Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings


dying is weirdIn sharing her memoir, Dying is Weird: A Journey of Enlightenment, Kathleen Westberg brings us into her life as she loses loved ones and then begins searching for meaning in life and death. Her story resonated with me as my own mother is now under hospice care and shows dementia symptoms very close to what Westberg’s mother experienced. And my mother also feels my grandmother’s presence in her room now – weird, as Westberg says.

How can we feel more of a connection to our loved ones during and after their lives? Well, Westberg shares some answers she found through the work of Edgar Cayce, which stirred her soul and led her to continue her studies of metaphysics and spirituality. His ability to communicate with his friends and relatives that had died, she explained, helped her to broaden her views on keeping in touch with loved ones after they have passed on.

While she always showed some heightened psychic abilities, once Westberg begins studying and attending holistic healing conferences, there is no stopping her in sharing her Healing Touch, interpretation of dreams and precognition of events.

This book is a sweet, quick read that makes us feel we are not alone, but all connected. After finishing it, you feel like you are part of Westberg’s family, and you are. Her experiences help one believe that life isn’t as “random and chaotic as previously thought,” and makes death seem “more like an adventure to look forward to than something to fear.”

Kathleen Westberg is a life member of the Cayce group, A.R.E., The Association of Research and Enlightenment. Here, she answers my questions about her book…

Becca: Why is dying “weird?”

Kathleen: My experiences with the death of loved ones has been at times so perplexing, befuddling and fascinating, that I knew I wanted to write a book about what I experienced. The title of my book, Dying Is Weird, comes from a personal experience in which I witnessed the transition of a family member and her words to me.  The word “weird” according to Webster’s Dictionary has several definitions: supernatural, odd, strange, uncanny and magical just to name a few.  So with the definitions and my personal story it all fit into what I thought was the perfect book title. Death to me was weird also, because of the experience I had when I was eleven.  It touched me in a deep way and awakened me to some of my own perceptions that would stay with me throughout my entire life.  In that sense, dying is weird because it is something that has been a part of me from a young age, and it transcends time and space.

Becca: Why do you think people in our culture are unprepared for death?

Kathleen: Years ago, death was looked at much differently.  I’m not saying that the grief was any less, but before the age of medicine, the mortality rate was very high and everyone suffered the loss of loved ones, sometimes at relatively young ages.  Children were apt to die from illnesses that are now preventable.  Multiple families lived together and relatives lived in close proximity always lending support and comfort.  I feel they had a different understanding about life and death.  Births as well as deaths were witnessed in the home which made both a more natural experience. Society has changed dramatically.  The natural cycle of birth and death is no longer witnessed at home.  Families don’t have the commitment to care for the elderly so the aging population becomes more compartmentalized and the elderly die sometimes distances from their loved ones.  We have also become more materialistic, with more of a focus on money and material possessions.  Also, people have a harder time accepting something if they can’t measure it or quantify it.  I feel by learning to cultivate or develop our clairvoyant perceptions we can become more aware of that dimension of existence, called death, and our experiences might not seem so out-of-the-ordinary.  Working at being more loving and learning to forgive and reconcile relationships and maintaining that loving awareness, I think would help us all be better prepared for death.

Becca: What was the biggest lesson you learned in your metaphysical studies?

Kathleen: Maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is that my intuition and spiritual understanding has grown in direct relationship to my studies.  I have learned so much from making the effort to take different classes and study with a variety of teachers. There have been so many teachers in my life that have shared their talents and spiritual abilities and it seems I always take something very worthwhile from each one.  I am fascinated by energy work and the energy of the world, be it in a house of worship, someone’s home, out in nature and of course the energy of others.  The more I put effort into those areas, the more aware I become of these spiritual dimensions and the more I am able to help others heal and grow. When we make a conscious effort to develop our metaphysical awareness, the creator can work through us and it then becomes a natural attunement to use at will.

Becca: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Kathleen: I want people to understand that death is not the end of life – that we are transformed by death, and somehow our consciousness or awareness carries on in a spiritual dimension or existence.  By opening our minds to receiving messages through our dreams, and through our inner senses, we can change and minimize our fear of death. For me, one of the most important life lessons that has helped me deal with death is a sense of humor.  Smiles and laughter help me to temper the grief that I experience.  When we love more and laugh more, that connection never ceases to exist. I can feel it coming back to me through the ethers.

Becca: Would you say you have the answers to “What happens after death?”

Kathleen: It’s my vivid imagination that has helped me to picture what happens after death.  Sometimes I can feel the warmth and the laughter coming from my loved ones.  Even when writing my book, I could sense the love and encouragement that was being sent my way.  I also get a sense when someone has moved beyond the first plane of existence after death; it’s a little harder and takes a little longer to get their attention.  In one moving dream, long after my mother had died, she finally answered my pleadings to contact or connect with me.  In my dream she walked into a room where I was and looked like she had just awoken from a long nap.  The message I got was I had disturbed, or awakened her on her sojourn to the next level, but if I really needed her she would take that time to let me know she was always available for me. I just started reading Deepak Chopra’s Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, and I’m excited about what I can continue to learn about the process and experience of death.  His book is more of a synthesis of medical, scientific and spiritual perspectives, whereas my book is written from my personal experience with spirituality.

Becca: What advice to you have for other first-time authors who feel they have inspiration to share?

Kathleen: My advice for first-time authors would be to believe in themselves.  Since I have always been a better listener than a talker, I hear the stories from others and I see how by sharing their stories, as I did, the author can uplift, educate, and just simply entertain readers.  Writing helps bring your inspiration into focus; it puts your inspiration into a form where you can look at it, reflect on it and work on it.  We get so busy with our lives and our obligations that we can get distracted from a deeper sense of purpose in our lives and work, and so it’s very important to make sure to set aside time to write.  It may not always come out in perfect form, but you can always go back and edit or rewrite your material.  It’s important to just keep writing.

Namaste! Becca Chopra, author TheChakraDiaries-coverThe Chakra Diaries (inspirational stories of achieving chakra balance), Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org


Download FREE on Amazon KindleI receive emails every day offering some new (and very expensive) salve, cream or pill for pain relief. All because I bought my mother an ointment for her arthritic knees. Then, I taught her Dynamind, and she now uses this mind-body technique to relieve not only any pain in her knees, but her tension headaches too… balancing her Root and Third Eye Chakras.

I first introduced Dynamind in my book, Chakra Secrets, and over a million people around the world are using it to heal themselves of pain and emotional distress, according to its developer, Hawaiian shaman, Serge Kahili King, Ph.D.  In Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life (FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon Kindle) I show how to use DYNAMIND adapted for each chakra, which I find makes it even more effective as an “instant” healing technique.

What have others had to say about this method of chakra healing?

“In this book, Becca Chopra shares how to relax the body and mind enough so that our healing energy can flow freely through our chakras. I learned this “instant healing” Dynamind technique from Serge Kahili King at our yearly Hawaii Health Getaway, but find it even more effective in relieving tension and pain when coupled with chakra visualization and toning, as Becca Chopra describes. Just like regular exercise can keep one’s body and mind toned, using the Dynamind Toners described in this book can keep your chakras and your body in balance.” ~ Ann Doherty, RN, CDE

“I read this book and another of Becca’s, checked out her website, and viewed her video that follows this book. For the first time in 2 years, I am pain free. I am more at peace. THANKS!” ~ Amazon reviewer

Yes, there’s even a video which you can also download for FREE, in which you can follow along as I apply Dynamind to healing pain, aches, and emotional problems associated with each chakra. Balance and Tone Your Chakras can be downloaded on my website at www.theChakras.org.

Happy healing!

Namaste,

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.thechakras.org


For a complete handbook to achieving a happy life, I recommend Nicola Krystina Greene’s “Happiness: The Key to Inner Sunshine.” From ways to discover your inner sunshine, to ways to dissolve any blocks you have to happiness, Greene covers all the current wisdom on finding your inner light and letting go of negativity, fear, suppressed anger and hurt.

Despite your life circumstances, Greene shows you how to live a sunnier life right now by living in the moment, practicing meditation, and expressing your true self. One of the more beautiful ways she shares is how to reconnect with nature and find inspiration all around you. As a daily meditator, I also appreciated the powerful meditation techniques she teaches, including the Hong-Sau Meditation and Candle Flame Meditation.

Greene not only shares wisdom for the ages, but beautiful quotes from those who experienced happiness despite all odds. From Helen Keller: “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” And a Chinese proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

Unhappiness only exists in the mind, writes Greene. So open your mind to the possibilities of a happier life. Anyone who puts her suggestions into practice will feel freer, more empowered, and definitely, happier.

Nicola Krystina Greene is a freelance writer in the U.K. who travelled the globe for 10 years meeting spiritual masters, healers and religious experts in search of greater joy and happiness. Here she answers my questions regarding the subject of happiness and her book:

Becca: What is happiness?

Nicola: Happiness is a deeply subjective personal experience and we each feel it and express it in unique ways. But it does have a universal aspect to it which is that it is related to our ability to feel our inner light.

That ‘inner sunshine’ sits within us, waiting to be unlocked, but is usually hidden behind the layers we create around us that imprison or dull that light – such as our fears, masks, and distortions. The more we free ourselves from false beliefs and learn to connect with our internal sunshine, then the more we experience our true selves, our connection with the Universe, and finally have the keys to lasting happiness.

Becca: Why do you think more people aren’t “happy?”

Nicola: Many people do not yet understand that happiness is not found in external objects, or in having specific events occur, and until they know where the real source of their happiness resides, they will always be seeking in the wrong places.

Along with this, today we live in isolated, artificial spaces and are less in tune with the healing rhythms of the outdoors and the natural world. Instead we have developed frenetic and technologically driven mechanical rhythms that create unbalance in our systems and biology.

Becca: Would you say, as others have, that our brains are wired more to remember trauma than happiness, so we have to work at being happy?

Nicola: It may be true that traumatic events are more easily remembered, and happiness is something we always have to work at. However, when we learn to re-program our thoughts and habits towards happiness and positivity (as shown in the book) then we may find that happiness comes progressively more easily and effortlessly.

When we practice happiness, we naturally attract more positive events to ourselves, and will even find that we experience challenging or traumatic times differently. As we learn to turn up the light inside us, raise our vibration, and centre our attention and consciousness within that inner light, then we develop a habit that will help us to more easily return to our happiness again.

Becca: What are the most common misconceptions about happiness?

Nicola: Perhaps the most common misconception about happiness is the idea that the feelings of joy we experience are caused by something that has happened outside of us – an event or action. However, we can ignite that same feeling simply by remembering an event or picturing a scene or that makes us happy, and this shows that the outer stimulus is not necessary, so we don’t even need the external event or person in order to feel happiness.

Becca: How can we train ourselves to have a positive outlook?

Nicola: There are great ways to train our brains to help us notice things that make us happy and get in the habit of deliberately thinking more uplifting thoughts. By using these techniques, and changing the neurological pathways in our brains, we can train ourselves to generate positive feelings more often than negative or pessimistic feelings. This way we begin to see things that make us joyful more often, helping us to become happier and happier!

Becca: What led you to write this book?

Nicola: When I was 18 I developed health issues that gradually became more debilitating over the years and which led to times of depression. I spent a decade travelling the globe looking for answers and healing, and along the way I met many amazing spiritual masters, shamans, psychic surgeons and gifted spiritual teachers who helped me to find my happiness again.

I gradually began to focus less on my health issues, and more on being happy now, learning to enjoy the beauty of each moment exactly as it is. I finally stopped reaching for happiness in the future, and got to where I could feel that everything is perfect in this moment, even during times of sickness or pain.

I began to feel so much joy that when people saw me they described me as ‘sunshine’ and that it made them happy to be around me. I knew that this was something I wanted to share, because all of us can feel that ‘sunshine’. So, I decided to write this book as a way to give back and pass on this wisdom.

Becca: What advice do you have for first-time authors who feel they have inspiration to share?

Nicola: The biggest tip I can offer is to focus on the feeling that you want to inspire in your readers. If you want them to feel happy then focus on happiness, or if you want to offer advice on overcoming fear, then focus on strength and empowerment.

The more strongly you engage with that feeling as you write, the more you will find that your words become energized and infused with that energy, and your writing will align more closely and powerfully with the message you are trying to convey. You have a specific energy and message that is unique to you, so when you write, allow your own unique expression to come through.

For more information, see www.innersunshineeffect.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org


Faith Beyond BeliefGuest reviewer Fred Howard is a physician as well as an ordained minister.  He recently authored Transforming Faith: Stories of Change from a Lifelong Spiritual Seeker, a searching personal consideration of the stages of faith development work pioneered by James Fowler and Scott Peck.  As such, he is quite familiar with the stage theory of spiritual growth that Margaret Placentra Johnston delves into so poignantly and beautifully in her work, Faith Beyond Belief.

In Mary Engelbreit’s famous quote, “If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it,” there is the tantalizing suggestion that if we change our way of thinking, then things will change. Margaret Placentra Johnston’s book, Faith Beyond Belief, gives readers a clear, concise framework for the process of spiritual growth and development that can change the way we think about it.

Johnston, a spiritual guide as well as a practicing optometrist, brings the lens of spiritual development theory to bear on her own journey as well as those of ten individuals that took the courageous steps necessary to embrace a more meaningful and fulfilling existence. Her easy, conversational writing style gives us a soul’s eye view of their ten touching and sometimes tragic stories. Being a lay person herself, Johnston brings a focus to the stories in ways that allow most any thoughtful and reflective person to find something of themselves in them. Her theory describes four stages: Lawless, Faithful, Rational, and Post Critical or Mystic.

Other contemporary authors have dared to venture into this topic, most notably Scott Peck in The Different Drum. However, Johnston more effectively communicates the theory by incarnating it in these lives she describes and discusses. Each story is a conversion experience – but not in the sense of a “conversion” as the reader might have been taught to conceptualize it. In the first set of stories, four of her subjects chose to leave the comfortable conformity of the religious institution in which they were raised and move from the Faithful Stage to the Rational stage. In each case they were “good people who left their church behind.” No longer defined by the tenets and dogma of the religion of their upbringing, they are no longer among those that are Faithful – neither to the church nor in their stage of spiritual development. All chose allegiance to the truth as it was emerging in their rational mind. This decision was invariably difficult and painful but, Johnston says, each person “rated living truthfully of higher importance than the convenience and safety of remaining in the religious community.”

In the second set of stories, we learn about six people that continued the process of spiritual development beyond the intellectual integrity of the Rational stage to the more inclusive, universal worldview of the Mystic stage. These are stories of everyday mystics, unremarkable people that see life in remarkable ways – as a mystery, as something to be cherished, as something to be lived in grateful service to others. Each of these individuals exemplifies at least one of the traits of this stage. Each has somehow transcended their indifferent circumstances to lead lives of grace, meaning, and purpose.

Johnston tackles this vital yet difficult subject with commendable tact and respect. Women and men of any faith tradition or no faith tradition at all should be able to find wisdom in these pages. The book resonates as both well-reasoned and intuitively on target as a way for us to make more sense of our spiritual journey. What the author is really talking about is growing up – growing out of the narrow belief systems and creeds that religious communities often use to define themselves and growing into more mature ways of being with others and into ways of better serving our diverse world.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that can change everything we think we can’t change. Change the way we think about the development of our spirit. Change our life. Perhaps in some small way even change the world. For our times, this is that book. Faith Beyond Belief is a gift!

Here, Margaret Placentra Johnston responds to my questions:

FRED: Why did you feel it important to write a book illustrating the spiritual development concept?

MARGARET: Well, Fred, I am going to take that question in two ways. First, why did I choose to illustrate the concept? I thought using real stories about actual people transitioning through the stages would introduce readers to the theory, and let them recognize how much of what goes on in life can be explained by these stages. And I hoped it would inspire people to read some of the deeper texts. Spiritual development takes like an hour to read about, but the better part of a lifetime to understand. I thought the stories would serve as a great introduction.

Secondly, I will respond to why I thought it was important for people to learn about the stages. People are gong through shifts in their beliefs. No longer does the average person grow up in a closed community where just about everyone belongs to the same church and believes the same thing. People who are inclined to begin questioning the dogma they were taught as a child may fear there is something wrong with them, may become isolated. Parents whose children are leaving the fold may worry, or try to bring the person back to church. If people only understood that the questioning (or Rational) stage is a necessary step in spiritual maturity, people going through it would be spared the suffering. Moreover, they could be encouraged instead of held back by more conventional forces.

Also, it is important to understand the spiritual journey, because some claim our whole society in general is going through roughly the same stages that happen at the individual level. The Enlightenment corresponded to the Rational/questioning stage. We are now in maximum chaos because the old values are being put into question, and things can look really scary. Understanding the Post-Critical or Mystic Stage (or what you [Fred Howard] call the Holistic stage) at the individual level gives us a glimpse of what our society is growing into next, in a post-modern age. The stages allow us to face the scary societal changes in full faith that something better is coming next.

FRED: Are you saying religion will die out?

MARGARET: Not at all. I am saying that, as our culture evolves, our understanding of religion must evolve with it, or be rendered irrelevant. People are running into issues of cognitive dissonance when comparing the findings of science against the truth claims of religion – the Book of Genesis, for example. It becomes obvious that a lot of the claims made by our traditional religions cannot be true in a literal sense. Yet, every culture in every part of the world since the beginning of time has sought some way of meeting what turns out to be a universal human need – the desire to connect with something larger than the self.

By comparing one religion against another we begin to glimpse a bigger story – that each individual religion represents the attempt of one culture to meet that need to connect. That final stage of spiritual development brings a person to understand kind of the same perspective: all religions contain truth, but just not in a literal sense. Spiritual development lets us begin to glimpse a much bigger story about spirituality than any given religion teaches. It is time we let that bigger story out of the bag!

Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind is available on Amazon.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org


Guest post by Clara Penner, author of Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure and Discovery for your Soul, which can help you infuse joy into your life each week for a full year.

clara bannerI know as well as anyone that life happens and that most every person has a story of struggle, fear, loss, & heartache. While these feelings are tough you can find peace in the middle of a storm.

The question for me has always been… “How can I ride the emotional wave?”

We all know that emotions happen and that no matter how far we run or where we hide our emotions join us wherever we are.

I am sure that everyone reading this post can relate to this energy shift in one way or another, our emotions are becoming stronger and the techniques we used to use to hold them at bay are no longer working. Our emotions are becoming louder and more unbearable.Why is this?

The energetic vibration of the world is rising and we are rising with it. We are all vibrational beings, and are constantly sending out signals and this is true even when we are not aware of what signal we are sending out.

You most likely heard the saying like attract like.  That is exactly what energetic vibration is, what vibration we send out we attract back into our lives.  You cannot pick up a frequency that you are not on. If you are listening to 93.1 FM you cannot pick up 108.3 FM, to do that you need to tune into that station.  Your energetic vibration works the same way, if you want to feel more joy for example you need to align to that vibration.  Take a look at this energetic vibration scale:Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.18.00 AM

Your energetic vibration can be determined by your emotion.  If you are feeling shame, for example, you will be sending out a very small frequency and tend to attract experiences and people vibrating at that same frequency.  As you move up the vibrational scale your frequency expands and becomes much larger.

We all at times feel the up and down of all these emotions but the goal is to reach for the next emotion from where you are on the scale and become more consistent at vibrating at that level then move up to the next one.  With that said you will always move around the scale but you can vibrate on a more consistent basis at a higher level.This is what the emotional surf is all about.

We all want more out of our lives, no matter what we have, and that’s ok.  This is why your energetic vibration is important, it’s your personal growth.  If we are here living now let’s make life the way we dream.  That is different for every person and that is ok too.  Our journey is our own but in order to achieve more we need to align with the next higher vibrating emotion. The higher vibrating feelings you align with the more you can achieve your goals.  The higher you vibrate, the more your life will be flooded with those things that you have felt like you just were not lucky enough to get.  The great news is that it is not about luck it’s about energetic alignment.

Don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself.  Everything I write about on my blog Emotional Surfer are all tools to help you move on up the energetic scale.  When you slide down the scale, these tools help you climb back up.

We all have times when we feel the whole scale of emotions, believe me, I have been there and one of the greatest things you can do for yourself is this work.  You don’t need to be anything but exactly who you are, start there and find your way.  No matter where you are on the scale you can move to a better feeling emotion.

When I started this work I was at shame on a consistent basis.  I like many people tried to ignore it, push it down, take tantrums, blame it on everyone else, pout, cry, and feel like life was just unfair to me.  All that did was keep me stuck and I just could not stand feeling that way anymore. My life’s work is to climb this scale, and to do this I needed to quit blaming anyone else for my life, to quit feeling like it’s only for others, instead take control of my life.

It’s up to you to decide what you want for your life and what you are ready for, but if you are ready this is an amazing place to start. This is not complicated work, it’s very simple, reach for a better feeling thought.  Surf your emotions and listen to what they are telling you.  Your emotions are your guide and are very purposeful.

This is not something that if you believe in it works and if you don’t it does not work, it’s always working.  We just create our lives by chance not by choice.  Once we understand the energetic scale and start listening to our emotional guidance we can start to create our lives by choice and that’s where the magic happens.

This is the reason I wrote both “Gentle Steps on the Journey of a Healing Heart” and “Fifty-two Weeks of Adventure and Discovery for your Soul” was to provide guidance to find the best you, the happiest you, the peaceful you by climbing up the vibrational emotional scale.

We all have these parts within us but daily life and difficult situations deprive us of the one true thing we seek: a happy life. These books provide you the tools and support to find those parts within you once again; to find your wholeness and start living life the way you truly deserve!

I recently stepped it up a notch since the world is in the middle of an energy shift so many are needing tools to apply in their life to get a little emotional relief and that is why I created the “Find joy book club” .

In this 16 week journey we use all the awesome techniques I share in my books as well as others that I have learned along the way to climb up that energetic scale and find and vibrate Joy…

Join us at http://emotionalsurfer.com/find-joy-book-club-intro/.

Thank you, Clara.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras – Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

http://www.theChakras.org


Guest blogger Margaret Placentra Johnston, a practicing optometrist, is the author of Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, Gold Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Book Award in Religion/spirituality.

I was delighted for the opportunity to read and review Dr. Fred Howard’s timely new title, Transforming Faith: Stories of Change from a Lifelong Spiritual Seeker. In it, he mixes snippets of his own personal faith journey with spiritual development Tranforming Faith coverwisdom from the ages. He uses these tools to work his way through to one of the clearest and most inspiring articulations of postreligious, postconventional faith that I have heard yet.

Howard’s book elucidates the spiritual development trajectory on three levels, his own personal journey, a synthesis of the stages other spiritual development theorists have described, and a trip through historical changes in religious authority that suggest our society in general is evolving through the same trajectory an individual might traverse.

A literal Christian in his youth, Howard worked his way through the inevitable religious doubts that anyone honestly engaging with our increasingly postmodern world would encounter. He emerged, as do many people going through these stages, with a deeper, kinder and greatly expanded interpretation of Christianity (and faith in general.) This form of faith allows him to engage more authentically in the world minus the provincial and limited religious beliefs of his youth.

Drawing on commonalities among the works of other spiritual development theorists, Howard refers to the earliest stage as “Adopted Faith*” common to most people in most traditional, organized religions, and similar to what he engaged in during his “born again” stage as a youth.

Howard calls the middle stage Individuating Faith, similar to James Fowler’s Individuative-Reflective Faith**. Here, a person faces down the inevitable doubts the rational mind is likely to impose upon the literal beliefs taught in most churches. This honest open-ended questioning and critical reflection may involve risk of defection from the church. But the benefit is that it can lead a person beyond the spiritual infancy of Adopted Faith, and may result in an individuated form of personal growth that is rarely acknowledged in conventional society.

The greatest gift of Howard’s Transforming Faith is in his articulation of the “final” stage. (I put the word ‘final’ in quotation marks because this is only the final stage we can articulate at this point. Spiritual growth is never finished, and we have no idea to what levels people may one day evolve.) He calls this Holistic Faith*** and says it is “a way of seeing life that [gives] wholeness, meaning and purpose to life,…better understood as a process….a verb rather than a noun…It’s an alignment of one’s heart with the heart of life and the heart of the universe.” Brilliant!!

But Howard lends added richness to the spiritual development concept by mentioning how our understanding of religious authority has continued to evolve throughout history. During the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity, tradition was the primary source of religious authority. Truth was dictated by outer authorities, especially in the form of the hierarchy headed by the pope. With the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, scripture emerged as the primary source of religious authority in the Western world. Together, these two eras may be seen as a society displaying a form of the Adopted Faith that is typical in the development of the individual.

With the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, the emphasis shifted away from outer authority toward greater importance on human reason as the more authentic determinant of reality. This era corresponds to Howard’s Individuating Faith stage.

Finally, in the nineteenth century, individual personal experience began to emerge as the ultimate determinant of reality – a type of faith “people can never fully grasp with analytical minds,” and corresponding roughly to Howard’s Holistic Faith stage – where faith is seen as trust – as opposed to beliefs. Howard wisely tell us: “Faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is having enough confidence in the guidance of the heart.”

Transforming Faith serves as an excellent introduction to a hopeful and heartening view of individual spiritual development and overall societal human evolution, that has been articulated in many other books. Lest we be blinded by the “trees” of chaos and discord to which we are exposed through our conventional media, Howard’s perspective shares a glimpse of the “forest” – an optimistic future for humanity.

*referred to by other stage theorists as the Formal, Institutional, Fundamental, the Synthetic, Conventional, the pre-critical, the Faithful stage

**other theorists have called it the Skeptic, Individual stage, Critical Faith, the Rational Level, or the Critical Distance.

***referred to by other stage theorists as Mystic, Communal faith, Conjunctive Faith, post-critical faith, the Mystic level.

Here, Dr. Fred Howard responds to my questions:

MARGARET: What vision inspired your desire to write Transforming Faith?

FRED: When I first learned of the stage theory of spiritual growth, it so resonated with me as a process which I was in the midst of at that very moment. It made so many seemingly disparate parts of my life fall into place. Since then I’ve wanted to find a way to share it with others. Writing a book that included significant turning points in my journey struck me as a good way to do that.

MARGARET: How does your stance within Holistic Faith inform your work as a Unitarian minister?

FRED: Unitarian congregations are really a microcosm of our increasingly diverse religious world and, as such, have the potential to model good interfaith relationships to the rest of our society. Being in community with self-identified Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and even atheists, as is the case in many of our congregations, requires we develop a Holistic Faith approach.  The minister must think in terms of both/and rather than either/or. My goal is not to blend religions together.  Rather, I ask the members of our congregation to remain steadfast in their religious identity. I encourage everyone to find ways to be true to themselves and yet still be in relationship to one another. As we find ways to creatively accomplish this we develop Holistic Faith. We grow spiritually as individuals and as a community.

MARGARET: I know you are clear about this in your book, but for readers of Becca’s Inspirational Book Blog, could you supply a concise explanation of your view of God?

FRED: The word “God” has different meanings for most everyone.  But regardless of whether or not someone takes the notion of God literally, people with all varieties of spiritual sophistication still use the word to speak of a reality beyond the material world. So God, in essence, is a metaphor for meaning – a way for human beings to speak of something greater than ourselves, the great mystery of our existence, which gives life purpose. Heard in this way, it matters little whether or not God “exists” in any conventional sense.

Thank you, Margaret, for this incisive review and interview. Transforming Faith is available now on Amazon.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras – Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

Download my FREE Chakra Balancing Video at www.theChakras.org


book coverGhost Writers by David Shaw was a surprise in that the basis of the book are 10 short stories channeled through writers including Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Beatrix Potter, Franz Kafka and Leo Tolstoy!

All stories were delightful reads and inspiring examples of overcoming materialism, achieving forgiveness, fearlessness and self-belief, and the importance of education, patience, credence, tolerance, clarity and acceptance.

Working with his own spirit guides, Shaw says he didn’t know who he would be channeling and, in fact, keeps the authors’ names secret until the end of the book. But his spirit team invited ten of the greatest writers of all time to share their stories through his mediumship.

Shaw introduces 10 spiritual subjects that are then explored in the ten inspirational short stories. He sees his role to simply receive knowledge from the spirit world and pass this information on to the reader to help in your own life journey. From the first story, “How much is that doggy in the window?” I was hooked, and expect most other readers will be too. “Don’t fear the reaper” and “The Time Machine” were other stories that I found especially beautiful and profound.

While I meditate daily, I’ve never tried to actively channel information from those now in the spirit world. Shaw gives us a view on how he achieves this, leaving us with a lot to think about, and a lot of information that can inspire us to live better lives. And he leaves me wondering – how many of our own creative efforts are a result of  thoughts communicated from another creative mind, whether through channeling, inspiration or in our dreams?

Here, David Shaw answers my questions:

BECCA: Can you describe how you became a medium?

DAVID: I actually fought against becoming a medium for many years. I spent many sleepless nights trying in vain to stop spirit people from entering my bedroom and terrifying the life out of me, until eventually I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I then had two choices – keep fighting against it until it kills me, or embrace it. Thankfully, I chose the latter and began my lifelong apprenticeship.

BECCA: Who is included in your “big team” of spiritual guides?

DAVID: The “big team” of spiritual guides is a collective consciousness of highly educated minds that dwells within the highest realms of the spiritual Universe. I first became aware of this consciousness when I was involved with séances and deep trance mediumship. Mr Chung and SiBir are two guides who dwell within this collective, as are some great mediums from our past, like Gordon Higginson and Maurice Barbanell. The “big team” predominantly work with deep trance and physical mediums.

BECCA: Ten different spirit authors wrote these beautiful fictional stories – did you write the factual words or were they also channeled?

DAVID: The knowledge contained within the factual words was dictated to me through a very light trance state – by Mr Chung. Afterwards, I was able to format the information into my own writing style, occasionally adding humour and personal experiences. It’s a writing method that I’ve adapted through my earlier books and it is really only achievable during the night when there are no distractions around. Many readers have been confused by who was writing what in this book and I must admit I was also confused at times. The “big team” always insist that it’s the content that’s important and not the author.

BECCA: Can you describe how you get into the meditative state needed to channel?

DAVID: I always attempt to clear my mind as much as possible before asking my guides to come forward. I will receive a buzzing sound in my right ear (seriously!!!) to signify that they are ready to work with me (this was developed through many years of trance and physical mediumship). I will subsequently send an adrenaline rush throughout my entire body and the spirit energy then joins with me. I will hear the guides talk to me and I can commence writing. When I wrote my previous book, “New Mediumship,” there were instances when a spirit author took me into a deeper state of trance and actually used my body to type words into the keyboard. Incredibly, after coming out of this trance state, I then had to rearrange the words as some of them were mixed up. At the end of the book, I was informed of the identity of the author. Not surprisingly, when I checked on Google, I found that he was dyslexic. You may have heard of him – Edgar Allan Poe.

BECCA: You recommend mediation to achieve clarity… what tips do you offer to those who find meditation difficult?

DAVID: Meditation is something that I have always personally found difficult to master. Entering a trance state has always been fairly easy for me but that involves direct communication with the spirit world and can be very tiring. Meditation on the other hand involves clearing you mind as much as possible and then just sitting in your own silence. You should not attempt to contact the spirit world during a meditation. Meditation should be used to exercise self-control over your mind. If you cannot achieve this by yourself then I would recommend joining a group of like-minded people where you can help each other to relax accordingly.

BECCA: Even spiritual people seem to fear death – how can one overcome this fear?

DAVID: That’s a really good question and one that I don’t really have a distinctive answer to. Everyone is different and every soul’s journey contains many unique fears – death being just one of them. As for myself, I don’t fear my own physical death, but I do worry about leaving my family behind once I’m gone. This is why mediumship is important to many people as knowing that life carries on can help a person to endure bereavement and perhaps realise that physical death is only a stepping stone to the next chapter in the book of life.

BECCA: You finish your book recommending “acceptance.” How does one achieve that in the face of life’s difficulties?

DAVID: I think it beggars belief that anyone who experiences their child being murdered or dying through illness should then have to accept that what has happened is perfectly natural. But, that is what they have apparently agreed to do before commencing this physical life. It is, by far, the most difficult and most important task that must be accomplished before continuing with our spiritual life journey. Sometimes we have to accept that living a successful life doesn’t necessarily mean living a completely happy one.

BECCA: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

DAVID: My co-writers in the spirit world only wish that any reader takes knowledge from this book. They cannot directly interfere with anyone’s life and neither can I. This book should only be used for inspiration where appropriate. I have always said that any inspirational book should appeal to someone living a life of extreme poverty as much as it does to someone living a life of material luxury.

BECCA: Any advice for other independent authors who want to share inspiration?

DAVID: I would advise to write about your own personal experiences of life. Nothing is more inspirational than knowing that someone else has been where you are now – and came out the other end smiling. Oh and maybe get Edgar Allan Poe to write your book – he is amazing!

David Shaw is also the author of An Average Joe’s Search for the Meaning of Life, and New Mediumship. You can learn more about his work at www.spiritcounsellor.com and www.davidshaw.me.uk.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

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