Dr. Mary R. Hulnick, Ph.D., is a pioneer and innovator in the field of Spiritual Psychology. She is Chief Creative Officer at the University of Santa Monica. Together with her husband, University President Dr. H. Ronald Hulnick, she has served as USM’s Founding Faculty and Co-Director, designing the curriculum in service to Awakening the human spirit inherent in each student. Mary and Ron have co-authored the book, Loyalty to Your Soul: The Heart of Spiritual Psychology and several online courses. Their latest book, Remembering the Light Within: A Course in Soul-Centered Living, is set to be published by Hay House in February 2017. A Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California, Mary is described by all who know her as unconditionally loving, deeply compassionate, and highly supportive to the evolution in human consciousness.
LW: At what point did you consciously commit to the path of Awakening?
MH: I knew there was something more from the time I was a tiny child. I was aware of a deeper meaning and purpose—opportunity for a deeper conversation. Awakening for me has been a life long process. Experiences and events occurred; opportunities were presented that were catalysts for Awakening. It has truly been a natural unfoldment. Nonetheless, there has been a guiding presence assisting me in recognizing the opportunities and resources being presented to me.
LW: What subject matter sparked your interest when you started your studies in college?
MH: During my undergraduate at the end of my sophomore year, I needed one more credit to achieve junior standing. I decided to take an independent study in existential psychology. This included reading the works of Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, and others. I was reading amazing books with life changing ideas. I loved the information and the experience that was happening within me. The requirement for completing the course involved writing a 30-page paper. My professors told me that my paper was beyond undergraduate psychology work. They strongly encouraged me to keep going.
I also had a great love of English Literature. I ended up with a double major in English Literature and Psychology. I loved English literature because of the character development, the deep insight into psyches, and my love of mystical poets like Blake and Wordsworth. These two majors were compatible for me as I was always interested in people and consciousness. As a young child, I would find myself in situations where adults would spontaneously talk with me about their challenges. From a very early age, I was attuned to empathy and compassion and was good at listening.
Through choosing to pursue graduate work in psychology, I knew I would be relating with people in ways that were deeply meaningful and purposeful. Pursuing graduate work in English Literature, seemed like a more isolative kind of life that didn’t appeal to me at the time. Though in retrospect, it would likely have led to a mystical life focused around poetry and spirituality.
When I completed my Master’s Degree in psychology, my professor asked me if I had thought of getting a doctorate. After sitting with it for a couple of days, I decided that I would do it. Again, there was the natural unfoldment.
LW: What teachers have you worked with and/or currently work with to inspire and support your evolution in consciousness?
MH: John-Roger is the only spiritual teacher in the physical form that I’ve worked with. I’ve read books or heard talks by other teachers, but J-R is my teacher. I experienced inner recognition and knowing when I met him. J-R is an incredible embodiment of love, and freely shared the inner wealth of spiritual wisdom and knowledge to which he had access. He was a conduit. My experience with J-R was the constancy of his loving. Two years ago on October 22, he passed. His spirit is more present than ever. He is still my teacher.
And, of course, life is for learning, and I have learned so much through the many people I have known and loved.
LW: How did you transition from the study of traditional psychology to Spiritual Psychology?
MH: It was a natural consequence of my own spiritual Awakening. I realized that loving is truly the healing agent and that as human beings our essential nature is loving. Much of the mental anguish and emotional suffering that people experience is due to spiritual amnesia - forgetting who we are and why we’re here. The shift was a natural progression through waking up myself.
In addition, my teacher, John-Roger was extraordinary. I witnessed him working with people for more than 35 years before he passed. He worked within the context of spiritual reality and I witnessed miracles of healing Grace. I experienced people letting go of difficult patterns they had carried all of their lives. I realized it was truly possible to assist my self and others in Awakening into the Spiritual Context and the Love, Joy, Aliveness, Creativity, Wisdom, and Freedom of their Essential Nature.
In my experience, the more you do the work to dissolve the barriers that block you from the awareness of your own Essential Loving Nature, the more you become an instrument of Divine Love.
LW: What is your definition of Spiritual Psychology?
MH: To distill it all down, it is the study and practice of conscious Awakening.
LW: When did you meet your husband, Ron, and at what point did you realize he was your life partner?
MH: We met in New Mexico in the fall of 1974. I had just moved to New Mexico six weeks earlier to begin a faculty position at New Mexico State University. One evening he came to my classroom door and introduced himself as a doctoral student who would be entering the Program during the next quarter. He wanted to sit in on my class. I recognized him immediately. Based on that brief encounter, I knew he was going to be important in my life, but I didn’t know how. He enrolled in one of my classes a few months later. Over time it became very clear that we had similar interests and orientation. One thing led to another; five years later we were married.
LW: What has been the most challenging experience in your life that turned out to be the most meaningful opportunity to your life's path?
MH: It happened within a few months of marrying my husband, Ron. Ron and I were now both on the faculty in the same department. The Universe began to move—big changes began to occur. At that time, the University wanted to develop women in leadership. I was being groomed to become the Department Chair, Dean of the College and perhaps eventually Academic Vice President. There were policies regarding nepotism, so if I were promoted, it would not work for Ron to be in the department where I was Department Chair.
Ron was offered positions in other departments, but none of them really had heart for him. Our dream and intention was to work together. He declined the positions and to everyone’s dismay, I resigned. We then embarked upon a yearlong honeymoon. We were married, in love, and had no idea what our next steps were going to be professionally. That year gave us time to deepen in our relationship and we had time to catch up inwardly. The unknowing was unfamiliar and uncomfortable, yet it was a beautiful and precious time. And there was always the lingering question of “what now?”
LW: How did the clarity for your next steps come to you?
Some months after completing our employment at the University, J-R came to our city to offer a seminar. One afternoon we had a meeting with him and he told us about a school he had founded. We listened and talked mostly about other things we were thinking of doing. Nothing really moved inside us at that time. We shared with him we would be going to California soon for a month to participate in some his seminars. J-R told us that things would become clearer when we returned home after the month in California.
Shortly after returning home from our month in California, I woke up one morning at 5 am and went outside to reflect on a powerful dream I had just experienced, which indicated we were to run the school J-R had mentioned. Soon, Ron came outside and asked what I was doing. We went back inside, had tea, and talked. In the past, I have experienced dreams of inner knowing numerous times in my life that had guided my direction and choices.
Later that morning, we called J-R’s office to arrange to meet with him about the school. The next day we were driving to El Paso, Texas, to catch a flight to Los Angeles for that meeting. On our way, there was a beautiful double rainbow in the sky—which to us was an incredible sign of Spiritual Promise. We met with J-R, agreed to become the founding faculty of the school, and moved to California a few months later. The rest is history.
LW: What was the defining moment that led you and Ron to be significantly involved with the University of Santa Monica?
MH: My dream that provided the deep inner knowing that we were to breathe life into the school. Since that time and for the past 35 years, we moved forward creating Programs assisting students in Awakening Spiritually while also living lives of greater meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.
The school was named Koh-e-Nor, meaning Mountain of Light. It was a nonprofit that J-R had founded in 1976 that was waiting to have life breathed into it. The name was later changed to the University of Santa Monica, and we offered Master’s Degree Programs in Spiritual Psychology for the past 35 years.
LW: In your words, how are you serving the world and contributing your gifts?
MH: Through two primary intentions---
LW: How can people work with you privately?
MH: It is very rare that I work with someone that hasn’t gone to USM. USM’s 10-Month Program in Soul-Centered Living is a beautiful way to learn the Principles and Practices of Spiritual Psychology. The result is a transformed consciousness and a transformed life.
LW: What is your daily spiritual practice?
MH: In the morning, I begin with a prayer. I call myself into the Light and place the day ahead in the Light along with people and situations on various Light Lists. I read Discourses, which are foundational teachings of John-Roger. I listen to J-R seminars and meditations. I practice a form of meditation daily known as Spiritual Exercises that has to do with silently chanting and listening to the Sound Current.
At this stage, perhaps the most ordinary, outward Spiritual Practice is my intention to live my life as the Presence of Love whether I’m working with people or spending time in my garden.
LW: Do you have a daily affirmation that currently supports your evolution?
MH: I am accepting and expressing the Loving heart that I am remembering that I am the Presence of Love.
LW: What does living wholly mean to you?
MH: Living Wholeheartedly. Living all in with reverence and respect for the sacredness of life. Serving Spirit.
LW: If you could share a mantra that supports you, what would that be?
MH: Father, Mother God, I surrender unto Love. This life is for you.
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