Interview with Dr. Jerry Burgener, Author of “Return to the Desert”

BurgenerDr. Jerry’s life has been as interesting as it has been varied. He has a Ph.D. in Human Learning and has worked in schools, Mental Health Organizations, and as a Forensic Psychologist for the Department of Corrections. Besides providing treatment, he has trained other people in how best to help those in need. His techniques and approaches have been presented in print by news media and on national television.

Dr. Jerry will say all of his life experiences are equally important for bringing him to this point in time. He has skydived more than 1,400 times and has 3,000 hours of flying airplanes and helicopters. He also scuba dives, repels, and is an avid motorcycle rider. Dr. Jerry trains horses, riding them in the Midwest, as well as the desert Southwest. He is the author of “Desert Journey” and its newly published sequel “Return to the Desert.”


Tyler: Welcome back, Jerry. It’s a pleasure to get to talk to you again. To start out, I understand this book is a sequel to your previous book “Desert Journey” which I also interviewed you about a couple of years ago. Will you catch our readers up on what happened in your first book, and let us know if you feel people need to read it first to follow what happens in “Return to the Desert”?

Jerry: Hello Tyler. “Return to the Desert” is written such that it isn’t a requirement to read “Desert Journey,” but there are details in the first book that would improve and add “flavor” to “Return to the Desert.” My first book begins my spiritual odyssey under the teachings of Tom, my Native American spirit guide. What I thought was a chance meeting in the Superstition Mountains turns out to be the culmination of past life experiences I had shared with Tom. He helps me make sense out of my place in the universe, and particularly, Tom helps me begin the process of understanding my relationships with the opposite sex.


Tyler: In the first book, Jerry learns so much, so what made you decide to write a sequel?

Jerry: Just like in life, the process of learning is never complete. I have been blessed with many life experiences, some of which were pleasant and many that were not. My journey is not unique and maybe others can benefit from the wisdom of my experiences. If not, I hope they would at least enjoy the story.


Tyler: Did you always plan to write a sequel, or did you decide to do so after you finished or published “Desert Journey”?

Jerry: I think I always knew I wouldn’t get away with just writing one book. As I said in my first interview, I always felt pressure from my guides to write these books, kind of like what happens to Jerry in “Return to the Desert.”


Tyler: When you refer to your guides, Jerry, what exactly do you mean? Is there a real Tom behind the fictional Tom, and what does he think of your books? Why didn’t he just write his own book, or is that something better suited to the disciple?

Jerry: Good question Tyler. But I am not going to answer that. I would rather have the reader decide if Tom is real or just a representation of my imagination. But I will say some people are teachers and some are writers. I talk about both concepts in my books.


Tyler: I understand that the book opens with Jerry expecting sympathy from his spiritual guide, Tom, when he visits him because his fiancée has cheated on him with her ex-boyfriend. Why did you choose this pretty devastating scenario to begin the book?

Jerry: Because it happened and it is easiest to write about what you know.


Tyler: Did you fictionalize any of it, or is it really what happened to you?

Jerry: Well the names were changed to protect the innocent, but most of it happened like I reported it. Good learning experience…a lot of pain…but a good learning experience.


Tyler: How long ago in your life did the events depicted in the book happen, and why at this time in your life now do you feel called to write about it?

Jerry: It wasn’t really all that long ago, maybe five years. I am writing about it now, because it finally made sense to me. I wondered why I was with a woman who was so bad for me and treated me poorly. I don’t want to give away the story, but Tom helped me figure that out.


Tyler: Will you explain to us Tom’s reaction to this situation? I found it quite surprising.

Jerry: Tom understands there are no tragedies. He was able to look at my situation from a spiritual level and see that I would eventually understand that everything is always a blessing and never a loss. Of course, when you are living it, it is kind of hard to take that perspective.


Tyler: How was Jerry’s fiancée cheating on him really a blessing then for Jerry?

Jerry: It was a tremendous learning experience. I was drawn to a woman who really wasn’t all that nice and I needed to know why. I mean I am really not that self-destructive. Learning why I behaved that way gave insight into life, relationships, and into my own behavior as well. I can look back onto that experience now and feel truth in that saying, “Always a blessing. Never a loss.”


Tyler: Jerry, this situation is about a man’s relationship with women and your main characters are both men. I’m curious if you think women will enjoy or learn from your book, and did you get any feedback from female readers with your first book?

Jerry: Actually, I think the concepts are easily transferable to either sex. I have had quite a bit of feedback from women and some of it is posted on the Amazon website. I think they appreciate the emotional honesty of my writing and they seemed to feel they learned from what I was saying.


Tyler: Where does the book go after Jerry works out his reasons for being in a bad relationship?

Jerry: Obviously, putting that type of experience in perspective takes some insights and those are learned in the cauldron of life. Tom’s teachings are seldom given by just having life explained. His approach is to give someone the life experience to make the lesson real and lasting. Jerry struggles with learning, as there is often fear of the pain associated with the insights.


Tyler: Will you explain that a little more, Jerry. Shouldn’t an insight be a positive thing? How do Jerry’s insights also bring pain?

Jerry: It isn’t easy to look at yourself, especially your flaws. But the first step in changing is identifying what you are doing that isn’t leading to your greater good and then deciding how you are going to change it. Change isn’t easy, especially if you are getting something out of the way you are behaving. And spirit has a way of putting pressure on you to reach for your greater good.


Tyler: How did you depict Jerry relearning many of the lessons he learned in the first book without the situations feeling repetitive?

Jerry: The lessons change to a degree, because Jerry was different if nothing else from the passage of time and the experiences he had.


Tyler: So is he really relearning the lesson, or has he learned part of it, and now he’s learning it in more detail, like maybe the difference between learning math in third grade versus algebra in high school—both are still math?

Jerry: Relearning is some of it and your math analogy is spot on, but it also has to do with forgetting or losing perspective of those things you don’t use or practice.


Tyler: Among the things Jerry learns about are his past lives. Why do you think knowing about our past lives is important?

Jerry: We bring forward into this life every lesson and every experience from when God first breathed life into our souls. Even though we may have lost awareness of them, they still make us who we are and can affect our choices and behaviors. When we are spiritually mature enough, understanding these experiences can help us make better choices.


Tyler: So, do we evolve with each life?

Jerry: Generally speaking that may be true. But like with any change that is difficult it can be two steps forward and one step back. But in this case having to do with lifetimes. But I think the general trend is toward growth. That is the way of universe.


Tyler: Jerry, will you tell us a little about how past life regression works?

Jerry: Past life regression can occur through several ways. Tom used a form of hypnosis to get Jerry’s mind out of the way. Once this occurred, Tom guided Jerry to where these records are stored. They can be “read” or lived. It seemed better for Jerry to live them. He learned more.


Tyler: How does understanding or remembering our past lives help us in the present?

Jerry: One of the most powerful statements about the study of history is, “Those who don’t understand their history are DOOMED to repeat it.” Doomed is my word. If we don’t learn from the experiences spirit has given us, we will have to repeat them until the concepts are absorbed. And quite frankly, I don’t want to do this all over again.


Tyler: If remembering our past lives can help us, then why, when we are born into this life, don’t we just start out remembering them?

Jerry: Again, I go into more detail in my books. If we carry everything forward, we may have trouble living out the lessons assigned in this life. When we get to be higher ordered souls we can deal with all of the lessons we bring forward.


Tyler: Jerry, Tom is Native American. Is there an emphasis in Native American tradition about past lives—I’m just familiar with the idea of past lives from Hinduism?

Jerry: Tom is Jerry’s spirit guide. I think our guides take on the form that is most comfortable for the student. Jerry has had many past lives as a Native American and so he is most comfortable with that persona. Tom and Jerry, sounds like a cartoon, have spent a number of lives together and that makes it easier for Jerry to relate and learn from his mentor.


Tyler: What made you decide to have Tom be Native American, rather than a Hindu or a Buddhist monk or Catholic mystic or some other ethnicity?

Jerry: Tom is who he is and that was decided in that place in between lives.


Tyler: Can you tell us about one of those past lives and what Jerry and Tom’s relationship was in it? Also, has Tom always played the teacher role to Jerry?

Jerry: If you remember from “Desert Journey,” there was a lifetime where Jerry was a fire and brimstone preacher and was actually burning people at the stake. During a regression, Jerry saw that one of his victims was Tom, who at the time was living the life of a woman. In that life, Tom had gathered herbs to help heal his children who were sick from a disease that was spreading through his village. Jerry found out he was using these herbs for healing and accused Tom of being a witch. As with many of the accusations of that time, it wasn’t defensible and Tom was killed. That was a devastating realization for Jerry and made a point of the saying, “Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.”

In some lives Jerry has been the teacher, but in these latter lives, Tom has been in the teacher role more often as he has just learned the lessons of spirit quicker and has retained them better. I was more in the remedial class.


Tyler: Jerry, is “Return to the Desert” the end of the story, or do you plan another sequel?

Jerry: The story never ends. It just depends upon whether I think my experiences may help someone else on the path.


Tyler: Thank you, Jerry, for allowing me to interview you today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information can be found there about “Return to the Desert”?

Jerry: is dedicated to the idea we all can achieve spiritual enlightenment. Part of that enlightenment is understanding that those times when we are in love are very similar to when we connect with spirit on a deep level. If we don’t understand that concept, we can misunderstand the purpose of a relationship in our life. Relationships don’t complete us. They add color and flavor to our lives, but don’t make us who we are.


Tyler: Very good advice, Jerry. Thank you again for the interview. I hope you’ll be back again with more lessons to share with us.

Read review of Return to the Desert
Visit authors website

Return to the Desert
Dr. Jerry Burgener
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450205238
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (04/10)


About Reader Views

Reader Views is an Austin, Texas, based company. We started late December 2005 as a book review service. Shortly after the company's birth we expanded into offering a variety of services for authors such as book publicity services, editing, author interviews, literary book awards, as well as coaching to write book proposals.
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