And I think I now know why my twelve year old felt such a mystery tied up with this poem.
In 1976, I was five weeks into a six-week advanced training for TM teachers.
We were meditating a lot.
I had had a smooth and enjoyable time.
Then one evening, while simply walking down the hall, my belly felt very strange.
Within moments I collapsed into a combination seizure and flashback.
I was a soldier charging across a World War I battlefield. Out of the trench, then run.
The exploding shell caught me right in the belly.
Instantly, I was engulfed in a black Void.
On the "other side" Iheard the battle raging on.
In the Void, a maelstrom of chaos and terror, were the screams of all the dying souls.
I also felt the most curious ripping – like grass roots parting with the soil – as my spirit disengaged from the “ground” of my own flesh.
Or rather, that soldier’s flesh: He, who I had been and now once again was.
I wasn’t in the least upset by my death.
I was simply a calm observer, the one silent consciousness in all that black, chaotic Void.
All the others were horrified and gripped by terror.
Their screams flowed out my gaping mouth.
I understood why mankind believes in Hell.
I knew it to be an archetype of our own making.
And finally, I felt a hand upon my shoulder shaking me.
Someone was calling my name.
“What’s wrong?” she shouted. ...Did she really shout?
“I’m dying!” I screamed back.
So they dragged me up off the floor.
Got me into bed and I lay there for another hour or so, totally rigid.
Unable to talk.
My body arched in a bow, drew my head backwards leaving me staring wide eyed at the ceiling.
The bedside nurse asked, “What are you looking at? Do you see an angel?”
I was looking at the ceiling – not an angel.
But, I could not speak. Though I wanted to put her mind at ease.
My head was clear and calm.
But to the others, I was gone.
I was simply stuck there, locked up. Waiting.
Eventually, I did relax.
The nurse cleared out, and I spent the remainder of the night sitting on the toilet, peering out the doorway into the room.
The battlefield, in transparency, overlay my bedroom: crater and ditch, destroyed trees existed right along with dresser, overstuffed chair, and draperies.
I would have liked to lie back down on the bed,
but the sheets were clearly soaked by the dying soldiers blood.
I couldn't lie in that and so settled on the floor.
The next day I was told I had to leave.
I was “disturbing others.”
Get on the phone and make arrangements.
So soon, I was standing in a phone booth with absolutely no idea at all of how to make a long distance call.
A couple days later I was in Florida, at my brothers.
That night, Carolyn sat by my bed as I tried to go to sleep drenched in sweat and thrashing.
Flashbacks: charging cross the field, rifle in my hands, the bombs, the exploding shell catching me right in the belly.
It all replayed over and over.
The flashbacks continued for ten years.
Longer really – it all depends on how you count things.
In time, I stopped meditating.
Pop called it kundalini burn out.
I called it PTSD from a war I was never in.
It became my shameful secret.
And I had Friends that stuck by me.
Friends who could lead me out of movies when the visions started up,
Friends who could laugh if I suddenly ducked and covered in the middle of a meeting.
What we couldn’t laugh about was my taking up of cigarettes and alcohol.
And know one ever knew about the drugs.
In1976, Maharishi didn’t have any help to offer.
We were ten years out from the Grofs coining of the term “spiritual emergency.”
So despite my family and friends,
I was on my own because none of us really knew a thing.
It took seven years of psychotherapy with someone who didn’t want to hear about WWI,
and whom I am absolutely sure saved my life.
It toook maybe another seven years of simply resting without any spiritual practice,
It took another seven years of Taoist Sum Faht practice to finally make peace with all the wars.
(And beyond and through all this, for twenty years, I had a wise and loving partner who was brave enough to accept me as I was.)
But all in all,
This is one reason why I’ve been attracted to the teachings of Adyashanti.
He explains that it’s actually after Awakening that the real work begins.
He says this is actually the most delicate time when guidance is most required.
Why are things so delicate and difficult?
Because after Awakening, which occurs on the level of the intellect,
transcendence has to descend into the heart and belly.
It’s here that “energy in the emotional body” is released.
Such a euphemism!
What this can translate into is all Hell breaking loose.
Adya says that some people then choose to go back to sleep.
That’s exactly what I did.
And my twelve year old knew all along, that those memories were there.
And she did not break faith.
(It just took so very long to work it out.)