The answer to how I got to this point in life is not from one single factor by itself. It was a journey that began with two words...Joseph Campbell. I read his books many times to absorb the strange concepts he explained, until they sank into my being. Also reading the books he discussed such as The Golden Bough. Another author who influenced me was Kazantzakis who wrote a modern Odyssey. These books were the capstone of a lifetime of reading. My parents read to me as a child and our home was filled with books. At times I read 2-3 books a week. At the age of 25 I began searching and began to take long walks in a nature preserve and photograph and observe animal behavior. I would walk for 3 hours or more in the woods photographing every life form imaginable. I developed a strong identification with the natural world and all living things, in religious terms it might be referred to as Jainism. This was my very own intense religion, the only one I have ever had and the woods and forests were my only church.
Part of what has transformed me was intense human suffering that went on for years. In 1995 while traveling in Central America I became very ill and developed an autoimmune disease that left me physically disabled and unable to work. I lived in my head, moved into a cabin in the woods. A friend of mine said I had gone off alone to die like a dog. After four years of progressive deterioration due to illness I was disabled mentally and physically, reduced to sitting in a chair. The symptoms were those of a brain disease. My eyes rolled halfway back into my head, I could not stand bright light, or loud sounds, it was physically painful. When I walked from the bed to the chair I had a terror of falling down and not being able to get back up. I could not watch TV or listen to music or read. The sounds and images moved too fast for me to follow and interpret them, it was all a confusing painful blur. I could only speak in very short simple sentences and any effort to talk left me exhausted. After months I started to come out of the worst and gradually recovered by listening to classical music for months. As the cathedrals of sound made sense to me on a deeper level I began to write the music in my head and anticipate the next note while listening to the baroque masterpieces. After months of this slow recovery I began to hear music in my head like I was listening to the radio. It had a quality of spontaneity and I could turn it on or off at will. At first it was music I had heard but later it was music I had written in my head and music I did not recognize. The degradation of my mental capacity and the subsequent recovery listening to music changed the nature of my consciousness. About a year before the mystical experience I heard music playing in my head constantly but it was not oppressive because I could turn it on or off at will. As soon as I recovered I headed up into the mountains where my family had been going for several generations. I believe that the illness accomplished what mystics spend a lifetime trying to do which is to get past their own conscious minds that are holding them back and obscuring a deeper reality.
I was on my mountain in New Mexico at the Continental Divide, about 10, 000 feet, and I sat down on a large boulder in the river. As the first rays of the longest day crested the top of the mountain a faint prism formed above the rapids. Soon a small rainbow was dancing from right to left and back again, 2-3 feet tall on top of the rapids, given birth by the spray. The colors became more brilliant and the light strands became taller as the moments passed. The strands of rainbow light rose gradually higher up into the air so that sitting on the boulder I had to tilt my head back and look up higher and higher at the display above me. As it slowly grew larger I started to hear music. A magical symphony began playing in my head. It was my spontaneous music so all I had to do was to listen. The music was some of the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I wanted to grab a pin and write it down but I realized if I went for the pen I'd break contact. I would lose the music as it flowed out of me but it was the only way to experience it. I mourned for a moment for the loss of the incredible music but quickly resigned myself. I started to place notes exactly where the columns of light danced. Gradually the music and light strands became syncopated. The light seemed to dance to the lines of music coming out of my head. It now became my very own light harp that responded to the music playing in my head. The intensity of pure joy that the light harp and the music made me feel was overpowering. It was as if my sense of the beauty of the universe was overwhelming me and making me pass out but I did not lose consciousness, quite the opposite. I was completely overcome by the profound sense of beauty and wonder at the spectacle . My eyes began to slowly roll back in my head and the image of a streaming river of yellow and gold colored light opened in a vision. The golden light seemed to flow to me as the river flowed to me and spread across my entire field of vision. After a few moments of traversing the golden yellow zone a far light began to shine. At the far end of the river of yellow and gold there was a single ray of white light as if from the opening of a pinhole or a small doorway that grew larger and the distant beacon concentrated itself on me. I felt as if I stood in a presence reaching out to me to bestow a communication, yet no words were spoken. I faintly remember thinking yes in answer to the presence. I tipped over completely into another realm of consciousness. I woke gradually as if coming out of a very deep trance. Ever so slowly I realized where and who I was and became more aware of my surroundings. My eyes had been rolled back in my head and I sat in a perfect lotus position with my hands in the lotus position thumb and forefinger forming a circle. My legs were crossed as I had never been able to do before. The sun and shadows were indicating afternoon not morning. I had no clear idea what had happened in those lost hours. I leaned forward and humbly said thank you. I concentrated hard for the meaning before I moved, like trying to remember a dream before you get out of bed. The central idea that impressed itself upon me was that I would be destroyed, my body and my personality would be obliterated but that something very central to my core being was that same light that I had witnessed and that had transformed me forever. At our core we are all a part of this light that infuses everything everywhere and goes on forever. At our core we cannot be destroyed. I would be physically destroyed and my personality would be destroyed but at my core I would go on forever as part of the ecstatic brilliance I had experienced. I couldn't place this experience with other similar experiences in my life so I didn't know how to incorporate it. I kind of buried it in the back of my mind and went on with life.
After this experience I had premonitions of momentous events before they occurred, usually events that affected millions of people. Sometimes it is kind of hit and miss because I don’t know where and when it will happen and sometimes I do know where and when it will happen. I close my eyes and concentrate hard and hear a deep rumbling sound and the earth begins to shake violently for about twenty seconds. I can tell it was morning and the event was about a six or seven on the Richter scale. I feel that many people will be deeply affected by the event. Besides knowing that it will happen in about two weeks and the entire world will know...that is about all I can tell about the earth quake event. In another premonition, I lie awake in bed at six thirty in the morning and close my eyes and feel and hear the earth rumble for about ten seconds. I knew the earthquake was about a four on the Richter scale and the location was the New Madrid Fault, and it would happen very early in the morning. This power is too ephemeral to predict if one can interpret the vision correctly and then to act upon it is very problematic...who am I supposed to tell. I wanted to tell people, to warn them, but could not find the courage to say I was clairvoyant and tell strangers that I knew something bad was about to happen. The vision is drawn back down into my unconscious mind, like a strong undertow, to be forgotten even as I fight to retain it.
Joseph Campbell wrote the following that applies to the solitary journey. "Equally, the birth, life, and death of the individual may be regarded as a descent into unconsciousness and return. The hero is the one who, while still alive, knows and represents the claims of the super consciousness which throughout creation is more or less unconscious. The adventure of the hero represents the moment in his life when he achieved illumination –the nuclear moment when, while still alive, he found and opened the road to the light beyond the dark walls of our living death". From a lecture by a Joseph Campbell, he said, "Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss? As dreams that were momentous by night may seem simply silly in the light of day, so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves playing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes. The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heaven rock-dwelling, close the door and make it fast".
These capabilities are not some new leap in evolution, rather the ability itself is archaic, ancient in origin. Ten thousand years ago a hunter is walking down a river bed and a mountain lion appears on a ledge behind him about to leap. If the hunter feels the hair on the back of his neck stand up and realizes he is being watched he is more likely to react first and escape his brush with death, and to live and pass along his genes. If he is not perceptive he will probably be killed. The ability to foresee events was more common in a pre-industrial age if only because the background chaos of modern life drowns out the quiet voice. In western cultures, two thousand years ago, clairvoyant experiences were considered invaluable. The Greeks were famous for their clairvoyants, the Oracles of Delphi. The Romans had men and women who were openly accepted as clairvoyants. In every indigenous culture, in every corner of the world, people practice their own versions of Shamanism. Sitting Bull was not a Sioux chief, he was a medicine man. He was a Shaman who used his abilities to help his people. Prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull fasted and prayed and had a dream that foretold the outcome of the battle. This ability has been shared by many people in many different cultures throughout history. Among native people they are referred to as Shamans or holy men such as Sitting Bull.
I would explain the process in the following terms. When you fall asleep imagine that you travel down into a well spring of deep water and if you travel down far enough into this well you will eventually encounter the source that is common to all. Think of it as a vast ocean hidden deep in the earth that links all of these separate wells together. In this place the dream imagery and the paradigms of human thought are held in common. The shared images move from the depths of this place upwards and into each of our unconscious minds. It is the source of all human creativity. What flows upwards towards each of us individually can also travel in the opposite direction, back downward. In the conscious realm of the physical world our minds see an important event take place and the impact of that event upon our minds causes a ripple that can travel back down into this deep ocean. If millions or even billions of human beings see an event happen that shocks them and leaves an impression, then this mental energy flows down into the depths of this hidden ocean, the universal unconscious. The sheer force of billions of people seeing an event together has a tremendous energy like a huge wave that can travel backwards in time. It is my belief that premonitions spring from this energy.
It is difficult to speak about mystical experiences without sounding rather foolish. I often turn on the TV and see someone who falsely claims this ability in order to enrich themselves. You can tell a charlatan by the fact that they claim to be on a first name basis with God and will interpret the future for you for money. Prior to my mystical experience I was an Agnostic. I do not like to take things on faith. I never believed in God just because I was told God existed. I am a scientist and I believe in the scientific method and what I can observe with my five senses. I was originally an atheist who did not believe in God but because I was told to. I struggled to believe in God and wound up eventually something of an agnostic. I believed in something larger than ourselves such as synchronicity or more simply the concept of the interconnectedness of life and our collective fate. I believed that the parts of the bible known as the Gospels were probably largely the true words spoken by a mortal man named Jesus who lived and died. I was searching for the truth of our existence much of my life and the focus my concentration was on philosophy and science. I am the original doubting Thomas who only believes in what my five senses tell me, but I realize even the five sense can be wrong. I refused to take anything on faith and felt that a strictly religious education was short changing oneself. My parents did not give me religious indoctrination. I believe that all religions become garbled in translation from the original experience. I believe that large organized religions are political and economic organizations. My religion is the result of a singular journey and a singular experience that is difficult to describe much less replicate. I believe that any human being is capable of directly experiencing God.
It is my belief that I have been given this ability to put to the service of mankind. I hope to repeat and capture the mystical experience so that it can be experienced by anyone who wishes to. It is my hope that this experience will bring humanity together and create a spiritual transformation, much like orbiting the earth and seeing the planet earth as a whole often profoundly changes people. I believe people would be more likely to avoid war and work to end human suffering. I also feel that the human race has reached a moment of decision where it will either come together and identify with each other in a very fundamental and transformational way or it will continue on the current path and ultimately we will destroy ourselves. For this reason I am proposing a paradigm shift away from emphasis upon military spending and in it's place begin a shared humanitarian and scientific initiative to end disease and hunger and to decode the earth as a living system. No one nation can do this alone but it cannot be successful without the United States to lead the way. Marshall Gregory Thomas