Karyn’s Path to Spiritual Awakening and Community Building

Join us in an enlightening conversation with Karyn, a former member of a fundamentalist community and now a devoted teacher of spirituality and community at a senior center. Discover her transformative journey, her exploration of world religions, and her impactful work in building understanding and unity across diverse spiritual traditions. Dive into this episode for a story of personal growth and community connection.



Lucas Root: Karen, thank you so much for joining me. So for everyone who's listening, here's one of the things that I'm most excited about this interview. Those of you who have been with me for a while. Remember at the beginning of this year. So quite some time ago now, I put out an episode where I invited people to look inside their communities, the people that they know, the people that they love, the people that they [00:01:00] are, in close contact with.

For business owners or business leaders, And specifically grandmothers who are focused epic community builders And karen this interview was exactly that one of one of the people that I know reached out to me and said hey I listened to your episode You have to talk to my mom And,

of course, I, I spent some time, you know, listening to him, talking to him about why you'd be the perfect guest and I was like, yep, I have to talk to your mom and you and I have had a couple of conversations now and I'm very excited to, to share you and your story with our audience for a couple of quick highlights, just so they know what they're in for, you have studied divinity and you are currently in your retirement job.

Teaching about spirituality and community at the local senior center, which is a community center [00:02:00] And if if everybody doesn't see why this is the perfect guest well, I can't help you karen, thank you for being here. Would you like to tell our guests or our audience a little bit about yourself.

Karyn: Sure. So from age 12 to age 31, I was in a fundamentalist Christian community, that was very limited , in that, associating with others outside the group was not encouraged. And, visiting other spiritual communities was also not encouraged. And so when I was in my early thirties, I was an older than average.

Lucas Root: Hold on. So that that sounds a lot to me like a cult

Karyn: Some people would label it such,

Lucas Root: So I one of [00:03:00] my favorite conversations with people is about rumspringa specifically Do you know what rumspringa is?

Karyn: I do not.

Lucas Root: It's when the young people who are part of Amish communities, leave the community and go out into the world for at least a year to experience the world and then to decide whether or not they want to stay Amish and come back.

And I consider this to be one of the most important practices that the Amish do for a couple of reasons. I think that any, any approach to a very specific lifestyle. can become indoctrination if you don't have an, an absolute required built in retouch like Rumspringa. And so when I look at When I look at any approach, whether it's a, doctrine focused dietary approach, or a political spectrum [00:04:00] approach, or being Amish, , and I don't see that they have built in a retouch, culture like Rumspringa, that's when I start to worry about

moving from community into cult, because I want, I want any, any community member, any friend, any person who I consider family, whether they're blood or not, I want them to continually reaffirm their own choice to be part of the community that that I consider to be my community.

Karyn: Yeah, I would agree with that wholeheartedly. And that was part of the issue is that we weren't allowed, or we weren't encouraged, put it that way, to connect with other people on the outside and leaving the group meant, those in the community could not communicate with you anymore. [00:05:00] So, they do practice a type of shunning, and so it's a, it's a huge deal to leave the group if you know no one on the outside.

And especially if your family members are all part of the group, you know, the grief about, you know, losing those valuable connections with your family is huge. And what really assisted me to.

Lucas Root: But, by the way, I think the same is true of being an American. I, I think that we should, we should culturally choose to travel to South America and to travel to Africa and to travel to India. Like, that should be a core approach to who we are. And those of us who say, I have no interest in traveling, like, that even, to me, is verging on a, a cult mentality.

Karyn: I, I fully agree with that. [00:06:00] Totally. And, and my life really transformed. When I embraced what you just said about recognizing that people in other parts of the world are our family and, you know, you travel,

uh, People in other parts of the world are our family, you know, that all humanity, , is related.


when you. And when you get that, when you recognize that, there's no fear about traveling, into areas that you have no idea what to expect and, you know, foreign language and foreign, practices it's just becomes beautiful because everybody you meet is so lovely and there's no fear of, you know,

Lucas Root: real quick. Um, there, there, let's quantify that. There, there are basically two schools of thought in the [00:07:00] world. There's the school of thought where the world was invented 5, 000 years ago. And for those people, every single human is descendant of one specific couple 5, 000 years ago.

Karyn: sure,

Lucas Root: Which, which means all of us are related at least through that one specific couple 5, 000 years ago.

Well, there's a second school of thought, right? And I happen to belong to that second school of thought, but I'm not asking for judgment here. And the second school of thought is That the world was invented more like 5 billion years ago. And even in that second school of thought, we actually have scientific evidence.

Take a look in the show notes, I will provide a couple of articles that point to this. That every single one of us has one specific common relative. Every single one of us, one specific common relative. She, genetic Eve, she was about 200, 000 years ago. And by the way, she was black in Africa, so every [00:08:00] single one of us is descendant from that one woman.

Karyn: Hmm

Lucas Root: Whether you like it or not, we are all related.

Karyn: I am part of your second, school of thought about that. I, I agree with that and

Lucas Root: But both schools of thought agree on that one thing. Either we were descendant from one couple 5, 000 years ago, or we were descendant from a different one woman 300, 000 years ago. It doesn't matter. In both cases, one woman. We are all related. Sorry. Thank you.

Karyn: Yeah, no need to apologize. That was perfect. That was beautiful. So, back to my story

with, um, Well, I went to school that, that was a huge deprogramming place where I learned critical thinking, problem solving, [00:09:00] communication, and I had the freedom. To study all the world religions and find out for myself what they believe, what they practice, how they live.

And it was very exciting for me. It felt like, Back in kindergarten, you know, when you feel so excited about learning and playing and meeting new people and School

Lucas Root: is new. Every day is something new. I love

Karyn: yes, yes and Networking making new friends also being mentored by my professors which many of them became very instrumental in my success And the inspiration to actually believe that I could become a college teacher because initially I had a small goal.

My [00:10:00] small goal was, , to go to school for one year and become a legal secretary and many of my professors saw my potential. And encouraged me to, follow my bliss, like Joseph Campbell encouraged his students. You have to find your bliss first and then follow it. And writing had been a big piece of my recovery and, processing the years where I was in this, limited community.

And, it was just. So amazing how like the hero's journey when you step into the adventure and , you're into this Unknown journey, the divine steps in and supports you. And I totally felt that. So with my six years of college, [00:11:00] attending several different universities I felt supported by not only the people I met and my professors, but the divine.

And that was like part of my spiritual awakening to embrace, , what was really in my heart, , what I really loved and what I really loved was people and community building and being instrumental in helping them find, , what's in their heart and what they love. And that was, a big part of my teaching when I was teaching study skills and critical thinking was encouraging them to reflect back when they were children.

What did you love when you were a child , and to recognize that those things play a role in your calling and that it's not just about making [00:12:00] money, but following your heart and, that joy, that bliss. And so, , my journey of the six years when I was going to college, culminated in immediately being hired to teach college level writing courses and then, expanding my teaching.

From just English comp to study skills critical thinking, reading improvement, reading was a huge, aspect of my growth because I was an avid reader and I wanted to read, everything that, well respected scholars had to say about the different world religions and about,


Lucas Root: reading that. I

Karyn: I'm an avid, I have a huge library. And so, , encouraging others to do the same, encouraging others to [00:13:00] that reading is a gateway.

to the world. And, so in 2008, I had a lovely conversation with one of my colleagues. So I'd been teaching for, teaching writing and study skills for about 10 years and loving it. And, I was conversing with one of my colleagues and he was teaching. Philosophy, which, , a lot of people lose sight of the word itself is love of wisdom. Philo, , is love and Sophia is wisdom. And he was teaching that. And I was like, Oh my God, if I could teach world religions, that would be like eating ice cream and cake every day. And I was really struck by my own words later in the day. And, , asked myself, well, if that's what's in your heart,

Lucas Root: and cake every day.[00:14:00]

Karyn: and if that's what you really, really love, why aren't you pursuing that?

And so I did a, an assessment of all of my graduate level courses and, and recognized that I had enough. to teach in another area as a community college instructor. So I put out, I sent out a query letter and I got a very nice response, but it wasn't very promising. And then I went back in kind of oogling over the titles to see which one I would really love teaching.

And I saw that at one of the centers, It said staff, it said philosophy of religion, staff, and so I knew they didn't have a teacher. So I wrote back highlighting that. And the day I wrote that, the instructor who was teaching that course had to quit mainstream. So he was seven weeks into the course [00:15:00] and came in in tears saying, I can't.

Teach this course anymore. So they needed an instructor immediately. And so I met with the Dean At McDonald's and had a conversation and the next day I'm teaching that course And so that's how you know, the heavens opened up and said you want ice cream and cake here you go

Lucas Root: Here it is.

Karyn: then it just blossomed from there And

Lucas Root: I

Karyn: it was just so incredible how teaching those courses opened the world to these students.

Some of them are rural, come from rural families. They've never known anything but Christianity. They have never known anything outside of that. And so my teaching approach has always been student centered. Meaning, [00:16:00] that they don't come in and listen to me talk, you know, for an hour it's, it's a brief discussion from me and then small group activity where they're interacting with each other and they're building community in the classroom where they're getting to know, on a more intimate level, their classmates and sharing.

Their current belief system and sharing what they know about, the aspects of religion, because this course was philosophy of religion. So all the different aspects of, of our different religious

Lucas Root: would take that.

Karyn: It was so amazing.

Lucas Root: Yeah. I would take that. That'd be so much fun.

Karyn: It was just so much fun to be part of it. And to be an observer and then also, , an influence to explore, [00:17:00] to not just stay where you are, but giving them the permission to investigate and find out for themselves. About these different traditions, I remember vividly one young man who was wearing a Freemason ring that had been given to him by his grandfather, and he showed it to me.

And, because of the influence, the discussion, the class discussions, he decided he was going to go and check it out and find out what do they do there at these meetings , and tell the folks that he met, , about his grandfather and it shifted his world. And so, the joy of teaching these courses, World Religion, so I started with Philosophy of Religion, and then it expanded, I had more invitations to teach, not [00:18:00] only History of Philosophy and Introduction to Philosophy, but the World Religion Sequences.

So Eastern religion sequence, Western religion sequence. And again, most of these students knew nothing outside of how they were raised in, in Christian groups. And Got exposed to what are Buddhists, , like they would say to me Why is the Buddha fat, you know? because that's all they knew they would go to a Chinese restaurant and see the fat bellied Buddha and Wondered, , what is that all about?

What does that mean? And so I was able to bring in like different versions of the Buddha so they could see that these are symbolic images and sharing with them the story of Siddhartha [00:19:00] Gautama, the original Buddha, and, , how he left his life of privilege, to explore. And to find the truth about why humanity suffers and, went out into the forest to meditate and to find the answer to why humanity suffers.

And, and then in my classes also, they would have a homework assignment to visit two different non-Christian worship services. Not to be subjected to any kind of proselytization. There's no fear about it.

Lucas Root: Yeah.

Karyn: Yeah, you're going in as an investigator and an observer. do you see, smell, hear, taste, touch?

How do these people interact


Lucas Root: similar? How is it different? Oh,

Karyn: And then, , writing a reflection. What did [00:20:00] I see, , hear, taste? Because some of the groups, we went to the Sikhs and they were, they got fed a big meal. And, and then, you know, how did that feel? And what did you learn and what surprised you?

What did you not know about these people? And to encourage a relaxed feeling about exposing yourself to these other groups, to find out for yourself. what they teach. And actually my own daughter took all of my religion classes and she was also

Lucas Root: cool.

Karyn: raised in a, closed community and told negative things about other groups and she decided on her own that she wanted to go to a different worship service every Sunday.

She, she had young children. She had a baby [00:21:00] and I went with her. And I was, , just on the side. I let her interview like the different group leaders and, it was beautiful. It was just wonderful for her , to actually have this experience of, and her children. , There are children, we went to the Sikh Gurdwara in, in Salem and they were very welcoming.

They tied a little head covering on her baby daughter and, we got to experience the beauty of their chanting and , their community how they, interact together and their ethical position. So that's another piece of it, seeing the commonalities in these different traditions,[00:22:00] , their ethical standards.

All of them, preach being good to your fellow man, being good to your neighbor, being hospitable, helping those in need, , telling the truth, not taking something that doesn't belong to you treating others with respect, like all of them across the board encourage that and, people need to know that for themselves.

That, , these are good hearted human beings. And, if you are on a bus and you, you see a woman wearing a burqa, , like, you know what they believe, , you understand that Muslims are peace loving people and why they're wearing. , their, their garb that they wear. And, I had so many of my students thank [00:23:00] me at the end of the, at the end of the course, I'm not afraid of Muslims anymore.

Like I was initially afraid of them because of 9 11 and now I understand what they believe. And. Could have a conversation with them and, you know, have things that I could ask them. And, and that's really the goal of these courses is to expand. Like we talked at the beginning of this interview to the outside world and to not be afraid of people who have a different.

It's a different set of beliefs or a different set of cultural standards. They might dress differently or you know, have their head wrapped and to understand why they do that. And so it's all about community building, not only you know, in the college classroom and in your, your town, but [00:24:00] spreads to to the whole world.

Lucas Root: Yeah. Before you go on, so we've done a couple of episodes that were sort of focused on religion. Those of you who are listening and want to hear more about religion, obviously look up Karyn but also episode four with Peter Lafter we talked about Quakerism and we talked about the concept of yeah, I loved it.

It was so much fun the concept of leadership in quakerism is that leadership is in the moment and the person who has access to Spirit in the moment has the authority to lead Um in in service to that spirit, which was an amazing conversation. So peter laughter and then Also I think it was episode 14 with Isis and Drea.

We're going back quite a ways here where she's building an entire community [00:25:00] around bringing back some of the old gods. Her, of course, she of course is focused on the goddess Isis. And you know, using the things that we've learned over the last several thousand years to, to rebuild our approach to worship and inclusion of the community in our approach to worship.

Which I loved very much. And then finally, you also brought up Freemason. So we did an episode on Freemasonry. And that was episode 60, so just a couple of months ago. And it's called, The Power of Ritual, How Freemasonry Builds Brotherly Love. So those of you who have a friend who was Given a mason ring by your grandfather hop on back to episode 60 and take a listen to that one I personally probably will actually go to a couple of freemason services , when I actually have some free time to do so [00:26:00] in all my spare time because I was inspired by the episode that I did, episode 60.

So go take a look, listen to one of those if you're inspired by this. Karen, thank you. That was awesome. Continue with your story, because, Cake and Ice Cream was, was core in your, I love, I love it. I mean, like, you have a signpost that, that shows when you took a pivot on your road, like a hard left turn.

And, and it was wonderful. , you went from, , whatever your life was to, to moving into paradise. And, now you actually live in a version of that paradise. And I, I want to hear us get to that too.

Karyn: So, because I was having, you know, just these wonderful experiences in the college classroom, I decided to go back to school and my original intent was to earn a [00:27:00] doctorate degree in world religions. And because my family was here locally and my grandchildren I opted to stay in Oregon and attend Merrillhurst University, which is in, was in Lake Oswego.

It has now closed, but it had been in operation for well over 100 years. And what's beautiful about the experience I had at Merrillhurst is that it was an interfaith program. So even though it was a Catholic university and my two major professors who ran the program, the divinity program were Catholic, they never tried to proselytize anybody in the group.

There was never any. [00:28:00] Focus on Catholicism. It was interfaith and my classmates were from a variety of different traditions Unitarian Universalism, Church of Christ.

Lucas Root: the, I do like the UU people.

Karyn: Yeah, I love them too. I attended with them for a while. And so this program was a hefty master's degree. So it was four years instead of two.


Lucas Root: That is a hefty master's degree.

Karyn: yes, yes. And so I was


Lucas Root: I would have a problem studying all the world religions for four years. would be

Karyn: um, what I loved about the program, I was still teaching full time, but I was a grad student full time. There was just so much joy, and it was designed for older than [00:29:00] average students who had full lives and had jobs. And we would attend class for an entire weekend, and we were a cohort. So when we started, I believe there was 12 or 13 in our group, and the intention was for all of us to move through the four years together.

So it was about building strong bonds among our cohort. Where we felt safe to talk about any challenges, you know, that we were facing, any unresolved issues, you know, from our past that resurfaced during doing this work, which was really hard work. It was, it was about connecting more fully to our hearts and listening to spirit [00:30:00] and gaining clarity about our own personal theology.

And so we had no exams. It was, writing these 40 page papers for every course, which were. Exegetical papers, which means a very strict format of analysis and taking, like a scripture word by word and going back to what did this word originally mean to this group of people back in ancient times.

Lucas Root: hmm.

Karyn: And so it was a very deep exploration and through this process, so many insights would arise during this exploration. And then the last part of it was, , how did this [00:31:00] research change you as a, as a spiritual seeker, as a, as a spiritual pilgrim? And, it was pretty, pretty incredible. And so, during this time, my goal was to explore Eastern traditions, because I was drawn toward Buddhism, I was drawn personally toward Hinduism, and I was allowed to do that, That focal point, like nobody was saying, you know, you can't write about those traditions.

You only have to write about Christianity. And so I wanted to travel to India. And because I was in this program where I was receiving financial aid, so that I could just go to school full time, I saved my resources so I could go to India. So the first year of [00:32:00] grad school, the summer, I traveled to India.

I traveled to southern India. I spent some time at Oneness University, which is, Oneness University which is an international school. So, in this first experience, I was the only American. And I was with, , there were 26 students in this group, a huge number from Mexico, a huge number from Italy some women from Finland.

And I was the only American in this group. And, , we, we stayed in a dormitory. So we, we got intimate with each other, sharing our, our stories and our. Our spiritual practices and then [00:33:00] the following summer I went again. And so I was there longer. The first trip was, I was in a training program for 16 days and I got to travel around at once.

My training was done. I got to travel around Chennai. And made friends with rickshaw drivers and they would take me to some cool places and became like my personal tour guides and,

Lucas Root: Yeah.

Karyn: And it was just so


Lucas Root: to get a local, right?

Karyn: you know, but, but like we were talking about at the beginning of this interview about how we're all related and I made friends with this wonderful rickshaw driver.

Who actually, you know, full blooded Indian, but was Christian, and his wife is a Hindu. And he shared, no problem, I go with her one Sunday, and she goes with [00:34:00] me the next Sunday, and we have no issue. You know, that we, we have these different traditions. And,

Lucas Root: Isn't that lovely?

Karyn: you know, it just. It changed my life to, you know, be halfway around the world as a white woman traveling by myself to a third world country and to feel very safe and to make new friends, people I'm still in contact with, you know, from 2012.

Lucas Root: but welcomed.

Karyn: Absolutely. Absolutely. So much hospitality in India, in Southern India, they have like these big malls that are, you know, like America malls. But when you go inside their shops, they want you to sit down and they want to bring you tea and cookies and they want to know where you're from. And, you know, they're very hospitable.

Lucas Root: oh, that's fun.

Karyn: And [00:35:00] so then I went again in 2013 in the summer and I stayed longer back to Oneness University. I actually went there three times, three different years. And my goal was to be able to share with my students first hand experiences of traveling to these different locations. in the world, so that I'm not just sharing what I learned in a book.

Lucas Root: Mm

Karyn: So one of my mentors some of your audience may know Houston Smith. who world religion scholar and his books, you know, have been in publication for 50 years and he was a professor at UC Berkeley. And what I loved about him is that he did the same thing. He went to India, [00:36:00] he recorded his journey, , the land of Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, maintained his, his Christianity, but was.

, comfortable practicing these other traditions at the same time, you know, that there wasn't a conflict. And he went to Japan and he, he spent time in a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery and had an enlightenment experience. And then he went to the Sufis and he became a whirling dervish and he went to the Muslims and, he had this.

Yogic practice that he would do headstands, , every morning to get the blood flowing, right. And, you know, I just so admired. The fact that, , [00:37:00] he, he traveled the world and he went to Tibet and he spent time with the Tibetan llamas and, and so that was my dream was to be like that, to actually have firsthand experiences with Native American.

Folks, like I went five summers in a row to the Lakota and witnessed their sun dance. And, , they welcomed me and loved

me. So, you know, to be able to share that in the classroom. firsthand experiences of witnessing the love that they have for their children and for community and cooking together.

And, you know, everybody camps and the Children are everybody's Children and everybody looks out for them and being in a sweat lodge. And[00:38:00]

it was just,

Lucas Root: a Lakota sweat lodge.

Karyn: Numerous times,

numerous names

Lucas Root: that is an intense experience.

Karyn: Totally,

Lucas Root: You didn't tell me about this before.

Karyn: no, and yeah, I mean, it was, you know, I,

I got some,

Lucas Root: know, a Lakota lodge is a very spiritual and intense experience.

Karyn: the first time I went into the sweat lodge, it was by personal request because it was kind of an off day and they have two lodges.

Lucas Root: requested or, or they


Karyn: it because I had got some disturbing news about my mother, that her cancer had returned, and that she had a big tumor, and, so, I asked, , if we could do a sweat, and I [00:39:00] learned that when you go into a sweat, you, you go in on your hands and knees, first you're,, you're smudged, and then you go in on your hands and knees, and everybody's in, you know, like, almost like you're in a sardine can, you know, close and, you know, they're, they bring in the stones and the stones are brought in with a deer antler.

And, you know, they pour water on the stones and they're chanting, they're singing in their native tongue. And I had an experience that first time where I was told that my mother, would pass in six months. And I had the, I had the silent scream in the towel and, but I was also told this will be a very special time for you both.

That, do not miss out on any [00:40:00] moment to spend with your mom, and that this is her great liberation. That she will be liberated from her suffering as she moves on in the spirit realm, and What a blessing. What a blessing that, that first sweat was to, to have that knowledge, , to cherish that time together and don't leave anything unsaid.

And that really is how it went. I got to be with her, her last 11 days, and say everything on my heart, and she said everything on her heart, and honestly, even though my mother was like my dearest, sweetest connection ever in life, I didn't grieve as hard, because we had shared our, what was on our hearts, and I knew she was being liberated from her suffering, and [00:41:00] it was so incredible.

You know, to have that preparation and the love of that community,, like being white and entering into a native community and you know, they welcome all races, yellow, black, red, and white, and we're all brothers and sisters.

Lucas Root: It's true.

Karyn: And so, you know, I feel

so blessed.

Lucas Root: while you were in India and, and feeling the impact of being brothers and sisters.

Karyn: Just the. International population of, people from Asia, all kinds of Asian countries, South American countries, Nordic countries, European countries. , we were all different nationalities speaking different languages. [00:42:00] They had , their headsets that would translate into their native tongues and, One of the groups.

I think second or third group time that I went, you know, , larger groups of like 400 people and, Asian people are very excitable and they don't want to miss out on anything. And so they run and they want to get first in line because, , they don't want to miss out on, , the, the joy and the spiritual.

, energy's there and, it's very different from our coat culture. We're taught to hold back. We're taught to, be polite and, early on in this course that I was in this 30 day course, I was feeling annoyed, , you have a little bit of jet lag too, and you're adjusting to the heat and.

[00:43:00] Oh,

Lucas Root: there. And you're tired. Yep.

Karyn: it's, , it's like being in a sauna. You go outside and you, your body just melts. And, so I was feeling a little irritable at the Asians who were,

Lucas Root: speed running.

Karyn: Full speed running and , want to get on the bus first and I had gotten up because they would take us back and forth from the campuses , on a bus.

And , you could stand holding the, the pole as long as you got on, it was fine. So I'd had this experience of feeling really annoyed at these Asian people. And all of a sudden this sweet Asian man, like saw me carrying all my, my backpack and my goods for the day. And, he stood up and he gave me his seat and I just, tears came and I felt so much love and.

I [00:44:00] realized, , you can't label, , a whole group of people, the same, , that there was, there was also, even though they're, they're excitable and eager, they're also very loving, and it just warmed my heart and removed , that frustration I was feeling, and then I had a second experience where I was, on the bus, you know, after being in meditation, meditation.

All day long. This is like evening, you're going back and you're tired and you're hot and you're, you have all your bags and, and this lovely Asian woman saw, you know, my load and she just reached up and grabbed my bags and took them, , I'm just going to remove, , the weight off of you and you're hot.

And she held all my bags and again, it was, , a heartwarming experience of just feeling loved by, , they didn't know my name or, , but, being in this, [00:45:00] this energy field of the Oneness University. was a very heightened spiritual experience. And if you're, you're feeling some irritation, you ask, , please help me with this.

Please help me,, dissolve this, whatever it is, , and immediately it would happen. And there were so many people who had miraculous experiences of being healed from serious illnesses and serious obstacles and, it was just totally, incredible, all the things that happened.

And then I can share one other thing with one of my last experiences. I was, , on a limited budget and flying coach. And when you travel to India, it's 22 hours in several different airports and, and,

Lucas Root: long [00:46:00] trip.

Karyn: I was praying like two days prior, like, know, please help me get upgraded or like, thank you for the upgrade.

And then three times I got upgraded into first class so that, , you could lay down, you could sleep, you're being offered food, you know, throughout the trip. And so I felt like enormously blessed, , and part of it is saying yes. You know, saying yes and not, worrying about the, the expense and knowing that the divine provides and that's what happened for me.

I was provided for in beautiful ways and so grateful for these experiences.

Lucas Root: That's amazing. What a story, Karen. Thank you. Tell me a little bit about [00:47:00] what you're doing with the community center now.

Karyn: So two years ago, I, had this clarity that, I. Was to live in Hawaii where, you know, the, the weather is


Lucas Root: nobody hates to hear that, by the way.

Karyn: , just the warm weather and the ocean and, there is a part of the big island that is considered an energy vortex. So the Puna area near Hilo is considered, , a high vibrational place for healing. And so I really wanted to live there. I had gone there ten years prior. When I was a grad student at Merrillhurst, I went there on a healing retreat and I had the insight that you're going to live here, but down the line after you finish your [00:48:00] degree and, things are in order.

And so I went to the Big Island, actually two years ago, almost to the day, it was December 13th that I went there with just,

Lucas Root: A couple days ago,

Karyn: Just two suitcases. I had only my clothing.

I had a one way ticket and I didn't know where, where I was going to live. But I knew it would be provided. I knew it would open up and it did.

I stayed in a few Airbnbs and I met these lovely people who offered to rent me a room. And so I, I, Stayed with them,

Lucas Root: how lovely.

Karyn: For six months. And again, it was community. They, they felt like I was meant to be with them. I moved in on [00:49:00] Christmas day. And they felt like I was their Christmas gift. And I met all the neighbors.

And, because they had this potluck for all the people that didn't have family on Christmas. And so I met them and Had immediate connections and love, like they were happy. I was there. We started, , hanging out and playing board games. And I felt immediately like I was loved, welcomed and, , had friends that, , would help me if I needed something.

And these folks also helped me get a car, right away. low cost. And then they, finished out a cottage that was in their back that was under construction. And that is where I live now. I have a, a cottage, a one bedroom cottage on one acre that they own and, my [00:50:00] car and everything just happened miraculously.

So I was looking for, An opportunity because I'm, I'm also Kundalini yoga teacher and I wanted to teach at the senior center. And so again, I was like immediately welcomed. They already had a number of yoga teachers and they said, well, what else do you teach? And I said, writing, and they were very excited.

They didn't have somebody teaching writing. And so immediately I was hired to teach, write your life story. creative writing to a group of seniors. And this was one year, one year ago. So I've been doing this for a year and I had no idea what to expect how, you know elderly these people would be and what their writing level [00:51:00] experience was and, I was stunned.

I was stunned at their youthfulness, even though, , they're in their 70s and some were in their early 80s.

Lucas Root: hmm.

Karyn: Incredible stories. Incredible writers. And then the same folks were excited that I was there teaching writing and keep signing up every time they, they want to take it again and again and again.

And so I have the same,

Lucas Root: We're becoming your loyal fans.

Karyn: yes, and then new folks joining because they would tell people. , I'm taking this class and, , it's, it's really fun and I'm writing, , stories for my, my family, my children, so I can preserve my life history for my children. And so I taught the creative writing course the first time around, and then they said, Oh, if you want to teach another class.

We can [00:52:00] offer world traditions. And so then I started teaching, world traditions. And what happened was so incredible that I was given this free reign that. I could research and share with these students traditions that are not in the world religions textbooks.

Lucas Root: Mm hmm. You're

Karyn: So we covered the Vikings, the Druids, the Celts, the Egyptians.

The, The, the Grecians, the Romans, , and they keep signing up because they also know they can suggest an area of the world that they want to learn about and that I have the freedom to investigate. So one of the things that happened this [00:53:00] last quarter is we covered Mongolia and we learned all about, Genghis Khan and the misconceptions, the misinformation that has been spread about him, how he made education available for women and how he implemented Laws for interfaith practices.

It was just so exciting. And so they watch documentaries. I send them at home and then they, we come together and we talk about these different traditions and, and the common threads. that are within all of them., You know, Love of nature, respect for ancestors, re love for the children, passing on the wisdom to the children, healing through nature and through herbs [00:54:00] and shamans, and like all of them, the Polynesian groups we studied and, the Aztecs and the Mayans and the Rastafarians.

And, oh, it was just so much fun. I feel like I'm like being stretched just with this joy of being able to learn myself. Like we're, we're journeying together in this investigation and study.

Lucas Root: I love it. Okay. I, I could talk about this all day,

but unfortunately

Karyn: I know.

Lucas Root: you do know we have,

Karyn: Yeah.

Lucas Root: we, we do have to let our listeners go.

Karyn: Okay.

Lucas Root: I like to I like to wrap up my interviews with three questions. The first is for the people who are inspired and delighted and they want to be able to reach out to you, or they want to join a local religious.[00:55:00]

World, world religion studies course. How do they find you? What's the one best way for them to reach out?

Karyn: They are more than welcome to email me. My email is my name, Karen Chambers, all lowercase, 598 at gmail. com. I love getting emails and I'm happy to answer any questions and any of the information I have. I'm also on Facebook, Karen Chambers. Karen with a Y, Karen with a Y, and I'm living in Hawaii, and so, yeah, I would, I would welcome friend requests and communication there.

Lucas Root: Yeah. Especially if you're in Hawaii and you want to learn about world religions from somebody amazing. Second question. is, this is a curved ball. It's a good thing you're sitting down.

Karyn: Okay.

Lucas Root: What is the one question that you wish I had asked you, [00:56:00] but I have not?

Karyn: Hmm.

Lucas Root: Making you think on your feet here.

Karyn: What is the one mode of spiritual practice that was instrumental in, Expediting your path

Lucas Root: Oh. Oh, I love that. We have models to draw from, right? So, Siddhartha, go into the forest and meditate for 40 days. And, , Jesus, go into the desert and meditate for 40 days. iT's, it's fun to learn from the models, but of course, your lived experience is unique to you. So, what is it for you?

Karyn: Well in 2011 I learned about an energy transmission That is called Deeksha D e e k s h a and it is a hands on [00:57:00] blessing and this hands on blessing Actually opens your third eye And it rewires your brain so that it activates dormant parts of your brain so that it assists you with clearing out any kind of emotional baggage, , that you haven't dealt with yet.

And it's more of a, a heart based technology. that, , aligns all of your chakras and, totally like increases the energy in your crown and makes miracles happen.

Lucas Root: Hmm.

Karyn: You know, it's like, it's like


Lucas Root: from yeah how is this different from the Christian Lay on Hands or the Jewish Lay on Hands? I

Karyn: not, it's the same.

Lucas Root: I love it. Just under a different [00:58:00] name.

Karyn: Diksha is Sanskrit.

Lucas Root: Mhm.

Karyn: And so Diksha means initiation.

Lucas Root: Mhm.

Karyn: And so it's an initiation that a student receives from a master that has its own intelligence. It has its own Ability.

Lucas Root: it's different from a lay on hands. See a lay on hands isn't necessarily about passing something on, it's about affecting the moment.

Karyn: Ah,

Lucas Root: Oh, I love it.

Karyn: our hands have chakras and our hands can transmit light and you're, you become an empty vessel and you focus on blessing the person that you're in the presence of , and giving them the initiation.

Lucas Root: Yeah. Oh, I love it. Hmm. I can't wait to get one from you.

Karyn: Yeah. Yeah.

That would be my privilege. Yeah.[00:59:00]

Lucas Root: oh, thank you. Third question. Do you have any parting thoughts? Hmm.

Karyn: Don't be afraid to. explore and investigate. Some people are afraid they're going to lose their faith and that, , it could be disastrous. And it's actually the opposite. To investigate, to go, go as an observer to the Sikhs, the Buddhists, the, The Muslims, the Jewish people, even like it's so incredibly beautiful and out of all the places that I've gone stepped in not knowing anybody.

They were all hospitable, welcoming, loving. I was, I left feeling very moved and very [01:00:00] glad that I went

Lucas Root: Because we're all family.

Karyn: because we're all family.

Lucas Root: I love it. What a what an amazing core message, Karen. Thank you. Thank you I appreciate you being here.

Karyn: It is a blessing for me. Thank you very much.

Lucas Root: Yeah

Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.

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