The Philadelphia experiment

Do you ever get that feeling, when life is changing at a blinding pace, that what seems like a year has only, in fact, been a couple of months?

Yeah. It’s been like that.

It all started in mid-May, with a workshop Fran was putting on back in Philadelphia. Her very first one. Naturally I had to be there.

(If you read the Sedona posts, you’ve met Fran as the intrepid Southwestern rock climber. The other half of the story is her previous East Coast society existence on Philadelphia’s Main Line. If forced to sum up Fran in one sentence, I’d probably say: Half trophy babe, half mountain goat. Don’t tell her I said so.)

Anyway, this workshop was a big step for her, for a couple of reasons. First, it took place entirely inside a downtown office building, with a whole bunch of people sitting in chairs and waiting expectantly to hear something spiritually helpful. That’s quite different from what she usually does out in nature.

And, second, she was forced (well, I forced her, to be honest) to admit to a group of strangers what she really does. She’s never done that before; has always been terrified of trusting others with that potentially dangerous information.

She began the day with an overview and a lecture on quantum science and spirituality – and it was a fascinating lecture, beautifully given – but we both knew she wasn’t really connecting.

During the lunch break she kept asking for my honest assessment of how the workshop was going, so I finally told her: You need to be authentic and tell these people who you really are and what you really do.

After lunch, she resumed the lecture but right away she began to be dragged to one person’s thoughts, someone who seemed to have unspoken questions that needed to be aired.

And I was so pleased, I felt like a proud mama to see her make the decision to interrupt the lecture and tell everyone the truth of what was going on.

In that moment, it all came together. The information flowed, it caused beautiful healing experiences for several of the workshop participants, and when it was over everyone present that day knew they’d been a part of something extraordinary.

What does this story have to do with me and the past 2 months? A whole hell of a lot, as it turns out.

But it’s longer in the telling than I realized, so I guess this’ll have to be the first half of a two-parter. So…

To be continued.

(Spoiler alert: nobody dies, although there are a certain number of explosions…)

Wait – You mean God is real?

That piece of news required a major rejiggering of the worldview.

I don’t know about you, but I managed to skate through an Orthodox Jewish childhood and a 20-year practice of Buddhism without ever once imagining that God might really exist.

(In my own partial defense, Nichiren Buddhism doesn’t address the question of God as we know it. Sure, it has a few allegorical gods who show up in the Sutras now and then, but they’re treated more as symbolic functions of the universe than actual deities.)

As I began to learn about non-dualism – the teaching that we’re all one – for the first time in the spring of 2006, I felt the unmistakable resonance of its truth deep within me. But I was knocked flat on my butt by its central concept: God is real and the world isn’t.

Of the 2 halves of that statement, you’d think the assertion that the world isn’t real would have been the more shocking – and in some ways it was plenty shocking. But it was the God part that completely blew my mind. Not only that God is real, but that God is the only thing that’s real. Because God is the only thing. Period.

Maybe this is old news to you, but I sure as hell had never heard anything like it.

This is part of a diary entry (from my book) in which I chewed over these ideas:

April 11, 2006

Leatrice lent me a book almost two months ago, a dog-eared paperback called Realization of Oneness by Joel S. Goldsmith. I didn’t like anything about the look of it. The grimly earnest, band aid-colored cover positively shouted “Eat your alfalfa sprouts!” circa 1973.

She’d said I’d probably find it interesting, but it turned out I just couldn’t get past those visuals. (Yes, I am totally that shallow.) So I slipped it discreetly to the bottom of the homework stack, where it languished for at least six weeks. And then the guilt of keeping the book too long finally got to me. I pulled it out and began to read.

Wow. This ugly little volume turned out to be jam packed with electro-buzz recognition, even as it spoke of completely alien concepts like: God is real and the world isn’t; (Really? Seriously? God is real?) And: We are not separate people who live in separate bodies. In truth we are one Being.

And then there was this one, which seemed the total opposite of everything I’d ever been taught: It doesn’t matter what we do (or do not do) in this world, because none of it is real; only God’s perfect unconditional love is real. And nothing can exist outside of God, because God is everything. So only unconditional love exists…

Freaky, right?

Yet, as it turns out, all true.

I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

The grudge – no boys allowed

There was a time, back in the day, when I used to be very, very angry at one half the world’s population. So angry in fact, that I probably would have willed myself gay just to be rid of the bastards, had that been an actual option.

It wasn’t.

Years passed, Buddhist practice ensued, and eventually I got over it. Or so I thought, anyway. I mean, I’ve been married nearly 19 years now to a seriously great guy, so you can understand why I might’ve assumed that grudge was ancient history.

But then I had to write this crazy book filled with the most horrifyingly private personal things. Things that nobody, male or female, has ever known about me. Bad enough to have to tell it to women, but to men? Please. I don’t think so.

The internal discussion about it went something like this:

I’m never telling men that this book exists, because men aren’t spiritual.

Well, ok…maybe a few men are spiritual.

But they’re not going to want to read a book like this – it’s chick-lit, for Christ’s sake. A woman’s story, as told by a woman. Men aren’t interested in that.

Well…maybe a few men would be interested in that. But it’s none of their damn business.

Ok so it’s none of their business. But the book is loaded with all those messages from Spirit. What about those? Are they really only meant for women?



No, I guess not.

Well it’s not like I’m stopping a guy from reading the book; I mean, if he happens to find it on his girlfriend’s nightstand or something…

And then in mid-April I joined Twitter. And was immediately followed by all sorts of interesting spiritual people, many of whom were men. My God, there were a lot of spiritual men out there. Well, no harm in following back, I guess…

And the Twitterverse began to work its mysterious magic right away. Within days, I started meeting wonderful, wise, caring women. That didn’t surprise me, of course, because That’s How Women Are. (And bless all of you, dear ones, for your kind friendship. I’m honored to have met you.)

But here’s the astonishing thing: I also began to be pulled, over and over again, into radiant, loving, ‘spiritual conduit’ connections of the most profound sort imaginable…with men. Mind blowing, heart-expanding, eternity-inhabiting bonds. With MEN.

Ok, I get it. Lesson learned.

Twitter’s awesome role as powerful spiritual connector is the subject for some other blog post on some other day. Right now all I can say is: God bless Twitter.

And yes, dammit, God bless men.

Sedona’s spiritual communicators – (direct conduits to Spirit)

It’s true that Sedona’s vortex energy exerts a big influence on me, making it much easier to absorb messages from Spirit.

But in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I really don’t do it alone. I’m blessed to have others who act as very powerful spiritual conduits for me.

One Sedona resident in particular does this for me in the most profound way imaginable. Fran and I first met when she came and found me at my house – which is nowhere near Sedona, by the way. As we sat chatting in my dining room, she facilitated an event that is now known as the Dinnertable Awakening of 2005. It marked the end of life as I had known it, and the beginning of another.

This is the description of Fran from my book. The conversation begins immediately after the awakening:

“What is it you do, exactly?” I inquired faintly, wishing I could go lay down.

She hesitated. “It’s hard to explain. All I can tell you is: I know I’ve done this many times before; I always go first; and I’m very good at what I do.”

I nodded. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, as if this would clarify things, she made an infinity symbol with her hand, beginning the loop at herself, sending it out towards me and then back to herself.

“I do this.”

“Uh huh,” I said.

Fran confessed then that she’d been delaying the launch of her company for months—years, even—afraid to set up her website for precisely this reason. She felt it was completely beyond her ability to describe or explain the spiritual experience to anyone. To put that which transcends words into words.*

“Oh! Piece of cake,” I said, “I’ll help you write your website. That’s what I do.”

She looked at me as if I had just offered to lasso the moon.

And so began a most unusual collaboration. Our relationship is not quite client /vendor, not exactly teacher/disciple; nor are we precisely friends or sisters, although it holds elements of each of those. Fran’s description comes closest: Bookends. Opposites in nearly every way, yet two indispensable halves of one mystical whole.

(*Now after a few years of seeing her in action, I can better describe for you what Fran “does” when she takes people on her InnerVision journeys.

Like most deeply gifted spiritual intuitives, she’s sensitive in a variety of ways; information and experiences are seemingly always coming at her from all directions. She might surprise you with a message from your dead uncle Phil, for instance. She’s also a synchronicity magnet, routinely drawing profound spiritual connections into her life, which then manifest as divine coincidence in the physical world.

These are useful talents to be sure, but there is another way in which Fran is of invaluable service to others: She is able to receive messages from the highest Self of the person she’s with, then tap into her own aspect of that same highest Self to relay the messages back to the person in the manner most appropriate to him or her.

Here’s what that InnerVision thing feels like when she does it for me: It’s as if a vast, mighty bridge opens up to another realm, and then waits in patient non-judgment while I decide whether or not to cross. Most of the time I accept the invitation to cross that bridge, and whenever I do, it’s an absolutely awesome experience.)

Fran is brand new to the Twittersphere; I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. If you’re on Twitter and you’d like to get to know her, go introduce yourself @innervision12.

And be sure to say hi for me.

The Sedona connection – red rocks and spiritual power

A great big chunk of my story takes place in Sedona. The place has changed a lot in recent years; when we first visited, it was sort of a nondescript little town surrounded by staggering scenery. Now it’s much more developed and resort-y, but still surrounded, thankfully, by that same jaw-dropping beauty.

I’m deeply connected to the rusty rock energy of that place. Of all the spots in the world, that’s where I find it easiest to absorb messages from Spirit.

It’s ironic, this deep connection. Before all this happened, I was never what you’d call ‘into nature’, being more the slick fashion and trendy restaurants type. If anybody had told me I’d one day be developing a great fondness for hiking boots, or venturing hundreds of miles into remote wilderness on purpose…well I don’t know what I would’ve thought.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, this newfound outdoorsy-ness is probably the least unusual development of the past few years. But it was astonishing news to me that nature could facilitate profound spiritual experience.

Oh, sure – stillness, beauty, all that John Muir stuff. I got it, intellectually. God’s glorious handiwork in the American West, and all that. I just never managed to feel any real connection between spirituality and nature.

It took that crazy-powerful Sedona vortex energy to shock me out of my city girl complacency. Wide open conduits just waiting for a hookup. Who wouldn’t want to get right up in there and explore?

It’s kind of funny, because these days I practice A Course in Miracles. One of its core tenets is that everything is one. Which means, among other things, that all places are one. No individual place is more sacred or spiritual or special than any other. All are exactly the same.

Spirit sends me beautiful, loving messages of oneness all the time, but I continue to experience those messages, visions and deep synchronicities most powerfully in Sedona. So I get messages about the non-special nature of Sedona, while absorbing those lessons most deeply due to the special nature of Sedona!

I used to feel a little bit bad about that. But now I realize that nobody is able to put the Course’s very challenging teaching of ultimate truth into practice right away. Or at least, nobody I know.

And Spirit is endlessly creative at using whatever tools are available at the time. In this illusory 3-D world, I get a huge communication boost from being in Sedona. And Spirit is happy to make good use of that particular illusion, as it has made good use of so many others.

How do I know it's really you? (How to tell Spirit from ego)

Recently someone on Twitter asked me this: “I sometimes feel that Spirit is speaking to me, but I’m never really sure if it’s Spirit or just my ego mind playing tricks. How can I tell the difference?”

That’s such a good question. Rather than answer it myself, I’ll just quote Spirit, in this passage from the book in which I asked the very same thing:

As wonderful as this new and improved communication channel seemed to be, I wasn’t entirely sure I could trust it.

“These conversations are great,” I said to Spirit, “and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you, but I have to ask: How can I be sure it’s really you talking and not my ego mind? We both know the ego is a master impersonator, and it’s capable of slipping in to hijack any discussion without me realizing it.”

It’s very easy to tell the difference, My dear. Just listen carefully to everything that’s said.

If what you hear is loving, gentle and designed to lead you toward ultimate freedom, you’ll know it’s Me talking.

If you hear the slightest judgment, or a single word that lacks pure unconditional love you’ll know it hasn’t come from Me, for I’m incapable of anything less than total love for you.

Be vigilant in each of our conversations, and soon you’ll be able to trust wholeheartedly in your ability to tell the difference.

Following that advice, I taught myself to pay close attention to the meaning behind every word, and soon found it easy to tell each time a bogus thought or idea was planted within our conversations.

And as I learned to trust in my own ability to recognize the words of Spirit, I also began to relax and trust more deeply in the lessons being offered.

Learning to communicate with Spirit

I’m pretty sure we all have spiritual abilities we’re not tapping into; I’m also pretty sure we can all develop those skills if we work at it. The unused 90% of our brains, and all that.

But then there are those few individuals who are born with those talents, and they seemingly don’t have to work at it at all. Those are the ones we call psychic or clairvoyant or whatever.

I’m not one of those. (Or at least it doesn’t feel like it from the inside. On the other hand, I’ve been described as ‘an open window between worlds,’ so what do I know.)

I guess what I’m saying is, when it came to communication skills, I definitely had to work at it. I’m still working at it.

In 2005 I was studying Barbara Brennan’s book, Hands of Light, and found in it a workbook exercise designed to strengthen communication with one’s Guide:

Ask a question in your mind, write the question down and then be still to meditate. Write down all images, words, feelings, smells, sounds, whatever, as they come to you. Don’t judge any of it, just write it all down.

So I did. I’m a visual person, so at first I got only pictures. Then I started getting pop tunes of the 60’s-90’s to go with the images. (I left that part out of the book – some of those music stories were amazing, but it’s a book, not a 10-part miniseries. Not everything can make the cut.)

The pop tunes were forever sending me to the computer to google the lyrics, because I often only knew the title or chorus. Every time I read the full lyrics in light of my question asked, it was a revelation – who knew Nights in White Satin could be so deep?

Or that Landslide would play a role in causing me to leave behind my 20-year practice of Buddhism forever? (And I never even liked Fleetwood Mac, really.)

The musical interlude was short lived; I think its function was probably just to get me more accustomed to listening. Within a month or two, the music faded and the Voice began to speak more frequently in those meditations.

Up until then, it hadn’t occurred to me that the Voice and the Guide and the pictures and the music could all perhaps be coming from the same place. Or could even be the same thing.

We were still a year or so away from long, free-flowing conversations. Those began in July of 2006, on the same day that the Voice (which by then I called Spirit) delivered this little shocker:


My immediate reaction was more or less unprintable; sort of a peacefully surrendered WTF, if you will. But I was highly motivated to learn how to communicate back, after that. And motivation is really all it takes.

For you, me or anybody.

I'm sorry, and you are…? (Who's doing the Talking?)

It’s taken me 20-plus years to figure out what that Voice really is.

The first time I heard the Voice was when my friend Johnny showed me his Buddhist Gohonzon. Naturally, I assumed it was Johnny’s Gohonzon talking.

And then after I became a Buddhist and set up an altar of my own, I assumed it was my Gohonzon talking. (A Gohonzon is a scroll of paper. But really, is it any weirder to hear a piece of paper speak than it would be to hear a statue, or other inanimate object?)

The Voice didn’t say much at first, and it didn’t speak often. Every once in a blue moon, it would deliver a short declarative statement:


Or, several years later,


It was such a rare and random occurrence that I never took the time to wonder who (or what) might really be doing the talking.

After what is now known as the Dinnertable Awakening of 2005, I began to study other forms of spirituality for the first time. As I did so, my communication abilities (both hearing and speaking) strengthened bit by bit. As we eased gradually into actual 2-way conversation, I started to think of this Voice as my Guide. But it wasn’t until I took up the study of A Course in Miracles in 2006 that the Voice seemed to reveal its true identity for the first time.

I should probably back up for a moment and say this: It’s not my job to endorse any particular path, or advise anybody about anything. When I agreed to write the book, it was with the understanding that I only have to tell the story of my own journey of faith in my own irreligious words, and to pass along the messages that I get while I’m at it.

Thankfully, it’s none of my business what anybody does with that information. So although I speak about various spiritual disciplines, and particularly A Course in Miracles, I do so only because that’s the practice that resonates most powerfully for me personally. If you’re into any of these disciplines, great. If you’re not, equally great. We’re good, you and me, either way.

Now, back to the true identity of my Voice. I’ll just quote you a passage from my book that says it all. Let me set it up for you:

My husband and I had just spent the morning hiking in the Sequoias, and throughout the hike Spirit had been pushing me persistently (but lovingly) to leave my own interpretation of the world behind and allow the gentle truth of Heaven to fill my awareness instead. That’s not nearly as easy or pleasant a job as it may sound, and by the end of the morning I was a little bit annoyed about the whole thing…

Back at the lodge I made a long-awaited beeline for the ladies room. As I headed into the stall, Spirit spoke once more:

Every moment of every day, the truth awaits your memory. Why not make it today?

“You’re asking me to give up everything I know, but why should I listen to You? You’re just an imaginary Voice in my head.” Kidding. Sort of.

Oh, My love, think again. I’m the only truth you’ve ever known.

“What does that mean? What are you exactly?” It had never before occurred to me to ask.

I Am the memory of God in you.

Coming out of the spiritual closet

I hear a Voice. That’s about it, really.

I didn’t always; the first time I heard that Voice was when my best friend Johnny opened his Buddhist altar to show me what was inside. As those altar doors swung wide, visible waves of sparkly, effervescent joy tumbled out to greet me, followed by a crystal clear Voice that spoke out loud inside my head.

And the Voice said:


Okaaay. I was a dark and snarky 27 year-old club kid at the time, but that Voice was hard to ignore, so I let it lead me on a breathtaking journey of spiritual discovery that continues to this day.

But unexpected as it was at the time, the arrival of that Voice was not my first brush with Crazy. As a child I was tormented nightly by light-filled ghosts. And I never could predict when time might stutter or stop without warning, or when spatial blips might cause buildings or whole city blocks to appear or disappear at will. I never really doubted my own sanity; the likelier explanation was just that the universe hated me.

Although my brain sometimes seemed to work differently from the brains of others, I just thought it meant I was weird. Or spacey. Or maybe low blood sugar-y.

I never possessed the understanding or the vocabulary until very recently to call these things what they were: Visions. Trances. Out of body experiences. And nobody was more surprised than me to realize, decades after the fact, that those light-filled ghosts weren’t ghosts at all. And they most definitely did not hate me.

I was always deeply ashamed and afraid of my weirdness. My differentness. But now at this advanced stage of life I say: Screw it. This is what I am. This is what I do. I get messages from Spirit, and I pass them on. So this is me, giving notice that I’m officially out of the spiritual closet.

My book (besides being the story of how all this came to be) is filled with messages from Spirit, and you’re welcome to ‘em. And I’ll keep passing those messages along as I receive them, for anyone who’s interested.

To paraphrase Deepak: I’ll just be singing in the shower. Y’all are welcome to listen at the door if you choose.

Just don’t peek in the keyhole. That would be creepy.