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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
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
"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.
* * *
ASKED ME TO DO IT
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
Let us lie down
And make the flowers and the trees,
And the seasons once more.
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,
Expanding Galaxies of Consciousness
Celebrating and singing
Us songs of our Divinity
In an unending exaltation of Joy.
Sitting upon their smoldering
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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, I know . . .
I know . . . The trees know . . . The Earth knows . . .
I know, and I can feel the knowing everywhere I look . .
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
In the rich and dark humus
Of human-ness . . .
The fragrant flower
Of Being blooms.
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.
Roderick W. Marling
Publications (c) 2010