My spiritual journey and arrival
This book is an account of my personal journey of discovery, and more importantly, what it led me to, and can lead you to also. If you find some of the teachings or stories hard to believe, I understand perfectly. Some of my experiences were so incredible that, even though I was personally experiencing them at the time, they were still almost hard for me to accept. But I had no choice but to ultimately accept them, whereas you do. However, those who really want the truth, and are ready for it, will recognize it. An intuition that’s unfettered by ego and selfishness will always sense truth and reality.
In any case, the point and purpose of this book is not about my story, the alternative history or the strange tales presented here. Frankly, they just don’t matter, so read it all with a “believe it or not” approach, keeping in mind that it’s absolutely fine with us if you don’t believe any of the story or “theory-like” aspects of the book. Regardless of whether or not the story is too incredible for your own sensibilities, this book is really about identifying the real “disease” behind our personal and world problems, and the cure for it all – Unselfish Love. That’s what we sincerely hope you get out of the book, and find useful on your own incredible personal journey through life. Other than that, we are not interested in convincing anyone of anything. Every individual needs to have his/her own realizations.
Foundations of Understanding
In school, people are often required to take “prerequisite” classes, before they can take certain other classes. That’s because sometimes you need to understand certain fundamental concepts first, before another class will really make as much sense as possible, or allow you get the most out of it. The teachings presented in this book are similar – some of them require “prerequisites” to understand. Thus, it was necessary to present the teachings in a specific “understanding order”. But because of this, the chronological order, or “time frame” of my personal experiences at the monastery, had to take “a back seat” to the order in which the teachings are presented. For instance, in some earlier chapters, a discussion may be taking place when I was an elder monk, while in later chapters, a discussion that is taking place may have been one from my first days at the monastery as a novice monk (and a rather egotistical novice). Some stories will even be after my time and training at the monastery was over, and I was traveling the world. Many chapters include more than one discussion or experience I had, from more than one time frame. If you pay close attention to the subtleties of conversations, you will understand basically what time frame it is taking place in. Taking the same mental approach to reading the book that you would with a “chronology jumbled” mystery novel should make it more interesting and fun to read, rather than confusing.
My First Steps – A Strange Child in a Strange Land
My final “voyage” began decades ago, when I was 17 years old. But what led up to it began years prior. Like the Dalai Lama, I was destined to return to my previous position with our spiritual order. Unlike the Dalai Lama, I was not told of it in early childhood, nor was I aware of it. While I didn’t have the kind of direct contact with elder monks like the Dalai Lama did, I had special caretakers “on high”. Unbeknownst to me, events outside my control, were preparing me, and compelling me, to embark on a great adventure that would change my life beyond my wildest dreams. To simplify it, I guess you could say angels & saints were secretly guiding my young life.
This book covers the period of my life at the monastery in more detail than what I offer about my childhood. That’s because that monastic period is the most important, as it is used to present the teachings. I only touch upon my childhood briefly in order to give you a sense of what I was like, and what I experienced, prior to returning to the monastery and rejoining my brothers and sisters. Some readers have commented about how they relate to my childhood experiences, and have had similar experiences themselves. Thus it helps them understand the entire process of spiritual change.
I was a very strange and sensitive child (considered “over-sensitive”), with unusual abilities. But when I was very young, I had no concept of being that way, what that meant, or why I was that way – it was just the “norm” for me. I had no idea that the reason for it was my latent consciousness, and my pre-destiny to return to the same state of being as when I left my previous life. Even so, many of the things I experienced were not just due to that – many of you gentle and kind souls have experienced the same things as I during your childhood.
Abnormally bright, I was reading the newspaper at age three, and self-learning to play music by five. I couldn’t relate to adults, or other children for that matter. Nor could I fathom why they were so mean, self-centered, and selfish. And their idea of fun – many of the things they did – seemed either meaningless to me or worse – cruel. So my childhood was very painful and lonely (sound familiar?).
As I approached my teenage years, I was further alienated when I was “let down” by my religion. It was a major religion which I will refrain from naming, but I would eventually have had the same crisis of faith with many other religions. As with most people, I was raised by my family to believe in their religion, and thus to believe in their concept of God. Just as when I was very young and time/experiences “pierced my illusion” about the existence of Santa Claus, the same thing began happening with my belief in the existence of God. The dogma and behavior of the leaders and practitioners of my religion, was “shooting down” my faith. Certain personal experiences, and “holes” in the teachings and practices, ultimately let me down, and left me feeling “empty” and even more alone. At first, only “doubt” about my faith set in, but finally, I was left with total disbelief. It was a horrible, dark time. The worst part was I didn’t just lose faith in my religion. I lost faith in the existence of God. By the time I was 13, I had become an atheist. But it turned out that I had only lost faith in the “concept” of God that I had been taught. I didn’t know it yet, but it was really the beginning of developing my own understanding of God.
Trying to Connect Pieces of an Ancient Puzzle
Looking out at the stars, and observing the wonders of nature and life, I felt there must be something. There was order, constant new creation, symmetry and beauty to it all. Even if it were not what I had previously thought God was, there must be something to it, or behind it, that might be considered “God”. Or maybe it all was “God”. So before I was 14, I became an agnostic (one who doesn’t believe in God, but doesn’t necessarily disbelieve in God either).
Caught in a paradox, I knew there must be some force behind everything, but at the same time, I couldn’t find ANY religion that really made total sense. And the tunnel-vision theories of creation offered by most evolutionary “scientists” also left far too many unanswered questions, and were full of “holes”. Nothing truly answered the questions about life that constantly tormented me, nor eased my loneliness. It’s not that I had a bad family life – it was better than most. Yet I still felt like an abandoned baby, left in a basket on the doorstep of a strange world.
I had to find some kind of answers that made sense to me. I became obsessed. My thirst was insatiable – I HAD to find truthful answers that made sense about the origins and purpose of life. I read every book I could get my hands on about science, religion, philosophy, spirituality and metaphysics. I “tried” different religions, including various “Eastern” philosophies. But at some point, I was always ultimately disappointed with what I would find. I found “bits and pieces” of truth here, and “bits and pieces” of truth there, but something was always wrong with the entirety of the religion or philosophy. Either something was missing in the teachings, or some aspect of the teachings didn’t make sense, or the religion made the teachings more important than the purpose behind them, or it was too dogmatic. Yet I could not stop searching. I was always seeking to find a source for pure, consistent truth, and real answers to every one of my questions.
At age 10, I had tested with a very high I.Q., yet at age 16, I had flunked out of high school (for various reasons). Around the same time, I had a terrible argument with my mother over religion and relationships (she didn’t like my girlfriend or my rejection of the family religion). So I moved out of my parent’s house, started college, got a job, and my own apartment.