Father A. A. Taliaferro

Here are two remarkable sermons written by Father Taliaferro and read by Chuck Robison in preparation for the Easter Holy Days.

The first concerns the meaning of Maundy Thursday


The second explains the Symbolism of The Cross


TOLLY’S WAY
(Copied from the December 1991 issue of D Magazine in Dallas.)

He teaches reincarnation and out-of-body travel. His followers range from Park Cities matrons to Willie Nelson. His message: Everything- including Cadillacs and summers in Carmel-is part of a glorious cosmic plan.

IT’S WEDNESDAY MORNING ON TURTLE Creek, time for these wives, widows and divorcees of Dallas gentry to gather in a lushly decorated Tudor and discuss the Big Questions. Bigger, of course, than who is cheating on whom, or planning the upcoming charity ball. Much bigger, you see, than any of their lives. The day and the hour dictate a deeper agenda: Cosmic consciousness. Life. Death. Reincarnation. Out-of-body travel. Karma.

Their teacher, an octogenarian with a comb of white hair, a benign smirk and priestly hands, takes his place in front of them in an antique cane chair. “Everything is great and wonderful.” he once proclaimed in this room. “It always was great and wonderful. It always will be great and wonderful. So if we say something is not great and wonderful, it’s not because it’s not great and wonderful. It’s because that’s the way we think.”

From this vantage, everything this morning is looking great and wonderful indeed: the Chinese antiques and Italian mosaics, the Chagall in the sun room, the smile on the face of the young stewardess getting her “fix” of mysticism. For the next 90 minutes, these two dozen or so women will ask him questions and he will tell them things their old ministers would not: that their bodies are only temporary dwellings that can be left at will, that reincarnation is a fact and that they can change the world by visualizing goodness three times a day. Perhaps best of all, he will tell them that everything-the husband’s indiscretions, the child’s addictions, the terror on the evening news, even their Highland Park addresses-is all part of a divine lesson plan. Many of the listeners, as they bask in the stream of words, wear the expressions of a cat being stroked between the ears. Some close their eyes, placing their hands flat on the legs of well-tailored pant suits.

Albert Achilles Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”), has been their guide for decades. Yes, before the Beatles knew a swami from a synthesizer. Tolly, as his disciples call him, had some of these ladies, chanting “Ohhmmmmmmm” in their Donna Reed dresses. Over the years, he’s been called a wise man and a great teacher, a heretic and a crackpot. To the women in this room he is a great source of light. Tolly is Guru. Indeed, the Guru of Highland Park.

He also is a deposed Episcopal (1) priest, the man who built one of Dallas’ wealthiest churches, only to be toppled and then resurrected with the help and good karma of the late Ann Cox and the power of her family oil fortune. That was 26 years ago. Since then, his connections have allowed him to overcome the protests of other clergymen and go on preaching to hundreds every Sunday at Southern Methodist University. Business execs, real estate yups, computer whizzes, entertainers and generations of the spiritually promiscuous all have been drawn into his orbit. 8.0 restaurant owner Shannon Wynne consults him for advice. Political activist Roy Williams, whose lawsuit forced Dallas to change the way it elected its city council, defers to him as a mentor. And when country superstar Willie Nelson, a longtime disciple, tied the knot for the fourth time this past September. Tolly conducted the private service in his office.

Tolly calls himself a Christian, but his teachings are nothing like what you heard in Sunday school. His main philosophical influence is Rosicrucianism, a four-century old mystical order that Tolly joined more than 50 years ago. The order, whose scholarship is widely considered dubious, claims roots to ancient wisdom stretching back to Egypt in the reign of the Pharaoh Akhnaton. Based in San Jose, California, the group claims 250,000 members worldwide who subscribe to a secret 17-year mailorder course that promises to uncover the truths of life and the universe from “development of personal magnetism” to “thought transmission.”

According to Rosicrucianism, a group of advanced beings from Earth and beyond are dwelling in our midst, invisibly guiding human events-the writing of Shakespeare’s plays (by Francis Bacon, Tolly believes), the design of the dollar bill, the uniting of Europe. But Tolly’s spiritual influences have few bounds. In his cosmic blender, Tolly combines selective scoops of mysticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, astrology, Jungian psychology, alchemy, physics and free-enterprise economics. He throws out the contradictions and flips the switch. Christ equals Krishna equals Buddha. All religions are one, and science is in no way incompatible with belief in the spirit world. “The scientist is the great high priest of the religion of the future.” he likes to say, and, “The Holy Spirit is akin to the speed of light squared.”

Dallas, in Tolly’s cosmic scheme, is a fertile crescent for new thought that will help transform the planet. “Where new approaches to religion are concerned, Dallas is on its way, in the next 25 to 50 years, to becoming a center,” he says. “I think the type of person who is attracted is the person questioning things,” says Jimmy Lawrence, the woman who has hosted Tolly’s twice-a-week classes in her home for a decade. Long ago, she says, her ex-husband, former Braniff International Chairman Harding Lawrence, warned her against Tolly. “This is a dangerous man,” he said. She didn’t believe it then, and she doesn’t now. “I think,” she says, “the people in this class are irritated if someone says ‘You’re not supposed to know that.'”

Tolly has two audiences-an inner circle and an outer. For the wider audiences in his church services at SMU, he discusses his belief system in vague, general terms. He’ll talk about rebirth or deliver an inspirational message on the power of the soul. But it is for the inner circle, those who faithfully attend classes in Lawrence’s home, that Tolly saves prophecies that would make the neck hairs of the uninitiated stand up. He tells them, for example, that one day Christ will pass off administration of the earth to an assistant-in-training, and that for a great period of time, the planet’s less-advanced souls will not be permitted to reincarnate, and that “the day will come when we will all transfer to a higher planet.” Yet, no matter how far out Tolly’s ideas do get, he can’t be dismissed as just another celestial snake oil salesman. He’s not a rank outsider or a mere appendage to Dallas society. He’s part of its very fabric.

He considers himself first a teacher, and as such he helped found some of North Texas’ first schools for retarded children and children with Down’s syndrome. He also founded one of the city’s toniest private schools-Dallas’ first Montessori- where parents (who generally know nothing of his theology) pay college-level tuition for their young to imbibe knowledge with the power lineage of Hunts, Crows and Dedmans.

Last spring. 28 years after he broke with organized religion. Tolly ended another acrimonious struggle when an expanded board of directors of the St. Alcuin Montessori ousted him in a fight over control. Tolly had refused to yield authority to a committee system and be phased out. “There is no in-between with him,” says retired North Dallas accountant C. Lee Connell, the former treasurer of Tolly’s church. Their friendship of more than 50 years was wrecked in the fight at St. Alcuin. “You either love him or you hate him.”

SMU’S SELECMAN HALL. MOTHER’S Day. Everything is as it should be. Light filters though the tall plantation shutters, falling on the women in their puffy-shouldered print dresses and the men in sensible suits. Tolly, in his priest’s collar and vestments, plays the baby grand, leading the congregation in “Amazing Grace.” Tolly reads from the Gospel. The parishioners of St. Alcuin’s Community Church, about 150 of them genuflect (2) on cue.

Then comes the sermon: “Oh wonderful, beautiful kingdom of light, Shed down upon these humble souls thy beam of cosmic consciousness . ..” No one here is surprised by the words, and Tolly, after rambling a bit about organized religion, man’s psyche and the sun, launches into a vivid explanation of his ideas on rebirth. “The soul creates the body. It chooses the parents,” he explains, sounding like a professor trodding familiar ground, “It chooses the place the parents are. It chooses the environment, the people involved in the family as well as in the community-the possibilities of coming in contact with persons and groups of persons in which the various aspects of the development of the incarnation can take place. “On Mothers Day it is very important for us to see this,” he goes on. “The reason for Mother’s Day, from a spiritual standpoint, is that we are reminded of the fact that there is a divine plan behind every birth of a soul in a physical body.”

On the karmic balance sheet, this impresario of the occult has come out ahead in this life. Reared in East Dallas, the eldest son of a postal worker, he now lives in a spacious Highland Park home, drives a Sedan de Ville Cadillac with vanity plates (“Tolly”), carries a country club membership and cools off by summering a month every year in Carmel. Albert was a brooding and sensitive boy who felt trapped in an ultrareligious family that worshiped in the Church of Christ. He spent much of his youth alone, contemplating his parents’ jealous, punitive God -“One of the most cruel concepts I heard of.”

Lucky for him, he was spared a mundane life by his uncanny ability to play the piano and by Dallas society’s willingness to embrace and nourish him. As a youth in the 1920s, Albert played organ at downtown churches and piano for WFAA radio’s The Early Birds orchestra. Music gave him his first glimpse inside Dallas’ worlds of business and art and those contacts would ultimately propel him to Ivy League schools and to music studies that would take him to New York, San Francisco and Paris.

“When the soul works,” he explained to his congregation as he approached his 80th birthday last February, “it works by making contacts psychically. . contacts will be brought into your zone of influence and awareness.”

Albert and his soul began making esoteric contacts early in life. He first left his body, he says, at the age of 9. Bedridden with pneumonia, he heard the doctor tell his mother that he would not live through the night. Suddenly, Taliaferro says, he felt himself rise up, hovering above the doctor, above his weeping mother and father and finally, above the earth, wafting in space. “It was not a dream,” he said recently in his office overlooking Turtle Creek and downtown.

By the time the Rev. C.V. Westapher arrived as an assistant at St. Michael in 1960, word of Taliaferro’s Rosicrucian connections had leaked out, and the church was at war with itself. A group of parishioners appealed to the bishop for Taliaferro to be removed. But before the year was over, Taliaferro resigned to work as a professional psychologist. “If he taught Rosicrucianism, he was teaching something below the sub-Christian level, and that offended many members of the congregation,” says Westapher. “He is a superb man for God-he just didn’t quite fulfill Episcopalian expectations.”

Betty Cone, one of those who followed Tolly into the Rosicrucians, describes the reaction that Taliaferro’s beliefs provoked in blunter terms. “The fit hit the shan,” she says. “They started a witch hunt.” Taliaferro spent the next few years counseling federal prisoners in Seagoville and looking in vain for an Episcopal church that would have him. He divorced his first wife and married Ethel Williamson, a divorcee in his St. Michael’s choir and the daughter of a wealthy Shreveport family.

In 1965, Tolly seemed born again. Ann Cox helped him launch the Montessori school, and she arranged through her husband, oilman Edwin L. Cox, for Tolly to have a place to preach at SMU. Unrepentant, Taliaferro wrote to the bishop explaining his ambitious plans for a new church at which he would once again preach his unorthodox views. An unimpressed committee of his peers advised the bishop to defrock him. Obviously, the Age of Aquarius had yet to dawn on the Episcopal hierarchy.

ST. ALCUIN COMMUNITY CHURCH, named after Charlemagne’s court teacher (Alcuin was never canonized by anyone except Taliaferro)(3) will continue at least until Taliaferro dies. Or, as he would put it, until he moves into his next “transition.” But the arrangement with SMU, which has lasted almost eight years since Ann Cox’s death, has left some of the SMU clergy wincing. SMU chaplain William M. Finnin suggested that the Perkins School of Theology discontinue Taliaferro’s $650-a-month lease on Selecman Hall, but to no avail. This fall, Tolly’s group was permitted to move across campus to the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The lease amount was unchanged.

“I think they have worn out their welcome,” Finnin argues. “First of all, he’s getting a very cheap ride. They pay an obscenely minimal amount, and as far as I can tell he is very well funded.” Tolly’s lifestyle indeed surpasses that of the average priest. St. Alcuin’s budget is simple. The draw from the weekly offering (usually around $500) goes toward rent of the hall and other church expenses, such as Tolly’s Cadillac and the church rectory, his house on Belclaire Avenue. What’s left over is for Tolly’s discretionary use, along with the money he makes from the classes and psychological counseling.

“It’s sort of a play church,” Finnan says in a tone resembling a pastoral sneer. Finnin insists his opposition is mainly for business reasons and principle, but he has little regard for Taliaferro’s theology. “What the group has put together is an eclectic New Age philosophy that has very little resemblance to biblical Christianity and that allows them to be very complacent with the wealth they’ve accumulated, earned or inherited.”

Taliaferro’s intensely protective disciples scoff at any such criticism and shun publicity. “You can not sum up in one did-dly-wa article what impact this man has had on the city,” says Paula Dennard, the widow of a Dallas investment banker. “People are different after they are around him,” she says. “They are saying, ’What is the meaning of life? What is its purpose? How can we link up hearts and souls for building peace?’ But if you put some of this in a magazine, people will think we’re crazy.”

Wanda Shannon, self-made stockbroker, real estate agent and former president of the Children’s Arts and Ideas Foundation, is one of the few working women among Tolly’s longtime female followers in the Wednesday class. She acknowledges that many of Tolly’s followers rely on him as a “crutch.” But she adds, “What he has said many times is that the very rich have the same problems as the very poor and having money doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. He has taught them to be unselfish,” she says. “He has taught them even if they have servants, to help the servants.”

Most of us, Taliaferro preaches, are running around like so many disconnected transistors, squandering our energies. The purpose of life is to learn, he teaches, and most of us are flunking the test. Those who don’t learn do it over in life after life. Meanwhile, he instructs those with money to use it for good purposes or risk losing it all like the Hunt brothers. Karma, he says, is a sort of Robin Hood.

“It always comes back to an individual having a purpose, whether you’re a capitalist or whatever you’re doing,” explains Jim Reid, president of Dallas’ Southern Dallas Development Corporation, who frequently attends Tolly’s church in blue jeans, leather sandals and a necklace made from antique Chinese stones.

The recurring villains in Tolly’s sermons are all organized religions, particularly fundamentalists, right-wingers and whatever Republican administration happens to be in power. “The primary cause of mental illness is religion,” he proclaimed in a feistier moment. Another time, Tolly declared modern abortion “a very great contribution to the human race… It doesn’t make any difference to the soul because the soul that needs an incarnation is going to find another body anyway.”

But there is one point on which Tolly agrees with some of the strictest fundamentalists: His God is a capitalist-an enlightened capitalist, of course. At the top of Taliaferro’s spiritual hierarchy are philanthropists and businessmen, not Mother Teresa. Asked if he’s known anyone who has come close to karmic perfection, Taliaferro shakes his head “no”. But then he goes on to praise the Rockefellers as some of the most advanced beings.

“The capitalistic system is just a system of psychic consciousness brought down to the material plane,” Taliaferro once said. “And it was revealed to the Rothschilds by the masters… The capitalist system is a system of creativeness. It’s not the profit system.”

As for those of his flock who don’t have millions, Taliaferro insists that they can influence the course of history by sending out thoughts of love and peace. It’s a fairly effortless salvation, some of Tolly’s critics point out. “In Christianity,” says Finnin of SMU, “we call that cheap grace-the idea that you don’t have to get your hands dirty.”

ROY WILLIAMS is discussing the divine order of all things and his agenda for “social action” over pasta salad and coffee at Massimo da Milano. Here, in the heart of North Dallas’ boutique belt on Lovers Lane, about 20 Tolly-ites assemble as they do every Tuesday after Taliaferro’s evening class. Williams, holding court at one table, describes his spiritual journey. A follower of Taliaferro for more than a decade and an initiated Rosicrucian, Williams filed the lawsuit that eliminated at-large representation at Dallas City Hall and essentially forced the 14-1 council plan. “The belief system we operate out of in dealing with Father Taliaferro is that you’re drawn to places and to people that you’re supposed to be with and I think through my search for self-realization I came across the most powerful vehicle in my environment, which was Father Taliaferro,” Williams explains. That’s the long way of saying that he was introduced to Taliaferro’s church through a woman he was having a conversation with at La Madeleine, his unofficial office near SMU. In this lifetime, Williams has forsaken steady employment so that he could fulfill his mission-whether that meant berating the City Council, calling news conferences or taking the city to federal court. “It is my belief this is something I set out to do in another lifetime and I’m just finishing up what I left off,” he explains.

Taliaferro is quick to distance himself from Williams. For that matter, he doesn’t endorse all the extracurricular ideas of most of his followers, many of whom have run the mystical gamut from fortune telling to fire walking to peyote rituals. He calls them novices, or simply, “the little children.”
As the night wears on, these aspiring mystics get weary of mysticism, and the talk drifts to other subjects: to Mexican vacations and Chinese food, to movies and automobiles.

Gary Blackburn, a thirtyish real estate broker from Irving, explains to a visitor the power of the mind over not only matter, but over the Mercedes-Benz. Five years ago, before he began his mystical quest, Blackburn, who was driving a Camaro, promised a friend he would soon be driving a Mercedes. The next day, he walked into a dealership, climbed into a sedan and breathed in the scent of factory leather. A year later, he was driving a midnight blue 190E. “Visualization is the way you make things happen,” he said, quick to add that his first concern is with making the world a better place-not acquiring luxury sedans. “I visualize peace on earth before I visualize anything of a personal nature,” says Blackburn. “I don’t think my purpose with Father Taliaferro is to go out and make a million dollars-even though I know I will.”

FOR A MAN WHO PROCLAIMS THE WON-der in everything, Taliaferro is remarkably discontent about the state of the world. While most of the country was celebrating a decisive victory in the Persian Gulf war, Taliaferro lamented, “We haven’t progressed one iota since Roman times.” Such statements have helped Taliaferro gather up many of those estranged from traditional churches.

Shannon Wynne, who runs a temple of Dallas’ art-money-fashion set in the Quadrangle’s 8.0 restaurant, turned to Tolly’s teachings in the mid-1980s after indulging his curiosities in UFOs and “spirit forms.” “I did channeling and everything else-a lot of it was bullshit.” says Wynne. “Father Taliaferro is very hip when it comes to reality. You don’t feel like you’re sitting with your old-time type priest-he’s cynical, and political. Some of what he says I accept, some of it I’m not intellectual enough to accept or I don’t want to accept.”

Even for the open-minded, some of Taliaferro’s ideas can be difficult to fathom. He professes with certainty that the souls of those on earth will travel to another planet, for example, and that one day another “great master” by the name of Koot Hoomi will assume divine stewardship of the earth’s affairs. “He [Koot Hoomi] is slated to be the person who will function in the office of the Christ,” Tolly told one of his evening classes. “Just as when the Queen of England dies her son will take her place, so when the Christ goes to another position, there will be one who will take his place as a human being.”

Later, asked where he gets these ideas, Taliaferro says that it would not be appropriate for the general public to judge him out of context. But when pressed, he explains that such principles are based on “esoteric Buddhism.” Yes, but does he really believe it? “I don’t believe anything,” he answers obliquely. Then he chuckles. “I don’t close my mind to anything either.”

Even at their most absurd, Taliaferro’s ideas seem pretty harmless-with one exception . The most troubling part of his creed has nothing to do with interplanetary travel. It is his notion that karmic law can account for the most brutal of human acts. “The Holocaust was done to the Jews because they, when they were not Jews, did it to others,” Tolly explained last spring, not for the first time, to a group in Jimmie Lawrence’s living room.

Strangely, even the Jews who follow Tolly don’t take offense. Rabbi Jack Bemporad, who led Dallas’ Temple Emanu-El for more than a decade ending in 1983, is a longtime friend and pupil who calls Taliaferro a ‘great teacher’ and says such statements are not anti-Semitic. “He’s a very complicated person,” says Bemporad. “You can’t take it in a literal sense. You have to take it in a psychological sense. In the way that the things you condemn in others are what you have to work on yourself.”

Taliaferro makes no apologies, no matter how cruel his laws of the universe seem- -no matter how close to the heart of his life those laws strike. One morning last May, Taliaferro’s 10-day-old granddaughter, born months prematurely, died of an unexplained tumor. A few hours later, he sat in his office. He was distracted, but there were no tears. He was on and off the phone to his wife trying to make arrangements for a family funeral. Surely, if anyone were an innocent victim, this premature child would be one, a visitor offers. And what of other victims? Rape? Child abuse? Incest? “People are not victims,” Taliaferro says, his voice almost a whisper. “And people are not innocent.”

Tolly, of course, is expected to have an answer for almost everything. The wise man went on musing about the small life and the death, trying to fit the tragedy into the cosmic order he has preached for decades. Perhaps its meaning was to instruct the family. Maybe it would help to educate the medical community. It was even possible, he said, that something great and wonderful could come from it.

http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/1991/december/tollys-way

Correction Notes to this article in post publication:
1. Tolly was NEVER deposed/defrocked by the bishop. However he did resign his position as an active priest in the Episcopal Church and wrote an article to D Magazine that published the article. It was subsequently printed in their next issue. Once an ordained priest, always a priest.

2.There was never a custom at St Alcuin’s Community Church of genuflection. Those who wished to do so from choice or habit to honor the holiness of communion felt free to do so.

3. If you google Alcuin of York, IT SAYS ” Alcuin was later canonized as a Saint and remains recognized by the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions. “

BIO for Father Taliaferro
A.A. TALIAFERRO was founder and pastor of St. Alcuin’s Community Church in Dallas, Texas. For more than 40 years, he lectured and taught classes on comparative religion and applied modern mysticism. He was an active member of the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC) for more than 50 years, and was also a member of the Masonic Order. Fr. Taliaferro attended Berkley Divinity School at Yale University and Seabury Western Theological Seminary at Northwestern University, and holds an honorary doctorate of divinity from Seabury. In 1945 he founded St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas. He remained as rector of that church until 1962, when he resigned to devote himself to writing, lecturing and counseling. An accomplished musician, Fr. Taliaferro studied orchestral conducting with the great French conductor Pierre Monteux from 1935 to 1938. He studied music at Brown University and the University of Michigan from 1930 to 1935, receiving his master’s degree from Michigan in 1938. ​

The Door is Open – Faith Column

20120220-_MG_Small6032 By Chuck Robison

It’s time for Darwin to retire. In 1859 Darwin published the Origin of the Species and from that point forward, Christians have been threatened by the implications of what he proposed. When I say Christians, I mean that portion of Christians who feel called upon to defend the Almighty. Imagine that……defending God!

That, however, is the crux of the problem. God’s defenders are currently composed of about 46 % of the American population, more in Texas, of course, and they have so misconstrued the issues in our evolution, that it is time to walk away from it and into a future given us through our own experience of personal evolution. Here are some examples.

Darwin did not propose the survival of the fittest. He proposed the survival of the least weak. That’s why you see in the animal kingdom that the sick, the infirm and the damaged animals are the food target of predators. This natural process strengthens the herd. And yet even Darwin’s most ardent detractors actually believe in the survival of the fittest. It is a key component of our current crisis of greed.

Einstein said that God does not play dice….which seems to contradict Darwin, but Darwin was trying to explain a complex system that had no seemingly workable explanation in 1859. Had he been writing today, he would have had a mountain of scientific issues to prove his case, from chaos theory to quantum biology. But the idea that this is a random crapshoot does not work in our world.

Finally, when asked about where did the first cell come from that was dropped into the pond, he replied, “God”.

God’s defenders feel it important to view the Bible as literal, despite the fact that it is filled with one allegory after another, and the meaning of these allegories changes over time, as does our understanding of everything else. But seeing the Bible as literal makes good sense if you are trying to connect with something totally currently invisible and available only through Faith, and you are looking for absolute certainty.

With this short summary, it can be said that Darwin has been so misunderstood that it is time to put him back on the shelf for a while.

But here is the main reason. Science is going to go on regardless of what Christians believe. In a free country, it is perfectly fine to raise children with a belief that the entire world is less than 10,000 years old and was created in 6 days. But not all parents want their children to enter a highly scientific and technical world hobbled from their beginning by a lack of understanding about how things work, and a fear of science.

When we believe that man showed up less than 10,000 years ago, fully developed and fixed for all time, we slam the door in God’s face by saying the creation is all done. By defending God against Darwin, we are not concerned with the past, we are actually trying to control the future. The very idea that man has no more growth or development ahead is dangerous. By losing sight of the fact that the human brain is still in the process of evolution towards a more perfect state in which a still-superior pattern of consciousness is possible, we tell God that He cannot move beyond where we are right now.

Evolution says that there are worlds and states that we cannot even imagine now,
because we are not sufficiently evolved to sense, perceive or understand these worlds. But as our bodies unfold and grow slowly over time, as God intends through an evolutionary process, we will experience new levels of consciousness and understanding that will require new skills and attributes not currently available to us now.

To become that future human, we need to conform our lives to a more simple lifestyle, reject the greed that our society breeds in us and be willing to be open to how God is working today in our world to bring us to a higher level of understanding and consciousness. And Peace.

The Empire Strikes….

20120220-_MG_6032 By Chuck Robison

We normally pledge allegiance to a flag representing a republic which functions as a democracy in a free society! Most of us have been doing that since the first grade. It is so wonderful that we keep doing it at every opportunity! However, the republic to which we pledge allegiance no longer exists.

We now live our lives at the center of history’s largest, most powerful, highest tech, most armed and most dangerous empire. The 21st Century American Empire is run by an oligarchy of global corporations acting, now, as legal individuals, almost tax-free, seeking all the money possible for the “investors” and riding roughshod over 90% of the world.

The American Empire’s leadership has turned what we call the United States Government into The Empire’s Middle Management Team, which now takes its orders directly from the corporate Oligarchs. The American Empire backs up its demands on the world through the world’s largest and most lethal armed force, which today is conducting both open and secret wars in 134 of the world’s 187 countries.

The American Empire has developed a Global Total Information Awareness System and the American Empire can now keep track of at least 90% of the world’s citizens. Soon, new babies will be implanted with computer chips to monitor their entire lives. This is already happening in France. All in the name of security!

In the mean time, you and I are trying to live honorable and satisfying lives, while being informed by the Empire’s propaganda machine, which includes mindless entertainment, the educational systems, mass media, electronic churches, and celebrity spokespersons for how The American Empire expects us to live, dress, eat and behave.

It appears no one here in America or anywhere else in the world will ever prevail against this force. You and I and about six billion other people are the slave work force of this empire, whether we see it or not. No wonder we are so depressed. We used to be the people who worked together to solve problems. Now we cannot even see the damage being done to each other, when the Oligarchs pay the people who deliver our cheap, unhealthy, unnatural, fast chemical food, poverty wages that are then supplemented by Government assistance which is a $280 billion tax break to the corporations thus saving them more money for which they do not have to pay taxes.

But, history tells us that all empires fail and disappear. Like a crumbling skyscraper falling in upon itself when detonated by numerous explosives, empires collapse when corruption explodes in strategic places. The result is the same if the corruptors are individuals or whole societies.

The corruption, now racing at electronic speeds around the world, is caused by our losing sight of the fact that human brain is still in the process of evolution towards a more perfect state in which a still-superior pattern of consciousness is possible. A natural, frugal, healthy life, content only with the basic needs of the body and the mind, free of ego, immoderate ambition, lust and greed for wealth—more ready to serve than to rule, altruistic and compassionate—is the only life aligned with the principles of evolution.

What this means is that as we wake up and realize we are living in a decaying empire, our best and only hope is to stop playing the game. To do this, we need to go back to life’s basics. Simplicity in all things, compassion for the life situations of our neighbors, and a focus on those things that will actually improve the lives of all is the surest way to change the sad course of history in which we find ourselves.

Once upon a time, a small group of young idealists took a successful first step toward ending an unjust war by burning their draft cards. That bonfire of enslavement to the war machine is still smoldering in all of our hearts. It’s time to risk it all and burn the cards that now track and enslave us.

Consider this: if we burned all of our credit cards and decided to live off the credit grid, we would begin a profound global change as powerful as the corruption that now identifies The Evil Empire that has become the 21st century.

Creating a New American Revolution

20120220-_MG_6032 By Chuck Robison

Our current government was visualized and finalized in the years between 1775 and 1787. Twelve years that changed the world. The tenants of the Declaration of Independence still hold profound truth and the Constitution and Bill of Rights are of the highest order of efforts, thus far, to govern fairly.

But that was then. Today, in our failed search for security, we have chosen to sacrifice the rights those documents guaranteed. America since 2001 has allowed the complete domination of Casino Capitalism to conduct an unreasonable search and seizure of the American Dream. (Surely, you do not think the corporations are going to protect us from the NSA.) We now have a government just as unrepresentative as the British Government, which we rebelled against 238 years ago. Today people who we elect as our representatives go to their government offices, not to represent us, but to get rich by doing the bidding of corporate and foreign lobbyist’s that represent ‘the house’ at this Casino. And the house always wins….just like in real life.

It is not in The American Character, as De Tocqueville showed us, to put up with an unjust situation very much longer. We are playing possum just long enough to get all the evidence necessary to make a major change. The Biologists call this instant evolution, or punctuated equilibrium. An organism or a society sends out scouts to its’ perimeters and asks them to report back about what is on the other side of the border, and then the organism’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) computes what changes it will need to make in order to survive what lies ahead. And when it finally acts, it happens seemingly instantly, and effectively, usually to the surprise of everyone.

What lies ahead for us is very different than the inequality created by today’s Casino Capitalism Government, and this new future is now only faintly visible. But we are the CPU of our society and we will be the ones to declare a new independence from the unrepresentative and corrupt government currently ruling our national experience.

Make no mistake. We will not overthrow the current government, we will not engage in a military solution and we will not do battle with the very people who today think they have all the power. That’s the Old Paradigm way of solving problems. Using the New Paradigm, we will create and establish a new form of government so far superior to Casino Capitalism, that people will rush to it and ignore, and thus dis-empower, that 1% of the population who like to think they are calling all the shots. King George thought the same way.  So did the US Government when they decided to attack Syria.

Although it is too early to describe exactly how our new government will look and act, we can safely predict it will have to include a basic lesson from biology. Each of us humans has a body containing more than 50 Trillion cells. In a healthy body, each of those cells has a specific function or job, each is provided adequate housing, complete food and the security of knowing it is focused on the highest good for the life of the whole body. No one cell or group of cells controls our body, and none are allowed to hoard undue riches in the system. And when the body of each of us produces a “profit” it is shared by the whole system. Good health does not belong to a heart or a brain or a kidney, but to the whole body.

Today, there are almost 8 Billion cells in the body of Humankind. The inequality between groups of people all over the world is breathtakingly painful. In addition to the wrenching adjustments we must make immediately to cope with Global Climate Change, the results of this Casino-induced inequality will affect the whole of Humankind. (And by the way, The Casino has dropped more than $8 billion into secret funds to convince you there is no climate problem.) From poor people in Third World countries scouring dumps to salvage minerals and chemicals in discarded computers at the price of ingesting almost certain deadly carcinogens, to ignorant “jumpers” being used by private corporations to “jump” into atomic reactors in an attempt to stop further release of radiation (as in Tokyo Electric Power Company), to fully marginalized American citizens facing a cut-off of food stamps and unemployment support as a result of our leaders worshiping Ayn Rand’s selfish and flawed thinking, we are facing a global crisis that has all the power needed to result in a global disaster that will end up with global de-evolution.

So our new surprise government will have to account for the safety, health and usefulness of all citizens and in equal measure. Just saying that one sentence feels revolutionary and also as old as the Declaration of Independence itself.

Once you and I commit to creating a new government of inter-dependence and equality, like the Puritans themselves, we will cast off from the dark land of Casino Capitalism and will set sail into the New World, destined to become, again, the beacon of light for all 8 Billion cells in the body of humankind.

The New American Revolution is now at hand.


Notes From the Masters Class 12/3/2013

Hi, this is Chuck Robison and this is the show, Notes From the Masters Class and today is Tuesday, December 3, 2013. And if you’re anything like I am, you’re going through days right now when you look at out on the world and say “Boy, this is mess that we’re in” and then there are days when you look at the world and say “wait, a minute this is pretty good this is a real possibility, there is reason for hope”.

Now when you’re looking at the things that create despair, there are plenty of them. All you have to do is go as far as genetically modified organisms, which apparently are the seeds that are producing almost all the grains and a lot of other things that we are using. If you’ve ever asked does evolution exist, think about this: in my lifetime, which is a little over 70 years, we have put in at least 500 new chemicals into the environment every year since 1960. And these new chemicals are put in the environment and nobody knows how they are going to affect us, but somehow or another, so far, we had been able to evolve or adapt, adopt or become capable of living in an environment that is polluted by things that we don’t know what it is doing to us, but we are still surviving.

And if you think about the other things that are causing us despair all of us know that it seems like the top corporations and not just the quote, unquote American corporations, but the global corporations want to really run the show of governments and we’re seeing it right here in our own government. And we also see governments, especially our government, that does not seem to work so well. Imagine this is December 3rd and the United States Congress plans, in the next eight days that they’re going to be working, to pass three bills, all of which are massively unimportant.

What’s that about? Well, we don’t know what it’s about, but it begins to make you ask the question: Who exactly is in control here, who’s calling these shots? And from the appearance of just looking at things, nobody is controlling anything.

And because of that, we can have a little bit of hope, because nobody has shown at my door, and they probably haven’t shown up yours, and said, “Oh by the way, we’re in control now you’ll do what we tell you.” But that’s part of the despair because that could actually happen all over the world.

Now on the hope side of the scale, there’s one thing that’s really, really important and I’d like for you to consider that. You’ll remember that six weeks ago or so The President of the United States came on the television said, folks sorry to tell you this but we’re going to have to go to war in Syria because those people killed some kids in and we’ve got to deal with them. Now never mind the fact that there are and were a million child refugees who have left Syria and are living in the desert in tents and they can have hardly any water, there’s no sewage, there’s no electricity and there’s no education.

Here’s 1 million kids that need help, but we were planning on taking our resources and going in and killing some more people. Doesn’t make any sense, and it didn’t then. So, within 36 hours The President came back and says, Well, you know, I think I’m going to take this to the Congress a let them buy into it.

And then shortly after that, the Syrians said, wait a minute. We’ll give up our weapons of mass destruction and our chemical weapons, You guys can have it. And all of a sudden the reason for going to war was blown away. Now that didn’t happen by accident, and it wasn’t one or two people in Washington or Syria or Russia or any place else that made it happen. It was you and I, because without parades without protest without writing articles or anything else, we all just said to ourselves, “You know what? We don’t want that.” It’s like the 1960s when they said “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” Well, that happened to us and here’s why that happened.

You and I are connected to a larger consciousness system. You and I are connected to each other and all the other almost 8,000,000,000 people on this world. With de Chardin’s Nous Sphere, or the global mind, or call it whatever you want, but we are connected to each other through a global consciousness. And when we have experiences that remind us of that, and prove that to us, all of a sudden we get this little tiny glimpse, “Wow what if we have that kind of power?” What if we have the ability to change the world and world situations, just by thinking together and saying you know what, we’re not coming to your war. There’s a better way, we know there’s a better way and we’re not going to play.

And we did that, we really did that and it was a lot less difficult than stopping the Vietnam War, which also was a result of us connecting with our consciousness and saying, enough.

Now we have power beyond our wildest dreams and there are lots of people out there who would like for you to not know that. Who would like for you to forget that, who would like for you to think “Gee, that we better let them control things because we don’t know……” Nonsense.

We, every one of us, are in a position of incredible power. Our power is consciousness and our connection to each other. And if you will join me, because I work on this, if you join me in connecting with each other through this global brain, we will be able to drive things in a positive, helpful and healthy direction despite all the other forces arrayed against us who say, “It can’t be done.” It can be done! It is a spiritual experience. It is a God given power and you and I have it. And we have it when we know it, and we don’t know it, when we forget it, when were talked out of it, we don’t. We always have access to it but, if you don’t use it you lose it.

So I like for you to suggest that I’d like to suggest to you, give this some thought give this a chance, and look around and see how you are in communication with people all over the world and what we are doing. This is the age of the mind and the more we’re able to use it, the more power we are going to have. And so I thank you for being with me today. I look forward to doing this again soon and remember, all minds are joined. Thanks.

The Way We Were!

20120220-_MG_6032By Chuck Robison
September 25, 2013

What Just Happened? Three weeks ago it appeared we were being prepared for the next in the long series of our Perpetual 21st Century Wars. We were fully justified in this next war because some of our brothers and sisters had killed some others of our family. An eye for an eye! But as Gandhi said, if we follow that rule to its logical conclusion we will all be blind. Instead, we all woke up…..almost over night and changed the world!

Our representative government actually got the message. We began a new experience in using our power to change the world! Before that we had convinced ourselves we had no say in the government or any power to change it.

The churches we attend mirror some of that convincing as well. Even though Jesus uses the words sin, sinners and sinning only 22 times in the New Testament, many churches magnify sin as a way to keep us in control and caged by the fear that we will have to pay for our mistakes in hell.

We have been created by Love and Love is the core of our being. We are hard-wired to know and are fully capable of acting in a loving way in any situation. We also sometimes push the override button and pretend we have forgotten what is right. But, fear cannot exist where love is present.

God does not forget His creation, which allows us to use His power in the universe. But we resist using this power….out of fear. Marianne Williamson says: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

It falls to each of us to remember who we are and to help our brothers and sisters remember themselves along with us.

Instead of focusing on using our power to change the world for the better, we distract ourselves, standing in lines to buy new iPhones and pretending that we have not befouled our global nest by ignoring how our actions and ignorance are destroying the environment. We pretend that the highest good our brilliant minds can create are unstoppable machines of war and mass destruction. We pretend that our need for guns far out-weighs our concern for native terrorist attacks as we watch 250 mass murders (that is defined as 4 murders in one event) take place in this country in the first 250 days of this year. We live in a society that each day looks more and more like an interrogation room and the government is watching us from the other side of the mirror.

We can change this. Our turning away from destroying Syria is the first step in re-awakening to our power and God’s real help.

The wonder of this recent event forced us to see ourselves in a new light. We are not lowly sinners damned to Hell and pleading for Jesus to come save us, nor does a government hell-bent on corralling us into a free-range prison victimize us as helpless citizens.

We are being led, by our higher selves into a time when we will look again and realize we are not human beings struggling to have a spiritual life, we are divine eternal spiritual beings having a human experience, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said.

As we make this transition, this shift in consciousness, this experience of a new paradigm we will begin to see more and more often that we are here to love the whole experience of life and each other…..and the day will surely come when we will be astounded that we ever spent any time trying to kill another human being.

As we see each other in this new way and look back on who we used to be, we will exclaim in wonder about our former selves: Who was that?

Notes From the Masters Class 2013-06-08

This is Chuck’s regular Notes video and it features the work of Vivekananda and LIVING AT THE SOURCE.

“Hi this is Chuck and this is Notes From the Masters Class. This week I’ve been reading the works of Vivekananda, in a book called Living at the Source. He died at age 43. He was in this country twice and that was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He created a firestorm of thought and change everywhere he went.

And here’s something that just sticks to me so easily: ‘When man has seen himself as one with the Infinite Being of the Universe, when all separateness has ceased, when all men and women, all gods and angels, all animals and plants and the whole universe has melted into that oneness, then all fear disappears’.

I’ve had several experiences in my life where I have learned, actually very pleasantly, that as I began to understand that we are all connected to each other. Regardless of whether you are animals, plants, or people. I have learned that, and I am learning it in little tiny pieces. But what I discover is, that when I let that happen, there is no fear. There is no fear.

One of the things that is important to me is, I have also learned that when I make any decision based on fear, it’s always the wrong decision. Always. Because fear is anticipating something that isn’t real. Now that does not say you throw caution to the wind, or you don’t be concerned about what is going on, but the response is not fear. Fear is a way for us to withdraw ourselves from the situation, withdraw ourselves from other people, and to avoid conflict. And yet as Vivekananda goes on to say, it is conflict that makes all the difference. It creates the movement that we need to go from one level to the next level. Fear makes us run away and hold ourselves apart. And this is what Vivekananda said about that. ‘I am thoroughly convinced that no individual or nation can live by holding itself apart from the community of others. And when ever such an attempt has been made under the false ideas of greatness, policy, or holiness, the result has always been disaster to the secluding one.’

What I take away from this is that we have been living in this country for the last 12 years under fear. Somehow or another we have let it be created for us. We have let it be created in ways that have really released our rights. We have released our sense of power in changing things. And most importantly, we have become afraid of each other. And it is not working. It is disastrous.

Imagine the situation that we are in politically right now. People cannot even talk to each other. Because they are afraid, because they think something is going to happen to them that they don’t want. We are all one. Our founding fathers were not stupid when they said ‘E pluribus unum’, one from many. So, not only is that a good political idea, but spiritually it is the truth. We are one with the universe. We are one with each other. And we are one with God. Think about that for a while. Next week we will deal with something else. Take care.”

Notes from the Masters Class 2013-05-17

Hi, this is Chuck, and this is this week’s edition of Notes from the Masters Class. A long time ago a friend of mine, who in fact is a master, told me something that has stood me well my entire life, and that’s this. The road is easy for those who have no expectations. The road is easy for those who have no expectations.

I don’t know about you, but from the time I was a kid, beginning probably at Christmas time, I’ve had expectations of everything. I’ve had expectations of what was going to happen, what wasn’t going to happen, what I’d get, what I wouldn’t get. My life has been filled with expectations. And even today, with all the work I’ve done, I catch myself having expectations. The problem with expectations is that it puts you in a position where you actually think that you’re going to control or change or manage what’s coming your way. That does not work, because no one, and I repeat no one can predict the future.

Right here on my computer I’m going to read you something. It says, “I am in joyful anticipation of the serendipitous and synchronistic experiences of life. So it be, and so it is.” What that says to me is that the great way is easy for those who have no expectations. But it’s also true that to be anticipating the serendipity and the synchronicity and the spontaneous things that happen in your life is much more fun. Much more fun.

What I’ve learned is this. The past is actually gone. You can’t remember the past anymore than you can remember what happened a thousand years ago. You cannot return and get that information out. It’s multi-level and it is done with. The future’s just the same way. You can’t go forward into the future and come back with any kind of memory or anticipation or expectation or anything else that will, in some way or other, tell you about the actual nature of your future. All you’ve got, all any of us have got is this moment right now, and I’m aware that I am in this moment as I am speaking to you. I am also aware that you’re in this moment as you are listening to what I say.

So here’s the secret from the masters. The minute you start to create expectations you assume that you’re going to be controlling what’s going on. It does not work. It hasn’t worked, and you know that. And it’s not going to work, I know that. So the best that we can do, and it’s a pretty good best, is to let all those expectations go and say, “You know what? Whatever is coming to me is exactly the right thing, and it may be very different than I could even think about expecting. But it’s not something that I am going to have to deal with until it occurs, because the only moment there is, is the moment we have right now.”

There’s no future. There’s no past. There’s just now. And just now whatever you might have expected has already happened. We are in this moment together. It’s all we’ve got, and it is full of incredible possibilities that we can’t even anticipate or think through, and yet here they are in our midst. So again, one more time. You might keep this in your mind the next time you have a whole set of expectations about how things are going to go.

The phrase is this: The road is easy for those who have no expectations. That’s stood me in pretty good stead for a long time, especially when I have a lot of expectations, and I hope it will guide you through your next advanced period of expecting exactly how things should go. They go exactly as they are intended to go. All is well. The universe is in complete and perfect order. I thank you for spending this time with me today, and I’ll see you next week. Bye.

Notes From The Masters Class, 2013-05-03


 
The other night we heard a comedian on television talking about the fact the optimists are people that always think things are going to get better, and the pessimists are always right. I don’t think either one of those are true. But it is interesting to take the idea that comes primarily from India, and now from science, and look at this question of what is this that we call reality. The answer that’s emerging is it is an illusion over which we have a profound amount of control.

Now, if you really thought about that, you really believed, and if it really was true, then it makes sense to say, “Well, if we are in control of this, if this is going according to our idea of creation, and we have somehow or another been given the power to do this, then wouldn’t it make sense to get as good an illusion as possible to live in and to have that be your life? ” It would be for me. It would make a lot of sense.

Let me just give you some insight and some facts and big figures. Since 9/11, and including 9/11, there have been a little over 3,000 people killed in this country as a result of terrorist attacks. During that time, there have been less than 30 terrorists involved, including last week’s event at Boston. We don’t think that this is a small number, but it’s an incredibly statistically small number when you compare it with all of the people who have been killed since 9/11 by gunshot wounds. It’s a huge number. It’s 300,000 people. Interestingly enough, a significant portion of those people have been killed by suicide. Apparently, guns are still the weapon of choice when it comes to suicide.

So if you’re thinking about this, and I have been, then you realize that this big number of people that have been killed by gunshot, including the suicides, somehow or another were living their lives in total fear. That transfers to us when we become fearful of a terrorist attack or really anything else. If we are really creating this illusion that we’re living in, there is no place for fear. There’s no reason for fear. We’re here. We are eternal, and we are going to survive here until we choose to leave here. But everywhere you look, there is evidence that justifies our fear.

I was always surprised when I moved to Telluride. I thought this was probably the safest place in America. There was one road in, and it was the same road out. There were no stop signs. There was one stop sign, and there were no traffic lights. There were no chain food stores. There was a tiny, little community of 2,200 souls. Yet, these people, who were so safe that people wouldn’t even know where Telluride was, were equally as fearful as the people who lived in downtown Manhattan. Somehow or another, this fear thing, against all common sense, grabs us when we least expect it and most don’t want it.

So I’m going to suggest to you something that I am working on myself. Jerry Jampolsky, in his book “Love is Letting Go of Fear,” said that you can’t have or experience love and fear at the same time. That’s the same kind of thought that Einstein said when he said, “You cannot be preparing for war and trying to create peace.” They are mutually exclusive. So if fear and love are mutually exclusive, then we might as well begin to look at the things that we can do that express love. By the way, we all have love for each other, some for a few of each other and some for all of each other. But that love cements the idea that we are all one and not just with the humans. I mean the whole thing.

This is all one seamless piece of reality-illusion that connects us on a cellular level, on a neurological level with each other, with this planet, and with this universe. If we knew for certain, and we can, that we are going to be eternal and we’re going to be eternal because we are consciousness, and consciousness is going to be eternal. If we knew all that, then we would say, “Well, wait a minute. Let’s just go ahead and change all the things that we are afraid of.” The way to do that is you can’t change a system by resisting it or trying to tear it down. The way you change a system is create a better system that people will come to. Margaret Mead said, “New technology always replaces old technology. No exceptions.” So it must be true that new ways of looking at the world and expressing love can and will and do replace fear.

So I’d like to suggest something to you. Run a little exercise. The exercise is keep a notepad, and on this side say to yourself, “Well, what are the things that I seem to be afraid of on a daily basis? What am I looking at?” On this side, look at all the ways that you know you can overcome those fears. Now, imagine living in Telluride, Colorado at 10,000 feet with 2,200 souls on 9/11, and they’re never going to be touched by anything. Yet they were equally afraid as the people were in New York. That fear was not justified. It was not necessary. It was simply a response, an illusion to a situation that happened 2,000 miles away. We do not need to carry the world’s fear with us. When we do carry it, we carry such a load that we can’t see anything else.

The only way to change this thing is to make up our minds, one at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one breath at a time that we are not going to see fear. We’re going to see love. This week, just give us a little thought. Keep that list and at the end of the week ask yourself, “What happened? Was I able to change anything?” If you were, I’d like to hear from you. In fact, if you were, you can call me on Skype. That’s ChuckRobison on Skype. We’ll record your conversation, and we’ll play it as part of the Masters Class because it’s very important. That’s it for this week. Thank you very much, and I’m glad you were here. Bye.

Debra Roberts: A Woman Kept By Her Bees!

We met Debra Roberts at her home outside Weaverville, North Carolina. Debra is one of a large and growing number of women organic bee keepers. She told us about the lives of bees and the threat to the food chain being posed by bee colony collapse is this wonderful discussion:

Toward the end of the video, we got to the bee hives and we had a unique consciousness raising experience that we believe is very powerful!
Enjoy!
_______________________________________________________________________________________
This just in from the New York Times:

Mystery Illness Wipes Out Bees

By Michael Wines, The New York Times
MARCH 29, 2013

A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to
have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40
percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits
and vegetables. A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment,
colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some
researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as
neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.

The pesticide industry disputes that. But its representatives also say they are open to
further studies to clarify what, if anything, is happening. “They looked so healthy
last spring,” said Bill Dahle, 50, who owns Big Sky Honey in Fairview, Mont. “We were so
proud of them. Then, about the first of September, they started to fall on their face, to
die like crazy. We’ve been doing this 30 years, and we’ve never experienced this kind of
loss before.”

In a show of concern, the Environmental Protection Agency recently sent its acting assistant
administrator for chemical safety and two top chemical experts here, to the San Joaquin
Valley of California, for discussions. In the valley, where 1.6 million hives of bees just
finished pollinating an endless expanse of almond groves, commercial beekeepers who only
recently were losing a third of their bees to the disorder say the past year has brought
far greater losses.

The federal Agriculture Department is to issue its own assessment in May. But in an interview,
the research leader at its Beltsville, Md., bee research laboratory, Jeff Pettis, said he was
confident that the death rate would be “much higher than it’s ever been.” Following a
now-familiar pattern, bee deaths rose swiftly last autumn and dwindled as operators moved
colonies to faraway farms for the pollination season. Beekeepers say the latest string of deaths
has dealt them a heavy blow. Bret Adee, who is an owner, with his father and brother, of Adee
Honey Farms of South Dakota, the nation’s largest beekeeper, described mounting losses. “We
lost 42 percent over the winter. But by the time we came around to pollinate almonds, it was
a 55 percent loss,” he said in an interview here this week.

“They looked beautiful in October,” Mr. Adee said, “and in December, they started falling apart,
when it got cold.” Mr. Dahle said he had planned to bring 13,000 beehives from Montana – 31
tractor-trailers full – to work the California almond groves. But by the start of pollination
last month, only 3,000 healthy hives remained. Annual bee losses of 5 percent to 10 percent
once were the norm for beekeepers. But after colony collapse disorder surfaced around 2005,
the losses approached one-third of all bees, despite beekeepers’ best efforts to ensure their
health. Nor is the impact limited to beekeepers. The Agriculture Department says a quarter of
the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by
honeybees. Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices.

Almonds are a bellwether. Eighty percent of the nation’s almonds grow here, and 80 percent of
those are exported, a multibillion-dollar crop crucial to California agriculture. Pollinating
up to 800,000 acres, with at least two hives per acre, takes as many as two-thirds of all
commercial hives. This past winter’s die-off sent growers scrambling for enough hives to
guarantee a harvest. Chris Moore, a beekeeper in Kountze, Tex., said he had planned to skip
the groves after sickness killed 40 percent of his bees and left survivors weakened. “But
California was short, and I got a call in the middle of February that they were desperate for
just about anything,” he said. So he sent two truckloads of hives that he normally would not
have put to work. Bee shortages pushed the cost to farmers of renting bees to $200 per hive at
times, 20 percent above normal.

That, too, may translate into higher prices for food. Precisely why last year’s deaths were so
great is unclear. Some blame drought in the Midwest, though Mr. Dahle lost nearly 80 percent
of his bees despite excellent summer conditions. Others cite bee mites that have become
increasingly resistant to pesticides. Still others blame viruses.

But many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides
and herbicides that are used to control pests. While each substance has been certified, there
has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists
sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths. The explosive growth of neonicotinoids since 2005 has
roughly tracked rising bee deaths.

Neonics, as farmers call them, are applied in smaller doses than older pesticides. They
are systemic pesticides, often embedded in seeds so that the plant itself carries the chemical
that kills insects that feed on it. Older pesticides could kill bees and other beneficial
insects. But while they quickly degraded – often in a matter of days – neonicotinoids persist
for weeks and even months. Beekeepers worry that bees carry a summer’s worth of
contaminated pollen to hives, where ensuing generations dine on a steady dose of
pesticide that, eaten once or twice, might not be dangerous. “Soybean fields or canola
fields or sunflower fields, they all have this systemic insecticide,” Mr. Adee said.
“If you have one shot of whiskey on Thanksgiving and one on the Fourth of July, it’s not
going to make any difference. But if you have whiskey every night, 365 days a year, your
liver’s gone. It’s the same thing.”

Research to date on neonicotinoids “supports the notion that the products are safe and are not contributing in any measurable way to pollinator health concerns,” the president of CropLife America, Jay Vroom, said Wednesday. The group represents more than 90 pesticide producers.
He said the group nevertheless supported further research. “We stand with science and will let science take the regulation of our products in whatever direction science will guide it,” Mr. Vroom said. A coalition of beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups sued the E.P.A. last week, saying it exceeded its authority by conditionally approving some neonicotinoids. The agency has begun an accelerated review of their impact on bees and other wildlife.

The European Union has proposed to ban their use on crops frequented by bees. Some researchers have concluded that neonicotinoids caused extensive die-offs in Germany and France. Neonicotinoids are hardly the beekeepers’ only concern. Herbicide use has grown as farmers have adopted crop varieties, from corn to sunflowers, that are genetically modified to survive spraying with weedkillers.

Experts say some fungicides have been laced with regulators that keep insects from maturing, a problem some beekeepers have reported. Eric Mussen, an apiculturist at the University of California, Davis, said analysts had documented about 150 chemical residues in pollen and wax gathered from beehives. “Where do you start?” Dr. Mussen said. “When you have all these chemicals at a sublethal level, how do they react with each other? What are the consequences?”
Experts say nobody knows. But Mr. Adee, who said he had long scorned environmentalists’ hand-wringing about such issues, said he was starting to wonder whether they had a point.

Of the “environmentalist” label, Mr. Adee said: “I would have been insulted if you had called me that a few years ago. But what you would have called extreme – a light comes on, and you think, ‘These guys really have something. Maybe they were just ahead of the bell curve.'”