Published on April 9th, 2014 | by Publisher, Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey1
Adventures in Living the Spiritual Life, An Interview with Bill Elberty
Adventures in Living the Spiritual Life is the topic Bill Elberty, lifelong educator and spiritual seeker, will present at the Satsang Society of New Jersey’s annual seminar on Saturday, May 31, 2014, 1-8:30 pm at the Woodbridge Hilton, 20 Wood Avenue South in Iselin, NJ.
Elberty is an ECK Clergy member, Vermont’s regional ECK spiritual leader, and student of Eckankar, the Religion of the Light and Sound of God. His dual role as student and teacher has humbled him and has created a love of learning and spiritual discovery. In living and sharing these experiences with others, he has made each ordinary day into a new adventure.
Recently, Kristina Mondo interviewed Bill Elberty about how learning and the importance of listening to his heart helped him find his spiritual truth.
What drew you to the ECK teachings? What was the catalyst in choosing Eckankar as your spiritual path?
When I was young I fell asleep by listening to an inner Sound that both soothed me and led me into my dreams. The inner Sound was key for me. I was sensitive and had experiences that were very hard for me to share.
Another key was to have a living teacher. When I was 13 or 14 I visited different churches to see if any “called” me. How do you choose when all of them declared they were the one and only way to spiritual salvation? At 16, a college student introduced me to meditation from a yoga perspective, and I had a remarkable out-of-body experience but did not know how to repeat that experience. I needed a teacher.
In my late teens and 20s my spiritual life again dominated my curiosity. I practiced yoga and meditation for hours each day. The experience was deep and inspiring and reignited traveling out of the body. Like the churches, the teachers insisted that their way was the only way. I was not interested in the worship of an individual nor their declarations of being the “only” truth.
I continued to study and practice. I had a dream in which the Chinese ECK Master, Lai Tsi, helped me understand how to move through different levels of consciousness. As I became frustrated, he said, “Don’t worry. Paul Twitchell can help you with this.” I had no idea that Twitchell was the modern-day founder of Eckankar, but a friend had a book by Twitchell documenting his inner journey. My exploration of Eckankar led me to becoming a member shortly thereafter.
The title of this year’s talk is Adventures In Living The Spiritual Life; how would you advise individuals to embrace life as an adventure and what does that mean to you?
No matter what your religion or spiritual belief, practice it in daily life. The true spiritual parables are written each day by those who practice their spiritual life through service of the love and truth in the simplest and most complex challenges.
One of my favorite ways to embrace life’s spiritual adventure is to listen to people’s stories and hold those stories in the grace of God until the storyteller realizes the gift he has shared. People of all backgrounds and faiths have taught me more, through their stories, than they will ever know.
What suggestions can you give to spiritual seekers or those who are newcomers to Eckankar?
Working with the spiritual exercises regularly is a key. There are many exercises shared in the ECK teachings for individuals to explore as they learn about the next step of their spiritual journey. These exercises are an individual way to discover one’s personal relationship with God. Experiences are different for each person, but the advantage of regularly setting 15 or 20 minutes aside to explore that spiritual relationship with God is a key for all of us.
A simple exercise that has led to profound spiritual peace in my life is singing HU, which is an ancient name for God. When sung aloud or inwardly, it harmonizes us with Spirit, with God. Any individual, no matter their faith or belief, can sing HU for their spiritual benefit.
What was the most valuable lesson you can impart from the ECK teachings?
Every individual holds the key to his or her relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, the Creator…the source of life. My most valuable lesson has been to be grateful for each moment in God and to express that gratitude by practicing and applying my spiritual lessons in each moment of daily life. We hold the door open or closed to God’s love. Serving that truth in each moment opens that moment to a potential undefined by limits or biases. Miracles are born there.
As an educator, how does the ECK teach and help you in daily life?
Curiosity is the most important ingredient for cultivating learning. I am curious always. How can I best serve each young life as that person learns to learn and discovers the capacity to know they are a gift to this world? How do I instill deep responsibility for student performance without fear or authoritative imposition? What must I learn to do this better each day?
You have many different roles in Eckankar. Do you ever find it difficult to have harmony between all your duties and maintaining work/life balance?
I approach all my roles the same way, with the same initial impulse…”how can I best serve God in this moment?” There is just that, so I have no stress and welcome the understanding that I have plenty of room for improvement.
The Adventures in Living the Spiritual Life seminar is free for those new to the teachings of Eckankar. For more information, visit eckankar-nj.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-870-9139.