Episode 247 | May 18, 2021

A Journey into One’s Past Lives with Dena Merriam

A Personal Note From Orion

The thought of having lived before can be difficult to understand. However, the concepts of reincarnation and past lives have existed for thousands of years. It is said that most of us have lived many lives before and that sometimes we can remember these past lives.

In this episode, Dena Merriam, a dynamic woman, shares stories of her own spiritual journey of awakening. She is an author, storyteller and founder and convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. She is the author of three books, including When the Bright Moon Rises. In 2014 she received the Niwano Peace Prize for her interfaith peace efforts.

Having founded a non-profit organization in 2002, she has worked to bring spiritual voices to address global challenges. Their mission is to gather young leaders and wise elders to listen, reflect, and explore ways to foster systemic changes. These changes can create unity among humanity and a loving, respectful relationship with Earth and all of life. I am delighted to share my talk with her. So without further ado, on with the show!

In this Episode

  • [00:51] – Orion introduces Dena Merriam, an author, storyteller and founder and convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. 
  • [04:20] – How did Dena find her past lives?
  • [09:54] – Orion explains the concept of Tikkun in Kabbalah.
  • [15:23] – Dena explains how plant medicines can help in dedicating yourself to spiritual practice but not a substitute.
  • [20:47] – Dena tells her experience in publishing her book My Journey Through Time and talks about the people who read it and reached out to her.
  • [25:10] – Dena describes what she was able to carry out by writing her books at a very young age.
  • [30:48] – How to connect with your guides?
  • [34:44] – Orion shares her experience receiving a Deeksha, a Oneness blessing, from the monks in The Oneness Temple of India.
  • [40:35] – What is the Divine Feminine for Dena Merriam? 
  • [42:17] – Visit Dena Merriam’s organization, Global Peace Initiative of Women, website at gpiw.org to learn more about their mission.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Hey, Dena, and welcome to the Stellar Life Podcast. It’s an honor and a pleasure having you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your passion and vision with us.

Thank you for having me. I’m always glad to talk about my understanding of life and how it can help others.

That’s beautiful because we always like that. We like to learn. Can you share a little bit about yourself and a little bit about how you discovered your passion?

The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Well, let’s see. I have had a spiritual interest since I was very young. When I was around 19 or 20, I had been searching for my spiritual path and I came across a book called The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.

I visited the temple in LA.

I was very eager to learn to meditate at that time, and I recognized him as my teacher and my guru. Even though he had left the body, he had an organization where I could learn meditation, and so I did. I started meditating at around 19, 20. 

I developed a very serious meditation practice because I was very serious about trying to understand what life is about, what happens when we die. I just wanted to understand how the universe is composed, and I’ve always been very interested in this law of cause and effect which we call karma that is addressed in every religious tradition, you reap what you sow. It’s whatever energy you put out into the universe, that energy comes back to you, not just through actions or words but a thought. Thought is energy. Science is discovering a lot of these things.

I always had understood that we keep coming back. Birth is not a beginning, death is not an end. We keep coming back because we have things that we haven’t fulfilled. We have desires, we have ambitions, we have people that we have unfinished relationships with, so we keep coming back to complete these things. I really wanted to understand this law, which I understood to be almost like the law of gravity. It works. It’s one of the things that holds the universe together. This law of karma is the same thing as cause and effect. Just like there are physical laws, there are spiritual laws.

Birth is not the beginning, and death is not the end.

It wasn’t until I began having my own past life recollections, which happened about 20 years after I’d been meditating, that I began to see patterns and began to understand a little bit about how this law of cause and effect works.

How did you find out about your past life? You were just meditating and you saw it in a vision?

It’s happened to me. I’ve seen numerous of my past births, and it usually is triggered by either a person who comes into my life, I visit a place and that place has significance for me, or it’s relevant to something that’s taking place in my life at that moment. It usually comes about in meditation. It’s like a door is opened and once the door is cracked open, then I begin having memories. Eventually, most of the time, a full narrative comes through. It’s like watching a movie. I can see most of my life.

In this way, I’ve really been able to understand how this law of cause and effect works and how we are the creators of our own destiny because things that we desired, wanted, or didn’t complete, we come back to find fulfillment for those things. Then, if that’s true, then we are now creating our future. If the past created the present, the present is creating the future. We can do it more consciously, which is of course what we want to do. We want to be more conscious of what we’re putting out into the universe. We want to be more conscious of what we sow so that we can be more conscious of what we’re going to reap.

Visiting a past life usually comes about in meditation. It’s like once the door is cracked open, I begin to have memories.

I lived in Japan for three and a half years and when I arrived, I went to a beautiful temple in Tokyo. It’s called Asakusa Temple. When I arrived at the temple, I was standing there and all of a sudden it was so vivid. My physical reality has changed. All of a sudden it was smoke, burning, and the scent of burning flesh. It felt like I was in the middle of a war. Even though it was for a split second and I came back to my body, I felt a little dizzy. It was almost like a glimpse into something and boom, I came back.

What I didn’t know is that the temple was destroyed in the war. They renovated it. It went through war and I didn’t know that. When I see something like that, is that just like a psychic glimpse into what happened, or is that the previous life where I was there?

It could be either. It could be that the energy allowed you to peer into what had happened there, or it could have been that you were there. It’s difficult. I mean, only you would know. Only you know that. It’s difficult for someone else to say exactly. I’ve had both. I’ve been able to peer into situations that I know are not my situation, and yet I also was able to tell when what I was seeing was actually me being there because it resonated so deeply inside me. I identified so much with it.

But I think almost everybody has some past life experience they just often don’t pay attention to it. I knew a couple once that they were the most harmonious couple. It was the second marriage for both of them. I always held them up as the ideal couple. I mentioned this to them at one point and they said to me, well, this is not our first time at this. We’ve been at this a number of times. In this life, we got it right.

The goal is to return to birth not out of compulsion but out of the willingness to be of service so that you can uplift the consciousness of the planet. Share on X

Nice. What is reincarnation and how does it work?

That’s one of the mysteries. Most of us know, certainly those who are on a spiritual path, that we inhabit a body but we’re not the body. That we have a psychic body as well. Some call it an astral body- that’s where our memories are held, and that’s what we take with us. So what do we leave behind?

We leave behind the physical body we leave behind the things that are conditioned by our circumstances, the personality that was shaped by our circumstances. But the essence of who we are, we take that with us, and of course all the memories and all the learnings. The things that we didn’t fulfill, we carry all those with us in our psychic body, our astral body. Then we go into what they used to call the celestial worlds, now we call it another dimension. Physicists have pretty much confirmed the existence of the dimensions, and I think that we will—

How did they confirm that?

Our perceptions are severely limited. Our vision and hearing can only see and hear within a certain spectrum.

I’m not a scientist, but I’ve read a lot about these string theories. Apparently, I’ve heard that Einstein’s theory only works in a universe of seven dimensions. They don’t know a whole lot about it. They just know that there are other dimensions of reality. They also know that our perceptions are severely limited. Our vision, our sight can only see within a certain spectrum. Our hearing can only hear within a certain spectrum.

Looking into the subtler world, we can’t see them or hear what’s going on there because our senses aren’t programmed to be able to do that. Unless you’ve highly developed spiritually, then you can open up and see with an inner sight into those worlds. We go into those worlds and some people call them the life between lives or the worlds between lives. Other people see this physical life as the between lives and that that is the real place where we live.

Then when the conditions are right, we set for ourselves certain objectives to meet in our next birth. I mean, we create the blueprint when we’re in that stage between births. When the right circumstances, the conditions are right, we’re drawn into the womb to take another body. We set certain objectives for ourselves. I’m going to fulfill this relationship. I’m going to achieve this, follow this. I’m going to become a musician. I always loved music and I couldn’t do that. I’m going to become a teacher. We set ourselves the blueprint of what’s to come. Then we get born and we forget it all.

Yay. In Kabbalah, they call it Tikkun, which means that the soul is coming here to have it’s called correction. Tikkun in Hebrew is correction. If you hurt someone in your previous lives, you come here and you will find this person is probably going to be the most triggering person to you and you got to work on it.

We leave our physical body and traits behind, but we take the essence of who we are with us.

Correct, exactly. These are opportunities. I think karma is very much understood. People see it as a judgment, punishment, or reward. It’s not a punishment and reward system. It’s for our learning, for our awakening. We’re given numerous opportunities to awaken. It also has to do with patterns of thinking. So if you have a set pattern of thinking, for example, I know that for many lifetimes I didn’t feel I had a voice as a woman. My life was controlled by others. That was a pattern of thinking, the lack of confidence in myself, that I had to overcome in this life. This was the first time I really could do it.

I look at my last three births and I didn’t have much of a voice as a woman. Women didn’t have much of a voice at that time. We were condemned if we tried to. But in this life, I set up a peace organization, the Global Peace Initiative of Women. That’s to give women a voice and peacebuilding, climate issues, and all the critical issues. I see that I was able to change a pattern and be able to achieve something. I wanted to give other women the opportunity to have their voices heard.

When you change a pattern in this life, how does it affect the people around you and your soul?

Well, you overcome a challenge that most often you’ve been working on for several lifetimes. Of course, depending on what it is, you can affect a few people, you can affect a lot of people. But you certainly are improving your own future because it’s not something that you have to return to work on. If I had not found my voice in this life, I would have had to work on it my next birth. Now I don’t have to do that. It’s also the times in which we live which have made it easier.

The unfolding of karma is so complex. There are so many factors involved.

The unfolding of karma is so complex. There are so many factors involved. It’s almost beyond what the mind can comprehend how things can come together in such a way. Since I’ve been able to see into my past births, I’ve been able to see how in this life many things have been able to come to completion. Many relationships have come to completion. Things that I’ve wanted to do, desires have come to completion.

The goal is to be able to return to birth not out of compulsion, but out of a willingness to be of service so that you can help uplift the consciousness of the planet.

So there are two purposes of a soul coming back. One is to fix something from past lives, and the other one is to be of service?

Exactly. And the more you fix the more you can be of service. If you’re deeply involved in working through karma, then it’s very hard to devote yourself to service because you have a lot of things to work out, right? But the more you resolve your issues, that’s why you see the masters, the great teachers who’ve worked through most of their issues in the past can really devote themselves to service.

How can we figure out what our issues or triggers from past lives are and fix them? 

I mean, there are ones that are more obvious and then ones that are more subtle. We can’t know all of our things from the past because some of them may not be manifesting in this life, but anybody who engages in any kind of introspection or meditative process, you know the relationships that are challenging, you know the issues of your own patterns of thinking. It’s hard to change a habit. It took me many, many years in this life to be able to have confidence in my own voice, to find my voice as a woman. It was decades actually.

Whatever energy you put out into the universe comes back to you through actions, words, or even thoughts. Share on X

When I was in my 20s, 30s, and even 40s, it was very difficult. I was most happy being a writer behind the scene without being any kind of public voice at all. At a certain moment that switched. But you can see what your weaknesses are, what your challenges are both in terms of your thinking and in terms of your work challenges. Many people struggle with finding their true calling in life. Often it doesn’t come until later. You start in your 20s in one thing and then that’s not really what you want to do, but you need a job, and then you end up in another. It takes a while to find your calling.

I think that with introspection, one can know oneself better and know when you’re doing what really is your calling.

What’s the difference between glimpsing into those higher realms through meditation and doing it through some help like Ayahuasca, psychedelics, or other things like that?

I think that plant medicines, which is what I call them, can be very helpful at the beginning of one’s journey because it’s very hard at the beginning to crack open that door. Meditation takes commitment, endurance, and regular practice. You may not see the results. Often you get gifts at the beginning, and then you may go through a period where you feel like you’re not making any breakthrough, you’re just sitting there. It takes continual commitment and practice.

Meditation takes commitment, endurance, and regular practice.

The plant medicines can crack open the door. When I was younger I started to meditate. I did some of the plant medicines only twice or two or three times, and I didn’t need it after that because I wanted to attain that, but it did open up the universe to me. I saw the universe in a different way. Having had that experience, I then said to myself, now I’ve had that experience, now I want to reach it on my own without any aid.

I think it’s not good to become dependent on that because the plant medicines wear off. They don’t create any deep change. They give you an experience, but they don’t create the transformation that your own spiritual efforts through meditation do. I think it can be a spur at the beginning to encourage you to dedicate yourself to spiritual practice. But then it can become a crutch. You only get that experience when you take medicine. Ultimately you want to live in that consciousness all the time even when you’re not meditating.

Meditation helps you achieve, helps you stabilize a certain level of consciousness. Ultimately, you’re in that consciousness whether you’re meditating or not meditating. That’s the goal. It stabilizes that consciousness so that’s the level of your awareness all the time. I’m cautious about plant medicines. I think they could be helpful at the beginning, but not a substitute.

Yes. What is your meditation practice? How often do you meditate?

Well, I meditate twice a day. I’m a practitioner of the Kriya Yoga meditation, which is what Yogananda’s lineage teaches. I meditate in the morning, about an hour, an hour and a half, and then at the end of the day about 30 minutes. And then on occasion, I’ll do a longer meditation of about three hours.

What? How?

When you get to a very still place, you just want to stay in that state of mind.

When you get to a very still place you just want to stay in that state of mind. It’s not every meditation session that you reach that place, but on occasion when you do, it’s very good to push yourself and do longer meditations. You’re able to go deeper. I find there’s a direct correlation to the depth of my meditation and my ability to see. My ability to see into my past to understand what I’m seeing and then to communicate it. There’s a direct correlation.

Now I’m starting to understand how you get all your knowledge and your movies.

Yeah, they are movies.

Before we began this interview we had a private conversation. You said that you grew spiritually through the writing of your books. What was the process of writing your books and how did it evolve you spiritually?

Well, I started writing my books when I really began to have (I call them) acute past life recollections. There was a period in my life of about 10 years when they were coming strong and steady. 

At first, it was disorienting because I was reliving my life just previous to this. There were a lot of traumatic events in that life. I couldn’t pull myself back into the present, and yet I was a single mom with two teenage sons and holding a job. I had to function in the present, I couldn’t afford not to. I’d be sitting in meetings and find myself dead in Europe during World War II. I would find myself back in World War II and it was like, “Dena, pull yourself back.” 

Humanity is reaching a point where we have to expand our understanding of life.

I would not hear anything that was going on in the meeting and just be lost in another world. Then I went to the life just before that and the life just before that, I began to write it. Because I’m a writer I began to write it. But it was private, really. I didn’t think of sharing it. 

I had a writer friend who had grown up as I did in a secular Jewish home, but she was very curious about my spiritual path. She had just started TM meditation. She said to me, Dena, I know you’re writing something. Can I read it? I finished the book and in the book, I go back seven lives. But the point is to show the patterns, to show how one life affected another or the other. It’s all linked. It’s like a continuing story. It’s like an episode, a series that you watch and they’re just different episodes. It’s like one long life. I began to see it as one long life. I identified with all the personalities. I saw things in myself that I still had from those lives.

My Journey Through Time by Dena Merriam

It would be interesting to have a movie about your books.

Well, somebody’s considering that now.

Oh, wow.

The book is called My Journey Through Time: A Spiritual Memoir of Life, Death, and Rebirth. So she read it and she had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It helped her so much in the end. She said to me, “Dena, you have to publish this.” And then I showed the book to two spiritual friends and they said, “Dena, you can’t sign your name to this.” I was an interfaith organizer working with a lot of different faiths. “I said it’s my life, how can I not sign my name to it?” They said, “well, we just don’t know if the American public is ready for this.” But I did.

When was it that they weren’t ready?

It was five years ago.

And they’re not ready yet?

You know, I thought to myself, so much has changed. The book was out and I got a call, a message from a Christian theologian that I know. He said, “Dena, I’ve read your book. I have to talk to you.” I thought, “oh no. Okay. I’ll tell him to look at it like it’s a novel.” I didn’t answer him, and he called me again. He said, “please call me. I have to talk to you.”

So I called him. I was going to say to him, take it like it’s a novel. He said, “Dena, I read your book. The minute I was done I started researching the subject and there is so much research about this now you can’t deny it.” I haven’t followed the research. I’m not interested. I don’t need to be convinced. I have my own experiences. But he insisted that I read this book, which I don’t remember the name now, by this Christian theologian who was also a psychoanalyst who talks about all of the research of people who have had these experiences and how they’ve been confirmed. He said to me, this is now beyond something. It’s not a matter of faith. This is a matter of now a proven reality.

It’s true. I did a lot of interviews after that book came out, and so many people called into the shows with their own experiences. A lot of times, people don’t take it seriously. They just have a flashback. One woman just said, my husband, I know I’ve been with him before. I’ve had flashbacks of being with him before. People have those experiences, but it’s not relevant really. It can be a distraction which is why when people say to me, should I do past life regression? I say if there’s something troubling you that you need to know, do it. Otherwise, if it comes to you organically, it comes to you organically. But why go probing? Why go digging?

Isn’t it better to go probing, digging, and knowing exactly what you need to work on?

Only if you have a need to know. I have a friend, a swamini friend, who after she read my book wanted to know. She went for past life regression and couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t relevant for her and her work. I feel that for some reason, I’ve been able to see maybe so that I can share with others because when you have your own personal experience, also for my own learning. But I think that humanity is reaching a point where we have to expand our understanding of life, and it’s the religious institutions that have prevented us from doing this frankly because the mystics of all religions have known this reality. But the institutional religions—it’s much better to say, do what I say and you’ll go to heaven and you’ll be happy forever.

Karma is not a punishment or reward system. It is for our learning and awakening. Share on X

Also, if you live in a place where you can tap into different realms and see this life from a bird’s eye view, see other lives and connect on this very high spiritual level, then you’re an independent thinker who can manifest whatever and then you’re a threat.

Exactly. That’s exactly it. You’re no longer there just supporting the institution. I mean, our spiritual journey is really our own journey and should not be tied to any institutions. Each individual has their own spiritual journey, in relationship to whoever their divine helpers are. We all have guides. By seeing this, it changes your whole relationship with death, which is I think in a way kind of the last frontier that people have to try to understand what it is.

We’ve all died many times before, and yet there’s this instinctive fear that’s in our DNA because the body wants to preserve itself, so it’s there for a purpose. But we have to overcome it, spiritually, that fear.

Yeah, I’m not there yet. I don’t want to die.

I mean, in the natural course of things, when you’re finished with your work and when you’re connecting more with the higher realms, then it’s fine to move on. But you don’t want to leave prematurely, that’s the thing.

Our spiritual journey is our own and should not be tied to any institutions.

You said you grew through writing your books. How did that happen? How writing your books affected you as a person, as a spiritual seeker?

As I wrote down all these memories and I began to see the interconnections, I saw how beautiful it is how things come to fulfillment. I saw such grace and love in the universe, and that everything is there for own awakening. 

This whole kind of, I call it a Kali Yuga concept of punishment and fear of the divine, I mean, that’s just such a distorted mentality. The universe is maintained through love. Love is the fundamental principle of life and of the universe. Everything that happens to us, that comes to us is for our own awakening. Even if it’s the most difficult challenge, it’s there for a purpose. 

Of course, it’s like being in the middle of a mystery. You have to find out what’s the purpose. We have to discover for ourselves what’s the meaning of this event, what’s the meaning of this challenge, what can I learn from this challenge? If it’s a health challenge, a financial challenge, a relationship, a work challenge, what am I meant to learn from this and how can I approach it with the best attitude?

It fundamentally changed my worldview when I learned that everything is there to help guide us and pride us toward awakening.

It fundamentally changed my worldview when I learned that everything is there to help us, to guide us, to pride us toward awakening. All of life is about that, and we keep coming back again and again until we fully awaken. And then we have choices of where we want to be in the universe. We can keep coming back to help others, or we can spend time in the celestial realms and do whatever is needed there, maintaining the balance of the universe. I mean, we are our own free agents.

Do you see guides, angels?

I see guides. I don’t call them angels. In the eastern tradition, they’re devis or devas. The word deva means light being. They’re light beings who have finished their time in earthly rebirth, but they’re there to help others with whom they have a connection. In other words, if you emerge into that reality and don’t need to take birth, but you have loved ones who are still here in the process. Loved ones who you’ve been in a relationship with along the way—children, parents, whoever. People that you’re deeply connected with.

Well, you may be guiding them. You may take birth to guide them or you may guide them from that realm. My own master, my own teacher, my own guru, Yogananda, I never met him in person. He had passed away, and yet I’ve been initiated by him. I’ve met him in dreams. I feel his presence. He’s as much of a presence as if he were in the body he was living in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t have seen him, I still would have had to connect with him on the inner plane, which is where we connect with these divine beings.

We all have helpers and guides, but sometimes we haven’t recognized them yet. We’re not aware of their presence. But who hasn’t had an experience where they’ve felt you come back close to a car accident you say, wow, that was close.

I actually had one. I think my baby was just a few months old and I went to the gym after a lockdown in LA. I did this intense cardio dance class, then I put my mask on, and went to talk to the guy from the register. I think because I was hyperventilating with the mask on and speaking, I was depleted of oxygen. 

No matter which lifetime, we have the power to fulfill our destiny. Whatever desire we didn’t complete, we find our way back to it.

I started driving home, I was about to take a left turn, and I didn’t see this car that was coming super fast. It was almost a head-to-head collision, and at the very last moment, he just moved and we didn’t get into a crash. I was very close to death. I’m sure that was a guide, an angel, or some other element that moved his hand. We were very close.

That’s happened to me too and I think almost everybody has had something like that. I think there’s just an intervention. I think at the collective level too. I mean, how many times where we couldn’t have ended up in a nuclear war over the last 40, 50 years, and then suddenly things shift. I think that there are a lot of things going on that we can’t perceive.

What can we do to connect with our guides, our divine beings?

Well, sometimes we have a name for them like I do for my guru, and I have other divine beings that I’m connected to. But if we don’t have a name for who it is, I think we can just call upon the higher beings and see. I mean, if one cannot see, one cannot hear, and one doesn’t have a name for, you can just generally give gratitude and try to connect with whoever it is that is your guide. I think it’s different for everybody. I mean, many people I know have had teachers who are no longer in the body, very advanced beings. For them, that’s their main link to the higher world.

We all have helpers and guides, but sometimes we haven’t recognized them yet.

It could be a teacher but there are beings up there who are connected to us from our past that we may not remember. I think one can just give out a general call. But most people on the spiritual path have some relationship with a divine being. I mean, for many people it’s Jesus. They call out to Jesus in time of need. People I know it’s their guru.

The divine takes many, many forms. For some people, it’s just the divine mother. I know people who’ve worshipped one form of the deity and others they just call out to the divine mother.

I had a conversation with a psychic here and she was saying that the divine appears to us in the form that we can accept.

Exactly. It’s funny, my guru once said that a Christian who goes to heaven goes into the astral world, they leave the body. They may see Jesus and the Muslims might see Muhammad. When they’re reborn again, they carry that memory with them. If they’re born in the same tradition, which often happens. 

That’s where this concept of I’m going to be in heaven, I’m going to see where Jesus comes from. The divine will take whatever form we are comfortable with. We have that memory, but the difference is you don’t stay in heaven for eternity. It may feel like an eternity. It may be 200 years, that may feel like an eternity. But inevitably, unless you’ve fully awakened, you’re going to come back again.

What is awakening?

What is awakening? That is hard to put into words because it’s beyond concept. It’s knowing the ultimate reality is being one with it. Knowing ourselves not to be separate from it. That we are just a reflection of that ultimate consciousness. That we are one with the whole. We are part of that consciousness, which manifests in so many different forms. We awakened to our unity with that and no longer see ourselves as separate from that.

You don't stay in heaven for eternity. Inevitably, unless you've fully awakened, you're going to come back again. Share on X

From my understanding of awakening, it’s almost like throughout my life, I had a glimpse into some higher realms. I saw some things and I felt other things. It feels to me like awakening is not like one day you are awakened and that’s it. I feel like we have a glimpse into awakening, then we go down into the 3D reality, then we go up again, and it’s an ongoing journey.

Exactly, there’s no end to it. It’s like an expansion of consciousness. You get glimpses of it, and then you’re back into your body.

It’s like a spiritual athlete. There’s no end.

There’s no end. Right, exactly. There’s no end to it. That’s why the name for the divine in the Vedic tradition is Satcitananda—ever existing, ever conscious bliss. You can say it’s ever-existing, there’s no concept of not existing. It’s conscious of itself and it’s blissful. Those are the only things you can say about it. We become more and more attuned to that ever-existing conscious bliss.

Nice. I spent some time in a oneness temple in India and we were chanting for 49 minutes, “I am existence, consciousness bliss,” and getting ourselves very, very oxygenated I guess. And then the monks went and gave us a Diksha, which is a oneness blessing. Man, I was completely having this astral journey, going to different realms, feeling incredible things, feeling oneness. 

On the physical plane, I was on the floor laughing out loud like I never laughed in my life for about an hour. It was really, really cool. And then it ends, they hit the gong, and I was like boom, back here like nothing happened.

But you had a glimpse.

I had a glimpse, and then when I came back to the States—I used to be very ADD. It was hard for me to focus on my clients and be really, really with the person. All of a sudden, when I came back, I was able to be with the person and just be with them almost like there was a bubble that’s surrounding us and there is nothing else. That was the gift that I got from that experience. Beyond the cool story. Okay, I have the cool story, but also I have this awesome focus that I can call on when I’m with a client, a person, loved ones, or anyone who needs my full attention.

Once you’ve had the experience, it never really leaves you. It’s in your memory. Even if you don’t gain it back for some time.

The foundation of this universe is love, and everything in your life is working toward your awakening. Share on X

Yeah, I haven’t gained it completely back. Actually, I did get something through rebirthing. That was pretty super powerful, but it’s almost like I need external help to get there. I need to be in a sacred temple in India or in the middle of a rebirthing session to get there. How can one get there on their own?

Well, I think that being in sacred places helps. Many of my memories have come to me when I’ve gone on pilgrimage. Being in a place where there’s an intensification of spiritual energy, that’s why people are encouraged to go on pilgrimages. That is an aid. And then also being in the presence of somebody who is at a higher level or at a more awakened level, that can help. But otherwise, one has to do the work.

Yeah. I don’t do three hours of meditation. I don’t have time for that.

It doesn’t matter. The length of time is not important. If you do 30 minutes every day, but the most important thing is regularity, not the length of time. It’s just to keep doing it.

I’d like somebody else to do my push-ups for me.

I think one gets a taste just so that you’ll be encouraged to keep going to keep at it, but one has to keep going. There’s just no other way. You have to keep meditating.

Yes. Got to keep going for sure. I listened to one of your interviews and you spoke about the sacred feminine and discovering your own sacred feminine. Can you share a little bit about that?

Yes. I mean, that’s always been an issue for me. One of the things that drew me to Hinduism actually when I was young was the vision of the divine as a divine mother and the devi. Devi being very powerful in different forms of the devi within that tradition. The one that appealed to me was called Narayanan Lakshmi.

I like her.

Yeah. She’s the counterpart to Narayan Vishnu, which we know as Rama or Krishna. And then she was known as Sita or Rukmini who was Krishna’s wife. But I realized in my past, a long time ago, I had a relationship with Sita. It was through that experience that I came to experience firsthand that love of the divine mother. That has stayed with me through many of my incarnations, this search for that aspect of the divine experience. That’s something that drew me to my own guru because his relationship with the divine was the divine mother. I mean, he was in total service to the divine mother.

What’s not finished here, you’ll finish in the future.

The ultimate is formless, right? The ultimate is formless, but that formlessness takes form. Within the Abrahamic traditions, it came through as male energy. But through the Vedic tradition, it came through equally as female energy. In many of the old, old traditions, that were the case. But Hinduism is one of the few where it’s remained very strong, that relationship with the devi.

When I first started organizing interfaith programs, my first goal was just to get more women involved and more of the Dharma traditions involved because interfaith was a movement of Abrahamic men. I thought, well that’s not the whole world, right? We need women, we need the eastern traditions. 

But then I began to talk about the divine mother, the divine feminine. At first, many of the people I was working with from the Abrahamic traditions were very uncomfortable with that. But after a while, they shifted and they began referring to the divine. At least one of them was an evangelical actually. I heard him—after he had worked with me for years—refer to the divine as she. I thought, well, that’s really a step forward. It makes a big difference because it’s permeated so much of recent history in the last few thousand years.

I mean, just think about it, in the Christian tradition, it’s just the father and the son. There’s no female present.

How was it to discover your own divine feminine and what does divine feminine mean to you?

In the process of that I realized—I mean, the divine feminine is not so much of a man-woman kind of thing, it’s the feminine energy, which men do have as well. Often it’s not cultivated in them. You see with the masters how they’re a perfect balance. My own guru was a balance of the masculine and the feminine energies. 

But for me, since a lot of my work was around awakening that understanding of the feminine spiritual energy, I feel it’s very much needed now. It’s healing energy. It’s not in place of, it’s in harmony with the male energy. But I think that in our own society, we’ve seen so much degrading of the higher masculine and feminine energies. It’s a very degraded manifestation now. Both the male and the female need to be lifted into a sacred space. The same with the masculine. We need to lift the masculine. What is the higher masculine energy? What is that sacred masculine energy? It’s needed for the sacred feminine to emerge as well.

To hold her. It’s like yin yang, they swim within each other.

Exactly. That’s a beautiful way of putting it. It’s a union. That’s a beautiful way of putting it. They swim within each other. While my work was initially, because it was not talked about, to raise the consciousness of the divine feminine, now it’s to raise the consciousness of the need for the harmony between the higher feminine and higher masculine energies.

Wow, I got goosebumps when you said that. It feels very true to me.

That’s what we need to heal our society.

Yes, amen. So before we say goodbye, I have two questions for you, darling. One is what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life, and the second one is where can people find you, connect with you, and read your amazing books?

The three tips are to develop a spiritual practice. It could be something very elementary, a few minutes of reflection a day. But it should be regular because then you’re tuning in with your higher self on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 minutes in the morning. If it’s regular, you’re connecting on a regular basis with that higher self.

The second thing is to know that you’re an eternal being, there’s no end to your life, that you are in control of your life, and can achieve whatever it is you want. What’s not finished here you’ll finish in the future.

The third is to know that there are guides and helpers for everyone. Everyone is connected to higher beings. The foundation of this universe is love, and everything in your life is working toward your own awakening. Try to see your challenges as opportunities for learning.

My organization, which is the Global Peace Initiative of Women, GPIW. We have a website, gpiw.org. We have a Facebook page. I have a Facebook page where I do book readings every so often. It’s Dena Merriam public page. You can find all my books on Amazon. You could just search for books by Dena Merriam.

Thank you, Dena Merriam. Thank you so much. This was beautiful. Thank you for the lovely conversation, and thank you for all your insights and wisdom.

And thank you for spending time talking to me. It was wonderful.

Thank you, and thank you, listeners. Remember to develop a regular spiritual practice. Know that you are an internal being, and know that you have guides, helpers, and higher beings that are here to help you. Have a stellar life. This is Orion, until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Be conscious of what you put out into the universe. You create your reality and future with whatever you put your time and effort into.
{✓} Determine your negative patterns so that you can find a way to overcome them. Negative habits can weigh you down mentally and physically. 
{✓} Have patience in finding your calling. Keep trying out new things to find what you really love.
{✓} Take time for some self-reflection. Looking within helps you develop self-awareness and consciousness to grow as a person.
{✓} Research more about how plant medicines can help open your consciousness. However, make sure to use them in moderation. It’s important not to become dependent on them.
{✓} Trust the process of your spiritual journey and keep listening to your intuition. Your instincts help you quickly make decisions and readjust to changing conditions.
{✓} Create a strong connection with a source of higher power. If you are seeking guidance, sometimes the best thing to do is ask your guides.
{✓} Keep working on yourself. Having an awakening is a journey that never ends. There is always room for growth and expansion.
{✓} Develop a spiritual practice. Spirituality leads you to find purpose, faith, comfort, and inner peace in your life.
{✓} Visit Dena Merriam’s website to check out her books, and visit the Global Peace Initiative of Women’s website to learn more about their story and mission.

Links and Resources

About Dena Merriam

Dena Merriam is an author, storyteller and founder and convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. She is the author of three books including When the Bright Moon Rises. In 2014 she received the Niwano Peace Prize for her interfaith peace efforts.


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