Reverend Mary Manin Morrissey has said that anything in the world we can see in full bloom started as a seed. As I write this we’re entering the fourth decade since my husband Michael and I founded New Dimensions Media and Broadcasting Network. Looking back over those years I can see that the seed of that venture began in a life-changing conversation he and I had when we first met.
I grew up Episcopalian and loved my church, but in my early twenties when I moved to Alabama I became a Southern Baptist. I sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and expressed my spiritual exuberance with my new Baptist friends. In my late twenties I migrated to California and became a Jehovah’s Witness. Again I jumped in with both feet and was soon knocking on doors spreading the “good news”.
Then I met Michael. He, of course, was not a Jehovah’s Witness. Meeting him was like a thunderbolt. I really wanted to get to know him better but not before we worked out what appeared to be a spiritual gulf between us. I believed I was privy to “the Way, the Truth and the Light.” He, in my eyes, was not. I phoned him and said, “I’d like to come over and talk about spiritual matters.” He agreed.
I walked into his townhouse with an armful of Jehovah’s Witness translations of various spiritual texts, including the New World edition of the Bible. We went down the stairs to his guestroom, which he had turned into a library, that was stacked from floor to ceiling with books. There were books about the Kabbalah, the I Ching, The Bhagavad Gita, Judaism, Vedanta, Science of Mind, and much more. Of course, I didn’t want to talk about any of those works. I wanted only to talk about my religion using my translation of the Bible—and I told him so.
At that point Michael reached back on the shelf next to him and pulled out a green Bible and said, “You mean this one?”
That moment is ever vivid in my memory. As he pulled a copy of “my” Bible off his shelf, I thought, “Maybe he’s being more inclusive than I am.” But I kept the notion to myself as we began the conversation. I’d entered his library with all my biases, prejudices, certainties, and enthusiasms firmly in place. I felt that my way was the “true” way. However, I could not help but notice that Michael had included “my way” in his own exploration, along with so many other great spiritual traditions. That aroused my curiosity.
Nevertheless, as we launched into our spiritual dialogue, I remained staunchly in my own camp, representing my own interpretation of the truth. I would read a chapter and describe the historical context, then share the meaning that I felt was the “right” one, saying, “So you see this means such and such, it’s quite obvious.”
Michael would listen and respond with something like, “Yes, I see what you mean—and you might also look at it like this.”
Every time he did that I became more and more excited because rather than negating what I said, he enhanced it. He took my view and couched it in a more spacious landscape. The boundaries of my spiritual ideals were being broadened and extended. If he had said, “No, you are wrong. It is this way”, I most likely would have resisted. In all probability there would not be a New Dimensions today.
Michael and I stayed up the entire night talking about spiritual matters. Nine months later we started our business. I realize now that, mythologically speaking, we conceived New Dimensions in those quiet hours before dawn more than thirty-five years ago. That conversation continues, only now we have microphones and guests, and hundreds of thousands of listeners included in the conversation.
Try not to doubt the power of your own curiosity and inquiry. Mine has been the guiding force behind the wondrous journey that has defined my life. In hindsight I know that in those years of shifting from one church to another, to another, it wasn’t about dogma and it wasn’t about settling down and no longer asking the questions about why we are here and what our purpose is. What I was searching for all along was the biggest spiritual truth I could find.
I continue to inquire, probe, and puzzle for a broad landscape of wisdom and meaning. I’ve found some answers and I know there are more to come.
My current definition of God (and it is ever changing and expanding):
“God is the quantum field of infinite reciprocal intelligence and love: a divine, responsive, and dynamic co-creative force of energy in which all life is embedded including us. A force that exists within everything, enlivens everything, and from which everything is made manifest.”
It has been hard for me to move away from a “personal God”— I continue to have prayerful conversations with what I call emanations of Divine Presence including Jesus, the Catholic Our Lady of Guadalupe (whom I consider the dark goddess of all the Americas) and the Buddhist Tara. My license plate reads Om Tara. I love her because she is the mother of all the Buddhas and when she stamps her foot, all the universes shake. She is a fierce protector.
Here are some questions to contemplate and hopefully write about in your journal: What have you hung your hat on that forms the foundation of your spiritual faith? What are you still curious and uncertain about? What has stood the test of your experience and scrutiny? Have you staked out your territory and set up your tent on the side of the mountain or are you willing to continue up to the summit and see what is on the other side?
If you’ve chosen to set your sights on the summit, you’ll find the horizons are wider than you can imagine. And there’s always another mountain to climb, another summit to attain, and each new landscape is more vast than the one you left behind.