I was 21 when I had a life-changing experience. I did not know the meaning of what happened; I just know that I changed for the better. It took almost 34 years to understand the full extent of that short event.
In high-school I had my friends – we played music together, did some marijuana, and were generally different than most. After high-school, my friends went to college and I found that I had no direction, no purpose in life. I thought about joining either the military or the Hare Krishna’s. I was lost. I could not focus or think clearly, and my inner life was a jumble of random thoughts and music. I read a book about an interesting psychotherapist in Los Angeles and decided to drive from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles and join his group class. I arrived, joined his class and got a factory job doing inventory control. I attended a few group sessions and seemed to be getting in touch with some deep seated anger. One day I left group after privately expressing some angry words to the therapist. I went to my job and walked out angrily and loudly, “I quit!”.
I went to my apartment, still filled with anger, and decided I had enough of it. I did not want my life anymore, I did not want the inner turmoil, the lack of direction – all of it. I sat on the floor and decided that I am not moving until it is over, until I am free of it. I basically turned away from my inner world and focused my attention outward at some object in the room. I couldn’t take any more of the inner so I was going to look away until the inner was no more.
My focus away from the inner was anything but peaceful. It was difficult to ignore the inner world with all its clatter and noise. My anger motivated and propelled me along. My outward focus did not waver. It became intense – their were feelings of anxiety and discomfort. I did not care. I just wanted to be free of the inner. The room started to fade away as I approached the peak. Then the room exploded into a white light. I could feel a release of the inner, an inner calmness. The intensity was still there but the inner turmoil was gone.
I went outside and sat on the apartment entrance steps. It was a nice, bright summer day and the flowers and landscaping seemed in abundance. As I looked at the flowers I felt a sense of immense joy and connectedness to everything – the colors, the sounds, the wind, the temperature – to everything within the reach of my senses. This sense of joy lasted for several days at least. I would also have intuitive insights into the nature of the universe. It was as if I suddenly was able to understand the truth in everything. Unfortunately, none of these intuitive understandings were clear enough to write down. The understanding of this event would take many years, but its aftereffects changed the course of my life.
The unusual thing about the above event was that I was not on a spiritual quest. I did not have an interest in spirituality and did not scrutinize the event any further for almost ten years. When I finally started reading on spiritual issues, I realized that what I went thru was considered by some to be a “spiritual awakening.”
In the last 15 years, I wondered exactly what happened that day. By turning away from my inner turmoil, I found a sense of lasting peace and freedom. So, what really happened and can it happen to others the same way?
My explanation of what happened is as follows: We hold the world, our problems and their interaction within. It is not possible to sort out the bad stuff by adding a little good stuff. In other words, I don’t think a spiritual practice or meditation would have helped me salvage my inner world. The only way out was to discard the entire mess and start fresh. Just wipe the slate clean. I think this is what happened. By clearing out the inner, I found a new sense of peace and freedom. And there was no turning back!
Out of desperation can come a new beginning. It took the motivation of desperation and the momentum of anger to propel it to the end. If you are at that place in your life, then just look away like I did and start fresh.