A sampling of different chapters in An Upraised Chalice
Chapter 1 – Looking at the Big Picture
I am a hardened man with little patience for mediocrity, a multi-professional who is well versed and applied in the physical sciences. I live on a homestead that I carved out of a forested mountaintop. I still wear the body of a warrior many years younger than my 62 summers. I am a father, a lover, a builder, a teacher, and I have always been a seeker of the ancient wisdom. This story is about the life-long yearning and striving of a boy to remember, to awaken to what he could only dream about through the mists. As you continue to read about these great adventures, remember that I am taking no literary license here—it all happened as it is stated.
Looking at the big picture gives most of us pause for concern. For many decades now, we have watched the world we live in become more unsettled. Populations have increased dramatically; food and shelter throughout the world, even in the US, are concerns for many. Many areas of the earth are experiencing climate change, punctuated by extreme weather conditions. Severe drought, heavy rains, and extreme temperature-swings threaten world food production. The world economy seems to teeter on the brink of insolvency, experiencing one crisis after another. This makes it difficult for many to make ends meet, which in turn, serves to fuel more credit-card debt, which exacerbates the debt crisis. The worldwide geopolitical conflicts, often fueled by extremist religious dogmas, seem to envelop more countries and produce unimaginable horror year after year.
Many feel a cultural malaise has settled in. Exposed to continual media broadcasts concerning these disturbing worldwide events, many become used to it, numb, and indifferent to what is happening around them. We cringe as our children grow up in this environment, exposed to all of this. They seek to emulate the lifestyles that are presented to them by the so-called entertainment industry and by corporate advertising. This in turn outpictures in our children’s lives, effectively steering new generations into lifestyles that give less importance to altruistic behaviors and ideals and great importance to materialistic pursuits. Our children are confronted with an almost irreconcilable gulf between the innocence they know in their hearts and the cold and too often violent images that are served up by the media. Tragically and more and more frequently, this outpictures in actions of undreamed horror that in some instances can bring an entire nation to its knees. There is a growing sense among many that s9-GoldenTempleArmritsaromething major is missing in our civilization—a lack of moral compass, a lack of direction. Many are looking for answers.
With all the above as background, we are caught up in our daily lives. The days turn into weeks and the months into years. Before you know it, we’re not kids anymore—relationships, careers, families, and responsibilities have arrived. For many in this culture, it’s almost a frantic pace of doing, doing, doing, for both us and our families.
The years move forward and everyone is attending to their life’s priorities, focusing on how to be happy, make a living, raise a family. The years turn into decades and sooner or later, (hopefully later) sickness or accidents happen and all are again confronted with the big questions: Why? What’s next? What has this life that I’ve lived been about? As one begins to consider their own eventual departure: What have I been able to do to make things a little better? What have I passed along to make others’ lives more beautiful?
Some, hopefully many of us, know that somewhere, way deep inside, that there is a reason for our life that still encompasses what every parent wants for their children, but goes beyond that. Perhaps it is what we felt in the idealism of our youth, before we became jaded by life’s responsibilities, that comes closest to touching this sense of a life mission.
As a child, there was a sense conveyed by family, and by perhaps a more innocent world around us, that God was guiding our lives. However, as the years rolled by, many started asking questions that could no longer be suitably answered by the simplistic dogma of organized religions.
Many of us have, by this phase in humanity’s slow awakening, walked away from the hollow, empty dogmas found in most religions, feeling that God is more evident in a child’s smile, in the kiss of the beloved, or in a beautiful place on a beautiful day.
Some whose thirst for understanding could not be sated by this culture’s materialistic activities have explored other options…………. (continued)
Preview of Chapter 7 – The Quest Begins
I will skip my accounts of Europe. While southwest England (Glastonbury), Ireland, Southern Italy and Greece were very familiar, even comfortable, the magic didn’t start until Israel. My destination in Israel was Jerusalem—period. Fabled Jerusalem. Unlike any other place I’ve visited, pronouncing the very name was almost a mystical experience in itself, producing a flood of feelings that I could just barely perceive on the perimeters of my consciousness. I just had to get there as quickly as possible and made a beeline for that ancient city as soon as my flight arrived in Tel Aviv in the wee hours of the morning.
I remember walking through the stone arch gate into old Jerusalem before dawn that morning—the incredible antiquity that seemed to just pour out of the cobblestoned, serpentine, little streets and alleyways that cut through the jumble of ancient, dark buildings like a maze. I remember seeing a few of the Arabs and the Jews going about their pre-dawn chores in preparation for the day’s business. So clearly do I remember the palpable, heavy weight of the city, of all that happened here over thousands of years, as it descended upon me like a heavy blanket.
Later I found that navigating through Jerusalem, even with a map, is quite difficult—the tiny streets and alleyways just go about in circles. But now, the faint light of pre-dawn only served to highlight the drab, ominous surroundings. Yet on this first pre-dawn morning in Jerusalem, I was far from lost; my steps had a purpose and a direction that I, in my daze, was dimly aware of. It was like my feet knew where I was going but my consciousness didn’t. Making my way through these very narrow cobblestone streets, a left here, a right there, and then I rounded another corner and found myself standing in a line of hooded, dark-robed Greek monks. They were waiting, standing in a single-file line on ancient stone steps, descending into the basement level of some ancient, large structure. They looked at me and I looked at them, but perhaps save for a slight smile, no words were conveyed.
After a while, the iron hinges on the huge, heavy, wooden door creaked open and these priests walked down the stone stairs.These steps were concaved, worn by millennia of use. The line of monks proceeded through the doorway into the darkened building, with me following. We walked into this large cavernous space only lit by candles; it appeared to have been carved out of the stone that the building was erected upon. There were religious icons on the carved, stone walls and then, finally, some writing in English. It was then with a seeming thunderclap of understanding that I realized by the inscription on the walls that I was in the basement level of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
In the background of my awareness, my mind raced in astonishment to make sense of what had just transpired. How and why I was drawn like a magnet to this place, but around this consciousness, there was the undeniable charge of purpose that I felt buoy me up the stairs into the main body of this ancient, sacred place. Then, up the stairs again, to the small altar area that was built over the rock that had a split in it, from the Cross………….. (continued)
Preview of Chapter 9 – Inner Acceleration – the Himalayas
This prayer was that I be guided throughout the coming day so that I would experience all that I was supposed to experience. Now here in the Himalayas, throughout the day I found myself slipping into a similar stream of meditation even while walking about; it was like a listening dialogue with the Presence, my Father. The fine, gossamer thread that led me from day to day back in England and throughout Europe to Israel, all those months ago, now had become more of a golden chain. I was so conscious of the growing strength of this golden chain that I knew was connected to my Presence, guiding me forward according to a timetable that I could not yet perceive. I had a sense that all I had to do was wake up in the morning and I would enter this stream that would take me to the next experience, whenever and wherever that was, as part of the Master Plan for this lifetime.
After being in this enchanted location for just a few days, this sense of the golden chain grew stronger. There was a sense of excitement in having this conscious awareness that there was a major event ahead of me that I was literally being pulled forward into. I had the strong and clear sense that I had actually started this process long ago, that I had made choices earlier in this life that were directly responsible for the acceleration that I was now experiencing.
By now in this quest, I had long since given up any sense of concern as to what the next hour, let alone the next days, weeks or months, would bring forth into this life. There was never for an instant a question of going back to the life that I had lived before I left on this quest. I could easily summon the terrible taste of that dream-experience that I had back in Amherst at the university before I left America—for what I knew not. Waking immediately after the dream, the utter devastation of the culture about me, the sense that I had failed at whatever it was that I had come into this life to accomplish. I clearly recall the sickening feeling, realizing that I had gotten so caught up in that material culture—despite the inner promptings of my heart that there was more to life. I knew then that it was my mission in this lifetime to find out who I Am and why I came into this lifetime….. (continued)
Now, in the first days of being in Kathmandu, the sense of acceleration and the profound sense of being at home in India and now in Nepal seemed to throw a light upon so many turning points in my life. I had a clear sense of how everything before now had prepared me for whatever it was that I was about to embark upon. The crystalline atmosphere of the Kathmandu valley, the radiant smiles of seemingly everyone whom I had eye contact with, even though I couldn’t consciously understand a word they were saying, the beautiful pagoda temples, so ornately hand carved, each one focused upon a different God, which I knew even then was a different aspect of the One Divine Presence. The chanting of the mantras that seemed to be non-stop—all of this was like the great reward to me—a reward for the right decisions that I had made up to this point in the game.
All of this was like a great bow drawn back with me as the arrow, ready for flight, though I didn’t consciously know the target of this arrow. I knew that the Great Archer who drew back the bow knew well the target and I was excited beyond words with this understanding……. (continued)
The Long Trek to Everest
On Christmas Eve, I was sitting near a pagoda temple sipping from a small bottle of Nepali rum that I had purchased in ho66-across-NamcheBazzarnor of the day. While I was musing on everything that was opening before me, I saw a guy nearby taking photos. We started talking and found that we had some things in common. He was from Seattle and was also traveling solo, just having flown in to Delhi. It turns out that he was also very interested in taking the long journey to Mount Everest. We met the next day at the expedition shop and started making plans to do this. He knew my primary interest was in visiting the monasteries along the way. I had heard that, by making a small gift to the head lama at each monastery, one could take shelter there from the freezing-cold nights.
We obtained our permits from the Nepali government to trek up along the Tibetan/Nepali frontier and started gathering supplies— medicines, dehydrated foods and very warm clothes. We were told that very few ever attempted what we were going to do without Sherpa guides and porters. We were told that it was approximately a three-week, arduous trek of approximately 250 kilometers across the grain of the Himalayas, just to get to the Everest base camp and that there were many places where the going was extremely treacherous. We were told that the trails were mere footpaths, sometimes just a few feet wide, which wound up and down the extremely rugged and dangerous terrain. We were told that there were many shaky footbridges spanning roaring Himalayan rivers and there was no room for accidents. The men who owned the expedition shop did their best to warn us about what we were up against and why we needed to have Sherpa guides and porters. However, that was out of the question, as we just couldn’t afford that luxury……….(continued)
One day led quickly into another and as our physical bodies grew acclimated to our arduous climb through the Great Himalayas, at the same time it seemed my awareness continued to expand. We were perhaps a few days from Namche Bazaar, the mystical Tibetan village that is the rallying point for all expeditions to Everest, when we came to another very special monastery that I had learned about in Kathmandu. This time it was our good fortune that the head lama spoke a little English. Unlike the previous one, this monastery had many monks who lived in adjoining buildings. The head lama invited us to spend the night in the main room with him. This was a much different experience for me as I stayed up into the wee hours engaged in conversation with the lama. He explained that he was a Tulku Lama, a reincarnated lama. When he was a little boy of 3 years, he was identified by other high lamas as the reincarnation of a famous lama who had passed away a few years earlier. There was an elaborate testing procedure where this 3-year-old had to identify objects that belonged to him in his former life as the head lama of another important monastery. When this boy correctly identified the objects that were his in his past life, as well as identifying some of the older lamas who were giving him the test, he was immediately appointed the head lama of many dozens of monks—all of this at the tender age of three or four years old. That night, he and I spoke of reincarnation and karma and a hundred other things concerning the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, which are at the heart of this Himalayan culture….. (continued)
Namche and Higher
………. The boy had died in the night. He had a bad cough the previous day and didn’t look well. Life is so hard here; most live in a oneroom dwelling with a fire that is often vented by an open window. There is no running water or other human comforts that are customary in lower and warmer areas of the world. As a result it seems like there is no middle age—you are either young or old and then you are dead. A few days before we were at the other monastery during the funeral ceremony; now with this boy’s passing, it was apparent that death was no stranger to this land. In this intensely beautiful but stark realm of the high Himalayas, I was becoming more and more aware of how delicate the balance between life and death is. The next morning there was some kind of ceremony near the stupa in the courtyard (for lack of a better word) that was the center- point of Namche Bazaar. This ceremony was attended by many monks and the residents of the village; some were involved in a slow, rhythmic dance wearing garish costumes and masks depicting various Tibetan gods and demons. There was chanting and with the blaring Tibetan horns that were totally discordant, the entire ceremony was eerie. A bit uneasy by what we saw of that ceremony, we set out that morning for the slow, day-long climb above the tree line up to the Tengboche Monastery. Now walking was no longer automatic. The higher we went, the more we had to think about the slow, measured steps we would take. There were to be no more descents until we were on our way back from our destination, Kala Patar, a hill on the shoulder on the top of the world, located 1500 feet above the 17,000-foot-high Everest base camp, from which we could get amazing pictures of the top of the world…… (continued)
After several hours of climbing down, down, down the glacier under the full moon, we saw in the distance, a few miles further on, the yak-herders hut. Miracle upon miracle, there was smoke curling up from the small, open window that served as the chimney in the Himalayas. Soon, our long ordeal drawing to a close, I was knocking on the door and calling to those inside to give us shelter for the short remainder of the night. An elderly Tibetan opened the door and graciously motioned us to enter.
The one-room hut was about 15 feet square and about 5 feet high. There was a fire in one corner and a tiny, square, one-foot-wide window that allowed the smoke to go out of the building, and the heavy timber door. We bowed before the elderly man and his female companion and shedding our heavy backpacks, we sat down heavily against the wall, utterly exhausted—so grateful to be out of the terrible cold, so grateful for everything.
Then, out of nowhere came the most blood-curdling, roaring screech that I have ever heard in my life. My blood turned into ice and my heart stopped. We threw ourselves up against the far wall and grabbed for our knives, terrified as to what would surely come next. Immediately upon hearing the terrible, roaring screech, the old man dove for the door and threw down the heavy beam to lock the door, then ran to close the small window. The old lady jumped into his arms and cried, “Yeti, yeti, yeti!” We were white with dread. The next instant the door banged and shuddered under the repeated roaring screech and hammering of the Yeti trying to get in. We had our knives drawn in front of us, backs against the wall, waiting for the most horrible death that could be imagined to confront us. The four of us looked at each other in dread, not daring to breathe, waiting for the Yeti to burst through the door…….(continued)
Chapter 10 – Back Home to India – Benares/Sarnath
When one arrives in Benares, one has arrived in the holiest city in all of India. This ancient city along the Ganges played a major role in my awakening. I can remember the train arriving from Darjeeling in the mid-afternoon. Even though I was familiar with the teeming crowds of India, I wasn’t prepared for the mass of humanity that I experienced in Benares. Walking away from the train station, I was swept along in a flowing river composed of many thousands of people and their rickshaws.
Everything about this place was intense. The energy was electric, the smells so different and conflicting—the ever-present sound of Benares included everything from harmonies to jarring cacophony, from the tinkle of the bells worn on the heads of the elephants that paraded through the tiny streets, carrying the wedding party of the moment, to the chanting of numberless Sadhus that were omnipresent in this place. It was an assault on the senses. The closer I got to the Ganges, the atmosphere became even more charged. (I soon learned that was where the moving river of humanity was headed.) There were more people here in these small, crowded streets than I have experienced anywhere else in India. On both sides of the streets, interspaced with all kinds of shops, were endless temples to every God and Goddess imaginable.
As I made my way further down the street toward the Ganges, I began to notice a more-than-normal amount of people who were ill—some were very ill. Soon these ill people were standing in long lines on both sides of the streets, all seemed to be waiting for something or someone. Everywhere there were the ubiquitous Indian sadhus, priests and holy men, in every type of attire. Everywhere there were beggars. Everywhere there was endless sound, endless smells, endless activity. It was growing dark now but unlike the Himalayas there was no letup in the teeming energy of this place…….(continued)
………I progressed further along this immensely crowded, very narrow street lined with ill people on both sides. Some were sitting down in line, some talking to others, some just silent, staring ahead almost as in a trance. Further along the street the ill people were lying down, and then, as I made my way further along this intensely crowded and narrow street, it became obvious that these people who were lying down in line at this point in the road were now dead.
Other people were painting the faces, hands and feet of the new corpses with strange religious symbols. The dream-like quality of this place (and not a pleasant dream at that)—the sights, sounds and smells, the activity, the electricity—just seemed to be getting more intense with every moment……. (continued)
Chapter 13 – A Different Direction
This narrative moves in a different direction now. I have sought to paint a picture of a boy’s yearning to understand the world in which he lived—an unfolding drive so powerful that it crushed all complacency and the creature comforts of friends and home, which drove him to the far corners of the earth on a search for the thread of meaning to it all. I have tried to touch here the striving, the acceleration, the continued unfolding, and the incomprehensible wonder of the dawning remembrance of the Divine I Am Presence within that was experienced throughout the quest and since.
I touched briefly on how terribly difficult it was to come back to the West and to figure out how to live the life I now knew—as a stranger in a strange land. “A fish out of water” is apropos, but then, as I was learning through my immersion in the Teachings of the Great Masters, the entire point of the exercise of incarnation was and is to become the Teachings. To transmute the patina of the consciousness of the Fall from Grace; to balance the layers of karma from hundreds of lifetimes that obscure the radiance, the very memory, and therefore the empowerment of the Divine I Am within.
I described how the solution to this conundrum for me was to find a piece of land on which I could build a consecrated life, a veritable shelter from the storm of Samsara. I have always been a very strong physical person, I knew that I would need strong and constant reminders of the glory of God all about me if I was going to be able to pull it off and not get sucked back into the depths of materiality. The creation of this homestead afforded that lifeline. After all, aside from the beauty of nature all around me, everywhere I now look, there is something that has been built with sacred mantras inscribed upon it. So even if I forget, I’m reminded by the charge of Peace of that record.
We have moved quickly through the years of professional aviation and of the initial engineering and building of the homestead— all of which came forth in the atmosphere described earlier in the framework of my daily meditations and ongoing immersion in the Teachings of the Great Masters. By now the reader has seen how the disparate pieces and dreams of such a life have come together in the physical plane, producing an environment conducive to the gradual unfolding detailed herein……. (continued)
The Masters in America
I flew a small plane down to Washington arriving at the hotel just in time for the first evening session. Walking into the Hilton conference area that was the venue for the seminar, I was aware of a definite current of spiritual electricity in the air. There were a few hundred people there, listening to a woman speak about the Masters, she was impassioned and articulate and I quickly got caught up in the flow of what she was expressing. The teachings were simple and at the same time profound. It was the same type of material that I have become familiar with over the past decades in various books describing the work of the Great Masters of the Brotherhood of Light. There was a palpable excitement in the air and the energy kept building and building. I recall, at one point in this opening session, wondering why they had different color spotlights on her while she was speaking, and then I realized that it wasn’t colored spotlights at all, but aspects of her aura that I was seeing.
I had never seen auras before like this—but I was seeing this now and it was fascinating. The energy kept going higher and higher, the Messenger (as she was referred to), was now talking about Mother Mary and her discourse was interspersed with the most beautiful songs and these wonderful, powerful, rhythmic Calls that everyone in the auditorium would join in with. Obviously, unlike me, most of the people attending were very familiar with what was happening here.
I was in new territory now—this was outside of my experience. I was aware of the energy and the charge of Light building and thought to myself that something has to give. The pressure of the Light and Love kept welling up inside me. It was intense and getting more so. I was about thirty feet from the platform where the Messenger was located when she finished her discourse and some very beautiful music started playing. There was a solemn expectancy in the air. Through the playing of this beautiful music, the energy in the room shifted dramatically, became actually more intense….. (continued)