I am in the process of trying to explain to myself as well as others how and why I came to write the book. Why bother to do all of this in the first place? I clearly admit I have spent innumerable hours writing and thinking and speaking about the nature of reality. But why and how did this all come about in the first place?
My answer, I suppose, has to do with my own profound metaphysical transformation–from a hard-core agnostic to someone who seriously believes in a spiritual reality. The path has not been based upon rational arguments [the philosophical understanding of metaphysics], nor by the pronouncements of religious sages,prophets and leaders, but by the extraordinary spiritual experiences of individuals who are sincere, honest and credible.
Some may still find it difficult to comprehend how and why I have been so moved by these anecdotes. My response is that they are too real to be denied. They are shockingly common as well. They come in a variety of forms and from individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs. What they do is simply this–the provide evidence for a spiritual reality to existence. They offer me evidence that life is not random, or meaningless or without purpose.
Whether they fall into the category of near-death experience, after-death communication, reincarnation stories or the medium experience, they are also profoundly entertaining. There is even a tendency to fixate on them, to seek more and more evidence for their truth, to become obsessed with evidence for ‘life after death’ and for a paranormal reality.
But that would be a mistake, I believe. Spiritual traditions ranging from Kabbalah to Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian and Islamic mystics all report a spiritual reality. Yet they also warn against becoming engrossed in these altered states of consciousness. They can become traps for our own egos. People who have apparently been gifted with psychic or medium ability may be tempted to view themselves as spiritually advanced, encouraging others to follow their teachings.
Yet the lesson which time and again has been emphasized by truly advanced masters and avatars is this–‘cultivate altered traits, not altered states’. This means, be less concerned about the abilities to transcend this physical reality and more concerned about living a life based on the performance of spiritual deeds.
The attitude of compassion, love, kindness, charity, understanding, altruism and sharing are the pathways towards spiritual liberation and advancement. There is a Buddhist legend about a monk who meditated for years until he could levitate and transport his body across a small river. His delight in announcing this feat to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha himself, knew no bounds. But instead of being impressed, the Buddha asked. ‘why did you waste so much time learning to levitate, you could have taken a boat!’ The lesson here was simple. Learning to perform advanced states of consciousness should not be exercises in ego gratification. The time would have been better spent learning and practicing compassion for all beings.
These stories are interesting, even compelling and they have provided the fuel for my metaphysical journey. But they are neither the purpose of the trip, nor the destination. Learning to live a fuller, more joyous and healthier life is the motivation for doing all of this. All are encouraged to manifest their own itinerary.