Episode 3

       The brochure for the Lighted Way metaphysical center listed classes with interesting-sounding names: astrology, Egyptian tarot, numerology, and psychosynthesis. I was familiar with astrology, but not with the other subjects.
       Muriel, the center's director, had recommended that I start with the Wednesday evening psychosynthesis class. From its name, the psychosynthesis class sounded like it was going to be a program of psychological development. I hoped this would not be the case. Having had plenty of psychology, I wanted to learn about esoteric philosophy and wanted to experience more of the psychic power Muriel seemed to possess.
       I decided to follow her suggestion and attend this class. I was also eager to ask Muriel who the "masters" were, those spirit guides with whom she claimed to communicate.
       Wednesday evening finally arrived. I fought my way through the last of the Los Angeles rush-hour traffic and arrived at the Lighted Way a little late. The class had already started. A group of ten or twelve people sat in a circle in the room where the psychic fair had been held.
       As I slipped into a vacant seat and scanned the circle of people around me, I noticed that the members of the class ranged in age from about twenty-five to fifty. Some of the people looked as if they were young professionals; others may have been secretaries, blue-collar workers, and housewives.
       Muriel, wearing jeans and a brightly colored blouse, was talking. "The New Age is going to be a golden age of love, light, and joy," she said. "This new age of Aquarius has actually already started. Powerful new spiritual energies are now radiating upon the planet. Mankind will evolve their consciousness much more quickly as these cosmic energies play upon each individual person.
       I wanted to ask Muriel for clarification about these energies, but I was afraid to interrupt. Everyone in the circle had their eyes glued on her like an audience gazing at a singer on center stage.
       She continued her talk. "The consciousness of the ordinary person is known as the personality, or lower self. It is concerned with survival and seeking pleasure. It worries about getting money in order to live. It concerns itself with finding friends in order to thwart loneliness and feel secure in a social setting. It aspires to fulfill the instinct to be with a mate and have a family. It involves itself with scholastic and  intellectual attainments in order to understand our civilization and function more successfully in the world."
       I wanted to get back to these cosmic energies.
       "Muriel," I interrupted, raising my hand. "You mentioned cosmic energies. Could you say a little more about where they come from? Are you talking about Xrays, that sort of thing?"
       "No, Will," she replied, "these energies are of a much higher vibration than what are found in the world of science. The cosmic energies come from outer space and originate in various star groups, mainly the constellations of astrology. They are divine energies that ultimately come from God. The constellations channel, or direct, these energies to planet Earth. The energies are subtle, but very powerful. They stimulate a person's spiritual nature and affect his physiological system through the chakras."
       "Muriel, what are chakras?" someone else in the class asked.
       Muriel looked a little impatient. I was relieved to discover that I was not the only ignorant one in the class.
       "Chakras are the body's own energy 'nerve' centers," she explained. "Five of the centers are located on the spinal column, starting with the base chakra at the bottom. Four other chakra centers are positioned at specific locations up the spine. The sixth chakra is an important one. It is called the 'third-eye center' and is located in your forehead."
       Muriel touched the front of her forehead with her hand to show its location. "The seventh center is at the top of your head. It is called the crown chakra."
       I wanted to know how the cosmic energies affect these chakras. Luckily, Muriel started to explain it before I had the chance to ask the question. "The New Age aspirant can absorb the cosmic energies during meditation.  They will facilitate the development of his consciousness. As the energies are absorbed by the chakras, subtle changes occur in the person's physiology and brain cells. The chakras become more powerful, and the person develops greater awareness and strength of character. New skills and qualities develop that would not be evident if the person was functioning only at his personality level."
       Interesting, I thought. So this is why Eastern gurus do so much meditation. Maybe they really do absorb transformative cosmic energy, which makes them wise. Hmmmm, perhaps I will give meditation a try.
       Muriel then talked about the necessity of surrendering one's life to God and  of seeking to transcend the personality. Its goals needed to be replaced with the desire to seek God, and the will of the personality needed to be given over to the will of God.
       "God speaks to us through our higher self," she continued. "Unless we develop our higher self and become sensitive to it, we can not contact God and become at one with his divine consciousness. The higher self is always inside of us, but in most people, it lies dormant in the subconscious mind. To contact this consciousness, which is wiser than normal intellect, you need to build a bridge from your lower self to your higher self. You will build this bridge to God, symbolized by the rainbow, by coming to these classes and practicing your daily meditation."
       I had been thinking about the voice of God speaking to people and wondered what it sounded like. Finally I asked Muriel about it.
       "Don't search for a voice that you can hear audibly with your ears," she explained. "It isn't like that. The higher self speaks through your mind as you attune to it. Now at other times, God can speak to us through his emissaries, the masters. But again, the masters will use the vehicle of your higher self in order to communicate with you. They speak through your conscience. With practice, you will be able to identify what comes from the higher realms."
       I wondered who these masters were that Muriel kept mentioning.
       "The masters may tell us to do things that we ourselves do not want to do," she continued. "The old self, the ego, the personality, rebels. It resists the will of God. You then have to trust that God knows best what should be done. The little will of the personality has to bend to the greater will of God if you are to progress on the path of consciousness development. Only in obedience can you attain Christ-consciousness, that happy union with God."
       Muriel described how the masters often instructed her to do things that required a lot of faith and trust. I sensed that the masters were some kind of spirit guides who could communicate with Muriel. She illustrated her point with a practical example.
       "Master Koot Hoomi told me to build this attic room and spiral stairway," Muriel said, as she pointed to the stairway at the side of the room. I looked up and noticed that someone had built a beautiful and ornate stairway leading up to a balcony.
       "I was not informed why I should build this room," she continued. "I knew it was going to cost a lot of money to have it custom-built just as the master wanted it. I decided to go ahead in faith and do just as I was told, knowing that God had a specific reason for me to carry out this project."
       I glanced up at the stairway again, then looked back at Muriel.
       "God has always blessed me. Many times I didn't know why he wanted me to do certain things, but I went ahead in faith and did them anyway. I later found out that God knew what he was doing, and it all worked out just wonderfully in the end. You have to learn to trust the voice of God as it is revealed to you in your meditation."
       Muriel paused as if pondering what to say next. Should I ask her another question? I thought. I may as well try to learn something while I am here, I concluded.
       "Muriel, why are we in a new age?"
       "If you look up at the sky at night, you can see the astrological constellations in the heavens, such as Taurus the bull or Aries the ram. If you were to observe these constellations over a year's time, you would find that their positions moved a tiny amount in relation to the background of the universe behind them. Over a period of 2,000 years, the constellations will have moved in the sky by an amount equal to the arc of one of the twelve constellations, like a clock hand moving from three o'clock to four o'clock, say."
       I had always wanted to understand astrology. Perhaps I will take a class in it, I thought to myself as Muriel was explaining.
       "Over the last 2,000 years, we have been in the sign of Pisces, and the age has been called the Piscean Age. Recently, we have just moved into the sign of Aquarius, and that is why we are in a new age, called the age of Aquarius. Each age brings in new cosmic energies that produce a change of consciousness on the planet.
       "It is time to do our meditation," Muriel announced abruptly.
       She walked over to the altar table at the front of the room and lighted two candles and some incense. I noticed that standing at the back of the altar were several framed photographs of people, a couple of whom wore turbans. I wondered if those were possibly pictures of the masters.
       The lights in the room were turned very low. Muriel returned to her seat. Everyone in the group closed their eyes and held their hands in their laps. I followed their example.
       Muriel spoke. "Sit comfortably with the spine erect. Relax and be at peace in the presence of God."
       In the total silence that followed, I started to feel uneasy. I hoped I was not being lured into some sort of cult religion. The dark room and deathly silence gave me the creeps, and I almost sensed a kind of evil atmosphere to the place and thought that maybe this place was not for me in the long term. I consoled myself by reasoning I was just not used to this kind of thing, and the group was probably quite harmless. Concluding that I could always stop coming to the classes if things became too suspicious, I felt more relaxed.
       After a few moments of silence, Muriel spoke again.
       "Image a ray or beam of golden light coming from the sun. Image it shining upon you. Slowly take in a deep breath. Now visualize the light cascading out of the top of your head like a shower of lights. This ray of light is to open the outer three petals of the heart chakra."(1)

(1) The heart chakra is claimed by New Agers to be an important energy "nerve" center located near the spine at the level of the heart. In Hinduism it is symbolically pictured as a twelve-petaled lotus flower.

       I had difficulty holding the image of the beam of light. My imagination kept wandering away to other things.
       Muriel continued to give step-by-step instructions for breathing, for visualizing light, and for reciting short invocations. We finally imagined ourselves seated under a tree in a beautiful garden called the garden of the soul. These techniques were to balance the mind, body, and emotions and to open the person to the higher self and receive communication from the masters.
       After about five minutes of silent meditation, Muriel spoke again.
       "We invite the presence and the energy of our beloved master, Djwhal Khul."
       "Djwhal Khul?" Who is he? I wondered.
       "Beloved Djwhal Khul, we are honored with your presence tonight. We admire your qualities of dedication and love. We ask you to come into our group and speak through us and share with us some of your wisdom. We are thankful that we can channel you tonight."
       Then Muriel began to speak in a manner somewhat different from her normal speech.
       "It pleases me to be here tonight," she said. "There has been an increase in the amount of light in this group over the last few weeks. We in the Hierarchy are very happy at the dedication of the members of this light circle. However, there is still much work to be done."
       It seemed that Muriel had been speaking in the first person of the spirit guide Djwhal Khul, as if vocalizing the thoughts that he supposedly wanted to communicate to the group.
       I continued to listen with interest but wondered whether Muriel was perhaps just speaking from her own subconscious mind. Maybe this Djwhal Khul was pure imagination creating a more dramatic effect.
       "Do not use your minds too much by trying to think out the great mysteries of the divine realms," Muriel channeled. "It is better for you to just meditate in the light and allow the process of divine intuition and illumination to bring you knowledge and wisdom. Too much use of the intellect by a disciple will be a hindrance to his development of higher consciousness. Go directly to the source of all knowledge and wisdom. Listen to the voice of God."
       Muriel paused for a moment. I noticed that when she had been channeling Djwhal Khul, her sentence structure was much more refined than her conventional mode of speech. Otherwise, she more or less appeared to be speaking with her regular voice.
       She then asked Djwhal Khul for some comments. "Beloved master. Tonight we want to talk about love. We wonder if you have anything to say to us about this beautiful quality."
       After a short period of silence, Muriel began to channel Djwhal Khul again.
       "Never forget that love is the greatest force in the universe. Love everything around you. Take into your heart the words of my fellow brother, the Master Jesus. When he walked the earth 2,000 years ago, he said that we should love so much that we even love our enemies."
       Interesting, I thought. It seems like Djwhal Khul is claiming that Jesus Christ is one of his brothers. I wondered if he was implying that Jesus is one of the masters.
       "As the energies of the New Age become more firmly grounded upon the planet," Muriel continued, "you will begin to find that all people at all levels of life will express more brotherly love. This will truly be a golden age of love; it will be the kingdom of heaven manifested on earth, just as the beloved Jesus promised. Do your meditation each day. Live a life of harmlessness and love. I bid you farewell."
       A few moments of silence followed.
       Muriel then made an announcement. "We are going to go around the light circle in sequence and channel Master Jesus."
       I felt uneasy. This thing was getting too much like religion.
       "I want you to relax," she instructed. "When it is your turn to channel, just verbalize any thoughts that you have in your mind. Think of it as being a process of channeling the thoughts of your higher self as you sit in meditation. We will begin with Larry and go round the circle clockwise."
       I wondered what would happen when it came to my turn. Never having done this kind of thing before, I was afraid that I might become possessed, or, worse still, that perhaps nothing would happen and I wouldn't know what to say. I didn't want to be embarrassed in front of the group. Perhaps you have been in that kind of situation.
       Muriel began the group channeling with a short invocation.
       "We see Larry surrounded by golden light and aligned to his higher self," she said. "In the energy of our beloved Master Jesus, we ask that Larry bring forth a message of truth for us."
       Larry channeled a message in the same manner that Muriel had done previously, but the message was a little shorter.
       Muriel went around the group to each member in sequence. She repeated the invocation and then allowed each person to channel a message, purportedly coming from Master Jesus.
       As one of the group members was channeling a message, all of a sudden the inside of my forehead lighted up with bright light: It was as if someone had switched on an electric light bulb inside the front of my brain.
       At first I thought that perhaps someone had switched on the room light. I opened my eyes and saw only the darkness of the room. I closed my eyes again. The bright light was still there. I was definitely not imagining a light. It seemed as if a tangible physiological change had taken place in my brain cells whereby suddenly the front part of my brain had been lighted up. I felt a pleasant feeling of relaxation and peace and wondered whether this mystical effect was the result of cosmic energy beaming upon my third-eye chakra supposedly located in the forehead.
       Soon my turn to channel came. Muriel repeated the invocation.  I sat quietly for a few moments and wondered what I was supposed to say. I felt hesitant to speak in case I said the wrong thing. In my mind, all I could think were the words "love one another."
       I said, "Love one another."
       Muriel immediately passed on to the next person. Eventually all the group had a turn at channeling.
       After a few moments of silence, Muriel spoke again. "This week in your meditations at home I want you to go into your soul's garden and sit under a lilac-colored tree of strength. Meditating under it will give you strength and develop your will."
       There was another pause.
       Muriel continued with instructions on visualizing the light from her center being spread to the entire United States, to the President and government officials in Washington, D.C., to the United Nations organization, and finally spreading around the entire planet Earth.
       "Let us say three Om's," announced Muriel. In unison, the group chanted three long sounds, taking a deep breath each time, "Ooooooooommmmmmmmmmm."
       The noise was quite loud. I wondered whether anyone in the commercial office next door could hear it and what they thought. After the final Om, the entire group followed Muriel's lead and recited a prayer, which was referred to as The Great Invocation. I was not familiar with its words and remained silent.
       As I drove home from class, my mind was full of questions. Who are these masters, such as Djwhal Khul, whom we were supposedly channeling? Is Jesus Christ really still alive somewhere? How many masters are there? Are they humans, like living gurus, or are they spirit beings like ghosts, existing without any physical body? In what way were the masters related to God? Was Jesus really one of a group of masters?
       The fact that Muriel talked about God and Jesus Christ made me uneasy. I did not want to be drawn into a religious cult. I rationalized that the masters were probably all in Muriel's imagination and, in reality, she was just speaking from the subconscious depths of her own mind. But I couldn't explain the mysterious light that had suddenly shone inside my brain. What was it? I certainly wasn't imagining it. Where did it come from? How would it affect me? Curiosity about the light helped me to decide to attend class the following week.
       Wednesday evening finally arrived. The format of the class was very similar to the previous week's session. Amazingly, at one point during the group meditation, the front of my brain again suddenly lighted up as if a light bulb had been switched on inside my head. This time Muriel was invoking the presence and energy of a master called Lord Maitreya. She referred to him as being "the Christ." I had always assumed that Jesus was Christ, but apparently Maitreya had this title also, whatever it was supposed to mean.
       When it was my turn to channel, Muriel repeated the invocation: "We see Will in a sphere of golden Christ light. He is aligned to his higher self to bring forth a message of wisdom from Lord Maitreya."
       "The energies of the New Age are now much stronger on the planet," I said hesitantly. "The changes taking place in civilization will speed up. This will cause some turmoil and negative side effects, but in the end, the golden age will be ushered in, and mankind will be blessed."
       This time I noticed I was able to channel a longer message than I had the previous week. I started out with just a single idea in my mind. I didn't know where the idea came from, but as I began to speak, the words just seemed to flow out of me. Soon, however, the words stopped.
       After everyone in the circle had a turn at channeling, Muriel announced, "We are now going to split into groups of three and do triad channeling. Take turns to channel each other psychic messages that come from your higher self."
       The people in the light circle split up into groups of three. Muriel introduced me to two women with whom I was to work. One of the women, Rosie, was a pretty and likable woman in her mid-twenties. We sat on the carpeted floor in a triangle formation. It was agreed that Rosie would start first and channel me a personal message. We closed our eyes as if in meditation. The other woman started to speak. "We see Rosie in the center of a triangle of golden light," she said. "In this Christ(2) light Rosie is aligned to her higher self and is able to bring forth a message of wisdom for Will."
       I opened my eyes and relaxed as Rosie meditated for a few moments.
       When she started to speak, the words came very slowly and with difficulty, as if she were straining in order to psychically perceive a message entering her mind. "You have recently been thinking about a certain woman," said Rosie. "She has had a very strong influence in your life in the past. Her name is Jenny ... Jenny J ... Jenny Jame. .. ."
       I was absolutely stunned. What Rosie had said was astoundingly accurate. I had known a woman named Jenny James when I lived back in England. Jenny was a psychologist and personal friend who had been a radical influence in my life.

(2) In New Age terminology, "Christ light" denotes a cosmic energy, believed to be one of seven fundamental spiritual energies (called "rays") that permeate the universe. It is known as the "second ray energy and supposedly gives the qualities of love and wisdom when it operates. New Agers believe that Jesus Christ utilized "Christ energy" during his Palestinian mission, but they do not regard Jesus as being the source of the energy.

       Rosie continued. "She has long black hair. Your relationship with her was not a romance; it was platonic, but very powerful nonetheless. An intense and special relationship."
       I was utterly amazed. Everything Rosie had said was correct. I had not had any contact with Jenny for about three years, but I still regarded her as a special influence in my life. She was a New Ager and had introduced me to astrology.
       I eagerly waited for Rosie to speak more.
       Finally she said, "You will not have contact with her again."
       With excitement I told Rosie and the other woman that everything channeled had been 100 percent accurate.
       At the end of the class, I went over to the hospitality area and spoke to Rosie. "Rosie, have you been involved in this kind of channeling activity for a long time?"
       "No, not at all," she replied. "In fact this is the first class that I have attended."
       I was surprised by her answer. I had automatically assumed that she must have been an experienced channeler. "You mean you have never done channeling before coming to this class tonight?" I asked.
       "That's right. This is the first time."
       "Wow," I exclaimed. "You have incredible psychic ability."
       I hurried over to the bookstore area. I wanted to get some books about this new body of knowledge to which I had been exposed. I wanted to learn more about this power and to know who the masters were, those spirit intelligences who were supposedly intimately involved with the Lighted Way. I made a purchase and left the center with a couple of books tucked under my arm. I was excited about what had happened.
       My initial skepticism about the channeling techniques had now been thoroughly demolished. For me, Rosie's channeling was absolute proof that in the state of meditation it was possible to reach into areas of consciousness and knowledge normally inaccessible when using one's regular thinking processes. I was even more impressed with Rosie's channeling than I had been with Muriel's psychic abilities. When I had the psychic reading with Muriel, she had not attempted to speak out the actual name of a person with whom I was acquainted. Further, Rosie had perfectly described my friend Jenny's appearance and character. That was astounding!
       If I had been thinking about Jenny James at the time of Rosie's channeling, I could have concluded that Rosie simply had been able to read my mind, a feat commendable in itself. However, I had not been thinking about Jenny that evening. I concluded that whatever the "higher self" was, it had definite access to the cosmic realms of hidden knowledge.
       The lighting up of my brain area during the meditation and the channeling with Rosie made me much more willing to accept the knowledge and ideas promoted in the metaphysics books I had purchased. I was determined to study the books thoroughly and become fully familiar with the tenets of this exciting world of New Age metaphysics.


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