It's 1952 or so.
I'm 4 or 5 years old.
I'm sitting on the floor, and my friend Ritchie is sitting facing me.
In my memory, he is slightly lower than me.
Richie is angry and he's yelling. . . at me. Really angry, overcome with something.
As he yells, I spontaneously fall into a state of deep awareness.
I am watching him, silently.
And I am aware of Life as a continuous whole, where Love and Compassion are the main qualities. I Am That. And so is everything. There is no problem.
Then a question arises: How could such a disturbance in the fabric of the continuous, non-problematic Whole of Reality even be possible? How could both these things be true simultaneously? Life as Love and Compassion and no-problem, always already the case; and this disturbance, coexisting with that.
This question was deeply personal, as (for the first time) it drew on my developing understanding that my life and my family were filled with this same disturbance.
In its deepest moments, my life would be dedicated to finding out the answer to that question.
On the surface, my life unfolded in the usual ways — growing up, getting married, the 60's, drugs, music, politics, Transcendental Meditation. Teaching, driving a taxi cab, a business career, raising a family. Exploring different philosophies, losing God, finding God, losing God again.
FAST FORWARD TO 1999
I'm sitting in my office, utterly depressed.
From the outside, my life looks really all right. My career is progressing, my children are all teenagers and pretty okay. My marriage is, well, just okay. We are sort of fine, even admired by some; but not quite right, somehow.
My office is located in corporate headquarters and I had expected that I could make a difference. But it turned out to be all "politics", all fear-based.
And no matter how much money I make, our debt keeps rising.
There is no real satisfaction. There is no real meaning. The future seems more of the same. The road looks bleak. I long for meaning, for a real spiritual life, for community, for Real Wisdom.
And the question initiated back in 1952 is always looming. . .
* * *
Then one day, my life changed completely.
I heard these words, in my head (spoken by who?): "Your marriage has ended."
And then I stopped having thoughts.
I was thrust into a new consciousness, where only one thing existed. There was only the consideration of "Your marriage has ended." It was as if there was a feeling, energetic, all-inclusive fork in the road. On one side, I could feel the course of my life as it existed now and on the other side was something completely new and radical. It was a life of no compromise, only dedicated to Truth, to Reality, to real meaning, to God. There was a feeling of rightness, of inevitability.
But that choice had awful consequences. I would have to be willing to lose everything. I would have to give up my career, my marriage, my children. I would have to give up being the good son, the good husband, the good dad. I would have to give up everything. And that choice was awful to contemplate.
But in the end, after twenty-four hours of only this consideration, non-stop, I chose a life of no compromise, a life purposed deeply to Truth.
* * *
The ordinary details of how that decision played out is not for this story. That story is poignant and very personal. It is about love and maturity and healing with family. . . but what matters most here, in this story, is what followed.
In 2001, after much searching and bitter disappointment, having pretty much given up my ordinary life and the search that went with it, I was invited to a gathering to hear about a spiritual teacher, Adi Da Samraj. So, without expectations, just feeling, "oh well, I've been around the block. I can probably help those guys", I went.
A small living room with five other people.
Two presenters, me, my friend and Adi Da on video.
As I looked at them and felt them, I began to realize that, in this arena, I was a student, not a teacher. . .
The presenters were shining, happy.
And on video, Adi Da was Radiant, absolutely Happy!
As I watched the video of Adi Da, every cell in my body relaxed and lined up as one.
I received a Revelation. It was nothing fancy, just this: I was home. Utterly home.
* * *
In the fifteen years since that day, more and more I know the answer to the question that arose in 1952. It has to do with the nature of suffering, and the only true antidote to suffering: Adi Da, the Real Guru, and devotion to that One, Who is the One and Only Self of everyone and everything. That is the Gift. And it is one I feel every day, with tears of gratitude.