Excerpt: Wayfinder

The Path from Pain to Purpose

By Emma Bennett

Read an excerpt from Emma Bennett’s powerful story of healing from traumatic brain injury and experiencing spiritual awakening.

Part 1, Chapter 8: Awakening

“Whenever any kind of deep loss occurs in your life — such as loss of possessions, your home, a close relationship; or loss of your reputation, job, or physical abilities — something inside you dies. You feel diminished in your sense of who you are. There may also be a certain disorientation. ‘Without this…who am I?’ When a form that you had unconsciously identified with as part of yourself leaves you or dissolves, that can be extremely painful. It leaves a hole, so to speak, in the fabric of your existence. When this happens, don’t deny or ignore the pain or the sadness that you feel. Accept that it is there. Beware of your mind’s tendency to construct a story around that loss in which you are assigned the role of victim. Fear, anger, resentment, or self-pity are the emotions that go with that role. Then become aware of what lies behind those emotions as well as behind the mind-made story: that hole, that empty space. Can you face and accept that strange sense of emptiness? If you do, you may find that it is no longer a fearful place. You may be surprised to find peace emanating from it. Whenever death occurs, whenever a life form dissolves, God, the formless and unmanifested, shines through the opening left by the dissolving form. That is why the most sacred thing in life is death. That is why the peace of God can come to you through the contemplation and acceptance of death.”

Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

Violet petals glistened in the morning light like crushed amethyst. At first touch, I wasn’t sure what the feeling of it was like. It took some concentration. Hot coffee sputtered out of the Aeropress, a handheld compression coffeemaker. I had pushed it down too fast and the coffee scalded my skin. Single-origin coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A little acerbic, the color of reddish caramel earth. I had ground it finely. The feeling of what had been happening dawned on me slowly. I showered, bathed in both the light streaming through the skylight and the filtered water.

Sensory rooms and gardens have been greatly supportive of healing and recovery for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and brain injury. In our home, we have plants, essential oils, different textiles, and mineral specimens. I am very fortunate to have the environment and the support I need in my life for the sake of my health. Years earlier, there had been times in my life when I  wasn’t sure how I’d make it through and I could only take things moment to moment, which ultimately taught me an important value about remaining open to the present moment.

On October 9, 2014, I had a fall down the stairs from the second floor after slipping on a spill on one of the first concrete steps. When I came to at the bottom of the ground level of the stairs, I made my way to my boss’ office and was taken to the human resources office. Then, I was instructed to choose from an approved facility. I picked one and was made to wait there for six hours. Even in a daze, I could notice the doctor in his white coat, leaning over the receptionist’s counter talking about ordering a pizza and whether or not there was a party he would be invited to. His name was Dr. Ganguly. I didn’t have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan for weeks. A doctor tried to argue on my behalf that I most likely had a diffuse axonal injury, or brain whiplash, which would require more than an MRI. The MRI scan was inconclusive but did show a venous anomaly. I folded a worker’s compensation case for $1,000, too weak and tired to continue on with no support in my life and no answers as to how I could afford the levels of care I needed. There was no way to win against the University of California and their insurance company. Ultimately, they stalled and declared my experience of traumatic injury and pain subjective until the attorney working with me advised me to give in. In the United States, medical needs can spell a spiral of one’s demise, starting with a financial bottoming out and neither the physical capability to work to make up for it nor to advocate for oneself while dealing with their difficulties.

A diffuse axonal injury is what happens when the brain sloshes against the skull multiple times, which is what had happened when I had been thudding the back of my skull on the concrete edges of every step all the way down from the second floor, to the landing, then toppling to the next set of stairs to thud my way down to the bottom. This causes microlesions which are very difficult to notice with imaging. The brain tissue around these lesions begins to atrophy. A DAI, or any brain injury for that matter, is no man’s land in the medical world. You stand little to no chance of support, only to hope for the best that you’ll recover enough to feed yourself. The qualifier for disability from the 2010 Equality Act is having a persistent condition which adversely affects one’s everyday living and citizens are supposed to receive complete student loan forbearance if they are disabled, but qualification for disability is arduously difficult to acquire and can take years of effort. Relief is seldom given freely in the United States. Some of the best resources I have found for information and support for traumatic brain injuries have been from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

There are times when I lapse into a fog and I am no longer aware of where I am or what I am doing. I’ve wandered out into the streets a few times. The first time, someone grabbed a firm hold of my clothing and yanked me back. I was startled and disoriented, but grateful that a stranger had looked out for me. The second time, I was jarred by the sudden thwacking of a car mirror hitting my arm. My partner has pulled me back from the street while walking with me before. It was worse in the first three years. I remember being taken to a grocery store when I was back on my feet after seven months of staying mostly in bed, locked in pain. I circled the grocery stores several times, constantly losing my ability to remember that I had been looking for eggs.

My partner has found me with cuts, burns, and bruises from incidents I would not be able to recall. I cut right through my fingernail with a knife once. I have had ongoing years of unrelenting cluster headaches nearly every day of my life, with maybe a few brief respites. He has asked me before, what the headaches feel like. The first time he asked is noted in my journal. I told him that my head felt like a glass jar of screws being shaken up and all the sharp edges were scraping against the sides. They subsided dramatically after I quit my job and began living life more quietly.

During my years of work in corporate entertainment, I have seen three people diagnosed with brain cancer and one pass away due to being so consumed with work that he didn’t take care of his diabetes symptoms. When someone who worked on my floor passed away after twenty-one years with the company, only ten years senior to me, I made up my mind to leave and leverage everything I had come to know of aligning, co-creating, and manifesting to find another way. I found that I had precancerous cells, was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder, and had high levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. When it rains, it pours, doesn’t it?

When my partner’s mother and her senior community friend express frustration about their moments of confusion and the accidents that happen as a result, I can relate. I once started telling of how idiotic I felt for walking diagonally down a hallway and grazing my shoulder on the walls and his mother said that someone had once pointed out to her that she had done that too.

Fortunately, I am open to alternative possibilities. On an April morning in 2017, I woke up feeling like I had shrapnel in my brain. The pain was ripping through my head like a consuming torrent, I was absolutely engulfed. It was debilitating. Just as my head fell back on my pillow, wondering how I was to go on, I received a phone call to come out to Long Beach to stay, rest, and heal. I was invited to be with a community of healers. I was picked up and stayed at the home of a pranayama breathwork instructor in Long Beach who had suffered a life of poverty, wearing down her shoes to holes in the soles, her only food being from school and having tortas from her grandmother on the weekend. She had a rare neurological disease and sloughed through years in the banking industry before she could leave and her husband was making enough of an income to support their small family. I wondered how it was that I could also live the rest of my life with a long-term neurological health condition.

The community of healers helped me learn about naturopathic remedies such as cannabinoid oil, reiki, breathwork, chakra healing, energetic realignment, targeted physical therapy for fascia, and somatic experiencing therapy. I began to heal. During meditation, in a transcendent way of seeing, I saw that my wings were tightly folded up. They began to open. I knew then that my gifts and abilities to see, discern, and create miracles had been rightfully mine to own and express all my life. Human beings have a remarkable capacity to sensorially reorient themselves, almost as a form of psychic spontaneous reorganization, when one of their senses are compromised. Take blindness, for example, a blind man named Daniel Kish taught himself echolocation by clicking his tongue and sensing the environment around him. He is able to ride a bicycle, which he very much enjoys.

My vision is covered with a layer of persistent static. It is less noticeable when there is light and much more noticeable when things get darker. My night vision is horrendous. I am adversely affected by the contrast of lights in the darkness, like with bright spotlights, headlights, lamp lights, flashing lights, bicycle lights, and so on. I have paresthesia, numbness and tingling like what you feel when your foot falls asleep from sitting on it for a while, from the top left side of my head to my left foot. Even with my right side being my good side, I don’t fully feel what I feel. It often takes a moment to register. My senses often feel like there is a dampener on them. Persistent aches, pain, and fatigue also engulf me. I haven’t been able to read like I used to before the brain injury. When I can’t rely on my primary senses as much or focus on reading, I rely on intuiting, simply feeling for what is going on or what the words on a page mean. This is an ability we all have but we often condition ourselves out of accessing very much.

What happens with healing is that the body becomes more connected with its personal power. Dr. Peter Levine, who was the pioneer of somatic experiencing therapy to release stored trauma energy in the body, recognized that healing had to do with further enablement of the body’s own ability to heal itself. A healer is simply a person who can help facilitate this. They do not do anything to make you heal, you have all the mechanics within yourself and sometimes they need a little boost or a tune-up.

With somatic experiencing therapy sessions, I have seen a remarkable difference in sensory perception. At the end of sessions I have had, I felt more alert and would notice noises and colors which were not as apparent to me before the sessions would begin. I would notice the noises of wind, birds, and see the green of plants much more crisply and clearly. My meditation practices, integrative healing approach, and neuroplasticity exercises have helped me regulate my own brain chemicals, hormones, and combat inflammation to shield me against succumbing to depression and have helped stave off worsening cascade events.

One thing which helps enormously with healing is to get whatever is in the way of your healing by way of eating up your energy resources, like with a computer CPU or computer processing unit getting way too slow if it’s capacity usage percentage is high. You have a set amount of energy in your body. If it’s busy getting bogged down with stress and inflammation created by stress, thoughts in your head, repressed emotions, hard to digest foods, heavy metals in your body, inadequate nutrition, bombardments of overstimulation from all the devices you use, etc. guess what? A glut of energy is being expended to deal with avoidable compensations and otherwise not being allocated to your thriving. You will not feel as if you are at your peak levels of clarity, focus, and potential.

There is so much in our environments which impact our health. Take the vibrations of sound, for example. There are studies by the European Heart Journal and Harvard, among other sources, concluding that environmental noise pollution, health risks from persistent noise occurring at levels as low as 50 decibels (dB), directly correlates to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. The higher the noise pollution, the more instances there are in a given area. Heavy city traffic is 85dB, some appliances like a vacuum, lawnmower, or blender can be 90 dB, a garbage truck is 100 dB, and airplane takeoffs and sirens are 120 dB.

There have been sound vibration tests done with sand and snowflakes which show that the quality of sound vibrations can either improve or damage our health and even affect our state of consciousness. Much of these kinds of findings are not formally recognized by modern medicine. A doctor may not look at you and ask about where you are living, what your environment is like. They may simply take out their prescription pads with no real idea of how your life and health are affected; it may just be another day on the job for them with a Porsche parked in the garage that they’re often too tired to enjoy driving around. Yes, there are good doctors, but for every good doctor there may be ten jaded ones. You must advocate for yourself and thoroughly investigate your options.

Self-advocacy is very important. As a colleague pointed out to me once, doctors are educated guessers. They are educated in different ways. The best ones are intuitive and perpetually curious, constantly refreshing their knowledge base and open to be challenged in what they know. Neither allopathic nor osteopathic doctors are the better or worse candidates, rather, it is ideal to take the best of both sides and put it together. In the realm of chakra, or energy systems, our energy fields extend much further than our own bodies. The soul star chakra is anchored in the heavens and the earth star chakra is anchored in the earth. We are both etheric and earthly beings and need to integrate both into our considerations of wellbeing.

Medical astrology, for example, can give us very exact insights into our health problems, which we could work with doctors and therapists to heal. One example of an integrative wellbeing success story was when someone visited a reflexologist who found that they had a problem with their kidneys and thereby received an excellent early diagnosis which nipped a potential health catastrophe in the bud!

The brain and nervous systems are the most esoteric uncharted territories of our physical being. A traumatic brain injury begins what is known as a cascade of abrupt neuronal depolarization, release of excitatory neurotransmitters, ionic shifts, changes in glucose metabolism, diminished endocrine and metabolic functions, altered cerebral blood flow, impaired axonal function, impaired hormone production, and inflammation. In other words, the brain and nervous system are forever altered. Sensory capabilities, motor reflexes, involuntary muscle movement, sleep, energy regulation, hormonal regulation, absorption and use of food nutrients, the ability to cope with stress, cognition, emotions, memory, focus, and productivity are all critically impacted and will continue to be impacted for a lifetime. I’ve read on forums of people who have struggled with what they live with for twenty years or as long as they’ve lived on from the time they had a brain injury.

Recovery requires a multifold approach to combat the cascade. You may not be able to stop it entirely, but you can find a way to manage without your life getting taken completely over. I didn’t know for years that my body was experiencing magnesium deficiency and an inability to properly absorb magnesium until a woman from a Sprouts grocery store supplement section taught me that one seldom recognized repercussion of a brain injury is magnesium depletion, which further exacerbates neurological impairment. I began to learn that there was a slew of nutritional requirements that most brain injury patients are never taught of. Trace minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements, magnesium sulfate, B-Complex, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, protein, and an increase of medium-chain triglyceride oils, and Omega-3’s (EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA, eicosapentaenoic acid) were some of my findings. A nutritionist is often a source of help many are not sure if they can afford but is wholly necessary for comprehensive recovery. Reputable apothecaries, herbalists, and homeopathic practitioners may also be able to help.

One profoundly valuable source of information I received was that there was a cannabidiol oil formula created at the request of retired National Football League (NFL) football players. This formula combined cannabidiol oil with astaxanthin, helichrysum, and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oils. I started taking cannabidiol oil and astaxanthin supplements separately, as the formula had been discontinued. The severity of headaches decreased slowly over time and I stopped having seizures. The last seizure I had was in the fall of 2017. Astaxanthin is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. It gives crustaceans and red sea algae their reddish color and protects them from the harmful rays of the sun. After years of having taken this supplement, my doctor found that my eye’s macular pigment percentage was significantly higher than average, giving me some pretty good defense against blue light and sunshine, which can help to preserve eye muscle elasticity and eyesight. Most people are somewhere around 20-30%, the ophthalmologist’s tests on me read a percentage of 83%. Perhaps as a result, my contact and eyeglass prescription has not changed for about four years and going. Prior to this, my contact lens prescription had been increasing in strength by -0.25 each year. Vision is the same in each eye.

The first anniversary of my last seizure was around the time that I received the phone call from the attorney advising me that I should just take the $1,000 settlement and fold. I had just landed a new job and was desperately hoping I could make it work despite my health issues. The company had a very tumultuous dynamic of many newly hired people from many different backgrounds, quickly speed-hired contractors to put the team together and throw a product launch across the finish line. I was in the office for twelve hours a day, seven to seven. It was too much, too soon. I began to crumble under the pressures and stresses. Retrospectively, I now understand that any time a company lays off their workforce or tries to amass cheap labor through contracting, they are in the process of going under.

One Friday morning on September 29, 2017, I got off of the train at a station in Santa Monica and had a seizure on the street crossing at the intersection. My depth perception bottomed out, I felt like I could’ve been as high as the top of the Chrysler Building, and my body lunged forward, flinging my small backpack like a skipped stone across the crosswalk. I recently dug it out of storage and showed it to my partner, telling him the story of my last seizure. I walked in late to work that day, heading to the bathroom to peel back the cloth of my pants away from my skinned knees and washing the blood off of my palms. My boss gave me a scathing glance and went to the director of my department. The director gently, albeit solemnly, let me know I was fired.

One day in Downtown Los Angeles, I took a walk. A little black cat with a pink collar was in my path. I normally would not pet stray cats, especially one randomly out on the streets in a neighborhood past South Los Angeles. I stopped to pet the cat and it was purring. Someone called out to me. He started to ask me what I was doing for a living. He told me about his faith and about an interfaith, nonreligious community of healers. They are an organization called Shumei, a non-religious spiritual community of people who embrace the spiritual teachings of Mokichi Okada. From them, I learned some very valuable things about the healing energy of nature, the practice of natural agriculture, and the importance of being both grounded and spiritual. They practice a form of energy healing similar to reiki, called jyorei, which I gratefully received.

The difference between prayer and meditation can be that, with prayer, you are often still attempting to impose your will. You are still projecting, filling the silence with words, pleas, and your own thoughts about things. Prayer can be an act of assertion. People can infuse prayer and meditation as a conversation with the Divine when it isn’t a one-way street and they allow for Silence, which is what the Divine speaks through. Think about it, how can you have a conversation with someone when you do all the talking and none of the listening? Meditation can be both, your thoughts don’t clutter the ether, your soul speaks for itself, and the Divine speaks for itself. Much of people’s lives are spent asserting, overexerting their Yang masculine energy, so much that they block their own receiving, which is a function of their Yin feminine energy. Meditation is an art with which both the Yin and the Yang coalesce; it is an exercise that harmonizes energy.

I’ve been asked whether I am pantheistic, Buddhist, or religious at all. I am not pantheistic; I see God in all. I am not Buddhist, Buddhism is not a religion, it is an expression of truth. The spokes on the wheel which serves as a symbol of Buddhism are outwardly at different radial points but are connected at the same center. Similarly, the Hindu belief is that all paths arrive at the same Source. I am not religious, I agree with Sri Ramakrishna, not to “care for doctrines… for dogmas or sects or churches or temples.” In the words of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha:

“Do not believe in any traditions just because they have been valid for long years in many countries. Do not believe in something just because many people constantly repeat it. Accept nothing just because someone else has said it, because it is based upon the authority of a wise man, or because it is written in holy writings. Do not believe in the fantasies and visions which you consider to be given by God. Believe nothing just because the authority of a teacher or priest stands behind it. Believe in that which you have perceived to be right through a lengthy examination of your own, in that which lets itself be reconciled with our own good and that of others.”

Religion to me is an impediment of enlightenment, a system of separation. The moment you become self-convicted and your conviction is what you believe you know, you put an end to your own understanding. I am interested in direct experiences of spirituality, not religion. Any teacher anyone needs will meet them; they only need to be receptive. Many people may be familiar with Rumi’s often quoted words: “I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.” This is his further unraveled search for holiness:

“I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not.

I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there.

I entered the mountain cave of Hira and then went as far as Qandhar but God I found not.

With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Caucasus and found there only ‘anqa’s habitation.

Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of ld and young; God was not there even.

Turning to philosophy I inquired about him from ibn Sina but found Him not within his range.

I fared then to the scene of the Prophet’s experience of a great divine manifestation only a ‘two bow-lengths’ distance from him but God was not there even in that exalted court.

Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.”

Like with religion, medicine is an established institution. I initially struggled with receiving the healing and empowering information because no one had ever told me that such things existed. My head was riddled with stories of witchcraft, exorcisms, charlatans, snake charmers, damnation, casting lots, absurd magical thinking, and the things of our cultural imaginations that depict such terrors. I felt fear and shame but couldn’t deny the undisputable transformation in healing that two doctors, a nurse, a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, an orthopedic specialist, and a physical therapist were unable to initiate.  You are under no obligation to accept or act on what I have shared with you on what I have learned of integrative healing. You may examine your options for yourself. I had my own lengthy examination and found that I still have much to be open to. There is no need for intransigence.

During one of my meditations, a voice spoke within the Stillness. First it asked, “What do you want?” I had heard this voice from childhood. My answer was, “This. Here. Now. Always. I want to be free from the illusory pressures of this world.” Then the Voice spoke, “Know who you are.

This is the part of the book where I go crazy. Where people don’t know who I am anymore, and I don’t even know who I am anymore. This is the Shaman’s descent into madness, where one dies while they live to become a form that had been hidden until the right time to break open and be revealed—true to who they are and have been all along. In indigenous cultures, this is immediately recognized and rightfully respected. Black Elk did not need to see a psychiatrist, get a job, or get it straight. Milarepa, Gampopa, and Naropa didn’t need to straighten out their craziness. Murderer, drunkard, loony person, holy ones.

Enlightenment is not reserved for homeowners with white picket fences on treelined streets with perfectly mowed lawns working blue-collar jobs who get their hair cut regularly and don’t cuss. It is also not available only to those who donate all their belongings and buy a one-way ticket to India for a little while for a dose of spiritual tourism. Spiritual expansion is available to you in your present moment of existence. If you want to live as if you were in an ashram or a monastery, sit your butt down somewhere and don’t let your mind convince you to get up. You don’t have to be sitting underneath a jambu tree like Siddhartha to experience Devaputra. The story of the arrows sent hurtling towards Siddhartha by Devaputra Mara, the demon of all demons, which turned to flowers at the last moment when he would not move—these are the arrows of all your fears, shadows, pain, and attachments. Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus were not the only buddhas, or Enlightened Ones, though they are respectively leading figures of transcendence representing the East and the West.

Shamans are travelers of the multiverse. Archetypally, they are the persons who journey to a lower level, or dimension, of reality to recover their power. They dive into the depths where most others fear, refuse, and don’t all need to go. They stare into pitch darkness. Their consciousness gets ripped wide open. They get broken. And then the Great Spirit begins to show why they exist as they have incarnated. All of these archetypes, the buddhas, the shamans, they live in each and every one of us. They are our teachers within. If we seek to touch what is eternal within ourselves, the teachers will manifest in our realities—this is how the student demonstrates the readiness which prompts the teacher to appear.

Like the shamans, I purged my conceptual reality, personal history, and object relations. Conceptual reality is how you mentally construct reality, primarily based on your conditioning, biases, and judgments. This is bad, this is a dog, this continent is Africa. Personal history is a collection of what you receive and accept concerning meaning prescribed to your life experiences and the experiences of your cultural heritage. 42-year-old male, 5’11, apartment in Chelsea, Manhattan, British expat. Object relations is a childhood formative process of developing cognitive associations in relation to others. This is how I handle success and failure according to what I’ve learned, success is having what others enjoy, the approval of others means I am a worthy person this is rich, this is poor, these are my relational patterns.

The vast majority of people are terrified to live without conceptual reality, personal history, and object relations—they base so much of their identity on these things that they feel strongly one cannot be human or well without them. Paradoxically, the willing surrender of the attachment to these causes an inextricable sense of connection with absolutely everything. What people commonly think of as the ‘ego’ is often what gets kicked up when a part of us feels threatened by the prospect of letting go and no longer having anything to hold on, when we want to cling even more tightly to our attachments. It is the fear of losing, the fear of not having control—ultimately, it is the fear of death.

Awakening is the catalyst for greater surrender. Surrender the attachments, surrender the fight to keep knowing what you think you know so that you can understand. Sensing is a form of listening. When the noise is quietened, you will see what was previously unseen, hear what was previously unheard, and notice what was previously unnoticed. This is the art of awakening.

There is much, much more to our sensory capabilities, which can be unlocked when we clear existential debris, release emotions, and open up to unconditional, unbiased participation in the present moment. People can consciously elevate themselves to higher levels of awareness. How do you know if your consciousness has been elevated? If you are there, you will understand that when you can forbear the great and terrible truth with unflinching compassion you see the Universe for what it is—the dichotomies of light and dark, good and bad, glorious and wretched, will merge into a sense of One and All and that all things you experience are a reflection of your own consciousness mirrored back to you. If you pick up a copy of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, you will no longer take things literally but instead feel for what it means. In fact, sensory and intuitive perceptions will become your predominant way of conscious processing rather than logical or linear rationale and judgment, which is de facto for most according to mainstream conditioned education. At this level, a human being’s greater potential is more accessible, they are capable of greater feats of ingenuity and creativity, and there is no longer separation between existence and excellence; purpose itself is infused with existing and to succeed is simply to be.

If you are at this point, much of the materialized world and its workings will clearly show their inanity and you’ll develop an ability to see straight through to the simple truths. It will all be forever tinged with absurdity. You will live connected with absolutely everything in existence, the stars in your veins, the trees and flowers in your blood, the earth in your bones, the waters of eternity in your eyes, the fires of creation in every breath you inhale and exhale, the winds of timelessness the bellows which fan your life into being. Though you are united with all of existence, others who are still dreaming, like sleepers trapped in amber, will think you are lonely or mad. They may ask you, “Why are you so alone?” You live as a distant light shining from a hidden field in a world where most people will never see you unless they awaken, the field of which Rumi wrote of, and look out to the world as the fabled King of Wirani did, alone in his castle as the only sane person while an entire city of people had gone mad, articulated by Kahlil Gibran’s Wise King:

“Once there ruled in the distant city of Wirani a king who was both mighty and wise. And he was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom.

Now, in the heart of that city was a well, whose water was cool and crystalline, from which all the inhabitants drank, even the king and his courtiers; for there was no other well.

One night when all were asleep, a witch entered the city, and poured seven drops of strange liquid into the well, and said, ‘From this hour he who drinks this water shall become mad.’

Next morning all the inhabitants, save the king and his lord chamberlain, drank from the well and became mad, even as the witch had foretold.

And during that day the people in the narrow streets and in the market places did naught but whisper to one another, “The king is mad.  Our king and his lord chamberlain have lost their reason. Surely we cannot be ruled by a mad king.  We must dethrone him.”

That evening the king ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well.  And when it was brought to him he drank deeply, and gave it to his lord chamberlain to drink.

And there was great rejoicing in that distant city of Wirani, because its king and its lord chamberlain had regained their reason.”

Is it so bad to be mad? The energy of the material projected world constructed by collective human influence, the matrix, is crude and low vibrational. It does not have a life of its own, it relies only on the lives and vibrational energy of those who participate in it. This is where spiritual mastery comes into play, realizing that it is pretty darn silly for it to be the master of you when it really cannot survive or exist without you. You and countless others throughout history have aided in the creation of it and you are continuing to be a co-creator of it. The thing is, you are a part of the solution—we who consciously evolve and expand in this world can co-create different paradigms and realities by manifesting our individual destinies. What this means is that we turn inward to listen to our soul urges and we do what we must do to liberate the light within us, which will in turn be our life’s contribution. Co-creation is cooperation with the creative genius inherent in the Universe itself, which is also inherent within us all. This is what it truly means for us to be created in God’s Image.

Those who abuse others are not properly connected with their own Essence, their own vitality. They are often imploding like stars, becoming black holes, becoming an inverse vortex that pulls energy into oblivion. This is basically what a narcissistic personality is, an energy vampire, a black hole, human quicksand. And they are just one example. There are people in this world who do not wish to participate in higher conscious evolution and expansion. We cannot cave into codependent cravings to rescue them but we must honor their path just as we must honor our own. Allow them to seek the light themselves, let the whisper become a shout for them. You can be an example, you can be influential, but it is wise not to take the karma of others lest you delay and thwart your own higher conscious evolution and expansion. The old matrix has already collapsed. It wasn’t sustainable to begin with. You are a part of the reconstruction of the human framework.

It is important not to try to get back what was lost, seek a replacement, or try in any way to hold on to the way things were. When space is opened up, let it be open. This can be very hard. I spent a year refusing to leave the old apartment I used to live in and move on with my life, staying nearby and coming by often to stay in the courtyard underneath the fifth-story window of my old apartment. This was the year that everything kept being ripped away until I surrendered to the openness. Mark Nepo describes this phenomenon as an excavation in Seven Thousand Ways to Listen:

“…every disturbance, whether resolved or not, is making space for an inner engagement. As a shovel digs up and displaces earth, in a way that must seem violent to the earth, an interior space is revealed for the digging. In just this way, when experience opens us, it often feels violent and the urge, quite naturally, is to refill that opening, to make it the way it was. But every experience excavates a depth, which reveals its wisdom once opened to air.”

In my life, the storms helped to clear the blockages to the core truth and freedom of being within. This is how I can convey what I do in this book. You can’t reveal your truth if your sufferings are obscuring them. If you won’t allow them to be cleared away, they could be ripped away. Either way, you have a choice between two different kinds of pain, one to forbear and one to fight against—the first option will cost a great deal less energy and take much less time, and the latter will cost more energy and time.

The Tao is the ultimate core truth of who we are. When we journey inwards, past conditioning and programming, we liberate our truth. Each rung of experiential buildup removed liberates another level of higher conscious potential. You can imagine this as concentric circles, like tree rings. This is the Path, the Way.

Nearing the end of April 2017, I was invited to a chef friend’s culinary gathering. People were smoking indoors and I didn’t have my inhaler on me. People were asking what was wrong as I gasped and I said that I didn’t have my inhaler before my body slipped from my seat and thudded to the floor. It felt so painful to be devoid of air, I felt so much fear and I felt like knives were piercing my throat and chest, pinning me to the floor. Gravity felt profoundly heavy. My consciousness went somewhere that was like a radially oriented psychedelic trance echo chamber. I felt an echoing voice shouting, “Yeshua Hamashiach,” the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Someone pressed an inhaler in my hand and I weakly took a puff. It felt like a defibrillator shock to my soul.

I met with a female spiritual archetype, Mary Magdalene, at a place which she told me was Golgotha. There were multidimensional beings I perceived as angels. They were laughing. I asked them what they were laughing at, took a look with them, and we were all laughing hysterically. It looked like a comical stage being played out. They were laughing at the world full of people and what they were so concerned with and thought was so important. I could feel how silly it was, how it was not so serious. It only seems so when we are here. It is a very strong illusion that takes hold of us. One of the angels took me to go see death. It was like a balloon popping with a pinprick, releasing a person’s soul essence like millions of tiny beautiful lights into the sky. There was such a profound feeling of absolute peace.

I was laughing when I began coming to. I was like Westley from the Princess Bride movie when his body was thawing from iocaine, a fictitious poison, limp body propped against the wall with his head flopping about. Every now and again, I could take a puff of my inhaler. I had thrown up. Someone I didn’t know was sitting with me. She wondered what I was laughing about and I told her what I had seen.

Synchronistic events and little blasts of dynamite were only the beginning rumblings of something profoundly more devastating and revelatory. I lost it all. Home, money, relationships, and my health as the final blow. After everything that I had already been through in my life—abuse, violation, abandonment, and all that trauma— I was given an opportunity to reenter the arena and stare death in the face. In this arena, I faced physical pain that broke my threshold and all of my life was left hanging in an incredibly delicate balance which was razed at once. I was rendered deeply vulnerable and utterly open to the Universe having greater plans for me than I could dream up for myself.

It was no small wonder that 2017 was the wild ride of awakening for me. The annual activation of the Lionsgate portal, in which the Sun, Earth and Sirius move to specific points in the sky, started on the day of my 30th birthday on July 26, 2017 until August 12th, 2017. A new moon lunar eclipse in Leo took place on July 23rd, 2017. From new, the moon phased into a full moon and partial lunar eclipse in Aquarius on August 7th, followed by a new moon and total solar eclipse in Leo on August 21st. Some of the craziest energies of the cosmos lined up to blast me into my third decade of life and did not let up until my 31st birthday in 2018 when everything suddenly switched. I went from experiencing extremes in events that pushed me to feel like I was ready to call it quits in life to suddenly getting a phone call on my birthday that I was hired into a new job, then I had a new home, new life partner, new life, and I just thought, “Woah… whatever the fuck we think about how large and in charge we are in our lives, there really is no greater control than surrender.” My life as I had known it ended. Things began to make no sense to me anymore. I started to feel very out of touch with being in this world of nonsense and backwardness—in it but not a part of it. This way, my life became a life of constant miracles and revelations. It hasn’t been the same since and there is a profound, still Presence that sits soundly in my being like a stone in a river with rapid waters moving all around it. Presence will illuminate your path and give you every answer you ever need. It will help you manifest your destiny each step of the way. The way we manifest our destinies is by being truly present. Greatness has no deadline. We arrive when we realize that we are here, now.