“I don’t think it’s going to work. “ My Yoga teacher shook his head while he lit another block of incense. He stared for a moment at the statue of a serene looking Budda and then turned to me and spoke in somber tones, “You see, your path must be straight like an arrow. But your path isn’t straight. You constantly swerve from the right to the left and the other way around.”
I sighed in frustration. I knew I wasn’t living up to the strict standards that the teachings of Yoga required.
“Will I ever reach nirvana?” I muttered, although I feared I already knew the answer. I wasn’t going to reach it. Not in this life and not in a thousand lives to come. I was too much a man of this world. Well, I wasn’t a man, really. At the age of 20, I was still an inexperienced teenager with long hair, a house full of books on Eastern religion and a pocket full of mind-altering drugs. Not exactly the ideal of a man on his way to enlightenment.
For that was the goal.
Enlightenment had become my quest. I wanted to find God. After all, there had to be some meaning to this drab and dreary life. There had to be something more. But the road to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was so difficult and I constantly departed from it.
To my friends, I acted as if I knew what I was doing. I quoted all the wisest sayings of the great Masters and all the right books were on my shelf, but deep down inside I felt like a spiritual noodle.
My spirituality was nothing more than a lot of hot air and none of my books or my drugs had ever been able to take away that deep sense of fear that was constantly gnawing at my heart.
Still drugs seemed to work a lot faster than yoga and meditation. Whereas I needed years of deep meditation to even reach the bottom steps of the endless stairway to Nirvana, at least, drugs seemed a little faster.
Just some mushroom-powder and I would be ushered into the spirit world and see and experience things that would literally blow my mind. Drugs allowed me a taste of that hidden world of the spirit without the discipline. Drugs revealed some of the secret wonders that I read about in the obscure books of those who had supposedly succeeded on the road to enlightenment.
Still, I knew they were nothing but a lie as they ultimately only deepened my anxiety, as nothing ever really changed, but at least they worked…for awhile.
So, when I came home that day from my discouraging meeting with my less than enthusiastic Yoga teacher, I made up my mind. I would take one last mind-altering journey with psychedelic mushrooms, and then I would forsake all and travel the world in search of a Guru who could really teach me a thing or two.
It was a good plan and I went in search of a new dealer I had heard of.
“For the ultimate trip, you must go to Japie,” I was told. “He’s got the goods and his stuff knocks you off your socks.”
That’s what I needed for my last journey into the unknown.
Japie was home and was all too happy to count me in as one of his new customers. “This stuff,” he said with a grin, “is so powerful that you may not even ever come down.”
That sounded just about right, so later that night, after I put on my favorite rock album, I opened the package he had given me and swallowed the drugs. The show could begin.
But what was that?
Soon, I started to feel extremely uneasy.
Something was wrong. A deep sense of foreboding crept up on me and instead of the wonders of the spirit world, fear inexplicably knocked at my heart.
What’s this? This was not part of the deal.
I started to sweat and mumbled something to my fears. “Go away, fears…”
But fears don’t listen to the desperate mumblings of a mere boy. Fears like to play with human emotions. Fears, when given the chance, scream and boast and throw you around like a bouncing ball…faster and faster they take you on the highway to Hell, to their dark master.
I fought desperately against that sea of darkness that threatened to overtake me. But I did not have any weapons to fight spiritual forces. How could I stand up to the oncoming train of fearful darkness that was about to crush me? I found myself alone in the world of misery and fear and did not know the way.
“God…What’s happening? Am I losing my mind?”
I didn’t believe in God; at least not in the Christian God. I had even laughed when someone had tried to talk to me about God. I had proudly mocked the man.
Stupid Christians; they have no idea of the real world.
But this was real. This was no joke. I was going crazy…I was dying maybe.
Then I remembered how my mother had read me the Bible when I was young. It had given me such peace. Hearing the words of God sheltered under my mother’s wings.
I’ve got to have a Bible.
I stumbled to my bookcase. There was an old Bible somewhere.
In my bewildered state I found it and pulled it out.
I opened it and read: A furious squall came up…The disciples were afraid, but Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.*
All was calm. I was enveloped by a deep sense of peace. Where was the fear? How was this possible? Where had that darkness gone? Would God be real after all?
That moment I cried. No, I wept.
It was the first time I really sensed God’s voice. He spoke to me. Not audibly, but to my heart.
Son, I am your Father and I love you. Believe in Me. That’s all I ask.
It’s all by grace, you can’t earn it. I am with you always. My path is straight too, but even when you turn to the left or to the right, I will still uphold you and always lead you back. I am the way.*
I clutched his Bible to my chest.
It was the Christian God after all. I found the real path and had come home.
*Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)
* John 14:6