Passages for The Pearl of Great Price
From Part I, Chapter 6
As a budding channel, I envisioned myself as a conduit through which healing energies and thoughts from higher planes and enlightened beings flowed. Nothing seemed strange anymore; my aunt’s tea leaf and card readings, my experiences with Becky and her guides and the visitations of Muktananda all seemed to lead to my work with Michael. I felt quite at home in my new role as psychic healer and channel.
I did know enough, however, to have concerns about demonic energies and negative forces, and Michael assured us that the techniques taught to us during our sessions protected us and guaranteed us interaction with only positive spiritual activity. Michael also promised me that I was discerning enough to recognize the difference between good and evil, and I believed what I was told. I also felt proud of my accomplishments. Following the directions we were given, and teaching them to others, I felt I had moved up the enlightenment ladder of success. It never occurred to me that my rapid assent might have a dark side.
As always, I based my beliefs on my feelings and emotions. During our sessions, I experienced sensations that felt extraordinary, intense and real. Previously, I had trusted Becky and my guru during his visitations, and I still craved the intimacy I felt with my guides when I entered into a meditative trance state. In turn, I wanted to share this spiritual plane with my clients. Over time, my massage work became more meditative and less physical. Listening to beautiful music, practicing yogic breathing and going into semi-hypnotic trances transported my clients and me into another world, one where I believed we were finding healing and transformation of soul and body.
Convinced that I was experiencing personal transformation and transcendence, I began to believe that with the help of my guides and my meditations, I could transform my negative ego and evolve to a higher state of being, both in this life and the next. I believed that achieving these higher states of being would eventually allow me and others to leave our earthly lives and transcend to even higher states of being that did not require a body. I could become a guide there, so my thinking went, living as they did, and helping others to acquire higher states of being.
Because of my abilities to enter the spiritual realm, people would sometimes ask me to clear their houses of ghosts and negative entities and energies. Several of us might gather in a house where the inhabitants believed that haunted spirits or bad energy dwelled. We would enter into a trance like channeling state to learn about the history of the house and its otherworldly, unwelcome guests. If past violence or tragedy had marked the houses, we were able to perceive the souls, still trapped between the planes of existence. We would let them speak “through” us, telling their stories. Often, their stories and the lives of the current owners of the house seemed connected in some way. In our work, we endeavored to encourage the trapped souls to move on, so that the owners of the house could be at peace. I felt excited by these encounters, almost as if I were part of a Hollywood movie plot.
Being a channel and a healer opened up a whole new world to me, one where I felt safe, successful and intimately connected with others. I had finally found my niche. When I failed in my goals to become a French teacher and I dropped out of college, it had been a real blow. I had always been a good student who wanted to learn and succeed, and I resented what had happened to me in college. As a child, I used to gather younger children together and teach them. From a very early age, I had wanted to become a teacher, and I idolized some of my teachers in grade school. Our school principal was a compassionate, but tough, young nun, and an excellent instructor. A few times when I broke the rules, my punishment was to be with her after school. At first I was terrified, but her manner was so calm and clear that I accepted my punishment almost eagerly. She would ask me to write out some sort of repentant statement 300 times while she chaperoned me; I groaned, of course, but I secretly loved being in her presence and I learned a great deal during my quiet time with her. My secret hope was that when I grew up, I would be like her.
My high school French teacher, Mrs. Gavin, was dynamic, traditional, strict and structured. She knew how to bring out the best in her students. I loved her and looked forward to each of her classes. With her encouragement, I chose French as my major in college, hoping to follow her example. My English teacher, Mr. Farley, encouraged me to write and I became the editor of our high school paper. Both he and my piano teacher were revolutionary and progressive, and they encouraged me to think for myself. My first yoga teacher, Mara Diamond, left a positive impression on me as well.
I truly desired to influence others the way my teachers had influenced me. Starting with EST, I had been able to pursue an educational career again, but in a non-traditional manner. Indeed, the new things I was learning seemed so much more important to me than what I could have learned in college. The opportunity to become a teacher finally occurred when several of my channeling peers encouraged me to begin teaching others to channel. Thrilled, I struggled through my first year with little mentoring or instruction. Even though I was winging it, I loved it! I offered my classes for a reduced price, inviting my students to have patience with me and make each class a learning experience. Starting from ground zero, I put together a curriculum over the course of several years and began creating a handbook. As a channel and teacher, I always wanted to encourage healing, intimacy and learning. My students and I experienced a deep form of bonding, quite similar to my experiences with my guru and Becky. Many of my students became my close friends as we shared spurts of creativity and spiritual insights together. Whenever I learned something new, I’d tell my students about it, and together, we felt we were discovering hidden mysteries of the universe.
I was finally someone. My clients loved me. I felt special and needed. I even secretly believed that my soul had matured and become so enlightened that I had risen above earthly suffering. Sometimes I felt as if I were walking three feet above the ground. When troubled, I would meditate or talk with my guides. With the next level of spiritual development knocking at my door, I fully expected to be a major player in the New Age. Spiritualism, I believed, would surpass religion and render it obsolete…
From Part II, Chapter 4
“Go ahead,” I sniffed. “I’ll listen now. What I’m listening to in my head is destroying me, and I fear it will destroy all that I hold precious. I see in you what I do not have in myself. You have inner peace. Please help me.”
My dear husband replied, “Forgive me for saying this, but you are spiritually arrogant and do not know the first thing about prayer or how to be in a real relationship with God. I can only say this to you based on my own experience of the cost of my form of arrogance. You need humility, prayer and Christ to get you out of the mess you’re in. You know I’ve been where you are now.” His words went straight to my heart. In his own kind way, my husband was saying I was a spiritually arrogant hypocrite! I had built a very good case maintaining that priests, nuns and others were hypocrites… but, me?
For years, I had felt hard-hearted towards Christ like the Jewish elders and people of Christ’s time. His presence sent shock waves through the Jewish community. Even though they’d been waiting for the promised Messiah, they wanted Him to liberate them from the Romans and from oppression at the hands of other nations. Many expected a worldly warrior king. Yet Christ said that He and those that seek to follow Him are not of this fallen world (John 16: 18-19). He came to free people from their egos and negative passions, not to take on the current political establishment, which was a deep disappointment to those seeking a worldly liberator.
I, too, had been seeking liberation from my worldly suffering. Bitter and angry, disappointed with the Church, I grew to hate what I had loved as a child. I turned away from Christ and the Church to the New Age and Eastern Religions. In a moment of truth, I had to admit Greg was right — I was spiritually arrogant and a hypocrite. What I witnessed in Auschwitz caused me to doubt my New Age beliefs. My eyes were newly opened to the essential value of Christian teachings on good and evil.
Greg continued, “How can you claim to be ‘spiritual’ while negating the importance of God?” “What do you mean?” I said. “I believe in God!” Greg continued, “You believe in God when it’s convenient for you and on your terms, but you have a rather one-sided relationship. You want to have your cake and eat it, too. How can you have time to be with God when you spend all your time talking and praying to your “guides and ascended masters”? Do you truly know who you are praying with and to?”
Greg went on, “Based on your state of mind lately, would you finally be willing to reconsider the possibility that you’re being misled in your meditations and thoughts?”
How many times over the last few years had Greg tried to have this conversation with me? How did I always respond? I’d get angry and defensive. Me misled? How could I, a master channel, who had foolproof methods for screening out demonic forces, be misled? I was right and he was wrong. How could he think that what I was doing was not good for me? Such grief I caused him!
Yet, out of my suffering the last few months, I was finally able to hear what he was saying. Although I didn’t want to admit it publicly, I had been asking myself the same question from time to time. Could I truly be listening to the wrong voices? I decided to test the theory. Right then and there, I prayed an exorcism prayer, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Satan be gone.” To my utter shock, I saw a small red devil by my right shoulder, horns, tail and all, run away! Horrified, I screamed and told Greg what I had just seen.
Greg replied, “Perhaps now you might consider what I have been saying? Perhaps you’re experiencing a form of demonic attack?” I started feeling dizzy and sick. I thought back to Auschwitz, where I had witnessed the cost and consequences of following a false ideology. In a flash of insight, I saw the connection between the evil of Auschwitz and my activities. Had I delved too deeply into the occult?
I could no longer be casual about good or evil. I was being asked to choose. In reality, my conscience had been pleading with me for months to wake up to the contradictions and denials of my life.
I needed God! The longing for Him had always been present in my seeking, but on this day I woke up. My turning point meant choosing to believe in the goodness of God and choosing to commune with Him. I had to begin to learn how to distinguish good from evil, true from false. Greg asked me, “Perhaps you’re lacking the proper tools to truly discern evil from good?” I had to admit, with some relief, that he was right. I had arrived at the center of my labyrinth; the “something missing” was actually a Someone.
No wonder my meditations stopped working for me! No wonder I felt as though I were in a void following my departure from church! I needed to experience what my life would be like if I continued living it my way—hell, the absence of God’s presence. I was now ready to let God back in. A small portion of my hardened heart was finally breaking open.
That afternoon I picked up my Orthodox prayer book again and started reading prayers with Greg. Greg was on target: for all my spiritual knowledge, I knew little about prayer. “This is where the path to having a real relationship with God and learning true discernment begins,” Greg stated, handing me a tiny little book called The Path of Prayer.[i]
The author wrote in the Preface, “Prayer for so many of us in the West is one dimensional and incomplete.” I could relate to that sentence only too well, since I had turned to Eastern meditation to escape Catholic prayers. Yet, this writer said that prayer could be holy and profound, and that through prayer, the soul could be filled with grace and love and the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit. At that moment, I began to understand that prayer, like a flowing liquid, can not be grasped or put on display. Veneration and contemplation meant so much more than simply asking for things.
After reading A Path of Prayer and chanting the prayers for three months, morning and evening, a wonderful thing happened. I felt a longing in my heart to go to back to church again. This time I knew I was returning so that I could be with God.
[i] Introduction to “The Path of Prayer ” by St. Theophan, Preface