A peek inside the recently published book:
Limitless Living
A Guide to Unconventional
Spiritual Exploration & Growth

Most people think we are physical beings

who occasionally have spiritual experiences.

The truth is we are spiritual beings who are now

having this physical experience of life on planet earth.


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A warning is in order. This book is clearly labeled as a guide to “unconventional” spiritual practices, i.e., it contains material that is unorthodox. To be orthodox means to “conform to accepted standards and established practice.” If you want only traditional spiritual direction please look elsewhere; this text is not for you. I do have a list of some good conventional publications in the Bibliography. There is a vast wealth of such traditional guidance, most of which can be of great benefit in a spiritual journey. I have not tried to duplicate here that kind of assistance.

However, if you wish to explore areas that some may consider outside of that which is accepted and standard then you have chosen an appropriate resource. Perhaps it is not by chance that you now hold this particular book at this specific time. I have been told by more than one master that the right teacher is sent when a person is ready. Some of my best teachers have appeared in the form of books to which my hand was drawn, as though by some unseen force. On more than one occasion I felt books “jump” off the shelf into my hands. You may be only curious and just beginning to search. That impulse of curiosity is not something that “killed the cat” but rather it is Holy and is driven by the Spirit of God, or Allah, or YHWH[1] to move us toward knowledge and faith.

My purpose in writing this book is twofold.

FIRST, I share these pieces of my spiritual journey, these spiritual explorations, insights, and exercises, with the hope that other spiritual pilgrims may be encouraged to search their own inner depths and there encounter the Infinite Mystery of God. In the process, I pray the reader becomes more open to Limitless Living.

Often pain or difficulty draws us to look for meaning and truth. The 23rd Psalm of the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament, KJV) states: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures; He leadeth beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul....” The pain and problems of life allow God to make us lie down for a while so we can have our souls restored. Four years ago I experienced the illness commonly known as “shingles.” My physician instructed me that I must rest and remove all stress for a minimum of six weeks. That seemed easier said than done for a busy parish priest. Fifteen years earlier, ten days after by-pass surgery, I had insisted on officiating at the burial service of a dear friend in my parish. As with many clergy, I often was torn between the needs of the people in my parish, my family needs and the needs of my own physical, spiritual and emotional health. When I learned of my shingles I had many parishioners who were much sicker than I and feeling much greater pain, so how could I take six weeks to recover? However, my doctor added, “If you do not follow these instructions then the pain you now feel will probably last not just for six weeks but for six months to a year, and perhaps even longer. However, if you totally rest and relax the pain should subside in two or three months.” With such a stern warning, I followed his instructions, and spent some serious time being quiet and listening to the holy silence…even in the midst of hurricane Isabel which almost killed my wife, Mary Ann, and me. (more later).

It has been my experience that in listening to the silence we may hear that still small voice which leads us to the still waters deep in our souls. Usually it is in such silence where healing must originate, and from which new endeavors can commence. It is in those deep inner places where we encounter that infinite Mystery we dare to call “God,” experiencing a Truth that passes all understanding, and thus are free to live a life that is limitless.

Saint Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, said: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2nd Corinthians 3:17) Karl Rahner, the Roman Catholic theologian, has suggested that when we are burdened with problems or upset and not feeling free, those are the times we need to move deep into our hearts where God’s Holy Spirit dwells with infinite freedom.[2]

For me, it was during those weeks of rest and listening that this book finally found the guidance to start moving toward completion.

But I am not saying that being in such silence is ever easy or comfortable. Sometimes we must see ourselves in ways not seen so before. Almost always we will find silence to be a new place, even if we have been there many times before. It is in such silence or new places that mystical experiences are rooted. We may need considerable encouragement to adventure into new places, especially if we have heard those places may be dangerous or even “bad.” Spiritual activity that appears to have mystical roots can be threatening to a logical, rational, analytical mind. Traditional Christianity and Judaism have even discouraged the more mystical elements of their faiths.

For example, in the past, Orthodox Jews, except Rabbis, have been forbidden to study the Jewish Kabbalah[3] because it has been seen as too “dangerous” for one not thoroughly grounded in the Torah. Likewise, Christian mysticism has been seen as acceptable for the monk and rare Saint, but to encounter it in an ordinary member of a conservative Christian denomination could almost be cause for “shunning,” “excommunication,” or removal from the worshiping community. Some have condemned mystical spirituality as being “occult,” not realizing that simply means “beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or mysterious.” According to that definition, all faith based spiritual activity might be considered “occult.”

It is my hope that by sharing some of my more non-ordinary spiritual explorations, which have been part of my life both as a lay person, as an Episcopal priest, pastoral counselor and psychotherapist, and by sharing similar experiences of friends, parishioners, and clients who have given me permission to do so, the reader may be less intimidated by their own logical hesitations or by the conservative elements of their faith traditions. A friend recently said to me, “You know, one of the special things you have done is expose me to all sorts of new possibilities which I could then choose to pursue and explore or not.” However, our work in these areas may make those around us somewhat uncomfortable, if not hostile.

Many years ago I happened to tune into a morning TV show during which the American novelist, Irving Wallace (1916-1990), was discussing one of his novels and its unattractive Christ figure. He noted that he had wondered for years, “What would make a believer out of me?” He then said, “It would take such a miracle that the miracle would not only make me a believer but also a quack, who may not be very attractive to some people.” Touching the Mystery of God can turn our lives upside down. And then if we are so bold as to talk about these things, the fearful in our midst may condemn us and the rationalistic may scoff and ridicule.

Nevertheless, problems, pain and difficulties in life have a way of emboldening us. I survived a heart attack in 1989 and subsequent by-pass surgery in 1990. I endured a painful resignation from my parish in 1992 where I had served as Rector for eleven years. I watched the divorce of both of my sons and the anguish caused to them and their children, and I felt like a failure because I could do nothing to save their marriages. Also, over the years, numerous clients and parishioners have shared stories of terrible anguish and suffering, and I have been with many during some of the worst events of their lives. And through it all I have seen how, almost without exception, these events may lead us to those still waters where our souls can be restored. Therefore, I now feel more willing to share as much of my story as may be useful for others to hear, although parts of it may be quite unorthodox. A friend, who has also endured much pain and been near death more than once, said to me, “When you have been close enough to THAT door to hear the angel wings flapping you look at life in a totally different light, and you have a new boldness to say what you really feel like saying.” I feel a new desire to share more of my story than I normally would in a parish setting, and a willingness to test whether or not there are others who wish to hear. Actually I would be quite happy if only my children and grandchildren were to read this book, but I do hope others will find it valuable, too.

My SECOND reason for writing this book is that as I complete my sixty-eighth year of this current lifetime and almost thirty years as a priest, I am learning that in order to proceed with my own spiritual journey I must share with others that which I myself have received as gifts. Native Americans had a wonderful tradition called the “giveaway” (a tradition that has not been totally lost). If a member of a tribe became “rich” that person would gather friends, family and other tribesmen. He would then give to each person part of his riches after having spent a great deal of time trying to choose the gift that would be most useful to the recipient. By doing this they believed they would then be open to continue to receive further riches. I have been told that a remote genetic part of me is connected to the Powhatan tribe, to Pocahontas, and to her many descendants -- of which I am one. So I feel a connection to this tradition.

Like those early American brothers and sisters, I think I have experienced so much, I have benefited from the teachings and guidance of so many, I have received such spiritual riches, that I MUST give away some of those riches or be blocked from further growth. So I am writing this books to help me, as well as you, thus opening up my heart and soul for new adventures that have already begun.

My background is quite mixed. While in college I worked as a surgical scrub nurse. I’ve been a chemistry and physics teacher, a businessman and real estate broker, a parish priest, pastoral counselor, psychotherapist, and clinical hypnotherapist. I have a bachelor's degree in philosophy with a minor in the sciences, a master's degree in business administration, a master's degree in divinity, a doctor of ministry degree in pastoral counseling and psychotherapy, am a board certified clinical hypnotherapist, and am certified as a Pastoral Counselor and a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Several years before I decided that the ordained ministry was my call, I even attended medical school for three semesters. I have conducted seminars and workshops in many parts of the United States and teach occasional courses as adjunct faculty at a college in Virginia. And I have served as a Rector, Assistant Rector, and Interim Rector in numerous Episcopal churches in Virginia. I currently serve as priest and Rector of two Episcopal parishes in the Northern Neck of Virginia. This diversity of life experience and education has carried over into a diverse spiritual pilgrimage, usually quite orthodox, but occasionally somewhat unorthodox.

At the same time, I recognize the great potential for fraud and deception in this area. The need to believe can be so great that individuals may accept as helpful and holy that which is dishonest and a hoax. Or perhaps just as bad, we may simply accept someone else's honest misunderstandings of that which is perceived, or of what one thinks they perceive.

Belief that something is possible may stimulate the hypnotic effect of seeing or hearing things that are not there. I have come to recognize that the old guideline is false which says: “I'll believe it when I see it.” The truth is: “I'll see it when I believe it.” If we believe something strongly enough we will generally find evidence for that belief, even if we have to unconsciously manufacture or fabricate the evidence. Even some of the most reputable scientific investigators have reported this unconscious inclination and have gone to great lengths to protect their research from such bias.

That is why I strongly recommend testing any spiritual guidance, direction or communication you receive while doing the exercises contained in this book or while participating in any other spiritual exploration. Appendix A provides a process for doing what Holy Scripture calls “testing the spirits.” I have found this useful and effective. I also suggest that you find a spiritual guide, i.e., someone further along the spiritual path you have chosen to explore, who can walk with you for a while. Talk with your minister, priest or rabbi. A call to the American Association of Pastoral Counselors can put you in touch with therapists, many of whom have been trained both in pastoral counseling as well as in theology and the exploration of spiritual matters. You may have to do a little checking to determine whether or not the minister or therapist is open to unorthodox explorations, and doesn't automatically fall into the reductionistic trap of labeling the “non-ordinary” as abnormal or even “sinful” and “the work of the Devil.”

My past exposure to philosophical questioning and business analysis, and my training in the scientific method, does cause a certain uneasiness in presenting untested spiritual phenomenon. The very nature of spiritual exploration provides anecdotal data which is difficult to replicate. Good research is being done in many places today in order to document certain types of spiritual activity that can fit into scientific, double blind studies. However, much that I share here comes from one-time, personal experiences. What makes this kind of data more believable is the fact that these experiences are not as rare or as unusual as may be thought. Popular literature is filled with similar stories. As I have taught classes, led workshops, preached sermons, and discussed these topics in diverse settings, I have often been surprised (though less so today) by how frequently people come to me afterwards to share their unusual spiritual experiences.

Since some of my spiritual experiences have come from outside orthodox Christianity, I want to make it clear that I do not speak for the Church. I have neither sought nor received approval of this book from my Bishop or any other ecclesiastical authority. However, as an Episcopal priest, I am bound by canon or church law not to preach heresy. I hope it is clear that what is contained in this book is not what I preach. What I preach is, as Saint Paul said so well, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected to new life. That new life is so radical[4] that I believe it sets us free from fear so that we may choose to live with love and hope, and we can freely participate in this adventure of life with joy. And yet even within that context of the life and freedom which we find in Christ, some of the material in this short treatise may be considered by some to be heresy. The late Dean of my seminary[5], The Very Reverend Urban T. Holmes, who I will mention later because he played such a large part in my formal theological training, once said to me, “Prentice, if you are going to be faithful to your call to be a shaman and priest in your community, then sometimes you must be willing to go beyond that which is accepted by Church 'authorities' and to move into areas that some will say is heretical.” Thank you ‘Terry’ … I have followed your advice.

Throughout most of my adult life I have felt an acute dilemma. I love to write. I have been writing on scraps of paper, in spiral ring notebooks, in speckled hard backed journals, and on computer floppy disks and hard drives. I have tried my hand at novels, prose, and theological reflections. I have written over 1300 sermons, uncounted numbers of required papers for classes, graduate theses, and finally a doctoral thesis. Through it all I have felt the thrill of seeing my thoughts on paper. But therein lies the dilemma. Once upon the paper or on the computer screen, I’d start to compare my paltry compositions with the great writing of those authors whose good books I greedily consumed whenever I could. At one point while working on my doctorate I almost quit the process as I imagined my thesis being reviewed and critiqued by scholars. My childhood memories of cringing before the stare of a teacher instructing me to stand and give my answer to some easy question when that answer was totally lost in the horrible state of complete embarrassment, had me wondering if I might sit before the faculty review board and be unable to open my mouth. Having preached all those sermons and led countless workshops and classes over the past forty years was no comfort whatsoever. Deep down inside, I am still a shy little boy. So I can honestly say, it was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that the doctorate was completed, the review was successfully traversed, and this book was ever considered.

So how can one who feels so limited by introverted inhibitions ever conceive of the idea that there might be such a thing as limitless living? In lives filled with external and internal limitations, with handicaps and illnesses, with pains and sufferings, with doubts and questions, with real and imagined foes along the path of life, where do we find such limitlessness?

Just the fact that you hold this book in your hands is testimony to the concept of limitless living. As with all of life, nothing we do is done alone. I realize that psychologists have bemoaned the fact that “we are born alone and die alone.” More than one author has said something to the effect of, “I was, being human, born alone.” But I think that is not true. Just as a mother and father start a life in the passionate union of sperm and egg, as a mother painfully and yet joyfully gives birth, as we are held to be fed and learn to walk and talk and read and drive and fly, we are always surrounded by others. Even when we look around and see not another soul, I believe we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who encourage us to run this race of life to the finish. And the testimony of many near death survivors is that at death others are there to greet us and help us through the door to the other side.

So we are not alone, and we are not limited by the visible restrictions and strictures of life. My experience is that there is more going on in this life than we can ever imagine. Great forces are at work as we open our hearts and souls to the grace of God and to the presence of other souls. And this book is written with the hope that it may contain hints, or Gretel-like pebbles[6], along the trail, so others who follow may experience the limitless nature of life that I have found everywhere.

I hope the raw data of these personal explorations provides stimulus for further study, not blind acceptance. Please be a “doubting Thomas” when looking at all things new and unusual. Doubt is good. It is an essential part of a mature faith process. And if you don't like what I have to say here you can pass it off as the wild ramblings of an old priest who has sipped too much communion wine.

I do not think I say anything profoundly new. Rather, I am sharing some of my stories and those of others. In so doing, perhaps the reader may be able to connect her or his story to THE Story of our loving Creator.

I have arranged the anecdotes in logical groups, not chronological order. In that way you, a book club, or a study group, can look at one chapter at a time to examine a particular type of spiritual exploration; and you are invited to delve further into those areas of special interest or attraction by using the exercises included within some of the chapters, or by doing further study using the footnotes and books recommended in the bibliography. Explore where you feel called and do not be limited by my structure or organization. You will note that the first chapter has more of the theological and psychological underpinnings for such unorthodox spiritual activities and explorations. This is important material, but some may initially find it too “heavy.” Feel free to skip to subsequent chapters that draw your interest and return later when you feel comfortable.

Most of the exercises presented here begin with a relaxation and centering process. In Appendix B there are three different techniques for accomplishing this. These are designed to help you move deeply into the exercises and receive the greatest benefit possible. And great benefit is possible!

Jesus said: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Elsewhere he said: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy be complete.” (John 15:11)

The Buddha said, “Follow the way joyfully through this world and beyond.... Live in joy, like the shining ones.... Look within. Be still. Be free from fear and attachment. Know the sweet joy of the way!” (The Sayings of the Buddha)

The Holy Koran says: “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. High above our petty evanescent lives, He illumines our souls with means that reach our inmost being. Universal is His light, ...pure, ...intense.... All nature sings to the glory of God.” (S.xxiv.35)

In the Talmud we read: “Father Elijah, of happy and blessed memory, used to say: Heaven and earth testify that to a scholar who studies the Bible and traditions for the sake of God, and who supports himself, the following verse applied: 'When thou eatest of the labor of thy hands, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.'“ (Seder Eliyahu Zuta, ch. 15, p. 197)

Too often we consider our lives “limited” or our spiritual experiences incomplete. Yet, as can be glimpsed in these and many other holy writings and in the stories which follow, we live in a universe of unlimited supply, of abundant light, love and joy. I hope this unconventional primer will help you experience more of that abundance through LIMITLESS LIVING ∞


[1] YHWH is the Hebrew name for God. Hebrew has no vowels; therefore one can not pronounce this Holy Name. I do not wish to exclude any expression of faith in a divine power in our search for limitless living. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled talks of the stage of mysticism in psychological growth in which a person comes to have a more universalistic view of the transcendent and infinite mystery we call God or Allah or Jehovah, etc., etc. In this book, I will usually use the tradition of my faith and talk of “God,” but I use this name as an inclusive term not an exclusive one.

[2] Prayers & Meditations, Karl Rahner, Seabury, 1980.

[3] A body of esoteric wisdom in the Jewish tradition. I think Kabbalah for the Layman, by Dr. Philip S. Berg is a good introduction. The literal meaning of the word Kabbalah is "Receiving."

[4] The word “radical” literally means, of or from the root; the center, foundation, or source of something; or extreme change.

[5] The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee

[6] On the first attempt of the mean stepmother to have her woodcutter husband take his children, Hansel and Gretel, into the forest and leave them, Gretel left a trail of pebbles along the path so they could find their way home. For our purposes here I am only looking at the importance of following the more feminine, intuitive, right brained path.


For more peeks inside of this book click here:
Contents | Exercises | Acknowledgements

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 Last update: March 01, 2011 

  Copyright © 2007-2011 Prentice Kinser III, D.Min. All rights reserved. 
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the copyright holder.

 This book is not a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your physician or nurse practitioner.  No exercise program should be undertaken except under the direction of your health care provider.  If you are now or have been in the care of a psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other mental health care provider, seek their advice prior to beginning any meditation, or other exercise in this book that may impact your emotional state.

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