(Continued from Part 12.)
Last revised: 13 Aug. 2011
When time stood still
What inspired this book? What motivates me as its author?
The energy I have for the subject arises from an event that happened on 13 February 1987, a vision. Rather improbably, it happened while I was driving my car. I’ll try to describe it in as much detail as I can for interest’s sake. You may recognize it as a variation on the spiritual parabola or Jacob’s ladder of consciousness.
The previous weekend I had been at a rebirthing workshop and had had a full breath release, an event which left me feeling incredibly clean and clear.
Moreover, I was at the time studying for my doctorate in sociology and had been counselling people on a volunteer basis. This experience as a counselor contributed directly to what happened next.
At first, like so many counsellors, I used “problem-solving therapy,” but soon became weary of trying to “sell” solutions to people who weren’t inclined to buy. They seemed to want to tell their stories no matter what and rebuffed any attempt I made to offer a solution until they had had their say so I started listening.
I found that people presented me with a puzzle and, when I listened and they talked about it long and deeply enough, they suddenly had an “Aha!” The puzzle turned into a picture which caused their upset to disappear. (Of course I’m simplifying a more complicated process.)
In all sincerity that day, I said to the universe in general, “If our early lives are a puzzle which turns into a picture, is it possible that life itself is a puzzle? And, if so, what might the picture be that life is?”
I’d turned the corner in my car and was travelling through a part of the city I knew well. Having asked my question, everything suddenly turned black. I forgot about my car and found myself staring at a wordless tableaux, a spiritual movie, if you will. All of it was relational, a cause-and-effect story in pictures. I was watching God’s wordless way of speaking to me.
At the same time as I watched this spiritual tableau — and this is very important – I was filled with bliss. The experience of bliss resulted in greatly-increased comprehension. It somehow made it easier for me to take things in so that, what I could not wrap my thoughts around in everyday consciousness, I now knew and understood quite simply, intuitively, and directly.
I knew intuitively the identity of the actors in the film and the nature of the drama that was unfolding before my eyes. Words just arose in my mind to explain what I saw.
There was before me a large Golden Sun, which I knew intuitively to be “God the Father” (Brahman, the irreducible Essence, the Tao). From it emerged a small golden star, which I thought of as “God the Child” (the Atman, the Buddha-nature, the Christ, the Pearl of great price). This small golden star streaked out into the blackness of space and disappeared.
I noticed that I had the capacity to follow the golden star wherever it went. I simply wondered where it had gone and I was there, looking at that corner of “space.”
In the corner where the golden star had gone, there was a kind of hazy cloud. I knew that cloud to be God the Holy Spirit, which I would now call “God the Mother” (Shakti, the Word, Aum/Amen, the creative universal vibration).
Within the haze, I saw a spiraling tube and recognized the Star-Child, moving through it. Now it had lost its brilliance and I could only see its perfectly-circular outline, as it wended its way through what I knew intuitively to be “lifetimes in matter.”
I watched for a time and then, suddenly, the Star-Child flashed back into brilliance and I knew that to be an experience of enlightenment. As soon as its luminescence returned, it left the tube and raced back to the Golden Sun in which it submerged itself. I knew this to be another, more senior experience of enlightenment.
The Star-Child having disappeared, I pondered what I had seen and the words formed in my mind: “Enlightenment is the purpose of life.” This understanding summarized my experience.
As soon as I had reached this conclusion, the vision disappeared and I was back behind the wheel of a car.
Knowing that part of the city well, I looked to the right and the left of me to see how far I had moved in the roughly eight seconds I had been somewhere else. I had not moved an inch. I concluded that the whole event had taken place outside of time.
The experience was not enlightenment. It was a teaching about enlightenment. I had been given a glimpse of God’s great Plan for life, a representation of the total journey of an individual soul. It went out from God, on a spiritual parabola, all the while spiraling forward, through the universe of matter, and back again to God once it had achieved a supreme level of mergence or enlightenment.
“It all works out in the final reel!”
Behind the wheel of the car again, I came to a red light and looked over at the worried expression on the face of the driver in the next car. I wanted to roll down my window and shout: “It all works out in the final reel!”
For the next three days, I remained in bliss. I saw that all of nature praises God and reveals His Plan. Trees raise their leafy branches to the sky as if in adoration. Their leaves drop off, as our bodies do, but the trees don’t die. The birds flying through the air leave no trace; nor do souls journeying through life. The way the sand and sea mix and yet return to their basic natures reminded me of the relationship between the soul and the body. Everything natural was a metaphor of the Divine or one of Its created processes.
Thereafter my doctoral studies seemed insipid. I tried to enroll my professors in allowing me to study enlightenment for my dissertation but no one at the university, including the religious studies department, would hear of it. Religious studies said that the university regulations prevented them from studying such a subject. I was amazed.
Empirical materialism was the dominant paradigm at my university in those days. Only what could be known through the senses was considered real. None of what I’d seen was known through the senses; hence none of what I’d seen was, to the university, real.
I felt confined by the academic paradigm, was glad to leave it, and have never looked back. Moreover, I’ve never allowed my research, since that day, to be subject to academic scrutiny to preserve my freedom to wander where I will.
I remained entranced by the vision. I had to find words to express its wordless message. One by one, as I read the classics, statements appeared that explained what I had seen. Jesus saying that he came out from the Father out into the world and now returns to the Father was an exact description. Jacob’s Ladder was a depiction of it. Here it was discussed in Ibn Arabi; there in Krishnamurti.
I spent almost twenty years trying to put that eight-second movie into words and, in fact, this book is the latest attempt. And now it’s done.
May your efforts to achieve the purpose of life and consummate God’s Plan for you be blessed with success. May you be filled with divine joy and love. May all God’s children be enlightened, fulfilled and reunited with God.