40 Years of Unconditional Love
By Diane Kennedy Pike and Arleen Lorrance
When the two of us met in 1971, we acknowledged that we had a work to do together. It took until the spring of 1972 for our two lives to come into alignment so that we could focus on what shape that work would take. We decided to call our work “The Love Project” and to put the practice of the six Love Principles at the core of all we would do. We published the book The Love Project, which tells the story of the first series of love projects at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, New York.
In April of 1972, just over 40 years ago, the two of us led our first weekend workshop together. We had been invited to Reno, Nevada, to the First Methodist Church, to do a retreat. That provided us with an opportunity to discover how well we would work together in a group context.
The weekend went well until Sunday evening when someone in the group began to talk about protecting ourselves by surrounding ourselves with white light. We did not resonate with the need to “protect” ourselves. We were focused on creating realities by projecting the energy we wanted to live in and becoming the change we wanted to see in the world. Of course the change we wanted to see was unconditional love, but the group interaction began to spiral downward into disagreement and tension.
The two of us were at a loss as to how to transform what was happening when suddenly the doors flew open and a group of young people burst into the room singing, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love . . .”
The whole retreat group joined in with heartfelt joy, and when the young people exited as suddenly as they had appeared, we all dissolved into laughter. The timing could not have been more perfect. It was like being pushed out of the way of an oncoming bus. We were all grateful and we reflected on the dynamic as an example of how things work in life. It is easy to get stuck in concepts and to cling to convictions rather than keeping the heart center open to let unconditional love energy flow.
Launching Our Work
That was the beginning of over 40 years of work together and we began to put out feelers to discover what form our work would take. Since we were both trained teachers, we first assumed we would work through the school system at some level. We reached out to principals and superintendents, and then to junior colleges and colleges. When we got no response whatsoever from schools, we tried the military and the prison system. Still no responses.
While we were contemplating what our next avenue might be, a woman in San Diego contacted us to see if we would be willing to meet with a small group in her living room and share the Love Principles. We were delighted, of course. To our surprise that format turned out to be the one that served us for many, many years: meeting in private homes at the invitation of the homeowner with a small group of invited guests.
In those early years we wanted to be sure that anyone who wanted to come to one of our sessions could do so. We didn’t want the cost of the sessions to be prohibitive. As a consequence, we told those who invited us to tell their guests that we asked for a contribution of $15.00 for the weekend. The amount sounds absurd now, but even at that there were people who said they couldn’t afford the $15.00 and we allowed them to come free. Our weekend sessions were 16 hours or more, so they were contributing (when they did) $1.00 or less per hour.
It took two years for us to build up to the point where our income paid our bills. By then we had enough sponsors who contributed to our nonprofit corporation to supplement our meager income from weekend workshops.
After a couple of years, we discovered that some of the people who came regularly to our sessions, often without contributing anything, were going to EST weekends for which they were paying large sums. We decided it was time to raise our fees (to $25.00 for the weekend), but we never turned anyone away who couldn’t pay.
We decided early on to call our workshops “Practice Sessions.” This was because we wanted our presentation of the six Love Principles to be practical. Every exercise we did during those sessions, we created ourselves using our creativity and inventiveness. Each was developed through a focus on the purpose we held in our consciousness. We have thick notebooks of experiences we created dating back to the beginning of our work.
We designed activities that encouraged participants to practice applying the principles with others in the group, and the two of us practiced, too. We decided we would never do a process with a group that was not totally alive for us as well. We were not just teaching theory; we were learning and growing alongside participants and offering our example to encourage others.
For about nine years we did workshops every single weekend (except over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) and often during the week as well. We traveled all over the United States and in Canada. We never advertised. People learned of us by word of mouth, often because someone had attended a workshop or talk and wanted to share us with others when they went home. This is quite remarkable because we are still doing our work when many of our contemporaries are long gone and can’t even be found in an Internet search. We must be doing something right.
We were invited into churches to give sermons, talks, or workshops. The Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, sponsored our workshops for 21 years. We were often invited by Unity churches, sometimes Science of Mind churches and the occasional Episcopal, Methodist or Congregational church. Southwest Counseling Service in Los Angeles sponsored Saturday workshops once a month for many years. We were also invited by organizations to give talks at conferences or to do workshops. But a good many sessions were held in people’s living rooms.
We asked those who planned our events to get enough commitments to guarantee our travel expenses. We were willing to stay in people’s homes and eat meals with those who invited us. That was the usual pattern for many years. It meant that we made many new friends and had many memorable experiences.
In a few cases, although we had been guaranteed our expenses, at least, the money didn’t materialize and we had to pay out of our own pockets. One very funny (now) weekend occurred in Albuquerque, NM. We had been invited to by a Religious Science Church to conduct a retreat. Upon arrival we discovered they had put us in a very expensive hotel suite and ordered flowers and a fruit basket to greet us in our room. Only later, when we were given our check and a summary of expenses, did we notice that they had charged us for the hotel and the amenities. It was the most expensive fruit we had ever eaten and the $40.00 they paid us for leading the retreat didn’t even cover those costs.
We also had the reverse experience. A Unity church in Columbus, Ohio, flew us in, put us in a hotel, covered our meals, and paid us handsomely. It turned out that there were only about five families in the congregation and a small but very enthusiastic turnout at our presentation. We were shocked at the size of the check and asked if the church didn’t need something back for having brought us. We were assured that the church had been well taken care of and that those five families were big enough supporters to do it all.
For our first years, Diane was a vegetarian. On our first visit to Shadybrook House in Ohio, our hosts invited us for dinner. The wife had lovingly prepared pot roast and placed it before us on the table. Diane realized in that moment that it was more important to receive gratefully what had been lovingly prepared than it was to stick to a commitment not to eat meat. Unconditional love could be extended to the food set before us. After that experience we advised planners in advance of our preference not to eat meat.
One time we stayed with a couple whose hobby was collecting cuckoo clocks. They literally had dozens of cuckoo clocks all through the house, and the clocks were not synchronized, so they went off at odd times all through the night. It was enough to drive anyone cuckoo who was not an aficionado of the clocks!
Expanding Our Work
When we first started our work, we were convinced that all we needed to do was teach the six Love Principles and people would open their hearts and expand their consciousness. It turned out not to be quite that easy. We quickly saw that people came again and again to practice sessions. Not only was once not enough, even multiple sessions did not suffice.
One woman asked us for a private session. We said, “We don’t do private sessions.” She said, “Why not? I want to have an hour with you alone.” We said, “We wouldn’t even know what to charge you.” She said, “Charge whatever you want.” We thought about it and decided to charge her $50.00 for an hour with the two of us. She was delighted.
That was the beginning of what we called “Private Consultations.” We printed a disclaimer, saying that we were not therapists and were not doing therapy. We were coaching people in how to create the realities they wanted to create in their lives. That was back in the 1970’s, long before “Life Coaching” became a “profession.” In recent years we have termed these private consultations “Consciousness Coaching.”
Next, people began to ask us for longer sessions and we began to offer week long Journeys Into Self in San Diego and eventually in Ohio as well. To our surprise, large groups of 30 and 40 people attended those week long sessions, which we held in a local church assembly hall. The Journeys Into Self were experiential like our other sessions and were organized so that we spent a full day practicing each of the Love Principles.
In 1981, Arleen created The Theatre of Life. This program was designed to take people even deeper into their spiritual growth. Each session, or Act, was 16 days long and limited to 16 participants. There were six Acts and we assumed it would take someone at least six years to complete the program. However it did not take long before people were asking to take more than one Act in a year. We began offering two and sometimes three sessions a year, often in San Diego and for several years in colleges in Pennsylvania during the summer.
The Theatre of Life program took the place of the week long Journeys Into Self and ran for over twenty years touching many in life-changing ways. After a very “long run” we stopped offering that expression of our work, published the book The Theatre of Life especially for those who wanted to continue with their exploration, and began offering Kaleidoscope, a five-day mini Theatre of Life experience.
Also back in 1981, Diane began offering what she called School of Consciousness classes in which she taught her understanding of the wisdom teachings. The sessions were held in San Diego, but they were tape-recorded so that people could take the courses at a distance as well. After several years Diane developed Life As A Waking Dream as a method for learning personal and spiritual lessons from everyday life experiences. Again classes were tape recorded so that people could study at a distance.
Eventually the Internet made it possible for people to send their written Vivid Life Experiences to Diane before a class session and then work with both of us by telephone on the symbolism in the experiences. Those sessions were also recorded and distributed to all who participated in a given class.
Diane trained several people to teach the Life As A Waking Dream method and in 1997 she published the method as a book.
To this day we continue to offer classes on a variety of subjects. Since our Love Family is scattered across the continent, we do the classes as telephone conference calls. Digital recording makes it possible for participants to listen again to the classes, thus integrating the material more thoroughly.
Foreign Journeys Into Self
One of our major activities, beginning in 1972, was to take groups to foreign countries on Journeys Into Self. Group meetings held as we traveled helped people to integrate their experiences as they went, and the six Love Principles guided interactions with other travelers as well as with the people we met along the way. Over the years we traveled to more than 32 countries, some of them more than once.
Those travel experiences were life changing for all of us. We had some unusual opportunities during our four trips to India, such as audiences with prime minister Indira Gandhi in Delhi, with a 4-year-old Tulku (reincarnation) of a meditation master in Darjeeling, and in Dharamsala with the then 17-year-old 17th Karmapa (head of an entire lineage of enlightened Buddhist masters).
We delighted in trips as long as six weeks and never shorter than two weeks. We traveled by air, train, ship, and endlessly by bus. We absorbed foreign cultures as best we could to broaden our understanding of others and to break out of our acculturated limitations.
Perhaps most important for personal and spiritual growth was adapting to the changing circumstances and inconveniences that travel inevitably affords while keeping our heart centers open and love energy flowing.
One time we arrived at a hotel in Acapulco on New Year’s Eve to discover that the hotel had given our rooms to a German group and there were no vacancies anywhere in town. After hours of negotiations, Arleen convinced them to give us the rooms they were saving for another group that hadn’t yet arrived, passing the dilemma along to the next group of travelers! The group had waited patiently for over two hours to see where they would sleep that night. They were busy practicing create your own reality consciously.
On one trip to Egypt we learned that our flight reservations to the Aswan Dam had been cancelled, stranding us in Cairo for the remainder of our trip. We negotiated skillfully to get us on an overnight train so we could fulfill the rest of our itinerary. On that occasion the group had waited nearly four hours while sitting in a café. They were practicing the principle have no expectations but rather abundant expectancy.
In India we arrived at our “new” hotel in Rishikesh during a water shortage. We slept with no sheets on our beds and had no towels, which didn’t really matter since we had no water to bathe in. Again the group had an opportunity to practice problems are opportunities.
In London we were served rolls three mornings in a row that were so hard they could have served as baseballs. Though the group provided others with opportunities to give, the same rolls appeared each morning! We got to receive the hotel managers as beautiful even though we couldn’t chew the rolls.
Individual challenges were also problems that served as opportunities for growth: various falls, sprained ankles, food poisoning, sun stroke, burst appendix, altitude sickness, and roommates who didn’t get along, just to name a few.
All provided us with ample material to expand our consciousness and learn to go with the flow while keeping our hearts open. It was our intention to be the change we wanted to see happen in the world.
From the first year we began publishing books and putting out newsletters, flyers and magazines. We have published a total of 19 books. Originally we sold them only at our own talks, workshops and classes. However, once the Internet made it possible to sell them more widely we began to offer our books on Amazon.com and now as e-books on Amazon Kindle.
The material in our books is based on personal experience and what has emerged from those life-lessons. Currently in the works is a book on cancer in which Arleen shares how to promote healing through conscious functioning, how to embrace serious life challenges with love, how to welcome and temper adversity without fear, resistance, or fighting it. She hopes it will be of help to readers on a large scale.
Our newsletters and Emerging magazine have chronicled our activities over the years and have provided a forum for articles written by the two of us and articles and letters shared by members of our Love Family.
In recent years, Arleen has been providing another popular service on e-mail in the form of Film Commentaries.
Ministers of the Order of Teleos
During our first year of work we were asked by a couple in San Diego to marry them. They didn’t want to be legally married, but they wanted a ceremony to bless their union. That prompted us, in the aftermath, to apply to an organization that “sold” ministerial certificates so we could legally marry people.
Eventually those certificates did not feel valid to us because we knew we were actually performing the function of ministers, so under our nonprofit corporation we established a spiritual Order of Teleos, recognized by the State of California, so that we could be ordained as ministers.
In time we ordained several others as ministers and many continue to marry, bury, bless homes, and perform other acts as requested by persons who are not affiliated with formal religions but consider themselves spiritual. We are open to conducting another training and ordination of ministers should there be a demand for it.
A Rich Harvest of Spiritual Growth
We have served long enough now that we begin to reap a rich harvest of appreciation from people who have studied with us and grown alongside of us. For that harvest we are enormously grateful. We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to touch so many lives over the years and to expand our own capacity to live in unconditional love in the process.
We call ourselves semi-retired, but that is somewhat of a joke since our work continues and occupies us throughout every day. We remain on the lookout for what is wanted of us now and in the future and for what new expressions might emerge.
We will soon begin pulling together documentation related to how we met and came together to do our work. It is a very interesting story of destiny, inner-listening, openness, and being willing to proceed toward what was calling both of us away from our very different lives into a union of unique service. We will publish this as a book showing how inner guidance and fate can lead us to circumstances about which we might never have dreamed.
We anticipate that these forty years of living and teaching unconditional love will extend into the future, and we are exceedingly grateful for the blessing of giving to and receiving from so many people over these amazing and fulfilling years.