Honoring My Ancestors

As the Great Wheel turns and time moves forward into Fall, I’m reminded of many traditions I’ve experienced over my lifetime.  In my childhood years, the winding down of Summer into Fall was a marker of life slowing down into the important activities of reaping what we had sown.

Alfred Albert Raatz and Theodore Julius Wagner (ca. 1958)
Childhood farmhouse near Oakes, ND (ca. 1981)

In growing up on a farm, Fall was the time where harvest was nearing its end and we made the ground ready for winter.  We began to tend to all of the various aspects of our property by doing maintenance on buildings, mending fences and arranging our equipment to be stored.  This time of slowing down and gathering our crops often meant coming together with neighbors and family to help.  There was more time spent together as life seems to condense more and more as the temperature drops toward the long winter ahead.  

Mildred and Theodore Wagner (ca. 1958)

When I consider the flow of life from Spring toward Winter, I’m reminded of the parallels of my life and that of people who have come before me.  I’m reminded that, like nature, we all follow these cycles not only from year to year, but in our overall lifetime.

The Spring is a time of birth and renewal.  Summer is about growth, learning and expanding.  Fall is about reaping the harvest or seeing and experiencing the benefits of all your hard work, and the ending of a cycle toward death.  

And finally, there is Winter.  Winter is about reflection on the prior year, resting and healing.  It’s also about planning toward the coming year and preparing for new life to come in the Spring.

The Winter of our life is marked as we pass through the veil at our own death. We reflect upon our past life, what we learned and what we left undone. We then make plans on what we want to experience if we choose to return to human life again.

Gordon, Larry and Marvin Raatz
Goldie and Alfred Raatz (ca. 1959)

In the traditions of the various peoples and religions, Fall was often in alignment with honoring the dead.  In the Christian traditions it is known as All Hollow’s Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead.  

In the Pagan traditions it is known as Samhain.  And the Druids called it Calan Gaeaf.  Some of those traditions also considered Fall the end of their year.

Marvin and Alice Raatz (ca. 1970)

 In my research and some of my own personal experiences, I’ve found that Fall really does feel like the completion of a cycle, or in a way it could be considered a kind of death.  While this can feel very depressing, it is a natural cycle that is part of life on this planet and something we should honor.

The beginning of October is a very emotionally turbulent time for me.  It is especially turbulent because three significant events happened on October 8th.  On this date in 1936, my mother Alice was born.  On this date in 1966, my wife Melissa was born.  And on this date in 2007, my father Marvin was killed in a car accident.

It’s is a difficult time because there is a part of me that wants to celebrate the birth of two very significant women in my life and there is another part of me that still mourns the tragic death of my father.  I try to look at his passing by celebrating his life, and in doing so attempt to merge my feelings together between birth and death.  But how am I ever going to be able to reconcile my emotions around these polar opposites?  Perhaps there is no way to reconcile the feelings.  Perhaps it’s better to honor them both equally.

Alice and Marvin Raatz (ca. 2001)

In the spirit of the traditions of the Ages, for the month of October I am honoring my ancestors.  I am honoring my father, my paternal and maternal grandparents and all who came before them in my lineage.  I am also honoring those in my life who have come before me that are not of my bloodline.  I believe that part of who I am today can be traced back to not only the genetics of my lineage, but also to others who have touch my life in very specific and lasting ways.  

While I believe that I came into this life with my own personality, goals and innate abilities; these things are inextricably woven into all that has happened before me.  Much like the Butterfly Effect, all of the major and seemingly minute actions of the life, the Universe and Everything (before I was born) has come together to create a completely unique person.  In that vain,  I honor all of life that has come before me to this day.

Grave – Marvin Dale Raatz (02/28/1929 – 10/08/2007)

Until the moment that I draw my last breath, it is important for me to remember that my own actions in this life not only shape my own experience, but also that of countless others after I’m long gone.  Just as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can contribute to a hurricane’s creation, I have a responsibility to live my life honorably.  I must remember that my actions matter to those that are close to me and to the person I pass in the street.  

This perspective is a game changer which moves me outside of my own head-games in into a role of power and influence.  It is in the act of honoring my ancestors that I am reminded of the importance of my life and the actions I take. 

Dwight Raatz,
September 28, 2019

Force of Habit

The More

The other day Melissa and I came home after a day out shopping and doing errands.  After parking the car we started gathering our things and Melissa went into the house carrying the first load.  It took some time for me to arrange what I needed to haul in but then I headed for the house as well.  Upon getting to our door, I turned the knob and found that the door was locked!  Realizing that I did not have my keys, I managed to use my elbow to push the doorbell to our apartment.  In a couple minutes, Melissa pulled open the door apologizing and said, “Oh sorry!  Force of habit!”.  

The “force of habit” got me thinking.  How many of us do things habitually every day without even thinking about them?  I’d guess that there is a high percentage of things we do that are mostly “muscle memory” or habitual actions.  Habits aren’t necessarily bad or abnormal, and I say that they are good things if the habits are healthy. Habits enable us to function very effectively in many situations all while allowing our minds to contemplate and resolve other more pressing issues.  I believe that these cognitive abilities are part of why we has humans have been so adaptive in surviving on this planet.

In thinking deeper about the “force of habit”, I started to consider some of my own emotional habits.  I thought about how many times I’ve slipped into anxiety about a situation and I have really no idea why I ended up there.  Or when I find myself in a sort of dissociative state where I’m replaying something that happened until I’m in a full blown state of depression.  These things seem to happen to me even without much intent or proper cause.  What if these two states of emotion are more about being a habit and less about being mentally or physically ill?  

As I’ve been growing in my awarenesses around my depression and anxiety, I’ve been noticing that their cause isn’t just from once single source.  I’m finding evidence that mine has been related to physical stresses, emotional trauma, energetic sensitivity and even past life events that have carried forward.  I’m realizing that working through the issues of these emotions is not necessarily solved by doing one thing.  I believe we all need to be open to all possibilities that may be a source of whatever we are struggling with in our lives.

In doing a very quick and informal Google search on creating habits, it says that it can take about 2 months to create a habit.  While this might be true for some things, I believe that a habit can start as soon as you decide it should exist.  Granted it might be a bit bumpy at first, but I think it can be done rather quickly if sufficient intent is placed on the habit.  I think the human mind is so powerful that once we decide something and fully commit with a clear vision, we will implement this change almost immediately in our lives.

Recently I committed to myself that I wanted to evolve my habit of anxiety into a healthy state by the time I turn 54 years old (coming in May 2019).  What I found is that this simple act of seeing the Vision or end point, Deciding, and then Committing (VDC) to it, everything starts to shift into accomplishing that goal.  I’ve found that articles I read, people who talked with me, and communications I receive, all started to move me in that direction.  The other part of the VDC is connecting it to honoring yourself.  If you honor yourself through committing to the goal, then your chances of reaching it multiply rapidly in your favor.

The “habit force” is just another tool in your arsenal that you can now use and leverage to fulfill whatever dream or goal you have.  Consider it’s power and how it can help you, but remember what Stan Lee said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Use it wisely my friends.

Dwight J. Raatz
February 26, 2019

What Is Real?

The More

Lately I’ve struggled with what I perceive to be reality.  This struggle has, at times, given me pause to even question my own sanity (which can be quite frightening).  As I dove into the feeling of this, it put me on a path of thinking about how I perceive reality in my own life as well as the lives of others.

There seems to be a couple ways to learn about what is real in your life, and one of them is through experience.  For most people, we think the things we can perceive with our senses (sight, sound, touch, etc) makes them real.  The other way to learn is by being taught what is real. If there are things we can’t verify with our senses, then there must be accepted scientific or mathematical ways to test and verify something is real as proof. Another seemingly acceptable way to view something as real is to hear someone else tell us that it is (friends, family, media, etc).  But what if you have experiences that cannot easily be verified in any way, nonetheless you had the experience and it was very “real” to you?

Have you ever had the experience of driving in your car and you come to a stop light in the midst of several other cars and you are stopped for a length of time?  While sitting there, you kind of lose focus on things as you look at the cars beside you, and suddenly you get the sensation that somehow your car is moving backward, like you are rolling back for some reason?  Then in a short panic you press on the break harder to stop, but you don’t and then you snap out of it only to realize that you are not moving, but the car(s) next you are moving forward?  In that moment you thought you were rolling backward, you thought that was really happening right?

Another example of a perceived reality happened several months ago where I was driving home after a long day on a very familiar road.  As I was driving, I had a sense of where I was and the direction I was going and what I was expecting to see next, but all of the sudden I came upon a stop light that should not have existed.  For a second I was completely disoriented and I could feel the world around me spin slightly when I realized that I was on a completely different road and hadn’t driven as far as I thought I had.  In the moments leading up to my realization, I thought where I was, what I was doing, seeing and experiencing to be very real.  These kinds of “re-orientating to reality” moments have happened to me several times over the years and each time it was quite disturbing. It usually takes me several minutes to come back into alignment with the reality I’m perceiving in that moment. Was what I experienced real or not?

About eight years ago, I was driving to work in my 1996 Geo Prism on a very cold and snowy winter morning.  I was heading for downtown Minneapolis at the intersection of Hwy 55 and Hwy 100 going east.  The roads that morning were snowy and a bit icy.  As I was stopped at the light with no other cars around me, I looked in my rear view mirror to see a large black pickup truck driving straight toward the back of my car.  What I perceived was that this truck was going way too fast for the road conditions and was invariably going to crash into me.  Well, if you know anything about a Geo Prism, it does not have any getup and go, but instinctively, I stepped on the gas and floored it (even though I was a a stoplight) and I braced for impact. What happened next, was nothing at all!  No impact.  As a matter of fact, when I looked in my mirrors, there was no truck at all, nothing!  I even slowed so much I physically looked out all my windows and there was no truck or any other vehicle around me at all in any direction.  In those few seconds there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be rear-ended by that black pickup truck.  So, was what I saw and experienced real or not?

In the Summer of 2010 I was taking a nap in the front room (we called it the parlor) of my home in Buffalo, MN.  I was in that kind of pre-awake state where I could sense that I was awake, but my eyes were not open yet.  As I laid there on the couch, I felt very relaxed as I could feel the summer sun coming through the windows warming me.  I was enjoying that feeling and sense of peace when quite faintly I could hear a kind of buzzing or fluttering sound in the room.  Initially I was thinking it was a fly in the window, but the sound didn’t quite match with my memory because the sound was much deeper and fuller.  I continued to keep myself in the space of “not awake” with my eyes closed and I could hear the fluttering sound circling the room getting near as it circled.  Then it came very close to my face and I could hear the deep fluttering sound of wings and even a slight movement in the air around me.  In my mind’s eye, I started to get a sense for what the being or creature looked like.  I then opened my eyes only to have the sound and feeling of what I thought was there with me to instantly dissipate.  What did I experience?  Was it real or not?

I think perhaps the most significant experience I’ve had around perceiving what is real is my own thoughts around how I believe something will turn out or how someone will react or respond to my actions.  There have been many times that I’ve held back from sharing myself with others (especially family).  When I’ve thought about sharing something important or possibly controversial with them, I would often think I knew how they would respond and usually the thought was not favorable.  I would often spend weeks, months or even years with anxiety, afraid that if I did tell them, they would reject me or they might possibly stop loving me or talking to me.  This fear would infect my life and relationships with others and get to a point where I knew I needed to come clean.  The interesting thing is that in every instance when I finally confessed, they never responded the way I had predicted.  It was a total lie. Every time, they were thoughtful about my issue and very accepting of me.  Each time this happened to me, I would not only be relieved but I would reprimand myself for having spent so much time believing this spell of fear.  What I assumed to be so very real was not real at all.

Most recently I’ve been going through what feels like a large shift or transformation in my life.  This shift is a culmination of many factors including career, marriage, aging, and the ever present ebb and flow of the Universe.  I find myself having a powerful drive to seek more fulfillment in my life, in how I spend my time and who I spend that time with.  I feel as if I am in an in-between place moving from the role of raising kids, building a career (which was created from necessity and not from my heart), divorce and re-marriage, and an ever evolving change in physical health. I’m now moving toward a deep calling from the bowels of the Universe within me to finally allow myself to bring forth the full possibility of what I have to offer this world.  This in-between place feels like my own primordial soup of possibilities.  What I can create for myself in the next phase of my life?  It has been so intense at times I find myself having out of body experiences with my “Self” being the observer of my body and the interactions of it and the world around.  It has been at times very frightening because I feel if I were to just let go a bit more, I would never be able to reconnect myself with this world and physical reality I am in.  I also have the dual experience of being intrigued with the experience because there is a great sense of peace, wonder and interest from the Observer’s perspective.  The Observer is not invested or involved with the interactions of the body, ego or even the physical reality of the experience, it just sees or senses.  So is what I’m experiencing real or not?

As I think about what I’ve written, I feel a common theme has appeared. Reality is based on whatever I chose to focus my attention on at any point in time. This “attention” is really perspective on any given situation. I find this fascinating.  I’ve often thought about how each of us perceive things and if someone else sees the same things or not.  For example, when I look at the color red, is what I perceive as red the same for you as it is for me?  This perspective is also described in a story I wrote in my blog the-more.com a few years ago called “The Reality of Fog”.  I was on a trip to Peru with a friend, when we found ourselves slightly lost in the airport as we tried to figure out where to go for our next flight.  We each had a perspective on what we thought were the right direction through an airport, only to find out we each were looking at the same signs in a slightly different way. Another good example is found in a TEDx Talk titled “Dying to be me” where a woman named Anita Moorjani describes her experience with cancer, her death and coming back to life.  Her message on her awareness of the world was strikingly similar to what I described above in my “Observer” story.  I highly recommend you watch!

I’ve experienced many profound things during my journey from within, and from the world around me.  Each of these experiences has allowed me to grow more and more into who I truly am as a person.  This tangible and palpable experience of the Observer has been challenging, but I truly believe it is all a part of another transformation the Universe is providing for me to grow.  The challenging part of all of this is the intensity of the feeling and how overwhelming transformation can be. The one thing that allows the process to flow, is in the sharing of the moments, and connecting with others in their own similar experiences.  How are you perceiving the world around you, and allowing the experiences to change your life?

– Dwight Raatz

The Truth of Senses

The More

Do we make ourselves blind so we don’t see the color of skin?

But we could still hear and know the dialect, the language. We would still judge.

Do we also make ourselves deaf?

But we could still taste, touch and smell and categories would be established to segregate us.

Do we remove all the senses and become living vegetables with only our minds to interact within ourselves?

Our own thoughts would betray us and leave us utterly trapped thinking of what we did, what others have done, what we are missing and all manner of thoughts that mean nothing.

Do we stop living, abandon our corporeal self and free the spirit, the very essence of who we are? Is that what it will take to know that you and I are really the same? It will happen eventually and you will know the truth regardless.

But why wait?! Why not know the truth of how we are but reflections of each other in the shards of life. The truth is here in seeing the beauty of our skin, the rhythm of our voices, the tender kiss as we taste our lovers, the touch of our hands as we walk together, and the sweet smell of our bodies we are together in work and sex.

These all satisfy my senses, but it is my heart that knows you; that knows we are the same

Dwight Raatz – 07/19/2013

The More

The More

Years ago I was talking with a friend about this feeling that we get sometimes when we see something awe-inspiring like music, theatre, paintings, sculpture, amazing building architecture, a sunset on the Dakota plains, a slow beautiful rain or when we have this moment of peace that we feel when all is flowing and life is effortless. It’s a moment that is timeless and we really couldn’t put words to what was happening. We talked about how to give this feeling a description and we came up with the phrase, “The More”. The More is a feeling that you might be able to create (if you’re focused and dedicated), but ultimately it is something that we stumbled upon now and then. It is like an unexpected treat that honors us in that we’ve noticed it.

The More is that place of All Possibilities, a place of Pure Potential and Creation being shown to you, but you may not see it unless you are aware and paying attention. The More is really Nothing at its core it’s fluid and can change in an instant. It does not require thought, but only the act of allowing, of feeling it and seeing it out of the unfocused part of your vision. If you think about it too much or try to look at it directly, it will lose its essence and disappear. The More is All, but Nothing as well.

Imagine for a moment you received a present in a large brightly wrapped box with ribbons and bows. Not knowing what is in the box is exciting – it is “The More”, because it could be anything, it is the potential of your imagination. Once you unwrap the present and it takes its form, it has lost its potential and become a single known object.

The More is here for everyone – and experiencing it is to experience perfection. Do not seek The More, but rather be ready for it to show itself to you. You need only pay attention and allow.

Dwight Raatz

Greater Than The Sum

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of being “in love” with someone and how it differs from being personally or intimately connected to them. I’ve also been thinking about loving other people that are part of my life. Can this love thing be applied equally across all these people? Was it really the same thing no matter what? I tried to apply this concept for awhile, but it didn’t hold water. So what does it mean to be “in love” with someone and how does that differ than loving them? That is the question.

I found that in religion when they talk about love, it seems to be just one concept. A global concept that is equal all around. This was reflected in the lyrics of John Lennon, “All we need is Love”. There really isn’t a descriptor, definition or guide to understanding love. We are just left to our own experience to decide what this means to us. Is this question of love part of the experience we are looking for when we incarnate into this world? I’m starting to think so because of many reasons. You can look around you to see how people are connected. Some seem to be flawless and smooth and others – well, not so much. For example, look at the relationship between a person and their abusive spouse. More than likely, both of these people witnessed or were exposed to an abusive relationship as children. As children we are sponges soaking up what and how to BE human. We do this through observation and experience of our surroundings. If we see those closest to us (like our parents) verbally or physically abusing each other or us, we perceive and understand this as love because this is our experience of being connected so we look for that in our future relationships. Likewise if you see your parents touching, hugging, kissing, respecting each other; then this is your touchstone or basis of what is love to you.

For me, I had my own experience of knowing love from my parents and family. Being the youngest of 5 children (me being 5 years younger than my next oldest sibling) and growing up on a family farm from the mid 60’s to the early 80’s, my family was busy. My parents were constantly working on the farm and part time jobs and my siblings had their own direction with friends and each other, and then there was me. In many ways I really grew up as an only child with working parents who had little time for anything extra. This was “normal” to me and while I was provided for with food, clothing, shelter – the personal time with my parents and siblings was not as prevalent. I don’t mean to say this as a way of blaming my parents or siblings for how I am today; it just was what it was. This way of growing up afforded me the ability to discover how to take care of myself, entertain myself, become a very keen listener to those around me and to be creative with what I had. In the opposite aspect it also made me question and doubt myself constantly because I had no reference or support in knowing if I was doing anything right. I don’t “blame” my parents because I now understand that they were doing the best they could with the time and resources that they had available to them. This concept has also allowed me to forgive myself for all the dumb things I know I’ve done with my own children during their younger years.

The more I think about this as I write, I am becoming more convinced that love has as many degrees and forms as there are individuals to experience them. I can’t even think of an underlying common attribute for all forms of love – like you would think that all forms have some common ground or defining attribute. Maybe by the end of this article I might discover what that is – at least for me anyway.

As of writing this article, I’ve been married for 24 years and I’d have to say that my definition of love in this marriage has changed and transformed dozens of times over the years. For me, I started out looking for a mate because I was lonely and needed to find any connection I could with someone. This was my primary objective in re-connecting with an old girlfriend and subsequently dating, proposing and marrying her within two years. While I wouldn’t say that this is a perfect reason for getting married, but my level of self-confidence was very low so I was looking for another to bolster me, to fill that void. Luckily for me, the Universe allowed me to connect with someone who not only did this, but also allowed me to fumble, make mistakes and grow all while loving me in her own way. I knew she loved me and it was obvious considering the amount of turbulence I caused in my own life with job changes, moving where we lived and bouts with depression. I never felt that she was putting up with me, but rather that she had a good solid foundation of understanding what love is and that she loved me no matter what I did or didn’t do. I still to this day don’t understand that place of love she knows or what it takes to get there.

It seems to me that love is fluid and gives people what they need at any moment in time during the relationship. With this fluidity, comes change and allows the person to either re-establish a new connection to each other or to opt-out along the way. Love can take the form of letting go, of allowing someone to move beyond what you can give them that maybe something or someone else can. It’s important to see how love is working in your relationships and to ask if it is something that is aiding you to grow, or is it holding you in place stifling you.

For me, love at the beginning of my marriage was selfish and I’m guessing that for my spouse, she was also looking to be connected because she wanted/needed to have that connection for herself. This “co-dependence” really lasted throughout the majority of our marriage, but with lesser and lesser degrees as we grew as individuals with our careers, confidence levels and spiritually (not related to religion). As I became more self-confident in mastering my depression, outlook on direction, path and goals; this has changed how I rely on my spouse. I’ve become more independent which has changed the definition or reason why I’m married. My original need is eroding before me and there hasn’t been something to replace this space being created. At the same time, the expectations or needs of my spouse (from her perspective I’m guessing), hasn’t changed much from the beginning. What I’ve come to understand however, is that her love co-dependence of me is now being challenged and that she is being forced to look at her own self – to understand who she is as an independent person and daring to know how to love herself without the support of anyone else. You might think that I owe it to her to stay in a relationship that she has “put up with” for so many years. I’ve thought of that, but I think the reality is that we both received exactly what we needed from each other for the time we were together. Now, we’ve come to a place that the definition of our relationship needs to be re-defined, altered and the established again in whatever form suits us best for our highest and greatest good.

I think it’s important that anyone in a relationship allow the fluid nature of love to ebb and flow and not to hold on too tight to its original state. If the fluidity takes form in a new bond that allow the two people to remain intimately close, then great. If the form changes so the two are apart but still honor one another, then that’s great too. Spending too much time holding onto an outmoded relationship will ultimately cause damage to it and cause issues with anyone connected to that relationship (especially if there are children). I believe that the more we love ourselves completely, the less we have a dependence on others to love us. We no longer need another to complete us or make us feel whole. We as people need to honor the fluid nature of love in order to be truly free and loving to all people.

As the relationship evolves and grows in a positive manner, the need and reason for love then moves beyond the selfish and, I believe, moves into the realm of being complementary. I see complementary love to be where the two people are becoming or creating something that is more than the sum of its parts. I believe this state of complementary love can be achieved and that it can take on different forms. I think that it can come along and establish itself within an existing relationship or that it can be created within a new relationship. Also, within each of these (new or existing) relationships, the people can choose whether they stay (live) together or if they move apart and establish themselves on new paths. Of the two forms (together or apart) the most challenging to me would be being apart.

If you decide to stay together in a living arrangement, the complementary love will intertwine and really be indecipherable as a unit (from the outside observer), yet each individual will be established in their own power center and path for themselves. If you decide to live apart, I believe the complementary love will only be observable by the most keen and closest individuals to the relationship. A distance complementary love while it appearing to be a good friendship, it will provide each person with a touchstone base to continue to grow from. While there is no “need” for this base, it is a gathering point of energy produced by the complementary love that then returns and amplifies the energy back to those individuals as well as other connected with them. Both the intimate and distance complementary love provide this base amplification, it’s just in the perception of those feeling that love, that it will be different. The intimate complementary love will likely feel focused and directed from the two, while distance will feel surrounding or like it’s coming from all around and without direct intent.

Next, I would like to touch on the feelings of sexual desire for another. This too has various purposes and degrees just as much as love (or any other emotion). I think too often people think of sexual desire as being in love. While I’d agree that there are complementary feelings that can occur between these, I think they are for the most part mutually exclusive. I believe that the hang-ups that society has about sex is directly related to distinguishing sex from loving or being in love with a person. I can see how wanting a sexual relationship with more than one person can cause any one of those involved to feel jealous and insecure. But I’d argue that this jealousy and insecurity is related more to a lack of self-confidence and self-love. If you are truly loving and confident in your love for another and yourself, seeing that person enjoying themselves with another would really have no bearing on you. I think this concept (referred to as poly-amorous) is easy to understand logically, but rather very difficult to implement in any long term fashion with success. I believe it will take a much more evolved society to support this, but it can be done now if you have the right kind of support system in place.

Finally, I believe there is another segment of love worth mentioning and that is the kind you would have for close friends, colleagues and family. If you could imagine love as being a sphere with the inner most center of it being the deepest most profound love possible and going out to the outer layers which is where you see and recognize the person as… well… a person – a fellow human being which may ignite some kind of compassion and caring in you. As you traverse further in toward the center you can in a way categorize groups of people that fall into the various “love levels”. For example an outer layer could be related to work colleagues, then moving in to the friends level, then to family and so on. Depending how your relationships are with each of these groups of people, their position in the “layers” may change. For example, you might have more affection or love for one of your friends than you do a sibling, aunt or uncle. I think the outer rings of love are still fluid and in flux as relationships change, grow or disappear. The important part here it to allow this flux to happen and to recognize it as a change that doesn’t have to have a meaning or reason behind it. It’s just how it is at that moment in time. This flexibility will cause a feedback loop that will amplify and provide a harmonic resonance within the relationship giving it space to grow and give the individuals involved a sense of peace and fulfillment within themselves.

So you might be asking where I am at with my marriage in the great grand scheme of love? My answer is that it has most certainly moved into the realm of complementary love in the distance form. This form is perfect for both my spouse and I and the eventuality of its form is yet unknown. As this is really one of the newest forms of love that I can imagine, it has a lot of unknown territory to discover and define. I find myself to be both excited and intrigued with its possibilities and hopeful as to being able to show this as a possibility for others who know there is another way of being together – yet apart.

Is there a common ground or thread among all these forms of love? My answer is yes and I think it’s called “fluidity”. So as the old saying goes, “Go with the flow”.

Dwight Raatz

All Reality is but a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
~ Shakespeare – As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I believe with regard to religion and spirituality. I’ve come to realize that I need to be clear on my beliefs so I have a better understanding of how to explain them to others. With that, I’m going to spend some time here to give a more thorough examination of my current beliefs and I will utilize some real life experiences and analogies in order to explain them. It’s important to know that as I learn and grow, so do my beliefs. I take time to re-analyze my beliefs against any new awareness and decide if it needs to be updated, added or removed.

Recently I was invited for lunch with my friend Joshua because we had been dialoging via email on various topics surrounding religion and we thought that we could really make some ground on our conversation by meeting in person. Upon arrival at our meeting, I was surprised at how quickly he wanted to dig into the topic at hand and dispense with too much small talk, but in a way I was glad of it. (As a side-note, Joshua is Christian who is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and I’m not – even though it is the church of my birth) I decided to back up a bit and give an overview of my personal position on why I’m not a Christian. After doing so, Joshua continued into a line of questioning that was mainly asked in order to obtain a better understanding of my beliefs. While the conversation was quite lively and interesting, I became concerned about the kinds of questions he was asking as they did not seem to be in line with what I thought I had explained as my beliefs. Even in subsequent emails over the following day or two after our lunch, I was still confused on why the conversation went down the path of being more of an offense/defense around religion. He even recommended that I read the book “Letters from a Skeptic”, in order for me to have a resource to answer my objections to Christianity. This book is about a son (the Christian) who invites his father (the Agnostic) into a letter dialog to enable his father to pose all his objections and questions around Christianity and the son would answer these letters in hopes of “saving” his father.

I took Joshua’s advice and downloaded the unabridged audio version of the book and I listened to it over the next couple days. What I found in listening to this book is a range of emotions. First I was angry at what I felt were not only ludicrous and ignorant questions (from the father in the story), but also I was angry at the answers being given by the son as I felt they lacked any real motivation to “convert”. My emotions then moved into boredom as the book when on and on with questions like, “… well if God is love and he loves his creation, then why are their natural disasters and pestilence in the world?” to answers like, “… there are bad people in the world because of a great cosmic war between good and evil that we are caught in and cannot save ourselves.” I was tired of the story and seeing that I had about half the book left, I thought more than once to abandon it and move on. I decided that there must be some reason why this particular book was recommended to me so I trudged on and what I found is that once I gave up my emotions around listening to the book, I began to really hear the conversation. I also was able to see a different perspective on the stories of the Bible including those of Jesus. I also came to the realization (based on the questions Joshua was asking) that I’m doing a really bad job at being clear as to what my beliefs are. I realized that how I approached the reasons around no longer being a Christian (or any religion for that matter) not only challenged Joshua’s beliefs (which would naturally put him on the defensive), but it also clouded what I really wanted to share about me.

With the new awareness in place, I decided to outline my personal current beliefs in writing and here is how it came together (in no particular order):

  • I believe in an intelligent, universal energy that is All, it binds all and is pure love and pure creation (e.g. The Universe, The Divine, God, Yahweh, Ein Sof, Allah, etc).
  • I believe my Higher Self (HS) is but an extension of God and is not in any way separated. My HS is not my humanity. The HS knows all and is completely enlightened within its connection to The Divine.
  • I believe my Soul is my consciousness in and around my human body. It is my HS’s representation of itself as I am in human form, but the soul has chosen to “forget” who he really is as the HS.
  • I believe God can only truly know herself through experiencing all facets of creation through a virtual separation or dis-memberment from herself. The dis-memberment is a veil of “forgetting”.
  • I believe the dis-memberment I create from God is only an illusion that I agree to before becoming human.
  • I believe that everything returns to God because nothing is truly separated from Him.
  • I believe free will enables us to create a vast number of experiences and opportunities for The Divine to know Herself.
  • I believe that when we die from the human form, our Soul goes back to be part of All – Always
  • If we do bad or “evil” things during our lives, or we experience evil, this is an experience we have chosen.
  • I believe that if we put (create) enough negative or “evil” energy out, it will manifest into its own force with apparent intelligence. I believe this force can cause problems, death and destruction but has no power over The Universe. I believe this force can be transmuted by (not only God) but easily by a direct focused intention of any human commanding it with Love.
  • I believe hell is only a part of our human reality and is a deliberate denial of being connected to The Divinity within us. It only exists individually for a person’s lifetime as a human. Hell can also be conditions brought upon by an energetic imbalance from society. Hell is also a chosen experience.
  • Whether the bible or any religious text is real and/or actually happened is irrelevant to my beliefs.
  • I believe we can choose to be incarnate in human form multiple times.
  • I believe religion came about because of a natural evolution of Man discovering and remembering it’s truth. Religion is not right or wrong, it’s simply a tool used as we become more enlightened as humans.
  • I believe the human ego is a purposeful way to experience our humanity. Once we understand this, each experience can be reviewed, considered, and then released.
  • I believe our reactive emotions (anger, fear, depression, happiness, etc) are the domain of the ego – they are conditional. It’s when you can allow the emotion to pass through and out (release) and observe it for what it is, then you can truly be the master of your ego.
  • I believe that there are many roads Home and it’s our choice which path to take (free will). But no matter the path, we all go Home.
  • I am no religion. Nor do I claim to fit into any category of organized spirituality.
  • I am not a Christian because I do not need to be saved by having Christ die for my sins.
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12
    – Even if everything taught to me about the stories of Jesus are true, I believe the actions by Jesus were primarily a guide to living life and showing us that we just need to let go and believe in our connection to The All that Is. Jesus was another example given to us over human history (also like Horus and Osiris) .
    – I believe I am just as much a part of God as Jesus. I believe Jesus was just more naturally (by intention and design) aware and humanly conscious of this connection to The Universe than most. He was this way on purpose to help us evolve our awareness and our collective consciousness.
  • I believe we have had many Masters come to earth over time to teach us the same truths that was taught by our ascended Masters. I believe that over time we have become more enlightened as humans, that we now have access to more “connected” humans giving us more guidance and truths.
  • What I see is that the illusion of daily life as an experience that we can truly see and re-member the Divinity within ourselves.
  • I do not believe that God has the emotions of humans and that She is pure Love. Love is not an emotion, it is a way of being that is all accepting.

I have an analogy that helps me to explain our existence as it relates to our humanity, the ego, the soul, and our Higher Self (Godself). The example that I am giving is to compare these things to a stage play. The primary aspects of a play include; the set (or stage), the actors, the characters, the audience and the script. Each of these components I will relate to how I see myself as a spiritual being having a human experience.

  • The set or stage represents the earth as well as the visible known universe. This is where I “exist” in my reality.
  • The actor represents our soul which is veiled in its full knowledge of God and is more closely related to our physical human experience, but takes guidance from the Higher Self.
  • The character is our humanity or our day to day facade that we portray during our life including the effects of our ego
  • The script is our overall plan for our experience that we designed before coming to earth as a human
  • The audience is our Higher Self and God, witnessing and experiencing the interactions between all aspects of the play.

As we live our lives as characters in a play, we play out using our free will and some guidance from the script. The actor or soul is the connection to spirit or our Higher Self and it experiences the interplay among the self, other characters and the set. If we choose (using free will) to ignore our guidance and take a different path, this is acceptable and is honored, but we find our lives to be incomplete and we struggle.

Before we are born unto humans, we have already decided the main experiences we want in our lifetime. Some people refer to these as lessons, but that is not my view. I believe we already “know” everything conceptually, but not experientially. It is our wish to truly know via experience. The problem we face as humans is that we deny the truth of our existence as it has been shown to us many times (including by Jesus). We do not know how to manage our experiences of life as just that, an experience – then it should be released. Upon human physical death, the experiences of the life is re-membered All the consequence of the life are no longer relevant, but yet does create a Karmic resonance that can continue to be felt and can seek resolution within the next life. If we haven’t been able to release our experience, we will never really know it completely. Therefore, if we choose to re-incarnate, some of these experiences may be played again in the next life.

As I look back onto my lunch with Joshua, the book I listened to and the validation of my belief systems, things became clearer about life and my existence. I am slowly becoming even more aware of each interaction I have with everyone in my life, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I can step outside of the experience and see it for what it really is. I am more cognizant of what I’m being shown in the experience and how it is teaching me more about myself and re-membering who I really am. This awareness has brought me peace and fulfillment to my life. I believe it is in the awareness of the re-membering where I fulfill the script or “plan” of my life. It is the whole point of my existence.

What I Believe Changes as I grow and become more attuned to my true self.

Dwight Raatz

Journey to the Island of Creation

Recently I experienced a shamanic journey that I will share with you here. A group of friends and I got together to do some energy work and we started out the evening with one of my friends doing a one card tarot reading for each of us. I don’t recall the card I drew, but I do remember him telling me that part of the card’s meaning was being able to step outside my ego and looking at those aspects of myself in a way that is giving me control over the ego. This resonated with me because this is exactly what I’ve been experiencing over the past few months and it hit home how far I have come.

We then continued the night with my friend asking about how we wanted to journey; did we want to sit in silence, use a drum or a signing bowl. I was immediately drawn to the drum and spoke my wish. It was agreed to have the drum be the “regulator” of our journey. My friend has the ability to not only drum, but also to journey at the same time. Quite impressive I thought!

All was silent and we prepared ourselves. The drum call began with slow regular beats vibrating our beings and setting the tone. There was a shift and the drumming gathered speed and strength. Immediately I found myself flying above the ground, speeding toward some unknown location. The ground below me was a blur and I could see the curve of the earth as I moved faster and higher. I sensed a presence with me so I looked around to see that behind me flew several small “beings”. I thought it was interesting, but did not pay too much attention.

Ahead in the distance I could see a large object floating above the earth. It had irregular features and as I grew closer, I could see that it appeared to be an island. The island had mountain tops with streams flowing down, trees with many varieties and a dense growth, a large beach with water surrounding it.

I landed on the beach next to a large pyre of wood that was set aflame. The journey drum beat became strong in me and I began to dance around the fire. I looked behind me to see seven little beings dancing behind me – interesting. I looked at my body to see myself dressed in native American ceremonial garb – feathers on my headdress, along my arms – intricate beads sewn in in colorful and dazzling patterns on my leather garment. The drum’s rhythm urged me on to feel and let go of my human connection and to be part of the earth. I danced with love and creation flowing.

As I danced, I could see the skin from my body shedding off like dirt and becoming part of the ground. I could see the sweat running down my sides and flowing toward the streams. I could see my breath extending out and creating breeze. I could see the energy of my dance act as a fuel for the fire and I could feel it expanding. I saw all of these elements expanding and falling to the earth to replenish and renew. With all of this, I saw that I was the creator – that I Am. I saw that I was bringing life and am master of my own.

My curiosity became aroused with regard to the little beings following behind. I turned to look behind only to see that they no longer followed. I looked around to find them on the outer ring beyond where I danced with no connection to my creation process. They did not struggle, but rather appeared to be waiting and holding space for my work. What were these beings I asked. Immediately the answer came to me explaining that these were what made me human and were outside my Truth, Love and Creation. Then I knew they represented the ego in what could be referred to as the “seven deadly sins” (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride) – all of which are born of fear. They cannot exist where love creates and all was right and I danced with Joy and Abundance!

My journey ended here as the drumbeat changed and called me back. I returned to my reality in the midst of friends and we shared our stories. I felt very blessed to be there and humbled to know my connection to All That Is.


Dwight Raatz

The Seeker and the Agnostic

A friend forwarded me the article “InPraise of Agnostics” which is talking about a recent talk given by Pope Benedict XVI on the 25th anniversary of the Day of Prayer for Peace.  I found this article not only giving me hope when it comes to the establishment of religion, but it also is more proof that as we all Awaken from the veil more truth will come. This, to me, is more proof of the Awakening.

Yes, I believe the role of the Seeker is very important.  I would put myself in that category with one slight change, I know there is God and the Divine, but I personally don’t need to have a “church” to feel his presence in my life.  This is right for me, but may not be for you or someone else.  The important part is continually seeking and communing with God.  I say continually because as we grow and become more enlightened and aware, our relationship with the Divine changes.  This has been proven to me over and over.  My relationship or knowing of God is different now than when I was a child.  For me, this is why “church” doesn’t work because I felt that the dogma kept me stuck in one place with Her.

Find God in the way that resonates with you.  Share your Knowing of Him from the heart with Love and that is right and perfect.  We come together to share our Knowing and Love for Her and each other because we are One in the Divine and it’s in the experience of that Love which is what we seek.  The Divine wants to Know Itself in all Its Splendor through our experience of Him


The Darkness

I’ve been to that place of darkness. I’ve been lost there many times and felt the despair and utter feeling of hopelessness. I wandered the darkness with nothing to hold on to. No sense of direction or purpose. The only thing that kept me moving was not wanting to add more to the pain by hurting you.

The only thing that saved me from being lost to this life forever was the love beacon that stood by me and followed me everywhere. Why did it care so much, why couldn’t it just leave me alone to disappear. I am tired of fighting, weary of the struggle to breath and listening to my heart laboring. I wanted the pain to stop. I know that it’s selfish, but it is about the survival of my soul from hell.

This physical body of mine, this imbalance in my mind causing the living hell I was in. It was about survival and freedom from the torture. My soul yearned for the light. The darkness of my mind was the shackles of hell that bound me, torturing my soul. The only freedom seemed to be death of this physical form.

It’s not about you. There is nothing you’ve done and there is nothing you can do but wait and be patient. Send love to me, send energy, send me a detour route showing me away to the light without leaving you. If I find a way out and death is the answer, it’s not about you. It’s not about your failure or what you should have seen or done. I only wish I could have spared you the pain of my actions. But I know you are stronger than I. I know you will go on and live even in sorrow. I know you will find love and support to move on with your life. If I find a way out, it’s to be free of the hell of my mind. It’s to give life back to my soul. It is who I truly belong to and we will be together again.

I’ve been to that place of darkness, but I have found a way out in this lifetime, for now. I know I need to share my journey, but I dare not peer back into that place too long. I fear it will swallow me back up and I will be lost again. I dare not, even though I must. I must for you. You are why I’m still here.

Dwight Raatz