Spiritual Enrichment Center

Spiritual Enrichment Center

Interview with the Reverend Duchess Dale


Lotus Guide: It’s always interesting to ask, “What is it that brought you to this area?”

Reverend Duchess Dale: There was an open position for a new pastor here at the Spiritual Enrichment Center after the founding minister retired. My husband and I came up from San Diego in May 2008 to interview for the position. During that time there was something almost indefinable that struck me about this place called Chico. I sensed a vibrational quality, an unspoken intention that expresses as a higher order of consciousness here. Part of it is due to the fact that at the heart of the town is the university, which is so vibrant with youth and academia. And part of it is the fact that Chico is a very green community, very socially aware. And there is still something else, something visceral that I haven’t put my finger on, that kept drawing me to want to live and work here.

LG: We meet so many people here that when I ask that question, they think and they think and they say, “You know what? I don’t know. I just felt drawn here.” That’s why we came here. We felt drawn somehow, maybe there’s a reason.

We hear a lot about “the shift.” Some feel it will be a shift of magnetic poles or a shift of the world’s axis, but some of us feel it’s more of a shift of consciousness, comparable to what Pierre de Chardin wrote about when he refers to the “noosphere” He, and many others, seem to think we are on the cusp of a global or planetary awakening in which we will all wake up to a higher level of consciousness where we will all be connected. What do you feel is the function or responsibility of an organization like the Spiritual Enrichment Center to the community in regard to this?

RDD: My belief system is that thought precedes form. That means everything comes from consciousness. Everything is about the energy and expression of Mind. Therefore, yes, there’s a shift in the magnetic pole, there’s a shift in our climate, there’s a shift geographically and externally, absolutely, and it will continue to be so. Such is the nature of evolution. And any shift—physical or emotional—is always predicated by a shift in consciousness. In some ways I feel it’s because there’s been a shift in the collective consciousness to create all these external movements and changes we see and feel. I know that people are concerned about the state of the world and the economy, and yes, there are facts and situations that are not fun or easy to deal with right now, but we are dealing with them. We are being accountable; we’re being supportive to one another. As a result, we’re learning how to deal with the world and each other in a different way. And our charge here, at the Spiritual Enrichment Center, is to contribute to that, to co-create, to collaborate with other like-minded individuals who come together in an experience of oneness to know who we are, why we are on this planet together at this time. We teach and learn how to be self-reliant and response-able.


LG: Yes, in reference to what you’re saying there’s been several paradigm shifts in science. The last great one was the shift in quantum physics when we opened up the quantum world and realized that everything was relative, which changed our perception of space and time dramatically. It didn’t match our previous worldview and all the laws of nature. Now, the latest paradigm shift has been the shift from thinking that matter creates consciousness to consciousness creates matter. It appears that matter is an outcome of consciousness from a deeper field of consciousness that we’re just now starting to explore and research.


RDD: Certainly people like Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and Michael Beckwith are bringing our attention and awareness to that possibility. They’re taking the universal truths available to them or that they’ve studied and finding ways to bring it to the population so that people can hear them and say, “Oh … now I get it.”


LG: I think it’s great too when you stop to think that it is in this time that science and religion seem to be merging together in a symbiotic relationship where, traditionally, they’ve been in conflict. And at this point, I see more and more priests and preachers delving into astronomy and different sciences, and I see more and more quantum physicists sounding very spiritual. To me, religion is that aspect of ourselves that allows us to step out into the darkness with hope and faith that we’re going to find something and after we put our foot down that’s when we need science. To figure out where are we now and to validate that step we’ve taken. Is it real? Is it not real? History has shown that most of our steps into the unknown end up being incorrect and scientific validation comes much, much later.

RDD: And that’s why I love being a Religious Scientist. This teaching originally known as Science of Mind and Spirit is not to be confused with other notable philosophies that use the words “religion” or “science.” Many people who come through our doors are from dogmatic religious backgrounds, so even the word “religion” or “church” can be negative, which is why this faith community is so much more than traditional church. We are a transdenominational organization that welcomes all paths to God. And Dr. Ernest Holmes, our founder, was so prescient. To me he was one of our early American mystics, because he wasn’t trying to present this as a religion. Holmes wanted Science of Mind taught as a faith, a philosophy, and a way of living. He took the wisdom of the ages—both East and West—and synthesized it into a teaching that appealed to the Western mind.

LG: And I think, in a Heinleinian sense, we’re “grokking” it finally. We’re actually assimilating information as an organic truth into our being and we’re feeling it mutate us and change us. There’s something about truth when you hear it in this way, I can feel it move me and I don’t need to try to remember it because it’s part of me somehow.

RDD: You’re absolutely right about “grokking” it, having it be organic and authentic and no longer simply giving lip service to ideas or hand-me-down beliefs. And that’s why I think some of the other traditional religions have been having a crisis of faith, because you can’t just teach rhetoric anymore. Today’s spirituality has to be practical and personal—it has to resonate with the truth within each of us.

LG: On a personal level I’ve reached a point where I can no longer pretend like I know things that I don’t know and have no way of knowing, and are probably unknowable. And now I feel like if that’s how it is, either unknown or unknowable, then I want to live in the mystery of the moment. I don’t want to pretend anymore and go into this dreamy state of pretending I know something about the afterlife or where I came from or where I’m going or what are the rules and regulations to get there. I’ve finally become comfortable with “I don’t know.” Now my life is an adventure into the mystery called life.

RDD: That is what I call divine uncertainty. A time when we walk in faith and trust that we’ll be given the tools, the information, the motivation, and the guidance we each need for whatever will be our next step or expression. What we’re actually talking about is the process and reality of who we are. People often talk about envying a monastic life and living away from society and the world. My feeling is that way of life would be easier to live because monks don’t usually have to deal with traffic, a mortgage payment, a spouse, or one’s boss. Yet, the real work is to know oneness and bliss while living a contemporary, day-to-day life—such as the path of the urban mystic. And in my humble opinion, that takes far more courage and discipline than most folks can do on their own—which is why a center like ours exists.

LG: As a note of interest, since the beginning of this century, the monks have been coming down out of the hills to spread their consciousness with this very message, which is “It’s time to connect and get involved.”

RDD: Right. The reason why a spiritual center like ours offers a place to go is not only for meditation, prayer, and classes but so that people have a safe haven to know they’re not alone, know they’re not crazy. People come here to find tools and inspiration to make their world a better place. No longer does anyone have to ascribe to being the holy man, or woman, on the mountaintop all alone. To have real meaning in one’s life, come down off the mountain and share it with like-minded others. I found it comforting and encouraging in your comments about the monks starting to join us.

LG: Yes, the days of alienation and division and secrecy are over. In fact, it’s a good rule of thumb when you run into an organization that’s still working in secrecy and division that they are not tuned into the world as it is today.

RDD: That way of operating is almost obsolete. Many people admit it may take a little longer to make things right, but life is an upward spiral. We are spiritual evolutionaries. Society is no longer in a holding pattern waiting until everybody “gets it.” As metaphysicians, we continue to do our individual transformational work so that it reflects and manifests in the world around us. People are ready to find a higher order and to experience wholeness. It is here. And the higher we hold up that possibility for people, the faster they’ll catch up with it. It’s awesome.

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