the singing falls waterfall pilgrimage logo capella, the goat shepherd's constellation

The True
Will Find
The Great


Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, USA-Pacific Standard Time Zone


~~*  Pilgrimage to the Golden City-Page 1  *~~


~~* Searching for Utopia *~~


soldier at 17 years of age

Student on Okinawa

soldier at 17 years of age

Proud and Lonely at 17 yrs.

I won't belabor the vagaries of my childhood. Suffice it to say that from my perspective, those young years were filled to the full with violence, fear and confusion. Inner city Philadelphia was quite adept at nurturing such a climate. My youthful days were short lived and a bitter battle of self survival. The streets are cruel. Before graduating high school at the ripe old age of seventeen, I enlisted in the U.S. Army (1964).

I managed to endure the three year stint, most of which was spent overseas in the Far East. 18 months on a missile site on the Island of Okinawa was quite an adventure for a young man. Having somewhat escaped the oppressive inner city environment and finding a great degree of satisfaction in seeing more of the world, visiting another country was very enticing. I had busied myself on Okinawa with a correspondence course, majoring in psychology. My mind was a fertile field, searching for a utopia and at that point the study of the human nature seemed to be a key in attaining that quest.

After reading Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, I was all excited about the prospect of creating a pure environment to produce the perfect man to usher in a golden age of human history. It was an unfounded euphoria but it paved the way for further quests of understanding and experimentation in the domain of the soul.


soldier at 17 years of age

From Philadelphia to Phu Hiep

In spite of my University of Maryland studies and endeavors in art and writing, the allure of a war environment caught my fancy. The odds of being hurt on a missile site were limited in my view. I was sure Vietnam would be just as unique in it's own way as any place I'd been so far and it was just waiting for my discovery. I volunteered for duty in the war zone (1966).

As I look back at my year in Vietnam, I can see that it set the tone for the next several years of my life. I never did go to a missile site but instead spent my days in a remote "direct support" unit on the China Sea coast. The vast majority of my time was spent pulling guard duty at night in an ammunition dump or trying to keep the night patrols equipped with functional generators and the like. We were establishing a secure area with the help of Korean, Australian and U.S. army troops. I saw plenty of napalm, night flares and marijuana. All my waking hours were spent in a drug-altered state. I'd walk around with a pipe full of cannabis all the time, waiting for my three-year hitch to end.

During my stay, a Red Cross helicopter showed up at camp to inform me of an emergency leave. Mother had died. That particular period of time is a blur to me. The dazed stupor I was in, dulled my senses. Still smoking the cannabis, I decided to return to Vietnam a married man. I only had a short stay left in the Far East, so I wedded my teenage girlfriend and headed back to the war.

~~*Back to the States - in pursuit of a goal*~~

In August of 1967 I left the arduous military career behind. I had done fairly well for myself in my own eyes. Most of my military wages purchased a large beautiful diamond for my wife and bolts of silk. My wardrobe consisted of some twenty-five plus suits, custom tailored on Okinawa and quite an array of shirts and ties. I was ready for civilian life.

Not long after my arrival home, I landed a job in the Philadelphia School of Medicine as a lab assistant and I enrolled in school at night in the hopes of finishing some kind of degree. With working on weekends also part of the agenda, my life seemed consumed in a meaningless pursuit of a goal I didn't understand.

I landed on my feet running as I entered civilian life. Why I ran and where I was running seemed to evade me. There was a gnawing emptiness that haunted me. It didn't matter if it was school or my pursuit of creative arts; every aspect of life seemed stained by a glaring lack of something true, something real. Of course I lived in the generation that said they had an answer or at least wanted to be free to pursue one. "Turn on, tune in and drop out" was the chant of the sixties. It seemed as though many where in a similar state of mind and heart as myself.

In the scramble for meaning, people were going every which way. Some resorted to social and political issues. Others decided to search within and without in a sort of pseudo-religious experience created by drugs and nature. Spiritual teachers and organizations just exploded on the scene. Still, many took the opportunity of the liberality of the times to completely immerse themselves in the sensuous indulgences of sex, drugs and rock'n roll. The lines weren't clearly defined anywhere in those days. They became all the more abstract with the use of the powerful hallucinogenic drugs that flooded our society. No matter what the emphases of someone's interests were, invariably other aspects of the counter culture came into your life.

Communes sprang up all over the country. Each with its unique answers to the problem of living in modern America. In such a climate it was easy for anyone to be swept headlong in anyone of the flood tides washing across the land. Being awash in the head-trips of the time, my interests switched from psychology to philosophy and spirituality. Names like Buddha, Lao Tsu, and a host of others became part of my vocabulary. I couldn't get enough information concerning the "enlightenment" everyone was talking about. Of course there were drugs to be had, but I could see that it was going to take radical action to "liberate" me.

In the search for deep knowledge I came across one particular publication that illustrated eternity in such a simple and profound way. On the plain white page of this book of Zen Buddhism was a circle. The caption beneath simply said, The circle is the symbol of eternity. It has no beginning or end. With that, my mind conceptualized the eternal. It profoundly influenced me. Somehow that circle became proof to me of a spiritual realm. A realm that I could pursue because it's symbols and archetypes could be grasped with the human intellect. "Forever" became tangible to me with a simple symbol of art. A reality with an answer to the problem of world pain existed somewhere. It had to be found.

image with acircle symbol

The Circle. How could such a simple geometric form quicken in me a concept of eternity and spirituality? The line has no visual start or end.

~~*Radical Steps*~~

It was at this stage that I took very radical steps that would forever alter my future. In one drastic leap I left home, quit school and my job to venture off into the unknown. I mused that there must be an answer to the questions of life and the dilemmas of modern society. Rumor had it that there was a commune in Jamaica that was filled with "seekers" (individuals focused on the pursuit of truth).

Hitchhiking there proved to be a formidable task. The impact of cultural changes in the northern states proved to be slow in coming down South. Traveling toward Florida the harassment of the local police in small towns became unbearable. In some instances, walking nonstop was necessary lest charges of vagrancy be leveled against me. Finally, somewhere near the Florida Keys I couldn't take it any longer. The authorities effectively forced my steps to turned around and head north again.

No sooner did I reach Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the police nabbed me with thirty dollars in my pocket - for vagrancy - and put me in jail. I had not been loitering. Just passing through. Without permission to call a lawyer, after three days of cold grits and bologna sandwiches, I went to a hearing. Three hundred dollars or thirty days on "the farm" seemed frighteningly ominous. After another few days they permitted me to make several collect calls that I utilized to obtain the funds to leave.

The experience pained me as a great injustice. I had been robbed by a local government; something that no one could get away with on the streets of Philadelphia. This is what I was in Vietnam for? It compelled me to be all the more diligent in my spiritual quest and reinforced an already profound awareness of the darkness of the culture and times.

~~*Invisible Elements*~~

I received a ride from a couple of young men who were heading toward Norfolk, Virginia. It was a long distance off and in the night, sleep began to overtake me. The driver said "Go ahead, get some sleep in the back seat. We'll keep driving." The next thing I knew it was daylight and the driver was awakening me with a large bayonet knife pointed at my throat. We were somewhere in the back woods. "Get out of the car!" he exclaimed. I grabbed my backpack and stood in front of them both. "Drop that sack and take your clothes off!" was his next remark. I maneuvered just enough to get the blade away from my throat as I dropped the olive drab satchel. Quickly I jumped on the man who was holding me at bay. The other stood by wide-eyed as I put my fingers in the eyes of my assailant. We wrestled but he broke loose from me. Breathing heavily they scrambled for the vehicle and roared out of there. Silence. "Was this the way it was supposed to be? Why was life this way? It must change! It must change!" My heart ached.

My perceptions of life sharpened with each passing day due to the real world encounters I was having, outside of the confines of the safety net that we often build around ourselves. Even with limited understanding, the realization of what was transpiring all around me, all the time in the lives of so many people, impelled me toward greater earnestness on my spiritual venture. But even then there was a growing awareness that the material world was actually a world of effects influenced by unseen forces. Those invisible elements were powerful and the stakes were getting higher.


The next experience impacted my life more than anything previously and yet on the surface all seemed friendly. I had made it to the New Jersey coastal town of Wildwood without further incident. It was before dawn as I walked down the empty boardwalk lining the shore. It seemed as though it would be a bright day with relatively calm seas. In the predawn dusk, only one shop was open on the wooden walkway along the Atlantic shore. Looking in, I saw a familiar face from acquaintances I had had in the "beatnik" hangouts and coffee shops in downtown Philadelphia.

Steve was a low-key kind of person with a gentle friendly way about him. His greeting and smile were a warm welcome after my sojourn down South. We sat and talked philosophy and religion. The idealism of the times was evident in every concept we exchanged.

"I want to share half of what I have in my possession with you. If everyone did that we all will have enough to go around," I proposed. I took my last bit of money, bought him a sandwich and coffee and felt good about myself. He said, "Well I have something to share with you. Have you ever been on a trip before? I've got a double hit of STP to share with ya." With that he opened up a small piece of aluminum foil that held a little white tablet. Cutting it in half, he said:" Put this 'white wedge' under your tongue." The sun hadn't risen yet.

Does our generation always have to take a pill for an answer? As the sun came up, the powerful hallucinogen I had, started to take effect. The spiritual dimension I was so ardently seeking began to unfold before my very eyes. Much of what I had learned so far in my quest for the knowledge of "enlightenment", became a part of the reality I was walking in. Magically I became sensitized to levels of energy and experience as though I had passed through a door of some kind into another world. It was literally incapacitating. Steve realized early on that I was on a heavy trip and stayed by my side to avoid any catastrophes. At a certain point, as I was slipping out of the real world, several people on horses galloped by, kicking up sand and yelling at us in a harassing fashion.

"Hey Steve, why are they doing that to us?"

"They don't like us because we're different."

"Oh" I said.

We began walking toward Steve's crash pad to avoid any further trouble. A vehicle came by, loaded with young people and they also yelled at us and used obscene gestures. Somehow their voices turned into black energy directed at us.

I asked my friend "What was that??"

Our conversation continued as he answered, "That's bad energy, man."

I replied, "It hit me."

"I know man, let's go." As we walked I became almost detached from my body.

"Steve, there is a power to move forward."

"Yeah, man, that's called drive."

"Oh" I said.

None too soon, we had walked clear across the city, away from the ocean beach crowds to a dumpy little place filled with beatniks and other assorted counter-culture types. It was a welcome oasis of shelter. Steve explained I was tripping and they invited us in to smoke some dope and enjoy the "trip".


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Stanley & Alexandra Petrowski
34620 Tiller Trail Hwy.
Tiller, Oregon 97484