A Tribute to Angeles Arrien

aarrienFor many years I have been studying the nature of worldview transformations. How do we change our minds? What actions do we need to take to make fundamental shifts in how we experience ourselves and the world? How can we shift our view of death in order to live life more fully?

Over the past two decades I had the privilege to work with a team of researchers through the Institute of Noetic Sciences to study the nature of individual and social transformation. We published our results in Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life (Schlitz, Vieten, and Amorok, 2007).

One of the most beloved teachers with whom we interviewed was Angeles Arrien, a soulful woman with great wisdom, insight, warmth, and dedication to the dharma. She died on Thursday afternoon, April 24, 2014. In remembering Angie, I bow to her great insights about transformation and her boundless expression of love. For her, death represents an essential aspect of life. It is not something to be feared or resisted. She explained her own perspective in an interview in 2002:

I really trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there’s no diversion…There’s a tendency to want to be other than where I am, rather than to face that and to trust that I am on schedule and that this is what I’m learning.

For Arrien, it was important to stay present to what is so, rather than to grasp for what we want things to be like. She explained that people can get developmentally arrested in their growth if they get stuck in a certain stage of development. We need to live life without putting up what she called self-imposed boulders that make it harder to accept life just as it is. She did not want a memorial; it was simply her time to go beyond her embodiment.

In order to help people come to terms with life and death, Arrien recorded two transformative practices or tools for helping people move through the various stages of life. These are included in a DVD on transformative practices entitled Living Deeply: Transformative Practices for the World’s Wisdom Traditions (Schlitz, Amorok, and Vieten, 2007).

In the video below, Angeles offered perennial wisdom from two traditions that she knew and trusted. First she drew on the philosopher, Spinoza, who asked each of us to consider each day what has meaning or fire for you? From the wisdom of Spinoza, Arrien reminded us to ask ourselves three questions everyday:

Question 1: What made me happy today? Not who, but what made me happy?
Question 2: Where did I experience comfort and balance today?
Question 3: Who are what inspired me today?

Arrien also shared her insights about the Blessing Way, drawn from her love of native American traditions. From this she offers three qualities that we may draw on everyday.

Action 1: Set sacred intention everyday.
Action 2: Give gratitude everyday.
Action 3: Take a life affirming action everyday.

As I reflect on my friendship with Angeles, I will continue to draw on her wisdom and insight. May her spirit soar into planes of understanding that are filled with inspiration and appreciation. With deep affection and boundless love for this gentle woman, I share with you two brief teachings from Angeles Arrien.

About Marilyn Schlitz

Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. is a social anthropologist, researcher, award winning writer, and charismatic public speaker. She serves as President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Additionally, she is a Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center, where she focuses on health and healing, and board member of Pacifica Graduate Institute. For more than three decades, Marilyn has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies. Her research and extensive publications focus on personal and social transformation, cultural pluralism, extended human capacities, and mind body medicine. She has a depth of leadership experience in government, business, and the not-for-profit sectors. Her broad and varied work has given her a unique ability to help individuals and organizations identify and develop personal and interpersonal skills and capacities needed by 21st century leaders. Her books include: Consciousness and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind Body Medicine; Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life; and Death Makes Life Possible. She also wrote and produced a feature film, Death Makes Life Possible, with Deepak Chopra, that has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is currently creating enrichment programs for life long learning and health professionals.

9 Responses to A Tribute to Angeles Arrien

  1. Verna Fisher May 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was so shocked to hear of Angeles’ death. Your tribute is beautiful and it was such a treat to hear her voice. I will light a candle of remembrance the 24th of every month in honor of her and her amazing gift to the world.

  2. Janice June 10, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    Thank you Marilyn.Thank you for sharing this video on your blog. I had the privilege of being a student of Angeles in the last few years. I met her at an IONS book reading in Petaluma. I signed up for her Four Fold Way the following week. I was all set to take her weekend of Gratitude at Mt Madonna when I became aware of her passing. I am so saddened by her death but grateful that she lives on in the hearts and minds of so many. A group of students got together and lit a candle on her behalf on the 24th and sent a few appreciations up to the heavens for the great gift that she was. She was truly an inspiration.

  3. Karen Dawson July 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Dear Marilyn ~

    It was with great sadness that I have just discovered your tribute to Angeles Arrien upon her passing on April 24, 2014. I felt a connection to her when I first met her as she lectured to a small community group many years ago. I shared with her the love and connection I had with my grandfather who came from the Pyrenees area in France very near to the area in Spain where she grew up sensing the same mysterious qualities that they both seemed to share I had asked her if it had anything to do with growing up in that area and she answered with tiled head and a sweet smile (just as my grandfather used to do) “Oh, yes!” When volunteers were invited to listen to recordings of interviews for the book that you were in the process of co-writing, Living Deeply I eagerly chose to listen to Angeles.

    Angeles told me once that if I ever visited the Pyrenees that I should talk to her first — something that I thought about a lot before leaving on April 29th but did not do since it had been years since I had seen her and since that conversation took place. The trip that I had dreamed of making for so long had such a magical quality with everything falling into place. Visiting my grandfather’s childhood home filled me with a familiar sweet presence beyond description. Perhaps I had some guidance after all — something that fills me with questions and a peaceful knowing all at the same time.

    Warmly ~

  4. Marilyn Schlitz July 31, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Thank you all for sharing your love for Angie. I know her spirit is smiling, if spirits smile…

  5. Debra Bourne March 9, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    Dear Marilyn

    I want to share my appreciation for your tribute. As others have said before me, your love for Angeles shines through the internet and touches my heart, here in London.

    I only recently ‘met’ Angeles through an online interview with Michael Lerner and felt an immediate connection and synergy. However, I resonated so deeply with everything she was saying. I immediately bought two books.

    Yesterday, was International Women’s Day.

    I was invited to speak at a WOW (women of the world) event with Cambridge University, here in England. I ended my speech by honouring Angeles Arrien. Her work inspired me to include her quote on the power of diversity from Working Together.

    On the surface, my work promotes diversity in fashion. I co-founded a tiny, unwaged charity in 2009 with the desire to create a conscious conversation about what a powerful communicator the fashion industry is not just on appearance and the veneer of our identities, but if unaware, or unquestioned, as an internalised voice, it can impact our body image and self esteem. Working in advocacy, education and industry.

    However, more importantly, I simply compelled to say what a potent affect she had on me. . in one short interview, I feel like giving up my existing work, taking up cultural anthropology and reframing my charitable intentions into a wider context.

    I wish that I’d had the good fortune to meet her but enjoy the legacy of her passion, commitment, joy and spirit.

    with thanks

    Debra Bourne

  6. Kasandra September 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    I was a bit shocked at coming over to Angie’s website and finding this tribute to her passing! I was fortunate to connect with Angie when I had an apartment in Marin County. I was in my late ’40’s and so was she! It was wonderful to have her come to my apartment and do a Tarot Card reading for me. It was the most profound and right-on card reading yet! Her beautiful, soft and supportive Presence has always been in my heart. Love and Blessings, Angie. Now I know to include a tribute to your Light Essence in my meditations during your special day!

  7. Susan Wilson December 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Hello, Marilyn,
    Thank you for keeping this tribute to Angeles Arrien available. I just learned a month ago (Nov 2015) that Angeles had moved on. I was shocked at the news and that I had lost touch (direct) with her. I studied Multi-Cultural Shamanism with her and a group in the late 80’s. One of the most meaningful experiences I have had, in my now long life.
    I so appreciate being able to hear her voice and her wisdom. It is everlasting.
    My question is Who comes after her?

    Thank you. Blessings and gratitude for your work and who you are,
    Susan Wilson

  8. Jane Buhl March 5, 2016 at 6:20 am #

    Thank you very much for your caring tribute of Angeles Arrien, & for sharing her living wisdom in her every day questions. What a gracious beauty person she was. On many occasions over years I have been moved in her Presence & by her written work, always pointing in fresh ways toward the wise loving & uplifting. I am pleased to find your sharing today, & will continue to honor her by lighting a candle every 24th. Thank you.

  9. Hildie Rempel Jacyk May 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    Dear Marilyn I just discovered that Angeles had exchanged worlds this weekend, quite accidentally through a friend who had looked her up on line. I was shocked and deeply saddened and wondered how was it possible that 2 years had gone by and I did not know of this. My other question was why now?
    I was introduced to this amazing wise woman who captured my heart immediately ,as I showed up for the first session of our Transpersonal Psychology Institute Global Program Intensive in St Petersburg, Florida in October of 1988. In those days we called her Angie and her partner in this 7 day retreat/workshop, was Dwight Judy. They opened my heart so wide, that transformation would be a mild phrase to describe what happened to me. I was hooked. It felt like I followed Angeles to the ends of the earth in the next 10 years to be in her presence and absorb her pearls of wisdom, that are alive and flourishing in me today, Thank you, thank you ,thank you Marilyn for these videos, to go to and remember Angeles; all that she was and all that she gave. You are an angel Marilyn.

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