MARCIA'S STORY: A STRANGE BUT TRUE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Spirit guides, meditation, astrology, the "higher Self," raising the
kundalini, developing psychic abilities, praying to gurus, astral travel,
numerology, Tarot cards, contacting the dead, hanging out with witches,
Sufis, followers of Muktananda, Rajneesh, Sai Baba, Maharaji, -- all these
and more were part of my journey. How did I get on this path?
I grew up with an agnostic father and a mother who was raised going to
church. My sister and I had to attend church, because my mother thought that
was the right thing to do, although she did not always go. Due to my
father's job in the Foreign Service, we moved around a lot, so we ended up
in different churches located overseas and in the Washington, DC, area.
Eventually, I became serious about religion. In high school, I had the idea
that being good would please God and get me into heaven. But reading about
other religions and meeting those who believed differently made me wonder.
Maybe there was more to it than what I had -- some knowledge of God and
Jesus, which was mostly superficial. I wanted something deeper, more
experiential. I was also rejecting the idea of hell and was disillusioned
with Christians. Christianity seemed defined by sermons, going to Sunday
School, and doing good works. How boring! I was missing out on something!
I never fit in during my high school years. Being someone who wrote poetry,
being in an alcoholic home, having no real roots -- all combined to make me
feel different and unlike other people. I started my spiritual journey at
the end of high school. The journey stretched through college into the 70's
when I visited psychics and an astrologer, and did a lot of reading on the
paranormal, and about Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.
INTO THE FIRE
In an Inner Light Consciousness class, I was introduced to my "spiritual
master" during a guided visualization. This guide, a spirit being, looked
kind and wise. I felt his presence with me and sometimes saw him in dreams
and meditations until 1990. I also had unpleasant, scary and weird
experiences and visitations, once seeing a tall hooded figure in dark robes
looking at my body in the bed as I hovered out-of-body nearby. Although
extremely frightened by this apparition, I rationalized it by telling myself
that I was being tested.
I also learned to meditate, do psychic healing, analyze dreams, and chant.
It was mystical and magical. When I first started to do Eastern meditation,
I felt an incredible peace. I felt that I was fading away and merging with
something greater. It seemed I was literally one with the universe, and the
teaching that we are all connected to one force seemed true. After all, I
believed that truth was in experience, and here my experience was confirming
that belief. At last, I thought, I was connecting to that spiritual realm.
Later, my studies took me on many paths -- Tibetan, Hindu and Zen meditation
and philosophy, spirit contact, numerology, psychic development, past life
regression. Reincarnation seemed to answer questions and I experienced what
I thought were memories of past lives. However, it was sad to think that my
next life might not be so great so if I did not learn lessons from this or
previous lives. But why dwell on that? My spiritual progress seemed assured,
especially since I was having so many paranormal experiences. The natural
result was that I felt I was an "insider" in the spiritual realm.
Over the years, my psychic experiences escalated. I studied astrology and
took a 7-hour exam on astrology in Atlanta, Georgia, administered by the
City but formulated and graded by an astrology board, in order to qualify
for the business license. Passing the test, I started practicing astrology,
and eventually I taught astrology, gave public talks, wrote for astrological
and New Age journals, and sat on the board of astrology examiners that gave
and graded the exams, becoming chairman of that board for three years. I
became president of the Metropolitan Atlanta Astrological Society in June,
1989. My Halloween birthday and astrological skills made me popular with
witches and others.
I sought peace in Zen Buddhism. Trying to detach myself from all desire
involved a meditation that allows thoughts, fears, or desires to come up and
then not to respond to them. This was to be applied to life outside
meditation as well. For someone like myself, carrying a lot of emotional
pain from my past and my present, this was appealing. But though detachment
sounded good in all the books, there was a price to pay. The detachment
seemed contrived and unnatural. Seeing "the emptiness" behind my
surroundings, another sign of spiritual acumen, struck me as nihilistic and
I also learned that the nature of occult and New Age thinking is that there
is no one answer. There is no one single truth, and there is no one reality.
Truth is based on your experience, so it changes and can differ from person
to person. If there are multi-levels of reality and there is no absolute
truth, then there must be many contradicting truths and realities. These
teachings gave answers that only raised more questions.
An unexplained compulsion to go to a church gripped me in the spring and
summer of 1990. Since I hated Christianity, churches and Christians by now,
this made me angry. I first ignored this compulsion and then resisted it,
before giving in to it. It was probably from one of my former lives as a
priest or monk, I reasoned.
In the opening minutes of a service in a large church in downtown Atlanta, I
felt a love I had never known wash down over and through me, so powerfully
that I started crying. I knew this love was from God, not from the music,
the people, or the place. That love was the real thing. I returned the
following Sunday, not to have another experience, but so that I could be
where that love had happened to me.
After several weeks, I began to feel unclean about astrology although no one
in this open-minded church said anything about it. All I knew was that it
was somehow separating me from this God of love. I then got the impression
that God did not like astrology and wanted me to give it up. Give up my
life's work? But I felt I had no choice; it was so clear to me that God did
not like astrology. Not even believing what I was doing, I decided to give
up astrology in late 1990. At the time, I was chairperson of the curriculum
committee, a member of other committees at the astrological society, and
scheduled to teach an upcoming class. I had to find another teacher. I had
to tell clients who called I was no longer an astrologer. Thinking I should
read the Bible, I started reading in Matthew, the first book of the New
AS REAL AS IT GETS
This person Jesus fascinated me. It was as though I was learning about Him
for the first time. One evening while reading part of the 8th chapter of
Matthew, right before Christmas of 1990, I saw who Jesus really is. On the
boat with His disciples, a terrible storm arose. The disciples were afraid
and woke Jesus up, telling Him that they were going to perish. Jesus stopped
the storm in its tracks! He rebuked the winds and the sea, and they obeyed
him. That means He has authority over nature. I was separated from God by
everything I had done in my past -- I had lived my whole life based on my
will, a will that had rejected and defied God and His word. I realized that
the only way to be forgiven, the only way to be reconciled with God, was
through Jesus, the God-man who suffered and died for me out of a great and
unconditional love. I realized Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God and God
the Son. I understood for the first time why Jesus died on the cross. I knew
that the truth and the answer to all my questions were one and the same:
Jesus Christ. And so I gave myself to Christ and knew I belonged to Him from
that moment on. Several months later, I found out that a young Christian man
at the part-time job where I worked had been praying for me with a
fellowship group at his church during 1990.
Jesus was different from the masters I had studied. He was more real than
the spirit guides, the Ascended Masters, the Higher Self. Though fully man,
Jesus was fully God incarnate, equal to God in nature but setting aside that
glory (not deity) to be among suffering men and women. Jesus Christ
willingly was tortured, laid down His life and died an agonizing death to
pay for our sins. He bodily rose on the third day, conquering death, so that
we can have eternal life with God. No sorcerer, no spiritual master, no
Buddha, no shaman, no witch, no psychic has conquered death, but all still
lie cold in their graves. But Jesus has power over death and is living
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me," - John 14:6.
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who
believes in me shall never thirst." - John 6:35