Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Academy, Authentic Freedom Book, Christ Consciousness, church, Jesus, Mystics, New World, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic

Nothing Like Richard Rohr

Today’s blog: Richard Rohr, emerging church, beyond religion, unity consciousness, healing a divided world, what does it mean to be “church” in a post-modern world?

Before sharing today’s blog, I want to extend a profound thank you to all those who offered words of encouragement and support, along with your prayers.  When I accepted the call to step even more fully into my truth by initiating the “Gathering of the Tribe,” the “devil” came a callin’!  Every one of my fears and insecurities has shown up to test my resolve.  Any and all safety nets were removed and I’ve been free-falling, trusting (trying to trust anyway) that I am being carried to the fulfillment of this mission. I am committed to the mission of the Tribe and to the work of Authentic Freedom and will continue to do the deep inner work that allows me to show up to this mission each and every day.  Thank you for your love and support.  We cannot do this alone! 

Now for today’s blog:

No, I’m Nothing Like Richard Rohr!

If I had a dime for every person who has said to me, “your writing reminds me very much of Richard Rohr’s,” I would be the richest person in the world. As I have come to know Richard Rohr’s work, I can see how people might judge us as similar: we are both Type Ones on the Enneagram, we are both speaking on the topic of unity consciousness, we are both working to unite a divided world, we are both arriving at our topics from the perspective of a mystic.  But there is one very important thing that sets us apart from which I must insist, “No, I am nothing like Richard Rohr.”

No offense to Richard as he is speaking to a very specific audience in the great work he is doing in the world.  And he is working from within the comfort of his white, male, ordained, clerical privilege; deeply embedded in an institutional Christian mindset and supported by that institution. I am not.

Case in point: Yesterday, in Richard’s daily meditation email newsletter, he reflected on Making Christianity Relevant Again. While I agree with many of his points, if we ever hope to heal the divisions of our society and our world, we have to first recognize that the separation put forth by the Christian message is an enormous part of the problem….and it has been since the Jesus message was sold out to the fear, power, privilege and control of the Roman empire.


When the message of love that Jesus came to teach became institutionalized in the form of Christianity, the love was lost and fear took its place. (Just a reminder, Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian and he never sought to start a new religion, but to bring forth the love that was already at the heart of the Jewish message.) Suddenly, we were unworthy of the love of God, we needed an intermediary (in the form of an ordained priest) between ourselves and God, and in order to earn God’s love, we have to pay, pray and obey.  The freedom that Jesus promised was replaced by indentured servitude.  We were no longer free. Instead, we became slaves to the institution and to the institutional laws (dogma, doctrine), that serve mostly to keep us from God’s love, or to remind us of how this love had to be earned and the eternal threat of that love being taken away.

It is not Christianity that needs to be made relevant – it is love. In fact, this is already happening and the unfolding of this is not coming from within the institution of Christianity, it is coming from without.  THIS is the emerging church that Protestants say they are looking toward and which Catholicism seeks to ignore.  It is happening in people’s homes, in popular media, in the publishing industry, in online communities – all those places where people are coming together to rediscover the love that is at the heart of every religion – the love that erases the perceived separation between belief systems, making their chosen teacher’s words relevant to an entire world, not just to the “chosen few” who will find salvation through obedience to the institution’s laws.  This is the work I am doing through Authentic Freedom Academy and another reason I am nothing like Richard Rohr.  I am no longer seeking to reform an institution (Christianity) that is part of the problem in the first place.  I’m going directly to the source which is love.

The place where I came to know this love is within, and it was from and through Jesus’ teachings (which are clearly written in scripture when we move beyond the doctrine) that I came to know this love within. This is the love that Jesus came to know within himself through his oneness with (that which he called) God, and which he then sought to teach others.  This is a love that is universal and available to every single human being that walks on this planet – and you don’t have to call Jesus your teacher to know this love.  In fact, if we look closely enough, we learn that this love is at the heart of most every institution that calls itself a religion or a philosophy.  Love is what we are all seeking to attain/remember and it is love that will heal the divisions of our broken world.

From the chair in which Fr. Richard Rohr is sitting as a white, ordained, Catholic priest, I understand his point – for him and for those to whom he ministers, perhaps it is Christianity that needs to be made relevant. But from where I am sitting, the only thing we need is love.

If you are in the Oshkosh area, please join us for tonight’s Gathering of the Tribe.  6:30 pm at Authentic Freedom Academy. 1103 School Ave.  Oshkosh. 

Posted in Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Be the Magdalene

For the past week, there are three words that have been ringing in my ears and chasing around in my mind, trying to find their root somewhere in my being.  These three words have haunted me for many, many years, but have become even more present thanks to a spiritual journey in which I had the recent gift of participating.  The words spoken directly to me were:

Be the Magdalene!

I believe these words are for me, AND I believe they are for a great number of women and men who have been touched by the person of the Magdalene and perhaps by her very intimate presence.  If you are reading this blog and these words pull at your heartstrings or strike within you a chord of remembrance, you are indeed one of those people!

Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case
Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case

It has been my experience, that the men and women for whom these words are intended, bear some strikingly similar characteristics and interests:

  • You have a close, intimate, familiar relationship with Jesus, or you long to have this relationship.
  • You have had direct, personal experiences of Jesus through your meditation, imagination and prayer.
  • You have a feeling of having known Jesus in a very real, lived experience – like you walked with him as one of his disciples.
  • You yearn to know more of Jesus, specifically, you want to know the REAL Jesus, not the one cooked up in someone else’s doctrine.
  • You seem to have an intuitive sense about certain Church teachings as being wrong or inaccurate.
  • Your relationship with Jesus may border on romantic (and you find yourself drawn to images of “Hot Jesus”).
  • The Jesus you know is one of compassion and love, with a little bit of fiery passion.
  • The knowledge that you have of Jesus and his teachings came through your own direct experiences with Jesus, or on meditative reflection on scripture – again, not through someone else’s doctrine (though it may have started there).
  • You have had a strong sense that Mary Magdalene played a much bigger role in Jesus’ life and ministry than how it is portrayed in canonical scripture.
  • You intuitively feel/felt that Mary Magdalene was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman as some have interpreted her as being.
  • You may have found books on the Magdalene falling into your hands, or you pursued them yourself (recommended reading list below!).
  • You might believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had more than just a teacher/disciple relationship, that she may even have been Jesus’ wife and that she may have co-ministered beside him.
  • When you read DaVinci Code, your response was, “DUH!”  🙂
  • In this life, you find yourself drawn toward mysticism, contemplative prayer, healing and service.
  • If you live in the Western world, the way you desire to live your life differs markedly from traditional Western values. Status, money, power, fame, wealth, the accumulation of things are not of interest to you.

If much of the above resonates with you, then congratulations, you have received the call of the Magdalene, and I share this with you today because it is time for the Magdalenes to wake up!  It is time for those who have been called by the Magdalene to BE THE MAGDALENE!  Now you may ask, what does that mean?  What does it mean to BE THE MAGDALENE?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog to find out!  In the meantime, below is a recommended reading list to get you started!  🙂

By Jean-Yves LeLoup:

The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas, The Sacred Embrace

By Karen L. King:

The Gospel of Mary of Magdala

By Violet MacDermot:

The Fall of Sophia

By Susan Haskins:

Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor



Posted in Mystics, Oneness with God

Mystics are Not Normal

Hee hee.  I love reading the words that people “google” that end up leading them to my website.  Every once in awhile, these words stir me to write more on the topic for which they are seeking.  Today, the phrase that struck me was, “Mystics are not normal.”  Therefore, this will be the topic of today’s blog.

The Ecstasy of St. Teresa
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa

No We Are Not

Normal, that is.  🙂  You probably already have a pretty good idea that you might be a mystic if you are reading this blog, and if you don’t already know, here are a few clues:

  • Mystics see the world through a different set of eyes
  • Mystics hear with a different set of ears.
  • Mystics sense and have most likely had experiences or encounters that suggest there is a world beyond our own.
  • Mystics may have a fully developed relationship with a world beyond the world that we can touch, taste, feel, hear and see with our physical senses.
  • Mystics tend to be heaven-bent on bringing heaven to earth (or whatever their unique language is for making the earth into a loving, peaceful, abundant place).
  • Mystics are changemakers, shit-disturbers, way-showers, pioneers, and prophets.
  • Mystics are NOT received favorably by those who prefer the status quo or by those whose life, power, wealth, status, etc. depend on the current paradigm or way of being.
  • Mystics can often see the truth beyond illusions, hear the truth beyond the words and possess a vision of the highest potential of humankind.
  • Mystics are often also prophets – they are able to read the sign of the times and “predict” the direction in which things will continue to unfold.

In her introduction to the Poems of St. John of the Cross, P.J. Kavanagh defines the way of the mystic as “this search of the soul for union with God, and of God with the soul. (Peers, 2000, p. 17)”  My experience is that this is what ultimately distinguishes a mystic from others who might be wearing the costume or speaking the language of a mystic but who in truth have no interest in God (remember, my definition of “God” greatly transcends the “Old Man in the Sky.”)  An interesting note about normal, however…I’m not sure if it is because we have many more ways of connecting than our ancestors did, but it seems to me as if there are an enormous number of mystics walking the face of Mother Earth today.  Mystics, it seems, are coming out of the woodwork and those who have been asleep are waking up.  With the arrival of the so-called “Indigo, Crystal, Rainbow, etc.” children, it seems as if this is what God/dess intended.  The mystics I know have been planted with a vision of a new earth and are driven to work toward making this vision real.  As such, I sometimes wonder if being a mystic will soon be the new normal.  I guess time will tell. 🙂

Lauri Lumby has worked with hundreds of men and women in their journey of waking up to their highest potential and has helped them to birth their Soul – the uniquely creative way in which they have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and connection in their lives and the way in which they have been gifted to serve the betterment of humankind.

Posted in Being Human, God, Inspiration, Mystics

The Mystic as Grump – Guest Blogger John Backman

A big thank you to guest blogger, John Backman, for this contribution to the discussion on contemplatives and mystics.  (See John’s bio, etc. below.)  In this post, John highlights the mystic’s drive toward “making things right,” and the grumpiness that comes over us when things just aren’t right.  Right on John!  🙂  And just for fun, here’s a little music to accompany your reading! 

John Backman
John Backman

The Mystic as Grump

Apparently I am a mystic. I know this because I am cranky.

This is not your basic cranky: the kind that comes when the house is a mess (again) or I spill food on my good pants (again). This is more of a restless cranky—a vague sense that something is out of order, has burrowed under my skin, and needs to be fixed.

I felt this occasionally during our daughter’s teenage years, when I’d suddenly find myself resenting her for no reason.  Something about her manner had transgressed my personal boundaries, though I didn’t know what or how. My wife thought I was imagining things. Yet over the next week or so, the issue would slowly crystallize, and we’d all see it. Daughter and I would talk it through, we would both change our behavior as needed, and for a while, at least, the world was right again.

I feel this at work too. Something is amiss—perhaps there is an issue no one sees, or the gap between what we say and how we act is hurting our effectiveness, or no one is picking up on hidden resentments between employees. It hasn’t taken shape yet, but still it unsettles me. I might say something, but no one else seems to notice. I move through the world bitchy for a while. Then another person notices it, and then another; before long the problem becomes visible, and together we make it right.

There’s something in here about justice, and something about the canary in the coal mine.

You might know the canary story. To test the air quality in the mines, coal miners would carry a caged canary with them. Since canaries are even more sensitive to toxic gases than humans are, they would die when levels of those gases reached dangerous levels. Hence the birds served as an early-warning system: if the canary was still singing, keep mining; if not, get out.

In her series on mysticism, Lauri points out that “the mystics are kind of a living barometer, forever measuring the sorrow, pain, joy and ecstasy of what it is like to be human.  While it often feels like a rollercoaster ride, there is a purpose to the living barometers that mystics are.” The purpose, she writes, is to lead the world to love. And that is true.

But there is something else as well. When I read the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, I can’t help noticing that this God is zealous for making things right—for justice, to use the biblical term. “Making things right” can take many forms: clearing up a conflict between father and daughter in a way that both can grow…penetrating the veil of niceness in a worship community to address the long-standing pain beneath…opposing a political leader as he moves from popular icon to ruthless oppressor.

So maybe part of being a mystic, who strives to live in the heart of God, is sensing—early and often—when things go out of whack: that delicate tipping point between in-balance and off-the-rails. Maybe the voice of the mystic is designed to sound the alarm, to sing like the canary in the coal mine.

Apparently this is not a new idea. After drafting this article, I ran across a blog post from Keswick House Publishers about the research of Elaine Aron  into highly sensitive people. The post included a paragraph whose last sentence struck me with its synchronicity:

“Being sensitive carries its own set of perks, not just for the person him- or herself but to society at large as well. Many highly sensitive persons are artistic and creative, and because they are so attuned to other people’s emotional states, they can be excellent caregivers, perceptive therapists, and thoughtful friends. They may also serve the role of the canary in the coal mine.”

Sensitivity comes with the mystical territory. Maybe this brand of crankiness does too. Perhaps it reflects the passion of God for uncovering what is out of balance—and making it right again.

About the Author

John Backman, the author of Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart (SkyLight Paths Publishing), writes extensively on contemplative spirituality and its ability to help us dialogue across divides. As a blogger for Huffington Post Religion and an associate of an Episcopal monastery, he has written articles for numerous faith-based publications, both progressive and conservative

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration

Loneliness and Longing

Flipping through my journal yesterday, I came upon a poem I wrote that was inspired by a line from Rilke, “You are the partner to her loneliness.”  The “You” to which Rilke is referring is God.  Here is my poem as it speaks to my own longing and the longing known by every mystic and contemplative in their spiritual search.


Partner to My Loneliness

You are the partner to my loneliness.

Loneliness like the red-draped Excalibur eviscerating my soul in excruciating emptiness and pain.

Loneliness that is the longing that cannot be fulfilled

neither by coin, nor task, nor present company.

A longing that drives me to seek

beneath every shrub

under every pew

up on every shelf

around every corner

and through every door

. . . all for naught.

For the remedy to this loneliness is not to be found in the world of men,

neither is it to be found in my bed

nor in my mind

nor in the fleeting approval of others.

This longing is only fulfilled in you.

in the quiet recesses of my soul where life has cut a trail

made of the pain

of my unfulfilled hopes

and unsatisfied dreams.

It is only here, when wedded to you that I find my bliss

and know that I am home.

– 2013  Lauri Lumby

Posted in mental illness

Mysticism vs. Psychosis

It has been said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.  In the twelve years that I have been sharing alternative wellness practices (Reiki, Christouch, Spiritual Direction), I have learned that this same fine line exists between mysticism and what would medically be diagnosed as psychosis.  Later this week, PhD Psychologist, Tom Altepeter will share his professional thoughts on this subject.  In the meantime, please find excerpt below from a blog posted by Seeds of Unfolding (for entire article, click on LINK.).  Seeds of Unfolding is a blog created by CAFH an intentional spiritual community and center for spiritual formation and development.  In this article, Tomas Agosin makes the clear distinction between mysticism and psychosis – valuable information for those in the helping fields as well as for family members of those who may be exhibiting symptoms consistent with psychosis.  If you believe someone you care about may be exhibiting symptoms consistent with psychosis, contact your local NAMI chapter for help. 


Even though there are many similarities between the phenomenology and subjective experiences of mysticism and psychosis, there are also some major differences. As Ram Dass said in a conference on Buddhism and Psychotherapy: “The psychotic brother thinks he is Jesus Christ and only he. I think I’m Jesus Christ, and everyone else too.”

    • Attachment to the world. The mystic, through practices of self-control, concentration and study, gradually reduces his/her attachment to the world. The mystic sees the material world as transitory and values that which he/she perceives as more permanent, eternal.  The psychotic also detaches from the world in that he/she focuses on inner experiences to the exclusion of socially established rules of behavior. But the psychotic is also highly subjected to profound and intense reactions to whatever is in front of him/her. His/her ego boundaries are easily broken down, and because of the incapacity to control emotions, it is easy for the psychotic to shift from one state to another very quickly, leaving the patient with a disruption of any sense of continuity in his/her sense of self and the world.
    • Self-image. The mystic reduces his/her sense of self to a minimum. The mystic wants to be an infinitesimal point of consciousness, with the smallest possible ego, so that he/she can perceive life in the least distorted way. The personality is seen as a barrier, a filter that does not allow one’s consciousness to perceive life in its truest form. Humility before the enormity of the universe is a common attitude in the mystic. The psychotic sees him/herself as omnipotent and omniscient. There is a great increase in self-centeredness, with a feeling of being all-important. He/she is the center of the world, and only he/she is sufficiently important to matter.
    • Ego-identity is shed by the mystic. He/she works to transcend the smallness of ego and tries to find a more expansive sense of self. The psychotic has never acquired a strong ego identity and often clings to whatever fragments he or she can find of him/herself.
    • Serenity increases in the mystic through detachment to the temporal and transient. The mystic identifies with the eternal, that which is most sacred and valuable. In that deep identification, the mystic finds peace and inner tranquility. The psychotic, however, finds little serenity in his/her life. The emotional and mental life of the psychotic is completely fragmented: fear and lack of control of one’s mind are the predominant states.
    • Change is welcomed by the mystic, who is open to new possibilities. The psychotic person tends to reject change, for anything new brings with it a whole set of circumstances to learn to deal with. This frightens the psychotic patient since he/she has little ego-identity or inner strength with which to meet the new situation.
    • Thought processes are not disrupted in the mystical experience. In the psychotic experience thinking usually becomes fragmented and disordered.
    • Aggressive or paranoid elements are found exclusively in the psychotic experience, sometimes to the point of being impossible to control.
    • Hallucinatory experiences tend to be visual in nature for the mystic. Often these are described as visions of light, superior beings and beautiful panoramic phenomena of a most positive nature. The psychotic tends more often to experience auditory hallucinations, which are usually negative and frightening because they are projected, unacceptable thoughts that person has and can no longer keep buried in the unconscious.
    • Limited in time characterizes the mystical experience. It is usually short-lived, but it always leaves an intense impression upon the memory and has a profound impact on the person who experiences it. It leaves one with a new sense of oneself and the world.
      Psychosis can become a chronic condition.
  • The consequence of the experience is the most important difference between mysticism and psychosis, and I believe that it often is the only way to truly differentiate between the two:

The mystical experience leaves the mystic more connected and involved in the world. He/she expands his/her capacity to love and to serve. The mystic becomes more appreciative of the beauty and the miracle of life. The mystical experience leaves the individual with a feeling of reverence for all life, embracing every aspect of life and death as sacred.

Psychosis unfortunately most often leaves the person more self-centered. It narrows his/her possibilities of connection with the world because the psychotic needs to protect him/herself from the anxiety that such a connection produces. The psychotic reduces his/her capacity to love because he/she cannot forget him/herself. The psychotic spends so much energy on survival that there is little psychic energy left for more.

Mysticism and Psychosis by Dr. Tomas Agosin

The Relationship Between Schizophrenia and Mysticism by Sandra Stahlman

Psychosis and Spirituality – Finding a Language by Isabel Clarke

Posted in About Lauri, Spiritual Practices

Special Edition – The Mystic’s Curse

Some people, as they move and grow along the spiritual path discover that their’s is the unique path of the mystic.  The mystic’s path is a profound gift, but at the same time in a world that might label the mystic as “just plain nuts,” it can sometimes seem like a curse.  This special edition of “Your Spiritual Truth” came about as I realized that yet again, my body was somehow reacting to the volatile weather patterns of Mother Earth – this time in honor of the hurricane’s currently hammering the East Coast.  ARGH!


Defining Mysticism

In searching for a concise and valid definition of mysticism (at least as I have experienced it), a found a great one in all places, The Catholic Encyclopedia: 

Mysticism, according to its etymology, implies a relation to mystery. In philosophy, Mysticism is either a religious tendency and desire of the human soul towards an intimate union with the Divinity, or a system growing out of such a tendency and desire. As a philosophical system, Mysticism considers as the end of philosophy the direct union of the human soul with the Divinity through contemplation and love, and attempts to determine the processes and the means of realizing this end. This contemplation, according to Mysticism, is not based on a merely analogical knowledge of the Infinite, but as a direct and immediate intuition of the Infinite.

What seems to set mysticism apart from other philosophical of religious paths is the piece about DIRECT EXPERIENCE.  What this means is that the mystic knows the Divine not just as an intellectual construct based on theologies, thoughts, ideas, etc. but that the mystic has experienced the gift of a direct, intimate, emotional experience of Oneness with that which we might call “God.”  As such, the mystic’s experiences are those of the heart, the soul and the intuition and are not limited by the constructs of the mind.  In a rational, logical, pragmatic, intellectual world, this path is often perceived as irrational (because IT IS!) maybe even bordering on insane.   It is this tension between the “real” world and the world of the mystic that creates what I have come to refer to as “the Mystic’s curse.” 

The First Signs of the Mystic

You know, it is never really much fun to be the “weird kid.”  As early as I can remember, I had what I can now define as “mystical” experiences.  Knowing truths I should not have known, sensing other people’s emotions, feelings, thoughts.  Being able to read “the energy” of a room.  Knowing there was something bigger, greater, kinder, more loving that what I had observed in the human condition.  Finding myself confused over the fear-based and often violent ways of humankind.  Not understanding certain “institutions” and their “laws.”  Finding comfort and inspiration in fairytales, magic, mystery, fairies and witches on broomsticks.  The “world” that I inhabited within myself bore a marked contrast to the world I saw “out there.”  Thanks to my Catholic upbringing, I found the perfect vehicle through which I could indulge these mystical tendencies, quietly, in private and just between me and God…and that was the mass, along with the spiritual practices of my Catholic faith.  I was the weird kid who actually liked going to mass and praying the rosary.  Weird, insane, irrational?  Right?

You can run but you can’t hide!

So, as long as I had the mass and the rosary, I got to keep those direct experiences of the Divine just to myself.  Me and God had lots of conversations, private moments and tender revelations.  Ah….but then I had to grow up and when I grew up I found the mystical part of myself wanting to come out of the closet (in spite of my protestations).  So, I found myself guided along many pathways, through many theologies, always finding myself at the doorstep of the world’s mystical practices – ecstatic dance, meditation, contemplation, yoga, Lectio-Divina, mantra prayer, chant, etc. etc. etc.  Little did I know that this pathway would break open the doors to my own heart and mind, while making me look even MORE insane to the outside world.  What?  You can heal with your hands?  You can feel when a major weather event will hit the earth (like today’s hurricane for example)?  You will weep tears of heartbreaking pain over the fear in the world that toppled the Twin Towers?  You can look into someone’s eyes and energy field and tell if they are lying?  Really?  Are you sure you don’t just have a vivid imagination or might just be nuts?  Come on, there’s no room for that in our logical, practical world.  HHHMMMMM  

Crazy but not alone!

As a young adult, I might have been tempted to agree with these kinds of sentiments….but now that I am a grow up….I protest!  In fact, I think as a species, we are more in need of the mystic than we ever have been before!  And the good news is that I am not alone in these mystical tendencies.  For this I give thanks to my favorite Catholic saints: Bernadette, Francis and Clare, Teresa and John, Hildegard, Joan of Arc.  And then there are the Eastern Mystics: Kabir, Rumi, Yogananda, etc. etc. etc.   Oh yea…not to mention Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.  And what kind of friend would I be if I did not also give thanks to my circle of crazy mystical brothers and sisters (you know who you are!!!).  HMMMM   Maybe being a mystic isn’t so bad afterall….even if hurricanes on the East Coast make you go loopy!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries