Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences

Vol. 32, No. 1 • Winter 2019


Hiromi Sieradski Awakens

Hiromi Sieradski

In March 2017, Hiromi Sieradski woke up to her True Nature.  At the CSS practitioners meeting on the evening of September 26, 2018, Hiromi shared the story of her life and spiritual practice leading up to her Awakening.

Video: Hiromi's Account of Awakening
After breaking her ankle on a meditation retreat, Hiromi was faced with extreme pain and emotional challenges. Determined to take this as an opportunity for spiritual practice, she was effectively on an intense solo meditation retreat for many months. Meanwhile, she had been devoting her life to Buddhist Chaplaincy training. But when an illness prevented her from being ordained, she found herself in a state of devastation. At this point, just after reading a passage from a spiritual book, she disappeared into pure light and found herself at Home.

A transcript of Hiromi's account can be read here.


Bench (before)
Bench (after)

Bench Reborn

Thanks to Kaiven Fenton for repairing and refinishing the bench that sits outside between the library and meeting room front doors.  The bench was donated last year by Michael Augden, and was in need of a serious makeover after sitting out in Oregon winters for years. Kaiven generously volunteered to take on the project; during the summer break she sanded and stained all the slats, made some structural repairs and tightened everything up … should make for some comfortable, relaxed sitting for many years to come.  Beautiful job!


Fall Non-Residential Retreat

Starting on the top row, folks standing, left to right: Rick Ahrens,  Donna Atkinson,  Trish DeVore,  Mike Barkhuff,  Barbara Dewey,  Linda Hunt,  Niraja Lorenz,  Allen Lowe,  Maura Scanlon,  Hanna Offenbacher,  Barbara Richmond,  Carla Crow,  Bev Forster,  Robin Retherford,  Sharry Lachman,  Laura Betty. Middle row, sitting in chairs: Vip Short,  Fred Chambers,  Hiromi Sieradski,  Joel Morwood,  Merry Song,  Mora Fields,  Ken Paul,  Jim Zajac,  Jay McCandless. Bottom row, sitting on the floor: Shirley Chase,  Jack Yousey,  Kimberly Carson,  Rich Marlatt,  Hillery Kyablue,  Mark Hurwit,  Jim Patterson,  Gene Gibbs, Marijke McCandless,  Dagmar Maston. Not pictured:  Deanna Cordes,   Lee C.   and   Annie O'Shea.

The CSS fall retreat entitled "It's About Time: Dispelling the Delusion of Time" was led by Joel and held at the Center's home in Eugene. This was the first CSS non-residential retreat, i.e., the retreat was held during the day in the CSS meeting hall, and retreatants were responsible for their own meals and lodging in Eugene.

Non-residential retreat at CSS
Although the non-residential retreat format does not offer the depth of solitude that a remote, secluded residential retreat offers, it does have a number of other distinct advantages: The retreat was by donation only, with no charges to cover food and lodging at a retreat center. This simplified the registration and organization of the retreat, and allowed retreatants to decide how much to give. The other main advantage is that the retreat was more inclusive. Some people who cannot go on residential retreats out of town for various reasons are able to benefit from a retreat experience at a non-residential retreat.

Thanks to the planning and efforts of Laura and the CSS Board, it was a great success. We anticipate future non-residential retreats as a complement to our traditional residential retreats (which, by the way, will be returning to Cloud Mountain in Castle Rock, Washington, starting with the Spring 2019 retreat).



By Mike Barkhuff

They're just tiny motes of dust
floating around in mini gusts

Invisible until a tiny stream
of sunlight makes them star-like gleam

And just like the dawn
when the stars are gone

The sun will fade
and dust does its masquerade

From duality
into reality


It's About Time: Retreat Reflections by Kimberly Carson

Not surprising, given the focus of the talk, the retreat began revealing itself a couple of weeks prior. Time was doing summersaults and playing tricks in my head. I was listening to one of Joel’s talks and he said that there are stages on the path when it feels like spiders are crawling on you. The day before this, I had literally been bitten by a nest of spiders. A few days later, I was biting into a strawberry in my cereal the exact moment Joel’s recording said something like “you may be tasting a strawberry.” There had been multiple other apparent blips in the matrix during the previous month or so which had really spiked my interest regarding Time. How could these discontinuities be occurring and was there any significance I should pay attention to?

All of this was swirling as I arrived in Eugene for the Friday evening dinner for out-of-towners. I asked Joel about some of the discontinuities and he told me this was hidden continuity rather than discontinuity. I also shared that practice had been revealing strong tendencies of ownership—the belief that Consciousness is somehow “mine.” Even though resting in Awareness had become somewhat familiar, there was still residual holding of awareness as belonging to me. Joel then shared Ramana Maharshi’s pointer and asked “to whom is this occurring?” And the intrigue deepened.

Stepping into the inaugural non-residential retreat at the Center felt so natural. We settled into the stabilizing practice of breath awareness the first day. I have worked with breath for years but find that attention is pulled into choiceless awareness so strongly that staying with breath is a struggle. As I really wanted to follow the teachings as they are shared, I asked Fred about skillful effort because I wanted to do it right. After he finished his guidance regarding skillful effort, he said, “and remember there is no right way.” This was the first great untying of the retreat. In that moment, I saw/felt how the fear that I had done something wrong and the “apparent” abandonment that followed fueled the cultivation of this sense of identity. So much of who “I” am had been created in response to this thought form… get it right, don’t get left behind, figure it out, build a career around helping, the right way… you name it. And the fear of doing it wrong began to release as sobbing tears during the first evening. It was a gift to get yet another glimpse of the glue holding the Story of I in place. 

(calligraphy by Laura Betty)
Joel shared that the Story of I requires time and space to be created which led to the investigation of time itself. That there is no past or future is easy enough to grok, as those are clearly imaginings. It was startling to realize that there is also not a present, as this is generally a conceptualization or imagining of something distinct from past and future. This investigation pointed to the discovery that Now is It – always. It became so clear that the thought that I had done something wrong and that I had been left behind was being fueled by belief, perpetually Now. As this clarity deepened, the trembling beneath the story began to beckon attention. Grief continued releasing until the energies of this configuration finally exhausted. A flash of an immense Buddha arose in Consciousness and, surprisingly, I recoiled. 

That night in the dream space, an empty version of me (without a body or anything else but seeing and hearing) was being escorted by another invisible energy. A voice asks, “Are you afraid to walk through?”

Waking from that dream and for the first time in close to 30 years of spiritual seeking and 20 years of mostly consistent practice, there was the recognition that I am not sure I trust God. Now this was horrifying. It was like, “Crap, I have spent my entire adult life (or just Now) pursuing union with God and this fear is here?!?!” My marriage, work and free-time is predominately structured by pursuing this desire, and there is still this hesitation. What a mind blow.

Driving in from Mora’s beautiful guest house near Cottage Grove the next morning, a voice emerged that said “Sweetheart, you have to let me do this.”

As the retreat unfolded, Joel described that Rigpa is Timelessness, is Consciousness Itself. That Rigpa is the four qualities without three (past, present, & future). We were invited to let go of the notion of meditation which so often is perceived as occurring in some flow of time. And then the gates really opened into the devastation of not knowing. The tenacious tendency to erect narratives of safety and “predictability” out of a life of “spiritual” experiences was an elaborate castle I was occupying. It was evident that all of this, too, had to go. That there was not some path that led to Gnosis, no accumulation of insights and gestures of Grace. No. All that is left is the trembling.

During my meeting with Joel, he instructed to do nothing more, that bhaktas must surrender completely to God’s will. God will liberate when ready. Don’t create more stories of the spiritual seeker. Wow, he really does mean NAKED! Don’t be satisfied with thoughts that frame insight.

Instructions for the group moved to focusing on the gap, the gap between phenomena. The gap is right beneath the fear. We also explored Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s pointing to the subjective pole of consciousness. Joel gleefully proclaimed that all ‘things’ are pointing home, but we have to go Naked through the Gate. 

Desire still arises to fully awaken. Nonetheless, there is so much more clarity that …

There is no right way
There is no right knowing 
There is no way to Surrender, it only arises as a gift from the Mystery
Naked is the only way I know NOW.

With immense gratitude for the non-existing national treasure,



The Innate Bliss of Self

CSS teacher Matt Sieradski has shared with us a new article that explores the significance of innate bliss, how our habits of resistance veil it, and how we can recognize our connection with it. As he writes, "One key to recognizing our delusion is the absence of innate bliss. This bliss comes from complete relaxation of all resistance to what is." The article is available now on the CSS website here.


Golden Valley

Sacred Art: Roslyn Riley

Paintings by CSS member Roslyn Riley are on exhibit at the Center this fall.

These acrylic paintings, mostly landscapes, are abstract rhythms rich in color. Different subjects and experiences are expressed through the use of varied materials and styles.

Ros had the good fortune of living in the Alaska wilderness where she operated a hot springs and developed an intimate relationship with the power and wonder of the land. The experience continues to influence her art.


God Singing

by Kaiven Twospirit

God sings to me
in the daylight and
from every single tree
She sings to me
a song of love
reminding me I’m free

God sings to me
from the flowers
inspiring great delight
She sings to me
from the hillside
and in the dead of night

God sings to me
from the ocean
and from the
moon and stars
She sings in
every rainstorm
she is never very far

God sings to me
when I’m weary
sounding loud and clear
She sings when
I’m not listening
knowing I am here


Mission and Programs of the Center for Sacred Sciences

The Center for Sacred Sciences is dedicated to the study, practice, and dissemination of the spiritual teachings of the mystics, saints, and sages of the major religious traditions. The Center endeavors to present these teachings in forms appropriate to our contemporary scientific culture. The Center also works to create and disseminate a sacred worldview which expresses the compatibility between universal mystical truths and the evidence of modern science.

Among the Center’s ongoing events are Sunday public services with meditations and talks given by the Center’s spiritual teachers; monthly Sunday video presentations; and — for committed spiritual seekers — weekly practitioners groups and periodic meditation retreats. The Center is accessible. We are a welcoming and inclusive community.

The Center maintains an extensive lending library of books, audios, videos, and periodicals covering spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and scientific subjects. In addition, the Center provides a website containing a great deal of information and resources related to the teachings of the world’s mystics, the universality of mystical truth, and the relationship between science and mysticism. The Center publishes this newsletter providing community news, upcoming programs, book reviews, and other contributions and resources related to the Center’s mission.

The Center for Sacred Sciences is a non-profit, tax-exempt church based in Eugene, Oregon, USA. We rely chiefly on volunteer staff to support our programs, and on donations to meet our operating expenses. Our spiritual teachers give their teachings freely as a labor of love, and receive no financial compensation from the Center. 


About the Center Community News

The Center Community News is published on the CSS website several times a year. Its primary purpose is to help foster a community of spiritual practitioners by sharing original teachings, experiences, reflections, artistic expressions, and reports among members of our community.

To submit your original spiritual reflection, report, poetry or art to the newsletter for publication, please use the newsletter submission form

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or update your existing subscription to the Center Community News, please use the subscription form.

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