So H.O.P.E is 30…

What now?

Reach out and GROW!

As I look back over our first thirty years, I see a steady process of development that began with a study of how to help my surgical patients identify a core passion which they had in their earliest memories and then nurture it. To put it in other words, I became a human development coach! Then in the 1980’s I learned about support groups and guided imagery, and incorporated those skills into my practice. What began for cancer patients benefited a host of other challenges. This process grew and evolved, reaching maturity earlier this year.

H.O.P.E’S Board of Directors recognized that they were ready to take H.O.P.E. as far as it could go, building on a motto that first appeared in 1988: “H.O.P.E. is everywhere for everyone”. With our development solid and virtually complete, we were called to become marketers and promoters of what we stand for.

The full meaning of a 2004 dream about the wreck of a driverless train off its tracks crashing into the waters of Penobscot Bay with the loss of all on board became clear earlier this year… it was our oh-so-strange political executive and legislative branches that were off the tracks and headed toward a catastrophic disaster. In the dream I found my way through the smashed undergrowth into a dark, dark forest. With the help of the trees in that forest, I found my way onto open land and a large railroad terminus with trains at platforms waiting for all those humans who were coming out of that dark forest. When full, their engineers closed the doors and headed out on converging tracks becoming a single track leading to a lovely light on the horizon.

What H.O.P.E. has learned during its developing years is to help people find their way through that dark forest, which is likely to confront just about every one of us humans. Here, it comprises all of us who began their journey by working their way through the wreckage left by the train wreck.

We need your help in experiencing what we have to offer. We’ve shown you how to do this work. Your personal initiative in convening H.O.P.E. groups that rely on the H.O.P.E. Goldbook to keep the group headed toward that lovely light of our potential in a living, loving Universe, in which all human beings are created equal with individual dreams and core passions. Yes, we are all one. Please feel free to contact us, and we’ll keep looking for 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….

Recent News

The one Source of everything

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…]

The Root of Violence Is Separation

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.

The Illusion

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…]

Ending War and Beginning Peace

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…]

Meditation and the Pachelbel Kanon

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

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…]

Tao Te Ching; Book of Changes; or, simply, the Tao

Come with me on an exploration of the ancient and classic Chinese text known as Tao Te Ching. The text, which is laid out in 81 sections, is often enigmatic, which, to the Western mind, can be very confusing. Over centuries, much time and thought has been spent exploring this work, creating a confusion of interpretations. The version created by Stephen Mitchell and published by HarperPerennial in 1988 appeals to me because Mitchell studied many translations of the text in several different languages and came to the realization that he could express this in a contemporary version. This has received both praise and criticism from scholars. However, he does not claim that this is a translation; it is a version and I happen to like it. It still leaves me with many challenging, contradictory thoughts that stimulate my creativity.

I will simply say that this work excites my love of the Mystery that I have never been able to explain; nor have I wanted to. I only spend time appreciating the profound Mystery of the very existence of the entire universe including you and me. [click to continue…]

Hate, Compassion, and Tonglen

Freeing oneself of hatred by practicing compassion…

You may well ask how hate, compassion, and Tonglen could possibly relate to each other… a single word will do… fear! Hate is a simple, animist, survival response to fear. Compassion transforms that response to peace. Tonglen is a specific practice of the breath that comes from the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and which makes that transformation a physical process.

Now, you may well ask how I might be familiar with all of this… my answer… my healing traditions; my choice to become a physician; my fascination with physiology (the study of bodily functions); and 40 years of helping myself and others with what can well be called “attitudinal healing”, especially that aspect which makes it possible to become peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. I have been shown in many ways that compassion is the attitude which makes the action of cutting attachments—forgiveness—possible. [click to continue…]

Love, honor, and respect all women

I invite you to come with me on a journey to love, honor, and respect all women. I share with you a segue of two quotes, the first from Carl Sagan: “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”

The second comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”

I began working on this post, “Love, honor, and respect all women” shortly after I had posted the one concerning our evolution from violence through nonviolence to peace. [click to continue…]

My December 31, 2014, blog post, Shame, Blame, and Guilt is a segue to this one: Violence, Nonviolence, and Peace: our past, present, and future. That first triplet, which I call “the cruel offspring of judgment” is the primary cause of all violence. In it, I pointed out that all harm comes from the misapplication of knowledge. From that we can imagine a beneficial application of knowledge. What then might the future look like were we to find a way to describe a beneficial application of knowledge and then to use it? I call that second triplet “our way home”. I invite you to explore this with me.

We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
Carl Jung

[click to continue…]

Shaman, a healer of soul wounds

A shaman is a healer of soul wounds. S-he is a human being who is able to travel to the realm of the soul of an individual or a community and heal the deep spiritual wounds of trauma—soul wounds—by retrieving the fragments of soul that have fled trauma to hang out in another realm, draining the host of life energy—Chi. By simple ritual(s) the shaman instills the fragment(s) back into their true home, restoring that energy to the rightful host. This simple description of a remarkably diverse set of healing practices found in virtually every corner of the earth comes to me from two masters of shamanic work here in America: Michael Harner, PhD, author of The Way of the Shaman, and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies www.shamanism.org
and his protégé, Sandra Ingerman, MA, author of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.

Sandra grew up in New York City, a chronically depressed New York teenager whose depression disappeared quickly when she went to work with a New York shaman. She was already familiar with Harner’s work, and in one of her deep depressions, a friend reminded her of her familiarity with him, saying (if I remember Sandra’s words correctly, nearly twenty years later), “Sandy you know Michael Harner… for G—d’s sake, go and get your soul back!” She did; she healed; she became active in his organization; and now has her own rich experience to share at www.sandraingerman.com/. I suggest you pay her a visit there to see how broad and rich her shamanic experience has become. [click to continue…]