Article Feature

The Ageless Wisdom of Nancy Roof

Rhonda Fabian | You’re so loved by this community, Nancy. It is a joy to be with you. The impulse that started Kosmos more than 20 years ago must have been very strong with everything going on at that time. What was it that really called Kosmos into being?

Nancy Roof | It is with great happiness that I have been invited to share my perspective on Ageless Spirit with the Kosmos community. It has given me an opportunity to pull together some deeper personal and collective spiritual wisdom and experience that may be helpful to others searching for meaning in their lives during these disruptive times.

Kosmos was originally called Spirituality and Reality. The two colleagues, Ven. Chung OK Lee, Head Minister of the Manhattan Won-Buddhist Temple and Co-President of World Conference on Religions and Peace from South Korea and Abdelkader Abbadi, UN Political Affairs from Morocco, and I had just published a book called A Vision for the New Civilization. We were concerned about the materialistic culture and separative mindsets of the time that led not only to conflicts between individuals but also between nations. We believed that putting a spotlight on values and spirituality underlying these problems could help bring nations and citizens closer together in harmony and peace. After the first two issues of Spirituality and Reality were published my colleagues moved on to other projects. It now became my responsibility to rename and design what eventually became Kosmos Journal.

Rhonda | You decided to publish it as a beautiful keepsake print journal, but you didn’t necessarily know a lot about publishing!

Nancy | I knew nothing about journalism or publishing! Our approach was planetary, distinguishing between corporate globalization and planetary care and concern. New advisors from various countries gathered around our mission of transformation. Every continent was represented.

We attracted the intellectual rigor of pioneers and visionaries in collective systems – education, government, economics, science, environment and more, as well as those whose work reflected a sensibility to heart and soul. Rather than analyzing the separate systems, we sought their wholeness and interdependence.

We looked for the kind of beauty that touched and even stunned the heart into opening, through images that reflected the sacredness we felt. Unlike most journals we sent a message of love, care, warmth, and wisdom that inspired healing and active participation in our readers. It was original and unique based on the recognition that we were entering a new paradigm.

It took enormous courage to overcome my fear of failure. Unshakable trust in inner guidance gave me the energy and vitality to say “Yes.” I worked seven days a week without exhaustion or struggle. According to Taoist philosophy, when we try to control and force outcomes, we create frustration and chaos. When we let go of control and allow things to happen we flow effortlessly with the natural energy of the universe. Kosmos arrived and I simply followed the flow.

Essays are made: they are constructed over time, like drystone walls.
Poetry arrives: it drops from the sky like dew, and is shaped as it flows onto the page
Paul Kingsnorth

Rhonda | If I’m correct, you started Kosmos around the age of 70. What was it at that moment in your life that inspired you so deeply?

Nancy speaking at the UN

Nancy | I think that my whole life experience was essential to the founding of Kosmos. Discovering the Ageless Wisdom in my 30’s after a painful Dark Night of the Soul – co-founding The Mountain School for Esoteric studies, earning a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology – developing courses in experiential education – becoming a mentor for many spiritual aspirants – being pulled to participate in the United Nations – co-founding the Values Caucus and then the Spiritual Caucus at the UN – developing and leading trauma programs for war-torn Yugoslavia – co-authoring A Vision for a New Civilization. My life was full of active service projects. I travelled around the world presenting a vision of the new civilization based on spiritual values. It was time to bring all these experiences together and share with a wider audience.

Rhonda | You speak of inner guidance or a voice within that you’re able to attune to and receive from. Tell me more about that and how it evolved in your lifetime, this inner knowing.

Nancy | It all began with a self-developed experiment in my early 30’s. I experimented with how I made decisions, some by rational thinking and analysis and the others by energetic impulse, being drawn in a particular direction. As a result of the experiment I realized that I was inwardly guided towards the right approach to situations in life by a dynamic inner energy that superseded rational analysis. I would follow that energy for the rest of my life.

Photo by Poppie Pack on Unsplash

Another transformative experience dropped into my awareness at a difficult period in my life. I felt unloved and desperate. I even contemplated suicide. I was divorced and living on $75 a week, supporting three beloved children and working two jobs. One day I was stunned by the beauty of a delicate creamy pink flower image. It just dropped into my mind. And it spoke to me. “You are looking for love in the wrong places. Love is a part of you. You just need to BE love. You can smile at a stranger anywhere. You can give love wherever you are.” This realization totally changed my life. I now believe this transformative experience signaled a movement towards living more as soul. Love and beauty became central to my life and have expanded ever since. The beauty of that delicate flower has stayed with me throughout my life as a sacred symbol of transcendent love. It is this kind of beauty I tried to share with Kosmos.

Rhonda | I’m always struck by your ability to act from Presence – loving kindness and detachment – even to the point of letting go of people and things – including Kosmos to a great degree.

Nancy | I was very identified with the work I did internationally for Kosmos. I had a very active life traveling and having the honor of meeting visionaries of the new paradigm. This had to end as I got older. You were there, dear Rhonda to carry Kosmos into its next phase. One of the most important decisions we have to make in life is when to let go and give the younger generation the opportunity to bring their new ideas into the work. It seems that as people live longer now, they are less able to let go. causing numerous problems in our political and social culture.

At Findhorn’s New Story Summit, Nancy Roof with peace advocate Neema Namadamu and (left to right) Dot Maver, Rhonda Fabian, Cynthia Jurs, and Tara Stuart.

It took some time to slow down and let go after many years of active service in the world. I was concerned about whether and how I could still contribute in some way. Polio symptoms returned from 70 years ago when I was completely paralyzed except for my hands. Although housebound by necessity, I was ready and eager to drop out of society completely and spend my remaining days engaged in deepening my understanding and experience of consciousness. My meditations had been focused on heart and soul, appropriate for an active period of service. Now they shifted to spirit and nonduality appropriate to my new stage of contemplation.

Another letting go was to follow. I was diagnosed with incurable kidney failure and given 6 months to live. Accepting this reality, I now prepared for death. The ageless wisdom taught that death is a continuation of life on a different plane beyond spacetime. I was ready. Deepening my knowledge and practice of nonduality helped me acclimate to other planes of consciousness. Sleep became important. Deep sleep is the closest experience to death we have every night and I wanted to know more.

Miraculously, my ‘incurable’ kidneys began to heal, leading to an abrupt reversal of focus. Again, I was waiting to discover the right direction through spiritual impulse, rather than rational thought. What excites me and makes me feel alive now? In addition to research and practice of inner consciousness, I detect an aliveness around understanding how the religious impulse will be manifested in these liminal times and in the new paradigm.

Sophia, Nancy and Willy

I am interacting most of the time with my dogs, Willy and Sophia. I am fascinated by the potential of inter-species love and the responsibility we have to help them unfold their full potential.

I got rid of the oxygen equipment supplied by Hospice and filled my room with living plants. I am drawn to the magical images of the new cosmology and the influence of the solar and galactic environment surrounding planet earth and am into the new physics. I’m intrigued by scientific discoveries that corroborate what the ageless wisdom discovered centuries ago.

I’m reading the post-modernists who are starting to develop a wholistic approach to life that includes “souls, systems, and societies” as per Jonathon Rowson and Perspectiva and warm data of Nora Bateson. Rather than beliefs and rational ideologies there is a demand for immersion in experiential learning that deepens our living experience of the sacred. The ageless wisdom is beginning to unfold into the mainstream and young souls are bringing in fresh ideas such as Presencing through Otto Scharmer.

Perhaps I’m still alive today to be one of those voices that supports and lives a new consciousness of expanded relationships and care both horizontally and vertically.  Sitting in my wheelchair with my dogs and plants and the luxury of time, I feel more connected to the worlds than ever before through the internet externally and through expanded consciousness internally.

Rhonda | I’m hopeful that this quality of awakening is arising in many different sectors, many different people, despite these very difficult times. My teacher says Nirvana is all around us, but we don’t realize it most of the time. What do you think of that?

Nancy | I believe there is Life from the beginning. It is in the seed, ready to be discovered as it unfolds in our lives. We are aware and respond based on our consciousness. Our task is to uncover the loving Oneness and interrelationships that enfold our world by letting go of what is obstructing realization and listening silently to what is coming.

Rhonda | Beautiful. Nancy, the theme of this issue of Kosmos is Ageless Spirit. You are an ageless spirit, an elder who’s shining wisdom and light from your heart into the world. And there are other spiritual teachers, some in their nineties or older, who by their very existence, are still adding much to the collective consciousness. Ageless Spirit also speaks to the vast nameless wisdom that has existed since the start of time. In your 94 years, how are these two ideas related?

Nancy’s 90th Birthday

Nancy | I was very fortunate to discover the ageless wisdom teachings when I was in my 30’s. My early influences included Alice Bailey, Psychosynthesis, Jungian analysis, Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber and more. My PhD in transpersonal psychology expanded the learning to a variety of religious approaches, experiential education and alternative medicine. The endless search continues today as physics, widens the field and new wisdom comes to light in an alive and unfolding universe.

I do want to say something about my perception of spirituality as I perceive and live it, based on the ageless wisdom. Meditation, study, and service are the foundation. Self-mastery of our physical, emotional, and mental bodies involves identifying and letting go of obstructions to unfoldment. Life situations test our progress on this difficult path. More than sitting meditation, it involves continuous awareness of our interior self throughout the day and night, remaining in a state of awareness in the Now. Past and future are recognized as merely thoughts. What is real is the present. It is a never-ending process of letting go of the conditioning we’re born with as individuals (karma) and enculturated to as members of society.

With no responsibilities outside of my own household I have more opportunity to live moment to moment in the Now, just being awareness flowing with universal energy. I am deeply grateful to be graced with the freedom of this time.

Rhonda | Yes, I have witnessed your transformation these past few years. You have a kind of ageless translucence. I think there’s a difference between getting ‘older’ and getting ‘elder.’ If we just get older, clinging to our fears, we’re likely to become anxious about change. Whereas those who are ‘elder’ often are quite joyful, love being with young people, and are delighted to share and to learn. It comes back to this process of letting go, or letting be.

Nancy | One of the hardest decisions life brought to me was letting go of people I loved who unknowingly interfered with my spiritual unfoldment. Tears come to my eyes just thinking of the deep angst I felt.

Rhonda | This is a the seeker’s journey. You want to share the fruits with your loved ones and others around you, but there’s also a time when some relationships no longer nourish.

Nancy | The beauty is that even though they are not in our outer life, they are in our hearts. We can still love them, though perhaps the relationship was difficult.

Rhonda | So here we are in this moment, and so many of the things that you intuited, that Kosmos presented, that you spoke about have come to pass. Now what?

Nancy | If we fully accept the reality of the present it gives us a clue as to the next step of unfoldment. Aggression, conflict, violence, and confrontation are rampant and increasing. Lies and deception make it difficult or impossible to know what is real, and artificial intelligence increases the possibility of distorted information and images. Traditional religion is waning. Institutions are collapsing and attempts to fix them with more of the same are not succeeding. Materialistic science does not accept phenomenological evidence and values. Suicide, depression and loss of meaning are rising. Families and communities have lost a sense of human connection and belonging. Some believe the metacrisis will destroy the human race and have built bunkers to survive. The sense of powerlessness over the pain and suffering is acute. Many feel there is no way out.

Others believe that technology will save us. Despite its many benefits, there has been a price to pay. Extreme cold rationalism has overshadowed the heart and soul of our individual and collective lives. There is a yearning to move beyond the artificiality of machines. We miss the warmth of human contact. We are out of balance. According to Iain McGilchrist’s important research, the left brain hemisphere’s focus on quantitative way of knowing has eclipsed the right brain’s qualitative way of knowing. Heart and soul have no place in a culture of machines that threatens to destroy our humanity.

Now What? Doing more of the same has only increased the metacrisis. I believe it’s inevitable that we will discover that the deeper dimensions of our problems originate within. As the pain increases we will recognize that we have the wisdom and power to operate from a higher consciousness. We will experience an explosion of spiritual experiments applying the ageless wisdom to the culture of the times. Letting go of extreme rationalism and fostering Intuition, imagination, feelings, poetry and spiritual impulses will become acceptable ways of knowing, bringing back heart and soul. New leadership will not negotiate or compromise fundamental values, but will take a firm stand for what is right. Science will accept phenomenological evidence and more research will corroborate the ageless wisdom. The power to change is within, not outside of ourselves. Decentralization of power and hierarchies of “experts” in other areas will give more power to the people as well. We will realize that we are responsible for changing the world and that we have the capacity to do so – within.

Just like I once looked for love in the wrong places, now our culture is looking in the wrong places for peace. The answers were always within.

Rhonda | That’s heartening. And as excruciating as it is to bear witness to and social responsibility for suffering and death in so many places, I believe somewhere in my depths that we’re always in the process of unfolding creation, unfolding consciousness. We don’t need a meteor or volcanoes to have another extinction. We’re doing plenty that could bring it about in an instant; in an instant we could be gone. And yet there’s something so deep within me that gestures toward a different possibility. When Jesus said, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” I think he means we are unconscious. We are unaware that we are creating all of this suffering with our own minds. We’re unaware. Heaven on earth is possible, is available this very moment.

You’ve shared so much wisdom in this hour Nancy, what is it that you would like to ultimately say about Life to your loved ones who will certainly read this?

Nancy | The first thing that comes to mind is the extraordinary healing capacity of beauty. One magical precious flower softened my heart and destroyed my fears. It has led me to experience the deep calmness and love that surrounds us even in our pain.

Those who study the ageless wisdom are aware that the universe is organized around cycles and rhythms of transformation. Dark times precede transformative breakthroughs. We are called to dig deeper to understand and address the metacrisis. This means letting go of belief systems that sustain the dysfunctional society we live in. It involves an acceptance of the incompleteness of who we are. It involves the responsibility to work toward unfolding our full interior potential. We have the capacity to love and care for all beings. In truth, it is the foundation of who we are.

Nancy Roof and Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda | We are bread and wine to each other…you have been that to me, Nancy. I can’t express in words how transformational it has been to be near you, to know you, to work with you, to love you, to steward Kosmos. Thank you.

Nancy | Thank you. I’m so grateful that Kosmos is in your hands. I give it to you freely with love.

Rhonda | And I receive it with love, not as mine, but as an expression of our shared understanding and our shared communion with all.

Return to Ageless Spirit Contents Page

About Nancy B. Roof

Nancy Roof, Ph.D. is Founder and Editor Emeritus of the award-winning Kosmos Journal: Global Transformation in Harmony with all Life, based on evolving interior development and cultural values as they impact globalization and world community.

Nancy won the 2009 Images and Voices of Hope award for journalism as a tool to inform, inspire and engage individual and collective participation in a global shift to higher-level thinking. In 2004, Kosmos was nominated by Utne for excellence. Her testimony on the human dimension of the United Nations was distributed to the US President and Congress. She addressed 184 governments at the UN conference on Social Development on values.

As a founder of Transpersonal Psychology (late 70s), she served as a spiritual guide to individuals for 20 years. In the late 80s, she began to define the field of global transformation at the United Nations, where she successfully lobbied for elevated global standards in international treaties and co-founded the Values Caucus (1994) and the Spiritual Caucus (2000).

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