Friday, March 23, 2012

Father-son dialogue, Part 1: Mormon NDEs

Begun on March 23, 2012;
Updated: Apr 2, 2012   (An on-going conversation)

Eugene and Nick Kovalenko in 2007

My very dear son Nick,

As I approach the end of my 70s, hardly a day goes by that I don't question my sanity, let alone yours in your middle 50s, our family's in general, the current political presidential contest and--not least of all--the Mormon tradition into which we both were born and reared.

A few weeks ago I read Kenneth Ring's Lessons from the Light, what we can learn from the Near-death Experience, which has given me a remarkable new hold on sanity and which I referred to you. Since you also became animated and wondered about who else in our tradition might also have had such experiences, I proposed a dialogue about it that we might offer to those of our birth tradition who also are earnestly seeking truth.

The audiences I have in mind are: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought; Sunstone:Mormon Experience, Scholarship, Issues and Art; and Mormon Stories.

I suggest we approach this subject by beginning with our own experiences. Perhaps you can take the lead by first describing your "DCE", which seems to me very similar to an NDE? I urge you to describe it first, before analyzing or defending it. This might encourage others to "come out of the closet."

It's a beginning…..

Love, Dad

Cell phone text exchanges on Mar 23:
NEK: It will take me a long time to describe my DCE on paper. I've attempted it many times and I always run out of gas and get frustrated…

ENK: Good beginning!!

NEK: OK. FYI, it would be easier to make a special effects film out of it.

ENK: That approach is ideal for Mormon Stories, not Dialogue or Sunstone. Let's keep talking about it.

NEK: OK. BTW, "Lessons from the Light" was very encouraging and vindicating because several of the people used the same terminology to describe the nature of portions of their experience. In fact it might be worth having a conversation with that Mellen-Thomas Benedict dude and Beverly Brodsky because significant components of their stories are identical to mine.

ENK: I suggest you extract those sections and send them to me.

NEK: Okay, I'll just go through the whole book and abstract the corroborating testimony.

ENK: That will be terrific!

On Saturday, 24 Mar 12, we had these exchanges: 
ENK: Seen my father-son dialogue blog yet?

NEK: I looked at it yesterday and am not sure why we would want to "advertise" our conversation. Why do u want to do this?

ENK: To invite LDS NDErs to participate--come out of the closet.

NEK: Hmmmm. For some reason I seem to doubt people would b inclined to locate and read such a conversation in a stranger's blog. I like the idea of approaching directly thru Dialogue, Sunstone and MS; especially MS.

On Monday, 26 Mar 12, I text-ed: 
ENK: OK. I'll redirect this conversation to Mormon Stories for now. We may want to come back to this blog thread later if others find us and want to participate...

NEK: Okay sounds good.

On Mar 26 I sent an email to John Dehlin, founder of Mormon Stories and included this link. MS is an extremely robust site and Dehlin must be super busy trying to keep up with it.

On Wednesday, 28 Mar 12, Nick and I text-ed:
ENK: U gonna send excerpts?

NEK: Yeah, I got stuck but am still working on it.

ENK: Good! I'd like to be ready w/info if and when he replies.

NEK: If and when who replies?

ENK: MS founder John Dehlin. But he might be too busy, since this MS project has really taken off. I don't know what kind of support staff he/they have.

NEK: Oh. okay.

On Friday, Mar 30, Nick text-ed:
NEK: There is too much in the whole book to include and for me to comment on or to clarify, so I'm just going to concentrate on the chapter "Journeys to the Source", which has several stories with similar and appropriate content..

ENK: Sounds like good place to focus on....don't try to do too much at this point.

On Sunday, Apr 1, Nick wrote:
NEK: Almost done; couldn't do anything today; will send excerpts and comments from journey to the source since it is closest to my own experience. BTW, I can't imagine anyone having an authentic NDE, BTL (beyond the light), or DCOE (divine conduit opening event) and hiding in the closet, maintaining their membership and activity in the Mormon Church. It just wouldn't be possible.

On Monday, Apr 2, I responded:
Mormon Stories is not about maintaining membership and/or activity in the Mormon ecclesiastical institution. It's about sharing the Mormon experience--experiences of people with a Mormon upbringing or background despite the institution. These "people because of the book" nevertheless have a unique common language in terms of images, metaphors, practices, challenges, etc. I know that many have had and are continuing to have profound spiritual experiences, which they can't share within the establishment church, for reasons you clearly understand. That's the main purpose of our father-son dialogue in my view.

Nick replied:
Oh yeah. For some reason I was thinking you were referring to mainstream members when suggesting some were "in the closet" with regard to having experienced profound spiritual events. Yes, I would hope and expect there might be MS people who might feel safer and willing to share if they know there are others...

I'll look at your draft [for 2012 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium on the theme: Mormons and Mormonism as a Political Force] and get back to you. 

Later, Nick continues (re draft):
I don't know what I can contribute except for my opinion that the Mormon subculture is dangerous to the extent it is so delusionary and self-righteous, and pervasive throughout government, military, law enforcement and the intelligence community, it cannot be contained.
ENK replies: 
I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment if by "subculture" you are alluding to unconscious elements of the corporate LDS Church hierarchy and general Church priesthood membership. Or is it broader than that? That is precisely the reason we are communicating in this blog, my dear honest-to-a-fault son. I need your most rigorous and compassionate responses to the issues here. Do you remember the meaning of the Russian word prelest? I think this word applies to virtually all ecclesiastical enterprises and is at the root of so many conflicting sects and religious institutions world-wide.
However, when you say "it cannot be contained", I do not agree. That is because I believe a Higher Power, beyond what the LDS (or any other institution and its respective subculture) lay claim to, is in ultimate control of this world and everything in it. Do you not believe this? Is this not the fundamental message of the NDErs, i.e., that each human being has an individual purpose and is tasked to become conscious of it? This is to say nothing about any other living thing on the planet--INCLUDING TICKS?!  Can you not see that our conversation can be an effective part of this collective purpose? 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if your siblings would join us? But they may fear to become involved for lack of respect or trust to even consider it. I dearly wish and pray this were not so...

Nick again: Based on my "DCOE" of August 2001 I have lots of things to say, clarify and extend on about the following and more: ....

ENK: Wow! Nick, this is huge! And clearly too much for this particular post. I'll post it in Part 2.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dreaming-on at Bethlehem Lutheran

Posted: Sunday, 18 March 2012; Updated: 31 Mar 12

In Church bulletin for March 18 Sunday morning.
This will be an extension of the Lenten Retreat of March 3, 2012.

On March 23 ten people showed up to the Lenten Retreat extension, four of whom were repeaters from March 3. Since we were constrained to two hours in contrast to the four-hour workshop of March 3, we did not have enough time to process dreams beyond the basic CREEI scoring procedure. I was asked not to post initials on this blog, which I have honored.

On March 30, the follow-on meeting for both Lenten Retreats, only four people showed, which was personally disappointing. I wondered if the flame had gone out. Nevertheless, I was assured that the poor turnout was due to the inconvenience of the date and time, it being the beginning of the public schools spring break and that Church leadership was confident that small group workshops-seminars were still a desired activity. 

One participant on Mar 30 brought a repeating dream from the previous session on Mar 23, which had scored "anticipatory-traumatic". This time around, however, the repeat dream scored "motivational", with only one question mark short of being "transformative". It was an excellent illustration of how the process can track personal development and I think she felt a renewed enthusiasm for the process.

We then had time enough to do an IDL interview of three previous dreams, which had been scored in the Mar 3 and Mar 23 sessions, as well as the new "motivational" dream above.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spies at the library rotunda

Ides of March, 2012
The screening of this documentary took place on March 15, 2012 in the Los Alamos Public Library rotunda. About 35 people showed up. Copywriter Mandy Marksteiner opened the session and introduced me. I described how the film evolved from the original print documentary by British Professor of history David Stafford in 2002 who derived all his material from archival sources. In 2005 one of my sons, who works with Pentagon clients, visited the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. and discovered the book. That summer he brought it to my attention wondering if it was something I knew about. 

Not only did I know something about it, I had been in the middle of it! At last here was something with hard information that I could share with my family. I wrote a letter of appreciation to Prof. Stafford and he replied that I was the first person he'd had contact with who had actually been at the Berlin Tunnel site and would I be willing to give him more personal information about experiences there, which he would include in a second edition of his book. I agreed and also wrote an Amazon review. The print "second edition" did not materialize but morphed into this film.

After the screening I was pleased to respond to a lively Q&A period.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reversing Direction! A dream sequence.

Event: Dream on March 14, 2012. 0500
Updated: May 13, 2012.

After spending a few days in a low energy grokking funk, a dream gave me new direction.
 I'm driving an empty school bus on a mountainous rural road, heading into a potential collision with an avalanche of smooth rounded rocks, like loose cannonballs, from a mountain on the right. I stop quickly, put bus into reverse and back up rapidly until out of danger. See a CDL interview here.
May 1, 2012. Ironically, a few weeks after this dream I was placed on "administrative leave" from bus driving because of two incidents having to do with the right side of two buses. The first was a travel bus (one like in the dream above) where the bus had incurred damage to its right side via scraping against a guard rail. I do not believe I was the driver who incurred this damage, but cannot prove it. The second was driving a regular route too close to a young mother pushing a tram while making a turn at an intersection. I do not remember either incident but had the second one proved to me by the transportation supervisor after viewing the surveillance record installed in the bus.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Frightened Infant at Lenten Retreat

What does he see?
On Sunday, March 4, 2012, I wrote the following to long-time friend Joseph Dillard, a psychotherapist in private practice in Berlin. Dillard is the creator of the Integral Deep Listening (IDL) interview. 
Dear Joseph,  
You may be interested to know what happened yesterday. See here. This was a 4-hour workshop held at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the church whose choir sang with me the Orthodox Chant "God is with us" early last month. 
 I experienced a rather astonishing insight into my recent "Frightened Infant" dream during the retreat. If you click on the whiteboard photo and look at the very top, you will see my late-line addition to the rest of the participants' CREEI scoring. At the beginning of the scoring process, one of the counselors volunteered to be scribe as I asked the CREEI questions. Before beginning he came up to me and gently whispered "Your fly is open." 
 It could have been a disaster!   
Instead everybody laughed in relief as I confessed my shock and with red face, zipped up. "That is when you won their trust!" said the retreat organizer afterwards. (We agreed later that in subsequent workshops that would not be part of a script!) 
 Before getting into the content of dreams after the break, I added my "Frightened Infant" CREEI score and offered to share my dream. Up to this time none of the 20+ attendees had expressed their dream content--we only had scored them, although the titles revealed they were willing to risk self-disclosure. 
 So, after disclosing my dream, I confessed that I was puzzled and distressed that something in me was frightening my infant self-aspect and what was it? 
I then disclosed the part of my personal history about being a blue baby, my babysitter aunt obeying my father's orders not to hold me when I cried, and that I could not remember much of my childhood or early adolescence. 
Suddenly I had a realization of "new birth in Bethlehem"! Could it be that this community would embrace and hold this inner self-aspect infant and help me comfort and protect him? As I stood there facing them, I became somewhat incoherent, my body began to shake uncontrollably and I was forced to sit down before I fell down. Their compassion flowed over me like a river as I was unable to control my helplessness. 
What a transformative moment! 
As I regained strength and composure, they began to share their own dreams--especially repeating nightmares. And we moved into IDL interview mode with several scary, non-human self-aspects. At its beginning, I had opened the session by reading aloud your recent email about getting familiar with emerging potentials. Later we were able to discuss the PCE (potential creative energy) made obvious by the "no's" and "?'s" in the group scoring results on the whiteboard. 
 As the workshop ended and people turned to go, several (including the attending pastors and counselors) expressed a desire to follow up and extend this experience. 
 It looks promising. 
 Love, ENK

Joseph replied the next day (3/5):
Dear Eugene,
What healing you attracted through your openness and vulnerability! Congratulations! They are so lucky to have you!
Two days later (3/7) Joseph wrote again:
Dear Eugene,  
I am back from my very successful seminar and am curious about how you are doing after your adventure at your seminar. Sounds to me like it was the kind of breakthrough that is still probably rippling through your life.  
On 3/8 and before posting the above, I wrote to the leaders of the retreat about wanting to publish this experience, but concerned they might consider it was over the edge of our pledge to confidentiality. The retreat organizer replied later in the day and I was greatly relieved: 
Eugene - This is very moving.  I do not see any violation of confidentiality in what you have written. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lenten Retreat

Posted: Saturday, 3 March 2012;
Updated: 30 May 13

(click on photos to enlarge)
At the workshop break

Twenty five people showed up! Twice more than expected and the first time I'd conducted a full 4-hour workshop for a well established religious community. This was something I'd hoped for decades to achieve and it went better than anticipated with so many more attending than planned for. The spirit of this community moved me deeply and we will see where it goes from here.

30 May 2013. Here are two examples of the consequences of this retreat: 1) local medical doctor; 2) final dreams of departed member.

Retreat Results

Up close to the white board record