Events & Articles

"Nativity" by Brynna Carpenter-Nardone

Cathedral Arts | December 23, 2023

“St. Augustine says, ‘What does it avail me that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me? That it should happen in me is what matters.’ We shall therefore speak of this birth, of how it may take place in us.”

—Meister Eckhart (1260–1327)

“In the context of the Cathedral and the liturgical calendar, we speak of the Nativity, the birth of the Divine Child in the manger, the Incarnation, and yet in the highest and deepest sense of a calling, the Nativity is not confined to Christmas Eve, nor to Bethlehem. Whether or not we listen or hear, aren’t all of us called to continue bringing something sacred to birth in ourselves, in our communities? In speech, in ideals, choices and endeavors? This includes our friendships, communities, the world! Through image and word, I would love to cultivate meditative dialogue on Incarnation and on The Incarnation by walking with Mary, the mystical rose, with the Child, with the midwife, with the three Wise Men, with the shepherds in the fields and with the Holy Spirit. Mystical texts describe the whole participation of the natural world too. It is said that the forest and trees, springs and even the stars quivered at The Incarnation, and if we trace those threads with love and awe, with wonder and humility, the Divine might be reborn in us too.”

— Therese Schroeder-Sheker

Several of us associated with the Cathedral and several from elsewhere throughout the U.S. were blessed this Advent to engage in a small group four-week online retreat with artist-theologian-clinician Therese Schroeder-Sheker, the visionary founder of music-thanatology and the Chalice of Repose Project.

In our first week, we meditated on what virginity means archetypally. As a “virgin forest” is untrammeled and without commodification, full of both living and dying things which make it fertile, we were asked to ask ourselves, Who am/was I when I was unburdened, before I was filled with outside influences?, and to think of Mary as one “true to her own special congruence, which is fecund……and her Virgin consciousness as One unto oneself.”

Through her consciousness of word and image and of creating and holding a womb-like space, Therese nurtured us into awareness and articulation of an “I-Thou relationship of the ‘One and the Envisioned.’” We were encouraged to, like Mary, have the courage to protect the vision we must learn to hold before speaking of it too soon.

above: Study for The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, oil, 1898

Protecting, while held in an assurance of revealing, we spoke of visions we may not have spoken of to anyone else before, or in many years.

above: The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, oil, 1898

Providentially for me, I began to correspond with Therese early this year in preparation for her Lenten retreat and within days of becoming a hospital chaplain intern. I have since watched myself reach for and hold visions of Beauty in the hospital, increasingly aware of the Thou facing me at all possible moments of life and death, potentially recognizable inasmuch as my inner sight has grown in capacity to behold it.

The image above is of The Dormition of Mary (ivory, circa 900). (This scene was written of by (Pseudo-) Dionysius circa 500, possibly reflecting an earlier tradition I am unaware of.) In our retreat, we marveled together how the death of Mary above is like a birth, with her Son as midwife.

Perhaps the images in the art of this post are good to hold especially if what is called “the holidays” seem commodified and sterilely indifferent to love, loss and grief. Even while we live at the dim thresholds of the winter solstice and of our own lives, these frame in us the vision of the Light which ever holds all creation alive in God’s sight.

Above: Bé bé (the Nativity) 1896, oil by Paul Gauguin. The painting at the top of this post is a detail.

The Stream Project

THE STORYDANCER PROJECT would like to invite you to special unique hybrid event (Live and on Zoom)

THE STREAM video film premiere will be followed by panel presentations:

PANELISTS: Tony Back, MD, Co-Director University of Washington Center for Excellence in Palliative Care; Nicholas Sagar, Eldercare Activity Therapy Clinical Specialist; Naomi Tzril Saks, MA, MDIV, BCC, Palliative Care Chaplain; Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Founder & Dean of Chalice of Repose Project; Zuleikha, international performer, educator and wellness leader. MODERATOR: Dr. Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

TAKE A MINUTE® For Integrative Palliative Care & The Arts

Happening Live in Santa Fe, and on Zoom for those not in the area

• Event features a Premiere of THE STREAM, a transformative storydance video film in spoken word, movement and original music, created by Zuleikha, founder/director of the humanitarian organization, The Storydancer Project, headquartered in Santa Fe.

• Premiere will be followed by panel presentations by distinguished professionals in the field of integrative palliative care (see panelist list above) who will appear live and on Zoom.

• If you are living in Santa Fe, New Mexico or close surrounds, please consider attending this LIVE event.

TICKETS in advance: $25; TICKETS at the door $30 / thirty minutes prior to event (cash or check only)

For those not able to attend the live event, you or your organization can join us on Zoom for free.

• If for any reason you cannot attend but have registered for the Zoom webinar, you will be able to view the recorded event online, up through November 18, 2023.

• Our mission of THE STREAM PROJECT is to bring the message of Integrative Palliative Care: Stress Relief Movement & The Arts to the general community, to those facing life threatening illness, and those dedicated to palliative care.

The Storydancer Project is gifting the online video of THE STREAM to those organizations registering for this event, to be shared with patients, caregivers and staff.

DON’T MISS THIS SPECIAL HYBRID EVENT!

CONTACT INFORMATION

Rita Fabrizio, Program Co-ordinator

rita@thestorydancerproject.org

A SPECIAL THANKS TO CENTURY BANK

The Storydancer Project inspires positive change in the face of adversity through transformative movement, performance and self-care practices that restore vitality and cultivate joy.

"Curraghs: Reflections on a Brief Lenten Pilgrimage" by Fr. Paul Hunter

Above: La Barque by Odilon Redon, 1902, pastel

A Poet, a Painter, a Musician, an Architect; the man or woman who is not one of these is not a Christian.
– William Blake

Blake was fond of such provocations. For me, this oracular pronouncement seems to form a sort of diptych with Karl Rahner’s almost equally provocative claim that “The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has experienced ‘something,’ or he will cease to be anything at all.” The two seem to mean something very similar, perhaps fundamentally the same claim seen from different angles.

I have returned to these two quotes repeatedly in reflecting on the online Lenten retreat led by Therese Schroder-Sheker, and sponsored by the Cathedral Arts program. I wrote about my hopes and expectations for this workshop in a previous post on this blog (here), and I was not disappointed, though I was certainly surprised more than once.

Early on, Therese shared two insights that laid a foundation for our time together. First, that there are two uses of language: to inform or to transform. I doubt any words can be exclusively informative or transformative, but the emphasis does tend to fall to one side or the other. Assembly instructions for an Ikea desk inform, but – and this is the second insight – the words of poets and mystics transform. Poetry and mysticism invite us to enter the consciousness of the authors.

This, of course, is why a poem cannot be reduced to prose. To say “A man pauses while traveling and becomes strangely absorbed in considering snow falling in the forest” conveys hardly anything of the transformative meaning of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” through which the reader herself becomes absorbed in contemplating and attending to the real.

Without prejudice to the value of formal theology and philosophy, mystical literature is equally incapable of being reduced to metaphysical propositions, though theological and mystical reflection should support and nurture each other. As Simone Weil put it with characteristic force “When genuine friends of God — such as was Eckhart to my way of thinking — repeat words they have heard in secret amidst the silence of the union of love, and these words are in disagreement with the teaching of the Church, it is simply that the language of the market place is not that of the nuptial chamber.”

All this is a kind of preface, because what I really want to communicate is that the whole time, gathering together with Therese and a small group of fellow retreatants each Tuesday of Lent, was far more transformative than informative. Certainly, a good dose of information was shared, and Beauty formed a focus for our times of reflection together. Still, when a friend asked me what the talks were about I had to reply “It’s not that kind of program.” I did not leave each session with a folio of facts in hand, still less with any techniques of the spiritual life. But in each session, I felt I was invited to enter and share a particular, poetic kind of consciousness.

Therese encouraged us to consider transformative moments or images, themes that had emerged over the course of our lives. She also shared a number of practices which she encouraged us to make use of, that she has found personally helpful in attending to transformative memories and, in a marvelous phrase, “to feel forward into possibility.” There was nothing arcane or occult about these practices – some were as simple as gardening in a prayerful and attentive way. But each was an occasion to cultivate attention in the robust sense which Simone Weil used the term, to describe the mind “waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which is to penetrate it.”

If prayer demands the faculty attention, however, it also demands the complementary faculty of Imagination – again, in the most robust sense of that term. For Romantics like Blake and Coleridge, imagination was not to be confused with the unreal or with daydreaming. Rather, the imagination is the power by which we perceive and know the deepest reality of God’s creation, and further, by which we participate in God’s creative activity.

Sergius Bulgakov, a great Russian theologian of the last century, deeply pondered the relationship between Divine and Human freedom. In a musical metaphor, he described all things in creation – especially human persons – as being given a “theme” of their being by God. While the theme is given, it is the task of human persons to expand upon and play the variations of this theme. Humans are given a share in God’s creative activity, a freedom to realize God’s will in their own genuinely creative way. This means that “creative activity is not something that is merely possible… it is man’s duty, God’s will concerning him” (Bride of the Lamb. 332). In another analogy, the primordial human call was to tend a garden. The gardener does not create plants, but does cultivate them, bringing out that fullness of life and beauty that is within them. This is human creativity, and is the “task of all natural human kind, called to dress and keep the Earth” (Bride of the Lamb. 322).

Returning to the Romantics, we could say that imagination is that human power which allows us to engage in this task. When we give attention to the world God has created, it is imagination which allows us both to perceive something of the themes God has implanted in the cosmos, and to elaborate upon them, bringing them to fruition. This is why Coleridge could say that the imagination is “the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception… a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am.”

Which brings me, at long last, back to Blake and Rahner. In saying Christians must be poets and mystics neither Blake nor Rahner mean that a Christian must conform to the various stereotypes of poets and mystics that these titles may conjure up. Blake’s Christian poet may never put pen to paper, just as Rahner’s mystic may never see visions, retreat to a cave, wear flowing scarves, or be possessed of any of the other standard accouterments available at your local Whole Foods Market.™ Nevertheless, spiritual maturity calls for a poetic and mystical way of being in the world.

Of course, mysticism is a notoriously slippery word. As we discussed the nature of mystical language in our retreat, we fell back on a working definition of mysticism drawn from the writings of Bernard McGinn, as “simultaneous experience of loving, knowing, sensing the active presence of God in our lives.” This is the fruit of attention, and is indeed a poetic and imaginative way of being in the world.

I once read a quote, the source of which I cannot now recall or discover even by aid of Google, along the lines of  ‘rhyme is a negotiation between memory and hope.’ And so it is for all worthwhile human thought and action. We live between deep memories, our intuitions of the Being of the world, those moments of rapt attention when we perceive a few bars of God’s creative themes, and the future age when all those themes will be united into one grand music. Above all, it is in Jesus Christ, the one in whom all things hold together (Col 1:17), that we find these themes revealed. Looking to Jesus the “author and perfector of our faith” (KJV Hebrews 12:2) is an act of Imagination, which allows us to ‘feel forward into possibility.’ Blake was surely right then, that the Christian life is a poetic life, a life which becomes a work of art, a hymn of praise to God.

There was one image in particular which Therese used, that seemed to hold many of the insights that I gained from this retreat. There was a monastic practice in Celtic Christianity of seafaring as a spiritual practice. Of course, the most famous monastic seafarer was St. Brendan, who may have actually reached North America. Other monks, however, embarked on more modest journeys in coracles or currachs – simple boats made of hide and willow branches. Sometimes, these journeys were undertaken without the aid of a paddle; the monk would simply get in and allow himself to be carried by wind, wave and providence. I do not know how widespread this practice was, but it has certainly become part of the symbolic lexicon of Celtic Christianity.

Therese pointed out in our retreat that the curragh is “a symbol of embarking upon a transformative life changing experience – one can never return to who or how we were prior to the risk. Genuine prayer is also a coracle if we are praying as Simone Weil defined it – prayer as rapt attention. Listening, receiving, waiting, making room for.” Prayers, poems and art are our coracles, when given over to God, can be vessels which carry us forward into possibility. They are moments the Divine-Humanity of Christ, the Wisdom of God, calls us forward toward the horizon of the age to come. This retreat, too, was a curragh, and I am grateful to divine providence for providing it.

Mystics & Scientists Online Conference

The Damsel of Sanct Grael 1857 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882

“Grail Questions: A Reflection on the Work of Therese Schroeder-Sheker and the Chalice of Repose Project”

During Lent 2023 Therese Schroeder-Sheker, founder and dean of the Chalice of Repose Project, will serve as theologian and artist in residence, offering a six session Lenten program via Zoom on Tuesday evenings. I offer the following reflection in anticipation of the program, and plan to offer a final reflection at the program’s conclusion in Eastertide. – Father Paul Hunter.

In the first legend of the Grail, it is said that the Grail belongs to the first comer who asks the guardian of the vessel, a king three-quarters paralyzed by the most painful wound: “What are you going through?” The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: “What are you going through?”… Only he who is capable of attention can do this.

– Simone Weil, ‘Reflections on The Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.’

The altogether inimitable French philosopher, mystic and political activist Simone Weil spent much of her brief life (she died at the age of 34) as a school teacher. She argued that the primary goal of education was neither marketable skills nor even good citizens, and certainly not to meet minimum standards of familiarity with prescribed subjects. Rather, the goal of school studies was what she called “attention.” Attention became a kind of technical term in her thought, which she distinguished sharply from the sort of “muscular effort” that usually passes for focus. “Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty and ready to be penetrated… Above all our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which is to penetrate it.” For Weil, love of neighbor and prayer are the great fruits of attention because “Prayer consists of attention. It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable towards God.”

In the Grail legend Weil references, the Grail is the original chalice used at the last supper, or perhaps a cup which caught the blood of Christ at the crucifixion. Knights sought this relic, and some finally made it as far as the castle where the cup was guarded by a wounded King, who could not be healed until he was asked the grail question. Even those who made it as far as the Grail Castle might fail in their quest if they failed to recognize the Grail when it appeared before them. But, if they did both recognize the Grail and ask the wounded king the question, they would receive the Grail and its healing power would work on both the King and the stricken land. Weil reads this as a symbol of how the love of our neighbors may heal and restore, but this healing can only be accomplished by those who know how to ask the right questions.

Attention is a way of knowing that runs counter to some of the most ingrained habits of modern thought. At least since Francis Bacon declared that knowledge is power, we have tended to equate understanding with mastery, technique and control. We tend, as a matter of course, to assume that all problems can be reduced to issues of management that may be solved with sufficient expertise. There may indeed be advantages to such a cast of mind. Still, such an attitude cannot teach us to ask the Grail questions; it does not even recognize them as questions worthy to be asked. But that is the one thing most needful: to ask the questions which heal and bind up, which can renew both soul and earth.

For that, a different way of knowing is required, not the powerful way of mastery, but the disarmed, contemplative, Marian way of knowing that Simone Weil named attention. Our Lady exemplified this way of knowing as the archetypal contemplative, the one who heard God’s Word with a receptive heart and brought forth the incarnate Lord; the one whom St. Luke continually shows to us in his gospel as keenly sensitive to the Spirit’s movement, beholding and treasuring in her heart all she saw. She did this, even when she knew that heart would be pierced, penetrated, and wounded by such beholding. It is the way of knowing exemplified as well by that other Mary who sat at Christ’s feet, while her sister Martha engaged in more obviously practical efforts.

Attention may be evoked suddenly by the appearance of something which exceeds our control and arrests our restless thoughts. Perhaps it is most often evoked by the experience of beauty. But it is also a capacity that may be nurtured by practice, which brings me, rather elliptically, to the work of Therese Schroeder-Sheker. I don’t remember now how I first encountered Therese’s music or her work with the dying. It may have been a blurb she wrote on the back of a book I was reading about Christian mysticism, or it may have been through reading her lyrical essays in Jesus the Imagination, a lovely, eclectic journal of art, theology and – occasionally- revolutionary politics. After her name came the description “Founder, The Chalice of Repose Project.”

The Chalice of Repose. This name conjured images of castles, deep medieval woods, armored knights seeking, finding and losing the grail – all of which appealed to my deep-seated Romanticism immediately. Nor, having learned more about the Chalice of Repose, does it seem that my romantic associations were too far off the mark, because Therese is someone who knows how to ask the grail questions.

The Chalice of Repose Project trains musicians in the palliative medical field of Music- Thanatology, the practice of offering care to the dying through music, which Therese has pioneered. Practitioners use harps, keeping vigil at the deathbed with the goal of “relief from either physiological pain or spiritual suffering” (Transitus 56). Again, there is something deeply romantic about this image, but it is not dreamy, not elevator music for the dying, as Therese takes pains to point out.

Prescriptive music is not a bedside concert, nor is it entertainment, ambient music, atmosphere music, auditory affection, favorite music, intuitive music, jazz improvisation, or distraction therapy. It is a sonic medicine, compounded and customized to meet the needs of the individual. (56)

The proper compounding of this medicine demands a discipline of attention and responsiveness to vital signs and respiratory cycles and more, by which a sympathetic resonance between musician, patient and instrument is established. Playing for the dying patient the musician-clinician “must phrase with the patients, beginning and ending phrases in alignment with their own cycles of inhalation and exhalation. Student interns must learn… how to use major and minor scales, chromaticism, harmony and rhythm clinically, because it is possible to stimulate or suppress body temperature, metabolism or any of the vital signs with the reorganizing properties of sound” (57). This is an active, rather than passive, receptivity. It is a practice that demands and cultivates attention, in order to “make love audible” (83).

Therese describes how the Chalice of Repose Project received its name, which came

…from the heart of quiet and sustained prayer; they were not words generated in intellectual discoveries. Following this, I saw-experienced a beautiful lily, with translucent petals and trembling veins, exuding an exquisite fragrance. The work with the dying was well underway. It had already permeated my imagination and soul and it was easy to recognize: “…That’s how we could be when tending to the dying, like that lily…” We could be open, like a chalice, translucent, with an embodied stillness or repose. (Transitus 74. Emphasis in original).

Reading these words I cannot help but think, of course, of the Eucharistic chalice and of the Grail, which I take to be a kind of mythic image of and reflection upon the meaning of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that Christ makes himself completely and most intimately available to us, and in the Eucharist that we are united to both God and our neighbors, “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (KJV 1 Cor 10.17). Each one of us who receives Christ in the Eucharist, becomes a vessel holding Christ within our very hearts.

But equally, we also receive and carry each other, fellow communicants, because it is the same Christ who dwells in each of us. We cannot receive the incarnate Lord without receiving his people. This is why Saint Paul warned the Church in Corinth that if we take communion while failing to love our neighbors, we also fail to ‘discern the Lord’s body’ (1 Cor 11.29). It is entirely possible to make it all the way to the Grail castle and yet fail to recognize the mystery in front of us – the mystery of Christ present in his people.

When we do recognize that mystery, however, we become ourselves healing vessels of his presence, carrying one another in our hearts and bearing each other’s burdens (Gal 6.2). We can become “open, like a chalice, translucent, with an embodied stillness or repose” that welcomes our neighbors with all their wounds.

Therese’s work with the dying is certainly Grail work, but I see the same qualities of attention running through all her work, whether keeping vigil at a deathbed, writing to address the abuse crisis in the Church, or even reflecting on the spiritual labor of keeping a garden.

Therese describes this practice of attention simply as beholding. “Whether in silence, in speech, at harp, in prayer, working inside or working outdoors, beholding is the entree. Beholding builds a metaphysical ark, a currach for earth, air, fire and water” (“Garden Gate” in Jesus the Imagination. vol 4. 37). Yet another Mary, Mary Magdalene, shows the power of beholding.

The Magdalene was with Jesus at the Cross till the very end, and… she saw Him, the Risen Christ, pre-dawn on Sunday morning, in spring air that is quivering in the fragrance of blossoming trees… a distracted or preoccupied person would not be able to notice someone standing nearby, in spirit, nor would he or she have been able to receive his or her humanity mirrored back as an archetypal gardener engaged in manual labor” (“Garden Gate” 46-47).

For this reason, I am so grateful that Therese will be leading a Lenten program at the Cathedral of All Saints. In conversations preparing for this program, Therese has made it clear that this will not be a course in Music-Thanatology, or even in contemplative musicianship. In these conversations we will explore the spiritual power of beauty. Even as a person with no ambition to become a music-thanatologist, I believe Therese is someone from whom I can learn to ask those Grail questions a little more faithfully. And coming to Easter, perhaps I will not be too distracted to notice the Risen Lord standing beside me.

Art of Dying and Living: An Exploration of Life, Death, and the Afterlife Online Conference — March 23-26, 2023

with Grandmother Maria Alice Campos, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, Terri Daniel, Henry Fersko-Weiss, Matthew Fox, Joan Halifax, Andrew Holecek, Richard Martini, BJ Miller, Frank Ostaseski, Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza, Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Jai Dev Singh, Robert Thurman, Marianne Williamson, and Alberto Villoldo

It is our pleasure to invite you to join us in Tibet House US’ 2023 online conference and practice retreat, The Art of Dying and Living. This conference is a new incarnation of a powerfully transformative series of events we launched with the New York Open Center 20+ years ago, which introduced thousands to the profound exploration of the realities of death and dying as the doorway to living ever more vibrantly in the precious moments of life. Last year over a thousand people joined us for this interactive online conference, and we anticipate even greater turnout this year.

In these turbulent times, when we are all confronted by social violence, an epidemic of suicides, overdoses, war, famine, immigrants falling by the wayside fleeing unlivable countries, and the ever increasing series of natural disasters, it is highly fortunate to draw on worldwide wisdom cultures to learn more about death and dying with a view to enhancing our living and thriving and reaching out to others facing loss of life, loss of loved ones, and the sheer scale of planetary dangers.

Over these four days online together, you will hear from the following leading speakers: Grandmother Maria Alice Campos, Deepak Chopra, Terri Daniel, Henry Fersko-Weiss, Matthew Fox, Joan Halifax, Andrew Holecek, Richard Martini, BJ Miller, Frank Ostaseski, Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza, Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Robert Thurman, and Alberto Villoldo. These renowned presenters will share visions and teachings and lead practices drawn from spiritual wisdom, scientific insight, and time-tested experiential methods of dealing with death and dying that immeasurably enrich the lives of those facing death, as well as those facing bereavement.

We will explore ancient and modern understandings of the art of dying and living through the lenses of different spiritual traditions, including Tibetan and Zen Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Judaic, and Shamanic. Study the nature of death as part of life. Teachings and practices will be woven throughout the conference to help us contemplate our own life and death more fully. Experts from the field of care giving and bereavement will bring support to those who are caring for those at the end of life or grieving for a loved one.

We will explore the relevance of psychedelics to our understanding of death and dying as well as rituals at the time of death and immediately after death, including sky burial, green burial, and cremation. We will learn about different modalities now increasingly being employed to improve the experience of dying, from meditation and bardo yogas to sound healing and the sacred use of psychedelics, and we will even discuss highly controversial topics such as euthanasia and the recent Tibetan tradition of body-immolation.

To learn more about this online gathering and to register, please visit Menla’s website: 

If the presenter’s website is indicated, click on the photo to visit. 

 Four Days of Live Online Teachings with Access to Replays

Maria Alice Campos Freire was born in the state of Rio de Janeiro/ Brazil. She has two daughters, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. Since she was a child she manifested great affinity with the plants and the enchanted beings of the nature. She became a professional in Education and dedicated herself to education in communities in social need, and to the recovering of the cultural approach in the reconstruction of the life quality of these peoples. Her mission brought her to travel across the world; she lived in Chile, Europe and Africa. In the African Continent she reencountered her ancestral routs and was called to the research of the healing power of the plant kingdom. Coming back to Brazil in 1979 she met her spiritual path in the Umbanda, which is a spiritual line that integrates American indigenous, African and Christian Traditions. Continuing to follow the footprint of her ancestors and their spiritual guidance, she was brought to the Amazon, with the purpose of deepening her initiation with the traditional sacred beverage of the Amazonian Original Peoples. She lived for 23 years in the deep inside of the jungle; in a spiritual Community called Céu do Mapiá, where she worked in the integration of the Santo Daime and the Umbanda lines. She developed a remarkable work as a healer, a social entrepreneur and an educator. She was one of the founders and became the president of the Center of the Forest Medicine (Centro Medicina da Floresta) – a non-profit organization dedicated to the research of traditional knowledge on the healing power of the Amazonian plants, to the education and training of the youth, to the preservation of nature, and to the spiritual and material assistance of sick people. She was the researcher and co-creator of the Flower Essences System “Florais da Amazonia”; and she has been working with them internationally in courses and healings. She is a member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers – a forum of grandmothers from the four directions of the planet who, since 2004, walk the world planting the seed of Peace and claiming for the preservation of Mother Nature and the original peoples’ ways and territories.
Dr. Nida Chenagtsang was born in Amdo, in Eastern Tibet. Interested in the traditional healing science of his people, he began his early medical studies at the local Tibetan Medicine hospital. Later he gained scholarship entry to Lhasa Tibetan Medical University, where he completed his medical education in 1996. He completed his practical training at the Tibetan Medicine hospitals in Lhasa and Lhoka. Dr. Nida has published many articles and books on Sowa Rigpa (Traditional Tibetan Medicine). He has extensively researched ancient Tibetan healing methods, and has gained high acclaim in the East and West for his revival of traditional Tibetan external healing therapies. He has published many articles and books on Sowa Riga and its spiritual counterpart, the Yuthok Nyingthig Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. His extensive research and revival of ancient Tibetan healing methods has gained him high acclaim in East and West. Dr. Nida is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of Sorig Khang International and Co-Founder of the International Ngakmang Institute, established to preserve and maintain the Rebkong Ngakpa yogic culture within modern Tibetan society. Dr. Nida trains students in Sowa Rigpa and the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition in over 40 countries around the world. Fluent in English and known for his accessible and humorous style, Dr. Nida trains students in Sowa Rigpa and the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition in over 40 countries around the world. To learn more about Dr. Nida Chenagtsang visit: www.iattm.net
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) helps to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”
Dr. Terri Daniel is an interfaith hospice chaplain, end-of-life educator, and grief counselor certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling and in trauma support by the International Association of Trauma Professionals. She conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Terri is the founder of The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief, and the Ask Doctor Death podcast. She is also the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife. Over the years Terri has helped hundreds of people learn to live, die and grieve more consciously. Her work is acclaimed by hospice professionals, spiritual seekers, therapists theologians, and academics worldwide. She has a BA in Religious Studies from Marylhurst University, an MA in Pastoral Care from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW is the co-founder and Executive Director of the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to training and certifying end-of-life doulas and building programs in hospices and other care settings. In 2003, he created the first hospice-based end-of-life doula program in the United States, at a large New York City hospice. Since then, he has served as a doula to hundreds of dying people and their loved ones and trained thousands of doulas. Fersko-Weiss’ work has been written about in many publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. He has also been a presenter and keynote speaker at national and regional conferences in the healthcare, hospice, and funeral home industries. In March 2017, Conari Press published his book: Caring for the Dying, The Doula Approach to a Meaningful Death, which was selected by the Library Journal as one of the five best health and medicine books of 2017. The book was republished in August 2020 under a new title: Finding Peace at the End of Life: A Death Doula’s Guide for Families and Caregivers.
Matthew Fox is a spiritual theologian, an Episcopal priest and an activist for gender justice and eco-justice. He has written 37 books that have been translated into other languages over 70 times. Among them are Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, A Spirituality Named Compassion, The Reinvention of Work, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, Christian Mystics and The Pope’s War. He has contributed much to the rediscovery of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart and Thomas Aquinas as pre-modern mystics and prophets. Fox holds a doctorate in the history and theology of spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. The founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in California, he conducts dozens of workshops each year and is a visiting scholar at the Academy for the Love of Learning.
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress, received an Honorary DSc from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She is Founder and Head Teacher at Uupaya Zen Center. From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho- social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal. Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness, A Journey Through Buddhist Practice; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet.
Andrew Holecek has completed the traditional three-year Buddhist meditation retreat and offers seminars internationally on meditation, dream yoga, and the art of dying. Author of many books, including Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom From the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, and Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep, Andrew's newest works are Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming and The Lucid Dreaming Workbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Mastering your Dream Life. His work has appeared in Parabola, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Utne Reader, Buddhadharma, Light of Consciousness, and many other periodicals. Andrew’s work joins the knowledge of the West with the wisdom of the East in providing a full-spectrum approach to help us realize our human potential. He holds degrees in classical music, biology, and a doctorate in dental surgery. Andrew lives in Boulder, Colorado. Please visit: www.andrewholecek.com for more information.
Richard Martini is a best selling author and an award winning writer/director. His 8 books about the afterlife have all been #1 in their genre on Kindle. (“Flipside” “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” Part One and Two, “Hacking the Afterlife” “Architecture of the Afterlife” “Backstage Pass to the Flipside” 1, 2 and 3). He's written and/or directed eight theatrical features ("Limit Up," "Cannes Man" "You Can't Hurry Love") curated historical content for “Salt” (Angelina Jolie) "Amelia" (Hilary Swank) was “Associate to Phillip Noyce” on “Salt.” His documentaries include “Journey into Tibet with Robert Thurman”, “Talking to Bill Paxton” (Gaia) and “Flipside” Amazon Prime. “Sister Cities – Chicago/Casablanca” was made for the U.S. State Dept. His latest book is TUNING INTO THE AFTERLIFE: his most recent documentary is HACKING THE AFTERLIFE His documentary about the afterlife under hypnosis ("Flipside") was also a best seller (#1 in its kindle genre); his 8 books on the topic have all hit #1 in their genres. He’s had 10 appearances on “Coast to Coast with George Noory” and seven on the “Beyond Belief with George Noory” on Gaia. This first appearance was the 2nd highest rated show on the network. His three books with medium Jennifer Shaffer (“Backstage Pass to the Flipside”) have all been to #1 in their genre after his Coast to Coast appearances.
BJ Miller, MD, is an established thought leader in the area of serious illness, end-of-life issues and death. He has been a physician for 19 years and has counseled over 1,000 patients and family members. This vast experience has led him to understand what people really need when dealing with difficult health situations. BJ has given over 100 talks, both nationally, and internationally, on themes of serious illness and dying, and has given over 100 media interviews, including podcasts, radio and print. His TED Talk, What Really Matters at the End of Life has been viewed over 11 million times. He also co-authored the book, A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, which was published in 2019.
Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and visionary cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, and founder of the Metta Institute. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, leading corporations like Google and Apple Inc., and teaches at major spiritual centers around the globe. Frank is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Humanities Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has accompanied over 1000 people through the dying process and trained thousands of healthcare clinicians and family caregivers around the world. His groundbreaking work has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series On Our Own Terms, highlighted on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and honored by H.H. the Dalai Lama. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.
Padrinho Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza is one of the foremost English speaking authorities on the psycho-spiritual work of Amazonian communities. Trained as a classical psychologist, he has a degree in psychology from the University Gama Filho in Rio de Janeiro. He first encountered Santo Daime in 1976. Working for the Brazilian government in Amazonia, he began his lifelong study of the psychological and spiritual effects plants of the rainforest have on communities of native people. In 1985, he played an important role working with the Brazilian government to ensure the protection and legalization of Santo Daime and its use of Ayahuasca as a religious sacrament. In 1982 he became the head of the Céu do Mar church in Rio de Janeiro and continued to develop his work integrating the science of the mind with theology that spoke to the spirit. He has been especially influential in the early North American Santo Daime movement and the introduction of the Doctrine and ceremonies to many new cities across the continent (and dozens of other countries globally). Since his first lecture at Harvard University about 20 years ago, Padrinho Paulo Roberto has been invited to universities and conferences around the world to share his knowledge of Christian-Spirituality and plant medicines. He recently presented at a Google Tech Talk on the threats to the ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest, speaking about the use of sacramental plants and spiritual teachings of the Yawanawa tribe and the Santo Daime communities in Brazil. He is also a keen advocate for the support and preservation of indigenous traditions and teachings.
Musician, clinician, educator and Benedictine oblate, Therese Schroeder-Sheker has been blessed with a dual life in classical music and palliative medicine. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as a harpist and singer in 1980; composes and records for Celestial Harmonies, Windham Hill, Sony, Curve Blue and others; been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants; been featured in documentaries for ABC and NBC; delivered residencies, and plenaries at over sixty-five American and European universities; and publishes on women mystics, end-of-life palliative care, and music. She founded the palliative medical modality of music-thanatology and its premiere organization The Chalice of Repose Project, housed in Mount Angel, Oregon, where she teaches, works with the dying, gardens and writes.
Jai Dev Singh is a yogi and internationally renowned teacher of Kundalini Yoga and Ayurveda. He is the founder and principal teacher of the Life-Force Academy—a global community for yogic teachings and practices with thousands of students in over 60 countries around the world, and the author of numerous courses on Kundalini Yoga and Ayurveda. Jai Dev is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and served as the Clinical Director at the California College of Ayurveda, as well as the director of the college's Pancha Karma Center and Ayurvedic Spa. Jai Dev is emerging as a preeminent voice in the yoga world. He travels all over the world sharing the ancient yogic teachings in a uniquely accessible way that is relevant to our times. He lives in northern California with his wife, Simrit Kaur, and their son. Learn more about Jai Dev: www.JaiDevSingh.com
Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University as well as Co-Founder and President of Tibet House US | Menla in service of HH Dalai Lama & the people of Tibet. A close friend of the Dalai Lama’s for over 50 years, he is a leading world-wide lecturer on Tibetan Buddhism, passionate activist for the plight of the Tibetan people, skilled translator of Buddhist texts, and inspiring writer of popular Buddhist books. His most recent book is Wisdom Is Bliss: Four Freindly Fun Facts That Can Change Your Life In partnership with Nena Thurman and dedicated contributors, he now focuses on making Tibet House US and its Menla Retreat & Spa a global center for the promotion, study and practice of Tibetan Buddhist healing arts and sciences of body, mind, and spirit, dedicated as a complement to the vast life work of its patron, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. To learn more: www.bobthurman.com.
Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, political activist, and spiritual thought leader. For over three decades Marianne has been a leader in spiritual and religiously progressive circles. She is the author of 14 books, four of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. A quote from the mega-bestseller A Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers. Williamson founded Project Angel Food, a non-profit that has delivered more than 14 million meals to ill and dying homebound patients since 1989. The group was created to help people suffering from the ravages of HIV/AIDS. She has also worked throughout her career on poverty, anti-hunger and racial reconciliation issues. In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance and supports the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. She ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, and in 2021 she launched MarianneWilliamson.Substack.com.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., is a psychologist and medical anthropologist who has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon and Andes for over 30 years. At San Francisco State University, he directed the Biological Self-Regulation Laboratory to study how the mind creates psychosomatic health and disease. He is the founder of the Four Winds Society, an organization dedicated to bridging ancient shamanic traditions with modern medicine and psychology. He is the author of more than 20 international bestsellers including Shaman, Healer, Sage, and Grow a New Body. He has been a visiting professor at San Francisco State University and Columbia University in New York.

Therese Schroeder-Sheker featured in The Honest Broker
Substack newsletter by Ted Gioia

The Woman Who Abandoned a Successful Recording Career to Play Music for the Dying by acclaimed music historian and critic Ted Gioia was published in The Honest Broker Substack blog on January 6th, 2023: “I celebrate 50 years of end-of-life interventions by Therese Schroeder-Sheker.”

September 2022: the new issue of Jesus the Imagination – Volume Six, 2022 | FLESH & SPIRIT
Therese Schroeder-Sheker has in this issue a new work entitled: Knee-Woman in Swan-Song from pages 94 to 115.

Coming Soon!

—A CD subscription series for students enrolled in either of the two main educational programs offered through the Chalice of Repose Project. Please return to this page in March, 2024 for update.

—A Therese Schroeder-Sheker (voice and harp) and David Darling (cello) EP CD recording released by Curve Blue in Boulder. This features pieces recorded at the Benedictine Monastery at Snowmass. Please return to this page in November, 2023 for updates about the release.

Previous Events & Articles

Recommended: IOCS International Conference 2022—"Pavel Florensky for the 21st Century"​

Therese Schroeder-Sheker on Her Friend, Christopher Bamford

Please visit this link to read the June 17th memorial piece Therese wrote for Christopher Bamford when he died.

Regeneration Podcast

Therese Schroeder-Sheker was a guest of the Regeneration Podcast on May 30, 2022. Follow this link to listen. 

Art of Dying and Living: An Exploration of Life, Death, and the Afterlife Online Conference — February 24-27, 2022

with Dr. Eben Alexander, Sierra Campbell, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Terri Daniel, Joan Halifax, Andrew Holecek, Lucy Kalanithi, Jussara Korngold, Simcha Raphael, Richard Martini, Dr. Gabor Maté, Frank Ostaseski, Mingyur Rinpoche, Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Robert Thurman, Alberto Villoldo, Henry Fersko-Weiss & Jessica Zitter

This is THUS | Menla’s new incarnation of a powerfully transformative event Tibet House US launched with the New York Open Center 20 years ago, which introduced thousands to the profound exploration of the realities of death and dying as the doorway to living ever more vibrantly in the precious moments of life.

Over these four days together online, renowned presenters will share visions and lead practices drawn from spiritual wisdom, scientific insight, and time-tested experiential methods of dealing with death and dying that immeasurably enrich the lives of those facing death, as well as those caring for the dying and facing bereavement.

To learn more about this online gathering and to register, please visit Menla’s website: 

Four Days of Live Online Teachings with Access to Replays

If the presenter’s website is indicated, click on the photo to visit. 

Eben Alexander, MD, was an academic neurosurgeon for over 25 years, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He experienced a transcendental Near-Death-Experience (NDE) during a week-long coma from an inexplicable brain infection that completely transformed his worldview. A pioneering scientist and modern thought leader in the emerging science that acknowledges the primacy of consciousness in the universe, he is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Proof of Heaven, The Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe. To learn more about his work: www.ebenalexander.com
Sierra Campbell (she/hers) has served the dying and their loved ones for more than 20 years as a death doula, certified integrative health coach, and senior care expert. In 2016, she founded Nurture on a mission to redefine the world’s relationship with aging. Through thoughtful courses and long-term planning support, Nurture helps people plan their long-term care with joy and wellbeing. For more information, visit Sierra’s website: www.choosenurture.com.
Dr. Nida Chenagtsang was born in Amdo, in Eastern Tibet. Interested in the traditional healing science of his people, he began his early medical studies at the local Tibetan Medicine hospital. Later he gained scholarship entry to Lhasa Tibetan Medical University, where he completed his medical education in 1996. He completed his practical training at the Tibetan Medicine hospitals in Lhasa and Lhoka. Dr. Nida has published many articles and books on Sowa Rigpa (Traditional Tibetan Medicine). He has extensively researched ancient Tibetan healing methods, and has gained high acclaim in the East and West for his revival of traditional Tibetan external healing therapies. He has published many articles and books on Sowa Riga and its spiritual counterpart, the Yuthok Nyingthig Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. His extensive research and revival of ancient Tibetan healing methods has gained him high acclaim in East and West. Dr. Nida is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of Sorig Khang International and Co-Founder of the International Ngakmang Institute, established to preserve and maintain the Rebkong Ngakpa yogic culture within modern Tibetan society. Dr. Nida trains students in Sowa Rigpa and the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition in over 40 countries around the world. Fluent in English and known for his accessible and humorous style, Dr. Nida trains students in Sowa Rigpa and the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition in over 40 countries around the world. To learn more about Dr. Nida Chenagtsang visit: www.iattm.net
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) helps to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”
Dr. Terri Daniel is an interfaith hospice chaplain, end-of-life educator, and grief counselor certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling and in trauma support by the International Association of Trauma Professionals. She conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Terri is the founder of The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief, and the Ask Doctor Death podcast. She is also the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife. Over the years Terri has helped hundreds of people learn to live, die and grieve more consciously. Her work is acclaimed by hospice professionals, spiritual seekers, therapists theologians, and academics worldwide. She has a BA in Religious Studies from Marylhurst University, an MA in Pastoral Care from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress, received an Honorary DSc from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She is Founder and Head Teacher at Uupaya Zen Center. From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho- social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal. Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness, A Journey Through Buddhist Practice; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet.
Andrew Holecek has completed the traditional three-year Buddhist meditation retreat and offers seminars internationally on meditation, dream yoga, and the art of dying. Author of many books, including Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom From the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, and Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep, Andrew's newest works are Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming and The Lucid Dreaming Workbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Mastering your Dream Life. His work has appeared in Parabola, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Utne Reader, Buddhadharma, Light of Consciousness, and many other periodicals. Andrew’s work joins the knowledge of the West with the wisdom of the East in providing a full-spectrum approach to help us realize our human potential. He holds degrees in classical music, biology, and a doctorate in dental surgery. Andrew lives in Boulder, Colorado. Please visit: www.andrewholecek.com for more information.
Dr. Lucy Kalanithi is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and an advocate for culture change around healthcare value. She is the widow of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and translated into more than 40 languages, and for which she wrote the epilogue. A graduate of the Yale School of Medicine, the University of California-San Francisco’s Internal Medicine Residency and Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, Dr. Kalanithi is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society and an honoree of Mass General Cancer Center’s “the one hundred.” Implementing novel healthcare delivery models in primary care, hospitals and health systems, she serves on leadership boards for TEDMED, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care and the American College of Physicians. Dr. Kalanithi has appeared on stage at TEDMED, on NPR, PBS Newshour, and Yahoo News with Katie Couric, and in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Elle and The New York Times. Gravity, her award-winning podcast explores narratives of suffering. Dr. Kalanithi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Cady, a first-grader. To learn more about her work, please visit: www.lucykalanithi.com.
Jussara Korngold is currently the General Secretary of the International Spiritist Council, an organization that comprises Spiritist Federations of 23 countries. She was the President of the United States Spiritist Federation for the past six years and is currently its Vice-President. Mrs. Korngold is also the founder and president of the Spiritist Group of New York and the Spiritist Alliance for Books She is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. She is an international speaker, a published author, and a translator. Mrs. Korngold is the CEO of Dara Institute (Brazil Child Health) a not for profit organization that assists sick children and their families, who live under the poverty line. Due to her philanthropic work Mrs. Korngold was appointed by Vogue Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Brazilians in New York. Through her mediumship and ongoing interest in spiritual knowledge, she started very early to attend organizations dedicated to the study of Spiritism. Her mediumship led her to experience first hand communications with several spirits, who provided a clear picture of life after life. For more information about Spiritism visit www.spiritist.us
Reb Simcha Raphael, Ph.D. is Founding Director of the DA’AT Institute for Death Awareness, Advocacy and Training. He completed his doctorate at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has served as Adjunct Professor of Religion at LaSalle University and Temple University, is on Faculty on the Art of Dying Institute of the New York Open Center, and works as a psychotherapist and spiritual director in Philadelphia. Ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, he is a Fellow of the Rabbis Without Borders Network, and author of numerous publications including the groundbreaking Jewish Views of the Afterlife, and is co-editor of Jewish End-of-Life Care in a Virtual Age: Our Traditions Reimagined (2021). To learn more about his work: www.daatinstitute.net.
Richard Martini is a best selling author and an award winning writer/director. His 8 books about the afterlife have all been #1 in their genre on Kindle. (“Flipside” “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” Part One and Two, “Hacking the Afterlife” “Architecture of the Afterlife” “Backstage Pass to the Flipside” 1, 2 and 3). He's written and/or directed eight theatrical features ("Limit Up," "Cannes Man" "You Can't Hurry Love") curated historical content for “Salt” (Angelina Jolie) "Amelia" (Hilary Swank) was “Associate to Phillip Noyce” on “Salt.” His documentaries include “Journey into Tibet with Robert Thurman”, “Talking to Bill Paxton” (Gaia) and “Flipside” Amazon Prime. “Sister Cities – Chicago/Casablanca” was made for the U.S. State Dept. His latest book is TUNING INTO THE AFTERLIFE: his most recent documentary is HACKING THE AFTERLIFE His documentary about the afterlife under hypnosis ("Flipside") was also a best seller (#1 in its kindle genre); his 8 books on the topic have all hit #1 in their genres. He’s had 10 appearances on “Coast to Coast with George Noory” and seven on the “Beyond Belief with George Noory” on Gaia. This first appearance was the 2nd highest rated show on the network. His three books with medium Jennifer Shaffer (“Backstage Pass to the Flipside”) have all been to #1 in their genre after his Coast to Coast appearances.
A retired physician Gabor Maté, after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, has worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. Best selling author of four books published in twenty-seven languages, Gabor is an internationally renowned speaker highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness. His book on addiction received the Hubert Evans Prize for literary non-fiction. For his ground-breaking medical work and writing he has been awarded the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction, and the Civic Merit Award from his hometown, Vancouver. His books include In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction; When the Body Says No; Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection; Scattered: How ADD Originates and What You Can Do About It; and (with Gordon Neufeld) Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. Gabor’s next book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture is due in Autumn, 2022. To learn more, and to join his e-news, please visit www.drgabormate.com.
Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and visionary cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, and founder of the Metta Institute. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, leading corporations like Google and Apple Inc., and teaches at major spiritual centers around the globe. Frank is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Humanities Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has accompanied over 1000 people through the dying process and trained thousands of healthcare clinicians and family caregivers around the world. His groundbreaking work has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series On Our Own Terms, highlighted on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and honored by H.H. the Dalai Lama. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.
In his approach to teaching meditation, Mingyur Rinpoche integrates traditional Buddhist practice and philosophy with the current scientific understanding of the mind and mental health – making the practice of mediation relevant and accessible to students around the world. Born in Nepal in 1975, Mingyur Rinpoche began to study meditation as a young boy with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, himself a well-respected Buddhist teacher. He spent many years of his childhood in strict retreat and completed the traditional Buddhist training in philosophy and psychology. In addition to extensive training in the meditative and philosophical traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Mingyur Rinpoche has also had a lifelong interest in Western science and psychology, which has led to many fruitful collaborations with neuroscientists and psychologists. Mingyur Rinpoche is the author of the best-selling book The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, as well as Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, Turning Confusion into Clarity: A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism, and In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying.
Musician, clinician, educator and Benedictine oblate, Therese Schroeder-Sheker has been blessed with a dual life in classical music and palliative medicine. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as a harpist and singer in 1980; composes and records for Celestial Harmonies, Windham Hill, Sony, Curve Blue and others; been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants; been featured in documentaries for ABC and NBC; delivered residencies, and plenaries at over sixty-five American and European universities; and publishes on women mystics, end-of-life palliative care, and music. She founded the palliative medical modality of music-thanatology and its premiere organization The Chalice of Repose Project, housed in Mount Angel, Oregon, where she teaches, works with the dying, gardens and writes.
Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University as well as Co-Founder and President of Tibet House US | Menla in service of HH Dalai Lama & the people of Tibet. A close friend of the Dalai Lama’s for over 50 years, he is a leading world-wide lecturer on Tibetan Buddhism, passionate activist for the plight of the Tibetan people, skilled translator of Buddhist texts, and inspiring writer of popular Buddhist books. His most recent book is Wisdom Is Bliss: Four Freindly Fun Facts That Can Change Your Life In partnership with Nena Thurman and dedicated contributors, he now focuses on making Tibet House US and its Menla Retreat & Spa a global center for the promotion, study and practice of Tibetan Buddhist healing arts and sciences of body, mind, and spirit, dedicated as a complement to the vast life work of its patron, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. To learn more: www.bobthurman.com.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., is a psychologist and medical anthropologist who has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon and Andes for over 30 years. At San Francisco State University, he directed the Biological Self-Regulation Laboratory to study how the mind creates psychosomatic health and disease. He is the founder of the Four Winds Society, an organization dedicated to bridging ancient shamanic traditions with modern medicine and psychology. He is the author of more than 20 international bestsellers including Shaman, Healer, Sage, and Grow a New Body. He has been a visiting professor at San Francisco State University and Columbia University in New York.
Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW is the co-founder and Executive Director of the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to training and certifying end-of-life doulas and building programs in hospices and other care settings. In 2003, he created the first hospice-based end-of-life doula program in the United States, at a large New York City hospice. Since then, he has served as a doula to hundreds of dying people and their loved ones and trained thousands of doulas. Fersko-Weiss’ work has been written about in many publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. He has also been a presenter and keynote speaker at national and regional conferences in the healthcare, hospice, and funeral home industries. In March 2017, Conari Press published his book: Caring for the Dying, The Doula Approach to a Meaningful Death, which was selected by the Library Journal as one of the five best health and medicine books of 2017. The book was republished in August 2020 under a new title: Finding Peace at the End of Life: A Death Doula’s Guide for Families and Caregivers.
Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, specializes in Critical Care and Palliative Care medicine, and practices at a public hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life. Her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and other publications. Her work is featured in the Oscar and Emmy-nominated documentary, Extremis, as well as her new film, Caregiver: A Love Story. She is a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of dying in America. Learn more about her work at jessicazitter.com.