Nancy (N). Begin us on this journey. What the heck is Metapsychiatry?
Ruth (R). Actually it's a spiritual teaching but you wouldn't know that from its name would you? “ Meta” means beyond. So Metapsychiatry means beyond psychiatry. So Dr. Hora was someone who went beyond the traditional thinking of psychiatry and in fact discovered the metaphysical understanding of man who is created in the image and likeness of God. So Metapsychiatry is the teaching that evolved out of his many long years of practice when he was seeking to alleviate the suffering of his patients and his students around the world because they were interested in spiritual understanding.
N. So in a way it's mental health but mental health from the context in which we are part of God. God is a part of our lives, an integral part of who we are… and that changes the way we perceive who we are in the world, how we are in the world, what we do, and what our purpose is.
R. Exactly. So to understand ourselves as spiritual beings rather than just mere human beings is the purpose of Metapsychiatry.
N. And beyond psychological beingness, right? That is the psychiatry part of it.
R. That's right. As a matter of fact it could be called the human condition. The alternative that goes beyond this is called Divine Reality. So seeing the difference between the human being and the Spiritual Being and the difference between the human condition and Divine Reality is what we teach in Metapsychiatry.
N. So all this sounds very esoteric up there. So help us understand this by talking about your story. How did you get involved with all of this?
R. It's a very interesting story actually. I discovered Metapsychiatry in graduate school in 1978, with the publication of Dr. Hora's first two books called "Dialogues in Metapsychiatry" and "Existential Metapsychiatry" which were assigned to us to be read as homework. I went home and started reading "Dialogues" and in it I came across a word called PAGL. P for peace, A for assurance, G for gratitude and L for love, and I said, "oh my goodness that's what happened to me about a month before hand." I had been in a desperate situation. I was in the process of divorce and in the midst of that my husband lost his job and we lost our home and we didn't have any money and we had two children. I thought where are we going to go? What can we do? It was so depressing that I actually was in a full-fledged depression and everything I tried didn't work. I couldn't figure out how to solve this problem. Where are we going to go? Where is the money going to come from? This went on for months. Finally in desperation I turned to God earnestly, sincerely.
N. What does it mean to turn to God?
R. I didn't know what it meant at that time but, you know, when you are in a suffering state the last thing you try is God. So I said, “Okay God, if there really is God, reveal yourself to me, because I really don't know”. I had been brought up in a church but I never really understood what God was. So I prayed like I said. If you really exist then reveal yourself to me. Seven days later, the most amazing thing happened. I felt this incredible peace flowing down upon me from above and it enveloped me and I heard a voiceless voice say to me, "You are not to want anything. Everything everywhere is already alright" and I was so assured by that voice, I knew that it was God, and a sense of peace, assurance, gratitude and love came to me. This was not something that I was able to articulate very easily. In fact, it took me a long time to be able to express what had happened because it sounded so bazaar, but the fact was that it left me with complete assurance that everything was all right and I didn't have to want anything; and from that moment on, the depression was lifted. I was no longer anxious and I wasn't afraid. All of those feelings completely dissolved in that short period of time when this occurred.
N. Do you think it was as simple or as complex… however you want to say it… as moving from trying to figuring out what you had to do to fix this problem to letting go and turning to God which opened up this realization of who you really are?
R. Yes, but I didn't really understand that at the time. It is what happened to me that was real. That was what was true about it. I knew that it was God but it didn't seem like the God I was brought up with. I was thinking of God as a person, some kind of person out there beyond the sky. It was really a more anthropomorphic idea in the image of man and that didn't make sense to me as an adult so I kind of turned away from church and God. But all of a sudden, I knew what God was. After that experience, I lived in a state of PAGL where I was totally unconcerned about anything. It just seemed ridiculous to somebody who didn't know what I had gone through. To me there was no question about it.
N. People must have thought you had really gone insane. Here you are in the midst of a lot of problems and you went into a kind of a bliss state. From someone else's perspective they would say, "But Ruth you are not dealing with reality here."
R. My friends would say, "Why aren't you out looking for a place to live?" and I said, "Because I don't have any sense that I need to do that." I was living in such a state of peace constantly, all day, every day, and somehow I knew I didn't have to do that, and it didn't make sense of course to somebody else looking upon it, but to me it was the right thing to do because I wasn't led to do anything else. This is not a passive state which is the way most people might think of it but a very conscious awareness that there is sense of peace and assurance. So I went with that.
N. You just went with it… That everything is already all right. Even though it didn't appear that way to other people, you knew that everything was really okay.
R. Absolutely, and the amazing thing that happened was that five days before we were to move out of that house, I wasn’t the least bit concerned. It didn’t make any sense! The house had already been sold, I had two children to feed and to clothe and to house and care for, and no place to go, and I wasn't worried at all! So five days before we had to move out, the phone rang and a woman said, "Ruth, I understand that you are looking for a place to live, a place where you might have an office of your own," because that's what I was looking for at the time. She said, "I have such a place. Would you be interested in it?" I knew immediately it was right. There was a sense of peace around it, a sense of PAGL, I later learned, and I was so sure. I said “I can't come right now because I am off to work, but could I come at the end of the day?” She hesitated for a moment and then said, "Oh yes, that's fine, please come at the end of the day." Later she told me she had about 25 names on her waiting list and she didn't know what made her wait because she could very easily have rented the house right away but she waited. And, as soon as I came to the house, I said, "Yes, that's it. That's the right place for us."
She told me what it cost, and let's say it cost $600, and I had figured out in my budget I had only $100 to pay for a place to live and I knew that it didn't make any sense whatsoever. I had this little battle going on in my mind, so to speak, where my left brain was saying, “You can't afford this! What are you doing?” But there was such a sense of PAGL around it that I knew I had to do it. There was no question about it. But I did notice that this other little thought kept coming in and intruding itself upon me and I just turned away from it, of course, and went and signed the papers. The amazing thing was that at the end of the month I made exactly enough money to pay for the house and then the following month I made more! It was a turn of events that changed my whole life - that moment. So that was a huge, profound spiritual awakening and transformation that had occurred.
N. In the space of a month, you had this realization. You went from the depths of despair into this realization and then the actual manifestation in the way of practical result of this new way for you of experiencing life all at once.
R. Yes. All at once. I can't take credit for any of that. By the grace of God it happens, but it is also something that is interesting to learn about and that's what happened when I went back to school and found the word PAGL. Dr. Hora described it in the book as the criterion by which we can know whether we are on the right track in life or going in the right direction when making choices and decisions. I was amazed that he was able to articulate it so clearly, so simply. Not only that, but he put it into an acronym, PAGL. So I called him up on the telephone. I located his phone number, called, and asked if I could come and talk with him. He gave me an appointment for the following week and that's what began the 17 years of weekly dialogue which was absolutely the most wonderful blessing of my life: To have the privilege of studying with such an enlightened individual, such a gracious man, a compassionate individual, nonjudgmental, and a brilliant teaching.
N. I want to go back to something you talked about in your experience which seems to me to just tell the whole story. It's at that point where you had to decide whether to take the house when it was more expensive, and I think we all know that difference, but maybe you could even articulate it a little bit more. We know the difference between wanting something and having friction or anxiety with it and at the same time we know the feeling of wanting. You wanted that place. You knew it was right. Talk about the difference there because that's a fine line.
R. Yes. It is a fine line and I think it's the result of that voiceless voice that came to me which said you are not to want anything. So at that moment, I literally gave up wanting. I never thought about such a thought in my life before. You just go around wanting things all the time. It's normal. That was called to my attention: You are not to want anything. “Okay,” I said, “I give it up. I don't want anything from now on. So you tell me Lord. You guide me, whoever you are. You bring to me what I need because I don't know how to solve the problem myself”. So that's the key - giving up the desire to get what we want. Giving up all desires and allowing Divine ideas to reveal themselves to us. And they in fact do take care of us. That's what happens. That's the most amazing thing that I have ever learned in my life… That there is this Divine guidance and that this guidance is always available to us. But we don't usually turn toward it because we are so interested in trying to do what we think we should do or what we want to do.
N. This Divine guidance you are talking about is not this force that is way out there far away from us that's either going to give us what we want or not or take care of us or not. You are talking about an actual awareness that is visceral. PAGL is something that is realizable. I don't even know the right words, but could you say what it is?
R. It's very difficult to describe it. It's within us. I had never been aware of it before but one of the things I learned about PAGL is that it is our essence. It's our essential nature. We are Peace, Assurance, Gratitude and Love but usually we are so busy thinking that we know how to proceed in life that we are not aware of the fact that our true nature is spiritual qualities or spiritual values. So, it is wonderful to be aware that this is available to us. It's already in us. It's around us. It's everywhere. We live in it. It is so amazing to see that we can live in this state of consciousness which is filled with PAGL. When we do live in this state, we begin to hear ideas that are right for us, that seem to be needed from moment to moment.
N. You make it sound like all we have to do is sit in this room and pray, and be in a good state of mind and everything will come to us - apartments when we need them and things like that- and it sounds so outrageous.
R. It is outrageous. But it is also very real and it's not a passive state. I think that's what we are all afraid of, that we are just being passive. We are not going to do anything to help ourselves but this is not a passive state. It's a very conscious awareness that there is within us - that actually our true nature - I don't even want to say within us because it is what we are. We are this state of peace. We are this state of assurance. We are grateful. We are loving. But we are not aware of it most of the time.
N. It seems like you are talking about such a religious thing because you use the words “God” and “Divine Reality”. So how does this fit into the whole religious thing?
R. It sound religious to many people. It's not unique to religion but it's actually a spiritual perspective of life because the spiritual is a whole other realm of existence which does not belong to any one particular religion. It's found in religion but exists on it's own. It is not man made, whereas we tend to think of religion as man made and as an institution in the world. Spirituality is not located anywhere. It's not an institution. It doesn't have a hierarchy.
There are many differences between the two, but rather than getting off into that in the moment, I would like to give you an example of another experience that is quite profound that happened to one of our students. This student is a woman from Switzerland who has been living in the United States for a long time. Her children are grown and they are living in Switzerland. Every summer she went back to Switzerland to visit with her children. A few years ago she picked up the phone to make a reservation about three months ahead of the time that she was scheduled to see her children and she had to hang up the phone. There was no PAGL around it. She was familiar at that time with this idea and seeking to live her life in accordance with PAGL. Every day she would pick up the phone and try to dial the airlines but each time, she would hang up the phone. There was simply no PAGL around it.
N. Because there was a sense that it just wasn't right or wasn't harmonious. It wasn't in that state of PAGL, in the flow.
R. Whatever words you want to use for it, but we like the idea of PAGL because it is very specific. There is a peace of mind there and assurance. There is a sense of gratitude to know that there is this available to us and we are grateful because we know that we are so loved that we are protected. So, all of those are there. All of these are combined to form PAGL and we feel free because we know that there is something beyond ourselves we can actually rely on. So she hung up the phone day after day, and week after week. For a couple of months this went on. And finally, she realized she was not meant to go. This was not the right time for whatever reason she couldn't understand but she followed, she paid attention to PAGL, and she therefore didn’t go through with the reservation. The amazing thing was that that was the flight that went down over Nova Scotia. So, she would have lost her life if she had not paid attention to that.
N. And for her it wasn't the time. It wasn't her time, right?
R. Whatever happened there, the point is that she was protected. Now can everybody be protected? Yes. That's the point here. Perhaps everyone on that plane could have been protected if they had known about PAGL. Who knows. I can't speculate about that but the fact is that when we are guided by PAGL, we discover that things have a tendency to work for good in our lives and we are protected.
N. That's a radical thing that you are talking about. You are saying that there's an experience, a feeling, an awareness of what really is which is possible. And it is that awareness or state of being that we all long for because it's a state of harmony. It's a state of peace and a state of lovingness. So often in this world we think I need to have the right house or the right relationship or the right job. Or we say, “I need to get to go visit my children over in Switzerland in order to have that experience of harmony”. But Metapsychiatry is saying no. It's actually the opposite way. As you recognize what is and the truth of that awareness right now, everything flows from that.
R. Exactly. So it's actually turning our world upside down and right side up. We are not going to ask, “What should I do?” because that's the wrong question. What is needed is to get ourselves into a state of PAGL which comes from learning to be mentally still and to become aware of something that is deeper within us where we find that state of PAGL. We say that it is located in consciousness. But where is consciousness located? Nobody seems to know. It's not in the brain. If you focus your attention on your knee, you say consciousness is in my knee because that is where your awareness is. You are paying attention to that. So it's a mystery where consciousness is located . It's everywhere actually, and it is in-filled with all the spiritual qualities that are found in Reality because consciousness is part of Reality. That is what we are.
N. This is part of the mystical traditions from thousands and thousands and thousands of years and so what do you think is the great contribution of Metapsychiatry? What is it’s contribution right now that you think is so important?
R. One of the core ideas of Metapsychiatry is this PAGL principle. I think that is a major contribution to world thought. Metapsychiatry puts many great truths into words that are appropriate for today, we could say.
N. It gives us a concept so that we can go to that harmonious state. We can become aware this is what is. We don't have to meditate for 40 years in a monastery somewhere in order to get to a state of consciousness because we are there already.
R. That's right but we didn't know it. This has been obscured from our awareness. It's of course there, but it's lying dormant. So one of Metapsychiatry's purposes is to educate us to become more spiritually aware, or spiritually awake, and that is a wonderful thing because the more aware we are, the more we are protected. The more we discover there is this force, this power that exists governing our consciousness when we let it, the better things become. PAGL is the sign that we are in the flow; that we are in the right place so we don't have to sweat so much about what direction to go in our life. Should we take this job? Should we love this person? Should we go here? What's the right home? We can let go of all these questions, which point to what we want, and learn to rely on this wonderful thing called PAGL.
N. So how do you manage that? Talk us through this. Someone is just hearing this and, yes, you are saying this is who you are but they are not aware of it. What are some of the first ways or steps you might suggest that help people get interested in this or take those steps?
R. One thing is to say, "Have you ever been inspired suddenly out of the blue and you knew something that you didn't know a moment before and it's exactly what you needed?" That's it. A divine idea comes to your attention. We all have those simple experiences. In a very simple way, you go into the refrigerator to look for something for dinner. You really don't know what you are going to serve that night or what you are going to prepare for dinner and you see this and you see that and all of a sudden the ideas come to you about putting a meal together. You say, “Oh! Put this together with that and those will taste good” and on and on until actually, out of what you thought was nothing comes this beautiful dinner. Where did those ideas come from?
N. They were inspired from our own natural creativity.
R. Exactly. So it's within us already. It's already there waiting to be tapped. The best way to have these awarenesses happen more often is to be in a state of peace and assurance that there is always the right idea available to us whenever we are interested in it.
N. Rather than opening the refrigerator thinking that there is nothing to eat and that you can't go out and that it’s going to be horrible for everybody, you go there and say “What is there here tonight to put together”?
R. And ask yourself, “What will come to mind?” “What will reveal itself to me?” So it's a constant appreciation for everything that is going on in your life. It's always new. It's always fresh. It's never stale.
N. So it allows this kind of creativity to happen. It’s about asking those questions. Then the divine ideas and inspiration begin to come into focus. It just drops in.
R. It's changing our perspective and seeing that we are not these suffering human beings who have to figure everything out for themselves. “What should I do?” “Where do I go?” These questions are not helpful in this context. Actually, there is a divine source available to us which is the source of inspired ideas. And these ideas are already here and they will always be available to us when we pay attention- when we are interested in hearing them.
N. So it's a way of life. It's positive. It's recognizing that everything is all right.
R. Everything everywhere is already all right. This sounds absolutely insane given the way of the world. But in Divine Reality, everything is already all right. This is not true in the world. In the world, there is suffering. We are not saying that there is no such thing as suffering. But if we understand that we already have everything that we need then we begin to allow those good ideas to come to us. They will guide us and help us to overcome the problems we are seeing in the world. The problem is that there is not enough interest in peace. People say they are interested in peace, but are they peaceful? Are they living a peaceful life? It's an important thing to ask. I think the whole world would benefit from this principle if it were more widely known. For, the more interested we are in peace, the more we will see and experience peace in our daily lives.
N. It's living from that perspective that we are part of something much larger. We are a part of something that is very loving, very present, and supremely intelligent. And all these things will flow through us as needed.
R. Moment by moment. It's not something we see in advance. It's something that happens moment by moment. So that's what we have to realize too. We don't have to figure out the future. It's just right now. Right now, in this moment, can I see what really is or am I distracted in some way?
N. And we know the answer to this because if we are tense, frustrated, or agitated in any kind of way, we know we are not really seeing clearly. But when we can go to that place of PAGL, we know it's right, and that we are really seeing things as they truly are.