Meeting Adversity in Spiritual Ways

A few of you may remember when Robbie Fahnestock was our co-minister from about 2007 to around 2010. I recently read the following in a book about Robbie by John Walsh:


“A friend of mine, Robbie Fahnestock, suffered a brain aneurysm and almost died. During a very slow, precarious recovery, doctors ordered Robbie to pursue a healthier lifestyle. High fiber, low fat, no alcohol.
Prior to the aneurysm, Robbie enjoyed a delightful, personal relationship with Mister Alcohol. … Quitting without support would be difficult, so Robbie decided to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and see what AA had to offer. He asked me to come along to share any anxiety and embarrassment. I didn’t feel comfortable, but how can you refuse a guy on the mend from a near fatal illness?
“I owe you,” he said. “Meet me at St. Steven’s Church on Wednesday at eight o’clock. … I drove to the church in a torrential downpour. Sure I got lost, but a convenient phone booth loomed in the mist and I stopped to check the church address. Someone had torn that particular page from the phone book. I returned to my car feeling like a character in a predictable horror movie. Randomly selecting streets, I finally arrived at St. Steven’s Church.
It was five minutes after eight when I found the meeting in the basement. Approximately fifty men and women mingled, drank coffee and chatted cheerfully. I took a seat and a deep breath and looked for Robbie. As they called the meeting to order, I realized Robbie was late and I had to maintain some guise of social maturity until he arrived.
Immediately, a woman in the front of the room made eye contact and said, “I see we have a new member. Would you like to tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?”
I promised to support Robbie and so I plunged forward. “My name is John. I got drunk a few times in college and tried some recreational drugs. Now I consider myself a social drinker and try to stop after three beers and--”
The chairwoman interrupted gently. “I’m sorry,” she said. “AA meets on Thursday night. This is choir practice.”


As most of you know, I was an Engineer and now I am a Mystic. Many people are surprised when I say that I am a Mystic. Possibly because they are not quite sure what a Mystic is. One definition is that a Mystic is someone who values and cultivates a direct connection to the Divine. My clearest connection is through meditation. And I owe much of that to the meditation classes taught by Carole Glenn’s Mother and now by Carole Glenn, as well as to the associated meditation group. I know that many of you have taken these same classes.


So I take time to meditate and pay close attention to what comes to me in meditation. But I also know that the Divine can come thorough in many ways. So I also pay attention to what comes along. Sometimes there is what could be called an “Aha Moment.” That is, something catches my attention. Often times I later discover that an Aha Moment has suddenly become useful, sometimes very, very useful.


In early-February I noticed blood in my urine. Fortunately the medical community quickly discovered that this was due to a cancerous tumor in my bladder, they removed the tumor, and started me on the path to further treatment. The cancer was found to be aggressive and at one point the doctor looked me in the eye and said, “This cancer can kill you. So we need to fight it aggressively,” That got my attention. So getting rid of this cancer and keeping it from coming back became my focus. Kay and I read the Kitsap Library book for this year “The Smell of Other People’s Houses.” One of the people did not call cancer, cancer. Instead it was called The Cancer. I later found out that this is common in indigenous cultures. I decided to use this phrase, as this cancer was a specific one, in a specific place, in my body, and here for some specific reason or reasons.


Here are 10 of the Spiritual Methods I started using after I first noticed blood and I continue to use many of them daily:


1. The first reaction I had was Fear. My first reaction to Adversity is usually emotion. Fear has a lot of emotional power and it is important not to have it take over. It is said that the Violet Flame of Saint Germaine can dissolve Fear. To use this method, I go into mediation and see myself surrounded and infused with the Violet Flame.


2. I use intuition to make decisions and to seek answers. I have developed what I call an active (rather than passive) intuitive method. I also use numbers to measure the relative value of an answer.
I use the number 10 as satisfactory. Then I ask for a number for the answer I seek. For example, I was referred to a local Urologist and I asked what number was he for me. The answer was a 30. And when he scheduled me for surgery, I asked how valuable surgery would be for me, the intuitive answer was 100. So I had no hesitation. When I was in College, I learned about “the Shotgun approach.” This is where you throw everything that you think might work at a problem. I decided to use the Shotgun approach so I frequently used my intuition to sort through the possibilities. This is not only much faster than research and logic, it is also potentially much more accurate because we are different and even an effective treatment may not be the best choice. One of my Aha Moments was hearing about Dr. Dean Ornish’s protocol for first heart disease and then prostate cancer. As I remember it, his protocol consisted of four categories: meditation, diet, exercise, and social contact. This protocol was found to be scientifically successful. So I established a routine that included doing something in each category. According to my intuition, the most important for part for me was diet. On my scale of 10, it was 200. So I started asking my intuition about different foods. Below 10 encouraged The Cancer, above 10 discouraged or even killed it. As a result I am primarily on a vegetarian diet but eating eggs, tuna, and occasionally chicken. I primarily eat organic food, but I want to emphasize what I am eating is based primarily on intuition, not on theory or scientific studies. Interestingly I found several specific foods that rated much higher. Probably they killed The Cancer as a result; I eat them a lot.


3. I remember and seek the Light within. Some say that we were spun off as sparks of Light from Source eons ago and that this spark is the Light inside. I call this my Soul Essence and believe that it is who I really am. My body is like an automobile. It gets me around and can take on an identity of its own. But as an automobile gets older it needs more maintenance and may fail suddenly. Of course it can always do this, but the chances of it happening increase as time goes on. While working as an engineer, I had a very important vision. I have shared this before, but it is worth repeating. I was in a meeting and we were seated in a circle discussing a very important decision. Suddenly the room faded and everywhere there was a person, there was a light in the middle of their chest. I then heard “this light is the only thing that will remain. This room, this building, these bodies, even this Earth will all pass away, but this will remain.” So I believe that the Light inside is who I really am.


4. Some years ago, I was discouraged in that I did not seem to be making any spiritual headway. So in meditation, I asked for help. What I heard was, “You will make no more spiritual headway until you do Emotional Healing.” I had no idea what that was, so I asked a number of spiritual friends. I got a number of different answers. Some of them were very useful. Especially a book that a friend recommended titled, “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die.” Someday I may read the book, but what my friend recommended and what I have found most useful is a table of probably emotional causes for disease. I read the list for cancer but none of them jumped out at me. Later I had a reading over the phone by an intuitive friend who said that the cancer was because I was holding in anger and not eliminating it. When I meditated on this, I had a vision of the tumor growing like a flower with its roots in what I decided was anger. Eventually I went back to the table in the book and holding on to deep anger or resentment was one of the probable causes of cancer. I have developed a meditation to counter residual emotions and do it daily. I believe that it has the potential to reduce the possibility of disease. This is the meditation that I will be leading after this talk (See the end of this text for the meditation.)


5. I am grateful for my Immune System. In meditation I would remind myself that the Golden Age is here and would consciously connect my Immune System to it. I created a visual image of my immune System and would see it well, whole and performing perfectly.


6. I remembered how important it is to be Happy. And I strived to be happy in the moment. I also remembered to connect to Spirit and be grateful. I reminded myself that while I was focused on one aspect of my body and of my life, there were tens of thousands of things that were doing just fine, and to be grateful that they were. I asked for the Highest Good and reminded myself that it might not be what I expected. And sometimes it was not. But I also remembered that there is Good in everything. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching and the passing of time to find the Good.


7. I remember the story of the salt and the bowls of water that I shared at Church many years ago. The salt represents the Adversity of Life and there are three bowls (small, medium, and large). When you put the same amount of salt in the water, the larger the bowl, the less salty it tastes. The point is that our Spiritual Life does not eliminate the Adversity. What it does is change us into a bigger bowl. So our Spiritual Life helps us to become much larger than the Adversity. I often visualized that I was bigger than The Cancer.


8. I was greatly encouraged when I realized that there are a lot of cancer survivors. However, what works for one person may not work for another. A dear friend wrote the following: … “There will be a lot of information coming your way. Everyone has their story and their remedy. Your job is to uncover your own story …” I think that this is very true and worth remembering when listening to stories and remedies.


9. There are a number of other things that happened to help me. Some of those included visions, guides, and information from others. One thing that I want to mention is that I am very grateful for all the prayers and good thoughts from so many people. I could and can still feel the power of this when I meditate.


10. Lastly I want to acknowledge that I really don’t know what is going on. Our culture would define success as getting rid of The Cancer. However, ancient yogic texts describe four stages of life: student, householder, retirement and renunciation. Now you are probably familiar with the first three stages, but what is the fourth? It is described as “the stage in which we renounce all other pursuits and devote ourselves fully to cultivating spiritual maturity, including a profound peace of mind. So success might not be what we think, but a movement further into Spirituality. Isn’t this what the starting joke exemplified? John thought that he was successful in getting to the AA meeting when instead he was successful in getting to the Choir Practice. Do we really know what is going on and what is success?


Well, I have given you at least 10 Spiritual methods that I used to meet Adversity. One of my goals is to be sure to mention that these methods can be used not just for The Cancer, but for all sorts of Adversity. And that if I see success as a further movement into Spirituality, that they are very important to me.


I hope that you find Aha Moments for your journey.


Meditation: Emotional Healing


What we seek is Inside – what I like to call our Soul Essence. Our Soul Essence contains Joy, Love, Peace, Creativity, Life Energy, and more. How can I tell when I am touch with these? One way is that I feel them as Ecstatic Energy (not static!). For example, a sense of Ecstatic Joy or Ecstatic Life and the more I focus on it, the more it blocks out everything else. I believe that this, and not the body, is part of what I really am.


It is said that we have an emotional body, and that our emotional body can store the energy of the emotions that we experience. The purpose of this meditation is to displace the energy of the emotional body and replace it with the energy of the Soul.


First we will get in touch with our inner Ecstatic Joy, Love, etc. and then have it wash over our emotional body. Remember that we are using our inner senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, knowing) and seek your own way of perceiving.


Today I will be using the didgeridoo to help dissolve any energy blocks and encourage energy flow.




1. Find a comfortable position, take a deep breath and feel yourself relaxing, take a second deep breath, Take a third deep breath … Relax and go within.


2. Become aware of your inner Ecstatic Essence (Ecstatic Joy, Ecstatic Life Force,)


3. Imagine your emotional body. Check to see if you have an impression of how energized it is. Now allow your Ecstatic Essence to displace the energy in your emotional body. See, allow, imagine ... create the change. Use what comes to your attention.


4. The sound of the Didgeridoo.


5. Gratitude


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