Wasn’t quite sure how to start telling something so personal and preposterous, but a lot of you have heard me tell this experience over the many miles, so.....
I had just turned 4 years old and our family, my Dad, brother Billy, baby Alice and my Mom had gone to the beach for the first time that I can recall. We always teased our younger sister Mary by saying “Well, that happened before you were born, Mary”. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, my Mom was pregnant with Mary. We went with neighbors, my Mom’s best girlfriend at the time and her husband and their little girl I had a crush on...I vaguely remember my Mom was not pleased about being there in the first place. I really don’t remember too much about it except something that happened to me I rememeber to this day. Clearly. This little girl I had a crush on ran into the ocean to swim because she could and I ran in after her (most likely to show off). I had never been swimming before and as far as I can recall, maybe never even been in a pool or anything but a bathtub.
I drowned in the ocean.
I know I did because I went to a place of profound love and light and felt I was home. I remember this now like it was yesterday. My little life had just begun and yet I was home. Until I heard a voice telling me I couldn’t stay, that I had to go back. I remember saying “but it’s our home” and the voice replied something like “It’s not time yet” and the next thing I remember is coughing up seawater, covered in seaweed and my Mom screaming.
That’s about all I really wanna remember, but I also recall trying to tell my Mother what I had experienced one time in our kitchen a few years later and she brushed it off, like it was just my imagination or something. I was raised Catholic and I’m fairly certain that had something to do with my Mom’s reticence about the whole subject. I never forgot it.
Recovering from Catholicism probably takes a lifetime but I had help. It came in the form of a 15 year old from India. In 1973 the band I was in at the time called Titan, an 8 piece rock ‘n soul band, all took a trip to see this teenage Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat as he is now known) in Houston at the Astrodome at an event entitled “Millenium 73”. I had been a seeker since age 14, after the Pope came out in favor of the war in Vietnam. I remember going to my Mom and asking “How can the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ, who is the Prince Of Peace (oh how I used to love Christmas!) be in favor of ANY war let alone this one?”. She did not have a decent answer and for the first time the walls came crumbling down around my faith. It was the same year that The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s came out. I tried meditating for the first time ever to George Harrison’s “Within You Without You”, lights dimmed and me concentrating hard on the Sitar and the words.
A few years later a friend turned me onto a book that “Blew my mind”, as we hippies used to say. It was “Be Here Now” by Baba Ram Dass. It had a profound influence on my life and I read it more than several times. I surrounded myself with fellow travelers on the road to realization. It was a very hopeful time. The “Age Of Aquarius” and all that. I wrote a song called “Take My Love” at the age of 17 that eventually found it’s way to an album released on George Harrison’s label, Dark Horse Records by the group I was in, Jiva.
Jiva means “That which breathes” and is commonly used to signify the soul. But I am jumping all over the place. Point is, I had met my teacher, or “Darkness to light bringer” as the Hindi word “Guru” suggests.
The techniques of meditation or “Knowledge” as it is known, are deceptively simple. One technique is called “The Word”. That which breathes. You can achieve a similar effect by breathing in “I” and breathing out “Am”. It’s a way of being in the moment like none other and is much more profound than just simply, “I Am”.
It was another technique called “The Light” that I was fascinated with. After all, it took me back to when I was 4.
Now, we got no end of shit from family and some of our friends, saying “They’re following some Guru” or “They’ve gone off the deep end”. Then we signed our record deal with George Harrison and that criticism lightened up, as it were. A former Beatle was kind of giving us a little “legitimacy”.
Plainly and simply, at least for me, the “Proof is in the pudding”. As Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15) “You shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The light technique blew my mind more than once but one experience with it in particular took me back to when I was 4.
Normally, when I do the technique I see an oval or round shaped light, kind of like a doughnut. But there was at least one time I saw the middle of the doughnut turn into a pinpoint of light and then I was moving and standing still in total love, light and peace. I literally felt myself and everything was merging and turning into light. I remember my mind or ego interrupting me by saying “Where in the hell do you think your going?” I slammed back into my body and for almost 5 minutes I couldn’t open my eyes. The light of the sun peeking through the curtains wasn’t as bright as the light inside. It felt like the light was emanating through my eyes.There are no other words to describe such a profound, empirical experience. Words fail. And Fail Miserably.
What I will say is that it was probably the most incredible experience I have ever had. I have been trying to recover from it ever since. I have practiced and not practiced this meditation since 1973 and it’s something I can ALWAYS rely on to be there. Every breath. From first to last.
It is something that no one can take away from me. Ever. All evidence is subjective, I reckon, but there was no Catholic Mother there to tell me that it was “Just my imagination”.
I have read every scripture pretty much, from the Bible to the Vedas and all in between. Muslims say you cannot understand the Koran unless you understand Arabic. No matter. Whatever floats your boat, but it is experience that should always precede belief, in my humble opinion. And a lot of scriptures say at some point or another that “God is Light”.
With all the advances made in quantum physics since the emergence of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, it seems as though science and spiritual realization are slowly “Meeting in the middle”, so to speak. There is soooo much more to say about this subject, maybe another time, but I will leave you with this.....
Matthew 6:22 Jesus supposedly said, “The light (or lamp, depending on which translation) of the body is the eye. Therefore, if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
I know that. I mean know it in the most personal, empirical way, I know it because “The kingdom of Heaven is within you” and we are all made of light.....
.....and thank you Prem Rawat.....Pranam
M. Lanning 6/2/11