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Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 07:03 AM
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A PACE OF GRACE

THE VIRTUES OF A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

LINDA KAVELIN POPOV

A PLUME BOOK                2004

PART 2

 

INTRODUCTION (Cont.)

During the next year, following these Ten Rules for health literally saved my life. While they contain specific practices given to me for my personal condition, I believe the principles within them can serve as a catalyst for anyone who wishes to emerge from the fog of energy depletion or joyless hyperactivity. To be wise, consult your own physician and health practitioners about the Ten Rules, to make certain they are right for you. They are meant to serve as a reference and a tool for you as you read A Pace of Grace, supporting you to become a loving steward of your own energy and providing a step-by-step approach to a more graceful way of life.

The Ten Rules, a list of which follows, consist of simple but radical lifestyle changes. In following these rules, my energy has returned tenfold. I am now living sustainably for the first time in my life and have been strengthened in subtle ways that have taken my life and relationships to a deeper level of joy and mindfulness.

One year after following the Ten Rules as faithfully as I could, my health was dramatically improved. I had a follow-up appointment with the post-polio specialist. He looked at me and said, “You’ve certainly come a long way. How did you do it?” I showed him my Ten Rules for Health. “This is the best energy-restoration program I’ve ever seen. Where did you get it?” I smiled and told him about my prayer experience. He asked me if he could share the Ten Rules with his other patients.

Others asked me to share the energy-conservation practices in the Ten Rules, and they were published on the Internet on a post-polio network and on The Virtues Project Web site. I decided to develop a new workshop called “A Pace of Grace” in a few cities in Canada and the United States. People with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and burnout, as well as individuals with what I call the “E-Type” personality – “Everything to Everybody” – flocked to the workshops to learn how to live a sustainable life. One day it struck me that a book would make these simple tools accessible to even more people.

  • Too many of us have suffered a severe loss in our quality of life amidst the stress of terrorism, war, and economic stability that keep us on edge, wondering when something else will happen to shatter our world.
  • Too many of us have fallen into a lifestyle that feels crazed and out of control. We find ourselves overwhelmed by pressures to go faster and do more.
  • Overdoing has become a way of life, and we have created the most time-stressed era in history.

Yet there is hope. More and more people are heeding a wake-up call in the midst of troubled times. We are reevaluating how we spend the currency of our lives in light of the values we care about. We no longer take for granted the simple pleasures of life – a laugh with a friend, fishing at sunset, snuggling into a deep, welcoming couch with a good book and blanket on a rainy Saturday, performing an act of kindness for a stranger. Yet we don’t make much room for these small blessings. The workaholic lifestyle we have created too easily sweeps us back into a pace of life that fails to sustain our grace.

Now is the time to ask ourselves how we can take back a sense of control over our lives in order to live in a spiritually and emotionally sustainable way. We need to discern how we can preserve our ideals and create islands of peace in our lives and relationships. How can we be the calm in the wind?

  • In the years that I have been practicing the Ten Rules for Health, I have moved into a deep current of inner joy. I feel as if the aging process has reversed.
  • It is possible – and I believe essential – to live more gracefully in the midst of a world that is out of control.

A Pace of Grace gives you a simple four-part program that supports you to purify your life, pace yourself, practice spirituality, and plan a sustainable life. Through these simple practices, you will be able to redesign your life to integrate a deeper level of grace. Each chapter ends with an Exercise of Grace for sustainable, more balanced living. You will discover a wide variety of ways to cultivate a pace of grace, from creating a daily routine of reverence to being active peace builders in all your relationships, and enhancing your inner sense of order by reshaping the order and beauty around you. It offers steps for sustaining soul satisfying relationships and creating genuine community, as well as examining ways to play and experience joy.

  • We structure the practice of the virtues around five spiritual life-skill strategies that have come to light in the years my family and I have stewarded the Virtues Project.

Living by our virtues is the key to leading our lives, rather than following old habits of mindless living that leave no space for a spiritually centered, well-balanced life. The virtues allow us to live each day lovingly, purposefully, reverently, joyfully, truthfully, moderately, and gracefully. I truly believe that the cultivation of our virtues can guide as to the highest expression of our selves, individually and collectively.

  • The health crisis in my life has been a great gift, as all tests are if we are ready to receive the lessons they contain.
  • Moderation – until recently an unfamiliar virtue – is my new best friend. I accomplish more in less time. I savor every moment of every day.
  • My hope is that A Pace of Grace will be a helpful companion in discovering your own path to a more sustainable rhythm of life, day by day and moment by moment.

I have one caveat. You can’t enact the virtues and practices of sustainability described in this book through teeth-gritting determination. Rather, they invite a gentle shift in your spirit. I know that many of you are much like I was. “I’m going to work so hard at not working hard, so that I’ll be the most grace-filled person on the planet.” I know people who go to the gym religiously to reduce stress. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t always sweat and strain you way to serenity. Luxuriate in these practices, try them on, bask in them with the knowledge that they can refill you and enrich you. I invite you to do the exercises at the end of each chapter as you read along. Take your time. Keep a pace of grace. Fill your own cup and you will have an overflowing sufficiency to give to everyone you love and anything you do. If you choose to cultivate the virtues of a sustainable life, I promise you they will enrich the quality of your life forever.

Linda Kavelin Popov, October 2003

 

Ten Rules for Health

The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project

Virtues: The Gifts Within

 

PART 1: PURIFY YOUR LIFE

Chapter One: How Are You? The Virtue of Truthfulness

Chapter Two: Purify Your Body. The Virtue of Purity

Chapter Three: Breathe Easy, Breathe Deep. The Virtue of Discernment

Chapter Four: Purify the Language of Your Life. The Virtue of Peacefulness

Chapter Five: Forgive. The Virtue of Forgiveness

Chapter Six: Heal Your Finances. The Virtue of Thankfulness

Chapter Seven: Create a Space of Grace. The Virtue of Order

 

PART 2: PACE YOURSELF

Chapter Eight: Create a Pace of Grace. The Virtue of Moderation

Chapter Nine: Support Yourself. The Virtue of Acceptance

Chapter Ten: Set Clear Boundaries. The Virtue of Assertiveness

Chapter Eleven: Play! The Virtue of Creativity

 

PART 3: PRACTICE THE PRESENCE

Chapter Twelve: Pray. The Virtue of Prayerfulness

Chapter Thirteen: Give the Gift of Presence. The Virtue of Compassion

Chapter Fourteen: Create Community. The Virtue of Unity

 

PART 4: PLAN A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

Chapter Fifteen: Put Your First Passion First. The Virtue of Joyfulness

Chapter Sixteen: Plan for Grace. The Virtue of Purposefulness

 

Afterword

Bibliography

Resources

Index

Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 05:03 AM
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ANATOMY OF THE SPIRIT

THE SEVEN STAGES OF POWER AND HEALING

CAROLINE MYSS, PH.D.

THREE RIVERS PRESS                1996

PART 1

About the author

Caroline Myss, Ph.D., is an internationally sought-after speaker on spirituality and personal power. She is widely recognized for her work in teaching intuitive diagnosis and is a pioneer in the field of energy medicine. She lives in Chicago.

Foreword by C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.

On rare occasions, you may meet a unique person who dramatically alters your perceptions of the world and of yourself. You are just about to meet just such an extraordinary individual. Author and medical intuitive Caroline Myss will intrigue, provoke, and inspire you with her views on spirituality and your personal responsibility for your own health. Some aspects of Caroline’s work will seem so commonsensical to you that you will wonder why you hadn’t thought of them that way before. Other ideas of hers will push your emotional and psychological buttons and cause you to reevaluate your spiritual path.

I was introduced to Caroline’s philosophy a dozen years ago. Her simple, powerful message is that each of us is born with an inherent spiritual task, a sacred contract to learn to use our personal power responsibly, wisely, and lovingly.

  • There have been, throughout the ages, talented intuitives and mystics who have sensed the power centers of the human body. Alice Bailey, Charles W. Leadbetter, and Rudolf  Steiner have all written in this field.

The single most important question that people have asked throughout history has been “What is my purpose in life?” Caroline answers this question simply and profoundly. One’s purpose is to live in a manner that is consistent with one’s spiritual ideals, to live the Golden Rule every moment of one’s life, and to live every thought as a sacred prayer. It is simple – but far from easy!

  • Quantum physicists have confirmed the reality of the basic vibratory essence of life, which is what intuitives sense.

Although scientific instruments cannot yet evaluate any one person’s specific frequency or the blocks to the flow of such energy, two basic facts cannot be denied. First, life energy is not static; it is kinetic; it moves around. And second, talented intuitives such as Caroline can evaluate it, even though neither the human mind nor the energy system can yet be accurately physically measured.

  • Caroline tunes in to the subtle energy of our systems and reads the language of our electromagnetic being.

In this book you will find detailed information on the seven power centers of your body. These centers are critical regulators of the flow of life energy. They represent the major biological batteries of your emotional biography. “Your biography becomes your biology” – if you learn nothing else from this work, this fact alone will be useful to you. You will also learn how to avoid being sapped or zapped by your own attachments or by other people’s negative energy; how to secure your sense of self and honor so that your personal power base is not eroded by the false symbols of power – money, sex, and external authority; and how to develop your own intuitive abilities.

  • The Anatomy of the Spirit presents an exciting new ecumenical way to understand the seven energy centers of the body. It integrates Judaic, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist concepts of power into seven universal spiritual truths.
  • You will be transformed forever by the power of this merging of the metaphysical meaning of the Christian sacraments, the Kabbalah, and the chakras.
  • Knowledge is power, and the knowledge presented in this book is the key to personal power.

This book presents the essence of alternative medicine, with a clarity that will inspire you to live your spiritual ideals and that will awaken you to the miracles of self-healing. I am delighted to have been present during the gestation of this seminal work. My life has been enriched by this knowledge beyond my dreams. May yours be equally graced by Caroline’s wisdom.

Preface: Becoming Medically Intuitive

In the autumn of 1982, after ending my career as a newspaper journalist and obtaining a master’s degree in theology, I joined forces with two partners to start a book publishing company called Stillpoint. We published books about healing methods that were alternatives to establishment medicine. Despite my business interest in alternative therapies, however, I wasn’t the least bit interested in becoming personally involved in them. I had no desire to meet any healers myself. I refused to meditate. I developed an absolute aversion to wind chimes, New Age music, and conversations on the benefits of organic gardening. I smoked while drinking coffee by the gallon, still fashioning myself after an image of a hard-boiled newspaper reporter. I was not at all primed for a mystical experience.

  • Nevertheless, that same autumn, I gradually recognized that my perceptual abilities had expanded considerably.
  • By the spring of 1983 I was doing readings for people who were in health crises and life crises of various kinds, from depression to cancer.
  • I felt as if I were suddenly responsible for explaining the will of God to dozens of sad, frightened people, without any training.
  • Having grown up a Catholic and studied theology, I was keenly aware that transpersonal abilities lead one inevitably to the monastery – or to the madhouse.
  • Deep in my soul, I knew that I was connecting with something that was essentially sacred, and that knowledge was splitting me in two. No matter how I envisioned my future I felt I was headed for misery.
  • I was fascinated by my newfound perceptual ability, nonetheless, and was compelled to keep on evaluating people’s health.
  • I began to realize something I had never been taught in school: that our spirit is very much a part of our daily lives; it embodies our thoughts and emotions, and it records every one of them, from the most mundane to the visionary.
  • I saw that our spirit participates in every second of our lives. It is the conscious force that is life itself.
  • I was in the middle of a session with a woman who had cancer. I dreaded telling her that the cancer had spread throughout her body. She asked, “Caroline, I know I have a serious cancer. Can’t you tell me why this is happening to me?”
  • Suddenly I was flushed with an energy I had never had before. A voice spoke through me to this woman. “Let me walk you back through your life and through each of the relationships of your life,” it said.
  • “Let me walk with you through all the fears you’ve had, and let me show you how those fears controlled you for so long that the energy of life could no longer nurture you.”
  • This “presence” escorted this woman through every detail of her life, and I mean every detail.
  • This “presence” left the impression that every second of our lives – and every mental, emotional, creative, physical, and even resting activity with which we fill those seconds – is somehow known and recorded.
  • Every judgment we make is noted. Every attitude we hold is a source of positive or negative power for which we are accountable.
  • I was unprepared for this sacred spectacle in which every second of life is lovingly held to be of great value.
  • All she said was, “Thank you so much. I can live with everything now.” She paused, then continued, “Even my death doesn’t scare me. Everything is just fine.”

Since that autumn day in 1983, I have worked wholeheartedly as a medical intuitive. This means that I use my intuitive ability to help people understand the emotional, psychological, and spiritual energy that lies at the root of their illness, dis-ease, or life crisis. I can sense the type of illness that has developed, often before the individual is even aware of having an illness at all. The people I work with usually are aware, however, that their lives are not in balance and that something is wrong.

  • What’s unusual about my intuition is that I can evaluate people with whom I’ve had no contact whatsoever. The more I have used my intuition, the more accurate it has become.
  • It was not easy, even after pledging to cooperate with it, to perfect my intuitions. I had no models and no teacher, although eventually I had the support and guidance of medical colleagues.
  • Now after fourteen years of continuous work, the skill feels like a sixth sense to me.
  • This means to me that it’s time for me to teach others about the language of energy and medical intuition.
  • My particular insights have shown me that emotional and spiritual  stresses or dis-eases are the root causes of all physical illnesses.
  • Certain emotional and spiritual crises correspond quite specifically to problems in certain parts of the body.
  • The more I studied the human energy system, the more I realized that very little is created “randomly” in our bodies or, for that matter, in our lives.

Being medically intuitive has helped me learn not only about the energy causes of disease but about the challenges we face in healing ourselves. Of great significance to me was the realization that “healing” does not always mean that the physical body recovers from an illness. Healing can also mean that one’s spirit has released long-held fears and negative thoughts toward oneself or others. This kind of spiritual release and healing can occur even though one’s body may be dying physically.

Learning the language of the human energy system is a means to self-understanding, a way through your spiritual challenges. By studying energy anatomy, you will identify the patterns of your life and the deep interworkings of your mind, body, and spirit. This self-knowledge can bring you pleasure and peace of mind and lead to emotional and physical healing, along the way.

This introduction to medical intuition is the summation of my fourteen years of research into anatomy and intuition, body and mind, spirit and power. In its pages I teach you the language of energy with which I work. By gaining a fluent knowledge of energy anatomy, you will also become aware of your body as the manifestation of your own spirit. You will be able to read your own body like a scripture. Understanding the language of energy enables you to see your own spirit in your body and to understand what generates it and makes it – and you – strong. The language of energy will give you a new view of your personal power. You will also learn what weakens your spirit and personal power so that you can stop further loss of energy. Using the language of energy and understanding the human energy system will help you have clearer intuitive impressions by giving you body-based, concrete referents that take the edge off the sensation that you are looking blindly into empty air for information.

In this book, I draw on the deep, abiding, ancient wisdom of several spiritual traditions – the Hindu Chakras, the Christian sacraments, and the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life – to present a new view of how your body and spirit work together.

  • Please note that I have deliberately not included the rich teachings of Islam, not because I do not honor its truths, but because I have not lived with the tradition as I have with Judeo-Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist teachings.
  • I believe that we are meant to understand our body-minds as individual spiritual powers expressive of a greater Divine energy.
  • We are meant to discover both our personal power and our shared purpose for being alive within a spiritual context.
  • The mind-body focus of this book is infused with the spiritual language of symbolic sight. Symbolic sight is a way of seeing and understanding yourself, other people, and life events in terms of universal archetypal patterns.
  • Developing symbolic sight will enhance your intuitive ability because it will teach you a healthy objectivity that brings out the symbolic meaning of events, people, and challenges, most especially perhaps the painful challenge of illness.
  • Symbolic sight lets you see into your spirit and your limitless potential for healing and wholeness.
  • The people who attend my lectures and workshops are diverse, yet they all share in common a desire to understand the power of their spirits. They want to develop an internal clarity, their own intuitive voice.
  • The physicians who fill my workshops share with me their frustrations that when they get a hunch that an emotional or even spiritual cause underlies a patient’s illness, they are not at liberty to make a spiritual diagnosis because spiritual ideas have no authority within a conventional science. The desire for a spiritual context and interpretation of life is universal.
  • I believe that the language of energy and the practice of symbolic sight can help bridge the gap between conventional medical and spiritual views of health and healing.
  • When I first began intuiting the presence of illness, I was frightened and disturbed by my own lack of medical and spiritual context.
  • In 1984, however, I met C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. and began intensive training with him in the physical anatomy of the human body.
  • By speaking to and through Norm to patients about their lives and illness, I was able to refine my understanding of the impressions I received. This gave me the comfort zone I needed to permit my skill to mature.
  • Through my years working with Norm, I learned that my skill is of most value in the stages before a physical illness actually develops.
  • Before the body produces a physical illness, energy indicators, such as prolonged lethargy and depression, tell us we are losing our vitality.
  • Frequently medical tests indicate that nothing is wrong because they cannot identify anything happening at the physical level.

New, perplexing diseases that do not respond to conventional medical treatment are emerging continually. Some of them, like AIDS, can be diagnosed through conventional medical methodology, while others seem to develop as a result of the high-voltage pace of our lives and our constant exposure to electromagnetic energy from computers, satellite dishes, cellular phones, and the many other devices with which we are overloading our environment. Illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and environmental disorders, at present, are “unofficial” illnesses; according to conventional medical standards, they lack an identifiable microbial cause. Yet they are most certainly official illnesses within the energy definition of a health dysfunction, because their symptoms indicate that the patient is experiencing a loss of power in the energy field.

Medical intuition can help physicians who understand the human body to be both a physical system and an energy system, who have a spiritual context for the human experience, to identify the energy state of a physical illness and treat the underlying cause as well as the symptoms. Treatment in the energy field can include an array of therapies, such as psychological counseling, acupuncture, massage, and homeopathy. The essential ingredient for energy healing remains, however, the active involvement of the patient. No matter how urgently a medical intuitive warns of the probability of an illness, warnings do not heal. Action does.

  • It is only through years of practice that you will fully develop your own intuitions.
  • Anyone can benefit from following the teachings in this book and improve one’s intuitive clarity, but because a residency program is so essential to developing intuition fully, in the near future Norm and I intend to help medically intuitive students do their residency programs at holistic health centers throughout the country.
  • As Larry Dossey, M.D. writes in Meaning and Medicine, we need to practice “Era III Medicine” – therapies that combine spiritual and physical, holistic and allopathic approaches to physical and emotional healing.
  • I cannot help feeling that medical intuitives will eventually become essential members of health care teams, both in this country and around the world.
  • Through this book I hope that you will learn to think of yourself in the language of energy as vividly as you now see your physical body, and that you will begin to care for your spirit as consciously as you now care for your physical body.

 

Introduction: A Brief Personal History

 

Sunday, March 25, 2012 @ 08:03 AM
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A PACE OF GRACE

THE VIRTUES OF A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

LINDA KAVELIN POPOV

A PLUME BOOK                2004

PART 1

Back cover

From the author of the bestselling Family Virtues Guide comes a program

for restoring grace, sanity and vitality to our lives

In today’s anxiety-ridden, stress-infused world, even a moment of quiet reflection has become a time-consuming luxury most of us just can’t afford. How did we reach this point? How did we lose our direction and sense of control? And, most importantly, how can we reclaim our lives?

Linda Kavelin Popov asked herself these same questions after the pressures of her own workaholic lifestyle nearly destroyed her. Now, as cofounder of The Virtues Project International, she helps others achieve a pace of grace – a pace for our lives that can balance and sustain us physically and spiritually.

Through a four-part program, A Pace of Grace offers lessons to rediscover the essential elements of a life well lived. Complete with Linda’s ten rules for health, this comprehensive guide is the first step in rediscovering the joy and vibrancy inherent within each of us.

Front cover

A Pace of Grace contains vivid examples of how to make our daily lives meaningful. I offer my prayers that those readers who sincerely put them into practice will achieve that inner peace that is the key to lasting happiness.”

The Dalai Lama

About the author

Linda Kavelin Popov is the author of The Family Virtues Guide, and is one of the founders and directors of The Virtues Project International. She travels around the world in support of the project’s initiatives, speaking to communities, businesses, and governmental organizations. The United Nations Secretariat has honored the Virtues Project as a model for global reform for people of all cultures. She lives in the Gulf Islands near Victoria, British Columbia.

The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project

These strategies help us live more reverent, purposeful lives, raise morally conscious children, create a culture of character in our schools, and enhance integrity in the workplace. They are being used worldwide to build safe and caring communities.

v  Strategy 1: Speak the Language of Virtues

v  Strategy 2: Recognize Teachable Moments

v  Strategy 3: Set Clear Boundaries

v  Strategy 4: Honor the Spirit

v  Strategy 5: Offer Spiritual Companioning

“Great spiritual nuggets for a healthy spiritual pathway.”

Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Love Is Letting Go of fear===

INTRODUCTION

 

Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value.

Albert Schweitzer

Until life caught up with me, I was a dedicated member of the Stress Generation. I didn’t mean to be. It just happened. A few weeks before September 11, 2001, I struck up a conversation with an East Indian cabdriver in Vancouver as he drove me from the airport to a downtown hotel where I would be speaking at a conference the next day. We chatted about how he felt, living so far from most of his family. He told me he longed to have them here but that his relatives had no wish to come to North America. When I asked about it, he said, “When I go home to India, it is pure peace, no worries. People still have bills, they still pay the bills, but they are not busy – overdone – as people are here.” Overdone. I blushed in recognition. What an apt description of the typical stress-filled North American lifestyle, I thought, and the perfect word to describe what had led to my own collapse several years before in 1997.

After a lifetime in the healing professions, I lapsed. I had no idea how far I had been swept into the swift current of stress until a life-threatening health crisis literally knocked me off my feet. Like so many others in this era of excess, the demands of my life had outgrown my capacity to sustain it. I had drifted from a gentle path of reflection, reverence, and service to a fast-paced life of constant international travel and an attempt to manage a growing global project, which had become an all-consuming passion. I felt like the goddess Kali, all of her arms busy juggling, but without her steady knowing gaze of serenity and grace.

It all began with a simple desire to be of service, yet there I was careening toward a vortex of exhaustion. I know full well I’m not alone. Too many of us are constantly overdoing because we have overextended our lives, our financial resources, and our personal energy supply. Most days, we don’t even stop to breathe. And now, watching the nightly news has become a health hazard. The turmoil in the world seems worse than ever, the economy is uncertain and unpredictable. The deepening world conflict set in motion after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 has cast an unsettling shadow of anxiety and insecurity over an already overwhelming way of life. We are engulfed in an epidemic of stress in a culture of chaos.

I have always been privileged to pursue the work of my dreams – fulfilling a passionate prayer I uttered while circumambulating our backyard garden at age five: “God, please let me help people when I grow up.” I worked for decades in community mental health, consulted government leaders in the halls of Washington, companioned the dying at a hospice, conducted healing retreats with indigenous and inner-city communities, yet even the best of intentions didn’t protect me from burnout.

You see things and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

George Bernard Shaw

In 1990, my husband, Dan Popov, my brother John Kavelin, and I founded The Virtues Project. It began one April morning in 1998, over brunch at the stately, ivy-covered Empress Hotel overlooking the inner harbor in Victoria, British Columbia. John was enjoying the final day of his week of respite from his frantic career as a show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering in Los Angeles. He began to talk about wanting to be of more direct service to the world. The three of us experienced a crystalline, life-changing moment as we feasted on scones and salmon. We were discussing the state of the world – the rising tide of violence, the school shootings, the growing hole in the moral ozone – and one of us (I don’t recall who) said, “Someone should do something about it.” Suddenly we looked up from our plates, gazed deep into each other’s eyes, and in that moment the dream of serving together was born.

John moved up to Victoria, and we began working together. It occurred to us that violence was a symptom, and meaninglessness was the disease, therefore the cure would have something to do with the meaning of life. So we set off to find it. For years, Dan had studied the world’s sacred texts. He pointed us toward the six thousand years of spiritual guidance contained in the Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and Moslem texts. He researched those and more. We were startled by the luminous simplicity of the answer that emerged.

Running through the great spiritual teachings of all cultures, like a silver thread of unity, are the virtues, described as the qualities of the Creator and the attributes of the human soul. Love, justice, courage, joy, and peace are the essence of who we are.

The virtues are God’s grace to us, a gift in our lives. What we do with them is our gift to God. They are both our spiritual legacy and our destiny. Many sacred traditions also describe the virtues as a very high order of angels, pure expressions of the Divine nature, higher than the archangels.

We found that virtues are at the heart of the value system of every culture on earth and are expressed in the oral traditions of the First Nations. They are a universal vocabulary of character, a context that enables people to integrate spirituality into everyday life, whatever their belief system. Several years after we initiated The Virtues Project, a First Nations shaman in northern Canada told me, “Linda, The Virtues Project is the bridge between the cultures.” On our second trip to the Solomon Islands, Dan and I were invited to meet with the prime minister. We were surprised to recognize him as a participant in a virtues workshop two years before. He told us that he had attained his position after receiving the Virtues Card of service in that workshop. “It set the course for my life,” he told us.

In 1990, in a converted garage beside the home we shared on a five-acre property, we self-published The Virtues Guide, a kind of handbook to help parents to morally and spiritually mentor their children. The book offered simple ways to awaken the virtues within ourselves and our children, describing fifty-two of the three-hundred-plus virtues we discovered in the world’s sacred texts. To say we published a book sounds a bit too lofty, given the fact that we were photocopying it onto three-hole paper and Saran wrapping it for shipment. Within two months of completing the guide, we received orders from more than twenty countries, where news of the book had spread by word of mouth alone. In 1997, to our amazement, the book caught the attention of all the major publishing houses in New York and was put up for auction. Penguin republished it as The Family Virtues Guide (this time with binding!), and Oprah Winfrey invited me to present it on an episode of her show in 1998, “Doing the Right Thing.” It has become a international best seller.

The Virtues Project has evolved into a grassroots movement in more than sixty-five countries. In 1994, the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat recognized it as a model global program for families of all cultures. Suffice it to say the project took over our lives; seven years after we started it, my life was completely out of control. I found myself sinking under the weight of an unsustainable lifestyle, and finally I crashed.

  • I experienced a profound shock when the fatigue of post-polio took over my life. The world had been my pasture. Now I could no longer drive, had difficulty walking some days, and often could only concentrate and hold my head up for a couple of hours a day.
  • Darkness greeted me on that winter morning when I opened my eyes. When I attempted to get out of bed, my legs went out from under me, and I plunged into a dark inner place of hopelessness and fear.

I struggled out to my prayer corner in the living room by holding on to furniture and leaning on walls. I literally fell to my knees, sobbing, and cried out, “Help me, God! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to live like this.” I anticipated silence, expected no response. Suddenly, the familiar voice of Spirit spoke: “I will give you ten rules for health. Write them down and follow them.” The commanding power and clarity of this inner voice startled me, but I immediately pulled myself up to my prayer chair, grabbed my journal, and began to write. It felt like taking very rapid dictation.

When it was over, I read through the Ten Rules. They were simple, practical, and surprising – demanding a radical change in my lifelong habits of overdoing at the cost of self-neglect. The first rule was Purity and Cleanliness. It contained detailed instructions about purifying my diet – what foods to eat, the required amounts of water to drink, and the necessity of immersing my body in water each day. The meditation ended with the tenth rule: Plan a sustainable life. That morning, this phrase utterly mystified me. I had absolutely no idea what the word “sustainable” meant. I had a vague understanding of the words “sustain,” meaning to support life, “sustenance,” which means food, and “sustainable,” something that endures over time. Although the phrase baffled me, I did have an alarming sense that if I failed to follow the Ten Rules, I would probably not survive.

To be continued.