November Reflections

Each autumn, I reflect, reminiscence, and recall in vivid detail a spiritual experience that occurred some 49 years ago, which changed my life. … PORTIONS OF THIS POST HAVE BEEN TAKEN DOWN, AS SECTIONS OF IT APPEAR IN JOHN ROGER BARRIE’S APRIL 2024 BOOK, “THE DEEPEST SILENCE AND OTHER ESSAYS ON CONTEMPORARY SPIRITUALITY.”

I’m exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to have explored different branches of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Sufism, Taoism, and Native American religion. I was fortunate to have studied with Theravada Buddhist monks from Burma and Sri Lanka; Japanese and Korean Soto and Rinzai Zen masters; lamas from all four Tibetan Buddhist schools, including H. H. the XIV Dalai Lama, as well as other “first-generation” lamas hailing from Tibet prior to the diaspora; Cistercian and Trappist Christian monks, as well as attending around a dozen services of different Christian denominations (I still actively maintain my Christian roots); swamis from the Ramakrishna and Vishnu Tirth lineages, as well as visiting additional Hindu groups; Hasidic and Renewal rabbis; shaykhs from three different Sufi orders; an internal Chi Gung Chinese master, as well as Taoist adepts. I studied with a Native American teacher and explored Native American religion (and contracted pneumonia after once attending a sweat-lodge ceremony – quite a cleansing!). I studied and became credentialed in two or three energy-healing modalities.

During 1986 and 1987, I founded and moderated Friends of the Spirit, a small, informal study group in comparative mysticism, based in Northern California, for which I produced a number of original essays. In the mid-1990s, I was privileged to have undertaken volunteer writing projects for several respected religious teachers, including Shaykh Taner Ansari, Father Thomas Keating, Rabbi Schneur Zalman Stern, and Swami Shivom Tirth. My first published spiritual article appeared in the May 1981 issue of Vedanta for East and West, and I’ve since published occasional articles on Gerald Heard and spirituality, including three contributions for Parabola magazine, and of course this website, online since 2006, and my running blog and a newly launched YouTube channel, and now a book. While I am honored and humbled to have a longstanding teaching authorization from the late Swami Swahananda of the Ramakrishna Order, as well as his verbal and written sanction and blessing to confer initiation as a householder disciple in that tradition, I don’t promote myself as a “guru” – God forbid – but rather refer to myself as a “spiritual educator,” an appellation with which I can sleep well at night. Someone who, outside of academia and the institutional religious milieu, can share the cumulative wealth of the many experiential spiritual treasures I’ve gathered over the decades.

2 thoughts on “November Reflections”

  1. How wonderful to set aside time to review with gratitude one’s teachers and their teachings. Just perfect for this reflective time of year.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth, for your uplifting comment. Believe me, there are a plenitude of stories associated with these explorations and teachings! – John Roger Barrie


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