I have been blessed to travel to many of the world’s most sacred sites, places that foster sublime spiritual experiences. But one stands out above them all.
With cool stone floors and soaring architecture, the holy structures of the Vatican, Thailand’s Wat Pho and the Egyptian pyramids lifted my spirits.
Meanwhile, the great holy cities of Jerusalem, Rome and Cuzco, full of truth seekers, inspired my devotion. As did the ancient structures, with more ephemeral presences, of Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu and Chaco Canyon.
The great peaks of the Himalayas, the vermillion mesas of Sedona, the haunting formations of Stonehenge and the expanses of the Kenya’s Serengeti made my soul soar. In their beauty, my heart beat beyond my body, as though my pulse were the pulse of the entire Cosmos.
Each adventure held the sparkly essence of the Divine now. But, my most spiritual experience took place in…Drum roll please…
No, it’s not some exotic Asian temple. Instead, Jal is a tiny town on the southern border of New Mexico. Surrounded by barren land punctured with oil wells, it’s so unremarkable that en route there I blinked and missed it. It has a library and senior center, a dilapidated main street and a sculpture of cowboys herding cattle over plains.
One night, while staying in a motel there, I lay between scratchy sheets as the thump and whine of my neighbor’s TV filtered through the wall. To calm myself, I began chanting my mantra, a spiritually charged word given to me by my teacher. I lay there for hours with an enchilada roiling in my stomach and the TV buzzing in my ears.
At dawn, my attention drew to such a focus that suddenly I moved into a state of soaring bliss and had my first experience with the light body. Described by many mystics, Christ said of it: “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
But don’t book a ticket to Jal just yet. In truth, Jal is within. The Egyptian pyramids, Jerusalem and the Himalayas—reside within each of us. You need not traverse the globe to find this most sublime place. It is your soul, and that is the “place” which we are all realizing.
There are many key milestones along the road to our final destination, which is the merging of our self with God. One of them is what the mystics call the third eye. Though many view this “place” as a visionary state similar to the one I experienced in Jal, it is really much more practical than that.
I can best explain this “destination” as a travel writer. Here is the roadmap:
1. Create When I enter a travel experience to write about it, it usually seems sublime. It has a glowing beauty that entices me to enter its folds. For example, when I wrote about a cooking school in Provence, France, the site at first appeared flawless. Set at Blanche Fleur, a 15th-century estate on an island in the Sorgue River, it had pale limestone walls and vineyards draping the hillsides beyond.
Most experiences we first desire have such sparkling qualities. We may create a new love, home, car or job. The Divine has devised a perfect means of drawing us into their enticing promise and we willingly, with our whole hearts, enter, hoping that the creation will balm the pain and loneliness that rest at the center of our beings.
2. Sustain So I’m in ever-beautiful Provence with an amazing chef as well as adventurous companions, who are apprehensive about how they will succeed at cooking French food. One retired police officer even admits, “I’d rather face an armed robber than make a tart.”
And so it goes, as we sustain our creation, we face our fears. We stretch beyond our usual limits. For me, in Provence, I get food poisoning the night before I arrive, and so while we cook, feast and sample wine, I am in pain from head to toe. And yet, with my assignment, I have to stay involved. I slice and dice, visit farmers’ markets and interview the chef. Always the Divine orchestrates experiences so there appears to be no escape. You want out of your marriage, but you share kids. You hate your job, but need money.
In order to get through, I call on the Divine and enjoy my Provence cooking school. We visit a chocolatier, taste famous red wine, and simmer the fabled fish soup of the region, bourride.
3. Destroy For me, the enticement of all that food artistry wears off very quickly, so by the time I finish writing the article, my desire is exhausted. Others might attend a dozen cooking schools before the thrill exhausts. In either case, one day the experience no longer holds that sparkly promise of when it was new.
Now, when I think of cooking school, I see the whole of it—the richness and the pain. So the experience has settled into a third place, which is neutral, neither good nor bad. I could go to another cooking school, or not. Thus its power over me is destroyed.
“Truth is what the opposites have in common,” says my spiritual teacher, Sri Gary Olsen. This means that the middle place is the place of truth, and the third eye is that place we all one day realize in which we see everything from this vantage point. We know that neither the promise nor the heartache is real. We see that all is an illusion of opposites, and so we rise above those poles into a sense of our truer selves, which is beyond the material world.
My glimpse of the light body was just a beginning of a spiritual experience. It was like a travel video of what the destination looks like. My job now is to journey there, to experience the rich flavor and the stomach pain along the road. One day, good and bad, happy and sad, day and night, none of them will bind me here to the material plane. Then I can float up and live from that radiant, love-filled viewpoint.
From there, I will strike out on my next great quest on the journey to realizing my Godly self.
We do this create-sustain-destroy dance through all the chakras of the body, redirecting our energies involving survival, procreation, nourishment, love and creativity. Then we start again in the astral plane, redirecting our subtler power in the same way, and then onward into the higher realms. It is a thrilling adventure that is eternal. And though today my stomach or heart may ache, when I view the foreverness, I know that we are each the greatest of adventurers exploring the cosmos and beyond—all inside the landscape of our sacred selves.
If you’d like to read my article and see photographs of the Provence cooking school, head to https://www.lesleysking.com/pdfs/LaVieClaire_Fall05.pdf.