HAPPY BIRTHDAY, H.O.P.E!
on February 12, 1987, you convened the first H.O.P.E. Group meeting in the conference room of Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway (Maine) Attending then were Dr. Ken, Office manager Kathleen G, “I can cope” R.N, Sharon W, and five participants with cancer who came to help each other “get on with their lives” (Dr. Ken’s McGill Physician’s promise). You had no name that day, and the group accepted the challenge to name you in time for the next week’s meeting. Nurse Sharon came back then with “Healing Of Persons Exceptional” and we all cheered.
We have sent you on a growth journey that has led to over 5000 of your weekly two-hour meetings, plus hundreds of workshops and H.O.P.E. Guide trainings. Here’s to the next 30 years of helping each other find meaning, value and purpose in their lives in the face of whatever challenge that Life gives them. Good job, H.O.P.E! What an honor to have served you!
Looking for support in your healing process?
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 six 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!”
No H.O.P.E. Group near you?
Be your own H.O.P.E. Group… here’s how – a personal life plan unfolds – stepwise!
1. Pencil and paper in hand, get comfortable and give yourself permission to know that you, like every other human, were born with a “worthy ideal,” a “dream,” a “fantasy,” a “divine assignment”. Take a few deep breaths, relax your eyes and let thoughts of achieving that “worthy ideal” come to mind as an action. Write out every one that comes up now, even if there is but one.
2. Patiently relax into an intention for every worthy ideal you wrote down. An intention is more than a goal… a line to cross is something you’d like to have happen, or something you’d like see come out of a particular circumstance. Take mine, for instance: “My worthy ideal is to become a doctor like my grandfather and one of his nephews.” It is already in your imagination, and the work of your life is to make that image real.
3. Now, you’ve just remembered why you are here, haven’t you? Good! Now write out the answer this question: “Who am I?” Well, let’s get clear that you are not just a body, you are a spiritual being – a Soul, just as the Source made you – immersed in your human body, and promised this life at the beginning of time.
4. Alright then, journal what comes up in response to this question: “How am I going to get what I came for, and exactly what am I to do with it when I have it?
5. Now you need a context in which all of this works: An attitude of service: “First of all, do no harm; second, do some good; third, benefit someone.” Promise that you’ll do everything in your power to help people get on with their lives. Be aware that in making this promise, you’ll be a beneficiary of it, too. This is called “The Law of Returns”, also heard as: “What goes around comes around.”
6. Now, I strongly recommend that you download a copy of the H.O.P.E. Goldbook that we read at the opening of every H.O.P.E. Group meeting, and participants take home with them to help them keep their focus on care, wellness, kindness, forgiveness, health, and love in the face of so many harmful thoughts that seem to find their way into our lives.
There you have it. Start with yourself, and if you find others along the way who want to do more of this work, your group will grow.. Please know that we are always at your service, and we welcome your participation it the process. Just go to the menu bar at the top of the page and click on “Ask Us”. It will get you in touch with a senior H.O.P.E. Guide. Blessings thoughts come and abide….
Standing at a Fork in Your Road Facing Your Demons
First of all, in case you had not figured this out already, we are in chaos today. I liken it to standing at a fork in your road facing your demons. Like it or not the situation demands that we face our most powerful Demon, the Lord of Chaos, Satan, himself.
In addition, the famed major league baseball player, Yogi Berra, tells us, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Therefore, where do the two branches of your fork take you? In our present state of affairs, I see one branch leading down a barren road to a dusty death that could be nuclear. I could also see the other branch leading to a greening of the Earth Mother. If you have trouble understanding this, please be patient; you’ll see. In addition, let me share what crosses my mind now… two important images: our limitless nature – our immortality – and the limited life span of all revolutions, three of which are in their death throes as we speak: the 17th c. world-wide Industrial Revolution on the one hand, and the American and French revolutions against monarchy.
In addition, I share with you my fascination with the Universe that goes way back in my life. I grew up a few miles from the great Bell Telephone radio telescope that picked up the background radiation from the Big Bang. I visited it when I was a teenager. In my late teen years, I developed a fascination with the quantum reality aspects of this Universe; delighted to find out that it was finite, beginning as a point of light nearly 14 billion years ago. I was also fascinated to learn about the quantum experiments that proved that consciousness was infinite and timeless… a fundamental property of matter, and that matter is a fundamental finite quality of consciousness! On the one hand, it was apparent that matter can be measured in terms of space and time. On the other, it was apparent that consciousness cannot be measured in terms of space and time… It is both infinite and eternal… everywhere… now!
With this background, I have long held the sense that you and I have been promised these lives since the beginning of time. I was delighted to read in Peter Kingsley’s marvelous work, Reality, “We are immortal,” appearing for the first time on page 520 of that 600 page book! I saw that he was leading up to it by the time I had reached page 40, and wondering where he would say it!
About 25 years ago, a friend told me how he had a heart attack and, knowing that he had died, he went into an beautiful place of color, light, and love, knowing that he was dead. Especially relevant, he was aware that a very important piece of creative work had been interrupted by his death and immediately he heard a voice saying that he was to go back and finish it. On returning to this life, he finished his work and then had a second heart attack and left for good. He was the first of six people I have gotten to know who have had similar experiences with their own dying and going beyond their death. They all returned to complete an important service to others.
All of this makes perfect sense to me… not in terms of logical thinking, but knowing, as Antoine de St. Exupéry writes in his book, The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye.”
The Dying Revolutions and Chaos
I recently finished reading Chris Hedges’ 2015 book, Wages of Rebellion in which he examines the nature of unsuccessful and successful revolutions. He finds that successful revolutions create their own “vocabulary” that the oligarchs, against whom they rebel, cannot understand. The unsuccessful rebellions fail to create such a vocabulary. As I went through this, I realized that every revolution has a lifespan, the end of which comprised a disintegration of the thought forms that had created the revolution. That disintegration was inevitably chaotic.
The chaos that we see around us today marks the ending of prior revolutions. Consider that the three revolutions of the 18th century are in their death throes. One of the revolutions is industrial and social: the Industrial Revolution of 1750. The other two are political and social: the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789. Fundamental to the vocabulary of the approaching revolution are words that reflect attitudes and belief systems. Examples of the former are kindness and compassion. Examples of the latter are all associated with globalization, which, to me implies the growing recognition of our universal equality in the context of an immense diversity.
The Dark Side of It All
In respect to that image of universal equality as a reflection of the new vocabulary, there is a defensive, terribly fearful, retreat into the dark side of the dying revolutions. In this way, I can begin to appreciate the behavior of a class of powerful individuals who call themselves “The Elite”. This is not what you think it is; rather, it is the product of a denial that there are limited resources to keep us going in our consumption of those resources. There is a class of individuals who have accumulated great wealth from the consumption of our limited resources. They do not see that when we run out of these resources, all of us will suffer the same fate as any homeless human on the streets of every hometown. Yes, denial can take incredible forms… one only needs to be reminded of the Holocaust. It makes you keep on standing at the fork in your road.
It occurs to me that the trillions of dollars accumulated by these ravenous, insatiable appetites represent the energy that can keep the earth and its human population very much alive and well! It occurs to me as well that it does not pay to try to isolate these highly creative and intelligent, but misled, human beings… they will only retreat into their bomb shelters and hire mercenaries to protect them from what is really going on. Most of all, it is better to look peacefully at them in their fear and acknowledge it by saying, “I see what you want me to do, and I will not do it because I will not let you control my life. So, come out of your bomb shelters. We are not going to hurt you.” Rather, I believe that we shall follow the example of Bishop Desmond Tutu confronting the police lining the walls of his Grace Cathedral to prevent a march against apartheid. He extended his open hand, saying, “You cannot mock my G*d; for He will not be mocked. Come join the winning side. You have lost already.”
H.O.P.E. Groups Facing the Dark Side
It seems like we need H.O.P.E. Groups to help each other get through this time and stop standing at the fork in our road. H.O.P.E. groups, big or small, are supportive of each other using a loving, gentle, non-judgmental approach to achieve unity instead of division. As a result, I believe we can direct our future to follow the green road and thrive.
The chaos of our time
The chaotic time into which we have plunged is not unknown in our history on this Earth. It is the sign that we are evolving. The tragic insanity of two huge “World” wars in the last century screams the suffering of this chaos. Are we sitting on the edge of a vast precipice doomed to fall into it and repeat that suffering? I don’t think so; rather, I have a strong sense that another story unfolds that bridges the chasm: the story of an evolution we are challenged to imagine: We are evolving… so where are we going?
We certainly cannot go back to the time of World War II when our industry and the resources which made that industry possible produced incredible weapons of war. We have exported our heavy industries, and we have come perilously close to exhausting the energy resources that fed the war industries. Furthermore, we are poisoning the atmosphere with the carbon waste of running those industries. Can we go back? No, we cannot….
The old industrial way
The old industrial way demanded of us that we become consumers of those resources. We became addicted to the idea of this form of consumption. (Ironically, consumption is an old name for galloping tuberculosis, a life – threatening infection of the lungs and the spine!) There is a mindset in our country, which is attached to the idea that we all become consumers of the products of the industries that we have exported. No, my friends, it is time to let go of that old image of consumption and consumers and consider the implications of becoming creative producers of thought and action on a very different scale: service to each other, to the earth, and to the universe!
Our evolving Universe
I have previously shared in http://hopehealing.org/i-know-something-about-you/ what I know of the evidence that we exist in an evolving universe that first lit its fires some 13.7 billion years ago. We know that that fire is not only a creative fire that created you and me and every star and galaxy that we can see in the night sky, and then some; it is a conscious fire that is fully aware of itself and totally committed and devoted to becoming itself. I go so far as to say it created us as holographic fragments of itself to help it in its evolution. I know that I share this perception with many. Yes, we are evolving… so where are we going?
Holographic fragments of the Whole
The Creator has created over 300 million of us Americans, every one of whom is a holographic fragment of that Source! Yes, even the most tragic as well as the most famous of us all! Together, we create a dynamic tension of opposites, which we know, today, is the only creative power possible…. I appeal to all of you, my fellow Americans, to go into the silence of your homes, into your places of religious practice, into your prisons, into your businesses, into your hospitals and nursing homes, and spend time exploring this whole idea that we are not here by accident, but are here as a result of Divine Intention to help that Divine Intention – which created the Universe – continue in that mysterious, wondrous and miraculous phenomenon called Life.
I simply offer you my 40-year experience with helping my patients “get on with their lives”. That second-year medical school instruction empowered my career in general surgery. My patients helped me learn these gems: we can choose an attitude of kindness; choose a function of compassion; and choose the creative energy of the universe called Love. Please look critically and favorably on the tension that we have just experienced around electing a person desperately looking to be loved to be our president. Let us give ourselves permission to see that this is not an accident. It is not anybody’s fault. It is, however, a great opportunity to experience the creative tension that makes the universe run.
We Americans are, individually and collectively, citizens of the most ethnically diverse nation in the world. We, like humans the world over, are uniformly and universally creative. Let us commit ourselves to joining now in our creativity to help the world heal, a process that can most certainly involve all 300 million of us Americans to help build that bridge of Love across the yawning chasm of fear. In crossing it, we can find pause to rest with Kindness, Compassion, Evolution, Unity, Courtesy, Respect, Justice, Creativity, Care, Respect, and Peace. We are evolving creatures in the wonderful and beautiful evolving Universe… the product of one Divine Imagination.
Two days ago I posted a blog titled “A Contentious Election In An Irrational Time” that focused on making a 180° shift from the fear–anger–guilt way in which we have lived our lives for thousands of years to peace, creativity, compassion, and kindness. I detailed simple ways to “reframe” this very important shift. I consider that post to be a segue to this one, The Healing Power of Presence, which focuses on two words with basically one fundamental idea: love and presence. I share with you now two previously published stories (in Bridges Magazine for Living Subtle Energies, 2009 # 3. Lafayette CO) that made this clear to me. [click to continue…]
We are experiencing a contentious election in irrational time. I am a Depression Baby and I remember the contentious irrational behavior of the 1930s that led to a disastrous war. I am seeing much the same today, and I recognize a common pattern that goes back thousands of years. The only problem today is that wars can become nuclear, wiping ourselves off the face of the Earth. It would seem, too, that we are using other ways of wiping ourselves off the face of the Earth. What is going on? I strongly sense that we are being asked to evolve rapidly out of the industrial revolution into a time of creativity and service at a higher level than we have ever known, collectively. [click to continue…]
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…]