Remembering Ms. Ligia Dantes
Good Morning. I am Peter, a member of the Brothers of St. John of God, an international community serving in 50 countries and here in Southern California. I didn’t want to use the word “I” in my introduction as Ms. Dantes spoke about herself saying, “this person.” However I remember Ms. Dantes saying “I am my Mother. I am my Father, a unique expression go them.” So I say to you I am Peter and I am very grateful to be here today as we gather to remember Ms. Dantes and the incredible impact she has had on our lives.
My first meeting w/ Ms. Dantes was at St. Joseph’s Health & Retirement Center when she was visiting w/ Helen Over. Dr. Stuart Over, M.D. her husband was looking for a nursing home for his wife recovering from a severe stroke. I took Helen via her wheelchair around the grounds of St. Joseph’s and into the chapel. She very quickly rolled herself down the main aisle toward the front rock wall and raising up her right hand in a fist toward the Crucifix and cried. I asked Helen. “Are you asking the why question.” She nodded yes. I said. Helen, even Jesus asked the why question so you can too. This began a process of profound transformation in Helen’s life as she was a woman of deep faith. She could not speak except to say, “I am fine.”
Helen found joy and happiness again discovering she had the gift of joy of welcoming all with her warm smile to everyone who came to visit St. Joseph’s. Ms. Dantes invited me to come to a meditation in Ojai back in 1988. This led to many personal and group dialogues and retreats w/ her over a period fo 23 years. One person who had experienced several of her dialogues through an in depth spiritual inquiry for hour and a half said that experiencing a dialogue with Ms. Dantes is more intense than 3 months of psychotherapy.
My experience of Ms. Dantes meeting her back in 1988 was “like meeting one of the great spiritual mystics of the 16th Century, such as a Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite Nun, or St. John of the Cross who were part of a group of spiritual reformers at the grassroots level. These deeply spiritual men and women would encourage people to bring about reform by first reforming their own lives first. I saw Ms. Dantes as a contemplative in action who didn’t allow the allure and attractiveness of modern life to dim her vision. She herself is integrated—living the values about which she speaks: mindful living, living a life of compassion, awareness, love, joy, gentleness and kindness. She utilizes her knowledge of psychology as she goes to a deeper level, serving people who yearn for the truth and want to discover their highest principle. She speaks a universal language which goes across all traditions.”
During one of my dialogues up in the living room I was talking about my own desire to live a more integrated life of a deeper connection of mind, body and spirit. She paused, pondered and spoke this new word never spoken before, “spiritupsychophysicalness.” Ms. Dantes stopped for a moment to speak about her new experience of speaking that word and its deeper meaning. Later on, she would use the word “cosmopsychophysicalness,” as a broader way to speak about living an integrated life. To see this new spiritual awareness in Ms. Dantes was a blessing to behold.
Over the years, I have been moved by Ms. Dantes’ insights in her personal and group dialogues. Her depth of compassion and patience is incredible with people like myself who were so asleep and so unaware for so long a time in my life. It has taken quite some time for that awakening to take root in my own life. While on a 5 day retreat and doing a meditative reading her book The Unmanifest Self, I found Ms. Dantes’ insight into love to be a summation of her life of service these past 30 plus years to humanity.
I have come back to this portion of her book on many occasions as she wrote with such depth of insight about love:
“Love is true neutrality; it does not judge or evaluate.
It does not feel good or bad; since it is not mere thought, it does not change into an opposite. It does not like or dislike.
It does not blame, so it does not need to forgive.
It does not have choices or preferences, opinions or positions.
It does not dictate, it is not authoritative (authoritarian)
Love does not differentiate between life and death.
It has no expectations other than what is.
Love is not an ideal to venerate; it cannot be known through knowledge or thought. Love is not words, but the energy of life itself
without opposites, without death.
Love is a way of being, experienced by humans and visible only in our actions. Life and love are synonymous. They are the eternal activity of universal energy without boundaries, movement, or form. Love, being all-encompassing, is the context of all. Love is infinite. What is infinite cannot be known within the finite mind. Only in a state of being that is beyond the finite human mind-form can love be the manifest.. Our minds can express love only in paradox. Love is all life, is and, as such, can only be lived.”
— The Unmanifest Self
Thank you Ms. Dantes for loving each one of us with unconditional love and compassion and for laying down your life for us. As you gave up your final breath of life on April 21st, you handed over a portion of your spirit to live in each of us so we can continue to live and show compassion to make the world a better place as you did for so long a time. Ms. Dantes we will continue to think of you, pray with you, love you and remember you because this is what you are doing right now for us. In the remembering of you and your life, your spirit will come alive in each of us. For your life continues to be lived in a new dimension, part of God’s love as you have said: living “the eternal activity of universal energy without boundaries, without movement, or without form.” May your Love continue to be “all-encompassing”, living Cosmopsychophysicalness in your transformed existence. With my heartfelt gratitude and prayer to you, Ms. Dantes, to Phil and all the volunteers who have touched my life in such a profound way. I pray… Amen.