~ by Mary Rocamora. M.A. ~For the first six months of 1993, I acted as "secretary to Awareness" and the Personal Journey course was written. The inspiration came from my long association with Carlton Salter, who was an avid reader of Krishnamurti's writings, and my own interest in adapting aspects of Buddhist metaphysics and Western psychotherapy into a precisely sequenced lesson plan that was fresh, accessible and profound. When we sat down with our first group of students in June of that year, we were all admittedly clueless as to what this course actually was. Throughout the last seven years and hundreds of students later, much has been discovered about this course work. It came out of paying attention while I was teaching it and by editing it annually to tighten it up and incorporating feedback from the students--what has confused them and what has resonated. Here's what has been discovered. A new paradigm has been introduced. The spiritual and personal growth work of the past has always had some inherent dimension of separation characterizing it. There have been priests and parishioners, gurus and followers, teachers and students, therapists and clients, all examples of hierarchical separation implying that one has a superior knowledge over another. In Western culture, God is depicted as a remote perfect father figure, while we lowly sinners can only aspire to overcoming our original sin. New Age reinventions of these traditional models haven't done differently. At best, we have been in a constant state of striving for what seems to be just out of reach, and at worst, we have been left shame based and feeling less than. The Journey work is peer process. There is no hierarchical separation. We are all doing the work, and we all learn from each other. It does not foster dependency on teachers or facilitators who purportedly "know more." It recognizes that everyone has equal access to their own answers and to higher states of consciousness. It teaches us to pay attention in ways that make it possible to end the separation--from who we authentically are, from a continuous state of presence, from others and from our open hearts. The group process illustrates that the whole is more than the sum of its parts -- the power of the group carries its members into an accelerated deepening and expansion. Unlike Western psychology, 12-step programs, or many other New Age models, this work is not pathology based or problem-centered. It works with the whole range of states of Awareness. The facilitation method is inductive, which introduces a new way of paying attention. Induction means asking, "what does it feel like to you?" This approach allows people to access their own responses, using their own words. It also strengthens our trust in our own perceptions, which get more fine-tuned as the course work progresses. As Elaine McBroom has astutely pointed out, this course work not only gives us a way to get free from Ego and its patterns, it gives it a place to go to, which is the free state. The structure of the course work involves recognizing contrasting states in the same context. For example, there is a noteworthy difference between being frustrated or impatient and being present when we are stuck in traffic. It's still not fun, but we can be present with what is. By learning how to relax out of trapped states or old stories in to the moment, we can choose to be more sustainably in free and expansive states. All situations we face in daily life are opportunities to see how each is experienced from both states. This develops a choice point, and if we're willing, we can shift our attention back to the free and present moment. Catching ourselves in Ego stories and patterns and having the self-discipline to not indulge them is the path to being sustainably in the Now, with, as Jeff Whitman coined, hands off and hearts open. What's real depends on our view from within the field of Awareness. When we talk about contrasting states, we're simultaneously bringing up the question of what is real. If we're completely trapped in a pattern, the overlay of pattern seems real at the time. Typically, we're reactive, separated and uncomfortable. However, when we're present in the same situation, we are able to see what is, and that feels open, real and natural. While the view from a simple state of presence allows us to see what is actually going on, the deeper view from the open heart is a more profound sense of what is real. When we are present watching a spider spinning his web, we see his industriousness and his process. From the open heart, we are filled with the wonder of nature. The course work opens the way to a much more expansive life. In that it is the nature of the Love to expand, as we become more consistently heart centered, we begin to step into a larger life. The Transpersonal Journey was formally offered in January, 1999. When we can see that Ego is an illusion, it is a further progression to begin to explore the free state, and to discover that the view of what is real evolves as we go deeper. How is the free state actually constructed, and what is it each of us is really here to experience, express and contribute? In the Transpersonal work, we learn to become comfortable taking the risk of stepping into the Unknown. We soon realize that the resources needed to support those steps are right there. Sometimes the resources aren't what Ego thinks they should be, but they are a perfect match for the expansion that is taking place. To walk away from a debilitating job even when the next job isn't in sight allows new employment opportunities to come in that are more rewarding and more lucrative. We also begin to look for things that feel synchronistic--the external events and the inner impulses that move us to engage them. This allows us to see what direction our current life themes are heading toward. By following a synchronistic chain of events, we can recognize a trend -- that we are going to be able to buy a house, or that we are being diverted from a career in technology toward a career in public service. When synchronistic occurrences can be seen clearly, we can begin to perceive where they come from. We discover that there is a grid or matrix in the free state through which the limitless field of Love and Awareness passes into the world of form and time. As the Love passes through the grid, it creates differentiation of the field into its myriad unique sentient forms, which in turn energize the field. We can then see what is coming into manifestation in our own lives and how those events are distributed throughout the lifetime. Then there is the discovery of the pre-existent (not predetermined) life plan, of which this lifetime is only one chapter of many. We begin to notice that certain experiences feel like they are already there, and all we have to do is step into them. The unexpected inheritance, the theft of the car, or the writing project that just fell into our lap all open life up in new ways. By staying congruent with the life plan, we end the last dimension of separation we can in human form. We also fulfill everything we are here in this life to be and do. The most significant discovery has to do with the rapid and profound evolution of the students, including MacMinn and myself. This course work has attracted some truly amazing spiritually and trans-formationally gifted people. Everyone deserves the credit for demonstrating the integration of it in daily life. It is a real inspiration to see the progress from week to week. Given a lifetime of being stuck in Ego, we all have shown how fast progress can be made in getting into a sustainable free state. It's so exciting!