Meeting with a Master

What's today's lesson? I asked my inner voice.

Today, remind yourself occasionally that this world,

what you see, hear, taste, smell and feel, is all an illusion.

On Friday, August 13, 1982, I had a powerful experience. It was so incredible that, even after I had eighty OBEs under my belt, I denied its reality, calling it a lucid dream in my journal. Years later, I had reason to believe it was an OBE(1).

At first I was dreaming peacefully that I was standing near the two-storey house where I grew up in Minneapolis. On the boulevard was our huge elm tree. I looked down at the sidewalk and suddenly it occurred to me, "Hey! This is a dream!" With that I was fully conscious and lucid.

I wasted no time. I took a leap to fly, but I fell flat on my face in the middle of the street. I picked myself up a bit, without standing up. I wondered if what I was experiencing was real or imaginary. Usually if it's a dream, I can fly without problems. I can fly in OBEs too, but I wasn't very good at it. I thought to myself, "The book(2) was absolutely right! You don't consciously question reality like this in a dream." I was excited about the experience, but I wondered why I couldn't fly. I stood up, walked back, and tried again. I fell again. I walked back yet again. I figured the problem must be in my mind.

"This time," I thought, "I'll find out for sure if this is an OBE or a lucid dream." I took the third flying leap. This time I paid attention to how the falling felt. For a second or two I was weightless. I couldn't feel gravity. I could tell that I was most likely being pulled to the ground because of my beliefs rather than from gravity. I found myself flat on my face once again, but this time I picked myself up and thought, "Aha! I bet if I try hard enough, I can fly." I tried a couple more times, each from different locations and each without success.

I thought to myself that my problem with flight had something to do with being insecure and lacking confidence, but what could I do to build my confidence? I decided to cross the street and try again, but I saw two cars coming down the street from opposite directions. I thought to myself, "If I'm out of my body, cars can't hurt me. Maybe this is my opportunity to build my confidence." I walked out into the middle of the street. The cars passed by me, one on each side of me. After the cars had passed, I tried to fly again, but that attempt was also unsuccessful.

Without warning, my consciousness blurred, but it wasn't long before I became conscious again. I was still standing in the street near my house, but now I saw people around me, all about my age. The people were milling about, experimenting like I always did during my OBEs. Some of them were talking. I got the impression they were preparing for something.

Then I looked to my right and saw "Him." It was "the master." He looked about forty years old, and my first impression was that he could very well be a friend or mentor of Don Juan Matis, of whom Carlos Castaneda wrote. My memory opened up and I realized that I knew this master. I knew I had seen him before, although I couldn't pin down when or where. I remembered seeing him lift a fully grown man with one hand, palm open, over his head as a demonstration of his power.

Even though it seemed incredible, I knew he was my master. I was one of his many students and apprentices, as were all the people who were crowded around me in the street. The other students formed a circle around the master and they were asking him questions. I realized that the other students were just like me, learning to become more spiritual. Like me, most of them were at the stage where they were learning to master out-of-body travel.

I wanted to ask him why I had trouble flying, but I didn't want to be rude and push my way to the front. Patiently, I waited for the crowd to thin out. Finally, when most of the students had left, I approached the master and asked, "Master, why can't I fly when I astrally project?" Although he did not look Oriental, he reminded me of a Chinese martial arts master because his words were very concise, wise and meaningful. They had hidden meanings. In fewer words than I can say it, he told me my problem with flying was within my mind, that practice would clear it up, and that next time I had an OBE, he would try to help me mentally.

Remembering his super-human strength, I asked him, "Master, I've seen you pick up a man with one hand. Is the power you harness to do this chi(3)?" He answered me with a parable:

There was once a farmer.

One day he went out to his field and dug up a potato.

Later, he dug up three apples.

Later still, he dug up three oranges.

But his field was not a potato field.

Neither was it a field of apples, nor of oranges.

I was completely conscious when he told me this. In the same manner as before, I got multiple meanings from his statement:

As I left the master, a fellow student came up to me and said, "Come on. There's something you should see." My consciousness blurred again. The next thing I knew, the student and I were at the top of a church steeple. I looked down and had an instinctual fear-reaction. This was not a small church. I'd been to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and this was much higher. I thought, "Oh my God, what if I fell from here?" Then my inner voice said, "There is your test." I knew exactly what it meant: some day I would have to face a big test of spiritual confidence by falling from that height, depending on my flight to save me. After that I lost consciousness.

Years later, in September 1985, I described this experience to a group of friends in Phoenix. One of the guys said that he had had the same experience, exactly as I described. Although he lived in Phoenix at the time, he described standing in the street with a crowd of students, next to a large tree. He said there were two or three-storey houses nearby. He described learning to fly, and a master figure that wasn't Oriental, but had an Oriental persona. He didn't remember exactly when his experience occurred, but he said it might have been the same general time frame as mine.

This experience taught me that there are masters out there who help astral travelers. I learned that I wasn't alone; I was one of many students on the same path. I also learned that a greater test of my confidence was yet to come.

1. Unless you've had both lucid dreams and OBEs and seen the transition from one to the other, it's hard to tell the difference. See chapter 26 for a detailed examination of this subject.

2. The fiction book I was reading at the time was The House Between the Worlds, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (New York: Ballantine Books/Doubleday, 1981.)

3. Chi or Qi is the metaphysical energy cultivated in martial arts, through exercises like Tai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong.