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Program in Springfield Friday night will focus on spiritual experiences

A woman takes time to meditate.
Dimitris Vatsikas
A woman takes time to meditate.

The Missouri Satsang Society, a chartered affiliate of Eckankar, will host the program, "Had a Spiritual Experience?"

Eckankar is a spiritual teaching that was started by Paul Twitchell in 1965 following spiritual journeys in Tibet and India.

Mike Smith from St. Joseph is the regional Eck spiritual leader and has been following Eckankar teachings since 1978.

“I think the big idea behind this teaching is the notion of spiritual freedom and divine love," he said.

Spiritual freedom, Smith said, means getting rid of negative emotions that are sometimes part of our consciousness like guilt, fear and anger, "any kinds of limitations that you might have and freeing us up to become more who we are.”

Smith said Eck teaches that humans are more than their physical body – that their basic nature is soul or a unit of awareness. Eck also teaches about karma and reincarnation.

“So this is not the only time that I’ve lived," he said, "I lived before, and that's the way it goes here on Earth. We live and learn, and the learning is the karma. So anytime you run into some kind of roadblocks, you know that there's something you’ve got to learn.”

He found Eckankar at a time when he felt that he needed to find a purpose. He learned through Eck that the reason he is here is to learn and grow into more of a divine being.

“And that’s the anchor that allows me to understand why the world is the way it is. It's not an unfair, unjust place," he said., "it's a perfectly fair and just place. So anything that happens to me, I ask the question, you know, 'what can I learn from this?' Or I ask, 'what can I do to give of service to this situation?' And by answering those two questions, I feel balanced and connected.”

Judy Pickering is a Vahana with Eckankar in Springfield. She and her husband learned about the teaching in their 20s – about 45 years ago. She said the program Friday night in Springfield is a safe space to talk about spirituality.

“What I see all the time at these spiritual discussions that we hold and these events that we hold...they're so relieved when they hear somebody else share a story about some kind of spiritual experience," she said, ”especially with someone who passes in their family, and they felt something or they felt the presence of that person after the fact, like, 'I'm okay,' like giving them some kind of comfort, like, 'don't worry about me, I'm fine.' And they're just so happy when they hear other people tell these stories because it seems like that's what happens when we have these spiritual discussions."

The program is two hours long, and Pickering said there will be three tables that people will rotate to. One will be on dreams, another about conquering fear and another on death and reincarnation. There will also be a chance to take part in a waking dream exercise and meditation.

Smith asks people to come with an open mind.

"A lot of people want to look at this teaching as being something sort of anti-religious or anti-spiritual, and it's not," he said.

And he said they won't push their beliefs on anyone. In fact, one of the spiritual laws that those who follow Eck teachings work on is not proselytizing or interfering in anyone's space, "so we are just there to share this teaching and the benefits that it's given us, but we're not trying to convert anybody."

“Had a Spiritual Experience?” starts Friday night, May 31, at 6 at the Library Center.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.