GATE “Theatre Within” Film Series

John was invited to introduce the GATE Theatre Within Film Series during the Sunday 9/23 morning program at Agape. Agape is GATE’s partner in the film series. The inaugural screening of the series (9/24 at Agape) is the seminal 1990 transformational film, “MindWalk” starring Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston and John Heard. To purchase tickets,

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What GATE Means to Me

By Sonya Haramis, M.Ed.
Peace of the Dreamer

What GATE means to me – it opens my heart and expands my consciousness knowing there is a forum to tell my stories, to share my healing work and gifts.

Each one of us is a storyteller – what story are we telling ourselves and one another? What global story are we writing and viewing or ingesting every day?

GATE provides a threshold for us, the wisdom content providers. GATE can also be seen as a doorway to a temple, so perhaps we are creating a literal and virtual temple with GATE.

GATE is a type of mystery school, for it is a place of education and sharing of knowledge, and a place of alchemy and transformation. Often, knowledge is transmitted and experienced, not taught, and that is how it is with spiritual storytelling. The wisdom content is felt and experienced in the collective Heart.

To have collective-minded individuals set an intention of consciousness to lift people all over the world is a gift. So much of my writing has been in silence, written through so many struggles. Many times I have felt like giving up, yet there was always a moment, a person, a word, a guardian, who came to assist and encourage when I needed it most. GATE is such a guardian to me.

We are what we ingest and can become what we watch or focus on. If we ingest beauty, peace, compassion, love…this is what we will become and as we become these beings of beauty, our sphere of influence, our quantum field, will affect those around us in a positive, calming way. Alternatively, if we ingest and watch violence and degradation, we become anesthetized to it and begin to experience this as normal.

We are on a journey of evolution and transformation, made visible in the collective tapestry. We get to choose the threads – the colors, textures, emotions, etc. What will it be? What will it look like? Do we care? What will that tapestry look like if we abdicate the weaving to others and don’t care, or don’t take action?

GATE sets the tone and internationality for those of us to come out of our spiritual closets and share the love that has always been there. So this sets the intention for transformation. Sometimes transformation is simply realizing we are already OK and perfect, just the way we are, as Don Miguel said at GATE Hispana. Other times transformation happens because another has extended their hand to help another, and turns on the light of hope in an otherwise dark world. We can be that for one another, and GATE can be that for the world by transforming and uplifting the collective consciousness and planet through media.

We can transform the collective through meaningful, compassionate, and transformational media. If you doubt this, how do you think it is being transformed today? Isn’t it being led in some way or other…either positively or negatively? Consciousness is organic and responsive or receptive to us, so we need to honor and nurture it. If we clear the channels of communication to be open to it, what we receive will be different than what we receive when we are clouded or depressed and not paying attention to that still inner voice inside.

Love is the emotion that binds us together and makes us remember our commonality and Oneness with one another. Without love, there is nothing. Yet when love is broken, the collective tapestry of the world is broken. GATE can re-weave that tapestry, unite us both internally and individually and as a community. We are the shepherds of this life and of one another. We cannot manifest anything alone, nor can we truly dream alone, so please join us!

I hope you, my beloved reader, can feel the excitement and gratitude I feel towards John Raatz and GATE.

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Cosmologist Brian Swimme… Speaking Words of Wisdom

GATE member Mary Trainor-Brigham shared this quote from cosmologist Brian Swimme:

“Transformation is related to transmutation. It is the way in which change takes place in an entire society or community. It’s an interconnected and self-amplifying dynamic: transmuted individuals give rise to new organizing codes that create a community in which it is even more likely that new individuals will go through transmutation. And so forth. Transformation is the way in which entire systems advance.”

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PLEASE NOTE: “Shining Night” will be featured in the GATE Theatre Within Film Series. Please check the GATE website events calendar for date and time.

By Mary Trainor-Brigham

While choral composer Morten Lauridsen, the cherished focus of SHINING NIGHT, has been celebrated for his “fire chord,” this documentary wisely bookends with ~ and is sustained by ~ the visual, emotional, and spiritual equivalent of “water chords.” These revelatory soul-soundings take place largely at his summer retreat on remote Waldron Island of the San Juan Archipelago, a haven of sea, solitude and spruce ideal for the creative process.

It doesn’t hurt matters that the man himself, with his generous windswept head of hair, full beard, and oatmeal-colored sweater, resembles nothing so much as an archetypal Danish sea captain.

This frequency (frequent-sea) drops the audience out of any potentially hyper-cerebral, abstract, mathematical dimension of the musical domain. Although the film richly references conductors, composers, singers, musicologists, and poets, there are no in-depth, professionally exclusive discussions of the likes of phrasing, quartal harmonies, cadences, oratorio, etc. Instead, his contemporaries’ assessments of Lauridsen are warmly accessible hymns of praise and gratitude, interwoven with examples of rehearsals, recordings, and performances, both at home and abroad.

Of course SHINING NIGHT celebrates the universal appeal of Lauridsen’s music and notes his many accomplishments ~ such as being named an American Choral Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, working for decades as distinguished Professor of Composition at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and becoming a National Medal of Arts recipient in 2007. But this documentary also serves up a more intimate profile, especially since the majority of it is narrated by Lauridsen himself, in a voice equal parts gentle yet knowing. And while there are a couple of gaps in the story’s telling which left this viewer curious, overall this portrait of the composer as genius/mystic/sea-shaman delivers the same delicious satisfaction as does reading an artist’s compelling autobiography, collection of letters, or coming across a hidden cache of their recordings.

A Blessed Kinship

Lauridsen and director Michael Stillwater were most fortunate in their finding one another for this collaboration, what with Stillwater being a musician himself and his subject being founder of the Thornton School’s “Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV” Advanced Studies Program. But beyond that, Stillwater has also co-developed “Graceful Passages ~ a Companion for Living and Dying.” This compilation of readings and music to soothe and enrich both the dying and their loved ones makes Stillwater an ideal documentarian for the man whose LUX AETERNA was composed during his mother’s final illness and ultimate passing. And whose O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM has been sung by a choir from Maine who came to 9/11’s Ground Zero to soothe those departed souls.

An Indefinable Ingredient

Nick Strimple ~ conductor/composer and author of “Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century” ~ tosses down an irresistible gauntlet when he describes Lauridsen as “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic, whose probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all questions have been answered.”

To ask yourself what that ingredient might be is to expand your consciousness into a fuller embrace of Lauridsen’s creative process than would be obtained if you only passively allowed this film’s beautiful harmonies, both visual and aural, to wash over you. My guesses as to what it may be include Indigenous Soul, Liminality and Duende.

By Indigenous Soul, I mean a person who participates in life with the sensibilities of Native, tribal peoples. From the very outset of SHINING NIGHT, Lauridsen’s neighbors on Waldron compare him to the island’s earlier dwellers who measured their wealth not in what they possessed but in what they could give. Lauridsen’s modesty concerning his genius is shown by his depth of appreciation for this life he’s living. Such a true artist knows they are gifted and that the best way to insure that gift’s longevity is to keep it flowing forth to others, a gesture central to the Indian’s Give-Away ceremony.

Another Indigenous Soul element is the composer’s pantheistic engagement in Nature, a sensibility which saturates both the choral works O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM and O SHINING NIGHT. The former is stunning and commanding in its brevity: “O great mystery and wondrous sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord lying in their Manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear the lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!”

Any tribal person knows to look to Nature for revelation, and the practice of reverence for totem animals, sometimes to the extent of honoring them as ancestral, would make the nesting of a Divine Son among sheep and cows a most comfortable, elemental welcoming. Lauridsen apprehended in the Virgin’s life not only the singularity of parthenogenesis but the extraordinary anguish of having to endure her son’s death on the cross. Few can bear with such loss in a manner which results in “a quiet song of profound inner joy,” but Lauridsen can. I believe this stems from his Sea~Shaman’s capacity to abide with Liminality until it reveals a Beloved’s essential nature, or its new life.

All Along the Watchtower

Liminality is that amorphous, watery state between stages of life, cycles of death and rebirth. Natural sites which lend themselves to this state of consciousness are seashores and mountaintops, both of which Lauridsen knows intimately. As a young man he spent months alone above the clouds in a Ranger’s outlook rung round with the venerable mountain peaks of Washington State. That period of isolation increased his longing for musical expression and enkindled something in him that would later be able to suffuse souls with solace after other towers on the far eastern side of the country, Twin Towers, fell. There is something all-embracing about such altitudes and such fathoms that contains all else smaller and more fleeting. That liminal, nurturing embrace seems a measure of this man and his music.

The nights Lauridsen must recall from his times in the sky and on the shore! It is so wonderful that the title of this documentary derives from O SHINING NIGHT, as it contains both the travails and rewards addressed throughout. This film may include themes of death and suffering (What a necropolis the human heart is!” ~ Flaubert) but doesn’t linger in such states. Instead, in the words of poet Adrienne Rich, it shows us both “the damage that was done and the treasures which prevail” with an emphasis on the latter. And I believe Lauridsen is capable of this due to his natural predilection for Duende.

Ghosts, Goblins and Gods

Duende is a tricky term to define. In the Spanish arts of music and dance it is sometimes translated as having “Soul,” although in a decidedly Latin sense of the word, all heightened emotion and heat. Think “flamenco.” Its original, mythic origins point to fairies and goblins ~ creatures from a realm of enchantment and tricksterism. (When something tickles Lauridsen’s fancy, his expression can shape-shift from pensive to mischievous in a nano-second). It’s a dappled term, dark & light, grace-filled but with a hint of the demonic. In this it reminds me of the Hawaiian word for creativity, which is comprised of elements of heavenly outreach as well as deepest darkness.

Often duende is used to describe those times when art evokes a physical response of such emotional intensity that you have chills, are stunned, would swoon. Once when he shared the private loss of his mother as source of LUX AETERNA, the audience was so moved by the subsequent performance that they didn’t clap at the end, just paused, arose, and exited. It’s been said that “the awed silence that followed Mozart’s music included his own,” and we know that at such times this composer experiences duende too.

The fractal beauty of this film is that Lauridsen knows such moments when a poem by Rilke or Graves or Neruda so sets his heart aflame that he won’t rest until he’s composed music that is its match and mate. The spirit of those poems set the bar for his creativity which in turn inspired Stillwater to do his best work, and in the final analysis we are all the beneficiaries.

Toward the end of this documentary, Lauridsen reveals that finding and excavating the light, that deep inner spot, takes a lot of digging, digging which he does so we don’t have to. In this I feel us moving into the realm of redemption. I imagine the making of LUX AETERNA again. The fact that he composed this wondrous piece on the island of his childhood says that he could spiral back to embrace the child within who also grieved the loss of his mother and weave all their hearts together.

What he expressed was so sublime that an L.A. radio station interrupted programming on 9/11 to play it. So instead of imagining a loved one losing all mortal hope, crushed beneath a crumbled building, the bereaved could be restored to finer memories, the greater splendor of their spirit.

How did this beauty emerge from such anguish? Because, when most would be reduced to unconsciousness, to sleepwalkers halted at a sea-side home’s moist and salty windowsill, Morten Lauridsen could move forth out the door, more fully aware, into that realm of riptide, seismic distortions, underworld reverberations. Where most would be too blind with grief to know whether they bumped up against ghosts or gods or demons, one senses that his filigree of golden vision would weave through and beyond the turmoil to the site where souls find grace notes of true peace. And, from shining nights of great mystery ~ in his true element ~ he could return with the enormity of what he encountered pulsating from his heart through his fingers, to be translated into universal music on a century-old piano.

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Writer / Painter Henry Miller… Speaking Words of Wisdom

“When you put your mind to such a simple, innocent thing, for example, as making a water color, you lose some of the anguish which derives from being a member of a world gone mad. Whether you paint flowers, stars, horses or angels you acquire respect and admiration for all the elements which go to make up our universe. You don’t call flowers friends, and stars enemies, or horses Communists and angels Fascists. You accept them for what they are and you praise God that they are what they are. You desist from improving the world or even yourself. You learn to see not what you want to see but what is. And what is is usually a thousand times better than what might be or ought to be.

If we could stop tampering with the universe we might find it a far better world than we think it to be. After all, we’ve only occupied it a few hundred million years, which is to say we are just beginning to get acquainted with it. And if we continue another billion years, there is nothing to assure us that we will eventually know it. In the beginning as in the end, it remains a mystery. And the mystery exists or thrives in every smallest part of the universe. It has nothing to do with size or distance, with grandeur or remoteness. Everything hinges upon how you look at things.”

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Frank Pierson, Screenwriter, Comments on Nature of Movies

In Memoriam: Frank Romer Pierson (May 12, 1925 – July 22, 2012)

Frank Pierson obituary: ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ screenwriter dies at 87 – Los Angeles Times

Screenwriter Frank Pierson was also the former President of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAw) [1993-1995] and President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). [August 2001 - August 2005]

In his commencement address to the 2003 USC Film School Graduates, Pierson said:

“Movies are to our civilization what dreams and ideals are to individual lives: they express the mystery and help define the nature of who we are and what we are becoming. You must become writers with ideas and passion, who write with force and conviction; you must become directors who have minds enriched by your lives and not a library of stunts and special effects. Be critics centered in your feelings and ideas in the culture and society, not in comparing grosses and applauding computer generated ballets of violence.”

“Go and make a cinema and TV that express our history and our ideas, and that foster respect for a civilization in real danger of self destruction. Be decision makers with dreams and hopes instead of raw ambition. Tell stories that illuminate our times and our souls. That waken the sleeping angel inside the beast. We need this from you as we need clean drinking water and roads, green parks and libraries; it is as important as the breath of democratic life. Somehow we need to keep alive in our hearts the vision of community, shared interests and understanding of our neighbors needs, the sense of connection this fractionated society is losing. We need to recapture the spirit of Main Street. Up close. And personal.”

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A new advocacy and educational initiative of GATE is the GATE Seal. The GATE Seal is a recommendation honoring creative works that embody and express the transformational spirit, acknowledging works that are exemplary.

“Since transformational entertainment and media is a relatively new, though burgeoning, genre, we think it’s important to help people identify which creative works fit there, those of a transformational nature,” says John Raatz, founder, chairman, and CEO of GATE.

The Seal will be awarded to entertainment and media properties that meet selection criteria developed and administered by the GATE Seal Editorial Board. The editorial board is comprised of entertainment and media industry professionals, as well as professionals and thought leaders in the transformational and healing arts fields.

All forms of entertainment and media content are eligible, e.g. movies, short films, TV programming, music, books, photography, radio programs, podcasts, art, theatrical stage productions, websites and other expressions that embody transformational values.

“The GATE Seal will also support commercial enterprises – distributors, marketers and advertisers – who are promoting these creative works to the public,” notes Raatz, “whether they’re targeting a mainstream audience or the emerging and expanding Cultural Creatives audience, their natural market. Cultural Creatives represent about thirty-five percent of the American population, as well as in other countries worldwide, and are identified by their particular transformational values and lifestyle characteristics and preferences.”

“We believe that GATE programs and initiatives, such as the GATE Seal, will help consumers learn about and understand what transformation and the transformational genre are, what they represent and point to,” comments Raatz.

Full details on the selection and evaluation process and criteria will appear on the GATE website at in September.

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Speaking Words Of Wisdom…

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

Joseph Campbell

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Save The Date: 9/24/12 – See “MindWalk” at Agape!

The GATE Theatre Within Film Series is pleased to present an exclusive showing of Mindwalk — a classic, seminal film in the transformational genre. With a huge cult following, many have heard about the film, but few have seen it. Released in 1990, this is a rare viewing opportunity. Director Bernt Capra will join GATE founder John Raatz for a Q & A after the screening.

Capra breaks every rule of conventional commercial filmmaking. The result is a brilliant, exhilarating trip into the minds of three individuals: a politician, a poet, and a physicist. Hoping to recharge after his defeat in the U.S. presidential election, Jack Edwards (Sam Waterston) contacts an old poet friend, Thomas Harriman (John Heard). They meet in France and travel to the secluded, medieval islet of Mont St. Michel where they meet Sonia Hoffman, a physicist turned philosopher (Liv Ullman). The trio engages in a brilliant, thought-provoking conversation delving into topics that include global warming, Ozone depletion, deforestation, water pollution, and how they affect the world on a political and metaphysical level. The three accomplished actors portray the characters’ convictions and opinions with heart and emotion. The script was based on the ecological and holistic teachings of the philosopher, Fritjof Capra. Mindwalk is a film for those who live in a world of thinking the unthinkable.

Tickets: $10 for GATE members and $15 for non-members.
Available at:

AGAPE International Spiritual Center
5700 Buckingham Parkway
Culver City, CA 90230
6:30 – 10:00 pm

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Reflections: ATTENTION! Attention. attention…

Yoko and I wandered into a cafe in Paris, near Montmartre and the artist area, and the above sign confronted me when I sat down at the small Carrara marble bistro table. It immediately caught my attention! After all, that was its intention, wasn’t it? I started to think about the nature of human attention and remembered a statement one of my teachers, Maharishi, made in 1977. He commented:

“Attention is the flow of consciousness.”

Yes, it is just that, and my attention was flowing back and forth between my thoughts and the sign, and the enticing smells and sights and sounds of the cafe, and I realized how infinite, and how valuable, our attention is. It is the basis of our experience. We use it every day, constantly, without noticing, paying little attention to the fact that we are paying attention. Instead, our minds generally identify with the endless thought-stream of past and future remembrances and fantasies. And yet, within this experience of paying attention is contained the experience of deep attention – presence, silence, stillness. Peace. We tend to miss this experience even as it is the experience we are seeking in all of our pursuits.

When one gently allows the attention to rest within, as pure presence, pure consciousness, one feels fulfillment and peace. Take a moment now and effortlessly notice this restful state of attention.

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