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Virginia Stephenson
Sandra Stephenson
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Virginia's Biography

Virginia Stephenson was born in Los Angeles, California when there were orange groves in the San Fernando Valley and vineyards stretched across West Los Angeles. There was a terrible world wide flu epidemic in the year that she was born, and both Virginia and her mother become very ill. With his wife and infant daughter on the verge of death, Virginia’s father called on a Christian Science practitioner for help. Both were both healed, and at the same time something was ignited in Virginia that gave her a life-long desire to know the truth of spiritual reality. From that time forth, and throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Virginia and her family relied on Christian Science prayer for their safety, well being and supply. When Virginia was eighteen she joined the Christian Science Church, and belonged to three different branch churches before finding The Infinite Way. In the early 1940s she married Arthur Stephenson, and their son John was born at the end of the war. She and Arthur were married more than fifty years until Arthur’s transition in 1996.

In 1953 Virginia found the work of Joel Goldsmith. At that time she was active in the Christian Science church in Pacific Palisades, a small beach and mountain town in the northwest corner of Los Angeles. The congregation was small and Virginia was a leader in the church, serving on the board of directors and as Sunday school superintendent. After studying The Infinite Way writings privately for many years, in 1959 a friend played for Virginia one of Joel Goldsmith’s tape recorded lectures. When Virginia heard the class she said, “I had the realization that I am Consciousness. When the tape was over I was weeping. Many onion skins of material concepts were removed from my awareness.” Virginia’s friend wrote to Joel, describing what had happened, and Joel wrote back saying he wanted to meet Virginia.

Virginia met Joel and Emma Goldsmith in February of 1960 at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The first question Joel asked her was, “What is your definition of the carnal mind?” Virginia replied with Mrs. Eddy’s definition: “the sum total of all error, a term denoting nothingness.” Joel said to her, “Never forget this,” and invited her to meditate with him. During the meditation Virginia saw Joel not as a man but as a transparency for the presence of God. When the meditation ended, Joel told her that she was a “swami.” With that meeting Virginia began her association with Joel and the Infinite Way.

The commitment to the principles that Joel was bringing forth caused Virginia to leave not only the Christian Science Church, (a difficult decision after her many years of service and spiritual growth there), but also many of her Christian Science friends, who couldn’t understand her decision to resign from the church. Virginia’s choice weighed heavily upon her. Virginia’s parents and Arthur’s parents, also Christian Scientist, were skeptical about this new path. The Infinite Way had no organization. There was nothing to belong to. This was a radical idea at the time, especially for metaphysical students who found comfort in the structure of daily lessons and the fellowship of Sunday services. In contrast, Arthur and John were very supportive. They found the Infinite Way principles more satisfying than the Christian Science teaching.

Virginia attended many of Joel’s lectures and closed classes, met with him privately and meditated with him at every opportunity. She volunteered at the growing Los Angeles Infinite Way Study Center and taught Bible lessons there. During this period Virginia’s healing practice grew as well.

At the 1962 Princess Kaiulani class in Hawaii, Joel asked Virginia and Eileen Bowden to speak every day of the class. Typically Joel lectured from eight to ten in the evenings, and since there were so many students in this class, he thought there should be some activity during the day. Daisy Shigemura had an early morning meditation every day at her study center. Eileen was to speak on raising children in the morning, and Virginia was to speak on the Bible in the afternoons.

Virginia felt uncomfortable speaking before such a large group and gave Joel many excuses why she couldn’t do it. She didn’t have a Bible-- no problem; Joel had one. She would be too nervous-- not to worry; probably only a few people would come. So began Virginia’s Bible lectures. Joel was surprised and pleased that most of his students attended these afternoon sessions. Now he had another teacher who brought her unique talents to the message along with her expertise on the Bible.

By 1964, when Joel gave his last class in Chicago, the five teachers (Daisy Shigemura, Lorraine Sinkler, Eileen Bowden, Lorene McClintock and Virginia) were well established with the student body. During this class Virginia saw the teachers rallying around Joel. The Message reached thousands of people without advertising or promotion. Joel was struggling under the pressure of maintaining such a large ministry without assistance, and the demands for his time required others to help. But Joel was adamantly against an organization. He knew that an organization would put a veil on the Message and turn an infinite way of spiritual freedom into a restricted form that would kill the mystical experience. Joel’s teachers saw the dilemma too, and they understood why any effort at organization would destroy what Joel had revealed. Consequently, they did not try to organize, but rather sought to relieve Joel of some of the burden of teaching. They became transparencies through which the Message continued to express Itself.

All of the teachers sensed that Joel would soon depart this plane of existence, and they came together to give him their spiritual support and to continue the vision of the movement he had started. Each vowed individually to support the Movement by maintaining the freedom necessary for the Message to expand and for Consciousness to express Itself. Each teacher addressed a unique aspect of the Infinite Way message, and as Joel taught, the Message carried the messenger.

After years of service to the Los Angeles Infinite Way Study Center, where Virginia had taught many students the mysticism of the Bible, her support of that center was no longer needed. She started a tape group in a hotel in Santa Monica, and later opened a study center in the same city. She maintained regular business hours and talked on the Monthly Letter, gave her Bible lessons, and played Joel’s tapes. This was typical of active centers, something that Joel considered important at the time. Lorraine Sinkler’s center in Chicago had similar activities.

A year after Joel’s transition, Emma Goldsmith and Lorraine Sinkler invited Virginia and the other teachers to give a joint class in Chicago on Memorial Day weekend. Four of the teachers agreed. That was the first of three joint classes where the Infinite Way student body could listen to, meditate with, and meet with those who had been closest to Joel spiritually. Having introduced themselves to the student body, and fulfilled the purpose of uniting the students in spiritual oneness, the teachers collectively decided to discontinue the joint classes in 1968. The students were now familiar with the style and teaching method of those who carried on the Message, and each student could choose a compatible teacher or live the Message on their own. Students and teachers alike were free to carry on as Spirit directed.

In 1968 Virginia’s first lecture tour to Europe began. Emma Goldsmith was very supportive of all of the teachers who chose to travel and hold classes. It was Emma who introduced Virginia and her husband, Arthur, to the European students. Aside from the class work, Emma, Virginia and Arthur enjoyed each other’s company immensely and spent a great deal of time together as dear friends. Emma also accompanied Virginia and Arthur on their first trip to Australia and New Zealand. Thus a long and loving relationship between Virginia and the students abroad was established.

During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Virginia’s travel schedule was very demanding. In some years Virginia would conduct more than one hundred lectures. In an average year she toured the United States for six weeks at a time, once in the spring and once in the fall, giving classes every weekend. For twenty-five years she held a week-long retreat at the Asilomar Conference Center on the central coast of California. During her forty years of teaching she went to Europe every other year, and in the years she did not teach in Europe, she gave classes in Australia and New Zealand. No other Infinite Way teacher journeyed as many miles for the message as Virginia did. She truly fulfilled Joel’s revelation that she was a “swami,” a spiritual teacher who travels without purse or scrip.

Virginia retired from active teaching in 2004. She lives in Hawaii where she receives serious students for private instruction and meditations. You will find more of her spiritual journey and her revelations on the mystical life in her recorded lectures and classes.

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