weeks?” I began to feel guilty that I was not something enough for it to stay. And I knew that some people would say, “If it only lasted six weeks, it could not have been real.” Such judgments always come from the ego. One can just hear some people thinking, “If it had come to ME I would have kept it!!!” In truth, these periods of Reality do break in on us. Many people will tell you their experiences if they feel free to do so. We learn Right Mindedness little by little. We climb the ladder of consciousness one step at a time WITH our brothers. No one can climb the ladder alone because no one IS alone. We come as One Mind to the top of the ladder. Then the ladder disappears and all that is left is God and His One Son in Oneness. Consciousness has disappeared as a tiny mad idea. There is only the One, all-inclusive Love of God.

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Happiness

Happiness is a sign that Love’s Presence has been felt. Blockages have been removed and Love’s Presence has come into awareness. In this dualistic world people search for happiness in all sorts of unproductive ways: acquisition of stuff, money, fame, other people, and none of these things work to bring happiness. You would have to find something that has no opposite to become happy, wouldn’t you? Everything that has an opposite is temporary and subject to change. Now I could step forward and tell you that real Love is that which has no opposite because it is eternal and carries God’s nature, but will that help you to experience it? Probably not. But let’s say for the moment that we can agree that if you found this Love which is all encompassing and has no opposite you would also be happy. So happiness is no longer the issue. Love is the issue, but not as the world knows it. That is attachment and subject to time and change. So then you would surely ask me how you can find this Love and I would tell you that you must look inside you. That may mean nothing to you. You may think I mean for you to examine the body! I could step forward then and ask you if you have ever seen behind your eyeballs, or bitten your own teeth? You would think I am either mad or obscure and you would walk out the door. But as you leave you will see very beautiful trees with just a whisper of wind in their top branches. You would see my garden where bees frolic among the flowers and earthworms trundle through the soil. You would smell the fragrance of the flowers. The chatter of your mind would stop and you would be still. In that stillness there are no blockages to the awareness of Love’s Presence. You would feel yourself to be a part of some whole. You would soon see that you are not a body, and just as quickly you would sense yourself to be the immensity of my garden. The branches of the trees are a part of you. The flowers, the bees, the worms, are all a part of you. And just so you will really get it, a hummingbird glides in and hovers right in front of you. He hovers and waits until you finally feel this experience as Love’s Presence and your eternal Self. Now the whole experience of the whole has given you the experience of Love which has no opposite. It does not come from doing anything. It is your natural inheritance, while all along you thought you were a body full of mostly water! You will laugh now at the silly idea that you could somehow be limited! You will sense your immensity and within that is true happiness. It will follow you wherever you go. People will ask you what is different about you. They will ask you to be their guru. You just smile and bless them. They will find their own immensity in time. But now you know that happiness was never the issue of your search. You needed to know who you ARE. That’s all that matters, just to know who you ARE. Until you get it, life’s lessons will continue, as long as you need them. They were made for you.

Getting this thing called Enlightenment

“The Holy Spirit’s function is to take the broken picture of the Son of God and put the pieces into place again. 2 This holy picture, healed entirely, does He hold out to every separate piece that thinks it is a picture in itself. 3 To each He offers his Identity, which the whole picture represents, instead of just a little, broken bit that he insisted was himself. 4 And when he sees this picture he will recognize himself. 5 If you share not your brother’s evil dream, this is the picture that the miracle will place within the little gap, left clean of all the seeds of sickness and of sin. 6 And here the Father will receive His Son, because His Son was gracious to himself.
T-28.IV.9. I thank You, Father, knowing You will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy Son. 2 Your Holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them. 3 And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. 4 How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son! 5 THE FORMS THE BROKEN PIECES SEEM TO TAKE MEAN NOTHING. 6. FOR THE WHOLE IS IN EACH ONE OF THEM 7. AND EVERY ASPECT OF THE SON OF GOD IS JUST THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER PART.” (ACIM T.-28.IV 8-9)

What would it mean if we really got this? How would we change our relationship to the planet and all its seemingly separate things? If we really saw that every rock and tree, every blade of grass, every animal, every person is a part of the Son of God, would we ourselves not be changed? We would also see ourselves as Holy, as part of God’s Son, and the “WHOLE IS IN EACH” of the parts. Like a hologram which contains the whole within it, every byte of sensory data we call “the world” contains the whole of God’s Son! How holy is your cat and dog? How Holy are your children? How holy is this planet? When we see that, we won’t want to abuse anything!!! And UNTIL we see that, we will go on with the abuse until the planet is destroyed!!!!

So this thing called “enlightenment” is not just some abstract concept for Eastern eggheads!!!!!! It determines whether this planet continues. Let us look at it from both sides of the mind, wrong-mindedness and rightmindedness. In wrong mindedness we began as the One dreaming Son believed the ego’s lie that he had in fact separated from Heaven and was now fearfully on the lamb from an angry God who wanted to destroy him for his “sin” of leaving Heaven. In fear the Son ran out of his Mind, “so to speak” and dreamed up a physical universe in which to hide from God. As He enters it (“Big Bang” indeed) he shatters into all the pieces of the universe, and in this dream, he seems to evolve into more and more complex creatures in which to hide from God.

Lesson 241 in A Workbook for Students tells us: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone.” The senses were made to deceive! So in this kind of perception (wrong mindedness) we began in this universe, forgetting the Truth of Oneness, exchanging that Holiness for the separateness of fragmentation, out of fear!!! So when we see the world as a “thing” for us to exploit, we are acting in fear and the destruction of the planet is inevitable with fear. Fear causes us to be more and more defensive and defensiveness invites attack. “If I defend myself I am attacked.” Defenses will inevitably kill the world….and that would make no difference at all except for the fact that we can attain to “right minded perception.” The Holy Spirit came with the Son into this universe and He whispers to you and me the Truth of Oneness we are afraid to hear. Skilfully He moves us to forgive our brothers, not to hold grievances, not to have attack thoughts, and little by little we can climb back up that ladder of consciousness we came down on. This is the true ascension!! We can go back up the ladder, and then the world changes in perception to a shining reflection of Heaven, so beautiful we would love it as we love God. This is the Salvation of the world and God has given us the job of saving it, not by judgment or evangelical proselytizing but by the offering of our minds to God, ceasing our attack on him by individualization and sporting uniqueness. Who could do that when you have an experience that everything is your brother and a part of you? The animals are not less than you. I once heard a very spiritual man say a very wrong-minded thing. He said that animals lack the capacity to know beyond their senses! I was so amazed! I thought, my God this man has never had a relationship with an animal! Animals transcend the senses all the time! Create a holy space by quietness and see how quickly the cat becomes a Buddha! Take a dog to a suffering child and see how quickly the dog begins to cure the child. Do your best meditation, climb as high as you can on the ladder of consciousness and you will discover the mind of your cat has followed you there!! The idea that only man can become enlightened is a very clever trick of the ego, designed to make some broken parts of the Son of God more important than others. Then you open the door to “specialness” which the ego loves and which is based on fear, not Love.

We must get this! We must do our lessons. In eternity it does not matter. This little crazy idea was corrected in an instant in eternity, but it is playing itself out in the eons of time. In time, it makes a difference whether we extend love or fear. It makes a difference if there is a beautiful planet called earth where we can learn our lessons by taking on these dreamy bodies and living out our little dramas so we can undo fear and experience love’s presence.

 

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

As a child, as an artist, as a teacher, I have carried the same illusions around with me…those of loneliness and lack. I know they are illusions but they are mine to work with until I can undo them. When you are at the top of your profession it is easy to feel lonely. I was and I did. I was invited to join MENSA, and maybe I should have, but I thought it was just adding more to the illusion of specialness, which in itself comes from the ego illusion which fosters loneliness. As a result of these illusions I have often accepted “friendship” from people who were really NOT friends. Instead they viewed me as special and wanted to get something from me. When you have achieved some fame, people always want to “touch you,” as though it will rub off on them, and then they want you to treat THEM as though they were special! ACIM tells us that the “special relationship” is at the heart of the ego’s function which is to instill fear and lack. Ego’s cannibalize others in their quest to get something from others. Many of you FB friends are, I believe, really friends. Many of you can see my soul in my writing and postings and know me better than some people in my city who cannot see my soul and view me through only their projections. So, to you, I say: “Thank you. You have helped me in my journey.” I am working hard to forgive all of those false friends. Just so we are clear, a friend is someone who has joined with you in mind (spirit). They see you as a gift from God. They look on you from the bright side, even if you have done something they think is wrong. They have your back when you have forgotten who you are. If others say something negative about you, they will not join in. They enjoy being in your company, not because they want something from you, but just because they are your friend. They forgive on the fly. They do not hold grievances. They do not save up stamps to be used for another day! They give you that same love you remember receiving from your grandparents! 🙂 Friends help to end the illusion of separation, lack and loneliness. They would never plot against you or enter into some sort of cabal to do harm to you. They do not attack. If you have had harsh words, they forgive quickly or ask to talk to you about it. They know no conspiracies. In the end, it is Jesus’ lesson from the crucifixion that helps us forgive false friends. He advises us that when we are tempted to see ourselves as victimized that we use his model in the crucifixion. He did not see attack. Instead he associated himself with his spirit which cannot be attacked, cannot be betrayed, cannot suffer lack or deprivation. In his association with his spirit he changed crucifixion to resurrection, not by the resuscitation of a dead body, but by placing the altar to God where it belonged, not with the body but with spirit. From that place he could say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ body became what it always was, NOTHING, nothing at all, for it never existed in truth. In his victory over illusion, he allowed the body to simply not exist. Having fulfilled his mission he exists within the Sonship as an active symbol of the love of God. We are his students.

The Light of Heaven

I am thankful that these thoughts I share with you, were shared with me by a great Teacher, Tara Singh, and though I have added my own expression and my learning to it, I wanted to give thanks to him. Namaste!

Suffer the little children…We are coming into a season where we idolize a babe in a manger, his parents poor, his circumstances low. There was not even a room left at the Motel 6 for him, so he and his parents stayed outside in little more than a cardboard box would be today. We are asked to look at this child as the unique Son of God and we expect each year to receive from this some answer to our personal and social questions about life. But what if EVERY child were thought to be the unique Son of God. The word “unique” keeps us at arms length from that child. It separates us from him and we never get those answers we long for. Let us see that child as every child. A Course in Miracles offers us a different vision of every child. Every child comes here for one of two reasons, depending on OUR mind. If our minds are wrong, every child comes here hiding from God out of guilt, assuming a physical body to escape the pursuing God s/he fears. If our minds are right, every child comes here as a fresh Light, the Light of Heaven, and would come here to share the facts of Heaven with us. The facts of Heaven are innocence and peace, guiltlessness and love. Every child brings the Father’s touch to the fearful world that hides from Truth. The child is Holy and brings Holiness to the fearful world. The child comes first to the parents who called to him and it is to them that he would first try to communicate the facts of Heaven. He wishes to instruct his parents in the Truth of things, to teach them God’s ways, Heaven’s ways. But the question is whether the parents are prepared and willing to learn from the child; or do they think of the child as “theirs,” as something they have a right to condition with the ways of the earth? Invariably that is what happens, isn’t it? The child comes fresh with the dew of Heaven and would teach his parents the holiness they have forgotten. They were children too and their parents beat the remembrance of heaven out of them, teaching them fear and suspicion, a terrible sense of lack and separation, a loneliness that nothing can dispel. They have forgotten the facts of Heaven, which are their facts too! So will they see the holiness of the child and be still? Will they learn from the child the things they have forgotten? Or will they see the child as needing their guidance in the fearful things of the world? The child comes from Heaven and you would make a citizen out of her and have her saluting flags! Is that not the abuse of holiness. Can we learn from our past mistakes now and see the Heavenliness of things, all things, but certainly children? There is a Knowledge of who we are down deep in us that we cannot completely forget, try as we may. It comes out of us in stories and myths and makes us unwilling to call the world home. Thank God!

When my daughter was about three years old, I spoke with her calmly and frankly and asked her if she remembered Heaven before she came to be my daughter in this body. Children will happily tell you if you ask in love. She said, “Well there I was in Heaven, minding my own business, when an angel came up to me and said, ‘Look down there. Joe and his wife are going to have a baby. Would you like to be it?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ and then I jumped and the next thing I knew I was a baby and they were holding me and saying ‘Look how cute the baby is.” She told this story in a manner of fact way that was very disarming. When her brother was about the same age, I saw him approach my daughter and say, “Tell me again about Heaven. I am beginning to forget!” And forget we almost do, so indoctrinated are we in the ways of the world. The world is the place WE made. Heaven is the universe that God created. It is the Home we long to remember fully. The key to awakening into that remembrance is the awareness of the awesome holiness of all things, and yes, certainly all children. Who will cherish the child as the messenger from Heaven? Who will dare to look at the terrible ego need involved when we see the child as “mine.” “This is something I made.” The fact of it is that children do not come “from” parents but rather “through” them. They are not ours to claim, nor are they ours to indoctrinate in the strange ways of the world. They come through the parents, accepting the vibration of them, agreeing to share that vibration with their own, and then they begin their own path of remembrance. If the parents were ready they could learn from the child. If they had made space for the child and counted it as holy from the first moment of their awareness of conception, then a great event could take place. Learning the ways of Heaven from the child would be as cool water to a scorched earth, torn from God’s Oneness by the mad thought of separation. The Light of the child would dispel the darkness of the world’s illusions with its little mad ways. Then we wouldn’t need to keep looking at Jesus in the manger every year, trying to remember all that we have forgotten. Every child is Jesus and every parent potentially Mary and Joseph. If we could see the holiness of children, it would come out of the remembrance of our holiness. Then, who could fail to cherish the child? Could there ever be child abuse? Could there ever be child abandonment? Could there ever be children in poverty? Obviously not!! We would remember ourselves as Children of God, all brothers, all parts of the One Spirit that God created like unto Himself. Every child would give us the chance to remember ourselves as God created us!!! What a gift!!! But WE think WE have to bring gifts to the child! Invariably, what do we bring but the things of this world? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, the things valued by THIS world! We begin immediately to encapsulate the child into the world! Is this not a tragedy? Is this not the ultimate abuse? In three or four years the child will have forgotten Heaven and see only fear, loneliness and lack!! But if we had made a space for the holy child that was coming to us, could we not then protect them from the madness of the world? If for, say, the first five years we could keep the child in the fullness of Love’s Presence, not exposing her to the ideas of the world, the child might grow up without learning fear and reaction. But how often does this take place? We are so worn out, we just want to get a baby sitter and have a few drinks! We were not prepared for the child because we just thought she was “OURS.” And soon, she will be three years old and a citizen saluting flags and entering child beauty contests!! Is there any wonder then that we so idolize Jesus in the manger!!! Let just that ONE child be holy. All of the other children will be OURS and we will teach them to be just like us!!! Can we not now see the tragedy of the world we have made in our mad attack on God? Thank God it is a tragedy that will end for it is only a long dream. In Truth, nothing but God and His Creation exists! We will awaken from fear eventually in time. In Truth no separation from God ever occurred or could occur. In Truth no world exists! Only in Time does it appear otherwise and time is temporary just as the school bell eventually rings and children return home. The child awakens from the bad dream and sees that it was not real.

At this Christmas time, allow yourself to awaken to the awareness of Love’s Presence. Forgive and set aside all of the little blocks you have made to keep such Truth out of your vision! Love the little children; the child of the world and the child in you. We are all just used and abused kids! We too came here as emissaries of Heaven, bringing the Light of eternal Truth to a dark place in the mind that believes itself to be separated from God and on the run from him. We too tried to teach our parents the holiness of all things, and they just claimed us as “theirs,” and made us do as they said. We have been here so many times trying to light up this dark place!! We have need of our own holiness. Let the “holy” child bring this memory back to us to stay a while, long enough to awaken the world from its long dream!

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Which Option Do You Choose?

If I were speaking to a room full of a hundred people interested in spirituality and I said this to them, how would they respond? How would you respond? So here is the speech.

Were I to tell you that you could choose one of these options which one would it be?

One option would be that you as an individual do not truly exist. Instead you are a part of the Mind of God, undifferentiated, you are a part of the Light of God. You are part of the Ocean of God’s Love. You are just as God, spirit, not physical and you are not an individual, distinct, unique, with plans and goals of your own. You are a part of God, which is all-encompassing Love and Light for all eternity.

The other option would be that you ARE an individual and you are unique with your own opportunities to prove yourself. You have a soul which will live forever as an individual, but while you are on Earth, you sing the song, “I did it MY way.” The universe is a real artifact separate from you and you as a unique individual get to go out and explore it! Go to shopping malls! Buy new jeans! Get a car. Buy a house. Marry a hot guy or girl!

These are the two options. Which one would you choose? (I have actually done this so I know what happens! smile emoticon ) Most people pick the second option and as a reason they say, “It sounds boring to just be a part of God’s Light for all eternity.” Some people say, with a defiant tone, “I AM an individual, UNIQUE, and I can be whatever I want to be. Who cares about God!!” There may be one or two people who will choose the first option!!

From the point of view of A Course in Miracles, this shows how our minds have accepted the idea of separation. The Course tells us that the Son of God made the same mistake! He fell into a little dream that somehow he could be different from His Father. This all happened in the mind. There was no world yet. But when the idea came to him, he forgot to laugh at it. He took it seriously and that is the first split of the mind from Oneness. The Son now thinks he is outside of Heaven observing God and into his mind there come two voices: the first one is loud and brash. “Look what you have done? You have left Heaven! God gave you everything and you have just spit in his face! You have stolen the crown jewels. You have SINNED against your Father and do you think he is going to let you get away with this!!! He is going to hunt you down like the dirty dog you are and he is going to annihilate you! So you better scram, get out of here as fast and as far as you can and hide!”

The second voice is calm and quiet. It says, “Nothing has in truth happened. You just fell into a little dream. You can wake up now.” The first loud voice we will call the “ego” and the second quiet voice we will call the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit counsels the sleeping Son just to wake up and find himself as he must forever be, a part of Heaven sharing the Mind of Christ with his father. For some reason we will never know, the Son chose to believe the ego and when he did he chose the emotions of the ego; fear, sin and guilt. So the Son runs out of his mind, so to speak, and dreams (though he thinks he creates it) a physical universe which he enters by the Big Bang. But after the Big Bang, the Son splits into zillions and zillions of pieces of stuff: star dust, matter, planets, star systems, and life forms, including you and me. The Son would have lost all memory of his true state were it not for the fact that the Holy Spirit came with him into this universe as a memory of truth. Now each life form thinks itself independent and separated just as the ego thought caused it. The Course tells us that the body was made as a place God could enter not! The dreaming Son, made insane by the lies of the ego, now fears himself to be an individual, separated from God, living out a life based on sin, fear and guilt. Part of the ego’s lies makes him believe he is forever separate, forever UNIQUE, forever his own person, that this physical universe is his home and that he is A BODY, not a mind or a spirit. The ego creates worlds of special people, unique people, good people, bad people and tells his “creation” that duality is just the way things ARE. “It’s a tough world out there. You gotta get yours! I got mine!” The ego’s thought system rules the world it made:

specialness, good and bad
uniqueness for the individual
the body as the altar of “truth”—shopping malls, modern life, the pop world, the good world, the bad world. Conflict, war, aggression, depression et al–these all come from the ego’s thought system of separation.

So you can see why most people take the second option!!! It is the fall-out from the Son’s original mistake (IN HIS DREAM ONLY; It could never happen in Truth). Nothing real can be threatened! The Son cannot truly be different from his father. He cannot be an individual and hide in a body! That’s just a bad dream!!!. The way to awakening from the dream is to treat each other as brothers, to look for what we have in common, without proclaiming our “uniqueness,” which is a real illusion; to forgive some individuals who you think have wronged you, because it has not really happened in God’s world. As we forgive, we cast away grievances we have held; we begin to show more Light from the inside. We begin to be the Light of the world. We see ourselves as spirit, not bodies, and we hear the call to go Home to our true reality. We get weary of being individuals. We just want peace and Love. We have been running from a god we created out of our ego minds. We begin to feel the tug of Home pulling at us, like we were little kids and had been away at camp for a month, but now we just want to hug our mom or dad and drink hot chocolate. We HAVE been in this dream a long time and we do yearn to go home. In the time it has taken you to read this, perhaps you will revise your choice of the two options. Maybe somebody will break through and say “YES, I want option number ONE. I want to go back into that ocean of Love that is my Home. I will gladly hand over this silly little idea of Joe Shore as a unique individual and rejoin Oneness!

NOW THE GREAT PART is that this has already happened in Truth. It all got resolved in an instant in eternity, but now that resolution is playing itself out through the billions of years of “Time.” So NOW, we can do what the Son forgot to do, LAUGH at the silly, mad idea, that any part of God could break off and observe the Whole, outside of which is nothing; LAUGH that any part of God could hide in a body! LAUGH at the thought that you could be an individual and find something more interesting to be than GOD!!! grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon

Joseph Shore's photo.

Gratefulness

Gratefulness is one of the gifts of awareness. It is given to those who know silence and encounter the Holy Instant. Gratefulness remakes our perception. Where once we saw a sinful world, gratefulness shows us the children of God, lost as in a dream, perhaps, but sons of God nonetheless. Gratefulness remakes us from the inside out. In gratefulness we would find the ability to let loose old grievances we have held. How long we have held them and clung to them as though they were precious gifts, but now the tears of awareness come and show us the hurt that confused our minds. We can let go now. Every grievance we held against others was an attack on God, as surely as though we were storming the Kingdom with the deeds of war. Thank God, none of our attacks on God, can change Him. The Love that He is cannot be threatened. It cannot be avoided either, for there is no place in Truth where this Love is not. It is all-encompassing just as His will is all-encompassing and will be done. His Will is that you be just as you were created by Him. Made of His Love, sharing Himself to make you, you are a chip off the old block. You and I are the Love of God. That is all we are! Everything else is a little dream we fell into and stayed there but an instant. And now, in this Holy Instant, we have remembered who we are and must forever be. We are the Love and Light of God. When we have all remembered, the world will vanish as the illusion we made as a place that God could enter not, and we will find ourselves, not as bodies, but as rays of Light in the corona of God’s Presence. But for this moment, languor a while in gratefulness that your fears were wrong, that the world is not a terrible place where tortured and wounded creatures come to die. Bathe a while in this gratefulness and be remade.

Father we are coming Home. So long have we been lost in this dream of separateness. So long have we clung to little dreams of sin, fear and guilt. We are as your little children Father, your little toddlers who wandered into a fearful land and grew up almost forgetting you, almost forgetting who we are. But we could not forget your Love for we are made of it, and we had to see it sometime. We are coming up your steps Father as fast as our little toddler feet can carry us, longing now only for your embrace and our eternal Home.

Joseph Shore's photo.

None but the lonely heart

None but the lonely heart

By Joseph Shore

(This story is fictional in form but factual in Truth. It is constructed from actual events I have experienced and actual situations I have encountered while working in deliverance and healing. Any resemblance to any historical person is purely coincidental)

It was about 4:00AM when I received that call that you never hope to get.  I was half-asleep when I answered the phone but was propelled to full alertness as I listened to the voice of one of my eighteen year old students hysterically pleading with me for help. Her mother had just committed suicide in a most graphic way. She had jumped off the Second Narrows Bridge that connects Vancouver with North Vancouver and plummeted hundreds of feet to the inlet below. I tried to calm Giada over the phone. Her parents were divorced and her father was currently in Europe. The grandparents had passed away and she was an only child. She was all alone. She told me that she was in her house and that the police were there. I told her that I would get in my car and be right over.  Giada lived in West Vancouver, normally about a 45 minute drive for me. But at this hour I drove my big Cadillac like a madman and reached her house in 20 minutes.  The police questioned me and wanted to know why I was there. About that time Giada came running out of the house and hugged me for dear life. She explained that I was her teacher and she had asked me to come.  I took her inside and tried to find a private place away from the police where we could talk. I made her some tea and sat her down in a comfortable chair. She was still semi-hysterical and I needed to calm her down more to be able to talk to her.  She continued to cry and just wanted me to hug her. I hugged her and just held on. In a few minutes she was more able to speak. I asked if her father had been contacted yet in Europe. She said that no one had been able to find him. He was on a private yacht with one of his clients.  I asked her to tell me whatever she wanted to say about her mother. I knew the family. I knew the divorce had been very hard on Giada since she was an only child. Her mother was Dr. Eva Morin, a clinical psychologist, who had been married to a man, Edward Johnson, a Canadian investor.  It was not a loving marriage. The two were apart more than they were together and they had little in common. Johnson was the kind of man who saw what he wanted and got it. He had met Eva at a socialite party in West Vancouver and fell in love with her. He courted her extravagantly with cruises, fine dining, and extravagant gifts. You might think that a clinical psychologist would know all the tricks but Eva needed loving attention. She allowed herself to fall in love with him and soon they were married. Giada came the next year.  Dr. Morin was a fine clinical psychologist but she had enormous personal problems stemming from an austere childhood devoid of love. She was born in Milan into a wealthy Italian family deeply rooted in European politics. Her father was a very important man and seemed to be narcissistically devoted to his political career. Eva had been totally unwanted. Her father wanted an abortion but the mother refused. Her father reacted by simply not admitting Eva existed. He never spoke to her or touched her. It was as though she didn’t exist.  When Eva was four she painted a picture that she wanted to give to him. She walked into his study to give him the picture but he was in a meeting and did not even acknowledge her. With a small wave of his hand, he had his body guard remove Eva from the room. Her mother was not much better to turn to. Her mother was an alcoholic and a socialite who had neither interest, sobriety, nor time for Eva. Eva grew up alone and unloved. She never had a hug or a kiss as a child; never had a birthday party or sleepover. She was neglected and severely emotionally abused. Is it any wonder that she became a clinical psychologist? She wanted to cure herself! Unfortunately, her wounding was so deep she had never found the courage to work on it with another therapist. Her colleagues would volunteer but she would push them away. She held all her wounding inside and tried to cover it up by helping others. It was a technique which was not working for her.  Her marriage to Johnson failed for many reasons, not the least of which was that she had never learned to love. She did not know what love really was. The early infatuation that she called “falling in love” did not last long and she found herself as lonely in her marriage as she had been as a child. She and Johnson held the marriage together until Giada was sixteen and then they divorced. Eva threw herself into her work as the only technique she knew for dealing with her deep problems. It was not working.

Giada was my private student in singing and she confided in me about all the problems in the house. I acted as a counselor to her, a role I often took with students and friends. I had been trained in pastoral counseling when I was a minister and I had also been a social worker in New York City where I counseled abused and neglected children as well as their abusive parents.  Counseling is a role that had come with me through life.

First, I made sure that Giada had a friend who could stay with her until her father could be located. Giada was 18 and would surely inherit the house, but what would her life be like all alone unless her father came back into her life?

The police finally left and Giada began to calm down a little bit. “It was all his fault, you know?”  I thought she was referring to her father. “No, not him,” she said. “It was all Richard’s fault.”

“Who is Richard,” I asked, wondering if we needed to make a call to another involved party.

“He was my mother’s patient,” Giada said. “And mom loved him.”

Here was a development that Giada had never mentioned to me. “Would you like to tell me what you know,” I asked.

“Of course I am going to tell. I have to tell somebody.”

“OK,” I said. Would you like a glass of water?”

“No,” she said. “I don’t need anything. I am just so glad you are here. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

“That’s OK,” I said. “I am glad to be here for you.”

“My mom told me she had fallen in love with one of her patients,” Giada began. “Mom didn’t usually talk about her work with me. We were not really close. I mean, we were pretty much enemies in my teens, until maybe this year. She thawed a little bit.”

“OK, so she thawed a little bit?” I responded.

Giada continued: “I always knew mom was fucked up really bad from her childhood. Her dad never loved her. He wouldn’t even treat her as really there. And I know her mom was no prize either. Poor mom grew up without hugs or kisses, without any emotional support. I always knew she had this hole inside of her. She needed love so badly. I don’t know if she ever really loved daddy, but I sure know that daddy did not love or respect her. It made me feel really badly for them. And there I was caught in the middle and they would take their stuff out on me. It was so unfair. But I didn’t want them to get a divorce and I sure didn’t want mom to kill herself,” Giada said, crying.

After she calmed down, I asked her, “What role do you think Richard played in your mom’s problems?”

“Mom told me that Richard came to her to work on problems just like hers! He had not been loved as a child. When he was little, his parents would not even get a babysitter if they wanted to go out. They would just lock Richard in the closet! ‘Now be good! Mommy and daddy will be back in just a few minutes.’  Shit like that. Mom said his dad was a real piece of work. He thought he was an inventor and was always building things in the back yard. One time he even built a big sail boat and bought a trailer for it. One day he called the family together and said, ‘We are going to take a little sail on the ocean in our new boat. Everybody get in the truck!’ They drove to the ocean, off-loaded the boat and everybody got in. Richard’s dad did not know how to sail. Nobody did. His dad just thought he could figure it out on the ocean. They sailed for three or four hours and a big storm came up with huge waves and rain. Richard’s dad yelled at the family to all get under the tarp that was on deck.  They continued going into the storm and Richard raised his head out from under the tarp and said, ‘Are we all going to die now dad?’ Somehow they managed to get back to port.  Shit like that. Mom said Richard did not know what love was and he wanted to find out.”

“And so was their therapy successful,” I asked.

“Yeah, to a big extent, mom said. Richard began to make real progress. He was really beginning to open up. He started doing nice things for people. He said that he had hated his neighbor for years and didn’t like feeling that way anymore. So he knocked on his neighbor’s door and asked him if there was anything he could do for him! The guy thought it was a stupid joke so he said, ‘Sure. You wanna help me? You can wash my car.’ So Richard did. He washed the guy’s car. His neighbor was so stunned he thought Richard had gone nuts. But it made Richard feel really good. He would volunteer to help out in soup kitchens for the homeless. He was always bringing flowers to mom. NOBODY had ever brought her flowers. I think the roles got changed. Richard had really found something and he was giving it to mom.  She didn’t know what was happening. Richard was doing therapy on her. She would find little ways to get him to come over. Once she turned off the water and broke a pipe so she could ask Richard if he knew anything about plumbing. He came right over and fixed the pipe and mom asked him to stay for dinner. Richard really liked mom and he thought her therapy was really helping him. But mom liked Richard a lot more. She loved him. She was receiving more love from Richard than she had ever received before.”

“So what was the problem,” I asked.

“Well, my mom is 62. She had me really late. Richard was 30. I don’t think it ever occurred to Richard that my mom really loved him. He certainly could not imagine being in love with a 62 year old woman. But my mom was changing inside. She was a lot nicer to me and we actually started being friends. She stopped thinking of herself as being old. She really started to live for the first time because of the love she was getting through Richard. It was more like the love was there when Richard came and she just absorbed it like a dry sponge. I mean, she actually was happy in the morning and that had never happened.  She would hum little tunes around the house and work in her garden. She would play with the cat and she never paid any attention to him before! It was like she was really changing! Then she asked me one night, ‘What would you think of having Richard for a step dad?’ I said ‘WHAAAA?’ Then she stepped back and said, ‘Oh well, it was just a hypothetical question.’ But it was pretty obvious that she was in love with him. I didn’t see anything wrong with that. Mom deserved love after all she had been through. And I didn’t see anything wrong with a 62 year old woman loving a 30 year old man! Like, it happens, right?”

“It can happen,” I said.

“Right. Well mom was really happy. Richard would come over to dinner and tell us all about the people he had just helped and how good it made him feel. Mom would just sit there beaming at him and thanking him for sharing. She began to do loving things for Richard too. She knew his brothers and sisters were also really fucked up so she volunteered to counsel them for free! It made her feel good to do that and she brought that home to me. We began to have really wonderful talks. She apologized for not being a better mother to me, and she began to cry. She never cried before. I cried too and we just sat there in front of the fireplace crying together. God how I loved my mom right then,” Giada said as she began to cry again. She was sobbing, almost uncontrollably. I asked her if it were OK if I hugged her. She nodded yes and I hugged her in my arms as though she were a child.  When she had calmed I asked her, “Where did the problem come in for your mom and Richard?”

“Richard began to sense that mom loved him. At least that’s what mom said. At first he was just surprised and startled but then he began to feel uncomfortable. He started to cancel his therapy appointments for funny reasons, like his car kept having trouble just before an appointment or he would come down with a cold and just not want to come. Mom is a good therapist and I am sure she saw what was going on but she wanted Richard. She loved him as best as she knew how to love. You can’t criticize that. She could visualize a great relationship with Richard but Richard was hung up on the age thing. If mom had been 30 years old I am sure they would have gotten married and been really happy. But she wasn’t thirty and she was looking at love in a wholly different way than Richard. He was still looking for young chicks with big boobs who liked to screw, even though he was learning about another love by helping people. Richard hadn’t put the big picture together yet. Mom got sort of desperate. She would break something in the house and ask Richard if he could fix it. Richard would say he was too busy. She would ask him over to dinner and he would say he already had plans. And all this time my mom was still being faithful to her pledge to counsel Richard’s family for free. She never once tried to use that to try to manipulate Richard. She just suffered. Gradually she started to change back to the old sad mom. She wasn’t happy anymore in the morning. We wouldn’t talk at night. We started to fight. She would criticize me for my choices in boyfriends, what I wore, or the way my room looked. One night she was laying into me and I just starting crying very hard. I just blurted out, ‘Why don’t you go talk to Richard and tell him how you feel about him?’ She stopped still and just looked straight ahead for a minute and then left my room and walked out of the house. I heard the garage door open and her car pull out, and that is the last I ever saw of my mom.”

Giada was now sobbing harder than ever.  I comforted her as best I could.

The police came back and questioned me again in my involvement with the family. I asked them directly if the body had been recovered yet and if they had any information about what took place after Eva left her house. They answered that yes the body had been recovered and was in the city morgue awaiting identification. I asked them if that had to be done by Giada. They replied that usually a relative would need to make the ID but since Dr. Morin was well known clinically, one of her colleagues could do it. I prevailed upon them to call the counseling center where Eva worked and request that one of her colleagues identify the body and release it to a local mortuary. Apparently, after Dr. Morin had left the house she drove to the apartment of Richard Langley where she roused him from sleep, demanding a meeting with him. According to Langley she blurted out that she loved him deeply and wanted to be with him the rest of her life. His reaction was one of shock and disgust. He said something like, “You woke me up in the middle of the night to dump shit like this on me?” He had no compassion for her and certainly could not envision marrying her. He told her to get the hell out of his apartment and go sleep it off!! Apparently, that was more than she could take. She drove her car to the Second Narrows Bridge, parked it and jumped.  When she did not return home Giada called the police. They had traced the car parked on the bridge to Dr. Morin and had come to the Morin house to investigate. Shortly thereafter a witness had called in a report of seeing a woman answering to the description of Dr. Morin jumping off the bridge. It was about this time that Giada called me and I arrived on the scene.

Now there were some practical things that I had to do. I asked Giada if she knew where her mother kept her check book and bank records. She took me to her mom’s dresser drawer where bank records were found.  I showed them to the police. Apparently Eva had been thinking of suicide earlier because she had made her banking accounts into joint accounts with Giada. The house and all its possessions had been signed over to joint ownership with Giada. There was no will. Giada was the sole owner of the estate and we could now plan for a funeral service. The checking account had over $300,000 in it and other accounts held much more. Giada could just write a check for the funeral. I explained all this to her. It was now 6:00AM but she could not sleep. We sat up together. At 10:00AM one of Eva’s colleagues, Dr. Lawrence Fogel, identified the body and we asked for it to be released to Park Lawn Mortuary in West Vancouver.  Giada’s father had been located in Morocco but declined any interest in returning to Vancouver! There I was, with an eighteen year old girl, planning a funeral for her mother. The family’s friends and Eva’s colleagues were notified and a simple funeral was conducted two days later. I road with Giada in the  limo to the funeral, burial and back to her house. The family doctor had prescribed sleeping medication for Giada but I also stayed over with her. She was just about to take her meds when she asked me, “Did I kill my mother? After all she just did what I told her to do.” Her face was full of pain and the tears were welling up again.

“No. It was not your fault. Your mother had been thinking about ending her life a long time. The cause of her pain was in her early life and she had carried around those past hurts her whole life.”

She began to cry. “Is my mother in hell now? I mean, we were never religious but I always heard that suicides go to hell.”  She burst into inconsolable tears. I thought to myself, “Dear God what am I to say to her now?” My inner voice said, “Stay in your compassion for her and you will be guided in what to say.”  I put my hand out to see if she wanted touch. She grabbed it with a desperate grip. “Do you want me to hug you,” I asked?  She nodded yes and I hugged her like a loving father does with a frightened child. Then I told her of people I have known who died and came back to tell of a life after death. One of the people was Sandra Rogers, a nurse, who had tried to kill herself. She was surprised to find herself out of her body as a spirit in another dimension of spirit. Instead of being condemned she was surrounded by Divine Beings who helped her to see her life fully. She came back to life and became a very loving, wiser person.

“But my mom is not coming back,” she said.

“I know. But it may give you comfort to know that people who kill themselves out of pain and confusion are not met in the afterlife with judgment. We can pray for your mother’s spirit to find peace. Would you like us to do that?”

Giada nodded yes. I closed my eyes and extended my mind into Spirit, inquiring of my guides about the soul of Dr. Eva Morin who had just passed over. Giada knew about my work in Spirit. We had discussed it in the course of our time in lessons.  The message I got was, “inquire again when she asks you.” This was sort of a cryptic message but I tried to stay true to it. I advised Giada that it would be good for her to sleep now. “In your sleep you can pray for your mom.” I really did not know what that meant. She took the sleeping meds and within an hour had managed to go to sleep. I sat up. I did not feel it was right for me to sleep.  After about three hours I was just beginning to nod off when I heard Giada’s voice say, “Mom? Mom?” I quickly came to her bed side. Giada was sitting up looking at the ceiling. “There was a woman here all shining and dressed in white. I thought she was mom but the woman said she was an angel. She asked us to pray for mom. Will you help me?” That was my cue. I extended my mind into Spirit once again and this time I was met by golden orbs of Light who I knew to be angels. They said, “Look there. She is down there.”  I looked down from the spirit dimension I had gone into and saw a dark layer that we call the Astral level.  There I saw her mother’s soul wrapped in layers of a dark substance. I asked two of the angels to take me there and in that instant we were there. She was surrounded by malicious spirits who enjoyed the state she was in. But at the sight of the golden orbs with me they fled. She was in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, saying something over and over again. I asked the angels to let me hear what she was saying. Over and over again, she repeated the words, “Nothing good will ever happen for me ever again.” I was filled with such pain, the angels had to sustain me. “Help her,” I shouted to them. They conveyed to me telepathically,” Call in the missionary angels to help.” I did not know who they were at that time, but I had faith and called for them. Instantly that spirit space was filled with the most amazing Light Beings I have ever seen. It was their job to rescue lost souls from the hell minds had made. In the deepest part of hell, no souls are alone. These angels are there, trying to turn their gaze upwards to the Light. As I stood in their presence I also had hold of Giada’s hand. “Pray for your mom right now,” I screamed. These divine Beings moved into that Astral layer as though it were not there. They unwrapped Eva’s soul from that bondage. As they did Eva’s eyes opened and all the Light of Heaven moved into her soul, washing out all of that pain and illusion. A great smile came to her face. Down below Giada screamed, “I love you mom. GO, GO, GO. You will find what you have always been looking for.”  Those amazing Beings took her under each arm and ascended with her. Giada saw her too as she ascended and we both gave thanks. As I came back to Giada’s bedside, all her tears were gone. There was just the same bright smile that I had seen on Eva’s face.  “My mother is in heaven,” she exclaimed. Words failed me. I just cried tears of gratefulness, for in the darkest hour for both Giada and her mom, Love had come at last to show its presence. All pain had been wiped away as easily as a breeze disperses a little cloud. Love truly is all that is real. Everything which is of fear and pain is an illusion which confused minds have miscreated. Love truly is present. It is our natural inheritance. The pain and confusion we miscreate on earth cannot harm us in truth. Only Love is real and nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists in truth. We are truly as God created us. No cloud of illusion can be left to obscure the truth of God’s creation.

In the days that followed this great event of ascendance Giada came to peace within herself. Her father returned from Morocco and begged for her forgiveness. The angels had touched him as well. They eventually sold the big house and moved into a smaller house in the interior of British Columbia. Giada has entered Nursing School and her father works at home.

Amazing are the works of peace and blessed are they who know Love’s Presence.

Jerome Hines and My Story

This is part of my story of being a young opera singer in New York.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen “Friend.” Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University. By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary, a fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole Opery” but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental. Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in. Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be. He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol. In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t. Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice. I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it! I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.” It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang. The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively. It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera himself, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. And the music he composed was beautiful, full of sweeping melodies and beautifully constructed scenes. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for? In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one-upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.” Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities. In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and whom I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult though. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way. The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the Nov. cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it? Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired. That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting off to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door. Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick. More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” Oh well, I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on, when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally, new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t! Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia. Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital. I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do, but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted, quite some time I think, maybe an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep.
I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.” He turned around with a big smile all over his face. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.” He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it. He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage. Even though I could not be there, we had had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge. I was happy, truly happy to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried. Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones. “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast, whooped it up in grand fashion. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen. Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice. We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes. I had learned my lesson! Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking. He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards. “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene. We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill. The rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F. All went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic. There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on. He barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next. I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp. The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim. Finally the end of her aria arrived. I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity. What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.” I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again, no way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades! I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room. Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make-up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome. He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did. I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us as His own. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier, had I not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

hines and i, 1995 i am the way

The Ego and Division

It is in the nature of the ego to uphold separateness and foster division. Wherever you see schism you know the ego is winning. The ego is the god of this world. The Bible calls the ego Satan and says he is the god of this world. The problem with that is it makes the ego seem real and a dualistic force against God. That perception is the original problem. The ego is not real. It is just a mistake in thought, a crazy idea the mind has focused on. But focused on it, a whole universe of duality and conflict arises from it. I see the ego winning in politics. American politics shows the ego winning very handily. The whole country is founded, not on Christian values, but on the ego and its views of separation, of “specialness” for the individual. In truth we are all equal, not special, and the distinctions we have in personality and accomplishment are NOT important eternally, in the world of Truth. But in the world of the ego we believe that everybody’s opinion is a sacred truth!!! And everybody’s opinion separates them from everybody else!!! The U.S.A. is crumbling because of opinions, 300 million people each with their “sacred” opinions, each willing to fight for the rightness of their opinion, and all it does is foster more and more separation. The U.S.A. is no longer one country, indivisible. It is many countries now, all formed by the ego’s need for schism and separation. If it splits up formally into separate countries, it will solve nothing. The ego will continue its pattern of division within those new countries.

Spirituality would offer a better way. It would tell us to find what is common with us and treasure that above personal opinion. It would ask us to “join” with our brothers in mind by seeing our brothers and sisters as part of our Selves! To do that all we have to do is begin with a little willingness to see that what is in our brother’s interest is also in ours. Let me give you an example. I am a singing teacher by trade. People come to me with all sorts of personal opinions about everything. Instead of engaging them in arguments about their opinions, I look for something we have in common and begin a friendship based on that. The “joining” that defeats the ego is a kind of friendship. What is so great about my opinions anyway? What is so great about your opinions anyway? The ego will flare up and say, “I have a right to my opinion and I demand everyone take me seriously.” That begins the conflict again, and the ego is happy! That is why I will not engage in debates, either in FB or in life. Debates only foster division and whoever wins has won nothing but discord.
Back to the U.S.A. again, a nation of 300 million people either can see a lot in common….or nothing in common. That perception makes all the difference.

hysterical kitties

Our Lives Are Planned

Our lives here are planned to give us the lessons we need to learn. WE planned them with guidance from our Higher Self and the angels. We also planned for alternate time lines based on different decisions we could make at crucial places within the script! Some of you may think you are living on plan B or C or even Z. Well you may be. You gave yourself wiggle room in this life to make different choices. So instead of beating yourself up for that “wrong” choice you made, see it as just an alternate choice. Regardless of how attached we may be to one particular time line, the details of our lives here are not the point!!! This is a holographic training school. The details are not the point. Our choices and our intentions are the point because they show the errors in thought we came here to undo. So, whatever time line we are on in our scripts, let us learn our lessons so we can go HOME. Summer camp is just great until it begins to last forever!

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

As a child, as an artist, as a teacher, I have carried the same illusions around with me…those of loneliness and lack. I know they are illusions but they are mine to work with until I can undo them. When you are at the top of your profession it is easy to feel lonely. I was and I did. I was invited to join MENSA, and maybe I should have, but I thought it was just adding more to the illusion of specialness, which in itself comes from the ego illusion which fosters loneliness. As a result of these illusions I have often accepted “friendship” from people who were really NOT friends. Instead they viewed me as special and wanted to get something from me. When you have achieved some fame, people always want to “touch you,” as though it will rub off on them, and then they want you to treat THEM as though they were special! ACIM tells us that the “special relationship” is at the heart of the ego’s function which is to instill fear and lack. Ego’s cannibalize others in their quest to get something from others. Many of you FB friends are, I believe, really friends. Many of you can see my soul in my writing and postings and know me better than some people in my city who cannot see my soul and view me through only their projections. So, to you, I say: “Thank you. You have helped me in my journey.” I am working hard to forgive all of those false friends. Just so we are clear, a friend is someone who has joined with you in mind (spirit). They see you as a gift from God. They look on you from the bright side, even if you have done something they think is wrong. They have your back when you have forgotten who you are. If others say something negative about you, they will not join in. They enjoy being in your company, not because they want something from you, but just because they are your friend. They forgive on the fly. They do not hold grievances. They do not save up stamps to be used for another day! They give you that same love you remember receiving from your grandparents! Friends help to end the illusion of separation, lack and loneliness. They would never plot against you or enter into some sort of cabal to do harm to you. They do not attack. If you have had harsh words, they forgive quickly or ask to talk to you about it. They know no conspiracies. In the end, it is Jesus’ lesson from the crucifixion that helps us forgive false friends. He advises us that when we are tempted to see ourselves as victimized that we use his model in the crucifixion. He did not see attack. Instead he associated himself with his spirit which cannot be attacked, cannot be betrayed, cannot suffer lack or deprivation. In his association with his spirit he changed crucifixion to resurrection, not by the resuscitation of a dead body, but by placing the altar to God where it belonged, not with the body but with spirit. From that place he could say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ body became what it always was, NOTHING, nothing at all, for it never existed in truth. In his victory over illusion, he allowed the body to simply not exist. Having fulfilled his mission he exists within the Sonship as an active symbol of the love of God. We are his students.

Baby and I

A Course in Miracles straight up, no water or tonic…

 

                     A Course in Miracles straight up, no water or tonic…

                                                              Joseph Shore

OK, I have a confession to make. ACIM says “Seek not to change the world, but seek instead to change your mind about the world.” If we apply that we could also say “Seek not to change the Course but seek instead to change your mind about the Course.” I have been using my own terminology lately seeking to avoid the Christian terminology. Just in case I have confused any of you 😦 I am going to summarize the central myth of the Course using its own terms. The myth is designed to take you mind past the Adam and Eve myth and the crazy god who punishes every small infraction with Draconian judgment. ACIM is rewriting Genesis. The Course says that all reality is spirit. God is spirit and He created a universe of spirit (not this physical one we are in). This real, spiritual universe is called Heaven, and in it is God (also called the Father) and His extension of His Love. To use an analogy from our physical sun, as light from our sun radiates into space, so God’s Love radiates into His spiritual universe. He creates by emanating Himself. This emanation of God, extending Himself is called “The Son of God.” Everything God creates is just like Him, spirit, Love, Truth, Knowledge, eternal. God does not know any other qualities, like vengeance, punishment, forgiveness. Were He to know them it would make them real and eternal and this could never be. This Heaven is total Oneness. There is no place the Father stops and the Son begins. The continuous creation that the Father and Son do by extending themselves is the flow of Love. There are no individuals in Heaven. There is no consciousness. There is only the one Song of Love, unconscious of itself as a Song, singing only Love, and this is the Flow. 

Next the Course tells us in this myth that something seemed to happen in eternity that is impossible. Into quiet eternity where all is One, there crept into the Mind of the Son, a tiny mad idea that He could somehow be different from His Father. Since this is an impossibility the Son should have laughed at the thought and it would have vanished. Instead the Son took the idea seriously. Since the idea was impossible, when the Son took it seriously His Mind fell into a little dream. In the dream His Christ Mind seemed to split off from the Oneness of Heaven and observe the Whole of Oneness. What a silly dream that anything could stand outside of Oneness and observe it. As soon as The Son fell into His dream of separation His Mind seemed to split off into a separate mind. None of this could ever truly happen. In this state of an “observer” the Son is now conscious for the first time and since this is a dream CONSCIOUSNESS is the dream. CONSCIOUSNESS is a dream. In that state the split off Son hears two voices come into his split off mind. The first voice that comes to the Son’s split off, dreaming mind, says, “You have really done it this time. You have diminished Heaven. God gave you everything and you spit in His face and left Heaven. You have stolen from God. Do you think He is going to let you get away with that? He is going to hunt you down like the dog that you are and He is going to annihilate you. You have ‘sinned and the wages of sin is death.'” This voice, the Course calls, “The Ego. The other Voice says, “This is not happening. You are as God created you. This is a dream. You can wake up now.” This voice is the truth that came with the Son into His dream. The Course calls this voice, “The Holy Spirit.” 

Now for some reason we don’t know, the Son chose to believe the voice of the ego and as he believes it, he believes himself to be guilty, sinful and afraid. The ego’s trinity, sin, guilt and fear, has now been accepted by the Son and he now sees himself to be those. Then the ego tells the Son, “Don’t listen to that other voice (The Holy Spirit). He is God’s general who has been dispatched to bring you back for punishment. The ego tells him, “you had better hide from God real well because He will get you.” This is all a dream and the Son now makes his dream even more of a nightmare. He projects himself into a physical universe (Big Bang) which he dreamed up as a hiding place from God. But as he enters this universe he splits into zillions and zillions of pieces, gas, light, matter, galaxies, planets, life-forms, animals and (wait for it) human bodies. Each split off piece contains the whole within it like a hologram. The body was made as an attack on God, someplace where God could never find the deranged, insane son who thinks himself to be sinful, guilty, and terrified. Now this is where we find ourselves today, in a universe which is not real, in a body that is not real. But some pieces of the son have begun listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We are beginning to wake up! We are beginning to intuit Oneness in a spiritual universe. This fake, physical universe and world cannot be real, or God is not. God does not even know about this world. If He knew it, it would have to be real and that it never could be. God does not know dreams. While the separated pieces of the son, or sonship, are hiding in bodies, the Holy Spirit is getting through to some. We begin to forgive our brothers and as we do, a little more memory of our true nature of spirit returns to us. The Holy Spirit will eventually bring together all the pieces of the splintered sonship. On our way back to our One Self, we forgive the world and we begin to see reflections of Heaven within it. We are waking from the dream. Our job in the dream is to be a light by offering forgiveness to our brothers. Jesus was the first to totally awaken from the dream and He has been placed in charge of the atonement. His voice and the Holy Spirit’s are One. Jesus did not die on the cross for our “sins.” Jesus died as a teaching lesson to show that the son of God cannot die, cannot be harmed, cannot be changed. The son of God is not a body! 

When all the pieces of the sonship have been brought back together, God Himself will make the final move and lift us back into Heaven from which we have never in truth left. Now is the Father and Son in their universe of Oneness. Now is the flow of Love extended. Now is the One Song of Love heard throughout our true Home.

Now this is a myth and is intended to replace the crazy Genesis myth. It is intended to help you hear the Holy Spirit’s call to you now! His call will guide you and me back to the Oneness we are and ever must be.
Namaste my brothers.♥♥♥♥♥

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles:

Do we have a soul? Yes, and it is as real or more so than your experience of self in this life; but it is not eternal. It is still an illusion because it separates you from your eternal Self which is One with God. Our souls are a pattern of lessons we need to learn in order to go back into God.

What is our eternal Self? The Christ Mind is our real and eternal Self. We share it with God.

Is the universe God? No the universe is not real. It is a dream the Son of God (that includes you, me, and everybody else) is having. God the Father did not make this world. The world is a dream the Son is having and it will be over one day.

Is A Course in Miracles true? Yes, it is indeed true. It is a gift of God to His Sleeping Son.

Is A Course in Miracles the same as Christianity? No the Course is a distinct path. You choose one or the other.

Is there a Pope for A Course in Miracles? No, and no church either. The Course is designed as a self-study course in which you and the Holy Spirit undo the mistakes in thought you have made.

Is God a person? No, indeed not. God is impersonal unconditional Love. God is the ground of all being, or being itself, not a single being, like the Old Testament Jehovah.

Does God send people to hell? God only knows eternal truths. He is Love, Truth and Knowledge. He knows no such thing as sin, error, retribution or punishment. He knows no forgiveness for it is not needed in Heaven.

Will I go to Heaven when I die? Not unless you have completed all your lessons. Otherwise you will be given other opportunities to learn them. The Course strongly suggests reincarnation as the way we are given new chances to learn old lessons.

Is there a spirit world we go to when our bodies die? The Course strongly suggests that nothing happens to the spirit when the illusory body dies. The mind is still present with its illusions, just without a body. But the Course does not rule out the idea that the spirit (mind) joins with other minds who have constructed spirit worlds, as reported often in Near Death Experiences. But these spirit worlds are still a part of the illusion of separateness. They are not Heaven.

Is there a Heaven? Indeed. It is our true Home. The Course tells us that God created a spiritual universe (not this physical one) in which He and His One Son create by extending themselves. Heaven is a condition of complete Oneness. There are no individual souls in Heaven. Heaven is the perfect Oneness of God and His One Son and is characterized as all-encompassing Love without an opposite. There is nothing but this Love, and so there is no observer.

Who am I? According to the Course, the body is an illusion. But you are your mind, or your spirit. The belief that you are distinct and separate from others is an illusion called the ego. In truth your spirit is the same as my spirit. We are all the same spirit, seemingly split into parts. And that whole spirit put back together is the divine Son of God.

Who is Jesus? The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

In his complete identification with the Christ, “the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son.And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.

Amen!

bench into eternity

Our Dear Brother, Ken Wapnick goes Home

It is my sad news to report that Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, the teacher of A Course in Miracles since its beginning, has passed over. His foundation gave this message: ” It is with the utmost sorrow that we inform you of the death of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick on Friday December 27, 2013. He died peacefully at home with his beloved wife Gloria and family at his side. The family will have a private service and plans are being made for a forthcoming public memorial.

“There is no death. The Son of God is free.” (W-pI.163)
“Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you.” (T-11.VI.7:3-4)

Ken was my dearest friend, and definitely my mentor in ACIM. All of the articles I have posted on FB about ACIM were given to Ken first for his comments. We never had any significant disagreements. Ken was a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and a fine theologian as well. His many books and videos survive him. He fulfilled the job Jesus laid out for him and he is receiving, I am sure, thanks, gratitude, and good reviews for his life by the angels.

For me, it is a great personal loss. Ken was my fan as well as my mentor. Part of Ken’s journey into Spirituality came from his love of opera. Over the years I sent him many arias, scenes and operas that I performed and he was always a heart-felt fan. I always knew that I could share anything with him and get his honest answer.

We will not dispute the higher decision to call Ken Home now, but we inevitably wonder about the future of ACIM without Ken. Ken, there with Helen from the beginning, was appointed by Jesus to be the teacher of the Course. He held the ship steady even while ACIM was splintering into schisms at an alarming rate, matching even Christianity’s early splintering into sects, which continues to this day. Thankfully Judy Skutch remains at the helm of The Foundation for Inner Peace.

Thank you, my dear, dear, dear friend and brother Ken I love you and I so thank you for all you gave me in this life. You lived a Christ-like life and touched us all. Fly high dear friend. I will see you again one day. ♥♥♥♥

Ken

Real and Unreal

It can be helpful to divide your daily thoughts and actions into “real” and “unreal.” As long as we are in this world we will have unreal thoughts and actions. All thoughts that are not loving are unreal, and God does not know about them. “God did not create that plane crash, so it is not real.” But also at a personal level, “God did not create that fit I threw because the cable was out.” We can laugh it off. If our thoughts and actions caused anyone pain then we need to be aware of that and show compassion and sympathy to them. But forgive yourself. It is not real!

I was parallel parking my big Cadillac and just nudged the car behind me. The guy got out of his car all mad like I had really done something! I just told him how sorry I was and kindly pointed out that there was no damage. It was just a bump. He calmed down. Now we all know that terrible things appear to happen in this world, but it may help us not to get sucked into dualistic illusion by being aware of what is real and what is unreal. Any loving thought you have is real and is shared with God!! Anything else is illusion and God is not aware of it. God did not make this world!! WE DID, as One Mind, projecting an illusion of fear. It is all a dream. As One Mind we fell into a little crazy dream that we could be something other than our Father. In that dream we believed God was angry at us because we had “hurt Him.” So we projected our Self into this physical universe to hide from God. As we came in through the Big Bang we splintered into zillions and zillions of data: light, gas, matter, planets, suns, life-forms, humans. Each little byte of data is a part of the Whole Mind which projected us here. The universe is a dream the One Mind is having. Thankfully the Truth of who we are came with us into this dreamy universe. ACIM calls this Truth, “The Holy Spirit.” This Truth whispers to us, “Only Love is Real.” If we are wise we will listen. Then we can see how much of our day was “real,” (loving, shared with God) and how much was unreal (unloving). Stay up in the Love and the illusory universe will disappear!♥♥♥♥

God did not Create this World

A Course in Miracles is the only Scripture among the world’s religions to tell you the explosive, hard, liberating truth. GOD DID NOT CREATE THIS WORLD. WE DID. Not we individually of course but we altogether as one mind. We miscreated this universe, this planet and this body as a place that God could enter not. We are hiding from God whom we fear out of guilt that we have left heaven and stolen from him! What do we fear we have stolen? US! We fear we have broken off from the ALL that is God and now stand outside him, observing. That, of course, could not ever happen. There is nothing real outside of the ALL. The very thought that we could break off and become independent is a DREAM. In this dream we have created universes and bodies to hide from God in a material world, where God could never find us…or so we thought. But the Holy Spirit came into the dream with us and is constantly whispering in our ear the truth of who we are. We are the Son of God, temporarily lost in a dream.

The Course is very aware and would make you aware that there is a God created spiritual universe and the material universe that WE made. God is spirit and his universe is spirit. God is Love, all encompassing Love, the Whole, which has no opposite. This Love is also Truth and Knowledge. Within this spiritual universe, God and His One Son (of which we are a part) create by extending themselves. God is a spirit and his creations are all spirit. God knows nothing of evil, of tragedy, of bad dreams. God knows nothing of “sin,” “guilt” or “fear.” God is not a part of this human universe. The only part of God that really comes into this human universe is the Love that comes into your heart when you begin to listen to the Holy Spirit, forgive your brothers, and learn your lessons the Holy Spirit would give you. You are not a body!! You are a spirit, and we are all the same spirit split off (in our dream state). We are the Son of God, the radiance of God. We created this world as a place to hide from God, but the Holy Spirit has changed it to a classroom where we can learn the lessons that will enable us to remember our true identity.

This dream world of duality is based on the beliefs in sin, guilt and fear. It does not know the Love of God and is therefore unreal!! Only Love is real. (“Amo, ergo sum.”) The events that happen in this dream world are not real. They are all nightmares of terror, which itself is a nightmare. We are so sure this world is real and the terror in it, and so we ask, at every tragedy, “Where was God?” God does not even know this dream world exists. Were he to be aware of it, it would make it real, which it never could be. God is aware his Son is dreaming, but he cannot know the dream.
THIS IS NOT GOD’S WORLD! HE DIDN’T CREATE IT! WE DID!!! Out of our nightmares of sin, guilt and fear we have created a world of duality which constantly generates tragedy. These tragedies are no more real than anything else in this world.
The Course and Buddhism have similar perspectives on being compassionate to all things and people in this world who are suffering. We come along side and do what Jesus would do. But we can do that precisely because we know that God is in control of reality, and everything that happens here is unreal, except for the Love you remember!

When you are tempted to go into despair over some tragedy in this dream world, express compassion for those suffering, and then say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT PLANE CRASH, SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT SHOOTING SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT WAR SO IT IS NOT REAL.” After a short while, you would come to a place of peace inside yourself where the Love that you are lives. Then you have something to give to the world, suffering illusions about itself. You have the Light of Love and so you are the Light of the World, and you have Peace. In the middle of every tragedy you can extend your Peace. THAT is true compassion, to lead your brother out of his illusions to the Peace of God.

Once an hour today, look around at all the tragedies in this dream world and say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT TRAGEDY SO IT IS NOT REAL. I LIVE IN A SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE WHICH KNOWS ONLY LOVE, TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE.”297498_10150396855086320_676206319_9966848_1785417421_n

To save God’s son

I have written many times about my mediumistic abilities so I will not shock you by sharing something. Often I get a feeling of remembrance about someone I knew and I begin to wonder, “Where is s/he now?” I may try to check old emails or google the person, check old connections, and many times I come up dry, but the desire to know about that person stays. And then, sooner or later, it hits me that the person has died and crossed over into spirit. Then it is so easy for me to connect with that person, talk with them, share with them, help them if they need it. I would not trade this gift for anything. Instead, I pray that God will amplify my ability so I can help others. There was a young girl I knew in the late 1990’s who came to a church I was going to at the time. She had many problems. I visited her in hospital once. She had a crushed spirit and I so wanted to help her, but I was not high enough at the time. Religion was putting a damper on my mediumistic gifts. Yesterday I had the strongest desire to find out where she was now. I checked all the usual sources. Then tonight at this lovely full moon, I knew that she was in spirit. I cried. I reached up and touched her. She had died of a drug overdose and her soul was still in confusion and illusion. We talked for a good while and I brought her the Light, and set her eyes on it. I watched as she followed it up. I watched as her spirit changed from dark to light. I told her all the things that religion had denied her, that she is still as God created her, that God is not angry at her and that nothing she has done can change the love of God for her. My dear brothers and sisters, there is no veil. We are all here together and we are as God created us, One Spirit and One Love. Fly high my darling, fly up to Heaven’s gate. It’s doors are open for you…and for me. This is not what I was expecting to receive on the night of the full moon, but how could I ask for anything greater than to see into spirit and help a lost soul. God knows my heart. I am here to save God’s son from his many illusions. I am here to heal and to make whole all those who fear they are broken and lost. Will you not join me my beloved brothers and sisters? There are worlds of lost souls in need of the Light and the Love it brings. To save God’s son is the work before us♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Will you not shed a holy tear for God’s son who fears his Father so and believes hell is waiting for him? For his release is ours also. We go back to the Father as One. On this lovely night of the full moon, I commit my life to saving God’s son.

lordofheaven

Letter to My Ego…from Higher Me

Letter to my ego from a Higher Me: “Joe….Joe, listen.” Think of being on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Yup, that’s you. There are some things I need to say to you. You know I think you are an illusion and you think I want to get rid of you. I know that sounds pretty frightening to you. But let me tell you something, Joe. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.” You were perfectly made for me to learn the lessons I needed in this lifetime. Yes, you could be harsh and authoritarian, but you could also be informative, inspirational, and daring. You were the image of the Aries for all his strengths and faults. I guess you probably miss all the intellectual debates you used to have, and the authority you held as a theologian and then a university professor. Those positions perfectly fit you. But they could not last because you had more lessons to learn. I forgive you your faults and I thank you for your daring, inspirational, actions. You are going away but fear not. You are going away with my love and thanks! Thank you Joe. You were the best, brightest, most talented of your generation. Accept this truth and this love, and don’t worry about tomorrow. IT will all be OK.

Let us leave the world of unforgiveness behind and live in our Love and our Song.

Let us leave the world of unforgiveness behind and live in our Love and our Song. The Song is not formal music. It is the eternal call to Home that the spirit hears in every rock and leaf, every grain of sand, every child’s face, every dog and cat’s response to our love for them. The Song is in you. I hear you singing it so sweetly. Oh precious Jesus how the world sings the song you know so well, the song of Oneness in praise of the Love that we are.

The world that was created by fear and anger we can now view through the eyes of newness. No longer must we see the world as separate factions fighting one another. We have forgiven the world of strife we created. Forgiveness now rests on our brows and on the world’s. Now can we see Heaven’s reflection made so perfect in the world. Now that

Love has come into aching hearts, the need for time is almost gone. The One Song sings beautifully throughout a world which knew it not and all creation gives thanks to you and to the Creator. Now do we see the steps to Heaven’s gate on which you stand. Now we have no need for the world which served us so well with lessons to be learned. The time for learning is over. The time of the great rejoining has come and every tiny part of all universes has come to join the One Song we sing. And tears of joy come in recognition of the vast ages of time we have entered bodies to remember our eternal Self, One with the Creator, AND WE ARE ALL THE BELOVED. Gently do Heaven’s doors open to receive back its One Son. Gently does the Creator’s arm reach out and gather His Son back to Himself. Less than a tiny moment was taken to heal the tiny mad idea that seemed to set the Son on His long journey. The time for time is over. Now in eternity does all-encompassing Love flow unimpeded through a universe of spirit created by the Song. Forever shall we flow. And shall our little days as individuals be lost forever in Oneness? Oh no, dear ones. Every loving thought you ever had, every loving deed, is perfectly remembered within the Christ Mind that flows through Heaven. And now we say Amen for the time of learning is over and the time of rejoining has entered eternity, with you my loved ones, with you, and you, and you, and you, with your animals and children and every thought of love that lighted your little mind as an individual. Home safe we are, and we shall never leave again. No more dreams will enchant us. We are Home. Love has found itself at last…at last.

There is peace in me today and there is strength.

There is peace in me today and there is strength.
The beauty I sought I see.
Around me there is healing
for I see no fragments.
The Whole needs no healing or forgiveness.
I bless the time when both seemed real needs.
And I bless now when I search not for them.
I rest now in the peace God has promised for me.
His voice will supply me with directions.
I need not plan.
He will provide for me day by day.
In time I have touched the hem of eternity.
What could this world offer me?
Through the Vision of Christ now I see it,
Fresh as Eden,
Its reflection of Heaven grows stronger.
And soon I will step through Heaven’s portal.
Home is the one who searched for Love.
Home is the one who felt loneliness and lack.
Gladly I offer my little dream of individuality to the truth.
I am as God created me, One with Him, His One Son.
And you are there with me.
Just as I enter the music of Oneness I see you
and memories of our love come to my heart.
I told you I would always love you.♥
In quiet eternity does the one song sing, unconscious of itself
As a song, singing only love.

Peace or Fear

Peace or Fear? That is the question. In every circumstance in every moment, we will act or respond out of peace or fear. If I am at Peace, I will hear the voice of the inner teacher and say or do what he tells me. If I am not at peace, the only voice I hear is the ego and the ego always perpetuates fear by projecting the opposite and then you are trapped in the same old cycle of reaction. The ego always reacts untruthfully by projecting the opposite, fear, which does not exist in truth because nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists. This is the great value of A Course in Miracles: It can bring you to peace and let you practice a life lived in peace rather than reaction. We need all the help we can get! We are “fear junkies,” addicted to reaction. Just look at CNN!! They LOVE tragedies! They will play and replay fearful scenes days and days after the event because they know that the “fear junkies” will keep watching! Listen to their leading questions when they interview a survivor. “Tell us how you felt when the building was coming down, when the tornado came, when the water came in your house?” They are all questions to continue fear. FEAR created this universe, the fear of God. We made this universe (and maybe others) as a place God could enter not!! Fear runs the world. But you have a choice for peace or for fear. So what do you do to teach yourself peace and non re-activity? The easiest way would be to do the daily lesson in the workbook for students that A Course in Miracles provides. You just do the lesson. Don’t try to understand it. You won’t be able to at first. You just do the lessons and little by little the Course will help you to undo the mistakes in thought you have made. Those little mistakes in thought have made a fearful world. But the Course will show you, “I could see peace instead of this.” Today is a good day to start. If you want to be a loving person you will have to undo all those attack thoughts you have. You will have to learn to let go of grievances. You will have to give up “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” What good would that do anyway? It would make the whole world blind and toothless. Where is peace in that?

Sweet Peace

Peace, sweet peace
I remember you.
I have longed for you.
In the hectic day, in the chaos of thought
I have longed for you

Sweet peace, you are so still.
In the moment of Now you come
Fresh as a Holy Instant.
Sweet peace.
You are here.
You lay over my world like a blanket.
I am safe.
Sweet peace.
The stillness of you silences thought.
My thoughts cannot intrude upon you,
And then there is no judgment, no opinion.
If I have no opinion I love…everything.
Sweet peace.
This gentle stillness of now is poised for me to enter
and as I enter I know I am not a body.
Gratefulness replaces thought in the Now of stillness and peace.
This peace I will take with me, Father, because You gave it to me
That others might have it.
Peace, stillness, Now.
Your son is grateful Father.

Salesman for ACIM

I know that I must seem like a salesman for A Course in Miracles to some of you since that is about all I write about…other than my cat Blanche.:) But I am not really a salesman. I don’t care if any of you ever study the Course. We will all go home anyway. You will eventually wake up and join the party even if you burn the Course. My words are for those who are READY to have their lives transformed. The advantage of ACIM is that it takes you by the hand and gives you one lesson a day which begins to undo the errors in thought which erected barriers to the awareness of Love’s Presence. The awareness of Love’s Presence IS enlightenment for Love and Light are One. One of my ACIM teachers, Tara Singh, had been an ascetic living in a cave in the Himalayas for three years, then he mastered yoga, then he became a humanitarian and helped Ghandi and Neru build the Indian nation. He became a friend of President and Mrs. Roosevelt and worked on so many humanitarian projects. J. Krishnamurti never accepted pupils or disciples, but he accepted Tara Singh and for many years Taraji learned from Krishnamurti. After that he moved to California and began a period of five years of silence. Can you imagine living in total silence, never uttering a word or a grunt, or any sound? At the end of these five years of silence, as he emerged, he came in contact with A Course In Miracles and its scribe Dr. Helen Schucman and Tara Singh came to enlightenment!!! He devoted the rest of his life to teaching a few serious students who had the ears to hear. He never commercialized the name of God. Taraji gave DISCIPLINE and discrimination to spiritual quests using ACIM. There are so many thought systems. It is so easy just to pick a concept here and there and make your own salad. It is not a true way. Taraji came to understand that A Course In Miracles gives us the Thoughts of God and is a gift of God to His Son. It is a way that is offered to all the separated sons, but it will be chosen only by those who feel drawn to it. Namaste♥♥♥

Connected and Hard Wired

Did you know that even your brain–as unreal as the body is–is designed to give you the experience of being connected to others? All throughout the brain there are special neurons called “mirror neurons.” What they enable us to do is amazing. When I see someone smiling or frowning or crying, my mirror neurons enable me to feel exactly what the other person is feeling. In other words, they connect me. We all know that we can do this and often have the experience, but our socialization has told us that this is improper or even bad to do. Sometimes it violates our first principle of egohood, (rule no. 1 “All egos are separate.”) When you walk by a homeless man begging for food, you really CAN know what he is feeling, but you shut it out because you may not WANT to know his feelings. You try to shut down your own mirror neurons. In other words, WE LIKE BEING SEPARATE! You can’t escape that! The evidence is too great. We have the ability to feel totally connected to all things and we choose an illusion of separateness! Here’s the thing: The ego is terrified of our feeling connection because when we connect there is only Love! The ego is terrified of love. It doesn’t know what love is, but it knows that love cannot coexist with it and therefore is its enemy. WE ARE ALL PSYCHIC! We can ALL connect.

There is a homeless man that begs near my supermarket. I always give him something, but a couple of days ago, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Go talk to him. Rub his shoulders. Give him loving touch.” So that is exactly what I did. He was very surprised but in a good way. I speak to him now most every day. Here is the problem with us: WE ARE UNWILLING TO REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE. We would rather hide out in a body and pretend to be separate. And we will keep coming back into these bodies until we change our minds!!! Just so you know, that’s where things stand!

Why is it so hard to forgive!!!!

Why is it so hard to forgive!!!! First of all I would like to put forward the definition of forgiveness in ACIM. Forgiveness is to overlook something, let in flow on by as though it never happened because in reality (i.e.God’s world) it never happened. Jesus anticipated all our objections. We say, “Wait a minute. What if someone is killed or raped! How can you say that didn’t happen? And how can you forgive that?” That’s the question the ego loves and it thinks there is no answer to those questions except to accept victimization!! Once we accept victimization we have fallen deep into the ego’s system of thought and we will never be able to forgive. Knowing this, Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. He called it, “the last needless journey the sonship ever needs to make.” In allowing himself to be so cruelly tortured in the eyes of the world he showed us the truth. Instead of identifying with what the body was going through, he identified with his spirit which cannot be hurt, cannot be tortured, cannot be harmed in any way. That shift of identification changes crucifixion to resurrection, not the resuscitation of a dead body, but a living spirit identified as the Son of His Father. He asks us to follow his example so that when we are mistreated in this life, far less than he was in most cases, we identify with our spirit and refuse to accept the position of a victim. On the cross he said for our benefit, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Notice what he didn’t say, such as, “How could all of you do this to me?” Or, “You will all burn in hell for what you did to me,” or “Karma’s a bitch. Wait til you get yours.” Those are things the EGO says and wants you to say.

Our lessons are in relationships and how often do we find people playing the victim in relationships? “He hurt me once. I’ll never let him hurt me again.” Are you SURE he hurt you? Have you forgotten that projections makes perception? When you say, “He hurt me,” you are describing the poverty of your inner state. You could have interpreted the event differently. As the Course says, “I could see peace instead of this.” If Jesus could see peace in his crucifixion, you can see peace in a relationship. But what about rape or abuse? Everybody has their favorite crime which they think proves victimization. It doesn’t.

I knew a Christian woman once who was raped but she took a totally different and Christ-like view of what took place. She had nothing but compassion for the man who did the deed. She even described the event this way. “He broke into my house and he did what he thought he had to do and then he left.” She forgave the man because she refused to be a victim. She also showed the richness, the Christ-likeness within her by choosing to perceive the event the way she did. Tara Singh, our beloved teacher of ACIM, said often to us, “Regardless of what my brother does to me I will not hate him for it.” Tara Singh was a Christed man. He knew to “resist not evil.” Don’t react.

Another aspect of forgiveness as seen in ACIM is that when we “let it go, let it flow on by as though it never happened,” we don’t break relationships!! The ego wants you to say, “OK I forgive you but that is the end of our relationship. I don’t want to ever see you again.” The ego loves this because it reinforces its primary desire of SEPARATION!! When you say, “i forgive you, but I need my space from you now. Our time is over,” you are not forgiving at all. You are in the Ego, justifying separation and calling it your “space.” “Oh, I just need my space now.” Space is separation. No counseling was ever successful when the couple stayed AWAY from counseling!!! But that is the state of mind of the “victim.” “You HURT me and I am running away from you.” Really? Is that our model from Jesus? Hardly!! You have to see this if you ever want to forgive and if you don’t forgive you will go deeper and deeper into illusions and the “unwillingness” to remember God’s love. I didn’t say that. Jesus did!! Reactions happen within relationships because we are often in fear rather than peace. But if you learn to forgive by seeing that in TRUTH (i.e. in God’s world) nothing has happened, you can forgive on the fly, overlook things quickly, and the relationship goes on as a classroom for learning. Every time we break a relationship because we scream that someone HURT us, we send ourselves back into kindergarten. We will have to do the whole thing over until we choose for right-mindedness!!!

Someone said to me, “I have a pattern of choosing the wrong man for me.” The first thing you want to say is, “Oh, how terrible for you dear. Well you know a good man is really hard to find.” That would be the ego response. Keep the conflict going. The only real response is, “You are drawing the ‘wrong man’ to you by perceiving you are a victim. If you want to get out of this time warp, choose a man and perceive him as God created him.” Then it won’t matter if he is young or old, muscular, or any of the other external traits we use to judge a piece of meat!! But the question is, Can you break through your unwillingness to change by remembering God’s love for you as your own identity? Or will you just wallow in your life being a victim, always looking for the right man and always perceiving you got a bad one again!! How many lifetimes do we have to go through this class? Always projecting problems, reacting out of fear and claiming to be the victim? How many times have YOU been here going through the same drills and making the same ego choices? Often Lightworkers are just as egotistical as anyone. THEY have a claim to higher knowledge to justify their perception of victimhood!! Hmmmm….seems few people want to follow Jesus’ example and leadership! Our lessons can be learned joyfully but if they are not learned joyfully they will be learned by pain! Something happened in your relationship? Forgive it. Let it go as though it never happened. This is the only real way denial can help you. We deny that we can be hurt, tortured or crucified. And now comes the humor!! There has to be humor. All of this “stuff” that you are so mad about is just a silly dream. The dreamer has awakened in Reality. We are as we always were. Nothing has happened to God’s Son. But in the unfolding of the illusion of time, the dream appears to be played out and take “time.” We can speed up “time” if we laugh at the tiny mad idea that God’s Son could be “hurt,” or victimized in any way. Laugh as loud as you can. This is the greatest joke of all “time.”

I am un-doing and I am being undone

I am un-doing and I am being undone. The seeming “individual” that I think is my persona, is being undone. My “persona” (my “soul” which renincarnates) is not real. It is just a collection of karma, a pattern of doing, sensing, feeling, acting which keeps going into more and more bodies. The bodies are unreal too!! We ARE all a spirit but we are the SAME spirit. There is just One of us here! ACIM brings great clarity to this ancient mystery that divided Hinduism from Buddhism. We ARE the divine Self split into zillions and zillions of bits and pieces. Some of the bits manifest as sand, water, birds, and some manifest as humans, some as Pleiadeans some as Arcturians, some as Grays…On and On it goes. As I begin to undo the belief that I am an ego housed in a bag of skin, born into this world and destined to die, I begin to make space. G.K.Chesterton said, “The angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” There is truth in that. When you make space you see and feel parts of the divine Self you didn’t know before. You’ll give thanks to the Arctuarians for all they have taught you. You will feel and perhaps even see, many spirits with your spirit, all right-minded, all climbing the spiral with you. There is just more and more space. You don’t need the heavy, dreamy body. It was a very silly idea we had to dream up this physical universe.
I am going to visit John of God in Brazil in a few days. Spirits that work with him at the Casa de Dom Inacio have been visiting me for months. Stretch out, child of God. Do the work. Forgive, be a Light to others and just watch what happens as you climb the spiral. You will find a different “you,” because what you thought was you was just a pattern of Karma, just a bunch of lessons that needed to be learned. We are so much more than we ever “dreamed” in this silly world. The journey to who we are is so much lighter and more spacious than the heavy trip of sin, guilt and fear that dreamed up this world as a place to hide from God!! Time to laugh now:) Love to all♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

How Real Is The Near Death Experience?

How Real Is The Near Death Experience?

Since I have made it plain on this site that my path is ACIM, this question is pertinent. If the body is an illusion and the universe is an illusion, is the NDE an illusion? The Course uses ultimate terms for “reality.” To the Course, Heaven is the only reality. All else is illusion. In this sense, the NDE is an illusion too, though a very different one than our daily world in the body. Since we are minds (spirits) rather than bodies, the Course has no difficulty in accepting that the mind (spirit) can be “apart” from the body since the body is never real anyway. At the event that we call physical death, the mind (spirit) of the person is still just as it was when it believed itself to have a body. It still has its lessons to learn and still retains its illusions. Nothing has happened except the inherently illusory body has been dropped. Many NDE-ers have gone all the way into death of the body, as measured by this world. They come back with quite a story and some personal changes. Those who worship the Ego and believe there is no life after the death of the body always try to find a way to disparage NDEs. That includes skeptical scientists who think there is no consciousness after the death of the body. The NDE is a big threat to them. But how “real” is it? That depends on how you view reality. From the point of view of those who think life in the body is real, NDEs are at least that real! But the Course would not call our life here on earth “real.” It is an illusion, a dream. So for the Course, NDEs are an extension of the illusion but in a different dream state. The worlds of Light the NDE-ers experience are very interesting but they are just as illusory as the so-called physical universe we live in now. Minds without bodies seem to create other bodies, astral bodies, celestial bodies, all as illusory as the physical bodies and all preserve some sense of separateness which is illusory. What about the all pervasive love they feel in these states? From the point of view of the Course, the physical body is the greatest barrier we have erected to the awareness of Love’s presence which is our natural inheritance. When the body is gone, it may well be that the mind is flooded with the love it was hiding from in the body. But minds can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Wrong-minded minds will surely continue in their wrong-mindedness after the body is dropped, and they may create wrong-minded dream worlds to appear to inhabit. Purgatory or hell states will be just as real for them as the celestial beings experienced by right-minded minds. What about the life-review that NDE-ers report? The Course would have no difficulty with that. We are told that we are responsible for our learning and that lessons we did not complete have to be retaken. What about meeting Jesus in these dream states? The Course would tell us that Jesus is now a symbol of the Love of God present within the mind of the sonship.
What we know now about such “symbols” is that they PARTICIPATE in the reality they symbolize. They are not “nuda signas,” mere illusions. They have great power in the mind. Jesus as a symbol for the Love of God is active within the mind of the sonship regardless of the illusions of the sonship. When NDE-ers claim to encounter this Being of Love that they identify with Jesus they are doing just that in the mind. They are not meeting the historical Jesus but the Jesus who is an active symbol of the Love of God.

What about the other beings NDE-ers claim to experience, like dead relatives, friends or high beings? The Course has no trouble with the idea that disembodied minds meet other disembodies minds, and the illusion of separateness continues, so you can meet Aunt Sofie or Cousin Johnny. They are there in this new dream state that the mind has created since dropping their physical bodies. But even so-called “high beings” are as inherently illusory as us as separate beings. As long as there is the appearance of individuality and separateness, we are still in the dream.

What about the report from NDE-ers that there are levels in the worlds they experience, some higher to God than others? The Course makes it very plain that there are no hierarchies in illusory states. What we can say is that those minds who have almost finished learning their lessons create a different dream world than those who are just beginning their lessons. This would account for all the so-called levels in spirit (mind).

What about the so-called transformative effects of the NDE? It is true that when they return to the body they often “remember” more of who they are as a mind rather than just a body and they often return with the memory of Love’s Presence which broke in on them when the physical body was dropped. I have yet, however, to meet an NDE-er who was moved by his experience to come back into the body as an enlightened person. They still have lessons to learn and they still come back as egos. They are now happy egos and they do have a sense of Love’s Presence which helps them to be more loving in their daily lives. They also appear to have after effects that are interesting and which appear to be side effects of realizing that they are spirits (minds) rather than bodies. Like minded spirits (minds) can join and often NDE-ers return with a mind connection to disembodied spirits they have met in their NDE. So they may be able to talk to Uncle Fred even after returning to the body. For many NDE-ers, the experience breaks the illusion that we are bodies living in this world. They now at least have experienced that they are minds (spirits), not bodies, and that our “life” on the earth is just one phase of existence. That is quite a lot for any one experience to give to you, so we should not disparage the NDE just because it is not ultimate reality. It is a different dream from the earth, but a dream non-the-less. It can move people to learn their lessons faster while on the earth and it can make people more loving. By themselves NDEs do not provide a full theology and it would be illusory for people to try to create a theology out of them, but ACIM gives us a much fuller picture. Even the Course does not try to give us a full systematic theology. It aims at taking down the barriers we have made to the awareness of Love’s Presence so that we may hear the inner Voice (in mind) of our teacher, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus, the active symbol of God’s love. Let us be content with that for now.♥♥♥♥

Do you know the Love of God?

Do you know the Love of God? Have you ever, even if just for an instant, experienced yourself to BE the Love of God? I hope so. Awakening cannot be far away from those who have experienced themselves as the Love of God. Maybe you even had to die clinically and pass over to the other side before you felt the Love of God. When you came back, what did you feel for all those you know and meet who are still lost in emotional pain? Did you hurt for them that they will not accept the Love of God? Did you see their unwillingness to give up their view of the world as being victims? Did you see how they believe in sin, in themselves and others? Did you see that they do not know real forgiveness? What did you do? Maybe you tried to talk with them and share your experience of the Love of God but they
would not receive it. So now you see them suffering daily, blaming others for everything, taking no responsibility for their lives. What do you do? What do you do? You want so to bring them to true Self-Knowledge so they can know themselves as God created them. The Course tells us to see past their illusions and see them as the pure Son of God which they are in truth. If they cannot receive the truth, all the more reason for you to see them in truth, the blameless Son of God lost in her illusions. Then you give them over to Jesus who is in charge of the atonement. You remember that this dream is just playing itself out. In truth we are all One Son, the radiance of God, in Heaven. Never a chance is there that any of the sonship will be lost. Your friends will awaken as this dream continues to unfold. If they have chosen in this lifetime to learn by pain, respect that choice. All illusions were eventually be dispelled. Your friends are in no danger. They have chosen not to learn their lessons joyously but through pain and hardship. Let them. There is no need to hurt for them. You would but join them in their illusions. See them as God created them, even if they hate you for it. Remember the Love of God in you and you will remember for your friends too!

“Help Me to wake My children from the dream of retribution and a little life beset with fear, that ends so soon it might as well have never been. Let Me instead remind you of eternity, in which your joy grows greater as your love extends along with Mine beyond infinity, where time and distance have no meaning. While you wait in sorrow Heaven’s melody is incomplete, because your song is part of the eternal harmony of love. Without you is creation unfulfilled.

“Return to Me Who never left My Son.
Listen, My child, your Father calls to you.
Do not refuse to hear the Call for Love.
Do not deny to Christ what is His Own.
Heaven is here and Heaven is your home.”

ACIM, A Song of Prayer(VIII)

How can we see the world as “OK,” right now, just as it is?

How can we see the world as “OK,” right now, just as it is? You say, “You’re crazy man. Look at all the evil.” Well so long as you see that you are going to be upset.

ACIM says, T-21.in.1. “Projection makes perception. 2 The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. 3 But though it is no more than that, it is not less. 4 Therefore, to you it is important. 5 It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. 6 As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. 7 Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. 8 Perception is a result and not a cause. 9 And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless. 10 Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. 11 Nothing perceived without it means

anything. 12 And where there is no meaning, there is chaos.

T-21.in.2. Damnation is your judgment on yourself, and this you will project upon the world. 2 See it as damned, and all you see is what you did to hurt the Son of God. 3 If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify him. 4 If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free. 5 There is no choice that lies between these two decisions. 6 And you will see the witness to the choice you made, and learn from this to recognize which one you chose. 7 The world you see but shows you how much joy you have allowed yourself to see in you, and to accept as yours. 8 And, if this is its meaning, then the power to give it joy must lie within you.”

Seek not to change the world but choose to change your mind about the world! What you see will either come from your peace or your projection!! If you have learned your lessons you will know that the atonement has already happened. We are all One right “NOW” in Heaven. Here in this world of illusion, the fact of the atonement is just being rolled out a bit at a time. But the results are already in!! So you can look on the world with peace and see it as “OK.” It doesn’t need to change! Your perception needs to change from projection to peace! I don’t REALLY care if Romney or Obama gets elected! It doesn’t really matter. We are not really here! I don’t REALLY care if you choose to learn right now through pain rather than through joy! It’s your tiny choice but the sonship is already home.

Walking tonight two blocks to the grocery store.

Walking tonight two blocks to the grocery store…the night is beautifully cool but not chilly…dark sky, typical car noises on the street. And then, “tap, tap, tap”……my old friend hits me gently…timelessness, immensity…and the walk to the store is pure beauty.♥♥♥ Forgive someone today who you have kept chained in some dungeon of your mind, someone who you swore “hurt you,” someone you swore you would never forgive. Do you think God does not see him there in the dungeon you have created for him? He sees his son in chains and you bound with him through your unforgiveness.

Tonight love fills the air.

Tonight love fills the air. Your name was mentioned and that was all that was necessary to bring in Love’s Presence, like a cool, soothing breeze on a hot summer’s day. You name has brought Love’s remembrance to me. The many have become One. No little blot or stain can stand in Love’s Presence. All illusions flow gently down the stream of ages while the rocks whisper; “Only Love is real.”

How hard it is for us to rid our minds of the ideas of sin, guilt and fear

How hard it is for us to rid our minds of the ideas of sin, guilt and fear. They make up the unholy trinity which comprises the “Ego,” our crazy idea that we are ugly bags of water and fat, localized, born to die, separated from everyone else, the world and God! This is the illusion that keeps miscreating this world we have. But let’s make it personal. What keeps ME from letting go of these ideas and seeing myself as not a body, but as a Mind, limitless and boundless, as the radiance of God? Well, I have done a lot of personal work using A Course in Miracles. I have lost the fear of God! Thank God. The fear of God must die! God is not a personal being, alongside other beings. Even if he were the most powerful being he would still be a being along side others. If a personal God loved you it would be “attachment,” not love, and it would come with strings attached: “Thou shalt…Thou shalt not…The soul that sineth it shall die…All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. But he who does not believe shall be damned…” We could go on and on with this system of thought. The Bible is the Ego’s book and the Ego wrote it. My mind has been purged of believing in a personal God, Jehovah or Yahweh or Adonai or HaShem, whatever you want to call him, the God of the Bible is a literary character only, not a “real” being.

In ACIM God is seen as creator of a spiritual universe (not this one) and He extends Himself into that universe like light radiating from our physical sun. That radiance is US!!! We are the radiance of God, not these awful bodies. In ACIM this radiance of God is called the Son of God, so in this spiritual universe there is only God and His One Son. They are spirit, not form, and they share One MInd, the Christ Mind. The nature of that Christ Mind is unconditional love, impersonal, no strings attached, Light and Knowledge. Now I have already given you the Course’s view about how the Son fell into a little dream that he could somehow be different from his father. While in that dream he heard two voices that came to explain what he had done. The Holy Spirit told him, “This is just a dream. Nothing has happened. Wake up and you will see you are the radiance of your father.” The other voice that came to him in his dream was THE EGO, and it told him, “Boy have you done it this time! You have separated from God! You have diminished Heaven! God gave you everything and you spit in his eye, stole the crown jewels and split! Do you think he is going to let you get away with this? You have SINNED and that is a very wicked thing. God is going to hunt you down like the dog you are and annihilate you!! And don’t listen to the Holy Spirit. He is God’s general who has been dispatched to capture you!” The Ego told the dreaming Son quite a tale. For some reason we do not know, the Son believed the Ego’s version of things and when he did he believed himself sinful, guilty and fearful of God. The Ego tells him he must hide in a place where God could never find him, so the Son, in his dream, projects himself into a physical universe (Big Bang), this universe, and as he does he splits into zillions upon zillions of pieces, light, matter, plants, rocks, animals, and…US, human beings. Like a hologram each piece contains the WHOLE truth within it, and just as surely each piece believes itself to be sinful, guilty, and in fear of God’s punishment. St. Paul said it, “The whole creation (universe) travails and groans.” This feeling of guilt that we all carry and our fear of God is all a dream, a very bad dream. We are in truth not bodies. We are spirit and all the same spirit, the Son of God or the radiance of God. We are only in a dream here. In truth we have never left Heaven (our spiritual universe) or our Father, God.

Working with ACIM I am losing the fear of God and making good progress in losing the idea of sin and fear. But it is a process. The Holy Spirit came into the dream with us. He can guide us in our lessons we must learn, of forgiveness, giving up fear and hate, and passion for personal power. As we learn those lesson we begin to remember more and more of who we are as spirit. This dream is all unfolding in time and the end of the dream cannot be threatened! All of the split pieces of the Son with be gathered together as One and awaken from the dream. There will then be no need for time and this dreamy physical universe with disappear!

In truth, in eternity, as soon as the Son fell into a dream, the Holy Spirit corrected the tiny mad idea. That correction is just now being displayed on the long canvas of time, through billions of years. The Truth has never been in danger. WE ARE AS WE WERE CREATED, the radiance of God. Say with the Course, “I am NOT a body! I am a spirit. I am free for I am just as God created me.” Receiving the truth will set us free from the tiny mad ideas of sin, guilt and fear of God. ♥♥♥♥♥


I am filled with gratefulness for you:

I am filled with gratefulness for you: You who care for animals so much you make God smile and weep for joy; for you who love nature so and wish to take care of this beautiful planet; you who have a golden spirit of song and sing all over the world spreading joy and love wherever you go; for you who care for children so much that you are the best first grade teacher ever; You who love people and help them, old and young; you who love God so much you wish to connect with him like a son to his father; you whose mind is so sharp you love to teach math and science to kids; for you who care for your spouses and have learned to love; for you, the blue collar worker, who works at back-breaking toil because he loves his family and he wants to support them. For you, and you, and you, and you, and you over there. For you, Carol, who cared for me; for my animal friends who have joined in mind with me; for you my students who share their lives with me. I am so grateful for you. You are my brothers and we are all One Spirit, the Radiance of God’s Glory. Thank you my brothers for the Light we are and the Love that is all there is to share.♥♥♥♥♥

CALLING THE LIGHT….

The time is coming and almost is when we shall be able to call in the Light of God, that unspeakably wondrous Light of God which is Love, the Light we call “the other side,” or “home.” Most people have had to be near death to see that light, and enter it again. The transformative Light changes all who enter it by stirring our remembrance of our true Self. We are the radiance of God. The Light is us and we are it. Now you can see why we are not a body and there is no universe. We ARE this Light and in it we are all One. This Light knows no judgment. It only is the Love that is God, Truth and Knowledge. When you go into the Light you will not want to be a body again. You will weep at the thought of leaving the Light to come back to such a sour illusion as the body. Now the time almost is when we will be able to call that Light into our being now and the veils will be lifted from illusions. Your loved ones who have passed over into the Light are still here with you. We will soon need no channel or medium to contact them. Their presence will touch you when the Light comes and it will come. We will call it in. THIS IS OUR GREAT TIME OF SERVICE to each other and to the Light for God is lonely without his Son. Our minds are being prepared now to be able to call in the Light. If you have felt like a caterpillar about ready to change into something you know not what, this is part of what we have been sensing and feeling. So soon now, the Light will come and take down the barriers to our illusions. The Light will come. We will call it in and it will fall on us like the rain of Heaven, bringing with it all our beautiful memories of the Truth we have forgotten. So easily will all our fears slip away from us into nothingness and we will know that Love is all that is real. While for a while bodies will remain and the phantom we call Earth will slip in and out of the Light, I will look into your eyes and see only the Love of God and the Light will lovingly and gently wash away anything that would come between our joining. Would it not be something of great worth to you just to speak to your grandmother again, or your husband, or that child you lost too early? They are not gone. You will speak with them and you will know them in the Light. WE WILL CALL IN THE LIGHT AND IT WILL FALL FROM HEAVEN LIKE RAIN ON A DRY AND DUSTY PLAIN AND LOVE WILL MAKE ITSELF KNOWN. When the Light comes, first the air will sparkle with living glimmer, then the glimmer will enter you, every little place where you need Love’s Presence. Soon the air will become nothing but Light and the sight of bodies and planets will disappear. In the Light we will be transformed by remembrance. We are not native to this physical, dreamy place. We come from the Light. We are Light Beings native to a spiritual universe of Love which is also Light and Truth and Knowledge. We have been trying to remember our Home all these ages of bodies, coming from the Light, going into bodies, going back to Light. It is enough to make the world spin.

Our school years have almost passed.

The time for learning is almost over.

In this space I would put away all time and learning.

I would come afresh to stillness. I would call in the Light.

There sparkles all the truth my learning could not attain.

In that Light I find you,

perfect with the innocence of creation.

You have not changed.

As wisdom-bearer in Brahman’s House, who could change you?

As natural as the flow of the Tao, who could change you?

As the silence on the Buddha’s lips, who could change you?

In this Light there is stillness,

And in this stillness I have found you as perfect.

In the Light all minds join into One.

When the Light comes there is relief from time

and freedom to remember the vast ages of our knowing.

Lifetimes upon lifetimes present themselves in parade of gallant splendor for at last we remember.

Millions of years come to us in memory of who we are and the Love that grew within us.

We have not changed.

Our alchemy shows its art.

In this space I have summoned the Light and I remember that I Love you

Keeping the Faith!

Keeping the Faith!

Is Faith a gift or a work? Faith is a natural property given to those who ask but you have some work to do in maintaining it! Faith asks you to keep your eyes on Jesus and do the work you were sent to do. Life is full of possible distractions and so maintaining faith is not a cakewalk. Evil and suffering are there along the way to try to steal your gaze. When the wolf is at the door you need faith more than ever but holding on to it is the hardest thing you will ever have to do. These are not idle words. I have been there. There have been many days that all I had to eat was a can of pork and beans but I still managed to give some change to the beggars.

Krishnamurti was asked, “Is it true that life will take care of you?” He responded, “Yes, but you have to give yourself over to it completely.” That would be faith, moment by moment, day by day, month by month, year by year. It is living on a razor’s edge but somehow you know that there is no other way for you to live. The only thing that makes living this way bearable is FAITH.

In the early part of my career as an opera singer I called this “floating” in life. It is more than a little ironic that I should use such a term since I never learned to swim. But others told me that learning to float in water one had to relax and trust the water. Somehow it made sense to me, so when I moved from Tulsa to the Big Apple to start a career in opera, I learned to float. I had to learn. I had no financial support to cushion me. What I had was FAITH that God himself had given me this gift of voice and had told me to sing opera. That certainty was enough to give me the faith to “float” in life. Month after month I found someway to pay the rent and eat, though often not much. Some days I had two eggs for breakfast and lunch and a large slice of pizza for dinner. One summer I sold orange juice on the streets of New York. Sometimes I got work as a bartender. But then I would get an engagement in opera and all of a sudden I had money. FAITH (Floating) was essential. Those who had talent but no faith gave up on their careers and went back home to teach.

Then there came a month when I saw no possible way to pay the rent! But there was a singing competition called the Bruce Yarnell Memorial Award for Baritones which would be held soon and it had a prize of $1,000 and the prestige of being named the best baritone in the U.S. And Canada at the mid-career level. I entered the competition. My competitors were from the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and other regional centers. I had the faith that I could win and I worked very hard to hold on to that faith. I won and paid the rent!!

Many nights I would take flight in my dreams and actually go on journeys in the spirit. One night I went up into the spirit world and came to a “class” that was being held for spirits preparing to enter life in a body. The class was about how to “float.” The students were seated on what looked like high school bleachers with dumbfounded looks on their faces. I floated right into the class and said, “Look, it’s like this. You just float,” and as a spirit I demonstrated “floating.” I had learned how to do it, not in water but in life. There have been many times I have been tempted by fear to lose faith. Saying the Lord’s Prayer is very helpful….”lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Who is the evil one but the one who would seduce you to lose faith? Pray to be delivered from that one, and woe to those on judgment day who choose to draw others away from faith and to the dark side! That will be a life review you wouldn’t care to attend! Jesus said of such people, “It would be better for them were a millstone tied around their neck and cast into the ocean.”

SOME DEEP TRUTHS FOUND IN REAL SEANCES!

SOME DEEP TRUTHS FOUND IN REAL SEANCES! Most mediums are fakes. The true ones will tell you that. I had the deep privilege of sitting and working with one of the greatest physical mediums in the world, Rev. David LeBaron at Tower Memorial Church in Seattle Washington. I previously posted a long article about David on this blog. To summarize, a physical medium is able to allow spirits to materialize into the seance room and speak with you, walk and talk with you. They are able to bring you gifts which they have brought from the spirit world. Let me walk you through a seance with David LeBaron, who has passed over now, happily for him, sadly for us. Fifteen to twenty people meet in the seance room on Sunday afternoon after church. Most of them have been to many, many seances. They are comfortable with the process. It is a loving gathering of loving friends. Few places have I found such love in the world as I found in seances with David LeBaron. We enter the room and sit in small chairs in a circle. The lights are turned off or we may have a red light on. David is seated at the head of the room in a partially curtained off area, but he is clearly visible. He has a leader in the church sit next to him in the cabinet to act as a “battery” directly linked to David’s mind. The rest of us also link in mind to David. This connection of David with 20 other minds is part of his ability to manifest spirits in physical form. A leader will begin by leading the circle in prayer to Father/Mother God, the form of address Spiritualists use. Then we will begin by singing a number of well known hymns. The love that we feel for one another, for God, and for David, is magnified as we sing. In a few minutes, David’s control spirit, Hilda, will manifest, usually as a semi-solid, gaseous form. Hilda’s job is to manage the spirits that wish to manifest through David. At some point after Hilda’s greeting, a spirit will speak through David to someone in the circle. It may be a relative who has passed over or a spirit guide. The spirit will then physically manifest, sometimes as a gaseous vapor which then solidifies. In a red light seance this is all clearly visible. I have 12 spirit guides, and No, they are not demons, my evangelical Christian friends! I have several guides who were Native American Indians in their last life and they brought me many arrow heads and crystals as presents. My grandfather, George Ritchie, came through and materialized. It was wonderful to see him again. The leader of my 12 guides was an African man in his last life, named Jerome. He brought me an African wood carving as a present. In this experience our hearts are filled with love as we are connected together with David and the world of Spirit. During one very difficult time in my life, David wanted to help me so much that he underwent very difficult meditation sessions prior to the seance in order to allow a very high Master named Adriotis of Atlantea to materialize. He materialized in full regalia, his “body” as solid as mine, but there were lights all over him which pulsated as he walked. He and I walked arm in arm around the seance room as my mind joined to his. I will NEVER forget it. JESUS manifested through David many times. David told me, “He used to come every Easter.” When he materialized, he was semi-solid. He was wearing a white robe which shimmered as light, but it was also a fabric. We could see the weave in the garment. He spoke very much like the Jesus in A Course in Miracles. The seance room was immersed in love when he appeared.

SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS? We learn that all things are possible when minds join!!!! If we wish to change ourselves we need to join in mind lovingly with others. If it gets to an occasion where we really believe we have to change the world, we can do that by joining in mind. The world is soft, malleable, dreamy stuff. It can be changed if we really need it to be changed, but we have to have many minds joined together to do that. There is a horizontality in mind joining that we must attain, not 7 billion separated minds. If we can join that way, we will more probably see the world differently through God’s eyes. Regardless the path to power, to progress, to ascension, lays in the joining of minds.

David retired from the church. He still gave private readings but he was never able to physically manifest spirits again. He needed that joining of minds to be able to do that. THINK OF THE POWER OF MINDS JOINED IN LOVE!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Namaste♥

 

Worth as Value

For many years my neighbor across the street lived in a beautiful old country house surrounded by four huge, tall, evergreen tress that were at least 200 years old. They were so tall they seemed to reach the clouds. Every storm we had, I wa

tched the trees, sway and almost do back bends. They were so strong and inspiring. In her back yard, amid the trees, the elderly lady had the most beautiful flower garden you ever saw, and she had made it into a community garden. People from our block came there in friendship to work in the garden, tend to the flowers, and as they did, they extended love to one another.

We are now in an era that sees the need for localization. People everywhere are starting community gardens, converting vacant lots to vegetable gardens where a whole community works. Community is love extended in action.

Then one day my neighbor passed over. Her daughter inherited this paradise. However, instead of maintaining it she sold the house and property to a real estate agent. Our community watched in horror as a bulldozer came and tore down the house and the garden, but the worst was yet to come. Tree haters came with the intention of destroying those four 200 year trees!! First they cut off all the limbs of the trees, then they climbed the trees with their spikes and used a chain saw to cut the tops off the trees. Then they would slide down and chop off more until there was nothing left but a stump. Then the machines came and pulled the stump and all its roots out of the ground. As I watched all of this I was horrified. I felt the pain of the trees. (They are part of the sonship too and every part of the sonship, even a grain of sand, is sentient!) I wept for them. I have never experienced such pain communicated to my mind from the trees. Their first feeling was utter surprise and betrayal. They had been there, loyally standing guard for two hundred years. And then, the physical pain as they were tortured to death. All of this was done so the real estate agency could make a big ugly house for rich people to buy. You wonder, what kind of a person would be drawn to buy a house that was built over such destruction. Once again, we humans, failed a test to understand “worth” verses money. That old house, with its community garden and 200 year old trees was “worth” an enormous amount to this block. People who do not know worth will have no trouble destroying, not only trees, but animals, to build an ugly house. We had many sections of land here in Burnaby that were wild and inhabited by coyotes, Bears, and foxes and raccoons. The “industrialists” cleared all the wild property without any regard for the trees or animals living there. Now we have a problem of coyotes eating neighborhood cats, and bears frightening children! Such insanity!

ACIM tells us that everything, down to the smallest grain of sand, is a part of the Son of God. We are to forgive our brothers, but how do we forgive nature, or rather how does nature forgive US! We forgive nature by protecting it. The Course knows the same compassion as Buddhism, but the Course goes further and tells us that everything is sentient!!! Now scientists are seeing that. Fruit trees grow better fruit if music is played for them, and the branches grow in the direction of the speakers. Flowers grow prettier if you talk nicely to them and pat them gently. We have many, many brothers on this planet and we are not doing a good in compassion. That’s why a community garden is so important. It brings us and our flower and tree brothers together in love.

SHARING EXPERIENCES WITH MEDIUM DAVID LEBARON:

SHARING EXPERIENCES WITH MEDIUM DAVID LEBARON:

One of the few (perhaps two) physical mediums left in the world was in Seattle, David LeBaron, who worked at a small Spiritualist church there named Tower Memorial Church. My colleague and I have been observing David’s work now for some time and I will share some of our observations.

Rev. LeBaron was a trumpet medium and a materialization medium. In trumpet mediumship he consistently produced “apports” through the trumpets. These apports have often been larger in size than the small end of the trumpet and some have been valuable. Imperial jade pieces have materialized which have been shown to be worth about $500. Scarabs have materialized which have been found to be very old and valuable. I myself have a large collection of apports that have been given to me by spirits through the trumpets. Even though we have not conducted a rigid control system of observation, we have tried to rule out several possibilities of fraud. For example, no one leaves the seance room and comes back in. Rev. LeBaron allows people to search him before the seance. The small, common room which is used for the seance is easily searched before the session. There are no trap doors, no secret panels, no places in the small room that could hide the large quantity of apports that come through in a séance. Furthermore, as I mentioned, many times the apport, which comes out of the trumpet, is larger than the small end of the trumpet, ruling out the possibility that Rev. LeBaron or a confederate is inserting the so-called apport into the trumpet for it to appear to be coming from spirits. Rev. LeBaron does not charge much for any séance, $15, and does not try to acquire notoriety. He would not have the financial ability to give away valuable pieces of imperial jade. Furthermore, many of the apports roll out of the trumpet warm and soft to the touch, and we are asked to let them cool and solidify before grasping them tightly. I have not been able to think of any possibility of deception. Furthermore, many of the people in his séances are highly trained observers, some psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists. All I have talked to agree that the phenomena appear genuine.

Rev. LeBaron himself is a very loving, gentle man. From a purely subjective observation, I have never experienced a more loving environment in a group of 20 people than I have in the seances with David LeBaron. The paranormal actions of the trumpets themselves is an interesting point. Even though most séances take place in the dark, the voices coming through the trumpets establish the positions of the trumpets in the room. There are no hidden microphones or speakers which could allow for deception. I have checked the small room and the trumpets many times. The voices coming from the trumpets indicate that the trumpets are moving around the room. Some séances are conducted with a small amount of light and in these settings my colleague and I, as well as the other participants I have interviewed, have seen the trumpets apparently levitate and move around the room. We handle the trumpets at some points when requested to do so, as for the reception of apports, and no strings or devices have been noticed. Furthermore, the feeling of the trumpet when handled under these conditions indicates that there is a firm hold on it from the other end. It is not the kind of feeling that would be given by a wire or string. The flight motion of the trumpet is also not consistent with trickery. They move suddenly at angels that one would not expect to find in a deception. The trumpets themselves are ordinary constructions of light weight aluminum and have no secret compartments or remote control devices. The voices coming out of the trumpets also weigh against trickery. Here my own area of expertise in voice comes in. The explanation offered by the spirits and by the medium is that the spirits have made something of a “template” of David LeBaron’s voice, and the possible timbres his instrument could produce. It is this spectrum of timbres which is utilized by the various spirits who speak through David’s mediumship through the trumpets or in materialized form. This explanation, at first, did not seem testable in the dark, but gradually events developed which allowed us to test it in certain ways. It is true that the voices of the spirits appeared to have a timbre spectrum that I would have suspected from David LeBaron’s vocal fold structure. But there were times when David came out of trance because of physical discomfort, coughing, while the spirit was still speaking. In those times Rev. LeBaron was coughing at the same time that the spirit was speaking. On some such occasions the spirit addressed David, now out of trance, and David answered back to the spirit, both of their voices overlapping for a brief period. No ventriloquist could do this. Furthermore, the way in which many spirits speak with rapid exchange goes beyond the ability of the world’s best ventriloquists. In rapid exchange between characters and the ventriloquist there is always some observable bleed-over between timbres, the worst (or best) example was found in one of the most famous ventriloquists, Edgar Bergen, whose dialogues with Charlie showed a great blending of timbres. In seances with David LeBaron there is no such effect. The timbres move from one spirit to the next without any indication of ventriloquism. And after the seance, David’s voice shows no evidence of vocal strain. As an expert in voice, these observations were very interesting to me. My feeling is that the paranormal effects observed in his seances are genuine.
In materialization seances, there are no cameras or sophisticated laser technology that could generate holograms. The forms that materialize vary in degree of solid form. They may be gaseous light-forms which speak in the same voice timbres as they have through the trumpets. In this state I have felt their touch, a light vaporous touch which still has substance. In this state, we have seen them descend through the floor or go through a human participant in the seance. When they materialize in a full form, they appear to be dressed in a glowing solid white substance, often with full color accouterments, and are very solid to the touch. In this form I have walked arm in arm around the room with them. When they have to leave, their solid form begins to become more vaporous and they sometimes also depart in remarkable ways. As a materialization medium Rev. LeBaron is noted for the solid full form features of the spirits that come through him. I have been unable to discover any means of deception here. At times, the materialized spirit takes a participant into the cabinet where David sits in trance, and often there is enough light to see David seated in trance. This would appear to rule out the possibility of David masquerading as spirits. But no masquerade theory could explain a gaseous form going through the floor. Also, more than one spirit materializes at one time, and with different features from David, for example, shorter or taller. Again, my sense is that the materializations through David LeBaron are not done by trickery.
Pursuant to my interest in spirit possession and the possible usage of mediums for treatment, I note that David LeBaron has been trying to help in one case I know of, through the usage of spirits which come through him. In this particular case, he, and the spirits, have been unable to effect a stable cure. This is of interest to me.
I hope this little account will be of some interest to you.

Making a Holy Space

Making A Holy Space

 

Into a place come the people. The place is made of the peace of God. It has been created by the holy intention of two or more to experience the peace of God. This peace first comes from adoration of the Christ, overwhelming thanks, tears of love, and tongues of gratefulness for the gift of Christ throughout all existence. Moving closer, the Christ and we become One and there is only the peace of God. The chairs, the carpet, the doors, all remember and hold this Peace. This place is used for nothing but this. The purpose of this outward place now enters each person who enters it. In this holy meeting place the many will become One in the Christ Mind. No little thought of darkness will be able to penetrate this holy place. No shadow can come into the Son of God’s holy Mind. Here all questions are answered, all fears abandoned, all prayers answered, for the son of God has heard the melos of the ages and responds in simplicity to the call of salvation. Here the son rests in holiness. This Peace is the answer to all the little questions the separated son could imagine in his little dreamy life. And today and for eternity we will extend it, beyond the planet, beyond the universe, into and through the universe of Spirit the Father has made. Now does the Son know His Father. Now are the two One. No space is left to separate the Father from the Son, nor is there any place where the Father ends and the Son begins. In perfect wholeness do they continue eternity’s ancient work of extension. Love has conquered shadows.  Nothing real has been threatened. Nothing unreal has ever existed. Now the Peace of God covers everything as Light without beginning or end, nor is it possible to imagine any place where this light is not. It extends from a center which has no boundaries towards an end that has no end.

We will continue to share this peace as long as the illusion of time and separation appears to be so. This will be our work. Let the little separated minds be healed for the Christ has come and asks entrance into each mind to free them from the illusions of fear that bind them still. Lightworkers and angels unite in this the work of ages. Today we will know the Peace of God. Tears will adorn the little bodies we have made to hide from God. Like Jewels on royal brows the Son comes to Himself and to His Father.

Father, take these my brothers who Love so, and envelop them in the same Love you have for me. Today the Sonship returns to your Peace. Holiness is all we will know and your Home is ours.

The world began as a fearful illusion

The world began as a fearful illusion but I have seen it now as the Love of God, so perfect a reflection of heaven that the distance between the two is so tiny, a toddler could make the step. Father? I am putting one of my little toddler feet on your step. I have remembered your Love. I will never forget it again or go off into little dreams. I have remembered your love in the garden and the river, in the fish that swim, the flowers that grow, the birds that sing. I have remembered your Love in the eyes of my brother, and Father I want to come Home now, away from silly dreams and into your arms.

The Love of God Has Come

The Love of God is so much greater than we imagine. We have to make space to receive so much more than what we thought was true. The Love of God came into my heart today with so much more than  I allowed in yesterday. Today there is no one to forgive. Today there are no debts or debtors, no trespasses. There is just the love of God and the music that comes through me. Today I forgive the world for the Love of God has come. If tomorrow if I find temptation I will say,” I have forgiven the world for the Love of God has come.”  To my hurt brother I will say, “Be at peace. The Love of God has come.” To my angry brother I will say, “Let us start again for the Love of God has come.”  To those who hate me I will say, “I am sorry. Cannot we put it away? The Love of God has come.” For the Love of God has come.

Your Situation

Everyone reading this is in some “situation,” and the “situation” is keeping you from the Truth. You bring the situation with you to work. You take it home. You live with it. You don’t like it but you can’t get out of it. It enfolds you in layers. You can’t see out of it or beyond it. You almost panic and think of giving up. But if you can wait with faith in your higher Self, you will be given a solution. Someone will be brought to you who is not caught in your situation, and s/he will bring to you the path of your own heart. Maybe you are a religious person. You are caught in the situation of religiosity. It is sticky and clingy and pulls you down but you can’t see a way out of it. But you have just a little faith in something higher than your religious self. One day someone comes into your life and you can sense that your higher Self has brought him/her to you. S/he is NOT religious. That’s not his/her situation. Maybe s/he is into nature and because you know you love him/her you go with her into nature. Your higher Self knows that your heart wants to flow with the Tao so it brings this beautiful person into your life. Now your situation pulls at you and says, “don’t let me go.” But you really want to be with this wonderful person. Your heart has been buried in this situation. Can you hear it enough to follow it with her? Your heart has never really been into religiosity. That was just your situation. Now you have a chance to make a leap with your heart and look above, see beyond. Will you do it? Or will you cling to the situation? Krishnamurti said, “There are no problems in life.” Can you dig that? Where would you have to be to see that? You’d have to be clear of your situation, wouldn’t you?

What catastrophe destroys your faith?

Just a word about living by Faith. It’s not religious. Krishnamurti said, “There are no problems in life.” Can you imagine the faith in existence to say that? As ACIM says, “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.”

So what “catastrophe” destroys your faith so that you would be unloving to a brother? A flat tire? A fearful thought? A careless word? Some detour into fear! In that detour do you see yourself as small and vulnerable and in need of protection. You would easily betray a brother out of that fear because you have seen yourself as weak and in danger. Wake from the nightmare dreamlet. You are in no danger. If you cannot see that then the winds will beat and the floods will come in manifestation of your fearful little idea of yourself.

What Happens When We Die?

What Happens When We Die?
by Joseph Shore

Isn’t this the question we all want answered? As much as we may believe something, we want to know.

I have had three open heart surgeries and during the first one, I had an out of body experience that seemed very natural. I was later able to identify the events which took place while my body was unconscious. Some of my friends have gone all the way. My dear friend, Dr. George Rodonaia, was dead for three days in a hospital morgue and later revived during the autopsy. PMH Atwater died three times This is what she has to say about it:

“Any pain to be suffered comes first. Instinctively you fight to live. That is automatic.

It is inconceivable to the conscious mind that any other reality could

possibly exist beside the earth-world of matter bounded by time and

space. We are used to it. We have been trained since birth to live and

thrive in it. We know ourselves to be ourselves by the external stimuli

we receive. Life tells us who we are and we accept its telling. That,

too, is automatic, and to be expected.

“Your body goes limp. Your heart stops. No more air flows in or out.

You lose sight, feeling, and movement – although the ability to hear

goes last. Identity ceases. The “you” that you once were becomes only a

memory.

“There is no pain at the moment of death. Only peaceful silence. . . calm. . . quiet.

“But you still exist. “It is easy not to breathe. In fact, it is easier, more comfortable, and

infinitely more natural not to breathe than to breathe. The biggest

surprise for most people in dying is to realize that dying does not end

life. Whether darkness or light comes next, or some kind of event, be it

positive, negative, or somewhere in-between, expected or unexpected, the

biggest surprise of all is to realize you are still you. You can still

think, you can still remember, you can still see, hear, move, reason,

wonder, feel, question, and tell jokes – if you wish.

“You are still alive, very much alive. Actually, you’re more alive after

death than at any time since you were last born. Only the way of all

this is different; different because you no longer wear a dense body to

filter and amplify the various sensations you had once regarded as the

only valid indicators of what constitutes life. You had always been

taught one has to wear a body to live.

“If you expect to die when you die you will be disappointed.

The only thing dying does is help you release, slough off, and discard

the “jacket” you once wore (more commonly referred to as a body).

“When you die you lose your body.

That’s all there is to it. “Nothing else is lost.

You are not your body. It is just something you wear for a while,

because living in the earthplane is infinitely more meaningful and more

involved if you are encased in its trappings and subject to its rules.

(This material was excerpted from two of P.M.H.Atwater’s books – “Beyond the Light: The Mysteries and Revelations of Near-Death Experiences” (Avon Books, New York City, 1994), and “We Live Forever: The Real Truth about Death” (A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 2004). It is based on first-person commentaries from over 3,000 adult experiencers of near-death states. ~PMH)

Whether you find yourself in a tunnel or simply but suddenly experience yourself out of the body and in a dimension of Light/Love, you will be greeted by those you love who have already passed over. This is a reunion you have been longing for. Next you may encounter a Being of Light, an angel, or a Being you identify as Jesus. In His/Their loving presence you will be given strength to see the details of your life. As on a movie laid out holographically, you will see the times in your life when you hurt people. But you will feel it from their perspective. It will be very painful. But then you will get to see all the loving things you have done and experience them from the perspective of the people you helped. These things herald through the universe and you will feel the happiness of the angels and other beings around you. Next you will be taken into conference by a group of beings, whether we call them angels or the Lords of Karma, you will see all of your past lives and review all of the lessons you have learned and those you failed to learn. You may get to stay in spirit with your loved ones for a “time”–as long as you need.. You may stay in spirit and learn your lessons there. You may get a fuller picture of all your lives and the eventual merging back into God. You will begin to experience yourself as a universal being who has had all these lifetimes, instead of just the person you were before you died. But at some point you will have to choose whether to stay in spirit or go back into another life that will be designed for you as a classroom for you to continue your learning. No one is forced to go into a body. All who choose to come back are viewed as heroes by their brothers in spirit.

Some people complain that the NDE is all too dualistic to be true. My first answer to that is the fact that this is the way people are experiencing the process. The second answer is that we experience the world dualistically. Your birth was experienced dualistically. There was a time when you came into the womb of your mother and felt connected to her, but unique. Then you were shot like a canon ball out of her and experienced yourself separate from her and all other things. You lived your life that way. Why should the death process be experienced any other way?

Many people who have had full NDEs find it very difficult to put the experience into words, but many of them also feel a compulsion to try to explain what has happened to them. The truth is so utterly fantastic. We are not native to this dimension of material. We are photonic Beings who come from a dimension of Light and Love and we are learning lessons here in this classroom of the world that will help us go back Home. Our Father and our elder brother, and all those we have loved are waiting for us there. Never a doubt there is but that we will get Home.

Tails of the Christ

My children were leaving. I had lost custody of them in a bloody three year court battle, and now they were going. They did not want to go. Thomas was 9 years old and Katie was 15. They were at my house one last time before their mother pulled up in her old car laden with baggage and told them they were leaving for Florida. She had tricked Thomas by telling him that I was coming too. As it became clear to him that I was not going he had to be dragged to the car as he cried, “But I don’t want to leave my daddy.” I waited until they pulled out and then I cried too. How I cried. I didn’t know how to stop. Thomas had given me a charge as he visited me that day. “Here daddy,” he said. “Here is this baby catfish I caught. Will you take care of him for me?” He had caught a little 2 inch catfish fry from a pond where he was playing. “Of course I’ll take care of him,” I answered. I took the little fry and put him in my 50 gallon aquarium tank. Since the little fish was the last thing Thomas gave to me I wanted to love that little fish as though he were my son. I knew I would seldom get to see my children again. They were going to be 2800 miles away from me and accessible only by a plane ride that I would not be able to afford unless my fortunes changed.

I took all the other fish out of the aquarium and gave the little catfish fry all the room he wanted. At first I fed him fish food, then little pellets as he grew. He got to know me and let me feed him by my hand. By the time he was 4 inches he would let me pet him as I fed him. I loved that little fish because he was my son’s last charge to me. He was happy in my tank and grew so well. Soon he was 6 inches long, then 8. I could look into his eyes and watch him look back at me. But I knew the time was coming for me to release him into some nearby lake where he could have a life of his own. I am going to say this just once: Every sentient being is Divine. There is no such thing as just an animal or just a fish!

A Course in Miracles teaches us that the Son of God is not one person. The Son of God is the Sonship and contains within it all of God’s creations, everything that has come from His extension of Love. Students of the Course understand that the Sonship contains within it all of our brothers, but do you understand that some of our brothers have fins and fur! All Sentient beings, every blade of grass and every grain of sand are a part of the Sonship.The Course teaches further that we are connected with everything. “How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son!” (T-28.IV.9:4). And again, “The forms the broken pieces seem to take mean nothing. For the whole is in each one. And every aspect of the Son of God is just the same as every other part” (T-28.IV.9:5-7). If God is in you, look at the world and you will see God. God is in everything I see because God is in me. The Christ is in everything!

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: all came forth from me, and all attained to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Pick up a stone, and you will find me there.”

Should it be strange then that I could look into the eyes of a little bullhead catfish and see the Christ? How I loved that little fish! I loved him because Thomas gave him to me and asked me to care for him.

The day came for his big release. I took him from the big aquarium and put him into a small portable one and carried him to my sports car. It was just a five minute drive to the lake. I drove with one hand and steadied the portable little aquarium with the other. I drove slowly so as not to slosh the water. I told him where we were going and that he would like it when we got there. I had picked a time when the lake should be devoid of people. We arrived and I gently carried the portable aquarium to the edge of the water. I told him that this was his time for freedom. I opened the lid and gently slid him into the shallow water of the lake. He looked around and at first did not understand this big “aquarium” he had been released into. Then there came a moment and he “got it.” It dawned on him that he was free. He started to swim out into the deeper water, but then he stopped, turned around and looked at me with eyes which by now I knew, and said, “Thank you.” And then he swam out into that lake. Know God and you must love your brother. Love connects us all in the Divine Mind. And some of the tales of the Christ are tails of the Christ.

What do you have to give to the world?

What do you have to give to the world? When one or two have found stillness, they discover their virtue, their goodness, their gratefulness for being. These two have found something to give to the world, their Light and the world needs Light like a dream needs awakening. One person who has seen his own Light can enlighten the world. But our sleeping brothers do not care about giving anything to the world. “Don’t you know I have my problems, man?” “It’s dog eat dog out their.” “The rent is too damn high.” “My job takes all my energy.” “I pay my taxes and that’s enough.” They have not experienced stillness and the Peace of God, nor their virtue and goodness. So they have nothing to give. Tara Singh told his students, “many of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s OK. Let them sleep. They will all awaken.”