KAMAKALA PUBLICATIONS

Has obtained the exclusive rights to the work of

Roderick W. Marling

 

As a philosophy student in the late 60's Roderick Marling was introduced to the spiritual traditions of India including the practice of Yoga. Soon after he bought a one way ticket to India where he planned to live the rest of his life as an ascetic monk. While at the famous Temple of the Goddess Kali in Dakshineswar, India, Roderick had a vision in which it was revealed that he should, contrary to his well laid plans, return to the United States, refuse military service (which he knew would result in going to prison), and become initiated into the spiritual path of Paramahansa Yogananda through the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles.

After much inner turmoil, Roderick eventually accepted the vision and returned to North America. He refused the military's demand for his participation in the Vietnam war. Consequently, Roderick was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 18 months of alternate service work. Immediately upon completing his sentence, he then moved to Southern California and became initiated into the Kriya Yoga of Paramahansa Yogananda and his line of gurus.

In 1976 Roderick moved to Ananda Cooperative Community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California. Ananda was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda, who had lived with Yogananda for several years and at one time served as vice president of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Roderick was associated with Ananda for two years, and lived in the monastic section of the Community for about a year.

After leaving the Community in 1978 Roderick continued to follow the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. He was eventually initiated into all four levels of Kriya Yoga, which he faithfully practiced 3 to 4 hours daily. Then in 1985 he began to have a series of dreams and visions that revealed a new direction to his spiritual journey.

"I had moved from peak to peak in the mountain range of my spiritual journey, conquering the heights, touching the sky, basking in the light. I did not realize there was another side to spirituality. The scriptures I read did not mention it. My teachers did not talk about it, because they themselves did not know. It had to do with the wisdom not of the mountain, but of the valley. It was the journey into the depths, not the heights of the human soul. It moved me not into the sky, but reconnected me back to the earth. I no longer just basked in the light, but also dissolved into the darkness. It was beyond the realm of the masculine hero's conquests. It was none other than the feminine dimension of life."

Roderick has now combined over 40 years of daily meditation with a scholarship that spans over three thousand volumes on religion, mythology, history and archeology. This blend of Western scholarship and Eastern mysticism has produced a view of Life that is absolutely unique. You will not find anything like it in the current yogic literature. In fact, much of what Roderick has to say is diametrically opposed to the traditional beliefs of both East and West. Furthermore, he directly addresses the difficult subjects of sex, drugs and religious beliefs and always comes up on the side of expanding personal freedom. In fact, if there is any one theme that runs through all his work, it is this sense of freedom. 

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1969

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2005

 

SHE ASKED ME TO DO IT

Confessions of a Heretic

 

 
On numerous occasions I have jokingly said: “Well, this is what you get when you cross a German with a Hungarian!” My mother, Ethel Kucera, was born in Hungary in 1924. My father, Robert Marling, was born in 1922 in the US, but his parents were both German who originally lived in the Ukraine. Both families eventually immigrated to the northern plains of Alberta Canada, where my parents met.

After the marriage Robert and Ethel moved to New Westminster, a small town just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was there that they had two boys only 13 months apart. I was born on Dec. 3, 1947. I was the eldest and actually the eldest grandson on both sides of the family. My father gave me the name Roderick Wayne. My brother was born on Jan.13, 1948 and my mother named him Stanly John.

My parents with their two boys moved to the United States in 1950. We lived in the small rural town of Dallas Oregon where our sister Bonnie Elizabeth was born on Feb.1, 1955. Her name was the result of a joint effort of both our parents.

It was while we were in Dallas that I made an important discovery one morning when I was five years old. I jumped out of bed and ran into my parents' bedroom to announce my revelation: "There is no Santa Claus!" Santa Claus had been a great puzzle for me. For quite some time I had been unsuccessfully trying to put the pieces together, and now, at long last, I had the answer, and I was filled with exhilaration.

This was my first experience with Mythology. I had lifted up the mask of the conventional story line, and found that what I had believed was not literally true, but symbolic of a deeper truth hidden underneath. I discovered Truth had more than one aspect.

This incident was a precursor of many later discoveries. As I held up one belief after another to closer examination, inevitably I found inconsistencies.

These nagging inconsistencies always seemed to grow in number, until they reached a critical mass. At this point usually came a breakthrough in my understanding, after which I simply could no longer hold onto the original belief.

This is a natural process of mental growth, and we all experience it in one way or another. For many people however, the discomfort of challenging the beliefs of our family and culture proves too threatening; so they prefer to remain asleep. But the Age is now awakening us. The pain of holding onto our out-dated beliefs far outweighs the discomfort of letting them go. An expansion of consciousness is now being dramatically experienced on a planetary scale in every social and cultural setting. As a species, we are beginning to awaken to new stories, new possibilities, and consequently to a future that is not simply an unconscious repetition of the same old programs.

The primary story or programming, with which I grew up, was a religious one. My family was Catholic. We faithfully went to Mass ever Sunday, and didn't eat meat on Fridays.

I believed in the Universal Church as the sole instrument of Christ's teachings on earth. I didn't just believe in Catholicism; it was my world, my only reality. I studied Latin in school, and helped the priests in the ritual of the Mass as an altar boy. I also graduated from a Catholic high school.

However, as sexuality entered my world - this changed everything. My body and hormones began giving me one set of messages, while the Church was giving me another. This created a split in my reality, which eventually grew into a huge chasm between the mind and body.

As my body went through its natural processes of development I consciously channeled its energy into sports. Being naturally a fast runner I took up running track at school. But since our school was private and not exactly awash with capital, it lacked a proper running track. We just had to make due on the football field. On top of that our coach was not exactly a “hands-on” type of guy. I think the whole time he spent with me personally could be counted in minutes. I was left to more less work out my own practice routines and find the self discipline to actually do the work required. This type of freedom naturally appealed to me, and I guess it was the same with the rest of the team, because for seven consecutive years our school won the conference title in track. And I eventually became one of the fastest sprinters in the school and the conference.

The self disciple that I was learning on the track I soon applied to a sport no high school in the state at that time had even considered – weight lifting. At the age of 15 I constructed a make shift workout room in our garage, and set to work after school at my own routine. What was especially inspiring was to see the rapid changes in my body as I applied different routines. I also began taking various vitamin and protein supplements, which at this time were completely unknown to most people. And my parents had serious doubts about this whole project until they began to see the results, now beginning to make themselves dramatically evident in my body.

As my size and strength grew I was further inspired to get more serious about my workouts. By the age of 17 I was spending more than 2 hours 4 days a week lifting weights, eventually becoming one of strongest individuals in the Pacific Northwest for my size. My signature moves were a double body weight bench press, and one arm pull-ups (3 with each arm). I also did a 500 lb. dead lift at a body weight of 152.

Needless to say for a high school student in the mid1960’s this was rather unusual. With all the attention unfortunately came an attitude of arrogance. I began to think that there was nothing I couldn’t do, and that I could do no wrong. My persona became that of the “macho man”.

As I explored this new terrain on the physical level I felt a growing confidence to become more daring in other areas as well, and I began to challenge authority. I began to question the ideas that my teachers/priests were telling us. Specifically I was increasingly dissatisfied with their standard answers regarding the whole concept of Good and Evil, Divine Punishment and Reward. My questions revolved around my sense of justice. I thought that if God put human beings in a place of eternal punishment for murder that might be just, but casting a boy into the same place of eternal punishment for missing church on Sunday, or giving himself sexual pleasure began to appear both unjust and illogical.

Such concerns grew in intensity, until one day like a bolt out of the blue, I realized: "There Is No Hell!" I speculated that probably the original intent behind the message was that individuals would simply reap what they sowed, whether in this life or the next. This seemed to make perfect sense to me, the punishment or reward in every case would be somehow determined by the nature of the action itself. Anyway, I simply no longer believed in eternal damnation, and no one could convince me otherwise.

Although exhilarated with my discovery, little did I know at the time, it began a process that would eventually unravel my carefully constructed Christian World.

The inevitable "showdown" came several months later. I continued to go to Mass and receive the Sacraments, seeing no other options. I was like an adolescent not yet ready to leave home. But then one afternoon something happened. While confessing to the head priest of our parish my predisposition for sexually playing with my girlfriend, he interrupted to tell me point blank: "if you continue this kind of behavior, you should leave the Church!"

At first I was shocked at such an extreme attitude. Personally, I couldn't see anything “that” wrong with my behavior.  However, this was the knife that cut the final thread. The timing was perfect. When I walked out of the church that afternoon, I didn't walk out as a “fallen away Catholic". I walked out as free man, able to make such simple decisions about my behavior for myself. I no longer needed the parental approval of the Church.

After high school I enrolled in a small college that specialized in teacher education. I majored in Biology. I was still lifting weights and still questioning my early Christian programming. I knew what I definitely didn’t believe in, but I wasn’t really sure what I did believe in. I was increasingly frustrated and drank alcohol on weekends and sometimes committed random acts of vandalism. I felt as if I was loosing control. After one such episode I decided to seek psychological counseling; I felt I really needed someone to talk to. This proved to be somewhat helpful. The doctor however also gave me a prescription for tranquilizers which I took on an ever increasing dosage. 

 It was during the summer vacation after my first year in college that became a big turning point in my life. The first incident occurred one night as a close friend and I were provoked into a fight by two larger and older guys who had been drinking. We however were both sober but it didn’t take much to set us off. My friend took on one of the guys who initiated the first blow, but it really wasn’t much of a fight as my friend had been an all star half back on our football team in high school and he was still in great physical shape. As for me I took off my jacket to do battle revealing a stunning physic and the other guy panicked. He got a piece of lead pipe out of his car and started waving it around. I moved in and grabbed his arm to get the pipe, but in the ensuing scuffle he managed a glancing blow to the side of my head. At this point the adrenaline kicked in and I landed a punch to his jaw that dropped him – unconscious before he hit the ground. But at this point rather than walking away, I was completely swept up in a wave of pent up rage that really had nothing to do with the fight, and I continued to pound on his prostrate body with my fists. My friend had to intervene and pull me off him. We immediately left the scene leaving both guys unconscious. We later heard that they were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

This incident really scared me. I had not been drinking and yet I completely lost control. And further I realized that at that moment I could have actually killed this person. This realization was very disturbing and knew I couldn’t continue down this same road without getting into some serious trouble, and not just with the law.

Well, it wasn’t too much longer when my road did in fact take a dramatic and completely unexpected turn; for year was 1967, and this was "the summer of love". Two of my close friends returned from their respective schools in New York and San Francisco, and "turned me on" to marijuana. It was a beautiful warm summer night and we walked into a heavily wooded area. We sat down on the ground surrounded by trees and they lit up a pipe. I didn’t know what to expect. But after a few tokes my mind seemed to turn 180 degrees to the inside, and I could clearly see now just how angry and violent I had become. I was also filled with shame at the persona that I adopted so long ago. I saw so plainly “macho man” had become a real asshole. That night he disappeared as the smoke drifted away. ( Consequently I stopped lifting weights, drinking alcohol and I stopped taking the tranquilizers as well.)

 But the next day, after reflecting on this unorthodox therapy session the sudden and stunning realization hit me: "My God! I just committed a felony, the social equivalent of a mortal sin. And if I was discovered, I would be consigned to the fires of hell - in this case - prison." This was almost too much for me to comprehend. What I had done with my friends the night before, would actually be classified on the same level of crime as murder, bank robbery or rape. Being considered a crime at all however, was already beyond my sense of fairness and logic. So, not only had I turned my back on the laws and beliefs of the Church, I was now well on my way to turning my back to the laws and beliefs of Society. For at the moment, justice appeared as a joke, and I was introduced to feelings of paranoia.

 I knew beyond all doubts, that what I had experienced was something positive and healing, but the culture in which I lived was calling it evil. This contradiction in values was very confusing. I could not doubt my own subjective experience, yet at the same time it was very hard for me to accept the idea that everyone else was truly that ignorant. Wasn’t this supposed to be a scientifically enlightened society?

It seemed to me that I was now living in a world that was completely alien from the one I grew up in. The Church condemned me for my sexuality. Society condemned me for my choice of smoking material, and I began to wonder if I wasn't caught up in some kind of nightmare.

It was also however, later on that summer that I received something that changed the course of my life for the next 18 years. I discovered Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. This book gave me an opportunity to see Life from a new direction - the East.

            This Eastern perspective truly proved to be a revelation. For up until then, my experience with the priests and my teachers was that they all talked about God, but could never relate to God as a living experience in their own lives. I remember at one point I couldn’t bear to listen to any more talk of God, because it all seemed so abstract and irrelevant to my own daily life. Going to church was like being invited to a banquet and all they did was talk about the food without ever getting around to actually serving a meal. Where was the real living experience? This only increased my sense of hunger and frustration; and I looked around wondering if anyone was experiencing the same thing. And now after reading Yogananda’s book, I realized I was not alone, and I knew in my heart in what direction I wanted to go.

On returning to school in the fall, I changed my major from Biology to Philosophy, totally against my father's sense of economic priorities. I was introduced to the major philosophers of the West. But I was simply put off by the convoluted complexity of their arguments.

For my mid-term paper I wrote about my own Philosophy, combining both East and West to present a new definition of human existence. The teacher who had a Ph.D. in Philosophy was very impressed. In fact, she invited me to her house for tea. In the course of our four-hour conversation - the first of many - she informed me that she could see no need for me to continue to come her class. Instead, she loaded me up with books from her own library, and I set out with the enthusiasm of an explorer in a new found land.

I dove right in with the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and various Buddhist Sutras. It felt as if these works were directly speaking to me, from the inside out. And it was at this time, that I made my first attempts to sit quietly and peer into the darkness of my mind and listen for the voice of silence.

I was now in the middle of my second year of college, when one evening a friend walked through the door with some LSD. About a month before, a medical doctor, Dr. Cohen from Southern California had been to our school explaining his personal research with LSD. It had been still legal at that time, and he had taken it several times under carefully controlled circumstances. His conclusion was that LSD could not only prove useful as a psychological tool, but he believed it allowed one to enter expanded states of consciousness related to Samadhi or Satori of the Eastern Religions. So now that the opportunity came knocking at my door, I choose to open it.

A year or so later, after several attempts to put into words what I had experienced,

 

 I wrote a poem called "A Birthday Song", part of which I think is appropriate here:                    

 

Silence,

Came and whispered in the night,

When Seraph and Cherub tongues were frozen

And the temple's red candle cold.

Cryptic calling of the Spheres,

Singing with an ancient song

That set the world alight,

And set my feet

On my one true path of old...

 

After long and languid years

I stood alone, naked

Looking straight into the new morning sun

Smiling . . . Because I had all things now.

 

I had definitely concluded a particular part of my life’s journey. I had found what I had set out to find, and there was no longer any point for me to stay in school. It had served its purpose. And now I began to move in a different direction entirely. The next day I officially completed all the necessary paperwork. My formal education ended in the middle of the second term of my second year. And as the then popular saying went: I had "tuned in, turned on and dropped out." (In my last completed term of college I had a 3.8 grade point average.)

My new direction was motivated by the fact that I wanted to repeat the LSD experience or something as profound, without taking any drugs. I knew what I experienced was not simply the result of a chemical in my bloodstream, but had something to do with the nature of the Mind itself. I suspected that the LSD only served as a catalyst, a key to unlock the door. In itself however, it was not the door, or the room on the other side.

Another motive for my quest was that I didn't want to leave the room on the other side. I didn't want to "come back down".  The culture I was living in I thought was deeply disturbed, and I felt like my everyday life was a prisoner of time and space. I now wanted to move into more ecstatic realms. Fortunately for me, I knew the answer was not in taking more drugs, or taking them more often, or even looking for the right drug. Rather, I felt my path was through the technology that had evolved over thousands of years in the East - Yoga. And it certainly appealed to my sense of independence and self discipline.

 According to all the books on Eastern Religions I had read, human beings using various techniques of Yoga could enter altered states of consciousness and remain there indefinitely. This was the tremendous lure India suddenly had back in the sixties. A lot of young people all over the world had come to the same realization about drugs, the nature of consciousness, and about Yoga. What they did with this insight, or to what extent they felt motivated to explore it further, varied of course from individual to individual.        

However for me, I felt like a moth being irresistibly drawn to the flame. For I felt this direction to be none other than the next evolutionary step for the human race. The ultimate and final frontier was not Space, as the gospel of Science had been preaching, but the Mind. So as the astronauts were preparing for their trip to the Moon, I began unconsciously preparing for a trip to India. 

Now there was one annoying detail that kept forcing itself into my awareness like an obnoxious housefly. The society at large had plans of its own; as to where in the East I was to go. Somehow they thought now that I was no longer in school, my time could be best spent killing people in Viet Nam.

I closely examined the theory of a "righteous war", and contrary to all the teachers and preachers and experts, I came to the firm conclusion that there was no longer any such thing as a “righteous war”. What I came to believe with all my heart was that war was actually a mental and spiritual disease. Jesus is recorded to have said in one of the Gospels that ‘he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword”. I’ve come to see that these words are not to be taken in the most literal sense, because most definitely all those who kill another human being are not killed themselves, but rather he was pointing to a more subtle truth. In other words he was saying that all those who kill another, actually come to loose their own soul; they loose that most vital connection or relationship to the spiritual dimension of life and move further into contraction, insecurity and fear.

And this was exactly what I was witnessing on the national scene. In a war where thousands of innocent people were being killed each year, there were no days of national mourning, no ashes and sack cloth, no fasting. Oh no, Americans were celebrating their successes with each higher body count. Even the so called “enlightened” educators of the empire turned a blind eye as a lone Buddhist monk sat down and set himself on fire to draw attention to the atrocities being committed. Captured by the blind, ideological fanaticism of  “the end justifies the means”, I saw the West as a total moral failure. Rather harsh criticism from one so young, but at the time this was exactly what I was feeling. And I wanted no part of it. So for me- joining the military was completely out of the question.

Now having been born in Canada, I moved from Oregon to British Columbia where I lived with my grandparents. They had an extra room in their basement, and I got a job nearby. I read all the books on Yoga I could find, and I began a daily routine of Yoga postures and meditation.

One of the books that greatly influenced my thinking and practice at this point was a book called Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. From its numerous and rather complicated techniques I put together a personalized routine of yoga practice involving breathing and visualization techniques.

After several months of this practice I began to experience a beautiful light illuminating the darkness of my meditations. It was a violet color, not unlike the color of a white object under ultraviolet light. Much later I realized that what I was seeing was the throat chakra, the Visudra Chakra.

It was about this time that I grew restless. I felt I needed to find others of like mind and practice, but India was so far away and I didn’t even know anyone there that I could contact. So I decided to write to the Self Realization Fellowship, the organization that Yogananda had founded. I sent a letter to Daya Mata, one of the original disciples of Yogananda and now head of the organization, asking for some advice.

After several weeks, I got a reply form one of the monks in SRF saying that because I addressed the letter personally to Daya Mata, they felt obliged to give it directly to her, but the usual procedure in handled by the administrative staff. Her reply to may letter was that “she will pray that God reveals to me what it is that I should do”.

By the time I actually receive this letter it was already an accomplished fact. Three or four days before, while meditating one morning I got a clear and powerful thought suddenly flash into my head like a bolt of lightning: “Go to India”. The force of this one thought was such that I leapt to my feet in utter amazement. There were no more doubts. I started making plans for the trip immediately.

In a year's time, I had saved enough money to go to India. In April of 1969 I found my way to Dakshineswar, a small village on the banks of the Ganges River about 10 miles north of Calcutta. And it was here - that I felt like I had finally come home.

Dakshineswar was famous all over India for its temple dedicated to the black Goddess Kali. Kali is an ancient image of the Divine who was worshiped in India at least a thousand years before the Aryans or Indo-Europeans arrived, and thousands of years before History officially began.

In the last century, the great mystic Ramakrishna worshiped this Goddess of Dakshineswar. The dark image in the temple came alive and spoke to him as a loving mother to her son. He was regarded all over India as a great saint.

One of the stories he used to tell his followers and perhaps the one that best reflects my radical thinking at the time, was about a family man who was spiritually drawn to the life of renunciation and the way of a wandering ascetic or “sadhu” as they are known in India. Every now and then he would in times of exasperation, remark to his wife that he’d like to go into the forest. She would just ignore him and knew that this would eventually pass.

Well, one day while taking his bath he was complaining to their servant about something and once again brought up the idea that he would be so much better off worshipping God alone out in the forest. His wife happened to over- hear this remark and just couldn’t help herself from making the comment: “you always talk about renunciation. You are such a big talker. What do you know about renunciation?”

Without saying a word her husband got out of his bath, naked and still wet, he walked out the front door and was never heard from again.

As extreme as this example is, it is helpful to understand that for many years this man was my hero, and this will in many respect serve to explain some of the challenges that lay ahead in my own life story.

            Well, for now I was staying in the guesthouse of the Ramakrishna Mission at the Kali Temple. And I soon came to discover the room next to mine was occupied by a very unusual fellow indeed. He was a Tantric Yogi named Swami Pratapananda. He was about 50 years of age and spoke perfect English. And his custom was to rise every morning at 4:30 A.M., stand out on our common balcony and chant at the top of his voice a greeting to God. He awoke the roosters all over Dakshineswar - as well as me!

            After a week or so he developed the habit of sleeping in my room. He claimed it was a bit cooler in my room. None of the rooms in the guesthouse back then were air conditioned and the heat was extreme no doubt. So at night he would come in and comfortably stretch out on the concrete floor with nothing but a blanket under him. I was impressed.

            Equally impressive however, were his stories of his travels throughout India and Tibet. He told me that in Tibet he studied in various gompas or monasteries some of which had extreme tests as a means of an entrance exam. At one such gompa the monks took him to a place where they ceremonially disposed of bodies by cutting them up, feeding them to the local wild life. It was in the middle of the night and the monks sat in a circle around him chanting. They called down the spirits that inhabited the area to come and attach him. He said that it was no fantasy. He even sustained physical scratches and burses. And this went on all night long. He had to rely on his own powerful mantras or chants to withstand the attacks not just physically, but mentally as well. For the real effort directed against him was to drive him insane.

Having survived the night long ordeal he then was admitted into their school, where he learned various techniques of what he called “the black arts”. This meant using one’s psychic abilities to gain control over others. Even though he knew this kind of technology he said that he would never personally use it, because from what he has seen and experienced, this kind of negative energy always comes back in some way to harm the one using it.

Pratapananda had a Western education with a degree in Medicine. However, he was now living as a wandering ascetic, healing people with mantras or sound, instead of drugs or surgery. I personally witnessed the miraculous cure of a man, who had been declared by the Medical profession as hopelessly insane. Pratapananda performed an elaborate Tantric ritual every morning in the man's room for forty days. The Swami would chant his mantras in what could only be described as a torrent of sound: a continual stream of sound at such a volume, that I could scarcely believe that it came from a human. He sounded more like a machine, as if someone turned on a generator or turbine of some kind. I could actually feel the effects of his chanting physically, as he continued to pour out a stream of energy for almost 40 minutes each day.

Needless to say, I was amazed by this performance. I asked him to teach me some techniques in meditation, but he refused, saying that his Guru never gave him permission to teach. Instead he gave me a list of books to read, and encouraged me to continue with my own methods, which by this time had shown some signs of progress.  I was in fact experiencing some very profound alterations in consciousness, and sometimes I felt so light that it seemed that I was simply floating above the ground.

One afternoon while at the Kali temple, I had a very unusual experience. I was rather absent-mindedly staring out over a pond, when a beautiful parrot flew across my field of vision. It was as if, just for a moment, he drew an invisible curtain aside and I peered into my own future. In a matter of a few seconds I knew the general outline of what I would do for the next 7 years.

I was not going to stay in India for the rest of my life, as I had planned. (I literally had come with a one way ticket.) I would return to the U.S., refuse the military draft and consequently go to jail. I would join the organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, the Self-Realization Fellowship, and eventually move to Southern California.

            I felt very peaceful and calm for about an hour or so afterward, until I started to doubt my mental condition: maybe it was the heat; the food; cultural shock or something that finally snapped upstairs?

 I definitely didn't want to leave India. After all - I just got there! Then there was this crazy idea about going to prison for draft evasion. I certainly didn't consider myself a Gandhi, or a martyr for any cause. I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. 

            Several days later a young couple approached the Swami for some marriage counseling. Before he said anything, Pratapananda carefully examined the palms of their hand. I thought at the time, the scene could have been out of a movie or something. It seemed so staged. However when he spoke to them, unfortunately for me in Hindi, the look of amazement that came over their faces, really got my curiosity up. So when they left, I asked him if he could actually tell a person's future by the lines on one's hand. He replied, "the hands only served as a vehicle for tuning in with the person". I was impressed with this somewhat more sophisticated answer than the usual things I'd heard. So, I asked if he would look at my hand. After studying my right hand for about 30 seconds, he told me that I was a bit of a rebel. My parents couldn't understand me at all, and this had created a big conflict.

 Well, there was simply no way he could have known about my relationship with my parents. Maybe it had been simply a lucky guess. However, what he told me next was something that was completely contrary to my own self-image at the time. He said I would get married when I was thirty years old, and I would have two children. I immediately replied, "No way!”

For the past year or so, I had completely convinced myself that my future was in India living as an ascetic or sadhu, completely free of political, social or family responsibilities. My goal was to meditate six to eight hours a day, and remain lost in more ecstatic realms. However, now that I was in India, I began to receive these strange messages that didn't fit in with this whole program. This was very disturbing.

After Pratapananda told me of my future marriage, he had seen my tears of disappointment and then added almost as a consolation: “one day you will be a spiritual teacher in the West.” 

  After about a month at the Kali Temple, I moved just a few blocks down the road to Yogoda Math, the headquarters of Yogananda's ashrams in India. At the time, I really didn't fully appreciate the privilege of being able to stay in these facilities. I found out only later, that neither the Ramakrishna Mission nor the Yogoda ashram was open to the general public or non-members of their respective organizations. I guess the intensity of my enthusiasm was rather hard to deny.

 By this time, I was meditating for a considerable length each morning and evening. I was eating only rice, a few vegetables and coconuts. I had long hair and a beard, and talked only of philosophy and metaphysics. In other words, I accurately fit the image of a Sadhu rather than the typical Western tourist with camera around his neck.

While I was staying in Yogananda's Ashram, I seriously began to consider my return to the United States. I felt so at home in the Ashram, several times I cried while thinking about leaving.

 However, over the course of the next month, the vision at the Kali Temple started to penetrate my heart. I began to see the wisdom of its direction. But it seemed to be the height of irony that I came to India looking for a meditative life, only to be directed back to America.

At the time of my decision to finally leave India, I didn't have much money left and I didn’t have a return plane ticket. So I decided to travel the cheapest way possible up to England. Where I felt I could most easily find employment in London. I didn't have much money for food or hotels. So for the next three weeks I traveled by bus and train almost non-stop, eating not much more than bread and tea. 

After three weeks of extraordinary coincidences, or what most people would call "good luck", I was able to make it up to London where the very next day I found a job. For the next four months I saved money for the trip back to the United States.

While in England, I had an opportunity to meet Daya Mata, the president of the Self-Realization Fellowship. She had stopped in London on her way to India. I told her I had just come from Dakshineswar, where I had been staying in the Yogoda Math, and that I would like to receive initiation into Yogananda's Path of Kriya Yoga.

 She told me I'd have to first receive weekly correspondence lessons for a year before I'd be eligible for Kriya Yoga. I had been thinking that she could give me the initiation before she left for India. My disappointment was impossible to hide.

 She then looked up, off to one side for a few seconds and then looking back to me she said, "It'll be in about two years".

I left somewhat in unbelief. Even though there was no logical way for her to arrive at her conclusion, it did in fact develop exactly as she said.

Upon arriving back in the United States, I found I had without my knowledge been drafted into the military. And because I hadn’t responded when called, there was a warrant out for my arrest.

I went to see the best draft lawyer in the State of Oregon at the time. I explained my situation. Much to my distress, he advised me to go back to Canada. He explained that since I had my Canadian citizenship reinstated while in Canada, I had lost my American citizenship. Consequently, the judge could give me up to five years in prison and when I got out, the government could deport me back to Canada.

While my father’s parents had briefly been looking for work in the United States, he was born in Hillsboro Oregon. Consequently he was the only American citizen in the family. When he eventually move to the U.S. with his family, he could then claim his sons as American citizens when they turned 16 years of age; which was the case for both my brother and I.

I now struggled long and hard with this problem. If I had indeed lost my American citizenship as the attorney had said, then maybe the government might very well not let me stay in the country after all. If this was the case then for me it would be better to go back to Canada. What it came down to, was whether or not I really believed my experience at the Kali Temple was true: Would I really move to California as the vision indicated?

 Contrary to the attorney's advice, in a week’s time I walked into the local police station and turned myself in. After a long night in jail, I was released to await my day in court.

A month later, I received a letter from Washington D.C. informing me the act of having my Canadian citizenship reinstated, did not invalidate my American citizenship. I reread the letter several times in utter amazement. I had been told on several occasions by so called experts, that one cannot be a dual citizen in America. Now, the government in effect was telling me I could!

  I've turned this over in my head for many years, constructing various rational explanations. I won't go into them here, but this judgment on the part of the government for whatever reason, gave me the confidence necessary to face my coming ordeal.

A few months later, I was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 18 months of community service work. Almost true to the letter of some ancient script concerning the mythic hero's journey, my descent into the Underworld was about to begin.

 The last vestiges of my childhood world, where there was a government by and for the people, where justice ruled the land and people treated one another with dignity and respect, were all shattered by the sudden slam of the steel cage door behind me.

 I came to realize there was a connection between the Americans who were bombing the people of Viet Nam into oblivion, and the Americans who were putting people like me in cages. It was ignorance, plain and simple. They all had turned their backs to their own humanity, ignored the inner dimensions of life, and had become unthinking machines like so many units stamped out in the industrial world of mass production.

 But why? Why were millions of people so ignorant? Why couldn't they see through the propaganda, the lies, and the deceptions? This presented a spiritual and intellectual challenge that I have been working with ever since. For me to simply say that they didn't know what they were doing wasn't good enough. I needed to know the cause of such blindness. I had to come to some deeper level of understanding before I could begin to feel forgiveness. 

 Admittedly, this has been a slow and arduous process. However, in time one can actually come to a point in one's understanding, where he or she can begin to realize, one's deepest wound can sometimes be one's greatest blessing. 

My prison term began in May of 1970. I was sent to a labor camp connected with the Oregon State Penitentiary. The camp was in the middle of a forest, which had once been destroyed in the 1930's by the largest forest fire in the Pacific Northwest. The prisoners in the camp were thinning out the new trees for the Forestry Department. 

There was a large assortment of men in the prison camp, with backgrounds that involved murder, armed robbery, rape, and about 6 of us who refused the draft. One thing they all had in common, they were all glad to be doing their time in the camp, rather than behind walls of a Penitentiary. Myself, I wasn't so sure.

 Of the few menacing characters that were in the camp, the one that soon appeared to me as the most dangerous was the warden. He had a reputation of brutality, and after only a limited exchange with the man, I realized the rumors were probably pretty close to the truth.

 For reasons only known to him, he decided not to allow the draft resistors any books to be brought from the outside. The camp library consisted of a handful of cheap westerns and no one else had any books that I was interested in. This situation proved difficult for me.

 However, I did try to make good use of my spare time. During the evenings, I would go off by myself and meditate near a small pond. The camp was located in a beautiful setting, and it felt wonderful just sitting there listening to the birds singing, and the occasional frog that would join in from time to time.

After several weeks of this practice, I had several dreams of Yogananda. I felt very inspired by these events, but on the other hand the message I received was very disturbing: "I should leave the camp!" 

 At the time I was afraid to make waves, especially after having just arrived. Also, I didn't have any idea where I might end up if I refused to cooperate. So I tried to ignore the message.

Over the next several weeks I grew increasingly unhappy with the fact that I had nothing to read. I simply wanted to make better use of my time. Eventually I told the warden I wanted to leave the camp, and that I wasn't going to work anymore. Naturally, he wanted to know the reason why, but I refused to tell him anything more than I didn't like the camp. I definitely didn't want a personal confrontation with this man. In his own mind he thought someone in the camp was threatening me. I told him that this was not the case, but I could see he wasn’t exactly convinced. I felt that this was just as well.

In less than 24 hours, my probation officer drove out to tell me that if I "rocked the boat", the judge might very well give me a longer sentence, and I might find myself in a cell in a Federal Penitentiary. I definitely had second thoughts and the next day I went back to work. I continued my normal routine for the next couple of days.

 Then one evening while meditating out by the pond, again I felt a strong message to leave. I began to argue with myself. This situation had to be resolved once and for all. I demanded a sign as to what I should do.

 At the time I was sitting at the bottom of a hill with my back to the top, when all at once I heard a loud crashing sound. I jumped up to see at the top of the hill two prisoners running away, and a large boulder about 4 feet in diameter came bouncing towards me. I dashed to get behind a tree as the boulder bounce by.

 My very first impulse was anger, but then I suddenly realized: didn't I just demand a sign?! I walked back up the hill with the whole question of what I was going to do, completely resolved. The next day I stopped working.

            In two days, a couple of Federal Marshals came and got me and took me to a county jail. I didn't get a longer sentence as I feared.

I hadn't spent more than a week in the county jail, when I met a young man about my age named Chris. Rather than pay a traffic fine, Chris chose to spend some time in jail. I learned that he also practiced yogic meditation every day. Needless to say, we got along very well.

However, he all too soon for me, finished his jail time and left. Two days later, he came back to the jail, and donated nearly sixty books from his own personal library. I just couldn't believe it! I felt overwhelmed. This had been my original desire concerning my time in jail: to be able to spend it reading good books. Miraculously, it had just materialized in the most important detail.

I now included in my daily routine, eight hours of reading. I felt extremely grateful that my inner direction proved to be so reliable, especially in the face of such difficult circumstances.

 I had played for relatively high stakes, but I went with my inner guidance rather than to give into the threats of external circumstances. This was a dramatic lesson for me, and I felt a sense of personal triumph. Many times, in the course of some uncomfortable situations in my life, I have reflected back to this event and gained a sense of personal strength. Yet, to the rest of society I was now a convicted felon - barely human, someone to be perpetually kept on the periphery of "normal" society.

When I was released from jail, a friend of mine got me a job working as a janitor in a nursing home. This would satisfy the remaining part of my sentence, working in community service for the next 18 months.

I joined the Self-Realization Fellowship and started receiving their correspondence lessons. I received their weekly instructions through the mail for the next 6 years.

 It is a rather formidable undertaking for anyone to actually practice the techniques as outlined in the course. I can honestly say that I followed the program completely, spending time everyday with each technique as prescribed. I had many encouraging experiences along the way, and these inspired me to continue.

Upon receiving the first meditation technique in the series, I experienced a dream/vision of myself in India. I was sitting in front of a mud and grass hut, practicing this same technique. As I regained waking consciousness, I was actually performing the technique in physical reality.

 There are of course different ways to interpret this experience, but the impact it had on me was profound. I now felt I was finally moving closer to a goal I had set out to achieve many life times ago. With this encouragement, I was soon meditating two hours a day.

Not long after I received my next meditation technique, Yogananda came to me in a dream/vision and we hugged each other, and were simply lost in joy.

 I now considered Yogananda to be my Guru and his teachings my path to a greater Self-awareness.

After this experience with Yogananda, it seemed as if many more of my dreams took on a whole new dimension and world started to come alive. I remained increasingly more conscious during sleep, and I had several experiences that appeared much more lucid or real than anything I had experienced in my waking state.

 Over time, I began to see some truth to an old metaphysical theory: that our physical, waking reality is but a shadow of another dimension. In this other dimension or Dreamtime we are able to experience our true nature more completely.

 (So, for more than 40 years I have been exploring this area of life and recording much of what I have experienced. Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of this vital part of their existence. I believe however, there is now a worldwide phenomenon that people simply can no longer ignore. The Dreamtime is breaking into people's awareness with increasing clarity and strength, opening up minds and hearts to new vistas of Life's expanding reality.)

One year after receiving the weekly lessons from the Self-Realization Fellowship, I received the Kriya Yoga technique of meditation. This was the main technique that Yogananda and his line of gurus practiced and taught, and this had been my goal.

Daya Mata had indeed, correctly predicted when I was to finally begin this practice. It had now been two years since we met in London.

 I further realized I had done much to prepare myself in these two years for this important step. Consequently, I was now more able to make use of what I was given. For immediately my meditations took a real leap in their effectiveness and depth.

After several weeks of Kriya Yoga practice, I experienced an awakening of the Ajna Chakra, the so-called "Third Eye". This is not a technique of visualization or imagination; rather it is an energy event. When the energy of the body is brought up into the brain and is focused within the central part of the forehead, the ordinary darkness behind closed eyes gives way to light. The light of the Spiritual Eye has specific colors and dimensions.

 Many Yoga books currently on the market give lip service to the Third Eye, but many people writing about it have never experienced it for themselves. They will give you great theories and impressive diagrams, but if once you have experienced this Chakra for yourself, it's obvious they simply don't know what they are writing about.

The number of Chakras has varied from culture to culture, but the number most commonly agreed upon is seven. Also, there are a wide variety of theories associated with the meaning and function of these energy centers and more than enough discrepancies in their actual description: shape, color, sound, etc. And as one who has actually experience them all for myself, I have come to realize that there has been a tremendous amount of emphasis given to these centers which is simply misplaced.

The Chakras have been presented as so many steps on the stairway to heaven. And unless one ascends this specific structure, one can never really be sure of enlightenment, salvation, or whatever. The down side to accepting this type of programming, is that it so effectively lends itself to becoming just another "yardstick" by which one judges "spiritual progress", and that if you don't see the Chakras after years of effort, you might very well become discouraged. You might blame the technology, or even far worse, you might begin to feel that there is something inherently wrong with you, because spiritually "you don't measure up".

I firmly believe that I have spent these many years of effort, so that I can now truthfully relate from personal experience, that the importance of perceiving the Chakras is tremendously exaggerated. In the course of your own exploration you might very well perceive one or more of them. But to make their perception into a necessity to your "spiritual development" is simply a distortion of the Truth. They might serve as convenient signposts along the interior highway, but by no means a destination in and of themselves.

Not too long after receiving Kriya Yoga, my time for the Government’s requirement of community service was up. While I was in India, unknown to me at the time, my parents sold our home in Oregon and moved to Southern California. Several weeks before my probation was finished, I got a letter from my father asking me to consider moving down to Southern California. He had a job waiting for me.

 So there it was! The last component of the vision at the Kali Temple - arriving right on schedule.  I still could hardly believe it; I never mentioned anything to my parents about my intention to move South. In 3 weeks time I had everything I owned in my car, and was headed for Southern California. 

I lived in the Newport Beach area, and regularly attended the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Fullerton. I felt very comfortable with the services there.

 My meditations continued to improve, and I had many experiences that encouraged me along the way. In the course of the next several years, I had more dream/visions of Yogananda, and several intense experiences with his Gurus, Sri Yukteswar.

After 4 years in Southern California, I had completed the entire Self-Realization Program and received initiation into all four levels of Kriya Yoga. I finally felt I accomplished one of my goals: to obtain the best Yoga technology available. Now all I had to do was to continue to apply what I had received.

            At the same time however, I was growing more dissatisfied with the overcrowded and polluted conditions of Southern California. I felt I needed a better environment in which to live, and a lifestyle that was more compatible with the direction I was headed. For months I prayed and asked for guidance.

My answer finally came after weeks of intense inner turmoil. I decided to move to a Yoga Community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California.

The name of the community was Ananda Cooperative Village. It was made up of about a hundred people who felt the need to integrate their lives more closely with their ideals. They were all followers of Paramahansa Yogananda, and were attempting to apply his teachings to all aspects of their lives.

 The community was founded by Swami Kriyananda, who at one time was the vice president of Self-Realization Fellowship, and had personally studied with Yogananda for several years.

I was accepted into the Community, and I set up a teepee in the monastic section., Individuals living there felt drawn to practice the techniques of meditation more intensely and had dedicated their lives to the spiritual service of others. I now felt right at home.

 I was now able to meditate on a regular basis for about 5 hours a day; on occasion this extended to 8 or 9 hours. I felt blessed to be in such a beautiful and supportive environment.

 I had many wonderful experiences during this time of my life, and attained various levels of ecstasy. But nothing however, was permanent, nothing lasted. It was like taking drugs in a way, because I went up, but I also eventually came back down. So the cycle continued. I put out more effort and tried to meditate longer, but I began to feel this really wasn't the answer.

  Then one day, I reached a point of complete dissatisfaction with this continuous cycle. I decided to sit until something else happened, a breakthrough of some kind. After sitting for 10 hours or so, there it was: "There is no Santa Claus!" 

I suddenly realized the search for God or an ultimate state of consciousness was a game I was playing with myself. The whole program was based on the assumption that I lacked something, that I was somehow separated from God. I now simply understood this assumption to be false. My long and obsessive search collapsed. Several weeks later I wrote the following poem.

 

 

Fists - clenched.

Eyes - sore from a long fixed gaze.

Back - aching from the nightlong asana.

 

Something snapped there,

Parted, Disappeared.

 

The fist relaxed - The dilemma died.

The eyes opened - The illusion faded.

The back bent - The unceasing search ended.

 

The sun had risen,

And slowly I got up

Leaving the temple . . .

To walk the path of the open hand.

 

I now saw meditation completely different. Instead of being the search for Truth or God, I saw meditation now as part of the process of affirmation of an already present Natural Condition. This represented a profound turnabout, something close to 180 degrees, which consequently had repercussions in all other areas of my life.

Gradually, I began to feel out of step with others in the Community who were steadfastly committed to the search. Their deepest motivation for being in the Community was no longer my motivation, and my attempts at communicating my new orientation, proved unproductive and somewhat painful.

 I was still trying to understand this new direction for myself, and unable to put into words all the things that were coming up for me. I soon realized above all else, that what I was confronting here was not simply a matter of changing one's intellectual stance, but a fundamental change in one's vision of life.

This then, was the internal drama that was taking place. But there was also an external one being played out as well. The longer I stayed in the Community the more I came to realize that many people, especially those in key positions, saw Swami Kriyananda not in the role of a spiritual director or elder brother on the path as I did, but as their Guru, the one who would personally lead them to Self-Realization. Myself, I wasn't even close to that position. In fact, I was now headed in the opposite direction from that type of program.

After several months of inner turmoil, one night I had a dream/vision that helped regain my peace of mind. I was sitting on the floor of an empty room meditating. I opened my eyes to see a beautiful woman standing in front of me, dressed in a long white gown. It reminded me of a wedding dress. She held in her right hand a staff or wand. She reached out with it and lightly touched the top of my head. My whole being went into overwhelming bliss, and I lost consciousness. After sometime, I regained consciousness of the room only to find her gone. However, she had left me a note. She wrote that she would see me again, but I would be at Ananda a while longer. 

It wasn't too long after this; the external situation played itself out. I sold my teepee, and moved in with a good friend in the San Francisco Bay Area. After 2 years of my association with Ananda, I felt it was time for something completely different and I was exhilarated by a new sense of adventure.

Several months had passed, when one afternoon while browsing in a bookstore, a poster caught my attention. It referred to a person called the Advadhut, a completely free renunciate. I was more than a little curious, having read The Advadhut Gita only a matter of a few weeks ago with absolute delight.

 My attention really began to peak however, when I discovered the poster also contained a quote which I had at the time, posted on my bedroom wall: "There is no dissolution, no origination, none in bondage, none striving or aspiring for salvation, and none liberated. This is the highest truth".

 For me, this pretty much epitomized my disposition that had begun at the Ananda Community. And now, after reading this poster, it felt as if something definitely was happening here. I felt almost compelled to meet this person called the Advadhut.

I attended the next scheduled Satsang, or meeting. The teacher referred to himself as "Nome". I had to smile at the play on words, and for just a moment I wondered if this whole thing wasn't a joke, one that only someone familiar with Advaita Vedanta could appreciate.

 I entered a small basement room with about 10 other people. At one end of the room was a young man sitting cross-legged on the floor, meditating. His head was shaved and he wore an orange robe of a monk. I wasn't exactly impressed.

 The meditation ended, and everyone continued to sit in silence. After awhile I began to wonder if there was something wrong. No one was saying anything. And he just sat there smiling.

Over the course of the evening, I realized to my amazement the guy really had nothing to say. He didn't preach or teach. He simply answered questions. I thought this was refreshing. Nome's whole method was nothing but dialogue. Then I remembered all the great teachers of the world had used this same method.

            After listening intently for 30 or 40 minutes, I gathered the courage to wage my attack. I wanted to know right away "where this guy was coming from".

 I'm not really sure how long our dialogue lasted, but it was intense. I hit Nome with everything I had in my metaphysical arsenal. But he remained unaffected, answering my questions as if they were no more than the simple concerns of an over-anxious high school student. I was more than impressed, I was stunned.

For the next two months, I continued to attend the Satsangs three times a week. Metaphysically speaking, it seemed that I had found a new home.

 Gradually however, as I began to feel more confident in my own understanding, I spent less time with Nome. His whole message was that one should stop depending on external aids and props and simply rely more on one's own Self-Nature. So the more clearly I heard the message, the less I felt I had to go somewhere else to be reminded of it.

 Evidently, such subtleties of his message escaped the rest of his followers. Upon visiting the Satsangs years later, even though the number of people had grown considerably, the same core people remained. That in itself was alright, but they were still asking the same questions!

 I did however; continue to see Nome on a weekly basis for about 2 years. At the same time I faithfully continued the meditation techniques I received from the Self-Realization Fellowship. I was spending about 3 to 4 hours a day meditating at this point. But consciously I began to shorten this time. Being increasingly aware that I no longer had to "work at it", I simply began to relax more into the process that was already present.

One night, it was very late. I was sitting in meditation and I was tired. I laid back and went to sleep. However in my dream, I was still sitting in meditation. Then the room disappeared, and I was staring up into a huge ball of golden light. In very intense white light, words were materializing out of the ball of gold. As they were being formed, a voice would speak them. I recognized the voice as my own, but it possessed a feeling of love that I didn't recognize as my own in my day to day life. The words that were spoken and written simultaneously were these: "I HAVE BEEN WITH YOU ALWAYS  . . .  ALWAYS WILL I BE WITH YOU."

I then regained physical consciousness. This experience left me encouraged and inspired as one might imagine, but at the same it presented a challenge to my whole way of thinking at the time. According to the non-dual philosophy of Vedanta that was Nome’s message, the Self is manifesting in one’s life as the consciousness that witnesses all phenomena that arises externally as well as internally, waking or in the dream state. This was after all the supreme message of the Upanishads and it had seemed obvious to me at the time.

However, this experience demonstrated to me in no uncertain terms that the real situation was a bit more complicated than that. I was indeed the one witnessing the fact that I was meditating and that I also was aware of being in the dream state, but then who exactly was addressing me from beyond this frame of reference?

Through this experience it now appeared that the witnessing consciousness of the “I” was but one manifestation of The Self, or Soul, which also yet remained beyond my present identity. This now made sense to me. It seemed a little preposterous that our entire Soul could manifest completely in this one limited form in time and space. This didn’t deny the inherent spiritual dimension of the witnessing consciousness, but simply presented a more complete picture.

Once again I began to feel a little out of step with the teacher and the group I was with. It was as if this curriculum was nearing its end and another about to begin. And the door that finally opened to a new and expanded horizon, was opened by the person that was eventually to become my wife.

I began dating Judy shortly after I met Nome. In fact our first time out together, I took Judy to see him. At first I thought my sole direction would be with Nome, but a much more intense and comprehensive initiation was in store for me through Judy.

            When it came to females in general, I was still an ascetic, who thought sex was something to be conquered and women were obstacles to that conquest. I had pretty much lived my life up to this point as a monk. This had been my life-long programming, going all the way back to being an altar boy in the Catholic Church.

When I left the Church I no longer saw sex as a sin, but when I moved into the Eastern Religions, sex was still portrayed as a problem, an obstacle to higher states of awareness. Yogananda's guru, Sri Yukteswar, advocated the use of ice cubes applied to the genitals to alleviate the sexual urge.

            With such negative programming, it was inevitable there would be problems in store for our relationship.

One day, I suddenly remembered Swami Pratapananda’s prophecy that at thirty years of age I would be married. I was thirty years old when I met Judy. We weren't actually married until shortly after I became thirty-one. Still, I thought it was a remarkable prediction.

We were married only three months after we started dating. As incredibly naive as I was, I thought because we loved each other, why wait any longer? Compatibility remained an issue only with regards to superficial concerns.

Alone, I had moved from peak to peak in the mountain range of my spiritual journey, conquering the heights, touching the sky, basking in the light. I did not realize there was a whole other side to spirituality. The scriptures I read did not mention it, or if they had I could not see it. My teachers did not talk about it, because they themselves did not know. It had to do with the wisdom not of the mountain, but of the valley. It was the journey into the depths, not the heights of the human soul. It moved one not into the sky, but reconnected one back to the earth, not just basking in the light, but also dissolving into the darkness. It was beyond the realm of the masculine hero's conquests. It was the Feminine Dimension of Life.

This then, was my initiation through my relationship with Judy. I had to confront areas I had previously ignored, denied and repressed. Not only was my sexuality involved, but my relationship with my body and my emotions. I discovered I had a lot of work to do.

 The challenge was sometimes frightening, and sometimes I became angry, confused and afraid. I no longer had any map to indicate where I was going, no convenient scriptural support that I could turn to. I had no guides to show me the many obstacles.             

However, there were two major miracles in my life that occurred at this stage of my journey. These involved the birth of our two daughters.

 Our first daughter Francesca was born at a birthing center attended by a nurse midwife. She was born in a room welcoming her with candlelight and incense. She never cried during her birth.

Immediately after her arrival I put her in a small tub of warm water, so that she could relax in an element she had long been familiar with. After only about five minutes in the water, she looked up at me with large dark eyes and smiled.

To participate in bringing a new human being into the world, for me, was a spiritual experience of the highest order with a tremendous rush of tangible energy. In birth, the Invisible dimension of the Great Mystery becomes visible. The Spirit becomes flesh and lives among us. What a miracle and a blessing if only we have the eyes to see it!

 This experience of Francesca's birth certainly had a dramatic impact on our life. We did everything we could to avoid babysitters and day care, and I had the opportunity to spend a year at home with Francesca. I found it particularly intense at times, as this new role conflicted with my conventional masculine programming. But the benefits of the process were invaluable. I was introduced to aspects of myself I could not have gained in any other way.

The birth of our second daughter, Radha, definitely involved a little more drama than what we experience with Francesca, but certainly no less miraculous. 

Judy was only two months away from her 42nd birthday when Radha arrived. The fact that Judy began to have an elevated blood pressure meant that we couldn't have a home birth like we had planned. Radha was born in a birthing room in a hospital, less than two hours after we arrived. She arrived so fast that I was in awe of the tremendous power that Nature manifests through this simple, yet profound act. Radha burst on the scene with sound and fury. I wasn't able to arrange for her bath so I held her close to my bare chest for some time. I then gave her to Judy, where she effectively demonstrated a ravenous appetite.

With protests from the doctor and hospital staff, we were back home in less than two hours after the birth. With Radha sound asleep beside us in bed, I suddenly realized: I actually loved this new being every bit as much as I had loved anyone. And she had just arrive! In amazement I thought: How can this be? Even today, I am still amazed how this happens. It definitely is beyond the feeble processes of the rational mind. Some may try to explain it as a mere biological process, some may analyze it through the lens of psychology, but there is much more involved than what can be explained solely from those two realms.

It wasn't more than a month after Radha's birth; my world started to come undone. My younger brother, Stan, who was also married with two children, was having marital problems.

 One night I got a call from my sister-in-law, asking me if Stan was at our house? I thought this question was a bit unusual, since at the time we were living about 3,000 miles apart. She went on to explain that one evening they had a disagreement about a house they were planning to buy, and the next morning he was gone. She had called relatives and friends, but no one knew where he was.

About a month later, a hiker found his car on an abandoned logging road in some rugged hills. Stan’s body was in the car along with a hose still connected to the exhaust pipe. He had killed himself. Everyone was devastated. Upon hearing the news I went into my bedroom, lit a candle and sat for several hours, struggling with a storm of emotions. Every once in awhile the dark clouds would part, and I could sincerely wish my brother well on his chosen journey.

 Perhaps though more than anything else, his death presented a challenge to my understanding. I wanted to know more. I needed to know why he chose the path he did, and more importantly, what was happening as a result. That day sitting in front of the candle, I prayed for some answers.

Almost a year later, I had a dream/vision that began to shed some light on the subject. It was as if I suddenly woke up in my dream. I found myself in a small, totally bare room. It was without windows, doors or furniture of any kind. There in the middle of the room lying on the floor in a fetal position was my brother. Suddenly he became aware of my presence. Sitting up he glared at me, with an expression of rage. I was only too familiar with this expression, as I had seen it many times before in our childhood. He now turned on me with his anger, and snapped: "How the hell did you get in here?" Before I could reply he added: "I suppose now, you're going to bring them all!"  I then regained waking consciousness. 

No matter how anyone may wish to interpret such an experience, for me, I actually had been with my brother. The impact of his presence in such clarity and detail defied the idea of a simple mental projection on my part. It was an event that was more real, than that of any casual meeting in waking consciousness.

 More important than the mere fact of finding my brother however, was the understanding I gained from the encounter. The completely bare room, his total isolation and still burning rage; all helped me understand the situation much better.

Over the course of the years I've had many other encounters with Stan. He gradually began to communicate, and several times we met in beautiful outdoor settings, where we went exploring, as we loved to do as children. More than once, I believe he has helped me through a difficult period in my waking life.

 How far is the distance between the living and the so-called "dead"? Millions of people have had such experiences, demonstrating there really is no distance except in consciousness. All the old cultures that have been on the Earth have believed in the ability to communicate with their ancestors or those that have gone before.  I have talked with many people who have had such communications. I think it is important to share these experiences with others, because in so doing, it opens the door that much further between the two realms.

Seven months after my brother's death, I had another exceptionally vivid dream. At the juncture of two rivers I met my father. He was planning to take a long trip. So before he left, he wanted to give me his coat. A big gust of wind shook the trees behind us. I turned to see what was happening. When I turned back my father was gone.

A month later my mother gave me that same coat. It was the morning just before my father's funeral. He had died of a sudden heart failure.

After these two huge losses, the remainder of our family seemed to labor under a heavy blanket of clouds for a long while. But the winds of personal loss and dramatic change continued to blow. My grandfather suffered a stroke and had to be put into an extended care facility. My grandmother's mental condition rapidly went downhill so that her care took an ever-increasing amount of attention. 

It was during this time of tremendous turmoil in our family, about six months after my father's death that I had a series of dream/visions which proved to be a real turning point in my life's journey.

In the first vision I was involved in an initiation ritual with a number of other young men. We were on a mountaintop, and we had to go over the side of a sheer cliff by sliding down ropes. About half way down, the ropes simply ended and we went into free-fall. At first I began to panic. But then I remembered something from the past, some experience. At once I knew I would be all right. I landed safely in a jungle valley. I made my way through the thick vegetation, and eventually climbed back up the mountain to the top. Only a few of us made it back. Some of the others, who survived the ordeal, claimed they encountered evil and terrible enemies down below. They were then escorted to the edge of a cliff and pushed off.

 I awoke somewhat frightened and confused. I didn't really understand what the message really was. After several days of reflection, I began to put some of the pieces together. In the most general terms, I understood the dream to be telling me that survival is not in itself the most important aspect of our journey here. How we interpret our experiences along the way is actually more important. If we still find evil lurking in the valleys of the unconscious mind, we haven't completed this initiation.

Looking back at this dream and the events which soon followed, sliding down the face of a mountain cliff on a rope which gives out half way down, seems like a perfect analogy for what I was in for.

Over the course of the next 6 months I had several more experiences that continued with the initiation theme. With each of these experiences, it felt as if large areas of my internal landscape shook loose and fell off into the sea.

Less than a month after the mountain top initiation, I had a dream where two women put me into a big metal chair. They strapped down my arms and legs. One of the women turned on a switch, and a strong current of electricity went through my body. In a short time the current got so strong, I thought I would lose consciousness. So I began a breathing exercise trying to internalize the energy and pull it up my spine. When I woke up, I was still doing the breathing exercise and my entire spine felt as if it were glowing with heat. 

A little over a month passed, and I had another vision. In this one, I was standing on a shoreline looking out over the ocean. It was dark. Out of the darkness of the distant horizon came a strange, luminous whirlwind. As the whirlwind moved across the water toward me, it gathered up water into its funnel. The next thing I remember, I was kneeling with my face pressed to the Earth with the wind and the water swirling on top of me. The breath was sucked out of my lungs. But mysteriously, I felt no need to breathe. After what seemed to be a long while, the whirlwind moved on and I woke up in an ecstatic state of consciousness.

Three months later I had another dream/vision, which really proved to be the climax to the series. Its impact on my life was most dramatic. It represented a real break from my customary perceptions of my life and the external world. This is where the rope of my past religious programming ended, and for a time it did indeed seem that I went into free-fall.

In this vision I was in an elevator with a group of people. We were descending deep into the Earth. One man said in amazement, we were below the 35,000 foot level. However, we continued to descend. In a short while we stepped out of the elevator into a large, underground cavern. Flaming torches illuminated the cavern. On either side of our path was a big statue of a dog. The two dogs had large crystals for eyes that seemed to be alive as they flashed in the firelight. Gradually everyone discovered that whatever sexual desire they held in their mind would materialize. Standing directly in front of me was a beautiful woman, naked. She led me over to a bed, and we celebrated our desires.

From this point on, I would like to refer to the following poem, which I think best describes my experience.

 

 

Genesis Eternal

 

Down into the depths

Where dreams and thoughts

Come alive and live

In glowing light,

And speak of ancient secrets

Forgotten long ago in caves,

Humans once called home.

 

Out from the darkness

A vision of beauty:

Hair flying like chaos,

Eyes flashing with enchantment,

Breasts heavy with ambrosia,

Exuding rich perfume of passion.

I approached through my dream

As if through a door,

And whispered:

Let us lie down

And make the flowers and the trees,

And the seasons once more.

Yes,

Yes we knew where we were

And we knew what to do,

And we knew that great bliss

That dances and runs through,

All things that have ever come to be.

 

Riding orgasmic waves,

Realities spun out

Into colossal tapestries,

Woven with the threads

Of time and space;

A living kaleidoscope

Revolving, desire's flaming core.

Merging and melting forever,

Forever coming -

Together once more.

 

 

The Earth and the Sky,

The Sun and the Moon,

The Wind and the Water,

Every cell,

Every atom,

Expanding Galaxies of Consciousness

Celebrating and singing

Us songs of our Divinity

In an unending exaltation of Joy.

 

Trance-fixed,

Sitting upon their smoldering

Sacrificial altars,

The old stern gods

Got up and left.

Grumbling in their beards

They struck out for other domains,

More suitable to their rigorous

Regimes of righteousness.

 

 

 

"The old stern gods" that got up and left, as I refer to them, were a group of ascetic monks and yogis. One member of this group was Yogananda's guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, whom I looked up to with the highest respect. As I caught sight of him, I ran over to him, but he was angry and he just ignored me. I was devastated. I woke up very confused and upset.

 I could go on writing many pages about all the implications of this experience, but basically what it came down to was that something similar had happened once before.

In my mountaintop dream, the rope abruptly ends. I began to panic, but then I remembered some experience I had in the past. Only then did I feel that everything would be all right. In my waking consciousness however, I couldn't recall just what this past experience was.

Now in this vision, Yukteswar's anger with me appeared to be the end of my "spiritual rope" as it were, and I began to panic. After spending several days under a cloud of anxiety, the sunshine suddenly broke through; I remembered something that changed my entire perspective.

I was a youngster, kneeling in the darkness of a confessional explaining to the head priest of our parish, my disposition for playing with my girlfriend. He interrupted me with an ultimatum: I should either change my behavior or leave the Church.

 As a young high school student, I penetrated the situation to see the obvious, and left the Church. For there was something in my nature that wouldn't allow me to deny or repress my sexual expression just because some person or institution said I should. I chose freedom instead.

And now once again the choice was just as obvious. However, in this case it was the gods who walked away. They walked away and left the door open for someone else to come in. Someone, who for thousands of years had been cursed and forgotten, shoved into the basements of the human psyche. That someone was the Goddess, the Feminine aspect of Divinity.

            I went over the side of the mountain cliff, sliding down a rope that ended halfway. Having nothing to hang onto, I trusted in my own Self-Nature. And so I landed safely. I made the transition from the mountaintop to the valley. The mountain was barren. It was only rock. The valley was full of life. It was the dark and seemingly chaotic wildness of Creation itself. It was the Feminine.

 Others had also survived the experience in the valley. But they came back reporting something evil and dangerous. And they had not completed the initiation process.

I was then ready for the next stage of my journey, where I descended deep within the Earth, deep within the subconscious mind. There I met and united with the Feminine, the anima within my own Self.

This breakthrough in Consciousness also meant a significant break with my past. I began to notice a subtle shift in my perceptions and meditations. This encouraged me to begin exploring on my own, various other techniques of meditation rather than continue with those I had been faithfully using for the past 16 years.

I felt as if I had graduated from one school, and now found myself enrolled in another. Only the new curriculum as of yet had no name, no definitions, and no map.

 All my past teachers, priests and gurus held up signs reading: "Do Not Enter". I had plenty of fears and doubts at first. But I had seen those signs before, and so far in my life they had never stopped me. In fact I had come to a point where almost instinctively, I interpreted such messages to mean: "This Way to Real Adventure."

So, alone, I took my first few cautious steps into the darkness of the jungle. It wasn't long however, before someone appeared as a guiding light, and gave me a sense of direction. His name was Robert Graves.

Several years before, while wandering through a used bookstore his 2 volume set, The Greek Myths caught my eye. I wasn't particularly interested in Greek Myths at the time, but for 50 cents apiece I just couldn't pass them up.

The books remained packed away in a box, until I rediscovered them one morning while looking for something else entirely. As these kinds of things work out, I now dove into the first volume without even thinking. Well, right then and there he simply "blew my mind". On the third page of his Introduction, Graves boldly declared: "Ancient Europe had no Gods".

 A very simple statement, but to me it was if someone had shouted at the top of their voice. I had studied the history of Western Civilization, I had studied the various Religions of the world, but I had never run across anything like this! (And by then I had already read over 2 thousand books.)

Graves then went on to explain that at one time, the great Mother Goddess was the only symbol for an immortal and omnipotent deity; and” the concept of fatherhood had not been introduced into religious thought."

 Later on I came to discover that human beings have actually worshipped the Divine through the image of the female, far longer than through the image of the male. In fact, in the long span of time that human beings have been on Earth, the idea of a lone male deity might just be considered a recent fad. That may be a bit extreme, but what happens in the next hundred years might very well bear this out.

 Needless to say I continued reading Robert Graves. And for the first time I felt I was beginning to understand the real story behind our culture, its religions as well as its politics. 

Shortly after this, I was introduced to some of the wise women of our culture by way of their books. Merlin Stone who wrote: When God was a Woman; Barbara Walker: The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets; Starhawk: The Spiral Dance; Marija Gimbutas: Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 7000 - 3500 BC.

After studying these contemporary sages, my world was turned upside down, inside out and set spinning in a whole new direction. I was simply astounded at my own past ignorance, and the utter lack of any attempts on the part of the educational system to introduce students to this level of understanding. It seems to me, that if we don't clearly understand where we have come from, we will never be able to see where we can go.

This period in my life was more revolutionary, more exciting than when as a teenager, I made the transition from the Catholic Church to the Eastern Religions. For I now felt I had discovered the foundation on which much of the conceptual architecture for both East and West. The image of the male God with its particular focus of psychic, mental and emotional energies determined and influenced almost all other concepts in our culture. I discovered that for the past 5,000 years, we have been looking at only one half of the whole picture.  

Human beings at one point in our evolution began to walk down a road in Consciousness that emphasized our separateness rather than our connectedness, elevated the Male over the Female, and the Transcendental over the Immanent concept of the Divine, and came to repress the Feminine elements within our own psychic structure. While externally, oppressing females in our cultures at large.

Within this context then, we can find subtle, yet numerous connections between the repression of our sexual nature, the oppression of women and the degradation of our environment. All have connected and deep-seated causes in our image of the Divine, and the characteristics we choose to value and emulate.

I will not go much further in explaining this here. My purpose is simply to relate how dramatic and profound these changes were in my life. They were not merely the intellectual rearrangement of concepts within a given belief system, but the actual transformation of the belief system itself. My entire world-view or paradigm had changed.

As babies, we didn't rationally decide to get up off our hands and knees and walk. This intention was obviously part of a deeper level of the consciousness than the rational mind. Our whole being was reaching out to a new direction of growth and experience. The river of Life that flows through us simply carried us along in its own ancient wisdom, beyond our particular doubts and fears. And so this process still operates in our lives today emotionally, intellectually and psychically.

It was almost the height of irony that once I found myself initiated into the domain of the Feminine, I should come to recognize the next step in my journey was the separation from my wife. 

I have come to see a relationship almost as if it were an entity in itself. It has a birth, and eventually a death. But how we perceive death is very important as to how we will interpret a divorce. Is death final? Does relationship end there? If death is inherently a part of life and ultimately good, may we not be so inclined to at least begin to see the ending of our most intimate relationships in a similar light?

Unlike the decisions in my younger days to leave school, or refuse the military draft, the decision to leave Judy was an extremely agonizing one. And given the utter complexity of relationships in general, it is impossible to sit down and rationally figure out all the different factors that play off one another in our coming together and our parting.  

 But after many years of reflection I had come to realize that on my part, one of the biggest factors at play was my inability to cope with the glaring contrasts between a conventional family life and my sense of what I felt I was destined to accomplish. I also came to painfully find that my deep cultural programming infected with an ascetic life style, was not so easily overcome by my new found direction. The truth was that I blindly continued my daily routine, which meant that I got up every morning at 4:30 am to meditate, and retire at 9:00 – 9:30 pm to meditate again. So as not to disturb Judy with my schedule I did not sleep in her bed, but rather on a foam pad on the floor in the living room. When it came to my routine I was very inflexible and unaccommodating to her needs and desires. I just couldn’t see the proverbial writing on the wall until it was too late. That blindness on my part was soon addressed on many different levels.

I went to live with my sister, Bonnie and her family who happened to conveniently live nearby. I continued seeing Judy and the girls on a regular basis.

My mother, who was at this time courageously taking care of her parents, asked me to come up to British Columbia and give her a hand. We needed each other's emotional support. So eventually I moved in with my mother.

I was now 300 miles from Judy and the girls, but I still managed to stay with them once a month for a few days.

Over the course of the next two years, my inner journey into the realm of the Feminine Perspective continued and intensified. It seems most synchronistic that in my external life I should actually come to live with all the females in my immediate family: my sister, mother and I even stayed with my 82-year-old grandmother for 3 months. At the time, I was consciously aware they were on some level serving as my teachers. This was rather dramatically shown to me in a dream shortly before I moved in with my grandmother.

 In the dream, my grandmother was dressed in the ornate robes of a Catholic Bishop and was distributing communion wine. Many people were kneeling down in a line before her, each waiting their turn. Before she gave me the wine however, she proceeded to give me a lecture in front of the whole congregation about my attitude.

My grandmother who was born in Hungary was raised as a peasant girl on a large estate belonging to a baron. Listening to her many stories was about the next best thing to time travel. I got a glimpse into a system of values and a way of life that came right out of the Middle Ages.

One story that particularly stands out in my mind was about their parish priest. Evidently, the priest had a girlfriend with whom he had an on-going sexual relationship. The girl was in her mid-teens and was still living at home. The family knew about it. In fact, the whole village knew about it. But they all felt that celibacy was too heavy a burden for any man. So they allowed it to continue. Of course I’m not advocating such an arrangement, but merely pointing out that these simple village people were able to recognize and accept the priest’s humanity while the officials of the Church could not.

In these two years I spent with my sister, mother and grandmother I began to explore the various Tantric scriptures of both Hinduism and Buddhism. I read all of the books on Tantra Yoga I could find. And to my amazement I came to realize the techniques that I had been given through the Self-Realization Fellowship were in fact part of the technology used for thousands of years in Tantra. But contrary to the teachings I had studied in the past, I now discovered that Tantra actually includes sexuality in its spiritual practice.

 If this wasn't radical enough, in some circles this included the sacramental use of cannabis or marijuana. I even found one text that gave a special Sanskrit mantra or prayer that was recited before one inhaled the sacred smoke: "Bhava na sana hridayam". Roughly translated: "May this herb be a blessing to my heart".

All this of course, was exactly opposite of everything I had been taught and what our society continues to preach to this very day. I began to wonder why? Why are human beings so afraid to experience pleasure, when at the same time violence is considered a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment, and killers have become our heroes?  Perhaps there is more than a subtle connection here.

I discovered that physical pleasure is almost universally believed to be detrimental to our relationship with the Divine. I was then left with the question: what is it in our concept or image of the Divine that finds it so necessary to exclude pleasure?

These issues became central to my focus, and became the next challenge on my continuing journey. To say that I had wandered off the beaten path here would certainly be an understatement; for I now began to move into a strange, but delightful landscape indeed. 

I continued to explore various techniques of meditation. I would work with a particular technique until I was satisfied I discovered what it had to show me, and then move onto the next.

This process wasn't simply a stroll through a smorgasbord of methods, but had a definite purpose and direction. Just as when attempting to develop any muscle group of the body, one performs specific exercises designed to send energy into that particular body part. This consciously directed increase of energy then is responsible then for the growth and development.   In all the Yoga exercises I explored I was looking for the most effective techniques that did the same thing for the brain. I wanted to generate as much energy in the spine as possible, and then be able to pull this energy into the brain.  This consciously directed energy then floods the billions of neurons in the brain, awakening them into new levels of functional awareness, expanding the creative and mental abilities as well as releasing the mind into more profound states of consciousness. The external signs of this process have been recorded as brain wave patterns exhibiting theta-alpha states, elevated serotonin levels, decreasing cellular oxygen requirements, and the right and left hemispheres of the brain beginning to synchronize in a process known as lateralization.

Within this context then I also began to explore the introduction of my sexual energy into this process: generating a strong sexual charge and then consciously directing it up the spine and into the head. I soon realized that this combination of Yoga technology and sexual energy dramatically added a whole new and powerful dimension to my practice. I now knew beyond any doubt, I had found something worth exploring further.

In combination with all these other methods, I also began to experiment with the sacramental use of cannabis from time to time. I believe I have thoroughly explored this avenue of experience and it is my opinion, there are definitely some benefits to be gained using psychoactive substances in this context. (It is after all - part of our inheritance of Shamanic Wisdom the world over.)

 But I must add however, that we live in a society that has lost its sense of the Sacred. Obsessive behavior and substance abuse has become the norm, rather than the exception. With this condition almost epidemic, one has to be extremely cautious here. There is a fine line between use and abuse, and I have seen so many of my fellow travelers unable or unwilling to observe that line.

One of my deep felt motivations behind my work is to provide a dynamic process that increasingly reveals the Sacred in one's life. In this way, one begins to live in a place of increasing fulfillment, rather than a place of desperation and need.

One of the primary factors involved in this process is making a conscious re-connection with the Life Force of one's own body. In India this energy is called Prana. In China it is known as Chi. The Life Force is not only felt as a distinct sensation as it moves in the body, but one can learn how to direct an ever increasing amount of this energy into the head, facilitating a unification of the intellect and intuition, thinking and feeling. Quite naturally this process expands one's consciousness, moving one beyond the experience of separateness into the reality of connectedness and wholeness - the Natural State of Yoga.

Through this powerful process of integration the very core of compulsive behavior is penetrated and undone. For the fundamental dynamics of compulsiveness is driven by a need for connection and integration. Compulsive behavior and addiction are simply our ineffective ways of trying to heal ourselves of the deep feelings of separation and alienation.

Given the programming of separation we all grew up with, (mind separate from body, male separate from female, humans separate from Nature, Nature separate from God), it is important to recognize that most of us have been left with some very deep wounds. Worst of all, many of us haven't got a clue as to how they got there.

It has been my discovery, that Tantra Yoga is a process that actually addresses this whole issue in the depth necessary for real healing to take place. It literally bypasses the rational, linear mind, and directly impacts the deepest core of our emotional and physical being. It does this by reconnecting us back to our most powerful source of creativity, pleasure and fulfillment.

According to Tantra, our sexuality and our spirituality are but two aspects of the same reality. Tantra not only proposes this to be true, but provides the method and the means to make it our own personal experience.

It has been the basic understanding of Tantra for thousands of years, that each human being manifests two polarities at the psychic level, one male and the other female. By bringing these two polarities into harmony and uniting them in what has been called the Sacred Marriage, one becomes a whole and healthy human being.

Within this level of integration each individual begins to experience the Source of his or her Being, the Intelligence and the Love that gives birth and sustains an infinite number of worlds, dimensions, and realities.

It has been through my exploration of this process of integration that a specific technology slowly evolved. Much of it incorporates well-known methods from various Tantra teachings, but the central technique that unifies the whole work is my own contribution.

            This particular program represents a unique sequence of steps, when carefully followed in their specific order, produces a result that is immediate and more powerful than anything else I have found. (This complete program can now be obtained at kamakala.com).

 A very important point that I would like to make perfectly clear however, is this technology is not placed in its usual cultural context found in other teachings, which are almost wholly dominated by the exclusive ascetic and transcendental perspective.

            The cultural setting in which this technology is placed is unique and original to the teachings of Tantra. It doesn't strive to transcend Nature, but recognizes that you are an integral part of Nature. It doesn't strive to transcend the body, but recognizes the body as a vital part of who you are. Tantra doesn't strive for a freedom from the body, but rather seeks a greater freedom of the body. This holistic approach represents the inclusive perspective of the Immanent nature of the Spirit.

To give you a clear idea of the ascetic and transcendental viewpoint in which the various disciplines of Yoga over the past centuries have been confined, I would like to quote Shankar, who reorganized the Swami Order in the ninth century and is regarded by millions as India's greatest saint and philosopher. The following is from one of his most popular works entitled Vivekachudamani, translated, "The Crest Jewel of Discrimination": "So long as a man has any regard for this corpse-like body, he is impure and suffers from his enemies as well as from birth, disease and death... Throw far away this limitation of a body, which is inert and filthy by nature. Think of it no longer. For a thing that has been vomited (as you should vomit forth your body) can excite only disgust when it is recalled again to mind".

Almost an identical message was taught by Socrates: "we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible intercourse or communion with the body, and are not surfeited with the bodily nature, but keep ourselves pure...”

And not to be out done, the apostle Paul chimes in with this exquisite recipe for schizophrenia in his message to the Galatians “the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other. Gal.5:17.

This viewpoint wasn't unique to these individuals. On the contrary, it perfectly reflected the anti-Body, anti-Nature attitude that was pervasive at the time and infected almost all cultures - and sadly still persists today.

Even though both Hinduism and Buddhism have adopted much of the technology of Tantra, their metaphysics however, remains locked in the transcendental separation from the physical dimensions of Life. This attitude is diametrically opposite to the original teachings of Tantra.

I have read and listened to many teachers talk about Cosmic Consciousness, but they never mentioned the Truth of Cellular Consciousness. They claim to embrace the consciousness of the entire Cosmos, but lacked the most basic understanding of their own body. You can see this for yourself, as it is reflected in their fear of sexual orgasm. They have all tried to run away from the body, its desires and pleasures, as if somehow these weren't legitimate manifestations of true spirituality.

In the story of the Buddha's enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, when he walks out of the forest to preach to his friends near Benares, the first words that come out of his mouth: "Life is suffering". This statement is regarded as the first of the Four Noble Truths, which make up the very foundation of Buddhism.

Well, I represent the kid in the back of the class who puts up his hand and says, "It seems to me, you missed a few things along the way. Sure, life inevitably contains suffering, but it also contains happiness, joy, and love as well". 

The Buddha doesn't hear the child, but proceeds to explain that Desire is the culprit, the enemy of Truth. 

I have traveled down the road that leads to Desire's overwhelming flaming core. But instead of experiencing something negative and turning away, I found something positive, something beautiful, and I embraced it. From my perspective the true evolutionary driver is not simply the escape and prevention of pain, but the seeking of pleasure. For in the process seeking of pleasure we can discover within ourselves almost everything that makes us truly human: curiosity, imagination, communication, relationship and creativity. Above all, I realized how utterly preposterous it is to declare the Creative Energies that brought forth and sustain innumerable worlds, as something negative or dangerous.

Tantra Yoga didn't originate on the mountaintops of asceticism, but rather down in the valley of everyday human experience. It didn't originally set out to escape the body or the physical plane of existence, but rather bring them into a greater mode of fulfillment. It doesn't see the Divine as being solely transcendent or separate from Nature, but rather it perceives The Divine as Nature, or Immanent. This is the very essence of Vamacara Tantra, the Left Hand Path or the Feminine Perspective.

Tantra Yoga returned to its original metaphysical setting in Divine Immanence provides an entirely different window through which to perceive yourself and your world. It also provides the doorway through which one can step into a whole New World of experiences and creative possibilities.

 For several years I'd been intently looking out this window, and faithfully using the techniques to move through the doorway, when one morning I woke up and noticed something had radically changed.

It was on Christmas Eve of 1987, that I had a most dramatic dream/vision. In the vision I stepped into an empty room. To my left along one wall was a throne of some kind, made of stone. I walked over to it, but decided not to sit in it. Instead I sat down immediately in front of it, facing the opposite wall. A Native American medicine man or shaman came into the room with a drum. He sat down on my right and began to play the drum. Next, an Asian Buddhist monk came into the room, and sat down on my left. We started to chant as the three of us focused our attention on a mandala, or geometrical pattern on the opposite wall. After some time, the mandala began a series of changes, eventually forming a living face. The face gradually expanded until it was as large as the wall itself. It was the face of a beautiful woman. I recognized her, and cried out "Ma!" A red, diamond shaped light appeared in her forehead, and began to intensify and expand. The light lifted me up from the floor and pulled towards her. She said, "You have paid the price". I then went through the red light in her forehead into overwhelming ecstasy.

After many years of reflection on this event and subsequent dream experiences, I have come to firmly believe that the Buddhist monk and the Indian shaman are two significant aspects of my past life selves that are directly relate to this life time. They also symbolically represented the spiritual traditions of East and West to some degree. Since in my current life I had been exploring both - the Eastern and Shamanic perspectives – I then found myself appropriately sitting between them, serving as a bridge.

The “price that I paid” had something to do with the years of discipline that I had undergone, preparing the necessary psychological groundwork for this type of integration. Symbolically and directly related to this process, was the fact that I did not sit on the throne- which would have set myself above or separated myself from the other two. Instead, I chose to sit down on the floor where I was in a position “ready” for a more profound unification, not only with these two important  incarnations, but with the much greater reality from which the three of us had come; each of us then representing a unique and individual aspect of this greater Self.

Now when I regained physical consciousness that morning, the ecstatic feeling was greatly diminished. I thought at the time, that had it not been reduced, most likely I wouldn't have been able to regain physical consciousness. The new day now being Christmas, I felt like singing “Joy to the World the Divine Is Here!”

Later on that morning Judy, Francesca, Radha and I went to my sister's house. Unexpectedly, a friend of mine was there also. As a Christmas gift he gave me a rather large mushroom. He said it was Stropharia cubensis, a type of mushroom that is particularly high in the psychoactive substance known as psilocybin. My first reaction was to refuse the gift, then on second thought he might consider it rather rude, after all it was Christmas. So I graciously accepted the mushrooms, but planned to dispose of it when I returned home.

After more serious reflection I began to question this rather knee jerk decision. It just seems too coincidental that just after the vision of the night before that I should now be given this type of gift. The Buddhist monk in me felt that I certainly didn’t need this kind of external aid or reassurance. But on the other hand, the Native American shaman considered it a blessing that may provide an opportunity to explore other dimensions of reality.

Two weeks later I was back in British Columbia and had an opportunity to try the mushroom. In preparation I had fasted for about 18 hours. I walked out into an isolated area, and sat down under some large cedar trees. I sat and meditated for awhile and then ate the mushroom.

After about 6 hours, I walked back to my mother's home and tried to write down as much of the experience as I could. The following is what I had written.

"Yeah.

Yeah, I know.

I know it's true. They're alive. The trees are alive.

The same Life that's in me, is in the Earth. The animists and the Shaman were right all along. The trees are alive, and they know it. It’s true, We Never Left Eden. It's right here, all around me. Everything is Conscious. Everything is Connected. Who in hell was it that first denied this reality to the trees, the animals and the Earth? Yes, they were in hell. They were living in the hell of non-perception. They represent Satan that is still roaming the Earth, denying Life and Intelligence to all but themselves, and then of course in the end, must logically end up denying Life to themselves as well.

The snow is still falling. It told me days ago, it was coming. All the animals knew it was coming. I knew it was coming, and have been waiting for it. It has a personality. The children's story of the snowman coming to life is an ancient reflection of this basic truth. The snow's personified as a snowman. It's a reality that has left the twentieth century far behind. Deep within the whiteness, coldness and winter, lies the truth of death; a mood of introverted attention pulling the rational mind back into its primal depths.

 Time to go within now. Time to get quiet now. Coldness. Quietness. I hear the snow falling on the pile of dead leaves on which I am sitting. I adjust my cold legs. The snow is getting deeper and it's getting dark now.

Closing my eyes, I see a beautiful pattern of lights. The entrance to another reality tunnel, perhaps. How far can I go? I believe I've been here before, but I don't know when. I think I remember now, the vision. A Buddhist monk sat on one side of me, and an Indian shaman sat on the other side.

Yeah, I remember now. I've been here before. I've been through this door, and down this tunnel. It ends beyond the gates of time and space. Yeah, I know it now. I can feel it. I can feel it starting to pull . . . pulling me inside . . .”

At this point I lost consciousness of everything external and all perception of time. I figured later, that about three hours had passed before I regained physical consciousness.

“Yeah.

Yeah, I know . . .

I know . . . The trees know . . . The Earth knows . . .

I know, and I can feel the knowing everywhere I look . . . I?

I? . . . Who am I?  . . . I remember now, vaguely a long time ago. I was meditating . . . or was it a dream?    I remember now, it's coming back. I remember I had a wife somewhere, and there were two children someplace . . . Not here, somewhere far away . . . Where am I? . . . North, somewhere . . . Yeah I remember now, a country called Canada . . . It's snowing. It's cold. The sun is gone, and it's dark. The trees are all white . . .  My body is very cold. How long have I been sitting here?

Strange, I can't remember when I wasn't sitting here. Just sitting here, just sitting here under these cedar trees, watching the snow coming down . . . It's like the field of snow over there, no tracks in it, no path to follow, just a beautiful unbroken blanket of whiteness. And the snow just keeps falling . . .

A material, something solid - just keeps materializing right out of the sky. How mysterious . . . Science thinks it knows what's happening. Matter appearing out of nothing, and then again disappearing . . . Subatomic particles randomly appearing right out of the electromagnetic field, and then just as mysteriously disappearing back into it again . . . Creation's little game, revealed on their stage, and they sit in dumb silence watching the world being born and dying . . . Millions of snowflakes falling from the sky. How strange. It could just as well be millions of worlds.

The sky knows what's happening. The Earth knows, and the animals and the trees know. And once, a long time ago, humans also knew. I can feel it buried away in my body. I hear this ancient language of my cells, chanting with the cedar trees. Yeah, the trees know.

My body is very cold. I better get up and move around. Maybe I should find some shelter somewhere . . . Where can I go? . . . Where am I? . . . Oh yes, I remember now, British Columbia. I know someone here . . . Yeah, now I remember. My mother lives here. I can go there . . . Not far, just over there. But who exactly am I suppose to be? What am I suppose to say?  Our Real Nature is the best-kept secret in the world . . .

I better walk around for awhile. These leaves are beautiful even when they are dead. Their bodies make a warm rustling sound . . . Wait a minute! It's in the middle of winter. It's snowing, and it is dark. What in the world am I doing out here?

Oh yes, the mushroom . . . No, that was a dream a long time ago . . . It was a special kind of mushroom . . . Oh Yes, That's It!”

At this point in the development of our collective consciousness, I could be declared a criminal or insane for simply taking off my clothes and going for a leisurely stroll around the block. I realize that almost the same level of understanding exists with regard to the use of psychoactive substances.

If something is revealed while an individual is so called, "under the influence", then this automatically dismisses the subject, and he or she is no longer taken seriously. More than anything else however, this attitude reflects the whole mind-set with which our culture approaches these substances to begin with. They are not in themselves, taken seriously. They are no longer recognized to have a Sacred value. They are no longer used sacramentally or in a spiritual context. Yet, this is exactly how these substances have been used for literally thousands of years in many different cultures all over the world. 

At one time, tobacco was considered sacred and used sacramentally by the Native Americans. At the present time however, our culture doesn't consider tobacco in any such context, and consequently there are over 300,000 deaths each year related to the abuse of this plant. Substance abuse begins with a failure to respect or value the substance used.

Recognizing the prevailing negative cultural programming about drugs in general, I have to admit I had second thoughts about including these experiences in my life’s story. There was a voice that kept reminding me how it might destroy my credibility, or that the “vehicle” might get in the way of the view or the message.

I realize this might very well be the case, and many people may actually feel threatened. But I also realize however, that my life in and of itself is a challenge and a threat to the conventional mind-set. Prison was one knee jerk reaction it had to my spiritual values of nonviolence, and now this type of programming might just as well condemn me again for stepping outside of what it judges to be proper.

 However, as you have seen my life's journey has not been content to remain within the boundaries set up by our culture or its institutions. Part of the initiation process of even the most primitive societies is the separation of the individual from family, society and everyday reality. One is then thrown into a completely foreign domain in order to open up and release the individual into a much greater reality.

 Even though I clearly recognize this process as something entirely positive and quite natural, I still might have been tempted to omit this experience from my story, had it not been for the next incident that I am about to relate.

Four months after my experience with the mushroom, my grandfather died one night in his sleep, and my Grandmother eventually moved into an assisted living facility. I then moved back to the U.S. and stayed with my sister's family.

During one of my usual morning meditations, I was set upon by a plague of doubts about the reality of my experience with the mushroom, and its apparent relationship to the Christmas Eve vision. I began to doubt that maybe there was no relationship at all. Maybe I've become completely lost in my own little world of dreams and visions?

Well, I was soon in such a turmoil of conflicting ideas and emotions, that all hope for a peaceful meditation was nowhere in sight. So I decided to go for a long walk to help clear my head. I was just about to get up, when I noticed on a nearby bookshelf a deck of playing cards.  Moved with an impulse that seemed like simple curiosity, without thinking I reached over and cut the cards.

I sat there for what seemed like a full minute, staring down at the card now before me; for there in front of me was a red diamond. In fact, it was none other than the Queen of Diamonds!

My brain went on "overload"! There was simply no way I could rationally explain it. It was a synchronicity within a synchronicity, and it literally "blew my mind". The odds of turning up this particular card at precisely this moment seemed to me just too astronomical. I sat there, face to face with a Mystery that went far beyond my comprehension. 

In that moment, I understood that the old concepts of "Enlightenment" simply don't apply. There is no state of consciousness that one can achieve or maintain, that will allow one, or permit one to declare: "Now I have achieved the Absolute, I understand the Ultimate; I am Perfect beyond which there is no more growth, no more surprises".

Through my own experience, I now see such concepts as simply childish. It's as if the rational and localized human mind can't stare into the face of Eternity, without quickly turning away and making up stories more suited to its own narrow point of view. I've come to realize there is no "end of the line". There's no final graduation day. Eternity doesn't have a beginning or an end. Infinity can't be rationally calculated, and there is no "other shore". There's no "great escape", or the "extinguishing of the flame" known as Nirvana.

The ideas of the Ultimate, the Absolute, and the Perfect are all ideas of limitation projected onto the Eternal and the Infinite. The simple truth is the human mind will never be able to grasp the Eternal and the Infinite. It will never be able to conquer Truth.

For the past five thousand years, human beings have been exploring the paradigm of knowing, controlling and conquest. I call this the Masculine Perspective. Representing the other polarity in consciousness is the Feminine Perspective, which is fundamentally grounded in the paradigm of surrender, of letting go, of opening up to the Unknown and the Uncontrollable. Its focus is not on some abstract goal, but on the Process. For the Process itself is Eternal. The Process is Life Itself.

I feel the time has come to put away our grade school games of conquest and competition, by moving ever deeper into the Mystery of our own Existence.

For me, this involves the total acceptance and integration of all of Life's experiences: the highs and the lows; the positive and the negative; the light and the dark; the visions and the emotional outbursts; the waking and the dreaming self.

Wholeness, holiness and healthiness all come from the same root word. I can't be healthy and whole, while denying some experience that Life has brought into my awareness. Every experience whether it be emotional, mental or spiritual makes a unique contribution to my life. To the degree that I can accept and integrate all the threads of experience in the tapestry of my life, is the degree in which I will experience my life in wholeness, and holiness.

It is precisely this process of unfolding integration that provides the medium through which human beings grow, bursting our localized limitations to embrace the infinite possibilities of further expansion. This process is the ever expanding, evolutionary Spiral of Consciousness that always moves us beyond our narrow, preconceived boundaries of Self and Reality.  This is the Process of Love.   

Almost three years after the experience with "the Queen of Diamonds", I had a most unusual encounter. I was driving down the freeway one morning, when I began thinking about the synchronicity with the playing cards, and the red diamond shaped light in my dream/vision. As I continued to reflect on the symbolic significance of the Red Queen, I began to slip into an altered state of consciousness, and without thinking, I softly called out, "Ma". I repeated it again, and again. 

Each time I spoke, it seemed I was descending deeper and deeper into myself. And then something happened. It started out, as what felt to be ripples of Love breaking at the shores of my heart. These ripples quickly gained in size and momentum until they became waves. Now wave after wave, came crashing into my heart. I was being completely inundated in an ocean of Love, and I began to cry uncontrollably.

 I simply had to pull off the road; I could no longer drive. I just sat there beside the freeway, crying.

When the waves finally subsided, slowly I regained my composure enough to drive again. A little later, I had to laugh at the prospect of a policeman stopping to see if anything was wrong. That would have been some scene!

During the rest of the day, I felt I had to fight to keep from periodically breaking down again and crying. It seemed the very atmosphere was supersaturated with Love. Everyone seemed to be an endless center of Love, radiating out in all directions. There seemed to be rivers of Love flowing between myself and everyone I met. I realized that Love is the very force that holds the Universe together.  

When considering the energies of the electromagnetic spectrum, there is always an opposite and equal force, always a negative for each positive charge. But it is my realization that this analogy simply does not apply when it comes to the greatest of all forces - Love. There is no opposite and equal force to Love. We may think there is when we are filled with fear, when we are called into the next level of surrender. But once we actually let go and float downstream, we feel the power of Love, always supporting us like gravity.

 Nothing can ultimately stop Love. The hardest of human hearts can spend lifetimes stubbornly resisting this Force, but eventually it will come to surrender. The pain of resistance and the feeling of separation simply become too great. The whole being eventually has to let go - relax back into the waiting arms of Love.

Surrender then, is the discipline of Love. Surrender is the initiation into The Feminine Perspective. When one recognizes and experiences the Divine as Life itself, and Life as the Eternal Process of unfolding Love, this then is the advent of the Goddess. We can then put away all our fairy tales of beginnings and endings, and embrace Eternity - the Great Mystery at the heart of our own Being.

When the definitions of Love, Life, and the Divine all become synonymous, the Great Adventure has begun. The weaving together of these seemingly separate concepts into a Living Whole makes all Life Sacred and Holy, and each unique individual expression of Life, integrated and healthy.

This is the conclusion of my story. But of course the journey does not end here. It continues on in the expanding Process of Love, Awareness and Creativity. However, I don't want to leave you with the impression that all is light and happiness in my life. This isn't just another bedtime story. I continue to move on as we all do, through the sunshine and the nighttime. I have challenges on my journey, just as you have yours.

In this time of radical transformation, we are all learning to appreciate the challenges of the night, as much as we value our achievements of the day.

 

HUMAN  BEING

BEING HUMAN

 

In the rich and dark humus

Of human-ness . . .

 

The fragrant flower

Of Being blooms.

 

 

 

 

ADDENDUM

 

The forgoing events ended in 1989. And for the next 10 years I labored to express my understanding of Reality through art, poetry and several books all published on the web since 1997 at kamakala.com.

Now fast forward to May 2009.

 

I am now living in a motor home and currently camped in a grove of cedar trees on the banks of the Molalla river in the state or Oregon. I am sitting on my bed with my lap top editing this manuscript. I just finished going over the synchronicities at play between the vision on Christmas Eve 1987, the experience with the mushrooms among the cedar trees in Canada and the Queen of diamonds card at my sister’s house, when I decided to stop for the day. I turned off my lap top and rather absent mindedly gazed out my window. Right in front of my field of vision is a cedar tree with a large glowing red diamond on its trunk! In a rather loud voice I yell: What the *#%& - and jump up and out of the motor home to get a better look. I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Yes, there it is - a red diamond about 1 and ½ feet in length about 5 feet up the trunk of this tree. On closer inspection I see that some vandals had cut away some of the outer bark of the Cedar revealing a red surface underneath. This then explained the red color; but now for the shape?

 I followed where the light was coming from by looking up through the surrounding trees. The sun was shining through the branches of the adjacent tree, a couple of which happened to be bent at specific angles so that when the sun was just at this particular angle in the sky the light came streaming through the branches forming a perfect diamond shaped. And of course it just happened to hit the center of the trunk of this red cedar tree, and I just happened to stop my editing at this point and look up just as it was happening. The light remained at that specific angle for only a brief time, and then the diamond disappeared.

  

There shall be signs in the Heavens . . .

And the Earth will awaken . . .

And Her children will dream new dreams.

 

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Roderick W. Marling

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