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A H.O.P.E. Group is a safe place in which we come together to find wellness by sharing our story and listening with open heart and mind to the other stories in the room. In our H.O.P.E. Groups we learn the practice of compassion and the release of suffering — the engine of forgiving. Join us at one of our five locations in Maine to see for yourself what a difference a H.O.P.E. Group can make.
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Welcome to H.O.P.E.
…where you find out who you really are… where we know that at the core of our being all humans strive to be healthy and whole—a process called healing; all of us are persons; and because no two of us are alike, we are all exceptions to each other…. Moreover, an intense, indomitable curiosity about life, health, and our spirituality has brought us to see that we are alive because the whole marvelous Universe is alive, and It’s not in the business of repeating Itself… we are, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin told Jean Houston just before he died in 1955, “spiritual beings immersed in the human condition!”
As I look around me at that train wreck that I have earlier posted here, “chaos” crosses my mind. For me this calls up the principle of Attitudinal Healing that says, “We can choose and to direct ourselves to be peaceful inside, regardless of what is happening outside.” I am reminded that such train wrecks occur regularly throughout our history and the future lies in what we can do with the wreckage… put it back together, or build something completely new out of it. Today, the image that comes up for me in place of the train wreck is the image of a sinking ship like Titanic. This is the threshold of a great Revolution in the way we see ourselves and our Mother — Mother Earth
The 1912 Titanic shipwreck
The first and last voyage of the ill-fated passenger liner, RMS Titanic, began on April 10, 1912 and ended on April 15, 1912 two miles down on the ocean floor. She had collided on a slant with an iceberg that tore apart her riveted hull across five of her sixteen watertight compartments. She was traveling at a relatively high speed, and at night she only had the power of trained observers to detect the icebergs that lay in her path. She was powered by huge coal-fired boilers driving three propellers. She had no radar or sonar or satellite communications that could detect the presence of those icebergs. She was, however, the best the world could create in 1911. Moreover, because she was considered to be “unsinkable,” she only had lifeboats for half the number of people on board! [click to continue…]
Compassion and peace are not intellectual abstracts! They are a practice and an attitude that are exquisitely simple to learn and share with others. In the sharing, they grow.
When I first began my surgical practice in 1971, I knew very little about compassion and peace. However, I was known as “the doctor who listens” so I must have known something about it for some time before. I convened the first “H.O.P.E. Group” meeting in February 1987, which attracted the attention of the holistic medicine movement. I started participating in their meetings and workshops, one of which was a workshop on mindfulness meditation. There, I encountered a steady emphasis on compassion, and my curiosity got the better of me. It led me to the work of Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan Buddhist born of American parents in Brooklyn, New York, who taught me the practice of Tonglen to relieve suffering. I found it to be extremely powerful and effective, and I used it regularly in H.O.P.E. Groups where the suffering of serious illness was commonplace. [click to continue…]
In 2013, I had a “key dream” (the kind I remember forever), a bright Dream of the Future. In it a “good friend” invited me to go with him on a drive down to the western shore of Penobscot Bay. This was an invitation that I could not refuse… Pen Bay is a piece of God’s country that I love to visit and then return home to another piece of God’s country that nurtures me to the depth of my soul – my home in Oxford Hills. The dream developed around an off–the–track train wreck that I saw happen, but in which I was not involved as a passenger. After it had passed, I scrambled through the wrecked trees into the still–standing trees of a deep, dark forest that called me to walk through it, on the other side of which I saw a beautifully clear image of where we humans are going.
My “good friend”
This “good friend” is a featureless presence that I have known ever since I first met him in the early 1930s when he was my “imaginary childhood playmate”. I used to tell my mother about my latest adventure with him, and she got used to asking me what was going on with him in my life, because he was as much there in my waking life as well as my sleeping life. When I was about four years old, I had a dream in which we separated. He told me he was leaving and in response to my question he told me he would be back… I would know when. [click to continue…]
The time for breaking deafening silence in H.O.P.E’s communications has come. Your editor has been silent for two reasons: first, and most important, was whether the time of serving my “worthy ideal” was coming to an end or not; and, second, how was H.O.P.E’s mission to fit into the dynamic of change we face today.
The concept of the “worthy ideal”
This concept comes from the lifetime study of success conducted by Earl Nightingale, who, arguably, is the world’s greatest student of success. According to Earl, success is the “progressive realization of a worthy ideal,” and every one of us is born with one. However, our environments have a great influence on our early years, and we can forget that “worthy ideal”. Earl said that the greatest service we can do for self and others is to remember that worthy ideal and serve it.
During the last three months, I have explored my worthy ideal to a depth I had never quite gone before. [click to continue…]
I would like your attention for a few moments while this physician/surgeon shares with you how he sees that cancer is a living metaphor for fear; and how a simple instruction in second year medical school led to the discovery of a powerful and effective means of confronting fear–peacefully–through the power of hope and love.
In medicine, I was taught that cancer was a cellular disease caused by deep distortions of the cellular blueprint that made it a stranger in the body of its host. It then grew without any regulation or control of the growth. It was able to bring blood vessels to itself to give it oxygen at lower than normal levels. It came under attack by the body’s immune systems, and learned to defend itself against them. It developed ways to spread itself, hiding in dark corners in the host body, compromising the life of the host and ultimately causing the death of the host and itself, all the while being unaware of the fatal nature of its behavior. [click to continue…]
There is but one Source of everything and we have countless names for It and a whole host of prophets, many of whom claim to be the sole authority to speak for that which cannot be named. As the Tao Te Ching puts it in its opening lines, “the name that can be named is not the eternal Name.”
With these words, I invite you to join me in exploration of that which appeared some 2500 years ago in the mind of a legendary figure in China known as Lao Tzu. Very little is known about him, even his name. However, these words open up rich realms of the mind, just as Abraham’s mind sensed the oneness of the nameless Source in a burning bush some 4000 years ago. And many others have explored the path of the singular nature–the oneness–of that Source, which I chose to call by a more traditional and conventional name that has a profoundly disturbing effect on some for reasons that I hope will become clear. For the sake of all those offended by the old and judgmental name, I feel comfortable with using “Source” for that which is truly nameless and indescribable.
As I explore my long-standing interest in our history, I see that we humans have tried for thousands of years to explain our existence. [click to continue…]
First of all, the root of violence is separation – separation from the other and the Other. It is, simply put, an illusion – the greatest illusion of all: the illusion of separation… the root of all evil.
That illusion is the source of all violent behavior… it is fear of the most horrible kind… the raw sense of desperation that arises from believing that we are nothing but an accident of matter: meaningless in a meaningless universe consisting only of matter devoid of consciousness, and, therefore, conscience.
Did that get your attention? Yes? Good! Because I meant it to. I invite you to stay with your thoughts and feelings and share them so that we all may learn. I would offer you that you are free of a tragic human conditioning and that you remember who we really are.
Did it not get your attention? Not so good! As a result, I invite you to direct your attention to its implications for the persistent violence we see growing exponentially throughout both the “civilized” and “uncivilized” world. I invite you to pay attention to the absence of feeling and consider the harm that comes from making that choice. I would offer you that you have been conditioned by a tragic human conditioning several thousand years old, and you have forgotten who we really are. [click to continue…]
If we are to talk about ending war and beginning peace—bringing the ghastly social destruction of war to an end—we must talk about what we are going to replace it with. We have a long history of conducting the mass killings that we call warfare… about 14,000 years of it, in fact. We don’t really have a history of conducting peace. Rather, it was more of a quiet time before the “inevitable” conflict began again for whatever fear-based reasons. For that reason, I call this post “Ending War and Beginning Peace”.
To look at the current status involved in ending war and beginning peace, I would like to bring to your mind four human beings, all of whom lived and served within the last hundred years. The first, US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, “The Fighting Quaker” (1881–1940), who served a 34-year career in many combats around the world, becoming the most decorated Marine in US history, including not one, but two, Medals of Honor. During his military career, he became progressively more disenchanted with a very dark side to warfare: profiteering from its tremendous consumption of resources, both human and non-human. This resulted in the writing and 1935 publication of an exposure of the actions of war mongers called War is a Racket, which is still in print. In his 1935 words, “War is a racket….It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
The second human being—one who comes to mind because of his great leadership qualities that earned him in 1942 the rank of General of the Army, and 10 years later the Presidency of the United States of America — President Dwight D Eisenhower. [click to continue…]
This post is about my experience with guided imagery, meditation and the Pachelbel Kanon in D, and HOPE Attitudinal Healing support group work. When I was introduced to support groups in 1986, one of the first humans I met in the field was Bernie Siegel M.D., a cancer surgeon at Yale University. Bernie had started support groups in his practice for cancer patients and used what was known then as “guided imagery” to help them create healing images. I knew that I was to learn the method. As I was already a practitioner of silent meditation, I could see that both meditation and guided imagery took place in an internal environment of altered consciousness that was essentially the same in both.
As I studied and practiced the art, I began to see that the particular piece of music that Bernie used had a certain structure which induced an altered state of consciousness. It was easy to see that meditation was a condition of deeper alteration in consciousness than guided imagery was. As I began to use it in H.O.P.E. Group meetings as a part of the closing, I learned that some people went into states of deeply altered consciousness for the duration of the guided imagery… much like what I was used to experiencing in deep meditation. [click to continue…]
Both a Mystic and a Rebel am I: I have been told by a good friend and advisor that I am not only a mystic but a rebel, and after listening to my heart around this, I realize that I am a rebel… not one who is against something… rather one who is for something. For me, that something is life, creativity, passion, respect, devotion, love…. As these rich concepts—thoughts—that science cannot define—rise from heart to mind, I am aware that this has always been what I stood for. I have had many fine humans come forward to teach me more about this. I remember some of their names, and I have forgotten many of their names. Nevertheless I live with deep gratitude to every one of them for their gifts.
I started H.O.P.E. in 1987 as a support group for people who had cancer and who wanted to get on with their lives. The rebel in me was passionately in a rebellion for life but not against cancer which I simply saw is a mistake of life, sensing that virtually any mistake can be corrected. The McGill University Faculty of Medicine emphasized this apparent rebellious thinking and acting for the six years I spent there. In short, it was the context of life and caring for life that made all of my therapies work. My professors were those who taught me how to use the science and data of medicine to help my patients get on with their lives. My teachers were those who taught me about the value of life and helping people get on with their lives—my patients in particular. [click to continue…]