We get to know each other through our stories. Here's a brief introduction to me... from a spiritual perspective. :)
Painting by Mary Scott Soo - "Delivered into the hands of love"
Many people are open to spiritual beings and experiences when they are children. Then as our critical thinking kicks in and we don't receive support from adults to appreciate our subtle perceptions and experiences, we shut down. I experienced telepathy as a kid (I found letters my mom had written to my grandma about this), I had "imaginary friends," and for at least one major event, I had clear precognition about a tragedy that would unfold.
I am not special. Many, many people started out open as little children, but then we change our focus necessarily and we forget/deny our prior experiences. I'm not saying it shouldn't be this way... just that it often is. I was also wired for solving spiritual questions even as a little kid. When I was 6 years old, I suffered my first spiritual crisis. The issue was a painful new awareness that my mom's family and my dad's family were in two different religious camps, and so my dilemma was whether my dad's Catholic or my mom's Lutheran side of my family was right. Who was going to Heaven and who was going to hell? (I had the impression from things that had been said by grownups in hushed voices that it was that kind of serious, cut-and-dried issue!) Even more importantly, I anguished over which side/team I should be on! (ha!). I would cry quietly every night in bed.
One night as I sobbed, Jesus came to me. He just appeared at my bed in my mind. I couldn't touch him but he was clearly there, and he had popped into my visual field out of nowhere without me imagining him as part of a thought stream. He asked me why I was crying, and I told him my conundrum. He then asked me to tell him what he had taught us in the Bible. I went to Sunday school back then, and I blurted out through my sobbing, "You said just love everybody!" To this, he gently said with a smile, "Right! So forget about it!"
1972 Sisters Rachel and Laura Schopen (Laura is on the right)
This single event was so simple yet so profound! I see its impact even more deeply today. It not only set some kind of future course in motion for me, it ended my interest in formal religion forever. From that day, I began my conscious journey to understand the Truth. I was "initiated"...he would be my Teacher and I would learn His Love. Not as taught from a religious perspective, but as an individualized curriculum for me. At 56, I am only now appreciating the journey He has led me on...and how the Love that He represents has guided and protected me every step. It is here for all of us; I sometimes see it like streaming golden threads from Heaven, God's Grace showering us all the time, just beyond our ordinary perception. A few years later, I was often preoccupied with questions about UFOs. Then in my teens, I wanted to understand parapsychology, de ja vu, synchronicity, past lives, and the nature of time and reality. I recall in middle school being teased by other kids as "the philosopher." I was always musing about deep questions much to the chagrin of my (very) few friends.
When I was 17, I was assigned to write a paper about Thomas Mann's novel Magic Mountain in high school, and while I was in the process of writing about one of its themes -- time -- I had my first spontaneous illumination. My process of writing transformed into a download from some higher consciousness. It was a stream of knowing that was pouring into me, and I saw so clearly that only the perception of change created a perception of time; it was simultaneously intuitively clear that if there were no change, there would be no time...only Now. Time was seen to be like a magic trick...just a perception based on the illusion of something happening that implied time was there. This understanding reverberated through me, preparing a landing place in me for a future teaching that would come a few years later. In 1987 at the age of 21, I was given a copy of A Course in Miracles for my birthday by my Lutheran Grandma, who for a period of years, resonated with its teachings. This big, hard-to-read blue book is a new teaching from Jesus, a channeled work here to help us heal and awaken to who we are. Here was Jesus returning in another very direct way to my more mature mind, except this time the lessons and instruction He was offering would have to be accepted as my life's work to master.
A very cursory summation is this: ACIM is a non-dual teaching that teaches God/Perfect Love is the absolute Truth and only Reality. We were created by God and are part of this Oneness. But we have fallen asleep, so the purpose of our life is to use forgiveness, which leads to a miracle...a new perception. Each miracle helps to cleanse our mind of fear/guilt and serves to gradually awaken us. (For a more in-depth overview of A Course In Miracles, read my ACIM Summary.) ACIM was to become a cornerstone of my spiritual path, except it was A) impossible to truly understand and appreciate in a big-picture sense back then, and B) totally (almost) unsatisfactory in the answers that it did yield! Back then, and for many years, I wanted direction, to know what I was supposed to do and be in the world, but it would only tell me there was no world and that my only job was forgiveness. I threw it across the room until its pages started falling out. Still, the bell couldn't be un-rung in me, as they say. I knew there was Truth in there for me. I just knew even if I didn't know how or why or what I knew exactly. And I knew Jesus was somehow guiding me. ACIM followed me everywhere, even as I sampled on the spiritual buffet line all the other goodies on offer. In my moments of despair, Forgiveness would still be there waiting for me to choose it. I investigated different teachings and teachers throughout the 1990's. I had some very challenging lessons along the way with teachers and cult-ish community and spiritual ego and the ugly mess we can get into when there is still duality at the heart of the message. I lived the treachery of making certain teachers "special" (what ACIM describes as our need to make idols), and the pain of living life as though there exists two opposing powers (good vs evil). In those years, you might say that while I thought I was studying one thing (remote viewing, past life healing, etc. ) the intensity of the spiritual lesson I would have to survive as a result was teaching me something other altogether. Ultimately, this "tough love" period of my life encompassed many painful lessons in all aspects of my life: in work, family and relationships and spiritual pursuits. The pain, however, was interspersed with illuminations and miracles as my "little willingness," as the Course calls our openness, was exercised and developed. It was a deep purge process coaxing me to choose a new interpretation and forgive any time I seemed to be up against a foe. I was undoing the belief and investment in two powers from my mind, and I was seeing that my own judgment was wrong and hurtful. I was whacked around in these energies and shown we can never escape the flip side of our position, when we stand in duality. In other words, I was learning motivation to practice true forgiveness which slowly undoes our egos. You could say suffering was my "teacher" until I could be led in a more gentle, direct way by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was teaching me ACIM, even while I resisted Him, by teaching me contrast. As He asks us in ACIM, "Would you rather be right or happy?" Eventually, letting go of being right about my judgments and choosing peace was my priority more and more often. During that time, I learned something critical for going forward in healing work with others, but also for just living a life without conflict. I learned that identifying as a "spiritual warrior" by whatever name you call it -- Light Worker who fights the darkness, a social worker fighting for justice, healthcare worker fighting cancer, peace activist who judges the war, etc. -- is a defensive position. Defenses create more of what they seek to defend against. They perpetuate the problem, because they come from the same energy.
In other words, taking a position against something comes from our ego. No matter what our good intentions are, we will be in the soup of duality. Nothing will ever change from the system that created the problem. Temporary changes in appearances will come, but for every win, there will be a loss that crops up. This dynamic will generate endless hierarchies and differences and thus new battles to fight. Righteous rage is seductive, but it is still rage. It still requires justice, and in the world that is code for "someone loses" or "someone gets punished" or "someone is wrong/bad." Stories of battle never resolve....their source just keeps reinforcing itself, submerging for a while, then arising again in new recycled form. Some will reject what I've said, but I want to clarify that this is not a passive stance. Mother Teresa is a beautiful model here. No one can argue she was passive! She dedicated her life to serving and advocating for the poor. When asked if she would join the anti-war movement, however, she answered, "No, but if you start a pro-peace movement, I will join." If we believe our focus should be to identify oppression and fight for justice, we become suspicious and paranoid. Instead, we can let our own minds be continually healed of oppression/judgment when we think we are seeing it in the world. Then we offer a true alternative to the situation. My "tough love" period gradually waned as I settled into acceptance and learning more directly. I've had all kinds of normal life chapters as a mother, corporate employee and manager, hospice volunteer, etc. I've been divorced, moved many times, and done some travel. I continued my study of ACIM in different ways throughout...sometimes with others in study groups and spiritual community, and often alone with the Holy Spirit and teachings It points me to.
I've studied and practiced teachings from other *mostly* non-dual teachers who have helped and influenced me in important ways (Robert Adams, Lester Levinson, Joel Goldsmith, Adyashanti, etc.). I've had some flashy experiences and openings to subtle perceptions. But each life chapter, ability or understanding or teacher has really just developed my trust in the Holy Spirit and acceptance in the ACIM teachings of forgiveness.
Along the way, I have been led to learn hypnotherapy, Reiki, how to appreciate and receive help from angels, and spiritual life coaching. Each method came to me in the last 25 years in a spontaneous way for my own healing and growth first, and I followed the prompts to pursue sharing them with others. They have in common that they work with our unconscious mind/energy and that they tap into a Higher Consciousness that I call the Holy Spirit that knows how to help us heal. The Holy Spirit will use everything for our gentle healing and undoing our egos. In terms of practice with others, I've been taught how we can be active doing the kind, helpful thing to support others, but without attachment to outcome and without judgment. My first priority is to "stay in my own lane" as I often joke. Like in a swimming pool, I stay inside the ropes. Whether with my kids, my friends, my family, or my clients, I focus on my own decision to see everyone as whole and healed and perfect, and I ask for help from the Holy Spirit when I see my fear projected.
In this way, I can step back in an unattached way to be a channel for something helpful that can reach others. My attitude slowly has become, "Let God handle it. It's all just Love working itself out....in me and in others. I let all things be exactly as they are." We all are in a classroom to awaken from suffering. At our request, a Higher Consciousness works through all forms of help and through all roles to support us in this. Whether I seem to be the parent or the healer or the householder, I am a student and a teacher. And I am always teaching what I want to learn. I've seen a cycle in operation - contemplation, study, and prayerful surrender lead to new action, service, and experience which then invite more contemplation and cultivation of deeper understanding. And then it starts over.
It's an AMAZING life. Each one of us, as we will allow, is here to heal and experience True Happiness. As we put a Higher Wisdom in charge, the script of our life is being used to heal ourselves and serve others in all the roles we play. In fact, the Holy Spirit is using the life of Laura ...and your own life, too... as a "technology" to awaken the One Self.