One weekday evening in July 1996, I sat on the single bed of my one room flat. I was once again mentally ruminating on common themes : "Why me? Why does my life have to be so hard? Why do I have to stay out of relationships and face myself and this incredible loneliness? Why can't I seem to make any real friends? All I am able to do is run from one 12-step meeting to another. But I don't seem to be making any progress and its just too hard; the pain of my whole life has been too much. I simply can't go on living without the relationships and other things that other people have, which I am probably never going to get. This recovery stuff just isn' t worth all this pain and sacrifice, especially since I don't really see anything changing in my life. Why am I staying sober, while others are partying and having fun? Why me? Why me?
I had long been in the habit of imagining people with perfect lives and no real problems---the rich and successful, and my personal favorite: those that had everything handed to them by mom and dad. I would then compare my life to theirs and continue to feed my self-pity. This particular evening, in my magical mind, I assumed that there were successful carjackers out there. They get all the money, sex, drugs and women. They're really living and having a blast! They're not hurting anybody. They're just stealing from rich people that have insurance anyway." At 36 years of age, I was obviously still unaware of any sort of universal spiritual code, by which humans might best live. To the contrary, my main reasons for behaving myself were social disapproval and criminal sanctions, and not necessarily in that order. My motto was: "Get away with whatever you can, just don't get caught." (But the following experience would be instrumental in my coming to know that God stamped a code on my heart before I was born).
Suddenly, from within all my insane "poor me" thinking, came tumbling out a most unusual idea :
"What if ... what happens when we die is that we remain stuck for eternity in our current state of spiritual evolution?"
I immediately thought "Huh, what a strange thought." This was followed by a powerful surge of energy in my head with a strongly sensed message: " Follow this! What would it mean, if this were true?" I immediately began to think through the ramifications. To my amazement, the first thing I realized was that, if I became stuck for eternity at my current state of spiritual growth, now That Truly Would Be HELL! My emotional and mental condition was such that, I had for years been powerless over being one of most miserable people I had ever known. Also, I recalled that a female friend had recently shared that an actual lake in the Jewish holy land, named Gehenna, was what Jesus had in mind when he referred to the lake of fire. These two ideas came together in my mind and for the first time, I recognized that heaven and hell were not necessarily places, but rather states of mind or states of being! This was a huge inner discovery for me!
The second connection quickly followed. I was receiving some sort of confirmation that once a human body dies, there is something that lives on possibly for eternity, namely, a human or divine soul, or spirit. The general message was then, that this soul becomes stuck, or unable to grow once it leaves a physical body. Upon realizing this, I was struck again by a powerful inner energy, as if to say: "THATS IT!" I simultaneously jumped up and shouted: "SO, THIS WORLD IS ONLY A TESTING GROUND!" We are actually here to evolve as spiritual souls, and we can only do so while, as souls, we are the animated life of a physical body, in a physical world. We can evolve spiritually only when we are embodied souls . So, once the body dies, we continue to live, but are spiritually stuck, if not for eternity, then for at least some indefinite amount of time (which may even seem like an eternity).
So then, I asked myself: "What then would be my highest purpose?"
I instantly thought of Scott Peck's definition of love in "The Road Less Travelled." He sees love as the extension of one's self for the spiritual growth of oneself or another. I then realized that the highest purpose would be to help myself and others grow spiritually, and in particular, to do so while it is possible to grow at all; while our souls are embodied in a physical vehicle.
What actually transpired was that my insane thinking haphazardly struck a major cord with Universal Truth. In one tremendous sweep, I experienced irrefutable inner evidence : 1) of my true reality as a timeless soul, 2) that my highest purpose on earth is in helping myself and others evolve spiritually , and 3) that this physical world constitutes the only environment under which our spiritual growth can take place. Having no alternative explanation, I have since referred to this event as "my Calling." I would later realize that on some level, we are all called to consciously grow into our true spiritual natures --- indeed, the Call is universal --- but only 'the few' are chosen because 'the many' fail to "Be still and know that I am God."
It would be years before I would completely understand and assimulate this spiritual experience. I first had to make the connection that these huge mental energy surges, were exactly the same type of experience as the powerful 'AHA!' intuitions that struck me whenever I correctly interpreted my dreams. I knew that the 'AHA's' resulted when my conscious mind stumbled across the meaning that my unconscious intended when it constructed my dream. In other words, the 'AHA' is the consciously felt experience that happens when my unconscious mind pokes me to let me know that I just consciously found the correct meaning of the dream. (Note that, this 'intuitive poking' is the only way the unconscious has of indicating to the conscious self that it hit the jackpot! Because after all, we can't be conscious of the un-conscious. The formula is that intuitive or'whole' knowledge comes from the unconscious, while rational or 'piece by piece' knowledge comes from the conscious mind). I then knew for sure, that the unconscious was also the source of this intuitive, spiritual revelation.
This experience clearly demonstrates that the unconscious is capable of providing the conscious waking personality with intuitive jolts, when the conscious mind speculatively generates ideas that happen to correspond with metaphysical or universal truth. These jolts serve the purpose of indicating both the existence and nature of universal truths concerning a particular subject matter, through the sense of intuitive certainty which they impart. They therefore let the conscious receiver know that there is such a thing as Metaphysical Truth, or that Absolute Reality is constituted in a certain way. However, it is doubtful that this intuitive revelation always occurs upon correct speculation; it is most likely not an automatic psychic reflex, but is more likely blocked in the majority of individuals. Otherwise, we would encounter more mystical reports from philosophers and theologians accustomed to deep speculation about the nature of reality. Rather, it probably occurs in the cases of individuals that have somehow developed their latent psychic receptivity through establishing some degree of dialogue with the totality of the inner unconscious Self. The core of the intuitive experience appears to be a natural or supernatural resonance with Absolute Reality, mediated through the unconscious mind of the recipient. This intuitive knowledge, this holistic language of the unconscious, would then be the ultimate source of all human and divine creativity.
There is also a message here for both religious and non-religious individuals. This spiritual calling had nothing whatsoever to do with any particular version of the God-story or of any of the world's great mythologies. When I have tried to share it with Christians, they have always taken it to be evidence of Jesus, but in fact it was totally generic. It is not my purpose to demean any version of the salvation story, in fact, I am a very religious guy. But this tremendous calling belongs to the formless, universal spirituality --- as exemplified, for example, in the 12-step recovery model ---that is not associated with any specific religion, but rather, transcends all particular cultural forms.