Adventures in Consciousness,
What follows are personal recollections of my early years, up to and including a sojourn into schitzophrenia, two decades ago. I wrote this in July 2003 to (1) explore my memories of the nether realms and (2) to set down for posterity the journey I undertook long ago, as I became a man. This tale is not intended for an Average Joe.
Growing up, I rarely remembered my dreams. I know that I dreamed, but they were gone as soon I awoke. The only dreams I remembered were of flying. I was always the odd kid out; the one who did not fit in the crowd. So I was commonly beat up by groups of bullies everywhere I lived. During these times, I would dream of flying over their heads while walking home from school, just out of their reach. These were happy dreams. Sometimes I wonder if these early flying dreams were my first unconscious experiments with astral projection when being in this body became too uncomfortable.
As a Cub Scout, I enjoyed hiking trails with friends and family. Even then, as others hiked the regular path, I would strike out on any interesting animal trail I found. Sometimes it was faster, sometimes not. Sometimes I got poison oak or scratched up, but it is always more interesting to cut through the underbrush and to follow the path less traveled.
My Early Religious Experiences
I was born and raised Baptist, from families both yankee and confederate, who have been Baptist for more than 300 years. Born a Southern Baptist in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1963, my family attended a variety of conservative Protestant churches while growing up. When I was thirteen, my family returned to San Mateo and I began to attend the neighborhood American Baptist church with my sister. My step-father attended a Lutheran Church and my mother went to either or neither. While attending the Baptist Church, the young assistant minister (married, with a large step-family of his own) went to seminary, was ordained and became our regular minister. While he was still in seminary, we clicked well, and I got very involved with the church on all levels. Eventually, we began weekly private Bible study sessions, studying the texts in their original Greek and Hebrew, etc. It was during one of these sessions that he prayed and spoke in tongues, because he suspected I had a gift in that area. (Speaking in tongues was a common practice at this church, but not usually in public as is practiced in some other churches.) Anyway, I thought it was interesting, but it was not to be the Holy Spirit who would one day speak through me.
At age 14, I was baptized by immersion. It was also during this time that I participated in an in-depth study of the Book of Revelations, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, over the course of a year in a group study (mostly adults). The intense imagery must have seared into my mind, because several years later, as my adolescence came to a close, and when I was in my lowest and darkest moments, these images came back to haunt me, transforming my self image for the worse. But more on that later.
Reflecting on this time in my life, the very beginning of my spiritual journey, I believe the singular most pivotal experience came when I was about 15, while still very involved with this church. I remember that I bought a small booklet on basic hypnosis techniques. It was little more than a cute book on how to hypnotise your friends; nothing too in depth. But I remember this being the first time I had read basic meditation techniques, outside of a christian context. I practiced the techniques and eventually applied them to my prayers, developing what I would now call Spacious Awareness. I remember in one particular meditation session, expanding my conciousness wider and wider into the Universe searching for some glimmer of God, some whisper perhaps, something, somewhere, somehow.... I kept reaching out further and further.... And then it dawned on me, "Oh, there is no God." Returning to normal consciousness, I filed this experience away for the future, almost forgetting it, but not quite.
I was not finished with Christianity, though. When I was 16, my family moved to Sebastopol, in the countryside. We attended the Lutheran Church where my step-father's parents were charter members. My mother, sister and myself went through their catechism and learned the Lutheran way. It was an okay experience. The german Lutherans certainly are more restrained and ritualized that the Baptists, but their teachings are very similar.
By age 17, I was itching for freedom. I took my GED when I was a sophomore in high school, passed the test and joined the military. For those of you who know me, can you imagine ME conforming to military stardards? LOL.... It never happened, but I did give it a good soldier's try.
After barely passing Air Force boot camp, the mildest boot camp of them all, I went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey to study Czech. Even as a 17 year old, I could drink on base, so I drank a lot. While there, I turned 18, and on that very day I came to terms with my sexuality and Came Out by going to the baths. ;-} As I became sexually active, I drank even more. For awhile I was drinking at lunch and at night and still functioning fairly well, absorbing a new language. Of course, drinking so much, one becomes saturated. New words and languages stop being absorbed so easily. In short, I flunked out. However, to keep people in line, they kept the rumor circulating that if one flunked out they were dishonorably dischanged. So.... I knew a bunch of guys who were getting kicked out for being gay (this was long before "don't ask, don't tell") and they were receiving general discharges under honorable conditions, so I opted out. I walked into the office of my Master Sargaent one day, stood at attention and told him I was gay. He asked me why I told him that? I don't remember my answer, but the short version is that the OSI was brought in, and I had to verify my claims with reems of documention. While not the easiest way to Come Out to the world, it certainly was liberating to finally be myself, to acknowledge the voice inside my head which had long been whispering since I was a wee lad, that "I like guys." Thus I entered adulthood in the miltary.
Stepping Through the Looking Glass: 1982
After I got out of the military at age 18, I returned home to Sebastopol briefly, before moving to San Jose where I got a job. As fortune would have it, my apartment just happened to be one block from five gay bars, mostly leather and cowboy. (Hee-haw!) By going when it was crowded, no one noticed how young I was (or didn't care) and so I became known, and became a regular.
It was at one of these bars that I had my first experience with methamphetime, a.k.a. Speed. I was a twittering little queen dancing around the pool table (it was not a dance bar) so everyone thought I was already on speed (like they were, as I found out). I wasn't. I was just drunk and popping caffeine pills. So, the local drug dealer asked me one night if I wanted some speed, so I said "sure!" seeking the thrill of new adventures. We walked across the street to the abandonded apple factory and he pulled out his syringe and offered it to me. I said "Oh, no, snorting will be fine." But watching him get so excited about it, I decided, "what the hell, go for it" and so the first time I did meth, it was shot into my veins using someone else's rig.
This is why I am 99% sure that I was infected with HIV when I was 18 years old (1981-'82). I began that year with a lot of unprotected bath house sex and ended it shooting drugs with junkies. However, HIV had not yet been discovered. Although I was doing all the right things in all the right places, there was much more to happen before such thoughts occured.
The first time I shot up, I was hooked. It was TOO good. The high was beyond anything I had ever experienced. It was like the curtain between this world and that-which-is-not-physical was ripped asunder, revealing a world of white light and flickering images. Perhaps it was the after glow of my brain cells exploding?
As the months went by, I continued a life of hedonism: sex, drugs, and music. With each plunge of the needle, my life fell apart one piece at a time, until at last, a few months later, I lost my job. At that same time, I came down with Hepatitis (non-A, non-B, non-C) most probably because I had fried my liver shooting up and drinking too much. This was what would turn out to be the first of a life long series of medical problems directly related to my speed use during this one year when I was 19 years old.
My drug and alcohol abuse continued. I lost my apartment that autumn and stayed with friends, at the local bath house, or sometimes I slept outside. It was during this time that I lost all vestiges of respect for the status quo (and visa versa). I turned into a speed freak punk rocker. To pick up a little extra cash, I worked part time as DJ in a leather bar, and then after hours in the kitchen of the cowboy bar next door.
There were times when I would stay awake for days at a time. Not all of my party buddies, though, were only into partying. Even then, I was attracted to older ex-hippy types. It was from them that I began to learn about crystals and other paranormal phenomena, in the wee hours of the night, when all was quiet in the outside world.
One of the first things I remember learning is about crystals. I found that if I focused my energy through a quartz crystal, I could cause one of those old style crystal-powered heaters to surge at will. I have even repeated this experiement a few times over the years, and have almost always been able to reproduce it.
I remember one particular night... something very strange occured, something I very rarely talk about but will here, for the first time, put into writing. I had been partying for days. I hadn't slept in at least three days (which may in fact explain the whole experience away). That morning, I shot up a speed ball for the first time, a combination of heroin and meth. All fingers point to the fact that this was an illusion... but still I wonder.
I got home late that night. I was staying with friends but didn't have a key. They lived on the 2nd floor above a flower shop, with stairs in the back going up to the door. I sat down to hang out for a while, sitting on the stairs, star gazing. I began to notice unusual patterns in the sky. What appeared to be satelights moving across the sky, but would then turn and move in a different direction. Then, moving slow and low across the city tree tops, I saw a cylindrical flying object coming toward me, about a 100 yards away. I can still see it clearly in my mind. It looked very physical to my senses.
A light shined from its center to the air directly in front of me and a box of light appeared. The box opened and out came a person, a perfect mirror of myself, but of all white light. He motioned his arm toward the trees and I saw many scenes: witches, demons, cauldrons, ritual magick, etc.... I watched the scene in front of me unfold for a long time. Then the scene lifted into the sky and I could see great light beings sweeping up the dirt in the sky. Hours later, I snapped awake, still on the steps, wondering.... I knocked on the door and someone woke up to let me in. Nothing like this has ever happened since.
Pondering this experience while writing this story, it suddenly dawned upon me that this event is what truly marks my entrance into the nether regions, when my consciousness of that-which-is-not-physical became predominant. It was the night I stepped through the looking glass and saw what was to come, if I continued to walk the path I had set upon, a path less trodden through the wilderness of my mind.
Homeless in the Nether Regions: 1983
I do not remember the exact order of what came next. That winter of my life is a blur as I continued my descent into the night. My first visit to the mental hospital happened as a result of an intervention of friends and acquaintances in San Jose. After a psychiatric evaluation, the Santa Clara County Health Dept. put me on a bus and told me to go to the mental hospital in my own hometown; they were expecting me. So back to Sonoma County I went for the first of three 72 hour stays in the county psych ward.
I remember wandering homeless as a wraith on the streets of San Francisco for about a week that winter. I was never a very good street person. I was too busy talking to the voices inside my head to think about such things as food, convinced that I was in telepathic communication with my corporeal and non-corporeal friends, as I walked amongst the ghosts in The City.
Toward the end of this same week of wandering homeless both day and night, I hadn't eaten much nor done any drugs. Yet I was in another world, on another plane, walking from street to street, talking to myself and to my friends. I found myself in Daly City, which is next to SF. As I walked through a residential neighborhood, I heard a buzzing sound which pierced my internal hell, a sound both familiar and new. I looked around. It was coming from a house. I wondered what it might be. I listened for a few moments before heading on my way. Several years later I remembered this experience and I believe it to be the first time I heard the Buddhist chant I would one day practice, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
During this winter of communing with ghosts in cemeteries, of going in and out of a mental hospital, I was diagnosed with a temporary form of schiztophrenia "due to an overdose in medication," in my case, speed. They thought the voices would go away since I was no longer using drugs. But what they didn't know (or perhaps they did) was that I liked talking to the voices in my head. I had no intention of stopping the inner journey I had begun. After my third visit, they finally put me in a board and care home.
I was the youngest person in all four care homes I lived in over the next few years. However, in this first house, the next youngest person was over 60 and I had a dark closet of a room. It did nothing positive for my mental health. It was during my short stay here that my old interest in the Book of Revelations reared its ugly head as I struggled with the good and evil within myself. Being gay and thus, I believed, less than worthy, and having totally trashed the religion of my youth, I came to the conclusion that I was not good, and was therefore evil. Reading the Book of Revelations again, I also came to the conclusion that I was the Beast of the Sea and I took the number 666 as my special number. I do not remember why I thought these things, but still to this day, the number 666 holds a special place in my heart. It represents to me that which will not be dominated by any man or God.
After being in this first home a short time, I decided to kill myself. I imagined many creative ways of doing so, but I settled upon overdosing with meds. One day after picking up my Navane (an anti-psychotropic drug used to [supposedly] make the voices go away) I got on the bus home and swallowed the whole bottle: one month of meds in a single dose. I don't remember making it home, only a waking dream of walking through mud, moving slower and slower and slower....
They thought I was having another psychotic break, so they sent me to the same hospital, for this my fourth, longest and last visit (except to visit friends, years later). But I knew what I had done and they did not. I let them give me more medicine, even larger doses than normal. I didn't want to live, so I remained silent as to my deed for 24 hours. Once I told them, they let me dry out. After this, they found me a home with younger guys in it. I was now in The System before the age of 20, free to explore my inner world with a roof over my head and food in my belly.
During these years, I read a lot books on metaphysics in public libraries, as well as many of the world's holy books, as I continued to experiment with telepathy, clairvoyance and that winter, trance mediumship. I still remember the first Jane Roberts book I picked up, Seth Speaks. I was fascinated with reality as presented by Seth. It made so much sense to me, especially at that point on my path. By the time I finished the book (or perhaps it was during the second book I read of theirs), the thought occured to me, "I bet I can do that too" and thus I became a trance medium, the psychic gift which I would take further than all the others.
The second care home I moved to that Spring had a lot of younger guys. I got involved with daily classes through the mental health system and so had no time nor opportunity for prolonged meditation nor much introversion at all. I continued to study metaphysics and meditate daily, but it was tempered with constant activity and social interaction. I also have fond memories of going with the owner of the care home to the church next door occassionally, a black Southern Baptist Church for Sunday Service. What a hoot! They certainly knew how to get in the groove to worship!
Descent into Darkness: 1984
The next winter, they moved me to a new care home outside of town in the country. While there were a few guys in their 30's, most were well past retirement age. Thus, while I continued with day classes, I now had more private time on my hands to delve into the depths of my mind. It was here that I immersed myself once again in the nether worlds, or in what some might call the lower astral realms, giving myself over to any being who wanted to borrow my body, in exchange for knowledge.
In particular, I had two spirit guides who were with me always. Many traditions talk about such beings. Some call them guardian angels. Some call them protective dieties. In the Kegon Sutra, the Buddha called them Dosho and Domyo, (the jap. name of) brahmanic dieties said to sit upon our shoulders from birth to record our every action. To me, they were Ariel and Arlett.
It was also during this time that I first connected with the local chapter of the Berkeley Psychic Institute and took their initial course in psychic healing. Every time I walked into the Institute, which was in a large old Victorian house, they told me to please ask my friends to stay outside, because they would get into their space and interfere with their psychic readings. I was only moderately successful in complying.
Nine days before my 21st birthday, I had an epileptic seizure and went into a coma. The doctors didn't know why, but later were able to figure out that I had been sniffing poppers (amyl nitrate) and so had burned out all the hairs in my nose, thus allowing viral encephalitis a direct entrance to my brain.
Almost a year later, sometime after I had become a buddhist, I ran into my primary doctor at a meeting and he eventually told me the following story. He had just become a buddhist six weeks before I went into the coma. After more than two days of trying everything medical, it looked bleak. They did not know why I was in the coma, nor was any standard medical precedure working. He told me that I had a 50/50 chance of survival but that if I survived, odds were I would have major brain damage. So he tried an experiment. Late that night, he brought in his beads and gongyo book, sat by my bedside and chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and recited the Lotus Sutra. He said that he chanted for me to die, but that if I lived, I would have no brain damage. The next day I woke up, thinking I was 17 years old and still in high school. I had forgetten everything that had happened in the last few years, but no long term brain damage could be detected.
After learning to talk and walk again, I went home with my family. However, as we found out, just because I didn't remember, didn't make me any less crazy. So, my family moved me back into the same care home I was at previously. A friend and fellow resident, going against the wishes of my family and the care home staff, reminded me about my past. He told me I was a psychic and that I went somewhere nearby to learn. He gave me enough information that I was able to find the BPI once again.
As soon as I walked in the door, they noticed something different. I told them about my experience losing my memory in the coma and I was invited to be the subject of a group reading by their second year clairvoyant students who were nearing the end of their studies to be ordained by BPI, to see what they could see. I gladly consented.
I showed up on the appointed night for the group reading and they were astonished at what they saw. They told me that I had a walk-in, a rare occurance when the spirit of another is inhabiting the body. It was very strange indeed to simultaneously experience two selves: the me who was in this body, and the me who was called from another realm, watching the self in this shell. They invited (both of) me back to be read by their most advanced students, those going through the trance mediumship training. It was during this second reading that I realized it was Arlett who was my walk-in. He was occupying the house, while the owner was away on vacation.
In the few short months between the time my psychics re-awakened and when I finally turned toward Buddhism, it was as if the walls between the worlds were completely torn down. The protective mechanism inside the mind, that which tells us what is and what is not possible, was switched off. It was during this time, that I began to practice ritual magick (of the geomantic variety). The beings who used my body, passed through at will, and my personality would change slightly every few minutes as they took turns. It gave people around me the creeps.
In the heat of summer, my anger was extreme. One of the caretakers at the home where I lived pissed me off one day. I can still clearly remember the ritual I used to harness the mind late one night, focusing my energies, ready to strike. I knew he had a weak heart, so I used every ounce of energy within to squeeze his heart with my mind. I called upon the thousands of beings to whom I had freely given my body, calling upon them to return the favor. Thus I sent the minions of hell to do my bidding.
The next day, I didn't see the guy around, nor the day after. I asked where
he was. I was told that (on the same night as my spell) he had a minor
heart attack and was in the hospital recovering. This scared the crap out
of me and I knew I had gone over the edge. While my family had long since
thought the same, it was this experience which convinced me that I had both found and lost control of the dark forces within.
A Lamp in the Darkness: 1984
Thus ended the darkest years of my descent into the nether regions. Contrary to many who experience such phenomena, very little of it scared me, then or now. It was my chosen path. Even believing myself to be the Beast of the Sea was not frightening. Trying to kill myself was not frightening. (Although the massive drug hangover afterward certainly made me wish I were dead! ;-) Being an out-of-control trance medium was not frightening. Only when I almost (apparently) succeeded in killing someone with my mind alone, was I truly afraid of what I had found, causing me to reverse direction once again, to find another path.
I sought out a friend and told her my woes. She said there was only one thing that she had ever found to be powerful enough to help me. She told me to seek out Buddhism. And so I began my quest for the Buddha Dharma. I visited the pure land Buddhist Church of America in Sebastopol with her and met the first white dude that they ever ordained. He was a nice guy and welcomed me, if I wanted to join their studies and services (although I never did).
Next I rode my bicycle 15 miles into the mountains past Forestville to visit a Tibetan Buddhist temple and participate in a Fire Ceremony. It was beautiful. They were quite friendly, but they did not encourage me to get involved with them.
Once I began to seek it, Nichiren Buddhism came to me. I was hanging out in front of the Santa Rosa Plaza waiting for a friend, when a little japanese lady walked up to me and asked if I had ever heard of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I said, "No, but please tell me more." When she told me it was Buddhism, I immediately agreed to come to a meeting the next night. On August 17, 1984 I attended my first NSA meeting with my friend who had originally set me on the path toward Buddhism. As it turned out, she had been a member of the same organization back in the 70s. On August 25th, I received my first Gohonzon. A few days later, my friend at the boarding house who had told me of my past, received his; a few months later, my lady friend received her second Gohonzon; and one year later, my friend whom I was waiting for that day (who had forgotten about our appointment) received his too and began practicing. All of us were clinically diagnosed and in the mental health system, but the Gakkai (e.g., NSA) was broad minded enough to accept us as members.
Within days of receiving my Gohonzon, the Mental Health System wisked me out of that care home. It seems, for some strange reason, they thought my buddhist chanting was black magick. Imagine that! LOL.... The day after my roommate also received his Gohonzon, they moved me to a new home. On September 3rd, we enshrined my Great Mandala, but not without one more obstacle....
As my new and old friends gathered for the enshrinement ceremony in my room at the board and care home, one of the guys living at the house snapped and had a mental breakdown on the front porch at the exact moment everyone was walking up the steps. Fortunately, my therapist was amongst the guests and so she helped him until the ambulance came to take him away. Then she joined us for the ceremony.
Within a couple of weeks, I was also able to arrange for my friend to move from my last care home, to this new one (in the open space created by the above incident) so that he too could enshrine his Gohonzon and chant freely. He was a very simple person, quite illiterate, but of pure faith. From him I learned that one does not need to be able to read to study, or even to do gongyo. He learned it by rote, listening to others.
I took to the practice immediately like a fish in water and chanted at least twice daily. It felt good. I didn't understand it, but it calmed the turmoil within, the ever present chatter, like a gentle breeze blowing over a strong ocean current on warm summer day.... The storm cleared and I surfaced once again for air. Setting my sight on the distant shore, I continued forward, one stroke at a time.
A Year of Fine Tuning: 1984-'85
My buddhist leaders told me that it was okay to continue practicing psychics along with buddhism, so that I could compare their results in my life; and so I did for one year. I used my buddhist chanting to fine tune my channeling ability, before letting go of it once and for all.
One of the first tests I put the Gohonzon through, was I wanted to know if the wand that I made for myself was any more or less powerful than this scroll with japanese writing on it. I have long been making power objects..... At this time, I was making scrying boxes and magic wands, all in the geomantic tradition (earth based, high magick). I was adept at charging objects. So, I took my favorite wand and placed it in front of my Gohonzon Mandala, which was enshrined on top of my chest-of-drawers. I chanted vigorously for awhile, holding my question in mind. Then I stood while still chanting, took the wand, held it upright in front of the Gohonzon and channeled the full force of my energy through it via Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, challenging the calligraphic Mandala to prove itself superior. What happened next, I still cannot explain. One moment I was challenging the Gohonzon to a psychic duel and the next moment I was face on the floor in full kow tow, wand beside me, still chanting. I guess the Gohonzon won.
Another experience I remember shortly after moving into this home, was that somehow I set off a poltergiest. It was an old house, almost 100 years old. It was only minor stuff really, doors swinging and cupboards slamming, that sort of thing. I never saw it happen, but the owner and live-in caretaker figured out that it only occured when I was in the house. So, one day they sat me down and told me stop it. I told them I was not aware of doing anything to cause it, but that I would chant about it and see what I could do. I chanted and while doing so, I visualized pulling all of my erratic energies back into myself, and also to allow the pent up psycho-kinetic energies within the house to melt back into the Universe. All poltergeist activity ceased and they thanked me.
When I think back on it, I wonder if something I did caused it, or did I trigger something already latent in the house (probably both). I remember smoking pot with the live-in caretaker on the back porch. There was an old small hand crank electric generator.... I liked to hold both wires and he would slowly turn it, sending gentle currents of electricity coursing through my body. Ah, boys and their toys! (Do NOT try this home!) Could this have added the extra juice necessary to translate my mind games into psycho-kinetic phenomena? I wonder..... (Note: this same caretaker later turned out to be an escape convict from the State Penn. He was a fun guy.)
During this first year of chanting, my life blossomed in some unexpected ways. In the same way most guys experiment with other guys at some point in their lives, this was the year I would experiment with women and I become bi-sexual (for a time). Like with everything else in my life, I like to try everything once or more if it feels good. The first woman I was with when I was 21 turned 50 while we were dating. She was a schitzophrenic witch through and through who named herself after the goddess, Astarte.
During this time, my trance mediumship abilities were slowly developing and the cob webs were clearing. I learned how to lead others through past life regressions using basic hypnosis techniques, often on the front porch of the care home. Amongst other things, I learned why it is best to leave such practices to those trained in therapy. One never knows what one may tap into when leading someone into the recesses of their mind. Sometimes, the trick is knowing how to bring them back without leaving them worse off than before! Fortunately, such occurances were rare as my circle of friends continued to explore our minds, both through chanting and the paranormal.
I remember writing to a psychic medium in NYC to have my astrological chart cast and read. He sent it to me and was quite astonished at what he saw. At the moment of my birth, the planets lined up across the heavens forming a perfect arrow. Not a single planet was out of place to distract me on my path and all the planets were in seven houses. He had never seen such a chart before. He wrote that he did not know what my mission in life might be, but that whatever it is, there will be no major obstacles to stand in the way. Hearing this at a time when I was certified a schitzophrenic was strange, but with the wisdom of hindsight it makes much more sense; and at the time, it positively reinforced the idea I learned in Buddhism, that I could overcome anything which came my way.
By the Spring of 1985, I was ready for a less-structured environment and so they moved me to a half-way house, a house with no live-in caretaker, but with a good program in place. I really got into channeling while living here... and this is when I got good at it.
At an NSA meeting, someone introduced me to a woman who had been chanting for many years and was (is) a known psychic. She has since made a name for herself as a Michael channel, but this was before she was well known in her field. We became close friends, spending a lot time together. She helped me to fine tune my abilities. Before this time, I considered myself a trance medium, in that I would put myself in a trance and whatever was out there would come through. She taught me how to channel, i.e., how to adjust my frequency to find whatever being(s) I wanted to channel. But first....
Remember my best bud and walk-in Arlett? Now a year later, it still felt like our two selves shared this same body. When I chanted, it felt like I came home to myself and Arlett was pushed out. When I channeled, Arlett was dominant and "I" watched from the sidelines. For one year, this was my reality.
One afternoon in late spring, my friend channeled Arlett who announced that he was going to be reborn soon as a Scorpion boy, somewhere very near me. However, if it were true, then the pregnancy would be well on the way.... Unbeknownst to me, and unknown to my sister at the time, early next November she had a healthy baby boy. This is a story I have never told my family.
During this time I also learned to channel a few higher beings... in particular St. Christopher. As I mentioned earlier, my friend was (is) a Michael channel and she also channeled St. Christopher. Michael is rather dry and informational; Christopher, warm and congenial. I never was able to channel Michael (only listen and watch with my eyes closed), but I did develop a relationship with Christopher and would channel him occassionally.
Some time later, after I stopped channeling, yet another friend sent me to a counselor who was known to be a St. Christopher channel. I no longer really "believed" in channeling, but was there to see whatever may happen. After some discussion about my past experiences, with my permission she then went into a trance and quite to my surprise, the same being whom I had known as Christopher inside my head was talking through her, using the same voice inflections, with the same humorous personality. This left a lasting impression on me. It forced a brick to be placed in that doorway in my mind, not allowing me to completely deny that there is something there... beyond what we can see and hear or know for certain.
Changing Karma in the Summer of 1985
In June, a few months after living in the half-way house, I was asked to leave because I had violated the house rules. Thus I arranged to rent a room with some buddhist friends, packed my stuff, and prepared to move out of the mental health system forever. On the last night before I was to move, one of my roommates snapped. He threw all of my belongings onto the lawn. Almost everything was boxed in the living room already... but even my TV went flying, hundreds of crystals scattered to the four corners of the culdesac, my magical implements were shattered, and my buddhist altar too took wing into the yard that night.
As the Fates would have it, the person who would be my partner on and off over the next decade, Wes, finally decided to take me up on my offer to visit for the first time. He drove up with me sitting in the yard, buddhist altar next to me, locked out of the house. He took me home for the night and then the next day I moved in with other friends, free of the mental health system at last, after my 2-1/2 year sojourn through The System.
While living with these friends, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a Wiccan Circle in the park behind our apartment. Nice vibes, nice chants, nice people. The witches of northern California had long before been introduced to the daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo..... A decade later, when I met other NoCal Wiccans through my interfaith activities, I learned that the daimoku was still chanted by many circles upon occassion. It is one tool of many to help achieve a state of oneness.
In July I found my first job after three years. In August, one year after becoming a buddhist, I threw myself into propagation activities to test their claim that such actions could help me to transform my karma for the better. I chanted a lot and did geshu (planting seeds of enlightenment through street evangelism). Several of my long time friends received their Gohonzon.
I remember one particular chanting session with Wes, late in August. I had been talking with my young men's division leader earlier about my spirit guides, etc.... Up until this point he had been patient with me, but he lost his cool and told me I was full of shit. I do not remember the rest of the conversation. I was boiling. So, sitting in front of Wes's Gohonzon while chanting intensely, I decided to try an experiment. I visualized the thousands of golden cords coming down out of the Universe and into my mind, the conduits that I had built over time to channel my friends. By the hundreds I yanked them out, handful after handful, and closed the trap door at the top of my head, the doorway at the 7th chakra. I then proceeded to turn off all of my psychic awarenesses, like clamping down on a hose, or turning off a valve.
Thus, for the first time in 3.5 years, my consciousness was grounded only in this world. It was a nice change. I went a couple weeks like this. Then, after smoking some doobie, my mind blazed with a brilliant burst of color. They had turned themselves back on, but I never again would need to practice psychics in order to fine tune my intuition.
Post-Schitzophrenic Reflections: 1987
In 1987, the State of California officially reversed my diagnoses as a schitzophrenic after I had been working for two years, with no psychotic breaks since that one dark winter in 1983. Their initial diagnosis that my condition was only temporary turned out to be true (although some may disagree ;-). My last therapist, the one who was present at my enshrinement, told me years later that she had never seen someone go so deep into schitzophrenia and then make such a rapid escape. Truly, I was one of the lucky ones. I know less than a handful of other people who have been able to cure their own mind of similar maladies.
While my time as a schitzophrenic coincided exactly with my practice of psychic phenomena, I do not want to give the impression that one is the cause of the other. I believe it was my drug use which sent me over the edge, into La-La Land, and I used the psychic tools I found at hand, the tools I learned from books and the old hippies of San Francisco. Perhaps it kept the madness at bay; perhaps it prolonged my "temporary" diagnosis because I enjoyed navigating the inner realms? Talking to the voices was easier than dealing with humans.
During these years, I tried many tools to tame the wild monkey in my mind. At best, I could harness it to do my bidding but not until I discovered buddhist chanting, did I find something that could calm the constant chatter and heal my fractured mind. While there are many ways one might view or interpret my experiences, what feels most right is that my speed use shattered my mind into a million pieces, each seen as another being, reflecting each other like stars in the night sky. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo brought all of these fragments together. It brought me home to myself.