in one sense
the terraced moment
the ten heavens
the inevitable rush
the roving comet
at last, to the central sun…
its own place.
Evelyn Underhill (1961, p. 133)
spring of 1996 I was struggling to figure out the topic for my doctoral
dissertation at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto,
California. I had hit a brick wall in my mind and felt totally blocked. An
old friend called and asked if my wife Sarah and I could meet up with him
in Big Sur over the weekend. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to get
out of the city and take a break from my internal struggle.
next day we drove down the coast. The
environment of Big Sur has always had a profound physical, emotional and
spiritual effect on me, and this time was no different.
As we entered the Big Sur area, tears came to my eyes and I felt as
though I was returning to my sacred home. Suddenly, my mind opened up and
I felt as though my thoughts were being cleansed by the whispering ocean
air and the vast rippling blue sea. Mental
boundaries previous held gave way to expansiveness.
My mind became clear and I realized that I had been caught in my
own Newtonian-Cartesian logic mind loop.
realized that I was trying to think of a dissertation topic and approach
that would fit in to the traditional model.
I had lapsed into worrying about which topic would further my
career, meet the requirements, be the most impressive, etc. Now, it was
incredibly clear to me that I needed to find a dissertation topic that
would be organic to my nature and process, and would continue my own
personal growth journey.
this realization set in, my dissertation topic became crystal clear. My
dissertation would become a deepening of the path of personal inquiry I
was already on, my exploration of the experience of Divine guidance.
For the rest of the day I moved and spoke in harmony with others
and the Earth. Miracles
happened, great and small, moment by blessed moment. And at the end of the
day, I stood on the rocky shore of the cliffs of Esalen Institute,
completely bathed in sweet and gentle joy. I felt a profound shift within
me and my perception of myself in the world had deeply changed.
cannot doubt the existence of a guidance,
I dare to call divine
which can so invade one's soul
to set one's feet
Mary Fry (1944, p. 145)
my dissertation research into the experience of Divine guidance by
reflecting on my own experiences of Divine guidance, utilizing a process
called “spiritual autobiography” (Erickson, 1998; Morgan, 1996;
Wakefield, 1990). This process uses the method of searching “…for God
in time and memory” (Dunne, 1967) through the exploration of one’s own
spiritual life experiences. This exploration takes the form of a spiritual
autobiography in which we tell and explore the stories of our experiences
of the Divine.
methodology has arisen out of the field of narrative theology.
Narrative theology is the study of theology as it is expressed in
narrative form (Goldberg, 1991). The narrative or the story has been and
continues to be one of the most essential means in which religious and
spiritual values, ideals, and understanding is imparted and explored
(Alter, 1981; Dunne, 1967; Goldberg, 1991).
on one’s own past experiences of divine contact is also believed to be
an essential part of the process of learning to seek divine guidance (Ochs
& Olitzky, 1997; Smith, 1983). Within this process of spiritual
autobiography, one also “passes over” from one’s own story to the
story of others and to the literature of the spirit.
is ultimately how he brings time to mind, how he searches through time and
memory, for passing over avails him of the time and memory of others, and
coming back leaves his own time and memory enriched. In this process he
goes from man's time, the time of life stories, to God's time, the greater
and encompassing time which is that of the stories of God, and he
experiences companionship with God in time. He discovers in this the
greater dimensions of man, those which reach beyond the self and the
individual life story. And he discovers the face underlying all, that of
the compassionate God and the compassionate Savior (Dunne, 1967, p. xi).
following is the story of my own journey of the spirit up to this moment
in space and time. My journey has taken me through darkness and light,
through great blessings and hardships, through encounters with spiritual
beings and the literature of the spirit, and through my own story and the
story of others.