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How We Found Out Our Story Was Not Our Story If every life is a story, then each story

also has a theme that flows through it and gives it meaning. For us, that theme was our determination to know God. From the time we were both quite young, we were convinced that God should be accessible to each of us. Without much effort we can all collect second-hand information that tells us what other people have said about God, but what we wanted was the understanding that comes from a first-hand experience. Since we were raised in a fundamentalist Christian church that consumed our lives, one might assume that such a desire would be encouraged, but that was not the case. Instead, we were taught that above all else, God wanted mute obedience. When we met in church at eleven and thirteen, we quickly realized we had found a kindred spirit and a partner in our search for the Divine. Since we didnt feel that we had experienced God through Bible study, we hoped a life of service might lead us to our goal. We married young, and spent the majority of the first 21 years of our marriage in religious service. Although serving others was the most fulfilling aspect of our lives, we continued to feel as if there was a huge chasm between us and God. We continually prayed, but felt like it was a one-way conversation. Eventually our nonstop religious activity led to financial difficulties, exhaustion, family disharmony, depression and severe illness. When we attempted to slow our pace, we were met with the angry opposition of church leaders and members who had come to expect our regular contributions. Through the years we had become more disillusioned with the churchs teachings. We rarely mentioned our doubts, but when we did, our faith was questioned. We finally decided to take our concerns to the highest levels of church leadership, but our questions were treated as an assault on the church. Although we knew in advance the effects would be far reaching, we submitted a letter of resignation. The church promptly responded with a public denunciation and excommunication. We were immediately rejected by all our lifelong friends and family. And, since we had been so completely enmeshed in the church, we felt like aliens in a world we didnt understand. As difficult as this was, the experience was offset by the opportunity to continue our search for God in complete freedom.

We began visiting a wide variety of churches and investigated a massive array of religious material. We also decided to reinvent ourselves by studying for new careers at university. We enjoyed our secular and spiritual investigations for several years, but they eventually became frustrating. Again we had gathered a lot of information, but none of it brought us any closer to knowing God first-hand. Through the years Lee had been dealing with lupus and multiple sclerosis, sometimes more successfully than others. Eventually a worsening spinal defect put her in a wheel chair. At the same time, the chronic depression that had plagued Steven through the years was aggravated by a severe case of sleep apnea. We were feeling extremely discouraged when suddenly things changed. Lee had surgery that got her back on her feet, and shortly afterward, she was offered a fellowship and teaching position at a university in another state. We were delighted with the change in our circumstances, but our excitement was extremely short lived as work, educational, financial, family and health problems all escalated dramatically within a very short time after settling in our new location. We felt that every aspect of our lives was a dismal failure, especially our desire to know God. We felt so depressed and angry; we seriously doubted whether the Divine even existed. In a state of deep despair, we made a suicide pact. Our prayers had always been sincere, but our last prayer was significantly different. Instead of praying for help, we decided to ask only to know if the Divine existed. Then we would simply listen and accept any message we received. We would wait one week; if listening didnt work any better than the other methods we had tried, we would swallow the prescription drugs we had hoarded. The next day at the university bookstore, a book fell off a shelf onto our feet, and then another. This phenomenon couldnt be explained in any rational way, so we felt compelled to read the open pages. The words stunned us as they appeared to have been written expressly for us. Whenever we tell this story, most people want to run out and get those magic books, but those books were magical only in the sense that they showed us what we personally needed to see. It was even more important that we were now willing to see it.

Truth is changeless, but it does come perfectly packaged to appeal to each of us. We like to think of it as an art show with a specific theme. Each artist must stick to the theme, but theyre free to interpret it any way they would like. Although each work expresses the same theme, no two look alike. Each work appeals to a different viewer, yet each of them is equally correct. That day at the university bookstore changed everything. We realized God wasnt holding out on us, we were holding out on God. Although our desire to know the Divine was genuine, we had approached the entire project from our own frame of reference. The brain loves the status quo and sees any idea that challenges it as a threat. As a result, our brains had automatically filtered everything through the fundamentalist Christian thought system we were familiar with and rejected everything else. We had unwittingly expected to receive affirmations of our own perceptions. This attitude had firmly closed our minds to information the Divine had been trying to show us for years. Our deep despair had finally allowed us to surrender every personal preference, attachment, aversion, preconceived notion and religious belief that had clouded our minds. Without realizing it, we had followed Rumis advice to Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you, just to you and for you. From then on, we found the Divine everywhere. We would regularly see or hear something that would set off an intuitive flash. We began to call these flashes thought bundles because new concepts came to us fully formed, without words. Although the concepts were usually complex, they were instantly understood. Suddenly it dawned on us that we were experiencing God as we had always wanted to, personally and directly. What we heard and saw was so spectacular; our minds could hardly contain it. We knew what Jesus meant when he said, I shall give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart. The Taoist master Chuang Tzu explained this phenomenon by telling the story of a frog that lived in a well. Since the well provided what the frog needed, he gave no thought to what might be outside his small kingdom. One day another frog came by and peered over the edge. When the visiting frog tried to tell the well frog about the ocean where he lived, the well frog just laughed and assumed the ocean frog

must be crazy. Like the well frog, we believe that this world is reality. When we let go of the thinking that keeps us in our little well, we discover that Reality is beyond our wildest imagination, something that words cant possibly describe. If the well frog hopped out of his tiny world to visit the ocean, not only would he have to adjust his view of reality, he would also have to understand himself in a completely different way. When we realized that God and the universe are not what we imagined they were, we also discovered that we couldnt possibly be the body and the personality we had thought we were. We realized our attachment to the story of Lee and Steven had blinded us to our true identity. From the moment each of us is born, were conditioned to believe we are these bodies and personalities. Our story is so ingrained; its like wallpaper that goes unnoticed until it starts to peel. Even though were telling you the story of this lifetime, we know its not our genuine story, just as the story of your lifetime is not your real story. Our senses tell us that we live in a universe made up of separate forms, but we were shown a universe of interconnected, indivisible oneness. We had been taught that God is a separate entity that exists outside the universe. But we were shown that the universe and the Divine are synonymous and inseparable. We learned about a God that could hate, but we were shown that the Divine is nothing but love. Of course were far from the first to experience God directly. As early as 6000 BC the writers of the Upanishads described Divine oneness by saying, In the beginning was only Being, one without a second. Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos and entered into everything in it. There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are thatyou are that. Realizing were not these bodies brought up many questions about our true Self. Why had we forgotten who we actually are, and how did we become so thoroughly convinced we are these bodies? The answers came to us in the usual direct way, and as they did, we finally understood why this world operates as it does. Most importantly, we understood that all fear is based on nothing more than our misperception of the universe and our place in it. We wanted to share this information, but we couldnt figure out how to put it in words. We werent able to transfer it in thought bundles and language couldnt express what we had seen.

Soon two sources of information came to us that gave us the language we needed to express what we had seen. The first source came to us in a roundabout way. While we were at university, one of Lees professors had repeatedly tried to get her to read a book on quantum physics. She had rejected the idea, but years later, the name of the book kept popping into her head like a song you just cant get rid of. When we bought the book, it was exactly what we needed. Quantum physics gave us a language we could use to explain the things we had seen. This makes sense when we know the Divine and the universe are synonymous. Thomas Aquinas realized the connection when he said, a mistake about nature results in a mistake about God. Einstein also observed this connection saying, Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. The second source was the gnostic gospels. Gnosis is a Greek word that means knowing through direct experience. We were very surprised to discover that a large number of Jesus earliest followers had shared our belief that the Divine must be experienced directly. The gospel accounts they wrote described a Jesus who was very different from the Jesus presented in the Bible. They also explained why weve forgotten our true identities and think were bodies, and they described how we can all remember our true Self. Experiencing the Divine directly corrected the misperceptions that had made us miserable. Our fears were replaced with peace, joy and the awareness that our security had always been assured. This experience is open to everyone. Were not special in any way, and there are no secrets, formulas, methods or mysteries involved. The true Self already knows everything we need to know. Rather than learning something more, what we really need to do is unlearn everything thats creating a barrier to that knowledge. The answers to all our questions are readily available to each of us whenever were willing to release our preconceived notions and listen. As our understanding expanded, many of the problems wed dealt with for so long either improved or disappeared. But we considered this a mere side benefit that resulted from reaching our goal. We had just finished writing our first book in 2005 when we had the opportunity to test everything we now knew. Very

unexpectedly, Steven experienced a massive brain hemorrhage followed by emergency surgery. Although he was given only a 5% chance to survive, he obviously did. He was paralyzed for several weeks but he was eventually able to regain mobility and relearn the many skills he had lost. Several other challenging problems also occurred during Stevens recovery, but we were extremely happy to find that peace and fearlessness were our constant companions. Now we identify with the words Jesus spoke in the opening verses of The Gospel of Thomas, Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be astonished, and having been astonished, one will reign, and having reigned, one will rest. We kept seeking until we found, and we were certainly astonished. Understanding allows us to reign in fearlessness over the chaos of this world and rest in complete security. The Divine can be known and wants to be known. As we said earlier, were not special in any way, each of us already knows everything we need to know, and when were willing, well see it. The gnostic writing Dialogue of the Savior tells each of us to Enlighten your mindLight the lamp within youKnock on yourself as upon a door and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. Its impossible for any of us to fail in our desire to know the Divine. As Rumi explains, There is a rope of light between your heart and Source that nothing can weaken or break, and it is always in His hands.