By Phil Servedio
AS SUNDAY WORE ON, I noticed that there was a big, big knot right in my crown chakra, and it was very evident. I also had such a headache. Something was going on in the head area, which was the beginning of a somewhat nasty psycho-spiritual jaunt. During the evening, the knot seemed to move down a bit and my headache intensified. It felt like a Shakti headache, kind of dull, when one has spent too much time receiving, and there is a backup in the body. During the evening I started feeling weirder and weirder, almost paranoid and fearful. The energy in my body was intensifying to a level that was uncomfortable and beyond my control. It started feeling panicky, which I have only rarely felt in satsang, when things got really intense. But this time, this was so, so much bigger, overwhelming. I felt frightened, not knowing what was going to happen next. When I sat down for evening meditation, all I was was scared. Whatever freedom was being experienced was being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of fitful fear.
Then the knot on top of my head broke, and it just showered white light throughout my whole body, most definitely the most intense experience of downward spiritual force that I have ever experienced. I felt totally out of control, so scared, so panicked. I hopped into bed, hoping that moving my position would shift things, which it didn’t. The light was pouring through me, and what came into my mind was Lawrence’s talk Friday evening about translation from this realm. I said to myself, “oh shit, am I gonna translate now? I don’t want to die. I DO NOT WANT TO DIE!” I thought of Anne, and how much I love her and how much she needs me. Besides, if I translate, there won’t be any sign of a body, and she couldn’t collect any life insurance! More so, I realized that I enjoy this world of humans. I want to be here and continue this process while in this world. I knew deep down that I wasn’t really going to die, but both the body and mind were reacting as if death was imminent. Utter terror was wrapping itself around me like a boa constrictor.
I realized right then that identification with Consciousness-Being would naturally result in a reaction of the body-mind. It is utter emptiness, not time or space based, and of course, this is threatening to the physical, emotional and physic survival structures of the body-mind! To directly see that you have no locality, that in truth there is no personal point of consciousness, could be a terrifying vision. Laying in bed in this intensity, I was reminded of Herman Hesse’s book “Steppenwolf”. I was Harry Haller and I just walked through the door marked “For Madmen Only” and I couldn’t go back now if I wanted to. The ante of this new process is much higher, the stakes are really high, and I had no choice about it. Ardeliza gives the analogy about how this process is like giving birth - when it is time, you ain’t got any choice but to go through with it. I can understand the traditions of forcing novices to spend years sweeping the monastery, doing service, just so the body-mind is in a more balanced state to receive what is to come. So there I was just like the maddened woman in stirrups about to give birth, yelling, “You bastard, you did this to me!!”.
As the hours rolled on, there was still a great deal of fear in the body. What’s more, I kept seeing things, flashes of light on the sides of my eyes, and wondered if there were “things” in the room. This scared me even more, so I turned on the lights and hung out into the wee hours. Something became clear to me during those hours and up to now. I felt a strong need to communicate - I have to speak or write down what is occurring, resulting, of course, in this account. I woke up several times in the middle of the night, and checked, was it still there? For so much of my spiritual life, I would get very blissed out at an evening event or meditation, only to wake up later on totally dissipated of the bliss. Not this time. This time it wasn’t an “other” providing me with a hit.
I woke up about 6 in the morning, completely out of it. The emotional and physical strain, in addition to the lack of sleep left me as a semi-basket case. Yet at the same time, I noticed that the feeling of being “different” was still there. A lot was still occurring. So, I did the only thing I could do at that point - I jumped on the couch and started watching television, remembering how well it served Lawrence in his process. However, I was concerned about my ability to function - I have a fairly high powered job in the software business and manage a small group of people. How am I going to be able to work if anything like these conditions persist?
As Monday continued, I noticed that I would vacillate between periods of panic attacks, a totally free position in consciousness, and feeling totally normal, as if nothing happened. The ordinariness really frightened me - did I lose it? Was it just another experience? How could it be another experience? What happened? But after some time, the Ground of Being would become apparent and relieve me of yet another crisis. I decided to tell Lawrence and Ardeliza right away, not just to tell them, but just in case I needed their help in the night. I managed to get through Sunday night, but didn’t know what would happen in the future.
I was thinking of what kind of analogy would best describe the feeling that accompanied this wonderful transition last Sunday. It occurred to me it was like a man who had amnesia, who looked into the mirror for years, and then suddenly, he recognized himself. But what he saw was an empty mirror! Emptiness is my face before my parents were born, to note a very famous Zen koan. Thinking about this later, I realized that the amnesiac analogy is a modern version of the myth of Narcissus, the archetype of the self-involved seeker, shown in a new light by the teaching of Love-Ananda. It was very clear to me that I was staring right into the pond for all my life, hunched over in the clenched fist of seeking. Narcissus is the seeker, the very self image that I was most afraid of giving up. And in giving that up, that was the the feeling of “being different”. I believe that the breakthrough did create a real and permanent change in the subconscious mind as a result. The moment I turned away from the mirror and the pond, an ease was felt. I need to look no further for who I am. I was always already that in every moment.
Both Anne and I went over at 2:00PM to see Lawrence and Ardeliza. Anne wanted to come along to hear the whole story. I told them in as much detail as possible what had occurred and they offered their insights and views on what’s to be expected. Again I wish I had a tape recorder to remember what was communicated by both of them. But one thing that they didn’t offer was an attaboy, “good job, Phil”, or any sort of congratulation. I knew that there was an inner child in me that looked to what obviously is a parental projection, and I felt hurt by their matter-of-factness about this incident. I was literally like a kid at Christmas, spilling over in manic excitement. I was reminded of a talk that Love-Ananda once gave called “No Congratulations, Only Realization”. This incident helped to expose this projection more clearly, though I have no problem letting it be there. I do look to both of them for guidance, because they provide some very detailed maps of this process for those who sit with them. But the clarity and the utter conviction of knowing who I am was so strong that it really didn’t matter what they said, it wouldn’t have changed what had obviously occurred. I thought of what Love-Ananda must have gone through as a Westerner and pioneer, facing the challenge of Muktananda, that his realization was not real. Lawrence gave some wonderful advice about noticing how the mechanisms of identification, differentiation and desire operate in reaction to recognition of one’s Self-Nature.
Text copyright © 1995 Phil Servedio. Used by permission.
When we published this journal in 2000, Phil Servedio was 45 years old, worked as a software engineer, and lived in California with his wife Annie.
This page was published on February 22, 2000 and last revised on September 3, 2019.