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Spiritual Autobiography

Michael Hawkins

Boulder, Colorado

July 29, 2005

I was the first of two children born to a pair of Christian fundamentalists in Fresno, California at 8:54 pm, November 21, 1962.  Mom was Southern Baptist, Dad Pentecostal.  Dad's father started out as a tent preacher in Arkansas and Oklahoma, eventually founding churches and orphanages in Fresno and Acapulco; Mom's dad was a Sunkist orange grower an hour south of Fresno, living in a country home where Negroes were "niggers" and Hispanics were "spicks."  Our family attended church at least three times a week, as well as special events, pancake cookouts and missionary roadtrips to perform services for the "less fortunate."  There was no individual spiritual practice other than prayer, Bible study, the Sunday sermon and hymn singing.  Mom was in the choir and played piano.

During spring of 1967, before my fifth birthday, I passed through a phase that lasted about three weeks, during which I sat cross-legged on my bed, facing west through a window that looked out on our apartments back yard.  Through what little Bible study I'd managed to accrue, I had formed an intimate bond with Jesus, considering him to be physically present not only when I prayed, but as I went through daily life.  We would hold long conversations, walking side-by-side like best friends who'd known each other for two thousand years.

Jesus was present as I sat on my bed one morning.  An energy grew inside my little body, filling it with bliss and happiness.  Somehow, I knew just how to work with the energy, until "I" outgrew the house, the neighborhood, the city, state, continent the planet.  Then I popped out of the physical dimension completely, and was met by several presences that felt like "home," who nonverbally "reminded" me of many things I'd known before this birth.  It felt like I was being infused with sacred information, "catching up" on something that I'd worked long and hard to obtain.  I moved in and out of these vibrational states every day during this time.  Familiar beings accompanied me on these inner flights, like a family that had sent me into human form for some collective purpose; I was "reporting" back to them, and they were filling me in on my mission objectives, as well as teaching me what I would need to know during an arduous stay in this world.  The experience was one of becoming reacquainted with that part of me that extends backwards and forwards through time, such that I merely had to acknowledge what I already knew.  The specific information that emerged did not remain in my conscious mind for long, however, as I was a four-year-old boy who did not normally have the language to process these things.

Once, my mother burst into the room and saw me sitting there – I could see her clearly with non-physical eyes – and she quietly backed out, clicking the door closed.  She never mentioned this or any of the other episodes to me.

As the final session drew to a close, the presences who'd supported this process gave me a little mantra that I could say at any time during the ensuing years, which would give a hint of remembrance to the states that I'd experienced.  The mantra, "I Am Me," looks innocuous enough now, but at the time, it triggered something deep and primordial, not to mention fascinating.  I would ponder the "I" by itself, then the "Am," then the "Me," noticing that each could be experienced separately and as a single presence, such that I "traveled" in and out of individual awareness as if hitting a light switch.  I knew that I was being acclimated to individual identity, but the mantra allowed me to access the unitive presence whenever I wanted throughout the "barren" years that would follow these experiences.

They (the guiding presences) suggested that they would leave me to a worldly existence for about 30 years before rejoining my spiritual emergence.  During precisely 30 years without ready access to the energy that visited me in those early days, I would periodically recite my mantra in order to briefly experience sensations that bridged across many, many lifetimes, and in this way I could let go existential anxieties that may have inhibited the process that would greet me when those 30 years passed.


During the summer of 1995, well after a childhood spent in religious bondage and a further 18 years in a rebel's wilderness, the sensations I'd experienced at four years of age began to manifest once again.  I had moved from eastern Washington state to Boulder, Colorado in 1991, at which point I began to teach myself various symbol systems:  Tarot, western astrology and numerology.  I also began to experiment with meditation and trance work, becoming a certified hypnotherapist in the process.  By 1995 I'd begun to spend many hours a day working with altered states.  A pleasant throbbing started to tickle my forehead between the eyes, accompanied by a persistent ringing in the ears.  The throbbing increased over a weeks-long period, expanding to a persistent halo around my head.  As I concentrated on the sensations during meditation, the blissful energy began to "pour" down my body until it encapsulated me like an eggshell.  The energy would sometimes grow more intense than any orgasm I'd ever experienced, and it would last for hours at a time.

My then-girlfriend (now wife) was in the midst of a classic kundalini awakening that began in the second half of 1994.  I read the books she'd located that taught about that phenomenon, but they all described a bottom-up process, while mine definitely worked from top-down.  True, when the energy reached my lower chakras, the whole area would "light up" and sometimes send energy back up through the top of my head – but none of the books spoke of top-downÉ until I came across Sri Aurobindo's Synthesis of Yoga.

While reading each word in the 900 pages of this book, I found Aurobindo speaking directly to the phenomenon that had manifested in me.  In his yoga, he determined that the shakti energy should be drawn down through the head and body, undergoing a stepped-down filtering on its way to the lower chakras.  Then, having been purified, it could safely ascend through the energy pathways to its original entry point.  This explained why I never experienced the raw, terrifying symptoms that my girlfriend had undergone, and it also gave me a framework within which I could place my own spontaneous experience, lending it a sense of meaning that had previously escaped me.

At this point, inner guidance insisted that I cease ingesting the mind-altering substances that had been my companion during 18 years "in the wilderness."  After a couple weeks without marijuana, the bliss in my head was still there, only stronger and with more consistency, with a noted increase in mental clarity.  After a month, the same.  Four months, eight months, a year – and now ten years later, it has established itself as a constant presence in my life.  The urge to drink or take any drugs has long disappeared, though the urge for jhana saturation is always present.

In the summer of 2003, my wife (sometimes known as the Kundalini Kid) and I received an audience with Swami Chandrasekharanand Saraswati, founder of the Patanjali Kundalini Care center in Tennessee.  This meeting was a turning point, a validation for all the spiritual work I'd done during the previous twelve years.  As I took my seat across from him, he asked that I stand up again.  He embraced me and said, "I know you.  I feel that you are my son."  He repeated this to Joan Harrigan, who is co-director of the PKC center.  She looked at me and shrugged, later saying that she'd never heard him say that to anyone.  I told Swamiji about my childhood experiences, about my years in the wilderness, about the drug use, and about the re-emergence of the energetic phenomenon that had guided me onto a path of meditation.  He smiled and nodded while listening, then said that I needed "more education."  He did not elaborate.  I told him that my wife and I could not afford to go through their program in Tennessee, but that we would love to do so if our financial situation improved.  He said that he knew we would meet again, and the audience ended.

Within a few days of this pleasant encounter, Jeffrey S. Brooks (Sotapanna Jhanananda) entered our life when I followed his invitation to join the Jhana Support Group's email list.  Jeffrey, being well-versed in many expressions of divine energy, was able to correlate both my experience as well as Karen's.  During several weeks of intense email communication, he was able to lay to rest much of my ambivalence with regard to the spiritual journey, and a certainty about what I needed to do began to emerge.  Several months later we traveled to Riverside, California, to attend a nine-day retreat with Bhante Gunaratana.  We met and meditated with Jeffrey, who we immediately identified as a kindred spirit whose many years' practice offered much for us to learn.

As my meditation teacher and close friend, Jeffrey has helped establish me as a jhana yogi, with three extensive meditation sessions each day, as well as regular Dhamma study of the Suttas and other spiritual texts.  Every moment of my life is filled with joy, bliss and a deep sense of meaning.  Throughout each day, whether in or out of formal meditation, I focus on the jhana nimittas, allowing them to expand and deepen, so that the saturation established during sitting remains operative at all times.  My presence in relationship is much more centered and grounded; I am a better listener, and am more willing to humble myself, where in the past it was important for my viewpoint to prevail.  There is a profound sense of unconditional love, and my moments of anger and separation are tempered by the constant knowledge of perfect unity between all beings.

I literally cannot wait to get back to the cushion, and look forward to a lifetime's daily saturation in this universal spiritual energy.

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