“The spiritual life justifies itself to those who live it; but what can we say to those who do not understand? This, at least, we can say, that it is a life whose experiences are proved real to their possessor, because they remain with him when brought closest into contact with the objective realities of life. Dreams cannot stand this test. We wake from them to find that they are but dreams. Wanderings of an overwrought brain do not stand this test. These highest experiences that I have had…have been rare and brief–flashes of consciousness which have compelled me to exclaim with surprise–God is here!…But I find that, after every questioning and test, they stand out today as the most real experiences of my life…When they came… I was not seeking them. What I was seeking, with resolute determination, was to live more intensely my own life, as against what I knew would be the adverse judgment of the world.”
— excerpt from “My Quest for God,” by J. Trevor, published in London in 1897
Several months after recovering from my injuries sustained in the car accident in California, I had become so enamored of the natural landscape of the area in which I was living, that I began to spend every available moment out in it. I had a particular fondness for a lengthy wooded path at the top of the hills overlooking Monterey Bay, and when circumstances prevented me from driving along the highway to watch the sun go down, I would often walk to a secluded section of the forest path, and sit quietly by myself thinking and soaking in the beauty of those moments. Occasionally, I would bring a portable battery-operated cassette deck to listen to music while I relaxed in the waning light of day after school.
The image above is such a poor rendering of the path leading to where I would go on these sojourns in the hills, but for me, as the one who snapped the image, it is a potent reminder of one extraordinary afternoon in that forest. On one particular day, I was unexpectedly released from duty early in the afternoon. It was mild like most days, only cloudless and radiant in a way that I found surprising as I ventured out to walk. Upon arriving at my private location, I sat down, and played a cassette tape recording by Judy Collins which I used to enjoy occasionally in previous visits. The last song on the one side was called, “My Father,” and it always made me feel envious of the children in the story who were able to finally live in France as the father promised. I had always wanted to go. The tape ran out, but I didn’t reach over to switch it. I didn’t even blink. I was unable to move. “Oh, no,” I thought to myself at first. “Not again.” But this time, it would be wonderful.
Suddenly, without warning, I was overcome by joy. I felt an overwhelming sense of inner peace and confidence that was astonishing given my inability to move. The sun was filtering through the trees as before, only now the beams of light seemed to glow brilliantly–more than I would expect. The leaves and the grass became luminously green. It seemed that all of my senses were heightened beyond the usual levels. I started to laugh. I felt giddy. I felt the blood running through my veins and arteries. I went limp and laid back on the ground. It seemed I could sense the rotation of the earth. It felt almost as though my spirit was being pulled out of my body, as though gravity had suddenly increased. After a few minutes, I was able to turn my head and noticed that there was absolutely no movement anywhere around me. I was totally alone, but felt as though I was part of everything. I was euphoric with absolutely no cause that I could discern. I have no idea how long this sensation lasted, but once it seemed to lessen in its intensity, I was able to stand. It felt silly to be giggling like a child. But I couldn’t help it.
Prior to this experience, as I mentioned in a previous post, I had begun recording my thoughts as they occurred to me, and on this day, when I got back to my desk, I wrote something which seemed to have no immediate connection to anything. It made only a vague kind of sense to me at the time, but I wrote it down faithfully, and fell asleep at my desk that night. I woke up drooling on my book, and went to bed. In the morning, this is what I found on the pages:
“You all know me. You all know my heart. Many are the days and nights that have passed since we first held counsel together, and I would not, for all the treasures on earth, relinquish one memory, or omit one moment of those tumultuous and joyful hours. They are set in my heart and mind as are the great stones buried deep within the mantle of the world, and as formidable as the roots of the mighty oak that hold so firmly to their place through the relentless passage of time.
The sun has nearly set on our days together, and the evening of our separation creeps slowly toward the horizon. Even so, I know that as surely as dawn brings forth the light of a new day, the darkness that falls while we are apart will surely brighten when next we meet.
In the windows of your souls, light the candles of hope, and set the wicks of your lanterns to burn with the oil of promise until we are once again joined in joy. As I go, I will carry with me the flame of my love that burns deep within me, to lift the veil of darkness in the days ahead. Vigilance and patience will be my companions, and as I am able, I will send word of my progress. When the moment arrives, and I have been delivered to my destiny at the doorstep of the fortress, your secret longings for the future will direct me on my journey to fulfillment of the purpose, and the universal energies of life that first brought us together will return me to you.
Precisely how the events of the world will shape the days ahead is hidden from our eyes, and this is in exact accord with the design of life. However, there is an aspect of our nature that can reach beyond tomorrow, so that we may swim in the waters of possibility. Through the acquisition of self-knowledge and the nurturing of our inner worlds, we can attune ourselves to the realm of what can be, and through determined effort, create an environment conducive to shaping future events. In this way, we contribute to the currents that steer them, and that is our doorway to tomorrow.”
My acute sensitivity to a more profound level of awareness had its beginnings in Massachusetts, and the intense intellectual and emotional responses to the events in California brought me even further along on the path to a heightened sense of the existence of a transcendent aspect within me, and forced me to acknowledge what I would later encounter in the writings of Carl Jung, as “…events which transcend time, space, and causality.” Our limitations in attempting to address these ineffable aspects of our nature, in no way diminishes the experiential subjective awareness of their existence.
Many times, we find the unexpected on the path to knowledge, and the spirit of all knowledge is equally present in the journey to find it, as it is in the destination that contains it.
…..more to come….