|Date: February 4, 2012|
|With all good intentions and the innocence of youth, I believed it was true. The same experience had been validated by humanity
throughout the ages. Now it was my turn. Somehow I had been provided the rare opportunity to bypass millennia of incarnations and fast
track my way to the final end point. After all, there had to be a God and the purpose and destination of life was to unite with him. It
was the kind of union that was worth sacrificing all else to achieve. Once experienced in its glorious totality, my true purpose would be
fulfilled and I'd be consumed in a perfect state of blissful peace. It made complete sense. Fortune beyond belief had unexpectedly knocked
at my door. And God himself had come this time to show me the way and make sure I got there safe and sound.
The idea was simple but the experience profound. Perfectly concealed and right within my self, lay a hidden passageway to an infinite chamber where time stopped and space began. Inside that chamber all secrets and natural laws were revealed and eternal peace was to be found. Pain and distress would forever be left behind. Once I found my way, I'd be free to enter and bathe in that feeling at will, immune from life's struggles and protected within a bubble of contentment.
I was to sit quietly in absolute stillness as my body relaxed, and focus only on the quiet swishing sound of one breath flowing in and one breath drifting out. The rhythmic rising and falling would sway and massage my body into a sensory numbness where all else faded softly away. Sometimes I would find myself encapsulated within a cocoon-like womb where only awareness remained. Thoughts and feelings were deflected as I became absorbed in a silent stillness and waited patiently for that final transition to consume the last residue of my former self.
The reward for long hours and determined effort was the promise of a much richer experience and consummate event. That's when I was to finally dissolve as a tiny invisible speck immersed within a vast boundless space of textured ethers and white light, that would sing, glow, and vibrate to the natural and effortless motion of my breath. That's when that promised state of eternal perfection would be mine forever. That's when I was to finally merge into the infinite ocean of complete and total enlightenment and rest at last in the arms of my Master. But that endless accepting embrace had to be earned the hard way.
I'd sit for hours and wait for that silence to come. Often there was a struggle where I'd try to separate myself from stray thoughts and concerns. Sometimes I'd be haunted by distractions. Restless thoughts about relationships, decisions, or responsibilities could pop in with rampant disregard and disrupt the tranquility at any time. They'd tug and pull me back where I would stew in the ooze of stupid ideas or feelings that served no real purpose. I'd fight and try to hobble that mind. It could gnaw and chew at me while I tried to break free and claw my way back to that secret place. When the going got rough I would begin to pray. I'd beg my Master to lend a strong but invisible hand and drag me along if that's what it took. I'd plead for him to intercede, help me surrender, and subjugate my mind and my will. I'd pray for him to neutralize those painful distractions in hopes that the noise would dissipate and the silence would mercifully return. I'd wait and pray in suspended desperation and hope that better times would find me again if I just got it right.
To make sure those prayers were heard I'd nurture my connection with him, just like he told me to do. It took constant diligence to remain in his good favor. Not a single moment was to be wasted. No need to understand how it all really worked. Somehow, he was keeping score and secretly knew the sincerity of my efforts. Occasionally, there was a magical moment where the stars seemed to align and catch me by surprise. No need to understand that either. It was simply called Grace. That's when my Master was so irresistibly pleased, he could not stop himself from smiling. But because I couldn't actually see his face, he would send a signal instead, all the way across the planet, just to say he approved of whatever I was up to at that particular moment.
Sometimes however, it worked just the opposite and I'd have to be taught a tough lesson. Learning was part of my growth too, but he would be there with relentless patience to keep me on track and help me along my way. So, in between all those intense and often grueling hours of practice, there was plenty of productive work to do. It might take a lifetime, but as long as I dutifully obeyed his commands, everything would turn out just fine. After all, this was his divine play, I was his guest, and there was only a short while to successfully complete my mission.
The best way to spend time when not in practice mode, was to listen to him speak or do something to help. I'd try to sit close at programs as he unveiled hidden mysteries or coaxed me along with words of encouragement or a firm boot from behind. Sitting motionless at his feet, I'd hang on every word in a suspended trance that had the power to reconnect and recharge any loose but vital circuits. And the best way to help him was to do something, do anything, or just provide a stout donation. I traveled the World to see him, stayed on call at a moments notice, and sent in a steady stream of hard earned cash.
Eventually, he took notice. I was invited to enter his personal and private holy domain and awarded with a very privileged way to see him, talk to him, and help him all at once. For a few incredible moments each year I got to be his Driver. I'd have him sequestered alone inside my car where we'd chat about all kinds of inconsequential and meaningless subjects. It didn't matter really what we talked about. All that mattered was the chance to soak in his physical presence and absorb invisible but eternal blessings. Those were the most special moments imaginable. I was the luckiest among the lucky ones. Never in all eternity, would this rare opportunity return.
I was determined not to waste this one and only chance to reach my ultimate destination. Not when the finish line was in such clear view. Not, when by kindness and grace, I was practically being carried in his arms the rest of the way. Knowing I had every advantage made it easy to sacrifice everything else. Family, friends, relationships, social interaction, personal interests, simple pleasures, hobbies, or any counter productive activity would not stand in my way. I set aside those lesser, insidious, human distractions, and followed his instructions to show him I was worthy.
Surrender to him was my focus and goal. Nothing else mattered. In fact anything else, became my dreaded and despised enemy. I had drawn a battle line within myself and with the rest of the World in the cold war that was brewing inside me. And while my goal was peace and fulfillment, I would win that war whatever it took. Through hours of practice, service, and listening to Him, I'd subjugate my will, eradicate my own desires, and release the reins of my life into his trusted hands. He knew much better what to do with those reins. He knew every turn and pitfall in the road and only he could take me where I had to go. It was better to just leave it in his hands and avoid anything and everything that was not serving my goal of complete surrender.
After 34 years I got quite good at it. My separation and isolation from the temporary world of errant desires and transient events was well on its way. Every day I'd wake up promptly at 5:00 am and sit cross-legged on the floor for a full hour or more. When I could find extra time, I'd diligently add to that. Sometimes I'd hit scheduling bumps with time zones or travel, so I'd scratch and scrape to find that quiet hour for formal practice. Then, throughout the rest of each day, I'd consciously try to drift back into a state of semi-delirium where my surroundings would either fade in or fade out like mist on the water. It became a game in a way. There were moments when I'd get captured by the familiar swishing of my breath and ride along each wave as it peacefully rose and fell inside of me. Other times I'd try to embrace the sensory experience of a single moment and listen to the sound of raindrops or see the twinkling of light as it reflected and danced about as part of his grand creation.
It took continuous effort to ward off distracting thoughts while trying to turn within or remember his invisible presence. There were always pestilent menial issues to avoid or begrudgingly tolerate. Those nuisances mostly involved other people who just didn't understand or maybe were just incapable of comprehending the significance and importance of what I was up to. This time God had come to save the World and I had a seat at the forefront of all humanity. It might take some time before he would finally reveal himself. But then the wisdom, clarity, and validation of the path I had chosen, would no longer be denied. Patience, perseverance, and stamina would get me through. Behind my effort was a foundation of belief that I was on the right track. It would all be worth it, just like he promised. If I just stayed the course, his promise to me would be fulfilled.
Over time, there was a kind of glazing effect that formed a thin crust around me like the outer shell of an egg. Isolated from worldly distractions, I remained safe and protected within the confines of a bubble-like shell I had carefully constructed through long hours of practice and single-minded focus. Everything I needed to sustain my beliefs and advance my retreat was right there with me inside. I could see blurred images on the outside, through the translucent shimmer of the shell, but tried not to take notice. I'd hear muffled sounds from the outside, rumbling in the background, but I'd let them roll by like harmless, passing, distant thunder. Instead, I looked and listened with full attention in the opposite direction, as I nestled deeper towards the center where I could feel the magnetic pull of my Master's presence. He was right there with me inside that shell. All I had to do was stay close and try to work my way even closer to him.
As long as I kept a watchful eye towards the center, I could safely move around inside the shell. But every time I carelessly drifted and found myself near the interface with the World outside, I could feel a very subtle, yet tangible tension. There would be a compelling sense of curiosity about what was on the other side. I had been warned about that. It was precarious to get too close to the edge, or turn my back on my Master, wipe the fog from the shell and take a good, long look. I had been told about the danger and futility of yielding to that curiosity. Nothing of value or substance existed outside the reality within the shell. It was best to keep my back turned outwards, and fix my gaze inwards, directly towards my Master.
I thought life would go on like that until the ultimate grand finale. That's when, just like the imploding force from a powerful black hole, I expected to be permanently absorbed by his mercy, compassion, and grace. That was his promise to me, and it would surely one day be fulfilled. But then something else started to happen. I found myself in the middle of a prolonged and intense personal struggle and I had no choice but to temporarily deal directly with the World outside the shell. These were difficult impending circumstances that kept me close to the outer edge of the shell for way too long. Against my better judgment, I found myself taking a long hard look.
Through the haze I could suddenly see the faces of people. Those people were busy doing all kinds of things as if what they were up to really mattered. They shared feelings and passion, and a real interest in each other for who they were. Some of them were smart. They had developed an uncanny way to look at a problem or situation, understand its layers of complexity, and then come up with solutions that actually worked. Some of them wanted to help me just because they could. There was an open and free flowing excitement among them about simple things. I found myself feeling curiously amazed.
But it was troubling too. I had to pull myself back from a compelling tendency to scratch my way out through the thin outer shell to find out more. Strange feelings and sensations stirred inside me. I needed a jolt to get me back on track and refocused on my true purpose before it was too late. I quickly turned to my Master exactly like I had done thousands of times before. I prayed relentlessly to please help quiet my mind, settle those disturbing thoughts, and pull me out of it. I ramped up the intensity of my practice, and followed him around the World. I begged him in every possible way I could to please keep that promise he had made to me so many years ago. I needed that to happen, just this once. I even found the courage to ask him directly for his best advice to help solve the problem so I could move on and settle down my mind. I made sure he knew personally, how troubled I was and how much, just this once, I needed his special help.
"Don't let it get to you. Don't let it get to you." Maybe there was some deeper meaning to his reply that I just didn't understand. Maybe everything that happened was really all just a test to see if I was ready to receive his final promise of total fulfillment. If I just tried harder, had more longing, did more of the right things, practiced with more concentration, or fought a little harder. If I just hadn't looked outside the shell for so long. Maybe he was giving me a direct command to shake it off, slap myself awake, get back up on my feet, and fall in line. Maybe through these exact words he was giving me the strength and power to do just that. His compassion was so complete he would never command me to do something that wasn't possible. That must be it. And with that analysis, I scraped together every last ounce of determination I could find and tried even harder.
The next time I saw him, he was standing at the top of the folding stairs just outside the open door to the G550, tightly gripping the handrails on either side of the landing. Something wasn't right. Never had I seen him look so small and weak. He proceeded hunched forward, with Patrick bringing up the rear, to help stabilize each step. As they approached the car I held the door open, and with a wave of my hand guided him towards the back seat. He stumbled a bit, bumped into me, then brushed past as he nearly fell into place and slid over to the middle of the back seat. As I began to vaguely understand what was happening it became increasingly difficult to process the situation. Part of me began to comprehend the obvious; my Master, who I fully believed was God himself in a physical body, was sitting there thoroughly drunk in the back seat of the car. But at the same time, that explanation was simply unacceptable, no matter how true it might be. It just seemed impossible, or at least I didn't want to believe it . . . . .
On the long drive home from that trip, I tried again to sort through what it all meant. I remember now feeling an overwhelming mixture of blank chaos swirling inside my head. I could still hear the haunting sound of his twisted laugh echoing around me in the car. As I glanced in the rear view mirror, I imagined him still sitting there, drooling and babbling to himself, hands at his sides, pressing hard on the seat just to hold himself up. Then I thought of those people I had seen through the haze of the shell, how complex and busy they were, and how everything seemed to matter so much. Their faces flashed before me in rich colors of expression where before they had only been shades of dull, pasty, gray. Contrasting images raced through my mind in rapid succession. Then tears burst forth as I clutched the wheel tightly to wrestle the car back on track.
Thoughts and visions slowly dissolved into a deep, murky, reflective pool, as feelings of grief, fear, and then true horror began to swell from deep inside. I thought of him again and all that I had been told and had believed with such conviction. I thought back on all that I had done because of that conviction, for the last 34 years. Over fifteen thousand hours of diligent practice where I could never quite break through to that state of absolute perfection. Decades spent traveling, patiently standing in lines, sitting entire days in distant halls, humbling myself to kiss his feet and obey his every command. Weeklong trips, year after year, to do thankless tasks at the family homes, all at my own expense. Hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars freely handed over for whatever fleeting purpose he chose at the time. No questions asked, ever. I did all that because I believed in him.
By the time I pulled in the driveway, what I thought was my purpose and duty, now seemed like useless sacrifice. The adoration I felt for him was now coated with a thick film of wretched disgust. I groped for the magnetic pull that always brought me back, but instead, felt the current from a steady field of repulsion propel me away. Exhausted and alone, I turned off the key and sat quietly for a moment trying hard to make some kind of sense out of it. But it just wouldn't make any sense, except for one single haunting realization. That was the glaring truth I could no longer deny no matter how hard I tried; the failed promise I believed in for so many years had been just a lie. And in my hunger to simply know about the strange mysteries of life, he was the one who had purposely fed that lie to me one bite at a time.
What remained was an empty feeling, like a blackboard that had just been erased. There are still traces and chalk marks from what was written back then. But as time moves on, and lingering fear is displaced through natural healing, those old chalk marks are barely visible. And now there is the chance to start writing again, this time from scratch. The hunger to understand the mysteries of life still churns from deep within my self. But released from the confines of that shell, I'm now free to roam the vast expanses that were always there and discover and learn about those mysteries on my own. And this time, with the chalk held tightly in my own hand, write my story on that fresh clean blackboard just the way I want to say it.