Ma; Where my journey of the spirit began I don't know. My earliest memories are of nature. As a small child I loved animals and trees. I recall when I was small, moving out of Chicago into a suburb. My parents bought a small farm, a kind of mini farm of five acres. We had several hundred chickens, a few pigs, a dozen or so geese, a dog named 'Pal', a number of cats, my pet duck 'Jimmy' and wild raccoons.
There were wild blackberries and raspberries down by the creek and wild strawberries in the front near the drive. I remember fruit trees in the front yard, apple I believe, and lightening bugs and butterflies and my mother's garden.
We picked bushel barrels of beans, and tomatoes, and all sorts of vegetables to eat and can, me and my mom, and maybe my pet duck, Jimmy. I remember the cellar where she put her canning on shelves from floor to ceiling. It was a happy place for me, this farm. I would feed chickens with my mom and play alone all day eating berries, playing with the dog or my cats, or my duck. I would run wild in nature alone most of my time.
I also remember our house. We had an outhouse and a pump. There was no running water. There was a big potbelly stove in the living room and I use to watch the flames. I remember it was cold in the bedrooms and at night we would put hot water bottles at the foot of the bed to warm our feet. I also remember my father killing our chickens and me and my mom picking off the feathers. I was revolted by it. I also was revolted by eating meat, particularly chicken, because I could recognize what it was and I loved animals.
I think that my connection with nature was very deep, very strong.
I don't remember too much about my inner world in those days, only I was mostly happy and involved with nature. I was melted into my woods and animals.
But then we moved when I was perhaps 6 or 7 to a dry and arid place for me. A dreary suburb full of uninteresting houses on plain lots. There was neither country nor town. My magical kingdom in nature was gone. My duck died shortly after we moved and I had only my cat. So I spent my days wandering alone through empty lots and dreaming of something different on long vacant afternoons, Until I was about 9 when, thankfully, we moved again. This time to a small town with streets lined with stately oaks called Downers Grove.
Although I liked this place much better, my unhappiness with my surroundings continued to grow, as I felt very different from the other children and the people around me, like a stranger in a strange land. I wondered why people lived in these strange boxes, killed and ate animals and how they could cut down trees without understanding these were living beings just like them. What they did, how they treated living beings, hurt me. I wondered why I was in this strange place where I seemed so different. Then at about the age of nine I began feel a deep calling, as if I had come here to this strange place for a purpose, a purpose I did not yet understand but saw I would someday. This experience of a destiny that I have been called here to fulfill stayed with as I grew and has drawn me to the present moment..
But going back to my childhood, I remember in those days I would drive my mother crazy asking 'why' about everything. One night stands out in my memory. We were coming home from an event, the stars were out and it was cold. The stars were so beautiful then. You could see them with crystal clearness, the way you need to go to the mountains to do now. I looked up at the stars .Then I asked my mother with all seriousness "what happens to people after they die?" She answered that she didn't know, that no one knew. I didn't like that answer. I said to her that I was going to find out when I grew up.
I was very sincere and determined. I was going to be a person who knew the answers to this and other questions I had. Even in those days I would think a great deal about the nature of reality and of the mind and emotions.
I remember many afternoons, sitting upstairs in our house in Downers Grove, watching the neighbor children play in the street and thinking about how the mind worked, theories I couldn't share with anyone. The other kids wouldn't get it and my parents didn't think about such things. Only many years later when I read my ideas in text books was I able to validate my experience.
When I was about 11 my grandmother, who was living with us, died. I don't know if it was her death or just the pattern of my mind, but it was around this time things began to stir in my spiritual life. When I felt upset and in turmoil because of social pressures and home tensions I would go outside, often at night. I found certain trees on my block that I developed a kind of connection with.
When I was upset I would go to one of my tree friends and hug them. The turmoil and upsets would float away like clouds and be replaced by a serene calmness, which came from the tree.
I felt genuine friendship with the trees. It seemed I could communicate with them. The calm order and sense of self of their minds was understandable to me and I felt that they too could sense me, and sense my awareness of their minds. In this way we communicated, not like people communicate. The minds of trees are very different from the minds of people. But being to being we communicated, and with certain trees I became friends. In times of need, when the world of people was painful and overwhelming for me, I would turn to these trees and they would give me, in friendship, their love in the form of calmness, healing and peace.
Then there were my animal friends, especially my cats. I could sense them the same way I could the trees. I knew my cats feelings and I think I sensed their mental movement, what they wanted, what they liked, what they felt. They too were always my friends and my companions in life. My world was alive with friendships with animals and trees. To me they were no different from people. As I grew so did my interactions with "people world" as I called it in my childhood. At first this was challenging for me but later, as I got more comfortable with social situations, it became fun.
I had an experience in my young teens of discovering the connections we all share. When I would meet someone, before I would begin talking with them I could see their mind in my mind almost like a kind of flow chart. I could see that on the deeper levels, we were all much alike. Then I would see fundamental complexes many people shared holding peoples minds such as inferiority or superiority. As I came to look more at the surface of the persons mind, I would see other complexes upon that, making each person unique, until the outer person would speak and shatter my observations with the sound of their voice.
Once I would begin interacting, the lay of their mind would slip from my view. This experience of observing the structure of others minds frequently happened during my early teens but then faded. I never spoke of it to anyone, as there was no one around me that I felt would understand if I told them. I lived in a very superficial world and those around me were more concerned with superficial and external interests.
A deep source of comfort that came to me during this time was a mystical presence I felt with me.....