Q: What is MSIA?
MSIA is legally incorporated as a church, and its focus is Soul Transcendence, which is becoming aware of oneself as a Soul and, more than that, as one with God. Students in MSIA work with the Mystical Traveler, a spiritual consciousness that exists throughout all levels of God's creation. It resides within each one of us and is a guide into the higher levels of Spirit, the greater reality of God. The Traveler can assist a person in clearing karma (balancing past actions), and its work is done inwardly, on the spiritual levels.
MSIA has no formal membership, dues, rules, or regulations. The real "movement of spiritual inner awareness" takes place within each person, and the organization exists only to support people in expanding their awareness of the Soul and God.
MSIA is a nondenominational, ecumenical church, and study in MSIA is often compatible with other religious faiths. Students in MSIA read Soul Awareness Discourses as their basic study.
Since June 25, 1971, MSIA has been recognized both as a church and as exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). MSIA is a nonprofit religious corporation.
Q: What do the letters 'M.S.I.A.' stand for?
MSIA is the acronym for the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. Actually, our full name is the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, but we usually go by "MSIA" because it is easy to say: M-S-I-A.
Q: How can I get more involved with what MSIA has to offer?
People participate in MSIA to whatever degree they would like to. The main way to get involved in MSIA is to subscribe to Soul Awareness Discourses. Discourses form the core teachings of MSIA. They can be read just for the information or as a conscious process of study towards initiation in MSIA after two years of study. The Discourses are a requirement for participation in retreats and advanced classes sponsored by Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy.
You can also attend MSIA events, seminars, and classes to support your spiritual study, and MSIA offers books, downloadable seminars, CDs, and DVDs to deepen your understanding of the Traveler's teachings.
This web site has many ways to explore MSIA. You can watch video clips by John-Roger and webcasts with John Morton. You can learn how to do spiritual exercises (MSIA's form of meditation/prayer), and download a free introductory book if you like.
Q: How will I know if the teachings of MSIA will work for me?
We always recommend that you check things out and go by your own experience to see if the teachings work for you. Look at your life, both inner and outer, and see if you are feeling better, thinking more clearly, being more loving, and so on. You may also experience a greater awareness of the Divine in yourself and all of life.
John-Roger has said that "the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness isn't one of those groups that says, 'We're it, and you're not,' for the simple reason that we say it's a movement, not something that is stable. And if it's moving, that means you have to stay on your toes or you'll trip and fall. And so we want to give up anything that isn't working.
"There is only 'one way,' and that is the way that works. And when it works, that's your way. If it doesn't work for you, then, by definition, that's not the way for you. Can that way be any group? Yes, if that group works for you.
"So when you study in MSIA, find out what's going on. Work it. Take the part that works for you and let the rest go. You're free to do what you want. Why? Because that's what you're going to do anyway. You'll do what works. And when something no longer works for you, move to what does work for you. You just keep going higher and higher.
"Don't believe. Don't be a fool. Why believe prior to your experience? Live your life based on your experience. That is the action of the Christ. It brings an experience: transformation, rejuvenation, resurrection. In MSIA, we call it awakening."
Q: What is Soul Transcendence?
Soul Transcendence is becoming aware of yourself as a Soul and as one with God. The Soul is that essence of us that is a pure extension of God. The mind, emotions, and body are elements that the Soul has taken to itself in order to experience those levels of existence. In the course of your journey on earth, it is possible for you to learn not to be held in bondage or restricted by your body, emotions, or mind. And when these lower levels are transcended, that which is left is pure Soul. Eventually, as the journey back to God continues, Soul will also be transcended, and there will be only God.
Q: What's the value of Soul Transcendence, and how can I do that?
MSIA teaches Soul Transcendence, which is becoming aware of yourself as Soul and as one with God. The Soul is that essence of us that is a pure extension of God. The mind, emotions, and body are elements that the Soul has taken to itself in order to experience those levels of existence. In the course of your journey on earth, it is possible to learn not to be restricted by the body, mind, or emotions. And when those lower levels are transcended, that which is left is pure Soul.
Soul Transcendence frees one from the cycle of incarnation. And eventually, as the journey back to God continues, Soul will also be transcended and there will be only God. Put another way, Soul Transcendence is to live and be in the presence of the living God and to know that. Working with the Mystical Traveler and doing spiritual exercises is a proven way to do this.
Q: If spiritual things are free, why does MSIA charge for Discourses and events?
The core services of MSIA are the Traveler's teachings that are in the Soul Awareness Discourses and initiation into the Sound Current of God. With these two things, a person has all they need to practice Soul Transcendence as a means to fulfill their spiritual heritage. If a person cannot afford Discourses, they can make an arrangement with the MSIA office that is tailored to their financial situation. And there is no charge at all for initiation. The blessings are free.
All the rest of the services offered by MSIA are "gravy"--a blessing to many, many people, yet not essential for a person's path through the Mystical Traveler Consciousness. The money that is collected for Discourses and events goes to support the costs of running the Church, such as printing, shipping, property expenses, salaries, etc. MSIA is mostly a volunteer-run organization.
Q: Is John-Roger or John Morton considered a guru?
No, they are spiritual teachers. Each religious tradition has their way of describing their teacher. The word "guru" means teacher in the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, just as in Judaism the term "rabbi" and in Islam the term "Imam" also mean teacher. In the east, this is considered a very high calling much as we in the west use the terms priest and minister. It is most appropriate to refer to John-Roger or John Morton as a spiritual teacher in the context of their MSIA ministries.
Q: Is MSIA a cult?
No. Some people define a cult as a group that tries to get you involved so that your life is under the authority of a central figure. This does not remotely describe the way that MSIA works. People are free to come and go in MSIA and to live their lives as they wish. We encourage people to test the teachings inside themselves and see if they work or not. No one involved with MSIA should "leave their brains at the door" when they participate, and one of MSIA's primary tenets is to use everything for your upliftment, learning, and growth and to have the wit to drop that which does not work for you. The real teachings of MSIA take place inwardly, and the primary activities of MSIA are doing spiritual exercises and studying the Soul Awareness Discourses. These can take place if you are in Antarctica or in Los Angeles, and they are done at your own direction.
The idea of calling a spiritual group (or even a non-spiritual group) a "cult" has become very popular. One religious scholar said that a cult is a group that another group doesn't like. Most, if not all, religious faiths in the world--whether established for thousands of years or just started last week--have been called cults by someone at some point. This has been especially true for newer religious groups like MSIA, which fall under what scholars call "new religious movements." MSIA strongly supports the idea of religious freedom: people should have the right to practice their faith and beliefs as they see fit.
MSIA teaches to take care of yourself so you can take care of others and not to hurt yourself or others. If MSIA does not work for someone, we wish them the best on their spiritual path.
Q: Is MSIA affiliated with any other religions?
No. MSIA has been described as being similar or connected with various groups, i.e., Sant Mat, Christian Charismatics, Radha Soami, Eckankar, Science of Mind, and many other religious groups. In fact, however, MSIA is a new look at ancient teachings--teachings that may parallel many that are taught in other faiths. MSIA has something for everyone, which is perhaps why people have associated it with so many other religions. What makes MSIA unique is the Mystical Traveler Consciousness, which works directly with students in MSIA.
Q: Is MSIA Christian?
The Christ Consciousness is the spiritual line of energy undergirding MSIA. At the same time, MSIA has no argument with any other religious or spiritual tradition. There are people in MSIA from all backgrounds and traditions--from Judaism to Bahaism.
MSIA and the Traveler teach unconditional loving. Within that, there is acceptance for all spiritual paths and expressions. We teach that each person is going through the experiences that he or she needs in order to grow and to complete karma in this lifetime. There is also the potential for each of us to move into the Soul, into that which we truly are, and to live life from that level in joy and fullness.
Another thing MSIA teaches is checking things out. That means to be open to ideas and processes and to see which ones work for you. Sometimes this means looking behind the labels that might be placed on something and seeing what is applicable to your life and what brings you more upliftment.
Q: What relationship does MSIA have with Jesus?
Jesus Christ is the head of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, and the Traveler's work through MSIA (Soul Transcendence) is based on Jesus' work. Jesus was a Mystical Traveler, and he made it possible for all people to enter the Soul realm; before that time, this was available to only a few people. John-Roger's and John Morton's work of Soul Transcendence builds upon Jesus' work and makes it possible for people to go above (transcend) the Soul realm, into the heart of God.
The Christ Consciousness is a universal consciousness of love and pure Spirit, which exists within each person through the Soul, and it is the spiritual line of energy supporting MSIA. At the same time, MSIA has no argument with any other religious or spiritual tradition, and many people who held the Traveler Consciousness throughout history are revered in various faiths (for example, Moses, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and St. Francis, to name just a few). There are people in MSIA from all backgrounds and traditions--Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Buddhist, etc. MSIA teaches unconditional loving. Within that, there is acceptance for all spiritual paths and expressions because we understand that each of us is going through the experiences that we need in order to grow and to complete karma in this lifetime. There is also the potential for each of us to move into the Soul and to live life from that level in joy and fullness.
Q: Why do you call MSIA an ecumenical church?
One meaning of ecumenical, and the way that MSIA uses the word, is "worldwide or universal in extent, influence, or application." Put another way, everyone on the planet is in his or her own movement of spiritual inner awareness, consciously or unconsciously. Each of us is a Soul, gaining experiences as we go home to God, and those in MSIA are consciously on the path of Soul Transcendence.
Q: What is MSIA's relationship with Insight Seminars?
MSIA and Insight share a common founder: John-Roger. The two organizations are legally separate organizations with different purposes -- MSIA teaches Soul transcendence -- an inner spiritual study -- and Insight is an educational personal development program that shows people how to live from their heart -- the center of their authentic self -- and provides tools for living happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives.
MSIA started in the late 1960's and was formally organized as a nondenominational church in 1971. Insight had its beginnings in late 1977 when John-Roger and Russell Bishop met and looked at the idea of an awareness seminar as a format to assist people to better handle and enjoy their lives. Insight was created in 1978 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting people in transforming themselves so that the greater transformation of the planet can take place.
In the early years of Insight, many MSIA students took Insight and were involved in the trainings. Eventually, the number of participants far exceeded the boundaries of those involved in MSIA. Over 1 million people around the world have attended Insight since it started, while MSIA's current active students number around 5,000 worldwide.
John-Roger has continued to be involved with Insight over the years as an educator. MSIA considers Insight's trainings, although more focused on the outer world, to be aligned with its teachings and the two jointly do events together on occasion, for example at MSIA's annual conference.
Q: What is MSIA's view on death?
While we may grieve for the loss of a friend or loved one, we also remember that no one passes from this life unless the higher self and Soul of the person agree to leaving at that time. So while a person's physical death may sometimes seem to have extreme circumstances on the outside, we seek to remember the inner spiritual truth of the matter, that a person is really an eternal Soul. And so, even in our mourning because we may miss the person being in our lives physically, we also have a knowing that they have completed this life and are moving on with the next steps in their spiritual progression.
Q: What is MSIA's position on suicide?
MSIA teaches life and living. Suicide violates the basic MSIA tenet of not hurting yourself and not hurting others. In addition, if an initiate commits suicide he/she can disconnect himself/herself from the initiatory tone. Generally, suicide is an avoidance of what is happening here in this world. It is a false escape, an attempt to get away from some lesson that is important to be learned or experienced. Of course, that lesson still needs to be learned or experienced even if a person commits suicide, so the Soul just gets to try it again at another time, often in situations that bring the lesson to them in a seemingly harder way.
The Traveler teaches longevity in order to clear and release as much karma as possible. If we cut that process short, we cut it short only in terms of this world now; we don't really cut it short at all. But, in an even larger sense, not one Soul will be lost and God loves all of its creation. So, in time, the lessons will be learned and the Soul will return to God and all will be well.
While MSIA offers ministerial services, anyone who is talking or thinking about suicide should immediately seek licensed, qualified professional assistance.
Q: I have other questions. How can I get them answered?
If you have other basic questions about MSIA, you may find that they are answered elsewhere in this web site. We suggest that you experience MSIA firsthand by participating in whatever way you are most comfortable with. You can also contact us with further questions.