with Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
Founder: For a World We Choose Fdtn.
GABRIEL COUSENS, M.D. is a holistic physician, psychiatrist, Reiki Master and mystic who serves in the world using the disciplines of nutrition, homeopathy and Ayurveda. He is the author of the books Conscious Eating, Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet and Seven-Fold Peace. Dr. Gabriel is Founder and Director of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona, a rurally-based residential retreat where spiritual growth and healing on all levels takes place. To receive a free Tree of Life newsletter, or to schedule a private appointment with Dr. Gabriel, call (520) 394-2520 Sunday through Thursday from 9- 5PM.
ELIOT - In previous interviews, I came up with all sorts of difficult health and nutritional questions to ask you. This time, I just want to ask you what is going on in your life---the trend of your thoughts, what gets you inspired, what are your challenges, what moves you, what "juices" you...
DR. GABRIEL - What is really juicing me is feeling the presence of God in everyday life. In the last 5 years, in the process of creating this project, this rejuvenation center, I've been given so many opportunities to face very hard challenges, which, by the way, are still happening today. But through it all, I've been made keenly aware that it's not the projects that we are working on but the openness with which we experience life and God that really counts. That in the process of living, the most important thing is how do we spiritualize the mundane.
The Baal Shem Tov said (An enlightened Jewish Kabbalistic spiritual teacher), "We are all children of the Light" We begin to see that Light in everyone, and in seeing the Oneness in everything we become humble. So what's been happening for me is that in just opening up more to the process of living a special humility and openheartedness is developing more and more. This whole attitude and way of being is very much a part of the Hassidic tradition in Judaism. There is a level of humility that blossoms as one faces all the different trials and tests that life itself puts us through.
ELIOT - The attitude you go through life with as you learn from all the challenges.
GABRIEL - Yes, that's what it's about. It's amazing and very exciting. The challenges that I've had to face in the last five years have been so strong that my experience of life and God has deepened even more.
You know, life brings many things. And when it does, we can say, "Oh, look what happened TO me," or we can say, "Here's a challenge that's bigger than I've ever experienced before, and despite it, I can let go and just trust in God and understand that it's going to be OK."
For me, peace isn't just going into a cave in the mountains. Peace is being with what is before us. It's like the trials of Hercules, we're given all these challenges to help us grow...
ELIOT - So you're saying that spiritual progress is not measured by how peaceful things are on the outside, it's about what's happening in the eye of the tornado.
GABRIEL - That's right. For me it's not just how deep our meditation is, it is how present we can be in the moment, in the midst of controversy, in the midst of whatever challenges come in your life. To give an example, I was with a client the other day, a carpenter, he'd been here and he'd been there and he'd been really fretting over his life. Nothing seemed to be meaningful to him. I said, "Have you considered that it isn't the events in your life that necessarily has to be meaningful but the awareness and purpose with which you go through your life. In taking this in, fifteen years of his worry just went, "poof." He was able to stop worrying about his life-purpose because he finally saw what the point was, that it's how we handle what we're given, not whether we have a specific, well-defined life-purpose. Yes, there ARE people that have a distinct life purposes, often it is very clear to them in terms of the particular jobs they're suppose to do or roles they're suppose to play out. For me, I knew I wanted to be a physician when I was a young child. But there's a whole lot of people that don't have that well-defined life-goal, and you know, they don't need to. For either way, life works, just as long as we understand that in the process of just being in tune with our lives, whether we have a specific task or life-goal or not, the challenges are given for us to grow spiritually. All the events which people call "the play of the darkness and light," well, the darkness is there not because it is separate from us but because it is part of what we need to go through to continue our spiritual evolution.
ELIOT - But don't you think that this necessitates seeing things from a soul-perspective, otherwise you get caught in the specific nitty-gritty of the clutches of the personality, the limited ego, as it drives you crazy with negative self-talk about whether you've met a certain goal or not.
GABRIEL - I agree, but life doesn't have to be goal-oriented, that's exactly the point I'm making. Life can be God-oriented as you are just present, at peace, as you face all these different trials. I see alot of people in what some people call their "mid-life crisis. They come, and they're depressed, unhappy with whatever they're doing, and then, we start looking at, "what is this crisis REALLY about?" We get to the point of asking, "Why is it even a crisis?" It's a crisis because they are looking at it as goal-oriented rather than process-oriented. And then everything changes!