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From Facets of Loving


From Facets of Loving
by Betsy Alexander

from the book Facets of Loving by John-Roger, DSS.

This is from Betsy’s story of meeting J-R from Facets of Loving by John-Roger, DSS. (Betsy received the Lifetime Service Award at MSIA’s 2016 Conference)

I first heard of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness when I was living in Calexico, then a city of about 10,000 people, east of San Diego on the U.S. side of the Mexican border. One friend there told me a little about MSIA, and I made fun of it, including of John-Roger, a person with just one name, and one with a hyphen to boot. My friend was indulgent of my skepticism.

After separating from my husband, I began exploring spirituality, starting with Be Here Now by Ram Dass and Zen Buddhism. I tried to meditate, not very successfully. One time as I was trying, I opened my eyes and saw J-R standing in front of me, slightly to my right. I hadn’t met him, but I knew it was J-R. I shut and opened my eyes: still there.

That summer (1973), I started having numbness in my feet. I was very worried, thinking I would die a slow and—even more important—expensive death. Lying in bed one night, worrying, I remembered that Ram Dass had written, “The guru is within you.”I thought, “John-Roger,”and immediately was filled with peace and went into a deep sleep. I called MSIA and ordered Discourses the next day. The numbness faded away, as did any concern about that hyphenated name.

I’ve often thought that if J-R could find me in Calexico, he could find anyone anywhere. Much later I discovered that he had said, “This path of Soul Transcendence is not for everyone at this time. It is for those who had it ‘written on their foreheads’ before the foundation of the planet that this would be their time.”

I first met J-R physically at the 1974 MSIA Conference held in June at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. In those days, Conference was just one day: a morning session and an afternoon session with a lunch break during which people could buy food in the courtyard outside. As my Calexico friend and I wandered in the courtyard during the break, we ran into J-R, walking by himself. My friend introduced us and we shook hands. I said, “I’m glad to be here,” and he replied, “We’re glad you’re here.” Both of us were wearing sunglasses, but I could see his eyes clearly. After he left, I said something to my friend that I didn’t understand then: “It was like shaking hands with Jesus.”

In a letter I wrote to J-R about 30 years later, I was musing about what the disciple Peter said (in response to Jesus’ asking him, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”). In my letter, I quoted Peter’s reply to Jesus: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. J-R wrote, “With me.” I think that applies to everyone doing Soul Transcendence with J-R.

When I took Insight II right before the 1979 MSIA Conference, I realized that what I really wanted was to join the MSIA staff. At Conference, I ambushed J-R as he was walking in the hallway of the Sheraton Universal Hotel: “Can I talk to you?”

“How long will it take?”

“Thirty seconds.”


“I want to be on MSIA staff.”

After a pause, “Talk to Pauli.” This was Pauli McGarry (now Sanderson), the MSIA administrator.

I wrote Pauli at the office, and she replied in a very kind letter, explaining how being on staff worked then (most living at Prana, etc.). It took me five years, but it happened in 1984, and I also realized that being on staff is a training in itself.

Someone recently asked me what J-R’s leadership style is from my personal experience, and I listed these qualities: loving, honesty, clarity, vision, and delegating/empowering. Then, as I was working on this book, I realized that freedom is another hallmark of his approach. I’ll start with loving, which I think is fundamental to everything he does and is.

J-R has said, “I love because I love.” I understand that to mean that the love is within him and is not dependent on anything or anyone outside himself.

For example, there was a legal situation during which J-R gave a deposition over several days; he asked if I’d like to attend one session, so I went.

As we were leaving, the person who brought the legal action ended up in the elevator with J-R and those of us supporting him. J-R gave the person a big hug, and I saw the loving in his eyes. I don’t think J-R holds anyone as an enemy inside himself, but for me this was a breath-taking example of what Jesus said: “Love your enemies, do good to those who would harm you.”

J-R also wrote in the early nineties, “When it comes to spiritual things, we are all always on the cutting edge. It seems as though I have never been off of it. Consequently I have gotten quite used to it. That doesn’t make it easier in any way, shape, or form. It is that I am familiar with the “negative” feelings that can go with this type of work. I also know that we can clear all of them with love, Light, and laughter.”

One person asked J-R if a woman, who was well-known for devoting herself to helping the poor, would go to the Soul realm when she died and not need to incarnate again. J-R said no, explaining to the effect that she loved only poor people.

J-R asked me one evening about an MSIA building project. After I gave him the update, he told me there was “no rush on it. We just do the best we can with loving. And if we die along the way, we go to heaven.”

One time, maybe 25 or so years ago, I was very upset about an ongoing situation. J-R called and told me to leave the office, go out to dinner, and see a movie. He also said, “If anyone asks you what you are doing, say you’re doing an errand for J-R.”I was gone within 15 minutes. His caring meant much more to me than whatever I ate and whatever movie I saw.

At one MSIA event, some of us were sitting around chatting. J-R sat with his arm around one woman, and at first, I was a little envious of their physical closeness. But as I continued to observe, I realized—and felt—that his love wasn’t exclusive, just for her, but was for all of us, as if he had his arm around each one of us.

J-R is the most loving person I’ve ever known, and there are more stories about this in the rest of the book. And I think this sums it up: when I ended one work email to J-R with “I love you,”he wrote back, “Thank you. Love is how this all works.”

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