My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I have had Bruce’s beautiful book: The Nature of Wisdom sitting on my shelf for years now. I loved it the minute I saw it and still do. I decided I needed to interview this man who created such beautiful photos, who wrote so poignantly and whose book I had gained so much from over the years, even inspiring some of my paintings :)
American landscape photographer, Bruce W. Heinemann, has photographed the landscape for over thirty years. He is the photographer of the critically acclaimed best-selling book, The Art of Nature: Reflections on the Grand Design. He also authored and photographed a second best-selling book, A Guide to Photographing the Art of Nature. Both books were Book of the Month Club Feature Selections. He was also the photographer and author of photographic book on his native state entitled, Washington: A Gallery of the Seasons. His most recent publication, The Nature of Wisdom has become an instant best seller at Barnes and Noble stores nationwide. It has sold nearly 100,000 copies in six printings and now is in its next printing available soon. His latest book, The Art of Nature: Reflection on the Grand Design Revised Edition co-published with Barnes and Noble has sold out and is now in its second printing and available soon.
His images have appeared in Sierra Magazine, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, Alaska Airlines, and National Geographic, among others.
In 1993 he was the recipient of the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Lecture Fellow Award, given to recognize and promote the accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the welfare of nature.
He is also an accomplished classical and jazz trumpet soloist. He lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in the town of Anacortes.
All Photos Credit: Bruce Heinemann. Some are from his new publication: The Nature of Life Daily Inspirations Desktop Card Collection.
1) What Journey are You on?
To answer that question, I have to go back to a beautiful late March morning in 1990 while I was driving my camper van from Ellensburg to Seattle. It was what is known as an Ecstatic Experience. While I was catching glimpses of the snowy Cascade Mts. off in the distance, I began to notice that my breathing started to get lighter and lighter, almost as if I wasn’t breathing at all. At the same time, I felt as though I was no longer occupying my body, as it too, seemed so light, even transparent. Looking out across the valley the mountains rose, glistening sparkles of the sun on the snow, like billions of stars in the night sky. I was utterly euphoric, unlike any feeling I had ever experienced. The whole world before my eyes became an indescribable vision of absolute heavenly paradise. At that point it became apparent to me that I, for whatever reason, had entered a higher state of consciousness. It occurred to me go with this new state, and experience my existing life from this new place. I felt like I had entered a state of complete and unconditional love so I wondered how I would, in this state feel about people that, although I didn’t hate them (I don’t hate anyone), they were people I really despised, people of another political persuasion shall we say. Thus I brought the image of their faces to the forefront of this present state. To my utter amazement, I had absolute, total, complete and unreserved love for them! My feeling of love for them was so profound that I can’t really describe it, other than to say I’ve never had that feeling again, with the possible exception the moment of the birth of my son, but it was even more intense a feeling than that, if that’s even possible. I then moved my attention further off in the distance beyond the mountain tops and another sensation emerged; I felt as though I at that moment had access to anything and everything in the whole universe, all knowing, all seeing. Like I could simply apply a thought to the universal field of all things past, present, and future, and they were instantly accessible to me. Then, almost as fast as this state of consciousness ascended me, it lowered me back down to my previous state.
My body returned to its normal density and my breathing become as I had only known it before. I was as astonished by the experience as I was imagine why this had happened to me. I knew it was spiritual, but that’s all I knew. Years later, I shared the experience with someone of exceptional spiritual insight and asked what had happened. They replied that my six spirit guides (I guess I need that many!) had joined together and lifted my vibration to a much higher level. It was a difficult time in my life as I had just quit my steady job to pursue my photography full time, and they were frightening and uncertain times.
So, what is my journey? It is to in every moment and every day seek to live in that higher vibration. How does one do that? By living from a place in your being that springs from and draws infinite wisdom, strength, and unbounded joy, a place that is conscious of our inseparable connectedness to the source of all things, in a word, God. The most direct path is first, simply this awareness, then applying this awareness through the mindful practice of meditation. It is simple, but takes effort and consistent practice. The two profound knowings from this experience which now inform my life since then are; the life changing power of unconditional love, and the realization that there is a place from which we can access all universal knowledge and understanding, and it is with this realization that our lives indeed become literally and truly unlimited, and seeming miracles performed.
It was from this experience that I finally realized what Einstein meant when he said: “Everything you can imagine is real”. What he meant was that every single thought and idea comes from a place in universal reality, it doesn’t “appear out of thin cosmic air”. Every single idea we access from some place in universal reality, a place where this thought or idea and its manifest reality already exists, and we have simply just “found it” in the universal field of all possibilities by use of our imagination. Neville Goodard, an increasingly well known Christian Mystic, and the inspiration for Wayne Dyer’s book Wishes Fulfilled, puts it simply and directly, our imagination is literally God and all things in creation, all realities, being revealed. It is our imagination that is the conscious source of all things. What a mind blowing thought! To live a life using the universal power of imagination, both for personal growth, creativity, and success, but even more so how to use the power of applied imagination and thought to uplift our world. This is my journey.
2) What has been one of your greatest challenges over the years, either with the work that you do or in another area of your life, and how did you overcome it?
Well, having surgery for prostate cancer at 49 was certainly a challenge. Its usually very dangerous at younger ages. I’ve managed to keep it at bay so to speak. Since then I have done a lot of research about cancer and it is now widely believed that we all have cancer cells in our bodies. The question is what causes some people to manifest this disease and others live their entire lives without doing that. It seems more and more to point to diet and what we put in our bodies and what we absorb from the products we use, the water we drink, and air we breath. So my diet has changed quite a bit, no processed foods, no gluten (messes up your gut which is the main engine of your immune system) and organic everything. Just started blending greens, and I recommend the book: Green For Life. This added to my diet is a very powerful anti-cancer, anti-aging regimen. I also highly recommend any book by Nevill Goddard starting with Awakened Imagination. He quotes the Bible often, not to proselytize, but insists that they are allegories of states of human consciousness. After reading many of his books, my understanding of my ecstatic experience has grown immeasurably! Understanding the way our spirit’s work in the world and manifest in our life, is the absolute key to unlocking the extraordinary power that we all have to create happiness, prosperity, and above all, abundant health! With the power that we possess, there is literally no personal challenge we cannot overcome.
3) In your beautiful book: The Nature of Wisdom you write: “But as is so often the story in our lives, we allow our spirit to be trampled and diminished by the challenges of living.” How did you break free from that? What values and ideas about living did you discover that inspired you on your path?
Let me start with a favorite quote of mine from that book by Kahlil Gibran:
“You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief. But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound”. What a profoundly eloquent and powerful thought. That said, as in life, things are easier said than done, but nevertheless, Gibran plants the seed of this idea that its o.k. to be surrounded by difficulties and challenges, but that we can rise above these things and live our lives fully. I have referred to this quote often over the years through periods of personal difficulty, and it always helps me keep perspective. Not to sound like a promoter of Neville Goddard, but I have truly found in his many writings, powerful methods and ideas, with which I can, as Gibran suggests, indeed rise above my problems naked and unbound. Neville teaches us to imagine the state that we wish to attain, in whatever way that means, i.e., a career, a business accomplishment, a state of health, a house, it can literally be anything at all, you simply must imagine it. Then, rather than thinking about being in that state, think from that state, in other words, literally occupy that state. by doing so you have left your current state of consciousness and entered this new state of consciousness that manifests itself as this state you imagined. By understanding this, and applying it to Gibran’s quote, I realize that our current state reflects our current state of consciousness. Thus, change your state of consciousness by imagining the state you wish to state, and occupy that state. Our lives simply reflect our current state of consciousness. Change the state, and you will manifest those things you imagined. You can find virtually all of Goddard’s writing on Google. Many can be downloaded for free. I have found his writings to be life changing, perhaps you may as well.
This saying has had great meaning for me. It reminds me that we must let go of judgements and resentments either about ourselves, our choices, and those things as they relate to other people in our lives. We don’t learn nearly as much from our successes are we learn from our failures. We succeed only because we have failed many times. The only terminal failure, is the mistake never learned. Here is another quote that I will be using in my new publication: The Nature of Life Daily Inspirations Desktop Card Collection that says it all…it is by James Joyce: “Man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery”…Every step is the perfect step because we took it and however we view it after the fact, the wise one always remembers that without taking that step, your journey would not be complete, nor our destination reached.
Our planet is evolving to a higher state. We must all participate in that evolution. We change our own life one thought at a time, and as well, we can change the world only one thought at a time. My hope and wish is that more and more people began to realize that reality is nothing more than our thoughts manifested, and as such, we must speak every word, and hold every thought with the greatest mindfulness that springs from love for all things and all people. Thoughts are things, and things are thoughts manifested. Use the universal power we all possess to manifest all possibilities by use of our imagination to create the world we all want to live in. Want a peaceful world with no hunger, no poverty, a world that is used sustainably, that is clean and healthy to live in, then we must use our imaginal thoughts to hold this reality in our minds, and from that it can become manifest. Lastly, as Buddha said: “We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts, with our thoughts we make the world.”
What Journey are YOU on?