James K Papp
It is relevant for me to tell you of those who have inspired and affected me most on my path. As touchstones, they will help you see where I have been so you may more easily relate to what I am sharing.
I grew up in the spacious Alaskan countryside with three siblings, raised by loving parents who cared greatly about us, the land, and raised large vegetable and flower gardens. My father’s ability to socialize and make friends, and my mother’s diplomacy and let-it-be attitude were primary influences on me. I went to college “outside,” in Washington State, and found out how insulated I had been from mainstream culture. I began exploring, and my life began to open.
In 1980 I was a young man with an awakening awareness, trying to make sense of the great changes I was experiencing. Books by Alan Watts and Ram Dass gave me assurance and focus, and provided valuable reference points from which I could get my bearings to continue on my new journey.
Strengthened and inspired to continue seeking, I discovered Lin Yutang’s loving translation of Lao Tzu’s poetic masterpiece of Taoist wisdom, the Tao Te Ching. Its brushstrokes of words shined brightly, illuminating grace and beauty in my life, and The Wisdom of Laotse remains today my most treasured book.
I met a group of painters in 1987, the Dharmic Engineers, and spent ten years sharing an art studio with Milo Duke, Ray Pelley, and Rob Schouten – learning about archetypes, mythology, and making art. Together we learned about Mayan cosmology, and I was introduced to painting, backpacking, and the virtues and reality of communing with nature.
With August 1987’s Harmonic Convergence (a worldwide planetary rite of passage), I found myself on a track to create and share lightness, as best I could, and spent the next fifteen years making music and painting pictures. I endeavored to coordinate my personal growth with the efforts of others who were also working to enlighten the world – as we walked together on the path of awakening, leading up to and beyond the 2012 Mayan calendar end date.
In 1997, at a Dharmic Engineers art exhibition, I met spiritual teacher Mary Magdalene of the Cross. As Hereditary Priestess of Temple of the Deer Wisdom School, she shared her Mayan wisdom through ongoing lessons and initiations. Mary helped me change my thought patterns about Spirit and about life in general. This was exactly what I needed in order to develop the values and ethics required to Live in Spirit and experience life in a more deeply harmonious and joyful way.
A current rising within me demanded that I recognize Spirit in my life. Spirit was no longer something I could dance around, dabble in, or pay attention to occasionally. I had come to a place in my life where I had to give Spirit a prominent position or else consciously deny it – knowingly becoming out of balance and off center. And so I honored and embraced my spirit. My initiation by Mary into Temple of the Deer marked my commitment to walk the Path of Spirit and my acceptance of the new way I had chosen to be in the world. I began periodic pilgrimages to visit the elegant, time-stoppingly magical Mayan temples in Mesoamerica.
Some years later, in 2004, Mary accompanied my wife, Lisa, and me to the Yucatan where Mayan shaman Hunbatz Men conducted a Mayan marriage ceremony for us. In the several days spent with him, Hunbatz Men touched our hearts, teaching us much and connecting us more deeply with each other and the world around us where every single thing is alive.
The next year I met Falcon Medicine Woman Diana Falconi. This was at a time when I seriously needed to heal my past and rebalance my lifestyle in order to continue on my path. I was working too much and living far away from home in a place I was not adjusting well to. Finally, I had to admit to myself I was unhappy. This was a crushing blow to my ego. But I knew I had to help myself; if I didn’t do it, no one else would. So I went looking for a healer.
Diana’s shamanic healings were extremely effective and she inspired me to work, under her guidance, with the medicine wheel in the context of her Andean Q’ero lineage. By Diana’s introduction I read Alberto Villoldo’s books on the energy medicine of the Americas, learned a deeper value of ceremony, and fully devoted myself to Living in Spirit. Spirit was now irreplaceably significant in my life.
Subsequently, two influences have emerged to become primary teachers for me on how to live in the world. The compassionate and enlightening words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Paramahansa Yogananda are with me in my daily meditation and prayer, serving as beacons of light, guiding and reminding me gently to live in Spirit with kindness and respect for all life.
In recent years, several hundred thousand people have visited my Web page which talks about the great Mayan calendar cycle that turns over on 21 December 2012. I regularly receive inquiries from persons concerned or worried about what is going to happen in 2012. (This is addressed in chapter one of Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit.) I considered writing about what the Mayans today have to say about the times we are living in. However, upon rumination and discussion with teacher Mary, I realized that helping others by providing information and resources about how to be in the world – how to live a joyful, fearless life that is led by Spirit – is what I wanted to do. And so began the process of making the book.
In the pages of Inquire Within, I am presenting a variety of ways you can live in a more spiritually conscious, evolving way. For this is what we need in order to reconnect with our source – to be in harmony with the universal forces and energies which inform and permeate all of existence and power our being. Without awareness of the presence of Spirit, our lives are incomplete because we are unaware of the very source of our power.