The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

For Seven Lifetimes

 

Take a moment to consider the type of relationship you desire….the aspects of the person with whom you want to share your life, the experiences you would like to have with a partner. Perhaps you have already drawn into your world someone who mirrors your deepest heart longing. How did you meet them?  If you are single at the moment, ponder your intentions.

And then, ask yourself if you are willing to take a whole new look at what goes into a quality relationship.  After reading the book For Seven Lifetimes: An East-West Journey To A Spiritually Fulfilling And Sustainable Marriage by Vatsala and Ehud Sperling, you may be surprised at what you discover. This ‘spiritual power couple’ met via an ad Ehud had placed in a newspaper in India, inviting into his life, a woman who reflected the beauty and wisdom of her native land, who was independent, family oriented, intelligent, creative, spiritual, compassionate and loving.  Fascinated, Vatsala responded since she possessed the qualities he was seeking in a wife.

Each was already living a fullfilling life, across the ocean, not knowing that the other existed. Vatsala was a successful Microbiologist working in a hospital in India and Ehud is the founder of Inner Traditions International, a publishing company based in Vermont. Both were devoted to their families; raised in different spiritual traditions. Ehud is Israeli born Jewish and Vatsala; Indian born Hindu.  This multi-cultural, interfaith love story is woven through time and space by the increasingly tender and intimate letters they sent to each other over the span of a year, before they ever met face to face. In India, where arranged marriage is common, Vatsala was an anomaly, since her parents were already older and according to her, did not have the energy to make the connections for their well educated, seasoned daughter, so this courtship was the closest approximation.  Her mother read the letters Ehud sent to her and those she penned to her long distance husband to be.  When they did meet, that was the moment of truth…were they actually going to marry? The answer, after unwrapping the gift that each became for the other, was a resounding yes. They continue to honor and blend the rich spiritual practices that each was raised on and teach those values to their son.

One of the things that makes this book so special is that it has the look and feel of a coffee table volume even though it is paperback. The colors contained within and on the cover are rich and full-bodied. The photographs are lush and vibrant.

It beckons the reader to contemplate a values oriented relationship, rather than one based purely on attraction and romance. It offers encouragement to savor the ‘getting to know you’ process, with their marriage as example. Together now for a decade and a half, one could safely say that theirs is a marriage made in Heaven and lived fully here on Earth. 

 

And as a bonus, please read the interview I had the joy of doing with them for Wisdom Magazine.

www.wisdom-magazine.com/Article.aspx/2108

www.forsevenlifetimes.com  

In God’s Name

Likely every person reading this entry was raised in a particular faith tradition. Each contains the wisdom and the wonder of Divine creation, an explanation for how things came to be and the ways in which they are sustained.  If used for a Higher Purpose, they unify, rather than separate. Somewhere along the way, however, there are those who came to justify hatred in God’s name. That could range from anti-semitism to homo-phobia, from racial injustice to violence against women and children. A week or so ago, I heard about a minister I know who said he didn’t want his son to move to a particular town nearby since there were “too many fags.” This was related to me by someone I know to whom it was said and although he didn’t speak up, he did tell me that he no longer wanted to be in this man’s presence and sadly, had viewed him as a role model.  Had I been there, I certainly would have been quite vocal in challenging his statements since he considers himself to be a man of God. I would ask him why he holds hatred in his heart for God’s own. I would invite him to examine his beliefs and convictions.

As ‘a nice Jewish girl’ who became an interfaith minister and being immersed in eclectic spirituality, I say that love is my religion and God’s too big to put in a box. For me, religion (like love) is a verb; an invitation to devotional action that has me offering loving kindness (chesed in Hebrew, metta in Pali, matreya in Sanskrit and agape in Greek) to those with whom I cross paths.

 

I invite you to watch this extraordinary video called Love Is My Religion, which blends the music of Greek recording artist and performer, Yanni and the ecstatic poetry of 12th Century Sufi, Ibn’Arabi

 

Love Is My Religion

 

And then a livelier follow up with Ziggy Marley holding forth, expressing the same concept; with the beautiful lyrics “I don’t condemn, I don’t convert.”

 

Love Is My Religion

Enchanted World

 

I am in awe when people take their creative gifts and pour forth beauty and magic, dousing the world in delight.  Amy Zerner and Monte Farber do just that. I encountered their creations years ago, and was beckoned into their ‘enchanted world’ in which faeries and Goddesses join hands in the dance of the divine. Their Truth Fairy Pendulum and Message Board kit was a birthday gift from my friend Gary when I turned 50. They seem tireless in their productivity, weaving wonder in the form of books, jewelry, clothing, tarot decks and music. A  common thread is the connection to Spirit that informs their designs and the love that swirls around them

Colorful works of he(art) themselves, they entered into each other’s lives in 1974 and have been married 30 years.

How do you live your bliss?


We agree with the Dalai Lama that the purpose of life is to be happy. Also, as Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” For Amy and me, our bliss and our happiness has been our journey together on the path to making our life a work of art and our art a work of life. Sharing our art and our discoveries about life with others has also brought us much happiness.


What is it like to live in The Enchanted World?

 

We’ve evolved our individual schedules so that we can take care of the many, many creative projects we have going at any given time. In fact, the worst thing that can happen is if someone says “I forgot what I was going to say and it was important!” We then sit there reciting our mile-long project list and it starts to sound crazy, like “Stop us before we create again!” Amy wakes up early and takes care of whatever emails have come in since Monte went to sleep, usually late. This way, I can be up speaking to Australia and Hong Kong and Thailand, while Amy can catch our British business people. We are very fortunate that we have become friendly with almost all of the people we have done business with. That helps a lot! After we’ve done the rest of our morning rituals, including exercising, we sit together and go over what is going on and what needs to be done to keep our Enchanted World turning. The rest of the day is spent doing all of those things and there are so many of them that we are always playing catch-up, but it’s the life we’ve chosen. We both have pretty good senses of humor, Monte even did a spontaneous stand up comedy routine at a local club one night, which was a great success, and so we are usually laughing and occasionally, singing. The word “enchant” means “to sing into” and, like all happy couples, we have our weird ways that keep everything interesting and occasionally very exciting. We usually eat dinner early and then sit taking turns massaging each other as we watch a movie or something interesting, and then it’s back to work. Our joke is that our house is a factory with bedrooms. Of course, we sometimes have people over but more often we go out to be with our friends. We are very happy in our beautiful home and travel infrequently, but even that travel is invariably for business related reasons. The best thing about even our worst days is that we are together as true soulmates – we are very rarely apart, even to drive to town, and it is very lovely where we live. We have our mission, to bring beauty and enlightenment to our readers and customers, and that and our many wonderful and interesting friends are what gets us up in the morning – actually, that’s Mr. Zane’s job (our cat)!


What drew you to the colorful creativity that you have become known for?

 

Monte: My talents were never put to their best and most focused use until I met, Amy, the most creative and artistic person I know. Amy is the third generation of artists on her mother’s side. Since we met in 1974, she has produced over 2000 of her stunning fabric collage tapestries. She has shown her inspiring visionary tapestries nationally and internationally, winning numerous awards, including a coveted National Endowment for the Arts major fellowship in the category of Painting for work that is mainly fabric, a first in NEA history, and a further blurring of the line between fine art and fine crafts.

 

Amy is a pioneer, and as the old joke goes, you can always tell the pioneers–they’re the ones with the arrows in their backs. I mention this to remind you that to live creatively requires as much bravery as it does dedication and wonderful ideas.

 

When I was older and realized that I had a gift for using words and for making heretofore occult and difficult subjects like astrology, the tarot, alchemy, talking boards and other forms of divination fun, easy to learn and easy to put into practical use in everyday life, I found my life’s work. But I also found that centuries of misunderstanding and ignorance do not disappear overnight despite my best intentions. I now realize it was a good thing my early years required me to rebel against all constraints on my creativity. This made me strong and able to take rejection.

Do you each have a favorite way of expressing your purpose and passion?

 

Virtually everyone hungers deep down to express their creativity as fully as possible. Yet, too many fear to identify themselves as creative beings. To call oneself an artist conjures up as many charged and loaded image. It seems to require too much defense to the challenges sure to come to such a bold claim. It seems that to be ourselves fully will surely require too much change in our life, but that is the whole point of living life creatively, whether or not you think of yourself as an artist. Amy’s passion is working with color, texture, fashion, beauty, healing design and archetypes. My passion is helping people, using words and my psychic perceptions.

How does the mystical inspire you?

 

We are often asked about our spiritual practice. Neither of us are joiners and we know too much about ourselves and other people to ever follow any guru. We want a direct experience of our true mystical nature and for that you do not need anyone or anything, just faith in yourself, faith in the fact that you can know these things, and the commitment to be honest with yourself and others as you do the work, day after day.

 

Our spiritual practice is that we have confidence that the answers exist and all you need to do is ask, while you are moving forward doing it, and the answers will reveal themselves. And synchronicities happen! Our spiritual path could be called “The Way of the Oracle”, as we use the tools that we have invented (Enchanted Tarot, Goddess, Guide Me!, The Healing Deck, The Psychic Circle, Chakra Meditation Kit ,The Enchanted Spellboard, etc.) to tap into our inner selves to check in, like reading a compass of our lives- it is important to stop, look, and listen for the signs and signals, and so to make adjustments and to know which direction to take. Our “Spiritual Power Tools ©”are all systems to get you in touch with your higher self which is your most creative part. The point is to be clear and focused and to be connected to that spiritual part of your life as much as possible.  And so we do daily exercises, rituals and meditations to stay connected.


I’m fascinated with couples who work together to be a greater force for good in the world. How does the work wind its way through your interactions and how does your relationship feed what graces the world?

We do EVERYTHING together. Most people don’t believe how well we work together. Monte is the writer/typist/agent/psychic/contract person/importer and Amy is the artist/designer/namer of projects/manager/art director/fashion designer, but we feel that it’s all part of a whole and that we contribute equally to our life and our business. There’s a lot of cuddling, too! Our art is our life and our life is our art, and we’re not just saying that! We are each other’s best friend and we love being with each other. We work together on every project, though we do each have our own studio to work in. We are lucky that we are so driven because, to tell you a little secret about Soul Mates, once you find each other and the joy fills you, you can just be with each other and that’s enough. Nothing gets done and soon you’re both out trying to get your money-making thing going again. We have evolved our relationship so that there is no distinction between our life and our work, which does require understanding from our families and friends, but we couldn’t produce all of the work you can see on our website – and that’s not all of it! – if we didn’t make sacrifices to get us the time to do what we love. 


Does the Muse speak to you in all forms?

 

By looking within, using your intuitive powers, astrology, and oracular work, we can identify our special dreams, learn how to develop our personal creative power, make our base secure, and our dreams real.  This crusade is not a selfish one.  It is the only one justifiable in our time.  Creativity is spirituality.  By realizing and actualizing our creativity we become a spiritual human being, a most glorious occurrence.  A world populated by such people can only make a paradise of our planet, a dream of the ages that is not only technologically possible at this time, but is crucial to our survival as a species.


Visit Amy & Monte’s beautiful website: www.TheEnchantedWorld.com

Depression and Spirituality

One of the many hats I wear is that of a psychiatric social worker, serving people with varying degrees of mental health issues and challenges.  I view these symptoms and the people who experience them in ways that are outside the realm of the medical model.  Rather than seeing pathology, I come from a strengths based perspective. I cringe when I hear the term ‘religiously pre-occupied’, as if taking about God, angels and spirituality is, in and of itself, a dynamic of mental illness. While I have experienced people being over the top in their expression, some with the belief that they alone are privvy to some special wisdom, I know just as surely, that having a spiritual practice can indeed be healing.

I have never experienced clinical depression, but like most people on the planet, I have had those ‘dark nights of the soul’ during which I have wondered why I was stumbling around, bumping into walls when I could have turned on a symbolic as well as physical light. When faced with life challenges, such as I have had lately; I KNOW that my spiritual practice bolsters me and keeps me afloat. For me that includes: meditation, yoga, prayer, writing, drumming, dancing, crying, time in nature, immersing in visual art, chanting, time with loved ones, massage, creating vision boards and yes, even time on facebook, as silly as that may sound.  It is there that I have a sense of what goes on in the world, an open door into the lives of folks I may never meet face to face; a chance to offer love and prayers, good wishes and healing for another soul. An opportunity to receive that if I need it as well.

I spoke with someone recently who was plagued with symptoms that terrified him. He was convinced that what he saw was ‘real’. Using meditation as a tool, surrounding himself in white light, he shared that although he still believes that those images exist, with his spiritual practice, “I am stronger than they are and they can’t hurt me.”

Take a moment to watch this video interview with actor Jim Carrey as he openly and with vulnerability, shares about the ways in which spirituality has been a source of strength in his own bouts with depression.

 http://youtu.be/KfWN5EW5eo4

 

*If you do experience mental health issues, I encourage you to seek support and professional guidance. For family members and friends, a good resource is called NAMI (NATIONAL ASSOCIATION ON MENTAL ILLNESS) 

 www.nami.org 

 

 

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