by Roger Fritz
…..Let me try to write down some of the unusual experiences I've had in my 69 years on planet Earth. The most important stuff I have learned has been from out-of-body experiences. I've had four, all when I was in my twenties. But let me start at the beginning....
About 1952, age 5: When I was five I went with Mom and Dad, Karen and Sandy, and Uncle Allan and Aunt Claudia to Afghanistan. There's a picture of us in the Denver Airport in 1953, taken for the newspaper. The part I remember is the flight over the ocean. We flew on a plane that had velvet walls, and laughing stewardesses. It had a spiral staircase about halfway from front to back, and it went down into a salon. In the belly was a magical room. It was oval, and it had circular windows ringing the entire room. Built into the curving wall was a maroon velvet couch.
…..My goodness! I was five years old, and I needed no further convincing about the magical possibilities of life. At night bunks came down from the bulkheads, like in a train, and we kids got to sleep in them. When we landed and took off in those days, they asked kids if they wanted to come up and sit in the cockpit in a chair behind and above the captain. And you got to wear headphones, listen to the tower talk, and watch over his shoulder as the plane rushed down the runway and leaped into the air. I fell in love with flying then, and I've loved it all my life.
About 1957, age 10: Once when I was about eleven I went for a camping trip in northern Afghanistan with the Ritchies. Joe and Mark and Danny and Dwight. And an Afghan kid named Hashmat Sidke came with us, too. Dwight brought along a huge tent, so big that we could all sleep in it. We went to a place where two rivers meet, called Doab (literally "two waters"). One of the rivers was red with mud, and the other was clear and green. The odd thing was that they didn't mix where they met. For miles downstream the river was half one color and half the other.
…..And we went to a place called Bamian. There's an extremely odd phenomenon there. There are five lakes, and there are a lot of minerals in the water. The minerals deposit out at the edge of the lakes, and so the lakes have gradually risen up out of the valley bottom until they're seventy-five feet above ground level. The walls that hold in the lakes are made out of that
off-white mineral stuff that deposits around the edges of hot springs, and are thicker at the bottom than they are at the top. We boys climbed up the walls, and it was easy going, though there was a sheet of water trickling down everywhere.
…..When we got to the top, it was flat and about fifteen feet wide. When we walked to the inside edge and looked down, it was the most amazing sight.
…..The water was incredibly clear, so that one could see way, way down. And the water was full of fish. A galaxy of fish, a moving and changing constellation. The farther down I looked, the smaller the fish seemed. It was like looking into the sky, and seeing the stars swimming around, constantly moving and shifting.
…..On the way home, we were going across a high pass, riding in Dwight's Nash Rambler, and it was very late at night. We stopped at an Afghan tea house. We went in, and the ceiling was so low that you couldn't stand up. It was dark, as the only light was from a fire in the fireplace. The place was made out of adobe and logs and sticks, and it was as though we had gone back thousands of years in time. We all had chai in bowls. And then we got in the car and went on.
About 1958, age 11: About a year later I went back to the Bamian valley with my family. There's a statue of the Buddha there, 180 feet tall, carved into the wall of a vertical cliff. The upper half of the face is missing. The story is that the Buddhist monks carved it off when Genghis Khan and his horde were approaching to conquer the valley. In the cliff next to the statue are caves, carved by hand, many with murals painted on the walls. My family and I climbed up through those tunnels till we reached the back of the Buddha's head. There was a space of about a foot we had to step across, and then we were standing on top of his head. It was a flat space about ten feet across, with no railing. I'll never forget standing there with my mom and dad and sisters looking out across the valley. What an experience....
About 1959, age 12: My favorite Christmas dinner happened when I was eleven or twelve. We, the family, were driving down to India in our VW pickup, and we stopped along the way at an orphanage in Pakistan. It happened to be Christmas, and we joined them for dinner.
…..Dinner took place in the courtyard of the orphanage, a bare space surrounded by adobe walls, full of kids. The kids were dressed as you'd expect Pakistani kids to be, and were mostly younger than I was.
…..Dinner was three colors of rice. White, saffron and brown. They didn't taste any different.
…..I don't know why, but something about that memory lingers in my mind like an image from a powerful dream.
About 1959, age 12: When I was a kid I was obsessed by death. I always thought that this was normal, that most kids were preoccupied with death. I grew up and found out it's not so. Most people don't think about death till they get older.
…..I used to have dreams about death, or rather fear of death. One of the main themes is that I would dream I was falling. And the fear would wake me up before I hit bottom. Over the years I had this dream many many times. I kept getting closer and closer to the bottom. And finally when i was twelve, I had the courage to go all the way to the bottom of the cliff and hit. I died. I went to heaven. It was a very pretty place, like a park with lots of trees.
…..Jesus was there, and he gave me two bible verses. I Samuel 3:4 and Jeremiah 18:18. The first verse seemed obvious when I looked it up, but I have spent the rest of my life trying to understand why He gave me the second verse.
…..After that I stopped having the falling dreams.
About 1960, age 13: When Mom was a girl in high school she rode a horse named Imp to school. Imp was black in color and a cunning rascal, and used to try to throw Mom into a pool of blue mud that was on the way.
…..One winter we were over at the ranch, and my uncles decided to go hunting for a wildcat. They'd seen the tracks over the last few days. I wanted to go along, so they said I could come up till the point where they found the tracks. Then they were going to be riding fullspeed across the sagebrush, and it'd be too dangerous for me. So I rode along on Imp till the hounds struck the trail, and then off they went. I turned Imp back towards the barn, and suddenly Imp was going fullspeed, too. She'd been loafing along till now, but she had a colt in the barn, and she wasn't loafing anymore. I tried to stop her or turn her, and she ignored me. She was going at a dead run across the fields. I looked ahead and saw that we were coming to a closed gate, the big wooden one next between the house and the chicken house. I could tell that Imp wasn't slowing down, and I could just see her planting all four feet and skidding to a halt and me going over her head into the gate. So, I decided it was time to bail out.
…..So I did. I leaned to one side and fell off. I hit the ground and rolled. I sat up, and looked, and sure enough, Imp planted all four feet and skidded to a halt in front of the gate. It was a good thing I'd bailed out.
…..Later on, we were living at Archer and we had Imp there. Mom used to take us kids on sled rides in the winter, towing us behind Imp at the end of a rope. I loved that, and Mom seemed so dashing and strong, galloping Imp through the snow.
…..During the summer, one of my chores was to ride Imp up to the mailbox, perhaps half a mile from the house. I was riding her up there one day, loping across the field. I noticed that the reins weren't quite even, and so I was messing with them. Imp could feel that my attention was diverted, and in the middle of a stride she flipped end for end. I was so surprised to find myself suddenly sailing through the air that it wasn't till I hit the ground that I realized what had happened. I sat on the ground, and looked back to see that Imp was already a hundred yards away, headed back to the barn. What a tricky horse.
…..I walked the rest of the way up to get the mail, and back. Walking was always considerably less adventurous than riding Imp. And often a better idea.
About 1962, age 15: When I went to high school they had a ski jump at the school, on the side of a hill covered by pinyon trees above the soccer field. Actually, they had two ski jumps, side by side, a big one and a little one. At some point I learned how to ski well enough to think about trying the little one. I went over there one afternoon with my friend George. He encouraged me to do it. I was so scared that I could barely bring myself to even think of it seriously. Then George said something interesting. "The more scared you are of something before you do it, the better you feel after you've done it." Wow. I climbed up to the top of the jump and put my skis on and pushed off. I sped up so much on the inrun that it was already scary. I didn't even try to jump as I went off the lip. I just plopped to the snow three feet below. Then I went over the hump into the outrun, which felt like it was going just about straight down, and I sped up till I felt like I was rocketing.
…..As I went through the transition, the centrifugal force was so great that it pushed me down till I was crouching on my skis. Then I came flying out of the transition, and started swerving back and forth to slow down and stop. When I did, I was jumping up and down and hollering for sheer exhilaration. George was right.
…..After that I did a lot of ski jumping. I worked up to the big jump, and the farthest I jumped was about 85 feet. But no jump was as fantastic as that first one.
About 1962, age 15: After I learned to ski jump, I used to to it a lot. Whenever we had time, a bunch of us would go over to the ski jump on Saturday or Sunday afternoons and jump.
…..One day I went off the jump, giving it a good spring as I left the lip, and I looked down and discovered that one of my skis was gone. It had fallen off.
Suddenly time slowed to a crawl. I had all the time in the world to leisurely consider a variety of plans as to what to do, think them over, compare them, discard some of them. The decision was made more poignant because one of my best friends, Robert Ruggieri, was lying in the hospital with a broken leg. He'd lost a ski while jumping a few days before, and what he'd decided to do was land on the one ski he had and to put down the heel of the other foot to kind of act as an outrigger. This plan failed badly. The outrigger foot was caught by an unevenness in the snow, and the twist broke the leg that was attached to the ski in a triple spiral fracture.
…..So I knew not to do that.
…..I tucked the foot without a ski up behind me, and spread my arms wide, and landed on one ski. The odd thing about skiing on one ski is that you go a lot faster, because the friction with the snow is cut in half. I went zooming down the outrun. I shot through the transition, with the centrifugal force pushing me right down into a crouch. And i came firing out of the transition going lickety split. I was going so fast and being so careful with my balance that steering wasn't much of an issue. I went zooming out of the normal path and off into the sagebrush. After fifty yards or so I decided this was not a good idea, and I bailed out. That is to say, I leaned over and went tumbling end over end. The first thing you learn in skiing is how to fall, so I relaxed and waited for the maelstrom to stop. It did, and I was fine.
…..Wow. I sat there in the snow feeling like I had escaped disaster by the skin of my teeth. After that I checked my bindings carefully before I jumped.
About 1962, age 15: When I was in high school we went for a 3-week-long camping trip every spring down into the desert of Utah. One of the places we often went was a place in Needles Country. It was called that because there were a lot of standing needles of rock. The place we actually camped had a gigantic mushroom-shaped rock in the middle, probably fifty feet across and thirty feet high. From there we went on hikes out into the surroundings. One of the places we went that I remember was called Elephant Hill.
…..This was true rock desert. And it was hot. I rigged a hanky to hang from the back of my hat like a French Foreign Legion soldier. Everybody laughed at me because while they walked along the trail I'd go motoring past them to the next shade, and then wait there while they went past me. Then I'd pass them again. Let em laugh. Who's sitting in the shade?
…..Parts of the desert had amazing piles of rocks, each rock larger than a house. One could climb among them like in a giant's jungle gym. The truly amazing thing was that we kept finding pools of water way down at the bottoms of these piles. The pools were deep and still. We took off our shoes and socks and went swimming, and it was a fabulous, archetypal experience. Lovely!
…..When we were camping out in Needles Country in Utah when I was in high school, we went off for walks along a small river. We discovered that we could pick any spot and start climbing up, and we'd come to cliff dwellings. We'd been told not to take anything from cliff dwellings or disturb anything, so we didn't. but it was amazing to find these places way up above the valley floor where people had lived.
…..Tiny rooms were made out of rock and adobe plaster. Sometimes we found large logs that had somehow been hoisted way up there, and we could see the marks from the stone axes on them. In the rooms we found wooden spoons and straw. Quite far away from the dwellings we found small storage rooms with corn on the floors.
…..It was eerie and marvelous. People once lived here, in a whole different way than we do. And it brought up odd questions. Why did they live up here rather than down there where it would be a lot more convenient? Were they getting away from other people, and out where they couldn't be protected? Were they getting away from predatory animals? What was going on here?
About 1963, age 16: When I was in high school I used to go to Gramma's ranch for vacations. In the winter I would borrow some skates from the front porch and walk down to the Little Snake River and go skating. My uncles educated me about safety: when there are holes in the ice it's OK to go near them on the upriver side, but stay away from the downriver side.
…..The time I remember the most, I went down to the river, and there was about four inches of snow on the ice. I put on my skates, and for hours I skated along the white surface. The snow came up over the noses of my skate-shoes, so that my feet disappeared. And the snow gave the skating a soft feeling that was lovely. The sky was white, and the cottonwood trees along the bank were a silvery grey. About the only color was from the red willows at the edge of the ice, and from a little dog named Tiny who was running along with me.
…..It was one of those special and lovely times that lingers in memory like music....
About 1966, age 19: When I was in college I took acid for the first time. In those days we used to take it at night, which was odd. It's a lot more fun in the daytime. But we didn't know better. I took it with a few other guys, and we stayed up all night talking and listening to music and going for walks. Before dawn we went for a walk, marveling at the patterns made by the streetlights in the bare tree branches. (It was in the winter.) As we were coming back to Ian's house, the sun came up. There was a lot of fog, and it was gloriously beautiful. But the most remarkable thing was that I was looking out over a valley of foggy pine trees, and floating in the air an inch above the tip of each pine branch was a candle flame. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I've never seen it again, but I'll never forget it.
About 1967, age 20: …..I had my first out-of-body experience the first time I got stoned on pot. It wasn't the first time I'd smoked. You have to smoke three or four times before you first get stoned. The out-of-body experience started when I noticed that my body was bigger than my visible body. My body looked the same from the outside, but from the inside I could feel that it was about six inches bigger than it looked. My body continued to get bigger, and the speed at which it got bigger accelerated. I could feel the point at which I became bigger than the earth, and I continued to get bigger. The earth shrank inside me, down towards a point centered in my belly. Then there was a sudden intense thrill as the sun pierced my skin and headed down towards that point in my belly. I continued to get bigger. There was a similar though less intense thrilling sensation as the first star pierced my skin. Then for a long time there were exquisite sensations as stars pierced my skin from all directions and flowed down towards that point in my belly. After awhile this stopped, and the whole Milky Way galaxy was in my belly, shrinking. Then there was a long time when galaxies pierced my skin, though the sensation was fuzzy and not as intense as the individual stars.
…..Eventually all the galaxies in the universe were inside me, and condensed into a fuzzy ball of light in my belly. It got smaller and smaller until it became a point of light. Then it became so small that I lost track of it. So I turned my attention outward, and I discovered that I was in bliss.
…..I felt a marvelous joy, that was unlike any joy I had ever felt before in that it had no cause. And since it had no cause it could never end.
…..It took three or four days after this experience for the bliss to fade, or rather, for me to lose contact with it. What I learned from this experience is that there is such a thing as bliss. And that it's joy without cause, and therefore without end.
About 1967, age 20: …..The second time I had an out-of-body experience was when I was in college. It was the first time I smoked hashish. (By the way, these weren't drug experiences. Drugs triggered them, but they weren't experiences that were repeated, though I smoked hashish lots of other times.)
…..I was sitting on a couch in the room of a friend of mine. I had an odd feeling that I was rushing through space at a high speed, though the room looked normal. Then I noticed that I could see a blue glow around the bodies of the other people in the room, about three or four inches thick.
…..Then something happened that I can only describe in metaphors. It was an experience literally beyond words. It was as though I were an airplane, and I were zooming along through a cloud, surrounded by fog. And it was as though I suddenly burst out of the cloud into light, and found that I wasn't flying along at a level, but was flying straight up.
…..In that light, I knew things without thinking. I didn't have to deduce and reason to reach knowledge. Knowing was readily available.
…..I came back from that leap into the light, and I carried back three pieces of information. These are the only things that I actually know for sure in this life. Everything else I "know" is a theory, a deduction, something that might be true, but something that might not be true. But these three things I absolutely know. These things are true. Everything else, we'll see.
…..The first thing I know is that we're all immortal. By "we" I mean people. I don't know about animals and rocks and trees. But all us people will live forever. Not in these bodies, of course. Bodies die. But whoever it is that we really are inside these bodies, that entity lives forever.
…..The second thing I know is that we all make it home. Again, by "we" I mean people. By home I mean our original source, God, bliss. Probably the best way to say it is bliss, because that's something I have experience of. I don't know how long it'll take us to get there, or when we'll get there, but since we're immortal, it doesn't really matter. We have forever.
…..The third thing I know is that we're all in bliss, all of us, all the time, though most of us aren't aware of it. Even someone in the middle of immense suffering is still in bliss at the same time. Odd, but true.
…..Everything else I think about life either is something I have reasoned out from these three axioms, or at least is something that doesn't conflict with these three axioms.
…..I came back from this out-of-body experience, and like the first one, the afterglow lasted for days. I felt constantly in bliss. Then it faded, and I was back into normal consciousness.
About 1968, age 21: …..The third out-of-body experience I had was when I was in college. I went to the initiation of a friend of mine, a woman named Susan Sheehan. Her initiation was at the house of a women named Millie Prendergast who lived in Boston. Because I hadn't yet been initiated myself I wasn't allowed to come to the actual initiation. So I went down in the basement to wait till they were done. I figured as long as I was waiting I might as well meditate, so I did. While I was meditating, I heard some music. It sounded kind of like music by Wagner, rich and orchestral and romantic. I was embarrassed. I assumed that they were playing some music on a record player upstairs as part of Susan's initiation, and it was reverberating along the pipes of the plumbing system so I was hearing it. How hokey!
…..Then I suddenly found myself flying through the air, several hundred feet above a forest of pine trees. There was no transition. One moment I was sitting in a basement meditating, and the next I was flying. The forest was pretty, but what was really odd about the environment I was in was that it was more real than the normal one.
…..Then I was back, again without transition. Sitting meditating in a basement.
…..Later I found out that they hadn't been playing any kind of music as part of the meditation. Oh.
What did I learn from this? Well, nothing really. I think I saw a glimpse of the astral plane, the afterlife, where we all go when we die. But maybe it was someplace else, I don't know.
…..What I learned for sure is that there's someplace else that's more real than this.
About 1969, age 22: After I graduated from college I was drafted. I asked Master what to do, assuming He would say go to Canada or burn my draft card and go to jail. Imagine my surprise when He said, "Go." Well, I thought about it and figured this must be a test of faith, right? So I went.
…..I went through basic training in North Carolina, and was put into the infantry. I went through infantry training in Alabama (and experienced the coldest winter I've ever been through). Then I was sent to Vietnam. I flew there on a regular commercial airliner, complete with stewardesses. The only odd thing was that every passenger was dressed in olive drab. We landed in Bien Hoa in Vietnam. It was hot, and there were people wearing conical straw hats cutting the grass by the runway with hand cycles. I knew right away I was far from home. While we were waiting in the terminal to be processed, I saw some guys from the bush, and I knew right away that this was going to be stranger than I could conceive of. I was taken to Long Binh, ten or fifteen miles away, and assigned to the Cavalry and brought back to Bien Hoa. There I was put in a holding company, which consisted of quonset huts and sand and time passing.
…..One night I woke up to hear explosions. Rockets were coming in. I jumped off my bed and pulled some mattresses from nearby beds over me. For a minute or so this was exciting and fun and amazing and even funny. Then it suddenly occurred to me I could die, and suddenly it wasn't funny anymore.
…..I was assigned to first of the seventh, which is the same unit that Custer lost at Bighorn. I figured the omens were clear. So I gave away my few possessions except for a $15 guitar that I figured I'd carry with me out in the bush, and wrote goodbye letters to all my friends.
…..Two days before I was going to go out and start carrying an M-60 machine gun in the bush, we were doing some more of the endless paperwork. And a guy said to me that he noticed I had a college education. "How'd you like to be a clerk?" he asked. I wouldn't let myself have the slightest bit of hope. To hope and then lose it would be devastating, so I casually said, "Sure." He sent me to see someone, and that guy sent me to see someone else, and that guy said, "OK, now I'm signing this paper, so now you're a clerk. I'll be your boss, and that'll be your desk right over there." And he told me to go back to my holding company. I walked out of the quonset hut and walked about fifty feet down the road. Suddenly my legs stopped working. "What?" I wondered. I managed to stumble off the road into a wide shallow ditch, so that the jeeps going by wouldn't run me down. And then I started to laugh.
…..I stood there for twenty minutes or half an hour and just laughed and laughed. I discovered then that I had had to wall off whole portions of my mind in order to do this insane thing, and when I didn't have to do it, the walls fell. And the energy came out as laughter.
…..After that, they could have their war, but I wasn't part of it. I had a boring office job in the tropics, and time went by.
About 1970, age 23: While I was in the holding company in Vietnam I was put on KP. Most of the terrible jobs were done by Vietnamese women, but there were still some we G.I.s did. One day I was sent to get ice. I was sent with another guy who happened to be on KP, named Ray Bienkowski and nicknamed Beany. We went in a two and a half ton truck that was driven by a guy who came with the truck. We rode in the back.
…..We went bouncing along over rutted dirt roads until we got to the place that had the ice. It came in 300 pound blocks, about four feet long and a foot and a half thick and two and a half feet high. There were six of them. The blocks were amazing! The water they were made out of was so clear that one could look deep into them.
…..Inside they were a bluish green, and tiny bubbles had been frozen in place, thousands of them, in swirls that looked like a galaxy. There was something about these frozen miniature galaxies in these cool vast greenish spaces that was like being God and looking into space.
…..We drove back to our company area. Beany and I rode in back again. The truck bouncing over the ruts and potholes brought the blocks to life. They rumbled around the back of the truck like ponderous implacable hippopotami, and Beany and I had to climb up on the side-rails to get out of the way.
…..I'll never forget those blocks of ice.
…..Later on, purely through chance, Beany and I wound up in the same company in Phu Loi, and Beany was my best friend while I was there. Life is strange.
About 1970, age 23: When I was in Vietnam my best friend was named Beany. The fellow who went with me to get ice. The first three months I was in Nam I was in one company, keeping track of statistics about incoming helicopter pilots, and I kept messing up. So I got transferred to another company, and when I got there and was assigned to a barracks I found myself living next door to Beany.
…..Beany was wild and untamed. He went to meet his wife in Hawaii for R&R. They had a great time, taking mescalin and partying. He told me about one time when he got so stoned he could see what people were going to say written on a banner in the air around their heads before they said it. When it came time to go back, he went AWOL for two weeks. Then he realized he was pushing the limit, so he turned himself in as a heroin addict. Which he wasn't. They put him in a ward which was so loose that the doctors walked around smoking marijuana, and he could leave every night and spend more time partying with his wife.
…..Eventually they sent him back to Vietnam. When he got there he was on his way back to us when he ran into a guy he'd known back in "the world." They got to partying, and two weeks went by.
…..We heard rumors in Phu Loi that Beany had been seen in Phuoc Vinh, so I suggested to my captain that I go up there and see if I could find him. He said OK, and off I went. I hitched up there, and walked around. I never did find Beany. A few weeks later the MP's caught him and brought him back to us in handcuffs. It happened to be on Beany's birthday, and we had a party for him.
…..What I did find, walking around in Phuoc Vinh, was that there were a bunch of infantry companies stationed there as their home base. I stopped with one of them to have lunch. In the army you can stop anywhere and eat. You just sign your name. The company was just back from the bush.
…..They were amazing. Their clothes were the color of dirt. Their packs were the same color. They all had long hair, and they moved in a way I'd never seen people move before: efficient and weary. I wanted to talk with these guys, but they never spoke.
…..During the hour I was there I didn't hear anyone say a word. They were such a team that there was no need to speak, and they were used to the jungle where speaking was dangerous. It was like being with a pack of wild animals. They were so far outside the normal run of humanity that they were a mystery to me. I've never forgotten that silent strange meal and those silent strange guys.
About 1970, age 23: …..The fourth out-of-body experience I had was when I was in Vietnam. I was a heroin addict for three months while I was there. The heroin was so cheap it was practically free, and it was 98% pure, and there wasn't a huge social stigma attached to it, so it was about the best time to be a heroin addict.
…..One night I got stoned, and I was lying in bed in a dreamy state, which is all you want to do when you're on heroin. All of a sudden I found myself out of my body, with no transition. I was flying around in the air above a forest. The experience was like the third time I had an out-of-body experience, except that this time there were little white houses with red Spanish-tile roofs scattered among the pine trees. After awhile, with no transition, I found myself back here.
…..Anyway, after about three months on heroin, I discovered one day that it felt really good to scratch. Then I realized that it was because anything less than scratching, I didn't feel at all.
…..Ohmigod! My whole body was going numb. Then I realized the same thing was happening emotionally. I no longer had good days and bad days. All my days were medium. I was just going along at a hum. Well, this was not for me. So I quit. I went through withdrawal for three days. What was hard was that all the feelings I hadn't felt for the last few months, all came back at once. I felt intense joy and sorrow and fear and anger, all at the same time. But in a few days it passed, and that was that. It was an interesting experience to take heroin for awhile. Like most experiences in life, no one can really describe to you what it's like.
About 1971, age 24: My favorite New Years was the one I had in Vietnam. I had gone to bed early. About ten minutes to midnight Beany came and woke me up. He made me get up and get dressed, and we went and stood at the door at one end of the hooch.
…..At the stroke of midnight, out across the flat country as far as we could see in every direction, flares went up. White curving pillars of fire curved up into the sky. It was a marvelous sight.
…..And as marvelous to me was that no one had organized this. Without anyone saying anything to anyone else, the same idea came into so many minds at once that the entire landscape was lit up. How amazing! How beautiful!
About 1971, age 24: I went to Bangkok for two weeks from Vietnam on leave. During a year in Vietnam one got one two-week leave and one two-week R&R (rest and recuperation). I took my leave to Bangkok, and once I got there it occurred to me to go to India to see Kirpal Singh. I wasn't supposed to leave Bangkok, but I figured that Kirpal was a higher authority than the army, so I sent him a cable and asked if I could come visit. He sent back a cable saying, "You may please come stop all love Kirpal Singh." So I went.
…..The Bangkok airport was an ordinary international airport. Busy and crowded, people hurrying here and there with their luggage, a general atmosphere of anxiety. The airport in Delhi was nearly empty, and the customs official flipped lazily through my passport and said, "Welcome to India." The atmosphere of peace was so lovely, and continued the whole time I was there. India's my favorite country in the world, because of that feeling.
…..I got to the ashram in Delhi only to find that Master had gone up to the Dehra Dunn valley. The last car was about to leave the ashram, and they made room for me. We drove for five hours across northern India, up into the foothills of the Himalayas. Master had a vacation house there.
…..We got to the place where Master was building a demonstration farm near his house. The taxi driver stopped, and we got out. Master was standing out in the middle of a lot of activity, pointing with his cane, directing things. He came over, and stuck out his hand. I had my hands together doing namaskar, and it took me a moment to realize that He wanted to shake hands. So we shook hands.
…..I stayed there for five days. Master spent some time with us every morning and evening, and the rest of the time he was gone to his farm. I spent the time reading and meditating and going for walks in the garden behind his house and in the rocky ravine behind that.
…..My meditations didn't get one whit better. The only change I could notice was that my dreams became utterly amazing. Vivid and long and completely unlike any dreams I'd had before. One night I had a long dream about being the son of two devas (a god and a goddess).
…..They were fifty feet tall, and I was normal size. The palace we lived in was built to their size rather than mine. I had a sister, and the dream was complex.
…..In another dream I flew to Pluto with some other people on a flying saucer for a visit. The flying saucer was a round platform with pink glowing balls along the edge. The balls generated a hemispherical force field over our heads. The flight was fun, and Pluto was beautiful from space. It was colored black and white, in swirls like a marble cake. We landed, and toured a city. One place we stopped was a school. There was a large courtyard in the center, with children playing. There were life size models of adults leaning against trees and walls here and there around. What they were for was that when a kid got mad at an adult he could go and get one of the models and hit it. What really struck me was that after hitting the model, the kid would thank it politely before putting it back. How enlightened!
…..After five days at the foot of those beautiful mountains we all came back to Delhi in a caravan. The next day Master gave a satsang, sitting on a raised platform so everyone could see Him. Hundreds of Indian people came. The foreigners were given places up front. There were no chairs. We all sat cross-legged.
…..Master came out before the satsang started and sat on the platform for a bit. He was looking around at the people, and then he closed His eyes, and He was dead. Just like that. You can tell whether a body is dead or alive just by looking at it, and he was dead. He was gone for perhaps thirty seconds, and then suddenly He was back. He opened His eyes and looked around again.
…..The day after that I left. Master gave me a going-away present of a handfull of crystallized sugar. That was twenty seven years ago, and I still have a little piece of it. I want to eat it all before I die.
…..I flew back to Bangkok in time to catch my plane back to Vietnam.
About 1972, age 25: Once a bunch of us hippies, in the early years of living in Portland, Oregon, had gone out to a place called Pelton Dam and taken peyote. Pelton Dam is a lovely place, dry, with sagebrush, but on the shores of a lake. Beautiful almost-desert country.
…..I had gone for a walk by myself up into some of the higher levels of the rocky walls and ledges above the lake. I was walking along through dry grass, and i saw a rattlesnake about fifteen feet ahead of me. It was by far the biggest rattlesnake I ever saw. I couldn't see all of him (assuming he was male), as he trailed off into the grass. The part I could see was about five feet long, and his body was as thick as my arm. He was a pale dusty color, and the diamond back pattern was faint.
…..I was amazed and delighted. I stood for awhile lo=oking at him, admiring. Then I made a detour around him so as not to disturb him, and went on my way.
About 1972, age 25: In 1972 Kirpal Singh came on tour to America. One of the places he stopped was an ashram in Canada. Sandy and I and some other people from here went up there to see him. It was a beautiful place in the rain forest. Lovely. We camped out, and stayed for days.
…..Toward the end of his visit there, Kirpal gave a little talk one day outside. Someone had set up a platform for him to sit on, about three feet high, so that people could see him. Not much of the land had been cleared, so the platform was set up in the middle of a road through the woods. The audience was of necessity long and thin, as the only place for them to be was on the road in front of him.
…..After the talk, it was the custom for Kirpal to pass out some kind of food as gifts to the listeners. It's called "prashad." Someone brought some crates of oranges to him to be the prashad, and he started passing them out. At first he just handed them to the people sitting before him at the edge of the platform. Then he started tossing them to the people a little farther back. And he kept throwing them to people farther and farther back until he was throwing them like orange baseballs, zinging them way down the road to people way back there.
…..I'll never forget that sight. Kirpal was wearing a white turban, and his beard was white. His coat was black. The forest surrounding us all was a thousand shades of green, and the sunlight had that wonderful luminous quality that comes out in nature when the afternoon is waning into evening. What a picture! Zing!
About 1973, age 26: One night in the seventies I went to bed as usual. I'd been worried about the future for a long time.
…..That used to be a sort of constant fear I lived with. That night I had a dream, except it wasn't exactly a dream. I was aware it was a dream, but it wasn't a lucid dream either. I was aware that this dream was something that someone was showing to me. I could feel their presence, right behind me, so to speak, but I couldn't see them. And I was aware that what the dream was, was a vision of my future. My personal future.
…..When the dream was over, I woke up and got up and wrote down notes so that I wouldn't forget parts. It was three in the morning, and the whole time I was writing down the notes there was a mockingbird singing in the tree right outside my window.
…..I went back to bed, and when I got up the next day it took me three and a half hours to write out an account from the notes of what I'd seen.
…..It turned out to be a vision of the next thirteen years of my life. The odd thing is that the vision was in dream language, in symbols, so consciously and overtly I didn't know any more than I had before. But the anxiety about the future was gone, and as each event in the dream came along there was a visceral impact of recognition.
….."Oh, this is what that was the symbol for."
…..For example, I was walking along between the sea and a range of mountains. I looked off to the right at the slopes leading up to the mountains and saw a tree burst into flame. In the dream, I said to myself, "It's beginning." This turned out to be symbolic language for the beginning of the Gulf War.
…..The vision was utterly accurate. Everything unfolded for the next thirteen years exactly as it had predicted.
…..The other odd thing after that was that I had lots of precognitive dreams, for years and years. I still have them from time to time, though not as often as I used to. Usually I dream about the next day that's coming, what's going to happen.
…..This brings up an interesting question to me. What is the nature of time and free will, if it can be seen years ahead of time?
About 1974, age 27: Once in the seventies I was doing a therapy session with a woman therapist named Harriet Douthitt. She was an amazing therapist. I was lying on a massage table, and she was doing some bodywork on me, when I spontaneously had some memories from last life float up to the surface.
…..Last life I was a woman living in India, and I had a number of stillborn children. As the memory floated up I found myself reliving being a woman and giving birth. It was an amazing feeling. Then I relived discovering that the newborn child was dead. Next I relived burying the child under a tree near a village. I remember what the tree looked like, and the village in the distance, and the sky. My husband was with me, and it was-- guess who-- my boyhood friend Tamim. Or that is to say, in this life he's named Tamim.
…..This whole experience took quite a while, and was emotionally draining. Once it was over and I was getting grounded again, Harriet asked me why that all happened, and I had an image of myself wearing a golden helmet and swinging a sword in the middle of a battle. It wasn't that I fought and killed people, but that I enjoyed killing people. So I had to learn that anyone is the beloved child of some mother. Hard lesson.
…..Last life, the dying children were so traumatic to me that I wound up leaving my husband. I spent the last half of that life wandering around on pilgrimage, going to holy places and doing yoga. It was fun.
About 1974, age 27: One night in, it must have been about 1974, I got off work from my job as a banquet waiter at Ramada Inn. I went over to visit my friend Tamim at the place he lived, and we wound up staying up all night smoking pot, talking and doing art.
…..The next morning I went out and got in my VW bug and started the motor. As I was sitting there waiting for the motor to warm up, I noticed that I could hear music, wonderful symphonic music coming from somewhere, even though I didn't have the radio on. I turned off the motor to see if I was somehow hearing it in the motor sounds, but the music continued. So I turned on the motor and drove off toward home.
…..I was driving down the freeway, and the music was so lovely! I was so absorbed in the music that my mind stopped. I was no longer thinking. I was just experiencing. I saw the freeway bridges over the road, and they were wonderful soaring sculptures of unknown function. I didn't know anything, but I still drove perfectly well. I was so happy I began to cry.
…..Before I got home the music had faded away, and I've never heard it again. That was it. A one-time experience. Too bad.
About 1984, age 37: In the mid 80's I had a friend named Jeff. He met a woman named Debbie at a bar he liked to hang out at. She needed a place to stay, so he said she could sleep on his couch for awhile. Men and women being men and women, the distance from the couch to the bed was short. And the next thing you know, Debbie was pregnant.
…..So Jeff and Debbie decided to try to make a go of it, even though they didn't know each other. But, men and women being men and women, they split up after about four or five months. During that time I had been giving Debbie massages, so it was natural for me to step in as the coach. Debbie and I went to Lamaze classes together. She learned how to breathe and I learned how to be supportive.
…..When it got close to time for the birth, we rented a beeper and I carried it with me. One day she beeped me, and I met her at the hospital. We went to an examination room, and a doctor was checking her out. The contractions slowed down and stopped. It was a false alarm. Debbie was lying face-up on the examining table, with her belly bare. I was sitting by her. Then something amazing happened. Sasha, the little baby in there, turned over. It was like watching someone move under a blanket. For the time that she was moving, I could clearly see her body: her arms and elbows and back and legs. I couldn't see her head, because that was down in Debbie's pelvis, but the rest of her was clearly visible. She'd been lying on one side, and she turned over onto the other side. Once she stopped moving, she was invisible again.
About 1984, age 37: One day the beeper went off, and I met Debbie at the hospital. This time it wasn't a false alarm. I was the coach, so I knelt by the bed and put my arms around Debbie. She has a big pelvis, so she only went through four hours of hard labor. During those four hours, when she would yell, "I can't do this!", I would yell back just as loud, "Yes you can!"
…..When Sasha was finally born, I sat back on my heels, and I nearly fainted. I had been so focused for those four hours that to release that focus almost made me keel over. But I didn't. "What's going on?" Debbie asked, "I don't hear her crying." "She's just laying here looking around," the doctor who'd caught her said.
…..The nurses quickly weighed and measured Sasha, and then they put her on Debbie's chest. About ten minutes later, to my surprise, they handed her to me. I had forgotten that we had requested a Laboyer bath. They wheeled in a little bathtub set in a waist-high cabinet, and I put Sasha in the warm water. The odd thing was that she had her arms and legs curled up against her body, but then over the course of fifteen or twenty minutes I could see her discover that she didn't need to keep them there. She gradually stretched out.
…..The amazing thing about Sasha's birth was that from the moment she was born she was Sasha. The old idea that babies come into the world as blank slates is blown to pieces when you see a baby born.
…..Sasha's personality was all there. Of course over the years she developed and amplified it, but she didn't start from scratch. She was mellow and observant from the word go.
…..Being the coach at Sasha's birth was to this day one of the finest privileges I've had in life.
About 1984, age 37: In 1984 I met a woman named Sheila at a nude beach. She was six month's pregnant, and her round belly was prettier than a watermelon. We fell in love, and agreed that I would be the father for her child. The last three months of her pregnancy were idyllic. We had a lovely time.
…..Then one night her water broke. I had already been through Sasha's birth, so I thought I had some idea of what was coming. Boy, was I wrong. Jubal's birth took fifty six hours. I've never seen anyone go through something more grueling than that. Sheila's supporters were basically her friend Kathy, the midwife and me, and we had to take shifts. Twice I had to go home and sleep awhile to get my strength back. When Jubal was finally born it was lovely. The midwife put a little blue hat on his head and put him on Sheila's chest. He was so cute. So was she. Then the midwife needed to deal with the afterbirth and stitching up a tear in Sheila's cervix, so they gave Jubal to me. For half an hour or so I carried him around, singing to him. It was during that time that I bonded with him. What an amazing experience! I had no idea the parent-child bond was so strong! The odd thing was that I found myself singing in a minor key.
…..The next day the midwife came around to check up on Jubal, and she thought she heard something odd in his heartbeat. So she had me take Jubal to a doctor. The doctor listened to Jubal's heart, and had me take him straight to the OHSU hospital up on the hill. He called ahead and they knew I was coming, and when I walked in they were waiting for me. Paperwork came later.
…..They checked out Jubal and found out what was wrong with him. He had what's called Situs Inversus. The embryo forms from three layers. The innermost layer forms the gut and the bottom half of the heart. The middle layer forms the skeletal system and the top half of the heart. Jubal's innermost layer was a mirror image of normal, so that his liver was on the other side and the bottom half of his heart didn't match the top half. The doctors thought he'd make it anyway, though they'd have to remodel his heart.
…..They did the first operation, and then we got to bring Jubal home from the hospital. We had him for a week. What I remember most clearly is sunbathing with him on a blanket out in the back yard. He liked the sun, though he didn't like to open his eyes when it was bright.
…..After a week he got sick, and we took him back to the hospital. He spent the next five weeks in intensive care, plugged into by tubes and wires. Sheila and I got up every morning and went up to the hospital and spent the day there with him. We were pretty cheerful during this time, because right up until the end it looked like he was going to make it.
…..One day I was with Jubal by myself, with one hand on his chest and one hand on one leg. Suddenly I noticed that his heart monitor wasn't ticking along like a clock. It was slowing down like a clock someone's forgotten to wind. It stopped. Suddenly there was a whirlwind of activity around me. Nurses from the other room had seen what was happening on the remote, and were there to do something about it. No one touched me or suggested I get out of the way. It was like being the eye of a hurricane.
…..But before they got anything done, his heart started again on its own. The heart monitor went quicker and quicker till he was back up till normal rhythm. That was the second time in my life I saw someone die and then come back. I was shaken.
…..For five weeks Jubal was OK. Then his heart got too big, and the doctors had to do an operation that they were hoping to put off till he was about two. He lived for about ten minutes after the operation. The hospital called Sheila and me early in the morning and said he was dead. We were in shock.
…..We went to the coast for the day, to spend some time at the ocean. I'll never forget how Sheila looked that day, tender and vulnerable and like a victim of a disaster.
…..Later we had a funeral and buried his ashes under an apple tree. That tree is big now.
…..The bill for all this was $101,000. The federal government stepped in and paid $60,000 of it. The state stepped in and paid $32,000 of it. The last $9,000 were bills from the surgeons and doctors, and they forgave the bills. We were left owing not a penny.
…..I had expected to be paying the hospital bill the rest of my life. That was one of the few times in my life I've thought government was a good thing.
Sheila and I were in shock for the first couple months. Our relationship lasted two more years, which was unusual. Usually the death of a child destroys the relationship a lot quicker than that.
…..It took me ten years to recover from Jubal's death. For the first few years I couldn't talk about him without crying. Now I look back and am glad I knew him. He passed through my life quickly, but he taught me more than almost anyone else. So I'm glad it all happened. He enriched my life wonderfully.
About 1988, age 41: In the late eighties I went up to Canada for a week-long yoga retreat. It was neat. It was out in the rainforest, so one could go for walks through ancient trees and look for mushrooms. A huge tent, like a circus tent, was set up to meditate in.
…..And across the way was a tiny airport with a sign that said, "Ultralight rides." Well, I went over there, and I paid my money, and a guy took me up in an ultralight. It was a beautiful airplane. It had two lawnmower engines, one each on the leading edges of the right and left wings. Two seats were suspended out in the open under the wing by aluminum tubes. It actually had wheels. It looked like something out of a 1930's National Geographic.
…..It flew like a dream. We went up in the air, and we flew around above the pastureland and the forest. From the air I could see the circus tent, and the seals lounging on the shore of the nearby bay. It was wonderful! The pilot let me take over the controls a bit. Straight and level was enough for this boy.
…..All too soon we landed. But I was hooked. Flying had finally become something that was within my reach to do. I'd been reading about it in National Geographics all my life.
…..So when I got home from the yoga retreat I tried out the forms of flying that were available to me.
…..I went out to an airport near here, and I got another ultralight ride. It was spectacular. The pilot was doing 60 degree banks, and stalls. When it came time to land he threw the plane into a tight downward spiral, and snapped out just in time to land on the pasture surface. I think he was trying to find out if I was into this, and I think I passed cuz I was yelling with delight.
…..I also tried out gliding in metal gliders. I like it, except that one isn't out in the air. It's like flying in a VW bug. But I like the quiet.
…..So I settle on hang gliding, which is quiet and cheap. Relatively. You know the saying that a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. Flying eats money like that too. It's one of the great loves.
About 1988, age 41: I found someone to teach me to hang-glide, a guy named Rick. He took me down to a place on the coast called Cape Kiwanda, and showed me on the sand how to set up a single-surface glider. He showed me how to get in the harness and how to hook in.
…..Then the reason we were at the coast became apparent: the steady fifteen MPH wind popped the fifty-pound glider up to the end of the harness. Suddenly it was weightless above me.
…..That was phase one, standing in the breeze and grabbing onto the control bar and learning to steer the glider around like a steerable kite.
…..Phase two was walking along the beach into the wind.
…..Phase three was running and taking little hops. Fun.
…..Then we started backing up the face of the dune and starting little flights like little sparrows. Over the course of a few weekends me and the several other students worked out way higher and higher up the dune till we were taking off from the top. It was cool. The scenery was great, and flying was exhilarating. I got up to the height of a telephone pole above the ground.
…..And I discovered a nice thing: if you stall in the air, the single-surface glider turns into a parachute. Not only that, a steerable parachute. And you come in quite gently.
…..A childhood dream come true. Who would have thought?
About 1988, age 41: Long before I felt comfortable with flying my glider off the top of the dune at Cape Kiwanda, my instructor took me and some fellow students to a place called Dog Mountain. Dog Mountain is a mountain in Washington, near St. Helens. It looks like a gumdrop fifteen hundred feet high, and it sits next to a lake. Because it's shaped like a gumdrop winds can come from almost any direction and it's flyable.
…..I took off for the first time from Dog Mountain and found myself a thousand feet in the air. It was great! At that height a car is a colored oblong, and I can't tell which end is the front. Oddly enough, hang gliding isn't scary when you're up high. It's scary when you're near the ground. I headed for the landing field, literally a field of uncut grass. I landed without standing up, so I just landed in the soft grass on my belly. What a feeling!
…..My longest flight off Dog Mountain was about 45 minutes, flying back and forth in the ridge lift. The highest I got above the ground was about a thousand feet.
…..I crashed twice. It comes with the territory. The first time I was caught in turbulence and went into the trees. The trees happened to be deciduous, and I came gently to a stop. I tore my pants, and I tore one wing of the glider. But the tricky thing was getting the glider down out of the treetops. Later I sewed up the tear in the wing with a special stitch.
…..The second time I crashed was the first time I flew off Dog Mountain with my new double surface glider. It was so agile it was hard to handle, and so I decided to do the safe thing and get on the ground. I spiraled down and headed in for a landing on the beach between the mountain and the lake. A gust of wind caught me, and the next thing I knew I was headed straight out to deep water. I decided this was not a good thing, and so I got turned and headed back toward the beach. I didn't make it all the way.
…..When the lowest point of the glider touched the water, the glider nosedived into the water, and so did I. It was like diving into a swimming pool, except I was wearing a bunch of stuff. Some people on the beach waded out and helped get my glider to the shore. The first thing I did after that was sit down on the ground for awhile.
About 1989, age 42: One of my most remarkable experiences was the time I had the strongest experience of love.
…..In the late eighties I went to the coast one weekend with my girlfriend, Linda, to teach her to hang-glide. We camped out, and had a lovely weekend, and late in the evening Sunday night we started home. But we got lost on the way and had to backtrack, and it wound up being two in the morning when we got onto the right road headed home. That particular stretch of road is famous for accidents, because trucks carrying loads of corn drive along there. Drippings from the corn get onto the road and make it slippery.
…..I was driving, and we came around a corner. There, sitting in the other lane, was an upside-down car. It was a big American car, and it was sitting on its roof, with no visible damage. It was so bizarre and out-of-place to see it that for a moment it didn't seem real. Just beyond the car was a semi truck, parked, with it's lights shining on the car.
…..I pulled over to the side of the road and parked. "I'm a doctor," I said to Linda, "I have to stop and help."
"Pray for me," I said, and got out and walked toward the car. As I passed the truck, I asked the driver if anyone had gotten out of the car. He said no one had, and he'd just gotten here, and he'd called the police. It was a bizarre experience to walk toward the car with no idea of what I would find when I got there, and just continue to walk anyway.
…..Just as I got to the car a man crawled out of the broken window on the far side of the car. He was somewhat younger than me, and he was wearing a jacket, and there was blood all over his head and jacket. There was a bank of dirt by the road, and he started to climb up it. Intuitively, I knew what he was doing. He wanted to get as far away from this bad experience he was having as he could.
…..I stood at the foot of the bank and talked him down off it. I asked him if there was anyone else in the car, and he said no. I knew an emergency team was on the way, and I knew what he needed. So I put my arms around him and held him.
…..And then a very odd thing happened. The two of us went to a place where there was nothing but love. There was no time. There was only love and peace, and the two of us floated there.
…..Every once in a while the man would ask me if I was all right. I would laugh and so, "Oh, yes, I'm fine." I didn't ask him, but I could tell he was all right, too.
…..In real time it may have been fifteen or twenty minutes that we stood there. A light rain fell on us. It seemed forever, in that timeless place we were in.
…..After awhile an ambulance showed up, with a team of paramedics. They formed a whirlpool of activity around us, but we were the calm center. They put a neck-brace on the man, and they checked him out and found that one of his arms was broken, all without disturbing me or him.
…..Then they eased him out of my embrace and down onto a stretcher. As he left my arms he began to become upset. As they wheeled him to the ambulance, I heard him tell them his name was Steve.
…..I walked back to the car, beginning to shake. I got in, and Linda held me for twenty minutes while I had my reaction and shook. Odd in circumstances like this how one doesn't react till it's over. Then we went on toward Portland. I didn't feel like driving, so she drove.
…..Later I was talking to a friend named Nancy Lynch about this. She's a powerful psychic, the most powerful psychic I have ever personally known. She looked at the event psychically, and said that Steve was scheduled to die, but that Kirpal Singh had intervened. While I was holding Steve the wings of the angel of death had been beating on me, and that was why I'd had a strong reaction to the whole event.
About 1996, age 49: A few years ago my friend Jack Frost came back from spending 12 weeks in Florida. His son Josh, age 26, had died of cancer, and Jack had spent the last twelve weeks of his life with him.
…..Jack and I got together for dinner, and then went and sat in a park and talked. Jack told me the story of this experience, and he cried as he talked. But the amazing and startling thing was that Jack didn't have any anger against God, any bitterness. He took the whole thing as a learning experience. He was sad at the loss, of course, but he didn't resist.
…..I was astonished. Still am. I've tried to ask him what it is that gives him such strength, such faith, such acceptance, but it isn't something he can verbalize. It took me ten years to recover from my son's death, so it's a great puzzle to me how Jack could metabolize the whole experience in a way that left him without the need to recover.
About 2005, age 58: When I had some out-of-body experiences in my twenties, I experienced bliss. Ever since, I've been wanting to be able to experience it again. Once tasted, the hunger never went away. In my twenties I took up yoga, and practiced meditating for 35 years, but it never worked for me. Finally I gave up on it.
…..Then, in late 2005, a friend loaned me a book called Aphrodite's Daughters, which is about the connection between sex and bliss for women. Many women learn from sex how to go into bliss at will. And the same friend taught me self-hypnosis technique. The first time I tried it, it worked. Holy cow!
…..I found that by relaxing and counting backward from 100 I could go into trance. And I found that if I went deep enough into trance, it became blissful, ecstatic. At last! A lifelong dream fulfilled!
…..Ever since, I've been able to go into bliss at will. I lay down on my bed and do continuous breath for awhile. Then I slip away into trance and into bliss. It's wonderful....