Paul Goodberg

Helping Heal the Earth

What's Next?

Since the publication of my new book, “What Wants To Be Know,” I have been listening for what’s next. I had been expecting to revise my first book, “Activist Mysticism” or do something with the material not included in my current book. Or perhaps another book would emerge from the daily notes taken by Sasa Petejan as we traveled from light column to light column. But instead I have heard that I can use the recordings I made during a teaching I gave a few years ago at the Old Grove, an old growth Redwood preserve near Occidental California. In that teaching I offered a step by step introduction to entering the natural world’s doorway to the sacred. The six of us first starting meeting at the mouth of the Russian River. As the teaching progressed we mostly met at the Old Grove with occasional visits to Quarryhill Botanical Gardens in Glen Ellen. We meet regularly for two and a half years. The recordings from that teaching are now being put through a software which creates text for me to work with.

I can’t say that I am happy or enthusiastic. This book is a rather large undertaking and I will have to find the time for it in my day. My days now have been mostly quiet with individual and group healing and some one-to-one phone and Skype. Somehow, my daily quiet will expand to encompass this new book project.

Machu Picchu: Tourist Spectacle

Early in the twentieth century, a young, fearless, self-promoter named Hiram Bingham, breathlessly announced the discovery of a ‘mysterious’, ‘lost city’ in the remote mountains of Peru. Sensing the moment, National Geographic jumped in with an elaborate picture essay of ‘mystery’ and ‘decay.’ Bingham promoted himself from obscure university lecturer to world famous explorer and National Geographic reached new heights of sensationalist nonsense. Bingham became a U.S. Senator, married into wealth, and became a world recognized member of the brand: ‘intrepid explorer.’ National Geographic has continued to discover new topics to sensationalize.

I visited Machu Picchu in the early 1990’s. A night at the hotel adjacent to the entrance was $40 or $60US depending on season. A full day ticket was just pocket change and I wandered freely through Machu Pichhu until dinner time. Some afternoons I was mostly alone. Then I cured a painful injury of one of the attendants at the admission gate and admission was free for me. Now, a night at the hotel is a $1,000US, admission is only in groups of sixteen, half day tickets are $30US and it is very crowded. A UN commission has warned Peru that overcrowding could collapse Machu Picchu into the river below.

I think it has become difficult to experience Machu Picchu without a tourist lense. The tour agency hype, the nonsense of the tour guides, the subtext: ‘one of the world’s wonders,’ all of it presents Machu Picchu as a spectacle to be consumed. Honestly, I do not have strong memories of Machu Picchu from my half dozen visits. Rather, I have vivid memories of the high altitude jungle which surrounds Machu Picchu in a mysterious loveliness of low canopy lushness sprinkled with endless orchid displays. The southern Peruvian highlands is dotted with sacred monuments. Machu Picchu is just one of many and its not that high on my list.


Going Off The Map

Until recently, it was possible to go off map. That was back in the day when there was no GPS, no Google Maps and remote, uncharted places. The Southern Peruvian Andes was one such place and my visits to the village of Chua Chua an experience of being off map.

Lately, I have been struggling to verbalize my experience of going off map. My first time at Chua Chua I neglected to bring a watch with a date function so I lost track of the day of the month. No one had a calendar so, of course, I missed my flight out of Cusco for Lima.

American Airlines flew Miami to Lima and then back to Miami the next day. The flight crew refused to stay overnight in Lima fearing car bombs and an outbreak of Bubonic plague. I would overnight in Lima, fly on an ancient local plane, a DC 9 to Cusco, overnight in Cusco and then off map. American Airlines required a 48 hour confirmation of tickets out of Cusco for Lima and, of course, there were no phones off map.

Off map, I traveled on a small Andean pony capable of climbing to 18,000 feet, needing little water, and never slipping on the steep narrow trails. Each pony following the pony ahead of it. I just sat quietly on my pony, lightly holding the reins. In front of the lead pony was a lead Quechua guide followed by our wrangler who was also our master guide and my bodyguard, then my translator, me, and finally five or six ponies carrying our gear, and gifts of cocoa leaves, medical supplies, bottles of alcohol and ingredients for despachos. A two week off map with air fare was costing about $10,000US.

Going off map was a decision which acknowledged that I might not return and my body might not be found. Off map was unpredictable, mysterious, lonely and challenging. Mostly though, off map was enlivening, often exhilerating, and a unique opportunity to radically reinvent myself. And that is just what I did off map.


'Listening' At The Side Street Kitchen

My home in Novato is a short drive to Point Reyes Station and its Side Street Kitchen. I stop here regularly for coffee before I drive into the vastness of Point Reyes. Back in the 1980s when I began stopping at this little town, it was another forgotten, down at the heels, heaven for drugs and alcohol lifestyles. Now its a tourist destination, especially on weekends, when it is overloaded with cars from San Fransisco. The town has a couple of restaurants, a few galleries and assorted shops. It really is only two blocks long but hosts an overload of SUVs and groups of walkers. Nothing here really to see or do so the restlessness is nonstop.

Meanwhile, I sit at the Side Street Kitchen with my coffee, chat with Carl, and wait for SUV gridlock. After awhile we drive into the park. Some hours later Carl and I are back at Side Street for a late lunch and maybe more coffee. I wonder why Point Reyes Station has become a destination? Why are all these people here? When will they move on to Marshall or Bolinas?

I recall a lunch in a little town about ninety minutes from Cusco. It was market day and I was seated at a long communal table next to two of my teachers. Everyone was speaking Quechua and none of it was interpreted for me. I was simply enjoying my lunch, enjoying the day and happy to be off my horse. I liked the food, the bright high altitude sun and the crisp air. The atmosphere was festive and relaxed. Oddly, a shinny, big windowed tour bus pulled up at the edge of the market. Its windows were closed against the dust of the dirt road. No one stepped off the bus. Inside everyone had moved to the market side of the bus to take photos of the locals while the bus motor continued to drive the air conditioning. So I left my place at the table, walked over to the bus and knocked. Nothing happened. Then I signaled for the tour to come out as I mouthed the word “lunch.” Again the bus door remained shut but now I was being photographed.. The bus had been at the market long enough so it was time to drive on. How long was the bus at the market? Maybe five or ten minutes. Where did it go next in its restlessness? Machu Picchu or maybe back to Cusco or maybe….

Summer is approaching so Point Reyes Station is getting more crowded now with restlessness.


Listening To "What Wants To Be Known"

Copies of my second book, “What Wants To Be Known” will be available in late April. My sister asked me to describe it to her and, in that moment, I did not have a good answer because I was still fact checking the manuscript. The book is behind me now and I invite you to read it. The two last chapters are a good summary of my teachings, Chapter 13 is a description of my break with the realm of the spirits, and the rest of it describes some of my adventures in the service of the ‘All That Is.’

The other morning I was drinking coffee with Carl Priolo and we were talking about a second edition of “What Wants To Be Known.” New chapters describing my service to the indescribable. I admit that I surprise myself with all of the words I have found to describe the wordless. My principle teachers taught me entirely in silence and I taught in silence until one day when, out of frustration with not being understood, I started to teach with words. So I now use words to encourage you to enter the wordless. How do you enter the wordless? Try listening to what wants to be known.

March 25, 2019

Remembering the Rev. Martin Luther King

In 1960, I attending church when Dr. King was preaching in Washington, D.C. Dr. King was thirty then and a visiting preacher from Atlanta. These visits did not attract Washington’s journalists but the large AME Church was full. My friend Will Moore and I were seated by ushers up at very front of the church. We were the only church goers not dressed in our Sunday best. We had no Sunday best so we stood out, but each time we visited, we were warmly welcomed. I had not been to a church service previously and it was my first social experience as ‘white’ minority.

Dr.King smiled a lot, was warm with everyone, relaxed and at home as a preacher. It was his vocation and it was clearly his calling. Once he warmed up, his voice become louder and stronger and remained warm. He gave us a biblical lesson, lost on me, within the context of a theology I could only dimly grasp. Somehow, his academic training did not obscure his moral and ethical message and his very strong commitment to Christ.

My friend Will and I attended Dr. King’s preaching multiple times that year. I was eighteen and not taking notes nor keeping a calendar. My best guess now is that we heard Dr. King six or eight times in 1960 and 1961. We sat very close to the pulpit, and after each sermon and conclusion of the service, we were invited to go up on the dais and join the line waiting to have a word with Dr. King. At each meeting, Dr. King shook my hand and invited me into a brief conversation. I no longer recall what we talked about but I do recall his handshake: An electric quality, a strongly charged love, passed into my body. I retain his gift. It changed my life.

Have you seen the film of his “I Have A Dream Speech” to the March On Washington? To me, that speech is a dramatic example of a spiritual teacher talking love to power. To be in Dr. King’s physical presence was to experience an emanation of love so strong that it could fill up a space as large as the March On Washington.

Listening To A Mountain

A few months ago, we moved into a house at the foothills of Mt. Burdell near the California coast north of San Fransisco. I have begun the process of meeting Mt. Burdell and listening to what she wants me to know. Sometimes I sit quietly, sometimes I walk along her edges waiting to be invited to walk onto her higher reaches. I am listening, which is to say, I am open to learning her language. I try to be free of expectation and agenda and slowly I am earning Mt. Burdell’s trust. But she continues to ask whether I intend to alter her face.

Listening to a mountain is to be free of the expectation of a conversation in the usual sense. And its not like ‘talking’ with a young baby or your pets. Listening to a mountain you may come to understand the mountain as an icon, a special expression of the Earth with a special status. Mt Burdell ‘told’ me that she wants to invite me into her specialness, her place. And,as I accept her invitation, I have become located at this place.

Mt. Burdell has no information for me, nor does she speak in ‘tongues’ or save me from my own foolishness. She has slowly welcomed my attention and concern for her well being and sometimes ‘embraces’ me. She is reassuring about the future and is a wonderful balance to globalist perspectives.


Inhabiting A Dream

I awoke this morning with the memory of a dream about a dancing flea. Most of my dreams are like this. And then there are dreams that are mysterious to me. Their meaning may unfold over time or may remain mysterious. These are the dreams which get my attention.

For most of my life, I have had a recurring dream. It began when I was five and stopped in my mid fifties. Here is the dream:

I am walking in the desert during daylight. I never see myself but ‘know’ I am wearing a monk’s robe with hood. After some distance I walk into a village of mud huts closely huddled together. I become lost in the maze of these huts and experience frustration and anxiety as I try to make my way through the narrow streets of this village. Then I awaken into an anxious and frustrated state.

I consulted a hypnotist who facilitated my ability to remain in the dream so it could conclude. Here is the conclusion of the dream:

I continue wandering through narrow streets until I arrive at an open space within the village. Here I meet twenty five or more villages who have been waiting for me. I offer this group a monk’s blessing and the dream concludes. I awaken in a relaxed and satisfied state.

I came to believe that I was dreaming a dream which did not belong to me. Even after it concluded, I could not own it. However, once I blessed the group of villagers, the dream did not recur. I was relieved to not wake up anxious and frustrated.

Later I wondered if I could ‘own’ this dream which had recurred dozens of times. Could I inhabit it? I knew the dream so well that I could easily replay it as a waking dream, what is now called guided imagery. So I began to replay it and on the third or fourth replay, I stepped inside it, I began to inhabit it allowing myself to become totally immersed in it. Over timer I was able to ‘own’ the blessing I offered to the villagers. Once I ‘owned’ the blessing I could offer it outside the context of the dream. Today, I offer this blessing to individuals with serious illness.



A little more than a thousand years ago, Lord Pakal held forth at Palenque. His mother had been king before him and his son took over after Lord Pakal’s sixty eight year reign. Lord Pakal was a great esoteric warrior/king of the Americas.

Today, Ch’ol, the language of Pakal, is spoken at Palenque and here in the area north of San Fransisco. A local anthropologist friend has told me that today there are more Ch’ol speakers in San Rafael California than at Palenque. Visiting Palenque is now difficult. The Zapatista rebellion and tourists by the bus loads have challenged the once pristine quiet of this ruin in the Chiapas jungle.

My first visits to Palenque in the early 1990’s were simple opportunities to come into a communication with the spirit of Lord Pakal. He was entombed at the bottom of the so-called Temple of Inscriptions in an ornate sarcophagus which was open to public visitation. I would visit with him once a day and then sit outside his temple and listen. I took a room at the hotel Chan-Kah, a then modest place built inside the ruins. After a week or so I was full and returned home. Some years I visited two or three times. Some years I had no need to visit. Once, I was fortunate to be at his tomb when it was closed to the public.

Lord Pakal was an important teacher of mine and visits to his temple were important pilgrimages for me. He taught me how to establish relationship and receive teachings and blessings from the spirits of saints. He protected me from attack by negative spirits and encouraged me in my confusions. And he taught me to navigate the stars.

Why am I writing this? Until I met Lord Pakal, I had no understanding of the possibilities of pilgrimage for serious students of the esoteric. Lord Pakal opened my eyes to the teachings available from the spirits of saints who welcome us on pilgrimage.


Chaco Canyon: Hidden In Plain Sight

Yes, Chaco Canyon is hidden in plain sight, hidden behind the World Heritage designation and the National Park Service tourist welcoming.

Chaco Canyon is a remote national park in northwestern New Mexico about three hours drive from the Albuquerque Airport. Camping, by reservation, is available inside the park. Outside the park are very limited tourist services. I suggest you camp either in a tent or RV. The weather is extreme in this high desert environment so you will want to avoid summer and winter. April and early October are best weather and the park is generally empty at those times.

Try not to get caught in the drama of what happened at Chaco. The archeology can be very distracting and confusing. Here is what I know about Chaco: It was the important pilgrimage site west of the Rockies a thousand years ago. Roads from all over the southwest led to Chaco.

Today, Chaco Canyon is high desert surrounded by Navajo high desert and active natural gas fields. Within this park are the remains of ceremonial structures and housing blocks. Excavations stopped a few decades ago. Occasionally, Hopi conduct ceremony.

Chaco a thousand years ago was a fertile area which supported successful farming with fields irrigated from a river which flowed through the canyon. Climate change made Chaco undesirable and its priests moved to a more fertile location north of Chaco.

Chaco’s spiritual power is generated by Fajada Butte, the dominant land formation at Chaco. The so-called North Road, which begins above Pueblo Bonito is the roadway to the gods.

Visit Chaco and commune with Fajada Butte. Then walk the North Road. Then return to Chaco again and again. I made about twenty visits to Chaco. Once I camped there in a sand storm. A few times it snowed or rained. Finally, Chaco let me in.


Listening: An Unfocused Attention

In mid August we moved to the foot of Mt. Burdell here in Northwest Novato and I have been hiking the Dwarf Oak Trail. This trail runs along the side of my back yard. We are separated from it by a deer fence. Weekdays, I have the trail to myself.

Yesterday, i went looking for hummingbirds hoping some of them have survived the intense smoke of the last two weeks. The trail was quiet and open to me, welcoming in a hesitant way. We are just beginning to know each other.

As I walked along, I was enveloped in a strong and deep silence. Within this silence, listening to “what wants to be known” is simply to maintain an unfocused attention. That is the key to listening: an unfocused attention, a very patient yielding to the unknown.

Silence can continue throughout the day as the background of the day.

Attentiveness to the great silence is an offering of respect to the voice of the sacred.


Tuesday Morning


Welcome to our new website. Our old website is still available at Vimeo.

I have decided to write a blog rather than continue to publish the “Newsletter.”

Thank you to Sasa Petejan for creating our original website. And thank you to Sarah Keough for creating and maintaining this new site.

OK, so why this new site? In the year or so since the California fire, dubbed the Tubbs fire, burned through my neighborhood in Santa Rosa, I have been in a process of trauma recovery and unexpected changes in my capacities. This new site reflects what I am today, specifically the “Healing Gifts” which offer you an updating of my gifting to you.

This morning, I am troubled by the new suffering from the most recent California fires and the suffering at our border with Mexico. Mostly, I am still shocked by these events. I am ‘listening’ for a response.