Issue 52 –
OPENING TO THE INNER WORLD:
by Hal Stone
In Tacoma, while in military service, I had my first totally religious experience, one that might be called cosmic consciousness. It was to change the whole direction of my life. I had gone to bed and was sleeping when it happened. It was about 3:00 A.M. when suddenly, while in a combination of sleep and a twilight waking state, I experienced a tremendous infusion of energy. It was not an ordinary energy. It was as though a million volts of electricity were going through my body. It was an all-destroying, all-consuming energy that could not help but kill me.
I knew it immediately as the power of God striking me from within and without. If I didn’t surrender to it I would die. There are no words that can convey the nature of such a transpersonal experience. Experiences of cosmic consciousness are varied, but one thing is common – words cannot describe their quality. This experience came to me in a frightening and death dealing form. They generally don’t occur this way.
I am reminded here of the man who had taken years of training in the handling of donkeys. He goes out on his first field trip and the lead donkey balks and won’t move. He reads his training manual and tries everything to get the donkey to move. Nothing helps. Finally he sends for the dean of the training academy. When he arrives, he surveys the situation. Then he gets a strong branch from a nearby tree and hits the donkey on the rear as hard as he can. The donkey starts to move. The young student is quite shocked and protests the physical violence after all the psychological training he has had to prepare him to be a proper donkey driver. The Dean nods his head in agreement and then says: “All that you have learned is true, my friend, but first you have to get his attention.”
My sense is that divinity required my attention. Divinity required my surrender and surrender I did. In the midst of this experience, still in the twilight state, I said: “Please, Dear God, please take this from me. Thy will, not mine, be done.”
Not only was I not a Bible student in those days, but I had no relationship to Christ and the meaning of Christ.
If I had ever heard those words, they certainly had fallen on deaf ears, though obviously not a deaf soul. Those powerful words of Christ at Gethsemane have become some of the most significant words in our heritage having to do with our relationship to divinity. It is the ancient conflict between will and fate or surrender. “This is what I want of life, and this is how I want it to turn out; but Thy will, not mine, be done.” It seems to me, from this vantage point, to be the healthiest possible connection we can have to divinity; the assertion of our will and the surrender of our being, at one and the same moment.
I went back to bed for the third time and immediately the energy came in again and I repeated the same words and the energy stopped. This time I remained awake, though I can’t imagine that a fourth experience would have been necessary.
Something very decisive had happened to me. It was not something I could speak about. It was a private matter between God and me. I didn’t worry any more about the word God. I had experienced God. I had no more issues with the nature of God and what God was or wasn’t and on and on. I knew. That is what an experience of cosmic consciousness gives to us. We know.
The direction of our lives cannot help but change, because this level of experience and surrender shifts the very basis of our consciousness process. It is not the end of free will. I live my life and make many choices and use my will in many way. Always, however, beneath the will, is the dictum-Thy will, not mine, be done.
Life has a way of always requiring new surrenders. We give up the phantasy that we are in total control of our lives, a silly phantasy at best. We gain the power that comes from surrender. It is difficult after such experiences not to feel the desire to live one’s life in a relationship of service to mankind, to help other people come to these experiences and to the realizations that grow out of these experiences.
It is easy to understand evangelists and how they get trapped. These cosmic experiences are very heady, but we must remember that they do not solve all of life’s problems. They also do not solve the problems relating to the use and abuse of personal power. Such experiences bring us new levels of energetic awareness. If, however, we do not solve the personality level issues of our lives, then this new energy can be misused. More specifically, what we need always to be aware of is the issue of power and how we use it in our lives. Then we are in the best possible position to take full advantage of such cosmic experiences.
The three energetic experiences all came on the same night. The next night I had another dream.
Dream of Being Driven to My Knees
I was leaving the bedroom area and walking into the living room of our home. As I was under the archway separating the bedroom area from the living room area, I was again hit by the energy. This time it came from above and as it hit me I was thrown to my knees. I awoke from the dream with the feeling of being on my knees.
In the first experience, the energies were coming from within and without me, invading my whole chest region. In this experience they were clearly coming from above and forcing me to my knees. I did not have the feeling of death this time, just that I had to continue the process of surrender that had been started. I had never prayed in my life, but at this point I began a fairly active prayer life. I had no compunction about getting on my knees and praying. Someone up there wasn’t fooling around any more and neither was I.
The third night I dreamed again, the last of the series.
Dream of the Cross
I was standing in the bathroom looking at my face in the mirror. The doorbell rang and someone answered the door. Entering the room was Malcolm Dana, a Jungian analyst from Los Angeles. (Malcolm was very related to the mystical Christian tradition.) As he entered the living room, I again felt the energies strike me on the head from above. I was knocked to my knees. When I got up and looked into the mirror there was, etched into the acne scars on the right side of my face, a cross. I awoke at this point.
If Martians had landed on earth it could not have been more alien to me than this image of a cross etched into my face. The Jewish tradition has a difficult time understanding and appreciating the meaning of Christ consciousness, just as the Christian has a difficult time appreciating the qualities of the Hebrew desert God. I was obviously being moved towards a new experience and understanding of divinity, and specifically of the meaning of Christ consciousness. I didn’t understand it all at the time, but certain things impacted me very profoundly.
I had suffered terribly during my adolescence. My acne condition had been excruciating for me. It lasted for almost six years and pimples and their eradication became almost a mono-maniacal concern. To see that cross etched deeply into my face suddenly gave me a very different perspective. I felt the meaning of the suffering. I felt that what I had gone through had not been just happenstance. It had meaning; it had purpose. I understood then a fundamental tenet of Holistic Medicine-that symptoms are not simply aberrant conditions to be eradicated, but are opportunities for changing consciousness in new and different ways. I could view the awfulness of the pimples as a kind of initiatory rite of passage that helped temper me, to sensitize me, to create the man I was to become. (I also do not want to overdo the effect that this had on me in relationship to all those years of suffering. When all is said and done, if I have any choice in regard to my next incarnation on earth, I’m putting my bid to come in after adolescence rather than before. Needless to say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” If I do come in before adolescence, please have a lovely conscious dermatologist or nutritionist living next door to me.)
The experiences that took place over these three nights redirected my life. My personal problems and issues were all still there, but there was imprinted upon me, just as the rose had been imprinted years before, a spiritual vibration that gave my life a new and deeper sense of meaning and purpose that has been with me ever since. This energy that I surrendered to then, I have continued to surrender to, even though there have been times when I have had difficulty understanding who inside me was saying what.
Following these experiences I did a great deal of studying in the spiritual realm. I immersed myself in Bible studies, Jewish and Christian mysticism, Jung’s writings, mythology, fairy tales -literally anything I could get my hands on. And what was fortunate for me was the fact that at the same time that I was exploring these most delicious aspects of the soul, I was getting intensive practical clinical experience through my army assignment. It was certainly this intensification of my persona and academic process that led to my decision to go to Zurich to study and to deepen my persona analytic process at the Jung Institute.