- More than 30 years ago, when I was an agnostic, I began experiencing panic attacks that eventually drove me to the brink of suicide. Desperate to spare my wife and two young children any further pain, I prayed, not to the judgmental God of my childhood, but to the “creative force” responsible for my being on earth. Shortly after, I lay on my bed, not expecting any help, and gave up. My young daughter suddenly entered the bedroom, jumped on my back and called out “Daddy”. At that instant, I was transformed. I could literally feel a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders, as all of my fear and panic disappeared. I remained in that state of complete and utter peace for about 15 hours. My panic returned as soon as I started questioning why I was feeling so peaceful. This was extremely depressing, but I now knew there was help to be had beyond my own ego.
- A few months later, I flew home for a visit with my parents and siblings. Upon arrival, I was distressed to realize that I had somehow forgotten to bring my medication (for anxiety and depression). Late that evening, I sat alone at the kitchen table, reading the chapter called “Love” from the book All That You Are (by the anonymous author Mary), which my sister had loaned me. I thought about the incident described above, as well as other “coincidences” I had experienced, and I suddenly came to the unmistakable conclusion that God was real and God loved me. As soon as I realized this, I felt an exquisite energy (like an electric current) spring from the base of my spine, travel up my backbone, and seemingly emerge through the top of my head. This energy built and built in successive waves, until I was in a state of complete and utter ecstasy. I was basking in divine love, and I felt a tremendous love for God in return. I felt God’s intimate presence, and I considered the possibility that God could appear at any moment. However, the possibility of “seeing” God created some anxiety, and the ecstatic current gradually subsided. Although I was somewhat sad when the experience ended, I knew that I was forever changed. My panic was gone, never to return. Later, I learned that I had undergone a “Kundalini awakening”. Indeed, Kundalini was to play a central role in my subsequent spiritual development, including several more experiences providing further proof of God.
Here is a description of two events that occurred near the beginning of my active spiritual search that convinced me of the existence of a divine intelligence:
During the course of my spiritual journey, I studied the teachings of all of the world’s great religions. Concerning Islam, I found that many Quranic teachings are inconsistent with what my heart tells me. Perhaps chief among these is the teaching that our creator (Allah/God) only loves and accepts Muslims. This leads to the teaching that Jihad (holy war) is to be waged against non-Muslims. For the many reasons described in my book, I know that God loves me, just as I am. God’s love is fully and completely unconditional, regardless of belief or actions. Although I am a follower of Jesus, I am not a fundamentalist Christian. Jesus, I am convinced, did die on the cross (contrary to Islam’s claim that Allah put an imposter in his place). However, his death was not a sacrifice (in the Old Testament sense) demanded by God as an atonement for our sins. Rather, Jesus willingly went to the cross out of love for all of humankind, trusting that his destiny was a very important part of God’s plan. Jesus gave of himself as the suffering lamb, for all our sakes, to demonstrate God’s love and power to overcome darkness and raise us to new life. As Jesus says in the Gospel of John: “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly”.
God loves me, and God loves you, too.
Messages contained in our dreams can be extremely important in the process of healing from depression and finding enlightenment. That’s why I recommend that those who are on the path of healing keep a dream journal on their nightstand. Dreams are a link to the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind is linked to the Divine. Dreams therefore can convey spiritually-important messages to the dreaming ego. I was reminded of the distinction between the subconscious mind and the ego via an otherwise rather ordinary dream I had the other night. A colleague and I were looking over a box of scientific instruments that apparently needed repair or recalibration. My colleague selected one instrument, with which I was not familiar, for closer inspection. He pushed the “on” button, looked at the readout, and exclaimed that it was reading “1000g” and was therefore clearly out of calibration. At first, I didn’t have a clue what “1000g” meant and was about to ask him, when it suddenly occurred to me that this was probably an instrument for measuring gravitational force. To demonstrate that I knew (or rather had guessed) the purpose of the instrument, I made a rapid swinging motion with my arm and jokingly stated that the calibrator must have been doing this during the calibration process. When I awoke, I immediately thought about how it took my dreaming ego awhile to figure out what my dream colleague (a character from my subconscious) was talking about, clearly demonstrating that it was my subconscious mind and not my ego that had concocted the dream scenario. Later, I realized that it was perhaps more likely that the non-calibrated instrument was simply a weigh scale, rather than a g-force scale. Regardless, this was a neat little illustration of how the subconscious mind can communicate with the ego in dreams. In my book, I present many more personal examples of this phenomenon, with emphasis on healing communication from the Divine - via the subconscious mind - to the ego.
Many families and friends are grieving deeply for loved ones killed in Las Vegas. My heart goes out to them. Exactly why the 64-year-old perpetrator acted as he did remains unclear, but he was suffering from mental illness. He was depressed and had been given a prescription for anxiety. I feel certain that his illness was due to child abuse (similar to what created HItler). For this reason, I also feel sorry for the shooter. Had he recognized the roots of his distress, he might have been able to experience self-compassion, which is crucial to healing. Reportedly, his father was a bank robber on the FBI's most-wanted list. ISIS is claiming that the shooter had converted to Islam several months ago, but have provided no real backup for this claim.
The shooter had accumulated worldly wealth, and was a gambling "high roller", but he did not love himself, for anyone who truly loves himself can never intentionally harm anyone. Only the sick, impermanent ego could believe that harming another accomplishes anything. The shooter had lost contact with his true self, his inner child. We were all created in the image of the Divine, pure and innocent, in love with both ourselves and the world. Then things happened, largely beyond our control, that caused us to lose our connection to our innate divinity. Many of us were taught that we are “by nature sinful and unclean”. We were raised in an environment where love was conditional on our acting in certain ways and achieving or believing certain things. We developed an ego that feared rather than trusted. Some of us became angry, hateful and vengeful. In extreme cases, we may have decided to strike out at the world. All of these reactions are products of the ego, but the ego is not who we really are. The ego has forgotten that our true self is a divine and eternal being. This is true for each and every one of us. As Neale Donald Walsch has written, “Hitler went to heaven”. So, too, has the Las Vegas shooter.
Last night I dreamed that I encountered a group of men discussing how best to deal with a person, in a position of power, whose words and actions they strongly disagreed with. They considered this person (whose actual identity was never mentioned) to be immoral. As their discussion progressed, a consensus was reached that the object of their scorn should be eliminated; i.e., they were planning to act as judge, jury and executioner. They evidently believed that it was more moral to eliminate this person than to allow him to continue abusing (in their view) his position. At this point, I decided to intervene. I stated that they needed to more fully consider the morality of their own planned action. However, rather than trusting their own feelings on this matter, I urged them to ask themselves the following question: “What would Jesus have done?”, and then act accordingly. I further stated that, if they really understood Jesus’ message, they could never go wrong. They would always be taking the moral high ground.
At this point, I awakened. My wife was also awake. I had been talking in my sleep, and she had heard everything I said. She was intrigued by my words and was pleased to have me put them into context.
What a paradise this world would be if we all emulated Jesus. This is clearly far too much to expect considering the current state of affairs, and the manner in which so many children, born innocent and loving, are raised in an abusive culture of religious fundamentalism and/or consumerism. However, every single attempt to do as Jesus would have done makes the world a better place. Let’s do our bit.
My wife and I just returned from a two-week train and ferry adventure across Europe. Our furthest point of travel from our home in southern France was the small city of Kajaani in central Finland (my ancestral homeland), where we took part in the 60th birthday celebrations of the maid of honor at our wedding and revisited the beautiful wooden church in which we had exchanged vows 39 years ago. During our journey we stopped over in Brussels, Hamburg and Stockholm on the way up and in Helsinki, Lubeck and Berlin on the way back. We were grateful for the company of good friends, the excellent food and drink, and the mainly lovely weather that we enjoyed. The only annoyance we experienced was a travel delay at the end of our trip caused by an electrical system failure at a Paris train station. Our high speed train was cancelled as a result and we were forced to take a night train that delayed our return home by some 13 hours. But even this potentially negative experience brought with it something to be grateful for, in that my wife and I were assigned a private sleeping cabin (containing six bunks), when we had expected to have to share with up to four strangers.
Near the end of our adventure, I was blessed with a peak gratitude experience. An anonymous reader of my book posted the following review on Amazon.ca:
By Amazon Customer on July 27 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"I loved reading about how much adversity this man was able to overcome. I can relate to him very much and he has enlightened me more than I ever believed he could through his studies and writing. I found this book on whim. A random google search months ago led me to find his website and upon quick review of the content of the website, I thought he might have hope to give me in the content of his book. And boy, did he. I am so very grateful to have come across this man's book and wisdom. I believe, as he might call it, it was a "synchronicity" that I stumbled across his writings. This book has helped me grow and learn about myself more than I had ever thought it might. It has instilled so much love and hope in my heart that will be used as a cornerstone in the foundation in my new found love for life. As someone who has personally suffered mental health issues myself, this book brought the exact hope and wisdom I needed to persevere. Mentally, I still have bad days but this book has instilled a great love and confidence in me that will never again be lost. From the bottom of my heart, thank-you Robert, for sharing with the world your hardships and how you've proved that mental health issues, no matter how severe, can be resolved with perseverance and most especially with love."
The reviewer has expressed gratitude for my book, and I in turn am extremely grateful for this review. It is further proof that what I experienced and learned can indeed be of benefit to others. This makes me happy!
As anyone who has experienced the death of a cherished pet can understand, this is not easy to write. I’m doing it both in memory of my dog, and as self-therapy - I want to remember the details. My beloved Dharma, a Gerberian Shepsky (German Shepherd – Siberian Husky cross) died on Easter Monday, three weeks shy of her 13th birthday. She had been the object of a great deal of affection. She would often rest at the entrance to rooms or at the base of stairwells, forcing us to step gingerly over her, so looking out for her presence became automatic. Now our big house feels really empty.
The typical lifespan of a Gerberian Shepsky is 10 to 13 years, so Dharma lived a full life. It was also a mainly happy life, with the first half spent in her birthplace of Northern Ontario, accompanied by her human siblings, and the second half spent with my wife and me in the south of France (with visits from her siblings). She looked, and acted, a lot like a wolf. While living at our rural home in Northern Ontario, I witnessed her catch and eat a partridge and a rabbit, and I also saw her chase after an adult black bear on two occasions (evidently much more scary for me than for her). In her adopted home in the center of a small French city, she was considerably more domesticated, spending hours relaxing in front of our store-front window watching the pedestrian traffic, and occasionally barking or baring her teeth when feeling threatened by a passing child banging on the glass. Her wolfish instincts would also sometimes display themselves if she suspected that her food dish was about to be taken away from her. However, the only person she ever bit was me, when I foolishly, without warning her, tried to pull from between her teeth a dirty tissue she had scooped out of the waste basket. She quickly expressed remorse. On the whole she was extremely affectionate, and would regularly push her head against my thigh to solicit scritches. She was also very loyal, and would lie patiently outside the classroom door during the entire time my wife was giving private language lessons, no doubt enjoying the sound of her voice. Always sad whenever she was left at home alone, upon our return she would give us hugs by lifting a foreleg and partially wrapping it around our shin. She was really afraid of only one thing – loud noises (including thunder, trains, gunshots and fireworks), and we did our best to shield her from them.
I did not have an easy time, spiritually, during my first year or so in France, and Dharma was my therapy dog. We went for daily walks, with frequent pauses so she could take in scents left by other dogs, while I made a point of smelling the roses. Strangers often commented on what a beautiful dog she was, but of course Dharma was not at all concerned about her appearance. She remembered where every cat along our numerous walking routes lived, and she would pull hard on her leash as we approached. I would occasionally dream that she was lost, and was so relieved to awaken. We had playtime every evening, during which my wife or I would steal her squeaky toy and toss it, and she would excitedly chase it down and then dare us to try to take it away again, growling threateningly and wagging her tail at the same time. She loved car rides, whether to the grocery store or into the mountains, although this became slightly problematic after she lost the strength to leap into the trunk several months ago. She strongly objected to being lifted or carried, so this was solved by folding down the split rear seat so she could enter the trunk via the back door. She experienced some bouts of arthritis, no doubt exacerbated by a run-in with a truck several years ago, but these had been largely controlled with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. She also began to occasionally display loss of bladder control, which is a quite common problem with aging spayed female dogs. But on the whole she continued to be active (including digging excitedly for voles during an excursion in the Pyrenees just a week ago Sunday). However, early last week she suddenly became lethargic and refused all food, including her routine of an evening dental stick (she had perfect teeth) and subsequent snack of potato chips. She even turned down her number one favorite snack of canned tuna in water. Last Thursday evening was very difficult. Dharma lay motionless with her rear legs splayed out behind her, and as my wife gently supported Dharma’s heavy head in her hand, she said that she thought Dharma was dying. This was the first time we shed real tears at the prospect of losing her. She drank copious quantities of water placed in front of her, and peed most of it out where she lay. That night I slept on cushions placed on the floor beside her to keep her company. On Good Friday, my wife and I were scheduled to drive to her brother’s home about two hours to the north, where we were to spend the night before driving further to visit the new prehistoric man exhibit at Lescaux (for which visits have to be booked and paid for in advance). Fully expecting we would have to cancel the trip, we took Dharma to the vet first thing Friday morning (Good Friday is not a national holiday in France, although Easter Monday is). By the time we got there, Dharma had perked up a bit. The vet performed a thorough exam, including blood tests. Everything came back normal, and the vet commented that, all in all, Dharma seemed to be in quite good shape for her age. She suspected complications from arthritis, and gave Dharma a shot of cortisone, as well as prescribing anti-inflammatory tablets which we were to start giving her on Tuesday.
We returned home, much relieved, and Dharma herself rebounded nicely. She quickly became active and regained her appetite, so that we felt confident in leaving her with my wife’s mother during our three day absence. While we were gone, we kept in touch, and were informed that all seemed well. Upon our return on Sunday afternoon, Dharma greeted us affectionately. She settled down in the store-front window and barked at an annoying passerby, seemingly her old self. But, sadly, her condition deteriorated very quickly. She refused both food and water. She simply lay motionless on the laundry room floor all evening, apparently resigned to her situation, and started exhibiting labored breathing. By the next morning, she had moved to the adjacent family room, but the labored breathing worsened. Then she suddenly arose, and staggered into the hallway before collapsing at the foot of the stairs. At this point we were quite sure she was approaching the end. She did not express any signs of fear, but she did seem to be sad. Being Easter Monday, the vet’s office was closed. My wife and I felt that the most compassionate course of action would be to stay by her side and comfort her as much as possible. Amidst our own tears, we took turns stoking her and speaking lovingly to her. She managed to move outside where she lay briefly on the patio before being bothered by flies and retreating to the kitchen, where she collapsed for the last time. Shortly thereafter, her breathing became extremely shallow and slow. It was so difficult to watch as it finally ceased entirely. I was concerned that her eyes stayed open (notwithstanding my attempts to gently close them) and her tongue protruded, but I have since read that this is normal for dogs. I also felt very badly for her that she had to take this final step of her journey by herself.
In a dazed state, my wife and I buried our sweet girl in our garden, under the apple tree, our tears flowing freely. The fact that Dharma had truly enjoyed life and would have preferred to live longer, combined with my own pain of loss, made me experience anger in addition to sadness. However, I am inclined to believe that Dharma may also have felt sadness near the end because she understood that those who loved her, and whom she loved in return, would feel pain at her passing. She had depended on us for her care and sustenance, and for awhile I felt as though I had let her down. But when I thought rationally, I acknowledged that she had been very well loved and cared for, and had lived a full and long life (for dogs, but seemingly too short for us). I have been blessed with proof that Jesus lives and that he loves me. What finally brought me the most peace was a prayer I made to Jesus to love and comfort Dharma.
Until we meet again, my good girly-girl.
Religious fundamentalism is largely based on a false premise, this being that God can be offended, insulted or provoked. Only an ego can take offense at anything, and God has no ego. However, the God that is worshiped by fundamentalists takes offense (i.e., feels slighted or insulted and gets resentful or angry) when human beings "sin" by either performing, or failing to perform, all manner of actions. Religious fundamentalism is generally patriarchal and promotes hard, ego-based actions such as judgment and punishment at the expense of soft, spirit-based qualities such as love and forgiveness. Both Jehovah of the Old Testament and Allah of the Quran have an ego. Fundamentalist Islam teaches that those who do not act in a manner consistent with the commands of Allah, as revealed by the Prophet Muhammad, risk everlasting damnation and torment. Those who reject the call of Islam are to be subjugated or even killed ("jihad"). Fundamentalist Christians believe that no one, no matter how sincere, can ever be good or innocent enough to satisfy God. As a consequence of "original sin", even newborn babes risk God's wrath. The only saving grace is accepting that salvation has been purchased through the sacrifice of God's son Jesus. However, Jesus never claimed that he needed to be put to death so that we could be made acceptable in God's sight. This was a concept promoted by Paul, and was a carry-over from the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice. The God revealed by Jesus himself is different. Jesus' God loves us unconditionally and would never sentence anyone - regardless of their beliefs or even their actions - to an eternity of exclusion in hell. True salvation lies in discovering one's real identity, which is a magnificent and loving eternal being created in the image of God.
With the recent passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was assigned to the easy target – Israel and the “illegal settlements”. However, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essentially a religious (Muslim-Jewish) conflict that greatly predates the settlements in question. The main cause of the conflict is Islam’s historical antagonism toward Jews, which is rooted in the Quran. The governing Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their misguided supporters and sympathizers, including the Security Council and proponents of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, accuse Israel of being responsible for the conflict by illegally building settlements on Palestinian land, ignoring the fact that Palestine was the land of the Jewish people long before Muhammad came along. There never has been a Palestinian state. The state of Israel was established by an act of the United Nations in 1948 as a permanent homeland for the Jewish people who had recently experienced the horrors of the holocaust. However, Israel was (and remains) surrounded by hostile Arab nations, who promptly invaded the new state, intending to wipe it out. They were successful in driving out the Jewish inhabitants of East Jerusalem, annexing the biblical and ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and renaming it the West Bank. Another broad attack intended to eliminate Israel as a nation was launched by Israel’s Muslim neighbors in 1967. Again, the Jewish settlements were not the reason for the anti-Semitic aggression, because they did not yet exist. The Israelis counter-attacked, and in just six days, defeated the forces of the aggressors (Egypt, Syria and Jordan). In winning the Six Day War, Israel also won control of conquered territories, including the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula was later returned to Egypt. The governing Palestinian Authority, along with other Muslim countries of the Middle East (notably Iran, which is getting dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons, notwithstanding the ill-conceived nuclear agreement with the U.S.) continue to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Palestinian President Abbas has stated that he would never sign a deal that required recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and in 2015 Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned Israel that it would be destroyed within 25 years. Israel needs to maintain control of much of the remaining disputed territory won during the Six Day War in order to have defensible borders in the face of such hostile neighbors. Palestinian Muslims who wish to live peacefully with Jews are free to do so in Israel, and many do. However, the sad fact is that no Jew would ever be allowed to live in peace in any Palestinian state. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority is increasingly inciting violence against Jews, and Jew hatred is openly taught in Palestinian schools and promoted on Palestinian TV. Under the current circumstances, the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel (the so-called “two-state solution”) would, I fear, provide additional means for fanatical Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere to effect their goal of the elimination of Israel. Israel needs and deserves our support more than ever.
As a child, I was indoctrinated into fundamentalist Christianity which taught me that I was sinful and unclean by nature, and that if I didn't believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice to make me acceptable to God, I would be damned to hell for all eternity. When I later came to doubt the existence of such a punitive God, I began to see Jesus as simply a "good man" who died for his beliefs. However, during my subsequent spiritual journey in search of inner peace (described in detail in my book, Kundalini and the Morning Star), Jesus gradually took on vitally important new meaning for me. Early on in my active journey, as I was struggling to deal with panic attacks, I dreamed that I was swimming in a dense fog, and could see nothing but a faint light in the distance. Beside me was someone, whom I didn't recognize, trying to guide me to the light. I later came to accept that this dream personage was Jesus. Not long after, as I was questioning the validity of the Bible, I opened the New Testament at random, as a sort of test, and read the first words I saw - the words of Jesus: "Take up your cross daily, and follow me". When I then started researching the real Jesus, and discovered the "Gnostic Gospels", in particular the Gospel of Thomas, I was excited to learn that the salvation offered by Jesus involved an inner journey rather than simply a belief in sacrificial death. I am not saying that Jesus did not willingly die on the cross, but I am saying that his death was not a prerequisite for our becoming acceptable to God. As a result of his own spiritual journey, Jesus understood that salvation lay in uncovering the true self that is denied in childhood as a result of various untruths we are taught and outright abuse to which we are subjected, either in this or a past life. We who later suffer from mental illness were denied our birthright in childhood, which is unconditional love that fosters self-love. Coming to grips with the devastating consequences to my own psyche was a long and painful process. Indeed, I had already been struggling for many years (with difficult times thankfully interspersed with healing events bringing periods of relative calm and tranquility) when, at perhaps my lowest point, the spirit of Jesus intervened in a completely unexpected manner (as described in my book). As a result, I can now proclaim that Jesus is my savior. I love him and consider myself to be his disciple.
Robert Keith Rinne's work focuses on the healing of mental illness, particularly where such illness has been fostered by fundamentalist religion. He and his wife have raised four children. As a family, they were always open about Robert’s own struggles and their individual spiritual journeys. Robert is now semi-retired and enjoys life (essentially medication-free) in the south of France..