Full of questions about being in this world that no one in my family, school, church, or community could answer to my satisfaction, I began to devour books as soon as I could read. Mostly as a means to escape what felt like the narrow confines of my small-town, Midwestern upbringing, I enjoyed connecting with authors from various locations and time-periods and letting my thoughts soar and dive and swoop through ideas new and old. Through fiction and non-fiction, sci-fi, biographies, poetry, anthologies, and religious and historical texts I searched for patterns of thought that would give me a toe-hold in this world and let me know that I wasn’t crazy or alone in contemplating big questions. My favorite game to help me fall asleep as early as age 4 or 5 was to try to figure out what would be “here” if the universe didn’t exist…What is nothing? It is a black emptiness?…But nothing felt like “something” and I wanted to know what it was.
One of my favorite substitute teachers in elementary school was Miss Edith, a very mature and experienced (read: elderly) educator who always started each day by reading aloud to whichever class she was visiting. Being in the sixth-grade was no exception to Miss Edith’s rule and I will never forget the book which knocked me upside the head, and pushed me out of myself into a wider consciousness. It was the first time I realized that there were other people in the world who maybe contemplated things like I did. Richard Bach’s (1971) Jonathan Livingston Seagull (link to quotes) is both a fable and a parable, which held for me the gravity of truth of individuation better than the Bible or any other tome that I’d read previously. Without being able to articulate through words, I had an innate validation of my spiritual beliefs, and that there was in fact eternal life and a soul’s journey. Jonathan’s evolution beyond ego and beyond physical death reassured me and allowed me to step outside the parameters of society and religion into the transpersonal realm.
Two more favorite sources emerged from classical literature when I was in high school; both of which speak to my sense of eternity and timelessness: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias is my absolute favorite poem ever because it demonstrates that man’s creations and power are limited, compared to the vastness of consciousness; and William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments…) while romantic, speaks to me of love as the constant creative force of the universe.
Another profound turning point in my personal understanding and awareness came in my twenties as I found Neale Donald Walsch’s (1996) Conversations With God series. I was amazed that he seemed to channel universal truths in such a way that did not contradict or double-back upon itself in later chapters. I felt no pressure to ascribe to an understanding of God that was anything but my own, and it helped me solidify my beliefs and validate my felt-sense of being-in-the-world. The reading was so heady at first, that I could only read for about a half-hour at a time, before I would drop into a deep sleep to process what I’d read. Soon after this, I became enamoured of Thomas Sugrue’s (1945) There is a River, an autobiography of Edgar Cayce, known as America’s prophet, psychic, and healer, which detailed Cayce’s experiences with his higher Self and accessing of information in multiple dimensions. Neither Walsch’s works, nor Cayce’s autobiography carried any hint of proselytizing – they were simply fairly neutral retellings of each individual’s journeys which showed me how the divine was individually manifest.
And finally, most recently, I have begun to revisit Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and seeing it anew through a transpersonal lens leaves me further in awe of his command of language and verse – for which he was generally panned at publication. I find it amazing that he could convey esoteric notions of consciousness, such as those found in Eastern cultures without having been exposed to them through travel and direct experience (confirmed by a friend whose English Lit dissertation centered on Whitman’s themes). I experienced such profound transmission whilst reading Leaves of Grass this past summer, I was completely stunned. If I had the time to dig deeper into his personal life, I think there are some clues to be uncovered, here.
The primary sources listed in this post have led me to other sources: my Self; mentors and teachers; a purpose-filled path; and a deepening awareness and connection with the Universal Source from which all emerges. I still have many questions, but along the way I have participated with the Source in creating and constructing a warp and weft of consciousness woven into the fabric of my existence.