The Empyrean Experiment in Hawaii

The winds of destiny changed abruptly in 1978.
We were living in Hawaii in a small house right on a white sand beach in a little town called Waimanalo on the Windward side of Oahu. We were lulled to sleep every night by tropical surf glistening in the moonshine.

A sense of new beginnings was ruffling through our psyches. We loved teaching The Loving Relationships Training, but we were unexpectedly swept into the next stage of our development as teachers.

As weekend seminar leaders we travelled all over the US, with new students at every event. Most of them we would never see again. We began to wonder what could happen if we worked deeper with the same people over an extended period of time.

A group of students who share our values of spiritual love, emotional honesty and direct contact with the divine within, started to gather around us. We developed our own educational company called Empyrean Enterprises, Inc.

Paul & Layne Aglow with Love

Paul & Layne Aglow with Love

We yearned to explore the outer reaches of personal and spiritual evolution with a bonded group who were committed not only to their personal process, but also dedicated to bringing out the best and highest for every one of their fellow travelers.

Empyrean is a word that comes from the Greek meaning the highest heaven, the celestial vault, the sphere of pure light, the abode of the gods. Enterprise means a bold undertaking. Thus, Empyrean Enterprises was a bold undertaking to that place in consciousness where the Divine lives in all of us.

Heaven, we learned from our studies of Catherine Ponder’s work, means expansion. Heaven is a state of expanded consciousness. We were definitely intent on the fast track to expanding our consciousness and sometimes it felt like we were holding on for dear life!

In 1978 our Empyrean Experiment launched with a group of eight students enrolled in a six month program that met 18 hours every week! It was called the Intensive Personal Evolution Program or IPEP for short.

Intense is the perfect word for it. As teachers and entrepreneurs we  were playing full out, stretching our capacities intellectually, emotionally and psychically like we never had before. It was challenging and demanding, but the results for the students were astonishing. So we did another one.

IPEP II had 14 students and we had to move to larger quarters. We rented a house at the back of a lush tropical valley bounded by steep mountains. During that program we created a weekend workshop called Celebration! It was a theatrical, transformational, spiritual extravaganza!

We had dramatic mood lighting, fog machines, chorus lines with high kicks, prayer dancing and a curriculum that stretched each student into new depths of emotional honesty and freedom.

Layne sang several times, a torch singer, pouring her soul into spiritual love songs, in a solo spotlight. She revealed a previously hidden talent that brought the room to tears and to their feet in applause.

The IPEP students served as the production team for Celebration! They joined us, their teachers, in co-creating a sacred space for dramatic personal transformation. It was quite simply, SPECTACULAR! SPECTACULAR!

Trying to find the words to capture the magic of it all seems impossible. Frequently through out the weekend of Celebration! a spiritual energy of such exquisite power and refinement literally filled the room with sparkling particles of pink light that people would actually see and feel. Whoa, those were some, over the top, celestial, special effects!

Our Celebration Team put their whole heart and soul into every task required of them. We were constantly amazed at how each of them imbued the simplest of tasks with loving care.

Being greeted and escorted to your seat by our six foot four, movie star handome airline captain whose heart is as big as the all outdoors, was the most majestic, welcoming experience you could possibly imagine.

For introductions at the beginning of Celebration! each student was given a single rosebud to add to the growing bouquet in a silver champagne bucket, placed center stage. The assistant who placed the flower in each participant’s hand could easily have been mistaken for an angel on holiday, radiating compassion and care with every look.

The whole team was joined by a common vision to lift everyone in the room, students and teachers alike, to an experience of profound love, an uncommon love that transforms problems into spring boards for conscious evolution and inspires and energizes a sustained commitment to personal healing.

The photos below are from several Celebration! experiences from 1978 through 1983. If you click on a photo it will open in a larger window.

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(All photos are (c) Tom Gillen)

The love we had come to know in our personal relationship with one another had extended itself into a community of kindred spirits. We were participants in and witnesses to the miracle power of love. We had the direct experience that when love is shared it multiplies exponentially.

You may wonder, as we did, the implications for the world at large if it just kept expanding. It’s a big IF, but our experiment, both in our personal relationship and in our new, growing community was (and still is) all about playing with big IF’s!


We are very interested in your thoughts and feelings about this story and the photos from Celebration! What does it bring up for you to read about this kind of experience?

If you happen to be reading this and you were a part of the Empyrean Community in Hawaii during this time, we hope you have enjoyed our stroll down memory lane! We would love to read your comments.

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