Category Archives: Mystical Theology

These papers were written while attending Vancouver School of Theology’s Master’s program. They are written from a place of deep questioning; a meeting place for mind and heart.

Birthing Potential


I had just turned 18 and left home for the first time, when I began to have regular sensations of being “energetically pregnant” with an “unknown potential.” Perhaps this sounds just as strange in 2016, as I judged it to be in 1972. The primary attribute of its strangeness came as an unbearable optimism that I could find little grounds for in my life at the time. How could I place my trust in something that was so unlike the reality consensus that I had come to know as “life”?

Not unlike a physical pregnancy, this strong energy in the cellular core of my body/being felt vital and engaging. It seemed to want to come into being  (be “born”) through me. Its essence was one of profound intimacy, and unspeakable joy and beauty. (Many pregnant women in supportive situations, will experience some awareness of their participation in a deeply personal,  joyous — and yet, mysteriously unknowable undertaking.)

Although this “feeling-pregnant-energy” was part of me — and full of promise and positivity — it felt foreign to everything I had come to understand about life and who I was. This made it an especially inconvenient exploration for an 18 year old. I was incapable of giving myself over to something I had so little understanding of — or external support for — at the time. So I tried my best to dial it down, and live life “normally.” My (very social) upbringing left me with a strong impression that one finds meaning by contributing through the established social order — never outside of it. In my early twenties, I even had recurring dreams about trying desperately to “fit in.” Unfailingly, the dream-characters would gently, but firmly, guide me towards the unchartered terrain within the dream scape.

Forty-four years later,  I understand this encounter to be a mystical experience. From a mystical perspective, this type of energetic/psychic experience is not uncommon or strange. A mystic always rides the unchartered froth at the edges of ordinary (conditioned) consciousness. As such, the mystic experiences “seeing and knowing” beyond the accepted (social/political) world-views of their time. This can make birthing mystical ways of relating into a materially-based world painfully confusing, and highly inconvenient — to put it mildly.

In order to birth their intuitive spiritual knowing, a mystic requires a grounded and integrated vessel (psychological, emotional, and mental alignment) that can sustain the rigours of “birthing the mystery.” For most of us living in a culture of first-world materialism, a supportive “external structure” is necessary to stabilize  the birthing and maturation of this “emergent energy.”

A sangha (spiritual community) recognizes that mystical truths are “birthed through” us, rather than “added onto” the already-known cultural, familial, political structures. This is the main emphasis for each of the Silence Practice series: the practice of “knowing” through discovering our shared depth and mutual capacity for higher-relatedness. As we learn to rest in, and relate from,  the innate mystical knowledge that we are primarily spiritual beings, habitually conditioned reflexes begin to recede.

We are ALL connected to this potential — whether we have directly experienced it or not. It is with great delight that I have been discovering that we can learn to communicate with each other “within this potential” that is wanting expression through us.  When we are willing to be still and see/hear/know beyond our own mental-emotional limits of fear and judgement,  something creative and new is born within us AND between us.

One of the most outstanding characteristics of this “unborn” potential is generosity. “It” only wants to give itself away … completely … infinitely … and precisely (uniquely through each individual). When we follow this impulse and trust it, we discover a boundless energy that delights in re-discovering itself within every life-form it encounters — again and again. The more It gives itself, the greater its capacity to receive more of “Itself.” There is no such thing as burnout in the birthing of our Divine Natures.

Until we learn to birth this innate potential,  and mobilize it in our lives, it is difficult to be in a fully trusting (open) relationship with Life. When life is lived through defense and fear, our lives remain foreign to us. We somehow stand outside of them, becoming strangers in an even stranger land. When we habitually deny our potential to birth our True Nature, we also pollute the birthing environment of our Collective Potential.

What does this birthing potential require? It requires sincere intention, steadfastness (daily practice in stillness), trust, willingness to share and discover with others — and ultimately, surrendering to the process of birthing something beyond what we have previously defined as “life.” Without birthing the potential of our mystical sensibilities, we remain strangers in the strange land of a conditioned-self. Until we are willing to discover our depth, and meet others who are also willing to discover theirs, we remain under the roof of conditioned life-habits — perhaps feeling safe, but not truly alive.

Together, we can create a new reality between us that is capable of holding a trusting space for birthing the Mystery that we are. As our world becomes increasingly global, we more than ever need stable vessels and spiritually based practice-communities to birth our individual and collective potential..

I would encourage you to post any comments and/or reflections below. Such sharing is valuable for all readers of this Blog. Namaste.

The Call of the Wild Heart


Again, I was awakened this morning between 4:30 & 5:00 AM by the clarion call.  And again, I lay in bed for 45 minutes convincing myself that I needed more sleep. But sleep is impossible when the heart awakens. With this realization, I surrendered to the magnificent Beauty that seemed to be flowing from “my” heart centre.

Where does this come from? Who does it belong to? And what is it within me that could ever resist such Beauty? Choosing sleep over this? I find my body in a state of breathless  anticipation — like the delightful anticipation of meeting a lover, sensing that something is about to happen that is mysteriously beyond both of us. And so we lean in and make ourselves available … to the mystery. Beyond all common sense or reason: we trust in the unseen, in what has not yet fully shown itself.

I lean into the thrilling nature of this Wild Heart. My whole body feels awake.  The bottoms of my feet feel like they’ve been slapped. They vibrate and tingle. My thinking mind trys to make sense of the experience: “Not “my” heart, and yet it lives within my heart. How could it be my heart calling me beyond myself? A call going far beyond even my loftiest ‘ideas’ of enlightenment, and any self-constructed limitations of what is possible and real.”

The nature of the Wild Heart is untameable by religious tradition or secular culture.  It has a language and law all its own. Its wild unpredictability frightens me. The “me” that I identify with has no way to find its ground here. Niceties and norms fall flat. Father Thomas Keating refers to the “Divine Indwelling.”  This certainly resonates with what I am feeling. While it is not good to get stuck on definitions, it is important to name experiences.  Naming helps us grow in understanding because we are reasoning creatures. It helps us to integrate divine beauty through awareness. Like many, I have strong tendencies to claim divine experiences as my own.  To pump myself up with importance because I have “tasted” (“Taste and See that the Lord is Good” – Psalm 34:8). I have found this habit to be devastating to the alive relationship with the Wild Heart. Surrender is the only way, and then learning to listen.


For the most part, I have let fear run my life.  Fear of being nobody, fear of not fitting in, fear of disapproval and being misunderstood. So I have turned away from the Wild Heart, the Divine Indwelling,  and the deadliest fear of all — I have claimed “Divine Tastes” as my own. But even while I have chosen to remain small and safe, throughout my life, people have continuously seen through my “straw-woman-smallness” and expressed their appreciation of who they “saw” me to be. And yet, for the most part, I have still defended against the beauty of the Wild Heart and its abundant gift of undefended freedom. Jesus taught from the Wild Heart. He also taught how to have relationship with it: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Mt. 10:39).

With 6 years of focus on the philosophy and practice of Silence behind me, habits of denial and fear are slowly weakening. I can feel it. Instead of shutting down with fear, I am simply being present with it. Such a simple practice, and yet with so much power. It seems that the Wild Heart has no problem with fear!

I am also discovering groups of people here, and around the world (internet is amazing), who are willing to learn to relate in ways that allow for the untameable Beauty, Truth, and Goodness to emerge within and between us. With time, we learn to operate from courage and trust, allowing us to bypass individual and collective fear patterns. We relax into ways of participating in something deeper/higher than the separate-self and its illusion of safety. Our willingness counts a lot. Our willingness to get out of bed at 5 AM and write a Blog Post. Our willingness to lose our life in the stillness, so that we can come alive in the Wild Beauty of the untamed Heart.


Reflections of the Sun

The last full moon of summer

Photo by Dan Hicks 2014

Winter Solstice. Humanity’s ancient celebration of the Universality of the Sun. The recognition of which cultivates perceptions of our innate dependence, mutuality, and fragility.

Raised in a culture that idolizes the individual as a “separate-self,” this simple awareness can provoke squeamish discomfort. It has taken several years with a Bhakti (devotional) path and 6 years of dedication to the philosophy and practice of Silence, for transcendental glimpses — free from the “pervasive ivory tower of individuality” — to begin finding their place in (my) consciousness. Experiencing the Sun as belonging to everyone, but to no one individual, reflects the mystical descent from a primarily head (thought) orientation, to the inter-connectivity of the Universal Heart.

In his delightful book “Prophetic Imagination,” theologian and scholar Walter Brueggemann calls us forward to use our imagination and intuition to discover God.  He claims that such practices rescue us from habits of diminishment and disillusionment about God. If we cannot imagine (conceive of) that which exists beyond concepts (the world as we know it), we are unavailable for the transformative dance of divine relationship.

Imagine for a moment that the Sun represents the Godhead, Atman, the Creator, ultimate Reality …


Now imagine the possibility that the essential nature of your heart is nothing less than a Sun reflector — like the moon doing what the moon does best. What would change? … What would come into focus? … What would fade from view? … Who would you understand yourself to be in relationship to life? … I am quite sure that John Lennon was exploring this possibility when he wrote “Imagine.”

What if we were able to practice communicating together in ways that called forth our essential “Sun” nature in God (by whatever name)? If we were present enough to relate through the “I-Thou” described in Martin Buber’s classic book. How would we experience life if our styles of relating could awaken experiences of life’s unfolding mystery, rather than reinforcing the already-known of “I-It” (Buber) relating?

I tasted the allure of this possibility during a Silence Practice group this series. While overhearing various triads of people express depth levels of understanding, feeling, and knowing with each other, I became aware of the remarkably similar comments coming from each group. Their words reflected universal truths — glorious threads of profound connectivity. It was like hearing “firsthand Scripture” through their mutual willingness to explore communication beyond personal paradigms of the known. The Universality of the Sun was being reflected, and the light in the room was palpable. Involuntarily, my body relaxed and my mind became still — available — attentive — receptive.

Practicing Sun-reflecting styles of communication sets the stage for new discoveries of inter-relatedness. Communication habits that have hidden our essential nature from each other, begin to recede as we choose to indulge them less and less. Our willingness to engage beyond egoic and cultural paradigms of the “conditioned and known,” puts us in touch with our “spiritual faculties” (Fr. Thomas Keating).

Spiritual faculties naturally reflect the light of our divine inheritance, making us receptive and permeable. When we “Taste and See” (Psalm 34:8) that we are not separate from truer/higher/deeper Source, a profoundly liberating shift in life-orientation occurs. “We” do not do it, but we can create environments more conducive to its emergence.

It seems too simple to believe that it only takes the willingness and courage of a few individuals to explore beyond mind habits and their corresponding emotional/psychological playlists. When we succumb to mind habits of judgement and objectification, we reduce our life and relationships to the “I-It” dimensions of fear and manipulation. The more wholly we relate, the more wholly we live, and visa versa. They are inseparable.

Through exposure to the shrapnel from familial, cultural, and karmic energy fields, we tend to be riddled with neurotic communication styles — a mixture of trying to reach out to the other, while securing an identified (i.e. safe) position.  We eventually lose sight of the possibility for clear and wholesome communication. And even if we glimpse it, we may feel a lack of permission to express such transparent vulnerability.

When a shared truth is liberated collectively, the sweet vulnerability  of mutual willingness is palpable…  A perfumed hint of divine promise fills our hearts and the space between us. Eyes water in recognition as profound levels of gratitude and humility sweep through consciousness. We have found our proper place as reflectors of the Light — the Whole — God.

Through Grace and mutual willingness, we create fields of love. We have met in  Rumi’s field “beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing.” When I have lost myself within it, I have to wonder why I would spend time anywhere else?

From one willing sun-reflecting heart to another, Namaste.

Eyes of the Heart



Every once in a while the Eyes of my Heart open and it seems that I am exposed to a unitive reality that exists far beyond the reality that I have been living from. It is so vastly different that it can feel like a parallel Universe in a Science Fiction novel. To have this experience is both shattering and thrilling. Like waking up from a dream. The dream goes “poof,” and I am more “here” than ever.

Two years ago, near the end of an eight-week Silence Practice series, I asked everyone in the circle to share their reasons for practicing Silence. I listened intently to everyone: “making time for me,” “to have some time free of doing,” “to let go of mind identification,” etc., etc. I was listening so intensely that, at the end, when it came to my turn, I heard myself say “I practice Silence because I don’t know how to Love.” Quite something for the facilitator to say!

The penetrating truth of this statement has never left me. It seemed to send a “Truth” arrow into my Heart that I have not been able to dislodge. My mind argues in protest: “but you are loving,” “everyone has always told you so,” “look at what you have done in your career,” and “many people have come to you for help.” In the light of this deeper truth however, all of these thoughts are straw. They feel so insubstantial and anemic, that they no longer mean anything. I recognize in them a mechanically hard-wired drive to “be somebody.” Nothing more than that.

And in that desire to “be somebody,” I sadly recognize that I am forsaking who I really am at the Heart of me. I am forsaking who I am in God. I am forsaking the moment by moment opportunities to see through the Eyes of the Heart. I am missing out on an invitation to live a Sacred Life. I am saying “no” to being born into this Awakening.

When the Heart opens it as though a different world awakens. A soft connection exists between the Heart and Eyes. They become Mystical Eyes. Their focus is gentle, inclusive, transparent and receptive. They frequently become filled with gentle tears. Everything seems to slow down, and in that slowness, everything finds its place. Nothing is excluded. Nothing. It is not that thoughts and emotions disappear, so much has they stop moving about. They are simply seen with Eyes that can hold them. Likewise, with people and situations. The personal charge is gone. It seems that the Heart is sitting in the middle of all-of-It in a very steady place. And the Eyes of the Heart see where the eyes of the world cannot. They see through the Grace-filled lens of Trust and Faith.

I have had these experiences enough now that I am aware of a certain pattern of responsiveness in my body. It seems that my body remembers more easily how to surrender than my mind does. Like many of us who have grown accustomed to discussing spiritual ideas with the mind, I can easily overlay the body and the heart with “ideas” of unity consciousness. This literally suffocates the immediate awareness of the  experience of unity from within my heart and body. This subtle gesture of surrender is so simple and immediate that my mind can easily dismiss it as “not real.”

I have just completed a three day workshop in San Francisco with the Evolutionary Collective (Patricia Albere and Jeff Carreira). Many of the dyad exercises involved looking or gazing into another’s eyes for extended periods of time, and naming what we saw there through various directed exercises. I could feel my resistance quite strongly initially. But eventually I realized that our eye gazing was opening my heart in spite of my resistance! This is very good news. It became obvious that my separative thought-habits had been exposed and were making me uncomfortable.

The Awakened Heart is primarily an instrument of Connection. Only the heart knows how to bring Reason (the head) and Action (belly) together. Only the Awakened Heart can truly see with the Eyes of Love. And the Truth is whole. It can’t be dissected. The experiential flow of it cannot be made academic or hardened into doctrine. It is no more mine, than it is yours. It is Unitive because we experience being together within it. Through our sincere intention, we can feel the thrill of being within the Awakened Heart together. The glory of Love is made manifest in our Living together through a Reality that does not separate and divide.

I am the first to admit that this is an extremely challenging paradigm to describe. However, I also feel that if we are touched by it, we should honour it by trying to name it — in ourselves during experiences of deep Silence, in communion with others, through art, music, writing, etc.. It has been said that the eyes mirror the soul. After three days of eye gazing and authentic dialogue, I would say this is true experientially. When we can receive someone looking at us through the Eyes of the Heart, the hardened habit of separation loosens its grip. And within this spaciousness, Love simply shows up. And that changes everything.

If this blog post has moved you, please respond in the comments section below.

Namaste, Laura