Updated: Jan 25
My suicide note was written. The end was near.
I was a bitterly depressed teenager. At the tender age of 17, I had already given up on life. I planned my exit and then I decided to give “God” one last chance. I said something like this:
“God, I refuse to live a pointless life in a meaningless universe filled with pain, hatred, suffering, and evil. If it is all nothingness and I’m just going to die anyway, what’s the point of fighting for survival? God, if there is a God, please save my soul, if I have a soul. God, show me something to change my mind or fuck off once and for all.”
I didn’t believe in “God,” of course. I didn’t believe in anything. I gave up such delusions as a young child, when I used to pray fervently for an end to the psychotic abuse and torment in my home. To no avail. Obviously nothing was listening. Obviously the universe couldn’t care less. Like many people, my traumatic childhood caused my teen years to be a dark time. I had turned into a nihilistic atheist with a deathwish.
But as a child, before I had given up completely I had been mostly agnostic, and I had always been fascinated by the possibility of the spiritual world. Sometimes -- on sunny days with huge puffy clouds in the sky and sun rays shining to the ground -- sometimes my childish mind even dared to think that maybe God was sitting up there watching us. So as a last gasp at life, I asked it to show me something that would change my mind.
And God showed me something. God showed me everything.
A few days later, on a beautiful spring morning in 1986, as I walked down the stairs from my apartment to the street, time stopped.
Suddenly, inexplicably, for a fraction of a second, I was able to see the entire universe at once. I saw all of the past and all of the future at once. Beyond that, I saw that the past and future don’t exist, that everything exists in this present moment which stretches out for all eternity, what has been called the Eternal Now.
In that instant I could see that the energy which animates the universe is a living, conscious, all-powerful force and that this energy exists within every molecule of existence.
Not only did I see this life force in the people, animals and trees, but also in the cars, in the roads, in the buildings and the telephone poles. The energy that animates the universe exists within every molecule of the universe, including the molecules that make up your brain and your body. We are all connected to the infinite power that creates the universe.
Not just connected, but we are one. We are it.
We are each, “God,” experiencing the physical world in one of infinite forms of life. The entire universe is a playground created by -- and for the amusement of -- consciousness.
Needless to say, I was awestruck, and didn’t kill myself.
In the months following my temporary insanity I spent most of my spare time in the library trying to figure out what had happened to me. Slowly I discovered that it was nothing new. For all of human history people have had glimpses of the true nature of reality, just as I had. In the old-school books that I now devoured this was called a mystical experience. Today it might be called a flash of enlightenment. Whatever the terminology, it seems to have been integral to the evolution of humanity. Most religions were probably sparked by a similar type of experience. Something like it might have happened to Jesus when he went to meditate in the desert for 40 days. Something like it might have happened to Buddha while he sat under that bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India.
Even today, many ordinary people (perfectly sober people, as I was when it first happened) claim to have had similar experiences. As well, the psychedelic literature is positively overflowing with wild descriptions of experiences which those who have had them swear are not mere hallucinations, but seem far more real than ordinary consciousness. These days, the resurgent interest in Ayahuasca has revealed these types of truths to tens of thousands of spiritual tourists. On top of it all, thousands of people who have been brought back from the brink of death describe similar visions.
This simple idea -- that all is one, that there is an intelligent energy which guides the matter of physical reality, that there is an eternal and infinite psychological force which expresses itself in every atom of the universe -- this simple idea has been expressed in this simple way throughout all of history, in all cultures and all times, by people who have felt their connection to the universe in a powerful, meaningful, real way.
And yet it’s impossible to explain to someone who has not experienced it. It’s like trying to describe a sunset to a blind person. And that’s why everyone who tries to express it is met with disbelief, if not mockery or downright scorn. What a stupid flaky trippy-dippy pile of horseshit. Obviously any real experience in the real world proves that there is no loving energy that cares about human life.
And so I still felt alone in the world, as there is simply no way to convey in words such things without everyone thinking you’ve lost your mind. Instead, I kept it to myself and tried to write a book called The Intelligent Universe, a book full of scientific sounding ideas pinched from quantum physics in order to try to prove to myself that the experience was real. But I never finished writing that book. I realize now that my “mystical” experience was purely intellectual, and so I tried to write an intellectual sounding book, which completely missed the core of my experience. It took another 30 years for me to discover what was missing.
The Missing Link
After that, I lived a normal life, with jobs and relationships and children and all the ups and downs of everyone else. I had assumed that the experience that saved me from debilitating depression would stay with me forever. But though I now knew some of the secrets of the universe in an intellectual way, emotionally I was still the same scared, abused child that had caused all my problems in the first place. Outwardly I lived a normal life, but over time the emotional pain and darkness returned, and perhaps inevitably, my belief in the “beyond” slipped away. Once again, I became hypnotized into the belief that life is a pointless accident in a dead universe.
That could have been where this story ends. But serendipity had another plan for me. Around 2006 a new wave of research into psychedelic medicine began discovering fascinating results. (Read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence for the full story.) A decade later the mainstream media began to slowly publish some fascinating findings: properly administered psychedelic medicine was found to relieve various intractable conditions. MDMA was being used to successfully treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Ibogaine could interrupt addiction to cocaine and heroin; a single dose of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) could cure anxiety and depression for up to 18 months; and micro-dosing of Lysergic Acid (LSD) could, possibly, cure migraines.
I won’t get into the long and depressing story of why I was willing to go to the extremes of alternative medicine for relief, but the main point is that 15 years of doctors and specialists weren’t showing results, so psychedelics didn’t scare me like they do most people. Besides, I had done LSD and Magic Mushrooms many times in my 20s, and could easily see the magnificent benefits they could bring in a medically-supervised setting.
A bit of research and soon I found an underground healer who dabbled in such fringe experiments. As we talked about the magic of plant medicines the subject naturally went to the spiritual power of psychedelics, especially in the form of DMT and Ayahuasca. As I revealed my past spiritual adventures and my current dark night of the soul, he suggested I try what has been called The God Molecule or The Spirit Molecule -- 5-MeO-DMT.
And thank God (literally) that I did.
The experience lasted no more than 10 minutes, and felt like no more than two. But in those two minutes, once again time stopped and I was given access to the infinite source of life which I had once before experienced as a young man.
This time, it was a thousand times more powerful.
Basically, I was shot straight into Heaven. Not a religious heaven, of course, but simply an infinite field of pure light powered by the most indescribably intense field of love I had ever experienced. (Something almost exactly like what people describe in near-death experiences). Nothing but pure love poured into my soul.
And I felt like I was surrounded by infinite intelligence which would answer any question I ever had. But every single question I asked was met with the same answer: “Doesn’t matter.” None of our human concerns matter. Every “negative” aspect of our lives is caused by our refusal to love. All that matters is to try to feel the love of the universe as fully as possible. That’s all you ever need to do. Do that, and everything else will fall into place.
And then it was over. I laughed. I cried. I shook my head in disbelief and said “What the F…?”
Slowly my consciousness returned to something resembling “normal”.
What this experience taught me is that all of the trivial things we worry about (that is to say, everything that we worry about) are simply illusory experiences designed to help our souls evolve to ever higher levels.
Ultimately, everything is good for you -- even the most “tragic” events -- because everything helps you grow.
Eventually, everyone finds their way back to “God,” because, in reality, we are all gods pretending to be mere mortals simply for the amazing experience of living life and endlessly evolving spiritually. Simply, we are here to enjoy ourselves and love our lives. More specifically, we are here to create our lives and enjoy our creations. We are each the creator.
Once again I wanted to write down what I had experienced. And so began this book. But why bother? In 1986, when I first dipped my toe into the spiritual universe, these ideas felt fringe and radical and vastly under-explored. Today, there are thousands of books for anyone who is interested. But there still seems to be one angle that is missing. Many authors write glowingly about getting in touch with your creative inner spirit in order to build a better life, but very rarely does anyone take the argument to its logical conclusion: if there is indeed an intelligent, loving foundation to the physical universe, then there cannot be any limits whatsoever to what is possible physically or psychologically. While many teach that your individual life could be infinitely improved, everyone still seems to accept that life on Earth as a whole is limited. Resources are limited. Land is limited. The ability of the planet to sustain some arbitrary upper limit of humans is questioned. The environment, obviously, cannot sustain us.
But what if all of that is entirely wrong?
I’m old enough to remember the beginnings of all the current hysteria about the coming end of the world. And yet life on Earth is far superior to life in the early 1970s, despite endless doomsaying to the contrary. Trust me, I was there. Or simply look at the modern statistics of violent crime, infant mortality, hunger and poverty, literacy and education, democratic reforms, access to electricity and clean water, life expectancy and global income equality. All have improved dramatically over the past half century. In fact, a spate of articles published at the end of 2019 proclaimed that the 2010’s had been the best decade in the entire history of humankind.
There is a very good reason why life is better today than it was for the cavepeople. There is a very good reason why life is better for you than for your cold, hungry, suffering ancestors. There is a very good reason why life is better for the majority of the world’s population than it was 50, 100, 1000 years ago. The reason is that life on Earth is evolving. And evolution means growth. Nothing can stop that. We will continue to evolve, in fits and starts, ever so slowly, until everyone on the planet has access to their own personal happiness and a satisfying life. Even if it takes 1000 or 10,000 years, it’s still inevitable.
So the point of this book is to try to argue what I believe is the most important principle to remember: that maybe we do not live in a limited reality based on scarcity, but in an infinite reality overflowing with abundance. I hope to explain how this knowledge can help any person experience a more joyful life without worry and stress. I hope to share with you what I learned and how it can help you in your life, whether or not you ever have a spiritual experience.
In truth, every moment is a spiritual experience, whether you know it consciously or not. So I hope that the words I write will resonate with you and help you live a happier life.
Eventually you will learn all of this anyway, even if it takes another thousand lifetimes. But here, perhaps, is a little shortcut for the evolution of your spirit.
All you need is to want it. Jesus supposedly said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I now understand those words. If you truly want a more satisfying existence, simply ask, and the universe will gladly respond. In fact, you might just be reading these words in response to your previous questioning.