On a warm Chicago summer night during my sixteenth year of life I was lying on my back looking up at the night sky and spontaneously said to myself, “forget that you exist, forget that you exist.” The next instant, the sense of I-ness and its world disappeared and there was nothing other than stars amidst a thick black, a complete immersion that was neither existence nor non-existence, a void that was not a void. This Absolute Truth knew itself as Absolute Truth alone.
I don’t know how, I don’t think anyone knows how, but a sense of a point of existence appeared in the midst of this vastness like a tiny speck and everything was perfect as this smallness basked in its true immensity until attachment to its definitions began to surface. Suddenly the words came, “what are you doing, get out of this,” followed by a scrambling to remember who I thought I was and trying to find what I thought to be my body. In the midst of this panic it took awhile but bit by bit the pieces were put together and the thought identity reestablished itself and it found its supposed body. I bolted upright, but the supposed solid earth beneath my supposed solid body felt like nothing or at best like a soft malleable jelly. I couldn’t distinguish between where I ended and the outside world began; the boundaries were gone. I stood up, trying to regain my sense of solidity, my sense of separation and identity — it was so fragile. From then on life became a fearful fight against Reality, trying to hold onto my false sense of self. Yet at the same time an unceasing curiosity took root, wanting to know this Truth rather than living my lie.
My battle continued for over thirty years until my paranoid way of life that was constricting more tightly every year was either going to send me to the psyche ward or I was going to give in and let Truth have me. I was tired, worn down, didn’t know what to do other than surrender. And so began the real work, the real journey.
Somehow I began to be blessed with teachers who supported and gave me the courage to directly meet my demons. No matter how intense the fear of anihilation, guidance sooner or later amounted to meeting the felt sense directly — in this case the felt sense of terror — rather than following the mind’s interpretation and movement away. I began to bask in this raw terror, the last place the false identity wanted to go, and I began feeling alive and rich along with a profound unexpected sense of relief. What is always ever Present, Holy Presence, was baking me and I did nothing other than settle into its embracing arms no matter how intense the fear or pain.
Settling into the Holy deepened. I didn’t really know where it was leading nor did I care. I lost all expectation. It felt wonderful even when it was supposed to be awful. Early one morning I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea. As I steeped the tea bag, dunking it up and down in my cup, something shifted. There was a break, a disappearance of existence for a moment. Then there was a spreading out sensation. I looked at the counter and It was Divine Mother. It was the same as me. This hand was Divine Mother. The cup was Divine Mother. Even the intensity of terror was Divine Mother. It was all Beloved Divine Mother! There was no difference in the immediacy of the moment.
It wasn’t like something new happened. It was just recognizing what had always been here the entire time. Flashing before me was what I had seen as a little child entranced by giant elm trees swaying against the sky, directly sensing myself as this unified whole. Somehow I had lost this but now I was home again. Now everything arose in It and also was It. There was no difference. What could I possibly be afraid of? I couldn’t get away even if I tried.
People started to ask me to share. At first I thought everything was complete and later saw that this was only a beginning. This Beauty, this wondrous Presence is bringing forth everything that is submerged and hidden, the entirety of the human experience. In the early stages it seems like we are the ones who are opening to the Beloved but the truth of it all is we are Her servants — the Beloved is realizing Herself through us. This is where Divinity touches the human, where She communes as Oneness. She is a vulnerable, wide open touching of Herself in every moment. The depths to which we let Her have us are endless.