Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, USA-Pacific Standard Time Zone
~~*A MODERN SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY*~~
This story represents a modern spiritual odyssey. I am writing it because I'm persuaded that there are many like me who have desired a meaningful life and especially are seeking answers to the perplexities of our world. The consequences of our pilgrimages are never-ending in their scope and my heartfelt desire is to influence you toward the great treasures that are freely within reach of us all. I want to do this in a fashion that will lend credibility to ancient truths that, after having found them, I discovered were often poorly represented. Please take the time to read this carefully in its entirety with thought. Because the details are complex and the stakes are high I wouldn't want to mislead you.
Although some of these places and events will seem extraordinary to some of you, or perhaps entirely alien, this narrative is not as foreign as you may think. You are a part of what I've gone through, even if you do not realize it. I am fully convinced that every human being is a part of a greater spiritual drama unfolding at this very moment. Where you are in this drama and our relationship in it, is what I desire to influence with good intent.
There is an ever-expanding segment of our society who are familiar with the concepts and language of my journey. They exert their influence in every strata of our culture. To you who relate on some level to the paths I have walked, I encourage you to carefully examine the steps I have taken and then to communicate with me if it strikes a chord in your heart.
Searching for a utopia
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. 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.
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 if 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 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 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.
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 "searchers".
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 and out of pressure from harassment, my steps turned around and headed 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. 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. It compelled me to be all the more diligent in my spiritual quest and reinforced an already profound awareness of the darkness of my culture and times.
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 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 the knife. 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. Was this the way it was supposed to be? Why was life this way? It must change! It must change! My heart ached.
My perspective of life sharpened with each passing day, due to the real world encounters I was having outside 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 landward side of 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 what we would, 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 as 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.
"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, Steve??"
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. Steve explained I was tripping and they invited us in to smoke some marijuana and enjoy the "trip".
Colors, sounds and shapes
Someone put a Beatles album on and things really began to deepen. My physical senses were now blurring and cross-circuiting in my mind. The music coming out of the stereo player became a mixture of sound and color. I was able to see the sound, I reasoned. Many other such phenomena were taking place, too numerous to give account of here. It had been 18 hours since I had ingested the drug and I still had not arrived at the place it was taking me.
Soon, my sense of consciousness had slipped altogether out of the realm of reality into a place difficult to describe. I sat in blue, where only the outline of my body could be seen. There were no objects at all, no up or down, aside from the orientation of myself. I had become transparent and the ethereal outline of my body was burning with blue flames. There were no cognitive thought processes. How to describe these abstract events is difficult, but important. They have deep ramifications in the future of this odyssey.
Leaving the blue fire, I emerged into the strange experience of watching myself pass through the colors of the rainbow. It seemed each color level had it's own unique symbols or mystery connected to it. Each color had a level of consciousness and experience bound up in it.
Soon I burst into a realm of blinding light. As I had passed through the rainbow colors, now I was rapidly breaking through levels of intense white light. Brighter and brighter, faster and faster went the pace. Then in blinding light before me, sat a golden Buddha in the yogic lotus position. Having taken in the sight in a milli-second, I burst past it into a realm of translucent bliss. With ever-increasing velocity I passed through transparent veils, too numerous for me to recount. I then sped forward into what seemed to be cosmic recesses.
When I was in unbearable speed, I suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Now, before my consciousness appeared a large transparent scintillating sphere. It was divided into four quarters and seemed to quiver with an animation source unknown to me. I saw the sphere in a realm of seemingly unending blazing light. There I remained for some unknown period of time. From the time I slipped from consciousness of my physical surroundings to this point, I was in a state of thoughtless awareness. I was an observer.
In a flash I found myself sitting in the room again. Instantly I had come down from an altered state of consciousness to a normal frame of mind. What had happened to me? It was morning the next day already. The drugged state had captured an entire day of my life. It came and went but its influence remained. Colors, sounds and shapes more dazzling and inspiring than anything that had ever entered my imagination compelled me on to further pursue spiritual life.
Becoming a "flower child"
Had I stumbled across the answer to my utopian dreams? Was it really as simple as dropping a hit of acid or some other mind-bending drug? Apparently an entire generation of people believed it was so. I met a few of Steve's friends who were heading out to Haight-Ashbury in the San Francisco Bay area. "Come along. We've got room in the car."
In a matter of hours I was swept along with an entire generation to become a "flower child". No more evil. No more violence or war. Peace, love and joy were the order of the day. Every one was talking about fulfilling utopian dreams. Commune after commune that we visited along the way, accommodated this New Age euphoria. Drugs flowed like candy everywhere. Food we had in abundance. Relationships came and went according to the drift of the moment.
The trek west seemed to intensify some vague idea that the world could be changed for the better. There were good people out there with dreams and hopes just like mine. The realms of spirit could be opened with the swallow of a pill. Although no aspect of the counter-culture escaped its impact on my life, it was the mysteries of the new realms of spiritual and psychic activity that engulfed my attention.
In San Francisco there were hundreds of people milling around the streets that surrounded the mecca of flower children. One need only open his mouth and in would go some consciousness-altering capsule or pill. The streets were filled with people of all types, begging for food or spare change.
Being impelled to enter the realms of light and glory once again, I took many drugs in a short period of time. These intense chemicals soon made a shambles of my mental faculties and ability to function. At one point a movie was being filmed at a local music hall. Having heard about it I quickly arrived to see the fantastic light show that was supposed to be there. In a short time someone handed me five double hits of STP, the drug I had taken back on the New Jersey coast. Then someone else handed me some Hawaiian wood rose seeds. I ate them all. In a matter of minutes I began to realize that I was going to lose consciousness. This time I didn't have the sense that it was going to go well.
A bad trip
An eerie foreboding swept over me. Amidst the din of rock and roll and flashing lights, wave after wave of anxiety swept over me. Like a raving maniac I ran out of the auditorium and sought refuge in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. By the time I arrived I was in a helpless state of dementia. Terror surrounded me on every side. First, a tough looking group of Gypsy Joker motorcycle gang members approached me in a menacing fashion. They could see I was tripping and thought they'd have some fun. I could barely hang on. Quickly succumbing to boredom, they left. Soon after, a fellow with long hair and sorrowful eyes handed me a card with the picture of his guru on it that said God is love and silent.
The crowds in the park were watching some women dancing in the nude to bongo drums playing in the background. I managed to literally crawl behind some dense shrubbery and collapse. I lay on my back, hands curled up on my chest and lost all sense of the outside world. Unlike my first experience, this one cast me powerless into an abyss of absolute darkness. No sound, no light, only the fathomless, endless darkness - all alone. I don't know how long I was there. Gone were the visions of elves and spirit beings. Gone were the joyous flood of colors and sounds. I had entered death and was not able to leave. I wanted to leave. Death and terror were no friends of mine.
..and in search of help
Consciousness returned once again. My eyes opened to a different world. Wearing only blue jeans without shoes or shirt, I managed to make it out of the park in search of help. I was terribly disabled by the drug. I could barely speak and my appearance was as one lost and mindless. I recall approaching a lady who was carrying groceries.
"Please help me!" I tried to say. She screamed and fled. I walked further down the street and found a group of people sitting on the steps to their house.
"Come on in man. You're just having a bad trip." They sat me down in a chair between two large speakers and handed me a "joint". Soon loud raucous music was blasting in my ears. Again the terrors gripped me. Quickly I fled. Babbling like a mindless idiot I sat in a heap in the middle of a downtown San Francisco sidewalk weeping and unable to communicate. I remember so many people walking by side glancing the oddity before them.
Night was upon the city. I had to find shelter. I roamed through the city trying to find some safe haven.
I came across a series of old condemned houses. The door was open to one of these. Upon entering I found a strange person had already taken up permanent residence there. He mentioned that there was a place to stay in one of the rooms. Each room was filled with debris but the water and electricity still worked. The walls of the little enclave were filled with the sayings of Bob Dylan and various other prophets, philosophers and sages of the day.
Driven to run
I lay on a used mattress contemplating the visions of darkness that continued to rush through my mind. Unable to sleep, I arose to look out the window only to see what I thought was a warning of impending doom. The buildings and streets were heaving under the undulations of a massive earthquake. In the middle of the night I was again driven to run. I managed to get a ride out of San Francisco to Berkeley across the Bay. Along the way I picked up a copy of the San Francisco Oracle, an underground newspaper of the time. On its back page was a copy of Psalm 23 out of the Bible, super-imposed on a faded image of Jesus with a crown of thorns. I began to frantically repeat the psalm over and over.
My arrival at Berkeley overwhelmed me. By a quirk of fate I found myself on Telegraph Avenue, the main thoroughfare to the University of California's Berkeley campus, right in the middle of the first and most intense night of the famous Berkeley riots. Black Panthers, the SDS, the SLA and the general populace of the area were menacingly looting and destroying everything in sight. Explosions, the crack of firearms, the condition of wanton abandonment to destruction shocked me all the more. In my drugged stupor I clutched the twenty-third psalm. Driven again by panic I began hitchhiking out of town.
The horrors of realms unseen
Like a dead leaf fallen from the autumn tree I was set adrift by the raging winds of the times. My psyche was rendered vulnerable and that vulnerability was taken full advantage of by elements I could not see. Forces far beyond the scope of my insight devoured my soul with the horrors of realms unseen. Now I was not only compelled to seek answers for a dying world, but also for the whisper of life that remained in me to survive. I had become part of the death I was seeking to relieve. Somehow the drugs I had hoped would catapult me into spheres of spiritual power, that in turn would give me insight into the horrible catastrophe that I saw humanity bound up in, only served to cast me into the bottom of the human race. I had mutated into the problem while seeking an answer to it. How could I find a way out?
The glow of a spiritual light
In three days I found myself in Portland, Oregon. Wandering about the city I came upon a park that was the main gathering place for the hippies. Hungry and exposed to the elements and in a state of near incoherence, I managed to discover a Christian crash pad not far from the park. Crash pads were a common event in those days. No one really knew who paid the rent or where the food came from, but it was usually there. A Christian prototype was a curiosity to me. I had often eaten at the Hindu temple in the San Francisco bay area or perhaps at the Sufi food bank, but this was new.
Bedraggled and somewhat shy I entered what I found out later was the men's house. Though meals were taken together, sleeping quarters were separate for men and women. Upon entering, the atmosphere of the place and serenity of the occupants left a sure mark on me. Although it may sound strange, the definite glow of a spiritual light shown from the faces of most of the attendants. It so struck me that I was immediately desirous of shining in such a manner myself.
I stayed. After several weeks I began to gain some semblance of living. I had acquired a job and vaguely grasped the message that my new-found friends said, was the source of their joy and the peculiar light that emanated from their countenances. (Just as a side note I will mention that often I went to a mirror to study my face to discover if perhaps I was also beginning to shine.)
The man William Giersdorf was in charge of the activities about the house. He often studied the scriptures and taught in the evenings. He took me under his wing and also began instructing me. The year was 1968. Down to the Columbia River I went to be immersed in the waters. I had committed my life to Jesus and was beginning to gain ground. Not long after I began to stabilize, my concerns began to focus on the shattered pieces of life I left behind in Philadelphia. No one knew of my whereabouts. Surely it was right to return and make amends.
Going back to a non-existent life
The hitchhiking trip back was quick. My whirlwind tour of the counter culture took place in a year or so. It was clear upon my return that I wasn't alone in having my world turned upside down. Hardly anything remained of the life I once knew in Philadelphia. Old friends and acquaintances had also been swept up in the frenzied drug feed. I could hardly recognize many of them.
While I was gone, my father had died. Was it an oddity of the era in which I lived that I did not see my father buried or remember the burial of my mother because of my drugged stupor? Family and friends had been scattered far and wide. My then wife had thrown off any regard for our marriage and was now pregnant by a friend of hers. The pieces that were to be reassembled upon my return virtually didn't exist any longer. One year seemed an eternity. Growing up as a youth, time seemed so slow, and change - a snails pace. How different it was now. The life I sought to reconcile was non-existent. Again I was starting from scratch in another turn of life.
The natural food way
Fasting, praying and a cleansing diet became important to me in those days. My travels exposed me to the idea that I could improve the quality of my life by removing the effects of drugs and a lifetime of junk food. There were also many religious practices that associated eating with a higher plane of consciousness. I spent quite a bit of time studying methods of restoring my health with natural foods, naturopathic therapies, herbal remedies and the diet systems in vogue in various parts of the world.
At the time Philadelphia only boasted one health food store in the entire city of 13 million people. Under a flurry of circumstances I met and began associating with a few fellows who were very interested in starting a natural food store. It all went very well. Soon we had a very large constituency enjoying our homemade soups and breads, carrot juice and whole grains. It took off like fire.
One interesting aspect of the natural food industry is that it generally attracts people that have a broad range of spiritual perspectives. So it was that my daily life was exposed to a menagerie of philosophical and religious viewpoints. I took great care to hear out many of these views, especially those concerned with Jesus. I wonder how many of you reading this discourse remembers a large cosmological book called Urantia? I read the entire thing. If you are unfamiliar with the publication don't feel slighted.
Another volume of particular interest caught my attention. It was titled The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. It contained an expose on the so-called "hidden" years of the life of the Messiah. A very elaborate and detailed description was given of the Master's life that wasn't recorded in scripture; illustrating him going to the Far East, Egypt and many of the world's mystery schools. It said that he attained to great mystical stature, then returned to the Holy Land for his public ministry.
On the crest of a wave of spiritual activity
This idea became a catalyst to start me on the path of many spiritual disciplines and practices. These activities encompassed every aspect of my life - from eating (Zen macrobiotics), to astrology, tarot cards, the Chinese book of Changes called the I Ching and a very intense regime of meditation. Every publication and book that I could access quickly became fuel for my hungry mind. The Upanishads, Mahayana or Hinayana Buddhism, Khalil Gibran, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Tibetan Book of the Dead and a host of others became components of my interest. I took a formal course in hypnotism and experimented considerably with it. Hatha yoga, Mantra yoga and several of the other yogic practices were part of my self-styled regime. As my quest intensified, the spiritual aspect of life became very tangible.
Clairaudience, clairvoyance and the ability to consciously interact with the spiritual realm, without any use of drugs, soon became a common practice for me. Visions, and the profound experience of leaving my body, made my efforts seem rewarding and exciting. I was attaining "mastery". In one session of meditation I hovered over my body and was able to observe my physical form and all the objects in the room. Moving about by force of will, I was fully awake as I re-entered by body. "Surely," I thought, "I am learning the things that Jesus learned and I am on the Great Path of Enlightenment."
Intuitively I knew I was riding the crest of a great worldwide wave of spiritual activity. Though the health food store was prospering in a phenomenal way, the urge to find a solution for personal and collective healing overwhelmed me. I began focusing my life. All aspects of my attention were centered on the new dimensions I had become conscious of. Physically I had never felt better in my life. Mental sharpness and agility returned to me in an unprecedented fashion. The smoking habit I had was thrown off without difficulty.
Daily I poured over the "sacred" writings of the various epochs and cultures of the world. From Cabala to Tao De Ching, from Stonehenge to the recesses of the Himalayas, my soul swept through to grasp greater depths of insight and continuity. From the cosmic reaches of the astrological vastness of space, to the hidden depths of obscure spiritual realms, my mind and heart searched and probed for the doorways of spiritual initiation that I now was convinced I must pass through. I also made great efforts to watch what was happening with others as part of a "spiritual awakening" washing across the land. Was the Utopian Aquarian Age appearing?
One of the organizations that particularly caught my interest was the Summit Lighthouse. They have since taken the name Church Universal and Triumphant"(CUT). They were headquartered in Colorado and claimed to be in touch with a spiritual hierarchy of ascended masters. (This hierarchy of enlightened beings was said to have attained liberation from ignorance and sorrow of the earth.)
Most of their doctrine was very eclectic. They incorporated ideas and religious practices from all major religions and schools of mysticism. Their bi-monthly publication called Pearls of Wisdom really caught my fancy. This group was to play a big role in the next phase of my life.
Into the mountains
In March of 1969 I once again abandoned the mundane routines of daily life. To be sure, the health food business was prospering and expanding far beyond our expectations, but the unsettled state of my heart beckoned me to press on in my spiritual quest. With a large quantity of religious literature in hand and through a very circuitous route, I landed in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
I had purposed to live as a religious recluse. I wore a woolen hooded robe that I hand stitched out of army blankets. My diet consisted of brown rice and any foods I could forage in the wilds. I had long since sworn off eating meat. Roots and greens, along with grain, salt and flour, sustained me. In my mountain refuge I built a little lean-to to protect me from the ravages of the high country's early spring weather.
Quickly my life settled into a routine of reading, meditation and food gathering. Each morning during a ritual bath, I would immerse myself in the icy spring runoff of the stream that flowed nearby. After thawing out I'd breakfast, pray and study. Not a day would go by without casting the I Ching (a form of Chinese divination that incorporated casting yarrow stalks and interpreting them in the context of the Chinese Book of Changes.) I found a clay deposit in the stream bank and fired myself implements to eat out of and store things in. All in all I was tranquil and considered my endeavors successful.
"Prospering by movement"
As weeks went by and the elements became more spring-like, the only adversity I encountered was a squirrel's persistent ransacking of my grain stash. My nights were accentuated by very profound dreams. One morning in late April I was startled awake by a vivid dream in which I was told to leave my mountain sanctuary. The I Ching indicated that with movement I would prosper.
Inspired I hid my supplies and began descending the mountain valley. I had not seen anyone for the entire time of my stay in this remote region. Indeed, even the old dirt roads were overgrown and rarely traveled. Not very far from my camp sat a young man in a vehicle, staring off into the grand mountain view before him. We were both startled at each other's presence. As I approached him he smiled and said, "I guess I was supposed to meet you here!" I told him of my dream and he politely invited me to his car and proceeded to take me to Colorado Springs, a then small college town not too far from Denver, Colorado. Our conversation focused on matters of philosophy and religion. He dropped me off at the campus and that was the last I saw of him.
Spiritual beings and elements
Quickly I made acquaintance with several "searchers" in the area and we became fast friends. Although we had all taken drugs in some form, we had left that option far behind in our pursuit of the truth. We now engaged ourselves in a plethora of disciplines of the mystery schools.
Many of them required rigorous regimes of meditation and study. On one particular day I had an encounter with a spiritual being whose outline appeared before me as I was in contemplation. There was no communication, but only a conscious awareness of this entity. The "field" of the spirit was full of sentient beings. Who and what are they? Was this an ascended master or an angel? It never said.
Several of us decided to visit the headquarters of the Summit Lighthouse, which was located in the Broadmore district of Colorado Springs. I was astounded to find an oil painting in the center of their "sanctuary" that was an exact replica or portrayal of my initial experience on STP of passing through the rainbow! To see such a work of art depicting the hidden knowledge I literally partook of completely captivated me.
In addition, my first visit was highlighted with an intense awareness of the spiritual elements that surrounded the people of this organization. Having become adept at discerning auras and seeing in the spiritual realm, I commented to many as to the colors and forms that surrounded their immediate vicinity. Much to the astonishment of many who attended the meeting I was describing very specific designs and actions that these individuals would visualize as part of their spiritual practices.
It was obvious to me that these people were tapping into a sphere of knowledge without having ever taken drugs. They claimed to be in contact with a spiritual hierarchy of great men and women (The Ascended Masters) who had attained enlightenment and were now transmitting knowledge and assistance to the human race for it's freedom and reparation for a new age.
On the staff of Summit Lighthouse
Among this august host of gods, goddesses, masters, angelic beings and interdimensional intelligences were Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu and just about every god and enlightened being presented by every religion, myth, and mystery school of the entire world. The wealth, straight-laced suit and tie, socially sophisticated air of the people threw me off, but I could not deny the apparent accumulation of spiritual understanding they had amassed that so eerily matched experiences of my quest.
Mark and Elizabeth Prophet, the Messengers of the Masters, had geared up the organization and they were riding the crest of the wave of interest in alternative religions of the late sixties and early seventies.
The Monastery headquarters consisted of a turn of the century mansion, located in the heart of the high-end district of Broadmore called La Tourelle, thus named because of the magnificent tower made of red brick with a marble stairway that spiraled in the center. The slate tile roof and French imported drain spouts spoke of a time long ago. The brick walls of this structure were three feet thick.
It didn't take long for me to get deeply involved with both the teachings and people of the Summit Lighthouse. Soon I was conscripted onto the staff and began my intense regimen of chanting, meditation and strict discipline as shared by all the staff. At the peak of my rigorous lifestyle I was meditating and or chanting up to 16 hours a day. More of my time was spent negotiating psychic and spiritual realms in a trance like state, than time-spent conscious of my immediate surroundings.
Hours on end were spent with Elizabeth as her personal eyes into the invisible world as well as her bodyguard. We practiced various rituals to protect the work and activity of the organization on spiritual planes. A room in the apex of that tower is where I spent day and night, often alone but more often with Elizabeth, as she edited copious amounts of literature and the frequent books they produced. Because of the status of Mark and Elizabeth as Messengers of the Great White Brotherhood, it seemed proper to them that we also acted as their guardians. So, along with my spiritual duties along with several others, I attended the Messengers wherever they went, always on guard. Frequently we slept on the floor outside their luxuriant master bedroom. Most of the other staff had quarters in the servants' house, a large building separate from the mansion.
The spiritual beings that were the real backbone of the organization regularly expressed themselves through the Messengers. Weekly oracles and quarterly conferences, filled with outpourings of teachings to facilitate and cultivate contact with the spiritual hierarchy and develop spiritual attainment, were the heartbeat of the organization. Regularly gurus, spiritual teachers, pundits and politicians attended and added to the meetings. It seemed as though the organization was a point of confluence for the energies that were molding the present social and political climate.
Wealth accumulated and the worldwide scope of influence increased as the years went by. As strict vegetarians we fasted and went to great lengths to purify ourselves. The organization always did everything in a big way with high standards of excellence. All of the literature was printed on huge privately owned printing presses. The work force was strictly room and board with an occasional subsistence for private needs. Most of the staff had income from other sources to sustain them in their stay at headquarters. The political bent was very conservative. Every effort was made to keep abreast of world political trends.
Beyond human imagination
The teachings themselves were a very comprehensive accumulation and synthesis of the world's religions as seen by the Messengers. Obviously Jesus and Buddha held prominent places in the hierarchy, but art, music and various disciplines of culture and science were compelled to take on spiritual significance. Indeed the cosmology of the Summit Lighthouse was all encompassing and it ascribed spiritual significance and power to every aspect of life, color and form. The scope of its extent was ever pressed beyond the reaches of human imagination. Such an array of sound, color and form was woven into the cosmology with a spiritual entity of some kind linked to it, that from the most basic to the most complex elements of existence, a hidden influence seemed to emanate. The entire plane of reality was catapulted into a realm of dark or light power that would enhance or inhibit your spiritual growth. Only colors with pure and high vibrations could be worn.
Attaining higher consciousness
Everything was manipulated to advance the cause of attaining higher consciousness. Layer after layer of jargon from the world's religions were cleverly woven to cover what plainly was an Eastern mystical world view which was - as from their vantage point - the paradigm of truth. The essence of the teachings revolved around the notion that each being has at the core of his consciousness a "Divine spark" which is intrinsically a part of God. The fundamental aspect of man and his consciousness was said to be God. Because reincarnation and a doctrine of Karma were also held, the awareness of this divine nature was said to be clouded by deeds, dark forces, and illusion that must be escaped. Mantras and prayers, thought forms and visualizations; meditations and spiritual exercises faithfully applied, were said to grant spiritual liberation. Surely a work of this scope cannot do justice to address the teachings of the Masters from an apologetic standpoint.
World travel was an intrinsic aspect of the promotion of the Masters' work. As a result, several world tours were taken to key places of spiritual or political importance. We traveled and performed magical rituals everywhere. Regularly we had interviews with such personages as the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Indira Ghandiand political leaders from around the globe.
I recall on the Autumn Equinox of 1972 scaling the sides of the Great Pyramid of Gheza with three of my comrades to perform rituals and meditate at its peak. The full moon was in Aries, the sun in Libra and all of the planets were in "auspicious" places. Europe and Africa, the Middle East and far reaches of the world became the haunts of our spiritual practices. Our intent was to weave a web of a spiritual nature to work in conjunction with the Masters, to raise the world out of the mire of ignorance and darkness into a new age where everyone would be God conscious all the time.
In pursuit of enlightenment
Subjectively, many experiences on the spiritual plane that were clearly delineated in many of the mystery writings became mine, including the awakening of the "shakti" force of kundalini. I can recall my desire for spiritual attainment being so profound that I added my own regime of spiritual discipline to that already imposed on me by the Messengers.
Each night at the Monastery I would arise, go to one of the elaborate rooms in the mansion, practice hatha yoga and pray to the Masters. Part of my little ritual consisted of breaking bread and drinking a sip of wine and asking Master Jesus to cause these elements to become to me what they should be. It is difficult to express how these things completely engulfed my soul. All of this agenda and activity was purposed to maintain an altered state of consciousness in pursuit of enlightenment.
Unraveling of spiritual discipline
In late 1972 Mark Prophet died of a stroke and the entire operation fell into the hands of Elizabeth. The shakeup was very profound. Its magnitude can only be measured in my life by an oppressive stress that permeated my days. I found myself immersed in what I would consider impure and divergent thoughts.
It was customary for me to afflict myself stringently. I wore a horse hair shirt, a belt of woven thorns, and regularly flagellated myself in an attempt to subdue my carnal nature. Now for some reason at Mark's death these "primal carnal urges" seemed intensified. Temptation seemed everywhere and overwhelming. My youthful vigor at the age of 25 was breaking loose, violating my years of careful control.
A young lady on staff approached me and forthrightly told me she was "practicing" on me to capture my heart. Though I never consummated the relationship, I may as well have. The entire affair broke me so utterly down that it was, as it were, an imploding of my psyche. My vows of celibacy were now being resisted by raging passion. I walked around numb for weeks only to finally acknowledge my inability to maintain the level of "God consciousness" that I presumed I had attained to. I couldn't understand what was going on. Years of spiritual discipline seemed to unravel at my feet.
Back to the mountains
Mind numbed, I left the Summit Lighthouse and left the few possessions I had accumulated behind. In a short while I was once again back in the wild regions of the Colorado Rocky Mountains contemplating the years that had gone by and the profound involvement with the mystery schools and world religions that had engulfed my life in so short a time. The synthesis of religions and mysterious disciplines and spiritual exercises I had accumulated now made up the bulk of my mind. With the mere exertion of will I was able to enter trance like states of various kinds and to freely negotiate these fields of consciousness.
Greater spiritual dynamics
Somehow, leaving the confines of the Monastery (which at first was a devastating and seemingly life-threatening decision) now became a catalyst for greater spiritual dynamics to unfold.
It is hard to explain the explosion of psycho-spiritual expansion and versatility that dawned on me in those mountains in just a matter of days. I went from very low ebb to a veritable tidal wave of renewed hope and optimism that even to this day staggers my memories. Why were such radical changes sweeping over my life? Hadn't I just failed the spiritual hierarchy determined to liberate the earth's people? My reasoning centered in a persuasion that as long as there was life there was hope.
From there I scaled the mountain of my disorientation by leaps and bounds through process of mental gyrations that settled me into what I considered to be reconciliation with the "beings" who were setting the world free. From thence it was a simple step of logic to explain my newfound freedom as the actual will of the Masters. They wanted me out of there! That was it! But what was next?
It didn't seem long at all before a sense of equilibrium and peace of mind began to settle in. Even with the exertion of some rudimentary discipline from Summit Lighthouse headquarters, I intuitively sensed destiny unfolding before me. The years I had spent on the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) staff were riddled with experiences that confirmed my "path" but that also challenged my sense of direction. The crass materialism, some of the peculiar behavior patterns of the Messengers and a deep sense of wantin my own heart all served to compel me to remain outside the confines of the Organization.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Prophet informed me that the Masters were requiring a period away from the Organization. She interpreted this as harsh discipline and I was seeing it in an entirely different light. My psycho-spiritual adeptness had not diminished at all. In fact it blossomed unlike ever before.
Walking in the spiritual realm
The entire time I had spent with CUT centered on the development and use of spiritual faculties, but especially clairvoyance. The Messengers had taken me around the world with them because this skill and others were so fine-tuned. Now, like a flower unfolding, these abilities expanded to incredible proportions.
I walked in a realm that I thought discerned the future. An innate intuitive knowledge now eclipsed the systems of divination that I used early on. It was also very easy to probe the thoughts of others. I had devoted myself to an intense study of astrology, natural medicine, and the development of a system of religious synthesis while in the Monastery. These attributes later served to open doors of opportunity to "serve" people and fulfill my obligations to the Masters.
The idealism that propelled me onto the spiritual path was taken to new heights. The tremendous outgrowth and influence of the world's religions and the incredible thread of unity that appeared to be binding them together as a great orchestration of spiritual activity on every level of consciousness propelled me on. Form, color, sound, earth, air, fire, water - from the rudimentary to the most complex elements of spirit, soul and matter - all of these were part of some grand scheme to cause every human being to awaken to some fantastic destiny - a destiny centered upon a divine reality that all were free to discover.
The mind of the mystic and his preoccupation with certain "truths" that were the core of mystical initiation, indeed the keys of hidden spiritual doors, had for some reason been granted to me. I wandered deep into the recesses of abstract realms of spiritual activity and its vague definitions and explanations of the human (some say, divine)condition. Led along by spirits whose calling was to win the human race and manifest the Divine will, I recaptured the discipline of mind and heart needed to remain on the path. I was young and I loved rainbows. I went on.
Maintaining a tenuous connection with The Summit, I met a young lady named Linda MacKay at one of the meetings. Linda had an inquiring mind and a keen interest in spiritual things. It wasn't long before I met the entire MacKay family and developed a deep relationship with them. The MacKays were very much like most of the upper middle class of that era. Mr. MacKay was a successful businessman in the energy industry. Mrs. MacKay was an amiable lady with a wide range of interests. The teenage children were into the new culture and running loose with the morals and ways of the sixties and seventies, including a lot of pot smoking.
Suddenly a barefooted, white robed mystic showed up in their lives. I stayed at their house in a room that they graciously provided. Being a renunciate, my only possessions were the clothes on my back. I soon settled into a routine of meditation and chanting. I had frequent conversations with Linda and Joyce, her mother, on philosophy and the mystery religions.
Mrs. MacKay, seeing my meager holdings and sincerity, was compelled one particular day to give me one thousand dollars. She said God had instructed her to give me the sum. Fully persuaded that material possessions were a hindrance to my path, I refused her gracious offer. She insisted that the cashier's check made out to my name would remain intact for my use at any time. I was in a quandary as to her insistence that God had moved her to act in this fashion.
Led by my spirit guide
Not long after this incident, on the occasion of a late night discussion of the many mystery schools and traditions that have filled human history, the conversation began winding down and the room in which we sat filled with a brilliant blue light. In the center of the room a large luminous blue sphere appeared out of which a voice spoke. We sat entranced as a command was given to me, Come and find me.
I was immediately forced into an altered state of consciousness and had a vision of the far reaches of the Himalayan mountains. Quickly I merged with the spirit speaking to me and was informed that my next guru was to be found.
Now it seemed that the cashier's check made sense. Looking back I marvel at the profound power that orchestrated the events of that time. The government of India was shutting its doors to all but the most capable visitors from the US. In the late sixties there was a tremendous influx of seekers from the US who upon reaching India were unable to care for themselves, some even unable to return to the US. Every effort was made to thoroughly screen individuals entering the country. I can remember showing up at the travel agency dressed in traditional yogic garb. Against all odds I had my visa and papers in order within two weeks. Off I went to New Delhi, India, led by my spirit guide.
It was late summer when I arrived. Having been there before didn't prepare me for the onset of a severe fever shortly after I reached the sub-continent. Undaunted, I made my way to Vrindivan. Vrindavan is a small village that was the birthplace of Krishna, one of India's best-known gods. I circumambulated the village three times and sought refuge at a Krishna ashram. I waited out my fever and mused over the many aspects of Vedic knowledge. After adjusting somewhat to the new conditions, I headed for Rishikesh, a mecca for yogis, mendicants, and devotees of the myriads of Hindu, Buddhist and religious sects at the headwaters of the Ghanges River. Many ashrams and monasteries from ancient times have been established there. Still very much engrossed in my trance like meditations, I waited for specific inspiration as to my next step.
Individuals and circumstances attended the entire journey up to that point, with strange confirmations of my direction. Soon I was on my way to Katmandu, located in a beautiful mountain valley at the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. A small "undeveloped" country for the most part, the main method of transportation in the land was walking on ancient, well-worn pathways.
The Everest Trek
My papers in order, I began what was called the Everest Trek. Between Katmandu and a small town named Bhadgoan in the same valley, there was a paved road for the stretch of about three miles. It was the only paved road I was aware of in the country at the time and a private bus serviced it.
The Nepalese people were short in stature for the most part. When I entered the packed, ornately decorated bus, I stood head and shoulders above the natives. Most of the Nepalese men wore little black tight fitting hats and black vests. They almost appeared to be in a cultural uniform of sorts. In the back of the bus stood a man in the traditional clothing, but uniquely different in that he had blue eyes and stood taller than the rest.
He wrestled his way forward of the bus through the crowd and introduced himself with a strong Australian accent. He expressed curiosity as to why I was in Nepal. No doubt he had seen many people from Europe and the US on spiritual pilgrimages to these lofty mountains. I told him how explicitly I was led to this land and to these mountains to search out my next spiritual teacher. He assured me that he was well aware of who I was looking for. Curious, I asked who that might be. His reply was Jesus Christ.
Being made aware of the fact that he was a missionary from Australia, I assumed his understanding of who Jesus was was very different from mine. Our conversation was pleasant but short-lived as this paved road was only three miles long.
Bhadgoan was at the feet of the first range of mountains that make up the Himalayan ranges. Each range of mountains gets progressively higher, the third range being known as the ever snows.
A two-month walk
Saying farewell to my new acquaintance, I began what turned out to be a two-month walk through the lonely winding roads of this remote region. The terrain was generally unforgiving, with very steep climbs and treacherous jungle regions, broken up by intermittent domesticated areas with villages in their center. The ascents were often very abrupt, requiring a traversing type of climb rather than a direct route. Often several thousand feet had to be climbed or descended in a day. It is an awesome and vast region with a mystique about it. The rugged ancient trails sometimes appeared etched several feet into the earth and at other times were barely visible for some reason or another. Since my trek began at the edge of the monsoon season, there were frequent legs of the journey spent in densely fog-enshrouded heights. Green luminescent mosses cleaved to exotic rock formations.
Entire days would go by with my only meal a foraged portion of herbs. My bare feet at this time were hardened enough to endure the hiking, but the often-wet trail would soften them somewhat. The native people moved along quite briskly on these trails, carrying their goods on baskets that rested on their backs and straps that wrapped about their foreheads. Each had a small "T" shaped stick made of a native hard wood like hickory. At one village stop I acquired a pair of Chinese thongs, which turned out to be a great mistake. Upon wearing them a blister - then a sore - broke out on my left foot. This in turn festered, causing my foot to swell and my large toe to turn completely black.
Searching for life
Fortunately the next stop I made, several days into this illness, was a Swiss medical station that had a small airstrip and building. Only natives attended the station at that time. They encouraged me on and gave me a salve of sorts that was very effective.
In spite of the majestic scenery, whether it was ancient gardens terraced into steep mountain sides or moss laden jungles found way below the over story of peculiar forests, my focus of attention was only slightly diverted because of the deep trance like meditative states I would induce. I was ever seeking to follow a spiritual path that would lead to freedom and life.
In these circumstances I would often emerge from my spiritual condition and not know where I was or how far I'd gone. I trekked over Lamjura Pass and down again to the distant valley below, my climb up and down through difficult terrain seemingly driven by a need to know the way of those who claimed to have been set free from the tumult of this life. Nights would pass by as I listlessly waited out a rainstorm curled up in a little ball on the ground perhaps next to a stump. There I would be, engulfed in darkness and hoping for dawn so that I might continue on.
On one occasion my eyes were drawn to my side to find the entire left side of my linen shirt saturated by blood. I couldn't understand what had happened since I didn't recall being wounded. Only a small mark remained of some affliction that wouldn't stop bleeding.
Soon after that incident, I stopped at a waterfall to wash and refresh myself. It was so unique a place since the water had etched a drastic spiral into solid rock. As I bathed, my hands ran along my bare head only to discover more blood. This time I found the culprit. A rather well fed leech fell to the ground. From that time forward I began to notice literally hundreds of leeches that had ascended the surrounding foliage desiring to make contact with some passer-by. Natives would agilely pass me by on the path with their ankles bleeding from the parasites.
Upon reaching a very large village area called Those' Bazaar, which was fairly well populated, I became deathly ill with a fever. A gracious person took my offer to pay for refuge as I sought to recover. I remember the beautiful strong beam frame of the house and the adobe walls recently refreshed with a new layer of clay. Quickly I fell asleep, racked and even delirious with fever. As time went by, I would occasionally raise enough out of my condition to eat a bowl of rolled rice and milk, only to again be immersed in fitful dreams and visions. I trembled and moaned with dream after vague dream.
At one point I dreamed I was in a large theater filled to overflowing. I sat in the very front row, looking up at extremely tall dark red velvet curtains. Next to me sat a young lady friend who was also expectantly waiting for the stage to open. Suddenly I was constrained to leave this setting and pleaded with my friend to go with me. She obstinately refused, at which point I arose and began walking up the long walkway, grieving that I had no friend. To compound this, all of the people of the theater began raucously laughing at me because of my departure. As I was leaving, a light shown from above and a voice spoke and said, "I will be your friend". I was so deeply affected by this event that I awoke only to find the fever completely gone. Up and away I went, thanking my gracious host who marveled at my recovery.
Well on my way in the Trek I also contracted a violent stomach problem. Quite ill I arrived at the Tutenchilling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. It was the heart of a very religious season. The enormous grounds of the place were abuzz with monks that were participating in various rituals. Before long, under the care of the place, I found myself in their temple actively engaging in their chanting. I drank liquid from the silver-lined skull of a long dead, highly esteemed incarnation of Buddha. With my hands intertwined in a ritualistic fashion, I received tokens of grain to eat.
How fantastically the place was enshrouded in every form of art depicting the many and varied aspects of this particular branch of Buddhism. Tanka paintings were everywhere and prayer flags draped poles from the tops of every building. Worshipers constantly circled the grounds, zealously chanting mantras on their prayer beads. Mandalas, mantras and images of their gods and Buddhas, exquisitely painted, filled their walls. I had audience with several highly respected lamas.
As the ritual season ended I received a small butter Buddha, a red string draped about my neck and a packet of very valuable Sanskrit parchments to deliver to the Thangboche Monastery were I was instructed I would meet my teacher. By now my trek was well into the higher reaches of the Himalayas. Most of my travel was spent high above timberline in view of the majestic always-white peaks of the border between Nepal and Tibet. The nights were cold and the rumble of avalanches could be heard in the distance.
On what seemed to be a barren mountainside stood a small village called Namche Bazaar. It was a village of Sherpas and Tibetans that had been exiled by the communist Chinese. While there, Nepalese officials stamped my visa and warned me I was entering the demilitarized zone between Nepal and Red China. At that time I was not far from Thangboche.
The great Himalayan Mountains
Onward I pressed. The view was majestic, revealing the vast steep slopes of the region. In one glance one could view a panorama of the seasons. Thousands of feet below were the green verdant jungles pierced through the middle by the raging torrents of a river that showed pure white from my vantage point. With but a slight glance up it was as though a line had been drawn between the jungle and the next strata of plant life that showed brilliantly bright with the colors of autumn. A long band of red, orange and yellow raced across the sides of the immense open slopes.
The brown-gray barren ridges and slopes were next in succession up the mountainsides. It was in that level that I walked, following the ancient path that wounded it's way around and through the mountains.
As the days went by I would pass many a Buddhist stupa (piles of rocks placed strategically on the trail by passers-by as they meandered on in their pilgrimages). Above this climbed the great Himalayan Mountains. It is hard to express the true height of these peaks. Pure white and very rugged jagged ridges and peaks pierced the sky several thousand feet above my worn path, which was already at least 14,000 feet in altitude.
In a glance up or down were thousands of feet of terrain spanning many ecosystems. The days that I walked were in the fall of the year and the last vestiges of the monsoon season often left fantastic displays of color in the sky. Misty clouds would erupt from the jungle regions below and billow up the steep canyons to emerge in the higher regions, forming clouds of rainbow colors during sunset.
It was in an area such as this that I stopped to meditate and practice my spiritual disciplines. Once again I alienated myself from all but that inner spiritual reality and spheres of mystical initiation through the trance like states. After some time I once again broke my meditation and as usual I was gripped by the sensation that so many on the path call unstressing. Much of the arcane literature describes what I'm talking about as the death to self or the unraveling of self-identity, which was so important a part of mystical life, as well as painful.
While entranced I would be virtually oblivious of such things, but when I would once again come to myself I would be gripped by a gnawing awareness of great want in my life and heart. In one moment there was the surge of power and "bliss" of the altered states of mystical initiation. In the next there was the gripping stark reality of the effects that this metamorphosis was affecting in my soul. What was the truth of all of this? By what standard should I judge my experience? After exerting all the substance of consciousness and soul, why does the resultant effects read out like the harsh dualism of life and death? How can nirvana and sangsara be one and the same?
I must have the truth!
In anguish of heart I began to cry out to God, to Buddha, to Jesus, to who ever would hear me! With much weeping and desperate brokenness of heart I wailed for a length of time. Tears and soul-cry poured out of me. I must have the truth! Sobbing and supplication with trembling went from depth to depth. Truly it was a cry from the utmost depths of my inner man. It welled up from within like a spring with my groaning going forth, expressing what words could not. I travailed and poured out my soul like water - with great lamentation, as though I mourned over the death of a loved one.
I knew in some unknown manner that in spite of all the "signs" that I was succeeding I was in fact failing utterly. At the height of achievement, the pangs of emptiness that had haunted me all my life rose up from some hidden prison of my heart. I knew I was in great need. My efforts to prevail over ignorance, darkness and pain were merely a disguise that hid the reality of my own want.
I lay in a pool of tears for a short time, seeking to regain my composure. The intensity of emotion began to give way to spiritual sensitivity.
Like ice in a spring thaw, my ignorance began to melt and give way to light. Knowledge to turn from darkness to light was bestowed on me. As I turned toward spiritual light, the heavy shroud of darkness that had engulfed mysoul began giving way. A spiritual door had opened before me. As I turned and entered, the LIGHT of LIFE flooded my inner being. A hideous weight and great shadow came off me. Peace and comfort washed over me.
Looking up in the great distance, high above me stood a figure. As the sun appears through the clouds on an overcast day - so this brilliant form appeared to me. I had no doubt that this was Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah.
Inexpressible relief came over me. Can you imagine an individual walking through a desert many days in the heat of the sun and many nights without water? Then to have someone appear, when all hope was gone, to give you a full drink of fresh sweet water to quench your thirst? So was my heart refreshed when I turned to Yeshua. I knew that Yeshua Messiah wanted me to follow Him. I didn't know what that meant practically, but like a man who finds great treasure and guards it, I was unwilling to ever go away for all eternity from Him.
Other things came to my awareness. I knew that the experience of the blue light that I was following was a deception and a false light that was actually darkness.
Consider being a creature of the night. Imagine if you were taken into a room where there was an ultraviolet black light and there were posters on the walls with ornate and beautiful designs and symbols glowing because of the black light. These would appear as bright "lights" in contrast to the darkness. But then consider someone else bringing you to a door and opening it so you could see the sun for the first time.
The contrast between these two lights was that profound to me. Every idea or experience of "peace" that I had heretofore known, was now revealed as the stillness of death rather than the true peace of life.
A new life
I said, Master, Teacher - I will do all that you wish. I surrender my life to you. If it's your will for me to remain here in a cave for the rest of my days I will do it. Only let me be your disciple. From the very onset I knew that my relationship with Him was directly related to obedience to Him. To obey and surrender was also to abide in His presence. I knew that what was happening to me had nothing to do at all with any of my effort, but rather with an act of Divine kindness. He had heard my pleading cry and showed me the way to go.
Radical internal changes were taking place. Somewhat gaining my composure I looked about me. The wisps of clouds from the valley below swirled up the steep slopes. The sun splashed across the vast scene and a rainbow appeared. It was large and beautiful. My life was never to be the same and I knew it. It was a new world! An assurance unlike any I had ever known, affirmed from within that I was on the true path and that he would lead me.
Departing from the mountains
I walked toward Sagartmatta (Mount Everest). In the high reaches of the Everest area, a small inn and a Buddhist monastery was situated, named Thangboche. Upon my arrival it became very clear to me that I was to follow Yeshua alone. I was to depart from synthesizing philosophies and religions and bind myself to Yeshua. Clearly He told me to depart from those mountains.
I waited out a snowstorm and headed toward Katmandu. Along the way about three days' trek, I came across a small "airport" on the slopes of the mountains. On each end of this dubious plateau airstrip were crumpled up pieces of debris that were once small planes. Fortunately a flight was available and from the vantage point of sitting in that plane what took many weeks of difficult walking now was in my vision. At a glance and a few moments I had a view of the mountains unlike any on the trek. I could hardly believe I had walked all that way. Indeed, my path had led me up and over and into many of the valleys, off the beaten path.
A familiar face
Upon my arrival at the Katmandu Airport, Messiah said: Go to the post office. It was mid-day and I really had no earthly reason to go there. I entered the building and stood about for a short moment. Suddenly there appeared a familiar face in the midst of quite a crowd. The missionary I had met on the bus to Bhadgoan stood in the midst of the people.
Quickly I reached him and exclaimed with joy my experience and discovery and how Messiah had led me to Himself. I wish I could remember the man's name.
He was astounded as I related my tale. A hearty invitation by him brought me to his dwelling. It was quaint and more sized to the short Nepalese folk. He showed me a little stationery store that he had in Bhadgoan as his occupation. We ate and prayed and I was refreshed. He instructed me in basic matters in regards to this new path of life. With much prayer it seemed good to the both of us that I return to the United States.
Cleansing and reorientation
The next few years of my life were devoted to the study of the Law and all of the Old and New Testaments. The Covenants became a part of my every day life. The entire experience was a profound process of cleansing and reorientation. Many hours and days were spent, completely engrossed in the revelation of God through his Word. Mighty clouds of confusion and obscurity began to give way to the sunshine of His truth.
Chains of darkness that I was only subconsciously aware of broke under the strength of the things written. How great was the delusion that had captured my soul! Reincarnation, karma, astrology and the great blasphemous concept that man is inherently divine have been completely washed from me. I found the entire accumulation of all that knowledge and the experiences that backed them up to be a part of a vast deception calculated to capture and hold in bonds of darkness, every soul that does not love the truth.
Most of the time the experience of opening The Holy Book is deeply spiritual. The words and ideas lift as fire from the pages to take up their abode in my heart. There they now sit, glowing and churning, lightning my path on the way to the Golden City. The transformation of my life has been one of great joy. To be sure, there is still much tribulation in the world. But, but any time I can, I enter a secret place that I have found in Messiah. There, in holy fellowship with Him, my heart drinks of life! It is true Life.
I'd like to reiterate that I know that much of this information is alien to many. More and more the wave of spirituality and the language of new age doctrine is becoming the vocabulary of our society. Now, after 25 years, I can see that there is a Golden City in my future. It is not part of the New Age that so many are hoping to usher in. This city and its kingdom have Yeshua Messiah, the Son of David, upon its throne. In Him the ravages of spiritual darkness cannot reach me. I am safe as He leads me on, as the Good Shepherd, into my relationship to YAHWEH, my Father.
How can I begin to express the awesome transformation that has taken place in my life? What does that transformation mean to you if you find yourself walking where I have walked, or if you are presently dissatisfied with your current spiritual state? I have taken some time to give a short account of my present affairs and understanding in an Epilogue. Please feel free to contact me. Shalom in Yeshua haMashiach.
Stanley John Petrowski
It has been well over a quarter of a century since the experience in the Himalayas of dedicating myself to be a disciple of Yeshua Messiah. From the onset, my relationship with Him has been life changing and still remains with this effect to this day. It should be apparent to any reader that much of what I had experienced could not be related fully in my story because of time and space restraints. Even so, I would be remiss if I didn't clarify where my pilgrimage stands now. My effort is entirely geared toward encouraging any would be or present pilgrim onward on the Path of Life toward the Golden City.
The past 30 years have been saturated with the profound intensity of the times in which we live. My experience with Messiah has not diminished, but rather has been accentuated by the turbulence of our era. Nonetheless, the stability found in His presence offsets the tempest and fills me with real peace. My journey through life following Messiah has been marked with continual and deep confirmation of His reality and its ever present and wonderful growth in my life.
The anxious thoughts and churning of my heart concerning the destiny of the earth and in particular humanity have been put at ease. This is not simply the result of a future "pie in the sky" hope founded in prophecy, but a very real and present power of Love and Life that I find in Him. These elements of His being will prevail completely over evil and darkness, now and in the future - to be sure the future can be seen and known. It will be all and more than my heart has ever longed for; to this the prophets bear witness.
The scene gains greater clarity every day because of the Messiah. Its scope is not merely planetary but universal and cosmic in scale. No doubt the human race will reap what it has sown. Judgment is here. This is what causes the gnawing anxiousness in many hearts. There is a refuge for the one who is seeking a solution - that refuge being the promised Messiah of Israel.
There are many that are making merchandise of the fear. Don't let anyone attempt to direct you to another answer to earth's problems. When you look to political science, social science, environmental science or any spiritual system outside of that which is found in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel, you are merely being diverted from the true answer. All of the days that I had spent wandering diligently, searching in invisible realms, are now replaced with a reality more tangible than the physical universe and yet unseen with the naked eye. The reality is Messiah. He said, I am the way, the truth and the life.
At first even though my days were filled with persistent study of scripture, I could not grasp the scope of my experience. Steadily, every aspect of all that I had learned in my search was exposed to the scrutiny of the newfound light of the sacred writings of the Holy Bible.
The prophetic utterances addressed every nook and cranny of my soul. Chains - more binding than any forged by primitive or modern man - fell off, snapped off under the weight of the utterances of God. Pools of my tears stained many a floor as His deep inner joy would well up in me at the melting away of my darkness.
Absolute surrender and absolute security were daily fare in the Truth. I ate and drank voraciously and confidently of waters and food vouchsafed freely to anyone inwardly hungry. This tremendous cleansing appeared wave after wave, day after day.
So that you may understand my hope, I want you to know that all that the evil spell has destroyed has been undone by a progressive and careful application of Messiah's transforming power. Unbeknown to me, my exposure to the powerful forces in the spiritual realm were changing me into something I didn't want to be. What I thought was light was in fact great darkness. There is no greater deception than spiritual darkness masquerading as the truth. The process of "initiation"was actually turning me into something other than human, which certainly was not divine, though it appeared to be.
Day by day as I meet with Messiah and surrender myself to Him, He changes me. Not into a better person but into a new creature like Himself. To be sure - that process is ongoing, joyful and comforting.
Because my conversion was so dramatic it opened doors of opportunity to experience a very broad spectrum of Christianity. Much of what I've seen I cannot condone. I know that the conditions of mediocrity that exist in many churches because of a lack of spirituality will not satisfy the heart that has tasted of the spiritual realm. Only a vital and true spiritual life in the Son of God Himself will be able to keep the soul ravaged by spiritual darkness from the vulnerability gained from its exposure to the Great Dragon. The explaining away of so much of scripture as mere cultural bias that pertains only to the times in which they were written is grievous and wearisome. A condition of spiritual sickness has stricken much of Christianity because of it. The people are adrift on a sea of relativism.
Doctrines of "grace" have become a license to conform to the world culture, instead of freedom to realize and experience a heavenly culture and kingdom. The reaction in many has been to be snared by religious bondage or go to a man made religion founded on self-abasement, calling itself Christianity. Others have taken the route of throwing off constraints and finding themselves wallowing in sin. In spite of this I have met those who know Messiah in many nooks and crevices of Christendom.
Don't get me wrong please, for I do not want to steer anyone from the simplicity of their faith and devotion to Messiah. For example - if you've ever wondered how to witness to someone like I was, consider this brief example. When I was still living with the MacKays, wearing my silk doti (a Hindu garb), meditating before my incense-laden altar, there was a young woman from a strict Christian sect who used to houseclean for the MacKays. No doubt I frightened her, but she would go about her duties in her modest dress with head veiled singing, "What can wash away my sins...nothing but the Blood of Jesus..."
I didn't think about it much then. It wasn't until later years that she came clearly into focus, and the message she sang also rang through and through in my heart. Her humble demeanor of shamefacedness is burned to this day upon my psyche. She was a living message that was, unbeknown to me at the time, planted within.
Also I rejoice to say that Mr. and Mrs. MacKay have come to know the Messiah. They presently reside in Colorado and they, with several of their children, have placed their hope upon the coming return of Messiah, having confidence that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is sufficient for them.
I walked through many corridors of Christianity, always leaning toward those who professed a biblical faith. And always I thirsted for the portrayal of what I saw in scripture to be the life of those who truly believed. Like broken fragments of a great stained glass window found in the rubble of a dilapidated cathedral, the denominations and fellowships we have been a part of make up pieces of a puzzle that will never become the whole, healthy image they claim to be. A kernel of truth is at their heart and their foundation is often the true and only One, Yeshua Messiah. But He is SO much more and our representation of Him is SO beclouded and far short of His reality. It need not be so. Charismatic or Plain Folk (Amish- Mennonite), intellectual or emotional, sophisticated or lowly, big churches or home fellowships, a veritable plethora of convictions and persuasions - I found them in each place: individuals who really have been touched by Yeshua Messiah. Though meeting them encouraged me (because of their spirituality), the fact of their being divided grieved me.
I saw some suffer great disaster because of the current state of the church. Its incessant proclivity to mimic this present world or to revert back to failed unbiblical religious systems actually stands in the way of individuals entering into the Truth of Messiah. Buddhism never threatened my path as heartily as nominal Christianity.
We have spent many years (in tears) not affiliated to any particular group of people. Yet we know we are bound up tight as can be with every member of that body, which is called the body of Messiah.
Holding fast to what we have been shown is good, we press on. Disdaining the trappings of paganism and man made religion that we have found thriving in the midst of the people of God, we press toward an ideal and beauty that we know is in Him and in those who love Him.
We press toward the Great Golden City. We love Israel and the Son of David, her King. Casting off the inertia of peer pressure, we forge ahead toward understanding the Hebrew roots of our faith, acknowledging our grafting into Israel through her King, Yeshua Messiah.
Eschewing pagan notions and the traditions of men, whether they appear in Judaism or Christianity, we have become free to adhere to the truth - day by day. If you are a Messianic believer or are searching out the biblical origins of your faith, I welcome dialogue with you. If you are a seeker of truth and the path has led you to Jesus, but you are not comfortable with what you see in the many institutions claiming to represent Him, I welcome dialogue with you.
Daily we drink deeply of living waters from a fountain not seen by human eyes. You can also. As Messiah has said, Come all you who thirst. Come and drink of the fountains of the Waters of Life without cost.
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