Tag: Spirituality

The Kiss

The Kiss

Just before I began writing this book, I came down with the flu. Breathing was a struggle, and the pain in my body was unbearable. I was so ill for so long that I didn’t think I would ever recover.
I let go of all hope of surviving – I had no choice.

I soon came to realize that my lack of hope was actually a blessing. Having given up, I could accept what was being presented in that moment – the possibility that I was very sick and might die. With that acceptance, my body relaxed and, for the first time in a long time, I was able to pray.

With all of my heart and soul, I asked for understanding as to the purpose of this illness. After a while, I felt warm all over, and I experienced something kissing me. Every aching muscle was being kissed and loved and soothed. I felt so full, so loved, and so blessed. I had received an answer to my prayer and my feeling of having been abandoned in my illness dis- solved. I saw that I really am in a relationship with God,as we all are.

Our relationship with God is no different from any other in the sense that we must learn to communicate our heartfelt needs, as we would to anyone whom we love and who loves us. The sense of being kissed has never left me and it has become one of the barometers to indicate my receptivity to God’s love. After “the kiss,” I began to heal very quickly. As I was recovering, this book was conceived.

How can we bring the kiss of God into our daily lives? How can we love ourselves as God loves us? My illness taught me that surrendering to what is, along with seeking a higher understanding, can take us to God. We must truly desire to discover the higher reason for every situation that we are in. If our desires and goals are strictly material, then we might find it harder to access a more refined state of consciousness. If we see the world as objects and circumstances that we must acquire, change or manipulate, or if we think our true reason for being is to attain some worldly desire or goal, we will miss the small, quiet voice inside of us that always seeks to expand our perspective.


Entering the magic doorway means living every moment in relationship with God or our higher Self, recognizing that every little event or circumstance reflects the quality of that relationship. How do we treat each person we meet? Do we uplift them with our love, or judge them as inept or a bother? How do we respect our living space? Do we see it as a temple for God or a place to crash or show off? How do we work with others? Is our ego in control or our love? How do we treat our own mind and feelings? Do we treat them with respect as we would a friend? Do we listen with an open heart, or do we get angry with ourselves for having bothersome feelings and thoughts? Do we wish they would go away, and then distract ourselves so as not to feel them? How do we nourish ourselves? Is it with good, balanced food, or is it with food that creates chaos in mind and body? These are only a few examples of how we can contemplate our lives, moment by moment. In so doing, we open the magic door to the wisdom of the inner Self, and see everything we encounter as another reflection of God.

Unconditional acceptance of what is, and the intention to know the truth, is the key. Feeling victimized by life is forgetting that we truly have all the power we need within our hearts. Every moment at its essence is another opportunity to enter the vast love of God. Memorable events such as marriage or childbirth are obvious avenues, but so are “ordinary” experiences such as a visit with a beloved friend, a flower, a beautiful scent, a rainbow, a pebble, a warm blanket, nourishing food… Even events we might judge as tragic, such as divorce, the death of a child, a terminal illness, and other kinds of losses can take us to God. Whether we experience wealth or poverty, joy or sorrow, warmth or cold, chaos or quietude, our judgments must be set aside and the moment itself must be embraced with an open heart. With our love shining, all distinctions, positive and negative, disappear, and all that remains is the constant, unchanging kiss of God.

Meditation Keys – The Kiss

Day One

See every object, person and situation in life as your own God Self, abundantly presenting you with the opportunity to enter the magic door.

Day Two

Spend an entire day respecting everyone – friend, stranger, or “enemy.” Respect every object you encounter – your car, your house, your computer, a pencil, a stone… See how that feels.

Day Three

Become like a child again, exploring this world with eyes of wonder, as if everything in it were brand new.

From Duality to Divinity

One of the reasons I was inspired to write this book was to share what I have learned about the
power of transmutation . Experiencing enlightenment at the peak of the greatest rage I had ever expressed challenged all of my concepts about right and wrong, good and bad. I saw that anything can be grist for the sacred mill if it accompanies a sincere intention to know the Truth.

In the past, I had always judged myself for “unacceptable” feelings such as anger, fear, jealousy, sadness and so on. Even though I could observe such states and not indulge them, I still felt that they shouldn’t be there. I have since learned that anything can take us to our Divine Self when it is allowed to “be.” As I have said in the Introduction and will repeat many times throughout this book, the magic key that opens the door to our divinity is a blend of our sincere intention to experience the truth, and our unconditional love and acceptance of whatever arises.

Throughout my life, I have longed to pierce the veils that have kept me from my God Self. But my overactive mind would pull me in the opposite direction, and I would try to satisfy my longing for the Divine with the distractions of the outer world, rather than the urgings of my inner self. This habit created a separation and a tremendous inner tension. Sometimes the tension would build and take the form of dissatisfaction, anger, hatred, fear, abandonment, loneliness, loss, and jeal- ousy. I would try to observe these states passing through, and sometimes that would dissolve them. But there were times when the thoughts created emotions that were too strong to ignore and I felt powerless to combat or transcend them. At such times, I came to understand that I was not in control, and that something larger than me was at the helm. Using my intention to know the Truth, I learned to ride the intensity of the emotion. When the tempestuous emotional seas calmed down, I could divine the purpose of such storms – to wash away my more deeply embedded attachments to things that no longer served me.

For example, there are times when the pressure builds between two people in a relationship. Things reach a point where no matter how faithfully each person observes the negative thoughts or feelings towards the other, or how many yogic techniques each of them uses to control the mind, the negativity won’t diminish. Then one day, the energy builds to such a crescendo that everything gets aired out and both people have been cleansed of the limitations that had kept their relation- ship stuck at a lower level. Thus the stormy emotional wave carries them to a new level of honesty. Just as a rainstorm removes the impurities in the air, so too can inner storms remove the impurities that keep us down and separate from God.

On one occasion, while living in a beautiful ashram with my meditation Master, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, with whom I studied for 16 years, the inner tensions built to such an extent that I was pushed through the divine door. On the surface, everything seemed peaceful, but the spiritual practices of selfless service, meditation, and chanting, and the grace of the Guru put great strain on everyone’s ego, including mine. At times, we all seemed a little mad. The crushing pressure on the contracted mind was meant only to relieve us of the veils that kept us believing we were limited beings rather than divine beings. Nonetheless, the pressure, designed to work on each person according to his or her particular need for growth, felt awful. I loved meditation but I had great aversion for the noise and busyness at the ashram. My aversion reached a peak one day when I was riding on a hot, crowded, poorly ventilated bus, feeling overcome by body odour, incessant chatter, and continual bumping up against my fellow passengers. For my highly sensitive nervous system, it all felt like torture; every moment felt like an eternity. A mantra was playing constantly and repetitively. I felt that if I heard one more “Om,” I would tear the speaker from the wall. I prayed fervently to God, “Please help me. I can’t bear this anymore.” The internal and external pressure built to such an intensity that just as I was about to lose it, in what seemed like a split second, my mind imploded into a whole other state of awareness. Rather than being bumped around, I was being carried on a gentle wave. All my irritation dissolved into peace and love. The mantras became a heavenly chorus and I felt at one with everyone on the bus. It was as if the pressure placed on the coal of my mind created a diamond of consciousness.

I was no longer just a body. I became pure awareness.awareness

Later, while taking a walk, another veil dropped. All the leaves on the trees shone with incredible brilliance. The sky, the pebbles, and the road became one with the shimmering Love. I felt as if I was touching the entire world with my hand, which was really a heart. I saw the face of God in all creation. I knew in that moment that I and everything and everybody in this universe are in God’s heart, as undulating consciousness. I felt deep gratitude and love, and I saw all of my unwanted pain as the pain of birth and the pain of death, and that entering into these tunnels with open and witnessing eyes, brought me to the light. Having witnessed the face of God in everything, my ideas about what was “spiritual” and what was “worldly” slowly began to dissolve. Labels no longer held any power over me. The concepts or boxes in which I had previously felt comfortable, were gone. The old me began to feel like a cardboard cutout animated by the creative power. Every moment and every place was of God’s essence. I saw how I was truly a part of the whole and not separate from anything; I was not different from others.

saw the one soul permeating throughout All That Exists. I saw that God has no judgment over us, and that all that we experience can be used as fertilizer to yield bountiful crops. I saw the only thing in us that needs changing is the belief that we are separate from God. The only purpose of our experiences is to push sufficiently hard on our self-judgment and perceived limita- tions, that any beliefs that separate us from God and each other can be shattered.

Meditation Keys

Recall a time when you felt strong irritation.

Where were you at the time? Who and/or what surrounded you? Relive this moment.

Remove the label “irritation” from this feeling and just explore the sensations that you are having.

Rest deeply in the sensations that you are experiencing. Ask to know the truth of who you really are.




I guess it was my time or rather God’s time. I was 29 years old, I had a good husband, I was a successful model and dancer. By conventional standards, I had an enviable life, and yet I felt somehow empty. Something was haunting me.

Then, during a routine check-up, my doctor told me that my uterus had completely dissolved and I would never menstruate again. I would never have any children. I was devastated by the news and was telling a friend about it when she told me about an upcoming workshop designed to take participants to enlightenment (2) provided they were willing to apply themselves. I felt a surging force of desire, stronger than anything I had ever known. My simple response to her was, “I must go!”

We both forgot about my uterus.

Getting myself to the workshop was surprisingly difficult. When I told Jeff, my husband, he said, “You can’t go.” He had never tried to prevent me from doing any- thing before, but this time he was not only adamant but angry. I felt that I was fighting for my life. I told him I was going anyway. The next day, I asked my boss if I could take Saturday off but he refused. Like my husband, he was adamant. I told him I was sorry but I must go. By the time I left for the weekend, I had no idea if I would have a job or a marriage when I returned on Monday. But I felt as if something greater was driving me and I had no control over it.

Sleeping bag in hand, I was dropped off at an old monks’ retreat/lodge outside the city. Everything was white and austere. No flowers. No colour. There was one tiny closet for everyone’s clothes. Each small bed- room had eight hard bunk beds. It was an icy cold night in November and everything felt harsh, cold, and naked. I just wanted to go home, but I also knew I had already crossed the line and there was no returning. I was ushered downstairs to the workshop room with the other participants where we were welcomed with herbal tea and honey. All of our valuables were collected, pack- aged, and stored away for safekeeping. We were not allowed to wear watches, jewelry, makeup, or cologne; nor were we allowed to drink coffee or eat anything other than the macrobiotic food provided.

We were told that during the workshop we would be paired off and would face our partners for one-hour intervals in which we would take turns asking each other one question, “Tell me who you are.” We would have an uninterrupted period of time to answer and then we’d switch roles. After an hour of this, we’d change partners and continue again. This would go on for 18 hours each day apart from rest and meal breaks.

On the first night, we did a few exercises to prepare our- selves, to get to know one another and to learn the technique. At the end of the evening, we collapsed into our hard, cold bunk beds. Nobody slept. We were awakened at 5:00 AM. It was horribly cold, I got up, stumbled to the bathroom, and made my way to the workshop room where I sat across from a half-asleep stranger who asked me the question, “Tell me who you are.”

I was miserable. I am not a morning person and have a great aversion to talking to anyone without at least a cup of tea first. But then breakfast arrived, I got a chance to shower, and returned to the routine. The sun slowly began to shine through and I began to feel better. Even my partners became more interesting and alive as they too began to warm to the routine. Alternating every few minutes, we continued asking each other the question, “Tell me who you are.”

I enjoyed baring my soul in this very safe environment. However, the facilitator warned us: “Stay focused on experiencing and communicating the absolute truth of, ‘Who you really are.’” Hours went by, lunch came and went, more cleaning, more exercises. The room began to take on a palpable quality of other worldliness. It was surreal. Day turned to night and I was exhausted. My head began to ache but I had to keep going. “Who am I?” “Who am I?” Over and over again. “Who am I?” became my mantra. By bedtime I was so sick and exhausted, I thought I would die.

I fell into the bunk bed and slept a bit. Then at 5:00 AM the morning bell rang, announcing the beginning of Day Two. I couldn’t believe that we could be so tor tured. To the bathroom and then down to the workshop room to sit in front of another partner with bad breath asking me, “Tell me who you are.”

I was getting angry and the pain in my head was getting worse. I thought of running away but there was no transportation back to the city. Breakfast passed, showering, more partner work, lunch. The pain and frustration was getting worse for all of us. Many had vomit bags next to them. The pain in my head was unbearable; I felt as though it was about to explode. Finally, at about 4:00 PM, every cell in my body felt like it was being crushed. I couldn’t bear it anymore. My partner asked the question, “Tell me who you are.”

I looked him straight in the eye and said with the most rage I had ever expressed in my life, “Who the Hell do you think I am!?!” Then with great force, I screamed out, “I Am Me!” At that moment, I heard a huge cracking sound at the top of my head. Suddenly, I was free of all of my aches, pains, and limitations. Perhaps this is how death feels.

I became a very large presence. The facilitator noticed and came rushing over, saying, “Who are you?” I replied, “I Am Me!” I couldn’t describe in words this all- pervasive experience of freedom and knowing, but the “Me” I felt was not my body or personality. “I am God!” I said. Then I pointed to myself and said, “This is God.” “I Am!” The facilitator laughed heartily.I began to laugh uncontrollably and fell off my chair. I rolled around on the floor in fits of ecstasy, laughing at all of the lifelong beliefs that I was just this body and its desires, hopes, and dreams. I wanted to share my joy with some of my other partners but they just sat there looking at me as if I was insane. They remained in the same great misery that I had just come out of. I realized in that moment that I was having a deep inner experience, not anything visible except for the light that some could see emanating from my body that divine day.


For the rest of that day and night I was bathed in light and felt love toward everyone and everything. All the things that I had hated the day before were now luminous and beautiful. I spent three hours weeping as I looked at my hand and arm. I was awestruck at the miracle of the body that I lived in. I felt great reverence for the power that lay behind this magnificent creation, even though I now knew that I was that power. I was experiencing the divine union of my body and soul. Nothing has ever come close to the supreme joy of that state. Every person who sat before me was God. And by the end of the weekend, I knew that I would never be the same again.

When I arrived home, my husband was happy to see me and I still had a job on Monday – at least for a while. Each person I interacted with at work felt divine. Looking deeply into their eyes, I felt tremendous compassion for them as they shared their problems with me. I knew then that God knows everything about us and has infinite patience.

But the most unexpected and shocking change was that I began to menstruate after not having been able to for five years. My doctor was curious and concerned and ordered some tests. A few days later, he called and told me that my uterus was completely whole and perfectly healthy. A specialist in his field, the poor man was baffled. But I knew that a miracle had taken place.




Once upon a time, a Being of Light from a far away galaxy looked down upon Earth and asked God, “Why do they suffer? Why do they forget? Aren’t we all free?”

God replied, “Yes, but sometimes a soul needs to forget for a while in order to find the doorway back to divinity”.

“But why this game?”

“To know love in the human heart is the greatest game of all. To be reunited in the place of greatest separation is the highest service to all of Creation. The human body contains within it a precious jewel hidden in the heart. The longing of the soul creates the seeking and eventually the finding of the unsurpassable joy of knowledge.

Humans have a body in order to know attachment, separation, emotion, sensation, insecurity, fear, darkness, light, confusion, clarity, living, dying, greed, hate, love, pride, humility, lust, self-righteous-ness… All of these experiences pull the heart apart, until one day when the pain is too much and a little prayer is uttered, the light seeps through the cracks and human beings fall to their knees, humbled before me, forgiven, embraced, renewed, and made whole.


We separate so we can play this game, so we can experience my great Love that exists in every way and in every thing. Humans are my most precious children and so we play hide and seek. I am never far away. I am just hiding behind the Magic Doorway, waiting to shower them with the brilliant light of their own eternal Self.”



A stream of grace seduces me into itself.
The light is so bright, yet so gentle.
It cradles me like a child –
Healing me, and giving me Love like I’ve never known. As I grow comfortable wading here,
The seasons change. The waters rise.
And the stream becomes a flowing river.

The river is passionate, like a lover
And it enters every orifice and satiates every desire, More than any earthly man could.
What more do I need?
I have everything here!
So I dive in, trusting the flow of the river.

The seasons change
And the river grows more intense.
Its raging waters deposit me into a furious ocean.
I thrash around, struggling for life, gasping for breath, Abandoned and betrayed by the light. Darkness is all around me now – no light to be found.

I keep trying to escape,
But all I meet is fear, anger, helplessness, and pride. I grow so tired. My heart is broken, Shattered to the core.
Death would be a welcome relief.

But I am suspended in this deep, dark ocean Waiting for what, I do not know. Exhausted and beaten, I finally give up the fight.
I am ready to die. I have nothing left to hang on to.

I fall into the dark stillness I have always feared. I face it. Breathe it. I rest in it, and I become it. The ocean that was swallowing me becomes me.

The tides change.
I am washed up on the shore, But strangely I am the shore too. I am the bird that sings,
The pebbles that shine in the sun. I am even the sun. “Where did I go?” I wonder.

Now I know.
My small I has been replaced by everything.



The vision for The Magic Doorway into the Divine came to me while walking along a country road one hot summer’s day in the mid-1990’s. It was to be a simple book filled with poetry, meditations, and conversations with God. A couple of years later, I met an East Indian mystic who, upon meeting me for the first time, said, “You must write that book, it will help a lot of people.” I was startled that he would know a secret that I had forgot- ten; but I was also inspired to begin scratching down a few notes. In the process, a larger force began to take over, and eventually my scribbles blossomed into this book.

The Magic Doorway into the Divine chronicles a search that began 25 years ago when a life-altering mystical experience and profound healing awakened me to my true Self. The effect of this awakening changed my life so completely that everything I had assumed to be true evaporated, leaving me in unknown territory. For many years I walked through a fire that opened my heart, seared my soul, and graced me with the knowledge that we are not just small, limited creatures. We are one with God’s love.

Like a phoenix, The Magic Doorway into the Divine arose out of the ashes of this fire. In the writing, it taught me about the power of Divine Love and how such Love can be found in every moment of life, with every person, in every place, and in every thing. The metaphor of the magic doorway is an image to help us

understand what opens the doors, what closes the doors, and what takes us beyond all doors to the Garden of Love.


Spirituality is romanticized by many seekers who do not fully understand or do not wish to acknowledge that the pain one can experience in letting go of the ego can be horrific at times. In this book, I share some of my experiences and hold nothing back about the suffering as well as the joy that I have encountered in this journey to Truth. Enlightenment is not a linear process and cannot be controlled or captured with the mind. I have learned that one must embrace contradiction as an essential part of the journey.

Each section of The Magic Doorway into the Divine be- gins with a conversation between God and a Being of Light from a faraway galaxy. Their discussion about a lesson that human souls on Earth need to experience is fol- lowed by a poem that takes the reader more deeply into the heart of the matter. The teachings are then expand- ed upon by a philosophical essay, followed by short self- help “meditation keys” that can open the door into the reader’s own divinity.

Part I

Crossing the Threshold, expresses the miraculous power and healing that is possible when we touch the Truth.

Part II

The Door Openers, is a celebration of what we can be when we turn our minds to a higher perspective and, like alchemists, transmute every situation into love.


In Part III

The Door Closers, the poetry is written from the perspective of the ego, which has no interest in God or divinity. These poems are intentionally provocative in order to help us see our delusions more clearly.

Part IV

The Journey Beyond the Doors, takes us into The Dark Night of the Soul, where nothing undertaken from the perspective of the personal will works. We discover that all mind-focusing concepts and techniques that might have worked in the past, no longer do. Any spiritual technique employed to open the doors to our high- er being has no power. We also find that we are unable to control our lives as we once thought we could; who- ever we have believed ourselves to be has been “erased.” This purification of the ego can be very distressing, but its ultimate goal is to take us to true humility. This, then, is where we learn that all striving is use- less; not a breath do we take without the Grace of God. There is nothing left to do but to surrender to God’s will.

In Part V

Returning To The Garden, we are new again, like chicks emerging from the cosmic egg, seeing the world with brand new eyes, seeing beauty and love in everything, accepting ourselves, letting go of the inner and outer war, and returning to the true Source.

The Magic Doorway into the Divine helps us to take our life challenges,  personal, financial, and other types of losses; relationship issues; physical, mental, and emo tional health concerns; spiritual emergencies, etc. – to a new level of consciousness. It teaches us how to bring unconditional love to every part of life, something that all of us, regardless of age, race or culture, long to experience. This book encourages us to take responsibility

for our lives and to actively participate in our healing transformation. There is nothing wrong with anything that we undergo in life. Everything is a magic doorway to God’s love.

Devrah Laval



In the Upanishads, Sankara, the great Advaitin scholar, characterizes the process by which one comes to know the Self as follows: “That which is devoid of all duality is described by adhyaropa and apavada, i.e. by super- imposition and negation, by attribution and denial.”

This book is about that paradoxical process of freeing the Self from all forms of attachment, suffering, and spiritual temptations only to discover, in that final phase of illumination, that the Self was never separate from God. There was no real duality to be overcome. This is the conclusion in the most famous instruction on the Self in the Chandogypa – Upanishad in chapter 9, verse 4: “Tat tvam asi, That Thou Art.”

But it would be a trap of the spiritual ego to simply know this with the mind; one must go through all of the stages of awakening and purification passionately, with one’s whole being.

Devrah’s book is a powerful application of this principle, for it has been birthed from the depths of her being. It has emerged from the burning crucible of her life so that the realization of non-duality is the Truth she inhabits moment by moment.

Rarely has a soul written of these classic stages of the mystical path with such candidness, creativity, and courage. Her “Door Openers” and “Door Closers,” which describe how the same experience can either open us to God or close us off, depending on our relationship to it, are unique.




But when Devrah describes her Dark Night of the Soul, you feel utterly drawn into the immensity of her heart and thus of God’s Heart. For Devrah’s book is a passion- ate account of a lover of God who finally realizes that this whole journey is about Love. It is about God’s Love that has been seeking us since the beginning of time. In the Catholic Mass, there is a phrase, “Quarens me sedisti lassus,” which translates as “Faint and weary Thou haste sought me.” The great Jewish mystic, Simone Weil, interprets this to mean it is God seeking us out; not the other way around as is commonly believed.

Devrah’s fearless account of her own journey reminds us that we are both the subject and the object of our longing.

Shirley Anne McMurtry, Ph.D.


What is this Doorway?

What is this doorway?
And does someone hold the key? When can I come through?
Who can set me free?
I punch, I scream, I kick the door And still I cannot see.
I’ll fight: I’ll kill until the end
To have my victory.
The years have gone: my youth has died, But not my misery.
There must be more that I can do.
I cannot simply ‘be’.
No longer can I fight, no longer can I kill. Who is this enemy?
Just then the door has opened wide And all I see is me.