Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Path to A Course in Miracles

Looking back now, my path to A Course in Miracles probably all started in 1969 when I accepted Jesus my personal Lord and Savior, under the influence of the Campus Crusade for Christ. However, after joining a Christian brotherhood of aspiring monks, where I was daily quizzed on how many Bible verses I had memorized and could recite verbatim, I was totally confused by it all. Their version of reality just didn’t sit well with me. I felt like a parrot of Bible verses, that I didn’t even begin to understand, or the town crier that nobody wanted to hear. Jesus would show me more, much more. 
As divine synchronicity would have it, I ingested a hallucinogen that resulted in a near death experience the day after Christmas, 1970. When I was in the black void, with only the consciousness that “I Am”, George Harrison’s song My Sweet Lord began playing.  That was my voice singing to God, not George’s! Soon a brilliant white light began appearing out of the darkness, as my soul sang “I really want to see you Lord”. Then somebody started to emerge out of the light. This Holy One oscillated between masculine and feminine. As I’d been praying to Jesus, I thought it might be him, but without a beard. I began crying from the depths of my soul, as the Holy One communicated telepathically into my heart. I knew this Being to be nothing but pure love. Then it was over. I was shot back into my body, hearing the words to a new song telling me “it’s been a long time coming, it’s going to be a long time gone.” How true that has been.
A year later, I saw the cover of Autobiography of a Yogi. It was Paramahansa Yogananda who had come to me! Next came meeting Baba Ram Dass, who confirmed that I wasn’t crazy and stated that Yogananda had appeared to many young spiritual seekers on drugs. He also autographed my copy of Be Here Now. My next decade was spent being an aspiring yogi and practicing Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship lessons and exercises, chanting, meditating and receiving initiation into Kriya yoga. Yogananda’s path and linage of gurus brought the much needed clarity for me to understand Jesus and Christianity better. Yogananda also showed me the essential truth behind the oneness of all religions. And he brought me to Babaji, the Mahavatar who sent him to America back in the 1920s. Ever since I heard the name Babaji, I knew I knew Him. He and Jesus work together, behind the scenes, in the cosmic scheme of things. And Babaji was to be the next step in my ongoing spiritual evolution. However, I did not know at this point that He had supposedly manifested a body again and was residing in the small village of Haidakhan, in northern India. That would come later, along with the mystery and myth of this current manifestation.
After hearing Bhagavan Das sing, I bought a dotara and began chanting mantras to God daily. This simple, ancient two- stringed instrument is easy to play and lets one follow the drone sound into silence. At this point, I purchased my own place in the woods and met a man who’d lived with Babaji. He conducted a Vedic fire ceremony that Babaji had taught him to initiate my new abode. I questioned and grilled him repeatedly, asking if this new Babaji was the same entity Yogananda had written about. Yes, one and the same but peoples egos still question His true identity. Babaji’s new Kriya yoga was the path of truth, simplicity and love while performing karma yoga- work – and keeping one’s mind on God, through repetition of the ancient mantra Om Namaha Shivaya. Babaji stated that this mantra alone was more powerful than a thousand atomic bombs and His 1-800 number. I began at this point seriously doing japa, or the repetition of the mantra on 108 rudraksha beads, to get this vibration into my sub consciousness. I also learned many ways to chant it on my dotara. With all of this going on, I bought A Course in Miracles and began the daily lessons immediately. I tried to make sense of the Text but got nowhere; each sentence bogged me down and had to be re-read over too many times to assimilate. I was just too young, I told myself. I was thirty-three. I’d deal with this Text later, someday, maybe.
Then after a year of being married, our house burns down- a real karmic fire ceremony. In the ashes, untouched by the fire, was a picture of Babaji and His cymbals from Haidakhan. Talk about miracles! Next, was the unexpected news that we have a baby coming, after losing everything? My marriage started to dissolve quickly after I fell twenty feet off a roof, breaking my body in twelve places. Surviving death, I was put back into college for two years to be retrained, while my ex-wife and son left for the Southwest. This is when all of my abandonment issues led to extreme drinking alone. After graduation, I left for India to see Babaji’s ashram, as He had already left His physical body again, and to pray for help with my life in the most spiritual country on earth. I attended the 1995 Kumbha Mela festival with ten million others and lo and behold, who should appear? It was Babaji, asking me if I was having fun.  Yes, but I couldn’t speak to answer Him! Then He disappeared back into the crowd, leaving me blown away. Returning state side, I ended up following my ex- wife and son to the Southwest, where my next step was peyote meetings with the Native Americans for many years to come. Everything I’d read and studied in the Course was evident on the medicine inside that tipi. God Is. I learned more in one night than I had in years of studying metaphysical books. But I didn’t practice all I’d learned and I let my depressed ego, alcohol and abandonment issues take me closer to death’s very door. However, as fate, karma and prayers would have it, I ended up in prison for 2.5 years on an aggravated DUI, instead of dead, where I stumbled upon the Courses’ Manual for Teachers in our library. Soon, I had the entire book sent in free to prisoners and was reintroduced to Jesus again, with all the time I needed to study every word of that lengthy text. After twenty years, I must be old enough to get it now! In time and with the help of the Course, I was finally able to forgive myself for the bizarre life my ego had constructed. I did the daily lessons again, trying to see the face of Christ within each inmate. That was not an easy one. But I left prison a changed, free sober man, much better for the experience and with a first draft book about it all under my belt. Today, I have eight years of sobriety under my belt and my book Still Singing, Somehow won the fall Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. This is a very condensed version of my story- an odyssey of one soul’s karma.
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is still singing, somehow on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He recently published a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics. The release of his CD of original songs is scheduled for spring 2011.
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