Nature is a stunning force. A tornado or hurricane carries the strength to demolish and change. The birth of life can do the same. Life upon life, change upon change. Endless in its variety.
I was one of those varieties. Born in May 25, 1954. Gemini/Horse. A contemplative intuitive. Born to adventure and a certain amount of risk, but also grounded as well. This adventure first began at the age of eight when my family moved from north Florida to India. Living in a small village where I was the only white western kid opened my eyes to a world beyond any movie I could have seen. Religion and culture was so different from my southern roots.
From India we moved to Thailand, then the Philippines and finally London, England where I graduated high school. All these countries and cultures taught me something. Primarily to be open and not judgmental. To have an open mind and heart. And also to be flexible.
Spectrum of Consciousness
From London next was Nebraska for my first year in college. This too was like a foreign country after 10 years overseas. During this time I met Ken Wilber, a writer of spirituality, philosophy and science. We started a Zen meditation group. I had read Alan Watts in London, so actual meditation taught by Maezumi Roshi, a Japanese Zen Master and scientist from California, was my first real practice.
This embarked me on furthering my practice in Zen. I continued readings in psychology as well. C.G. Jung was one of my favorites. Even today I believe that dream therapy is an important part of psychological and spiritual healing. Books by Carlos Castenada influenced me. Toltec and Shamanic work. One chapter in my book, Awakening Mind: Travels with My Self, talks about my meeting a cuandera (female healer). Healing has been around for a long, long time and not just when Sigmund Freud came on the scene.
My first exposure to therapeutic approaches came when as a senior in high school in London, I did an independent study. I worked at a half-way house in Hampton Court and attended group therapy sessions as well as one-on-one interactions with the clients. They ranged from 25-55 years of age. I learned a lot during those six months. Of course maturing in the process.
Kicking the can down the road….I ended up in Washington D.C. at the age of 27 working as an art director. Then started my own graphics business called Mustard Graphics—taken from my last name. I also was assistant art director for Smithsonian Folk life.
At age 33, I reconnected with my Zen Teacher (Zenji) Reverend Seikan Hasegawa, who was living in Kyoto. His book, Mind to Mind, details more about his life and training under the pseudonym Mokuzu, which is translated, Floating Seaweed. Soon after, I took a cross-country pilgrimage. At 36 yrs. I left Washington D.C. and moved to New Mexico. Details of this period of my life are written in my book, Awakening Mind.
After living in a Trappist monastery for six months I then moved into a very old adobe house back in the canyon. Tending a vineyard, writing and selling my photos, I lived mostly a life of quiet and solitude.
After a year, I attended Southwestern College in Santa Fe and received my Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. At the same time I had begun working in the field. My most interesting work was with clients who were diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Dissociative Disorders….Multiple Personalities. One particular case spanned a two year period. This was my most intense work.
Lotus of Compassion
As time went on, I worked with adolescents, couples and families. While in New Mexico, there was a strong emphasis on counseling Native Americans. Since I have had my own unusual experiences with the paranormal, I have opened the door to seeing others who might have been impacted by unusual phenomena. I also believe caregivers sometimes need support and counseling. I have most recently been in that role myself.
In 1997, I was officially ordained as a Zen Buddhist Priest. My priest name is Reverend Pure Sound. I offer guidance to people whatever their path or religion. Outside teachings or beliefs are fine, but in life and death we are left with ourselves. Knowing who and what we are is the beginning of walking in the territory of our own domain. No doubt there are gates to be opened.
Simplicity is learned in the midst of most distractions. I wish all people will find within them their own simplicity and the wisdom of true discernment.
~ John Seniff, LMHC, Reverend PureSound