I’m sitting in a room sparkling with candles and poignant music is playing quietly. Around me is a peaceful circle of people with their eyes closed. Through the windows my gaze reaches out into the stillness of the night. Outside these walls is Chalice Well Garden, a beautiful sanctuary nestled below the Tor in my home town of Glastonbury. I’m running a weekend seminar here to help people experience an amazing ‘deep awake’ state of consciousness I call ‘the magical mystery experience’.
I have spent my life exploring this ‘deep awake’ state. And I have found that it is something I can share with others, because states of consciousness are catching. What is ‘the magical mystery experience’? In an attempt to speak about something that truly cannot be described by words, people who have experienced the magical mystery with me have said things such as limitless love … oneness … gnosis … pure bliss … buddha-nature… self-knowledge … peace beyond understanding… the Christ within… utterly orgasmic… the thing I’ve been searching for all my life…
It doesn’t matter what words we use to describe the ‘deep awake’ state, all that matters is that we experience it. And it is clear that this is what is happening for the young woman sitting in front of me tonight. She is tying to fight back tears of joy and relief that are welling up in her eyes.
It’s the end of a very special evening and everyone is sitting silently in a circle, looking at the young woman, who is slowly gazing around the circle, making eye contact with each of us in turn. But we’re doing much more than just looking at each other eye to eye…. we are connecting I to I. We are meeting in that deep place where all is one.
As the young woman’s eyes meet mine I see a beautiful face, full of character and kindness. But I also see through the veil of appearances to connect with her deeper identity, which I can’t see or hear or touch. I am meeting the mystery of awareness conscious through a different person. We are communing as one and this is making us both feel emotional, because it’s an experience of what I call ‘big love’.
The young woman closes her eyes, embarrassed that she’s so tearful. But she needn’t be, because the whole group is grateful to her for expressing the collective emotion that is filling the room. The atmosphere is charged. It’s as if the air is heavy with vibrating energy. We are all vibrating together.
We have just completed a simple but profound ‘initiation’ into the magical mystery experience. An initiation is usually thought of as the beginning of something and so it is. But in the ancient world an initiation was seen as a glimpse of the goal towards which we are travelling. I see our initiation tonight as an opportunity to taste the reality of oneness and the ecstasy of big love. Then, when we return to our everyday lives after the seminar, we will have a clear idea of where our journey of awakening is leading.
Whenever possible I like to lead this initiation after sundown, because there’s something magical about the night. I prepare a beautiful space that opens the heart, and I ask everyone to enter in silence and sink into the stillness. I wait while the poignant music massages away the tensions in our souls. Then we begin to slowly connect ‘I to I’, until we dissolve into the mystery of love together.
Tonight we are all experiencing the magical mystery and the room is thick with big love. Everyone can feel it and some people are emotional. I look around me at the group of beautiful people sitting serenely in the effervescent stillness. No one wants to speak in case it breaks the enchantment of this precious place. Occasionally someone attempts a few words… ‘ecstasy’ … ‘connection’…‘enlightenment’. A young guy smiles cheekily and adds ‘it’s better than sex!’, which makes us laugh. Then an elderly lady sings a sweet song and we sink into the silence again.
As I look around me at all these gorgeous faces I celebrate our individuality. We are all one and yet so unique. Tonight we have amongst us a physicist, an artist, a retired business man, two young sisters, a diplomat who speaks five ancient languages, and a transvestite called ‘Colin’. And in this oneness we can delight in the differences. That wise gentleman over there is a priest in the Church of England… and he’s sitting next to a wonderful lady who is a Wiccan High Priestess!
I take the hands of the people either side of me, and this ripples around the circle, until we are all holding hands. Then I gently say
“So here we are… deep awake in the magical mystery … conscious that we are unique individuals and yet we are all one.
“And it’s because we are both individual and all-one that we can love each other.
“How cool is that?!”
There is general agreement that this is very cool indeed. And we sit there in the vibrating silence… one and many… bathing in big love.
Over the years my understanding of life has constantly changed, but one simple conviction has remained. All that really matters is love. And I feel, somewhere deep inside, we all know this. There is nothing better than to be in love with life. And only love can heal our heartbreak when we’re hurting.
When I run a seminar my deepest desire is that we wake up to oneness and commune together in big love. Spiritual awakening is not a sterile realisation. It is a vibrant emotion and a bodily feeling. It is a love that fills the hole in our soul and makes us feel complete. The adventure of becoming deep awake is a journey to the heart of love.
No one wants to break the circle, so I’m beginning to wonder if anyone will ever go home. But eventually, one by one, we embrace each other then leave, and our quiet party fades away. I lock the door of our meeting room and wander alone into the moonlit garden. In the black and white light of the night I appreciate the rich textures of the flowers that surround me and I sit by the Chalice Well dropping loose petals into the water.
It feels like fairyland. I’ve returned to the secret garden I frequented as a child. I’m drunk with love and overwhelmed with gratitude. To be in love with one person is sweet. To be in love with all is indescribable. It is a love so deep it has no end. I’ve often made this pilgrimage to the sacred temple of love that lies at the heart of the secret garden… and it feels like home.