I dedicate this site to the memory of my stepdaughter, Heather, who was murdered on Thanksgiving 2017. I want to chronicle some of the events and spiritual insights that happened. It is my hope that this may help some other souls who stumble upon this site. Maybe some good can come off this after all (read more here).  ~ May 2018

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Awakening – a twenty year retrospective of a glimpse of enlightenment

“Ah, so you’ve come to here”  is how  a Hopi Indian might say when he meets another.  I really like that little phrase (which I got from James Dillet Freeman), because it summarizes so well the process of living, that life is an incredible adventure and a journey.  It also acknowledges that we, you and I, were brought together at this time/space/probability, possibly for a reason.

I started writing this post on January 28, 2019.  Today it is twenty years to the day since I experienced an awakening.  No, wait, that is not right, because the “I” became one with everything, so I can’t say “I had an awakening!” Hmmm, maybe “All that is had an awakening” would be better?   Oh, that does not sound right either.  But you see, that is the point, the mystery.  

And so it seems like a good time as any for a bit of retrospection and to tell a story.   I invite you come along on a journey.  

And so I’ve come to here.   Or maybe it should be “and so we’ve come to here.”

Leading to Awakening

This story starts almost 25 years ago. Like many a story, there is beginning brought on by personal tragedy, with my father falling seriously ill in 1995.   For the first time, an impending death was palpable to me. My career at the time kept me far away, yet I yearned to be closer to him.  As a result, I researched all kinds of metaphysical ideas, such as near-death and out-of-body experiences, psychic experiences, Carl Jung’s ideas on the subconscious and the collective unconsciousness, and so on.   

For what it was worth, I started to pay closer attention to a lot of quite insights, hunches, and subtle feelings that my analytical mind would have otherwise ignored.  In other words, I got in touch with my instincts, and began to trust my intuitions. A trait that has served me well…

…and that soon led to a remembrance. In July 1996 (personal note:  it was Friday, July 19 1996, the day of the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics), while standing on a beach in southwest Florida looking at an oncoming storm, it all seemed so familiar:  I had the distinct feeling that I have done this before, “been here before” – not exactly here, but a place like that, looking over a stormy ocean.  But it could not have been in this lifetime, fore I had never done this before.  Yet it all felt so familiar and real!  

Where did this come from, that feeling, if not from a memory in this current life?  The only way to explain it to me was a past life – today I would say a parallel life.  The details of that past life are not important –although, if true,  worth a story or two of its own. Nor if I actually had this life, although there are too many strange “coincidences.”

What is important, though, is that I started to learn about, and believe in, reincarnation; but not just learn, I actually went looking for that past life.

In 1998 there was a natural break at work, and I took a sabbatical that lead me and my wife on an epic journey, let’s call it a quest, from Alaska to South America to Europe and back. In retrospect, that trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I am so thankful for it. Everyone should do such a quest –but, you may not know it, you are doing one right now.  

As far as a former life, I found but small traces, if any.

Awakening

But then, on the last night of that grand journey, and I really mean that very last night, it happened.  That was Thursday, January 29, 1999.

We just had gotten back, and had to camp out one last evening, this time under the familiar warm skies of Florida.  No more worries about car breakdowns, or of getting us back home safely. I had done it, reached my goal. There was nothing else to do, to achieve.  All was completed.  I could have died a happy man, and in a way I did that night, at least a part of me.

That night, as I went to sleep, I went over the whole trip, holding it all in a thankful mind. And then it happened:  it all merged.  Pick a term, Cosmic unity, a glimpse of enlightenment, moksha, Samadhi, awakening, whatever, it is all and none of these….  It was, as if I was looking at the atoms in my body, and each such atom contained every other atom in the universe -- and at the same time, any such “other” atom would contain “myself.”  No more structure of “me” vs ‘that’, but the boundary of me dissolved and merged with all.  It was an experience of being God or at least God-like, to be All-That-Is.  I can’t say “I was God” because there was no more clear “I“.  Nor can I say, “I” had this experience.  A better way of saying would be “I/You/We/Us/All-That-Is” had this experience.  Yet, “I” was in there somewhere.  I was everything, and everything was I.  The part was the whole and the whole was the part, like a hologram, a complete merging of all that is.

And so I came to there:  an experience that changed my life. And every day since, some twenty years now, has been about making sense of it.

Others, like a Buddhist monk or Hindu Yogi, spent a lifetime seeking and preparing for such an experience.  Here it just happened.  But maybe that was a blessing and a curse.  To me, without having any previous context, it came out of left field.  I knew it was profound, but I also did not know what to make of it, leaving me wondering and confused about what just happened.  What was all that, about feeling like God?  Is that not sacrilegious?  Can you even say that in our western society? And what about souls and reincarnation – did I not just spend several months chasing all that?  This experience went way beyond all that.  

So I started to research.  Soon thereafter (OK, maybe another year) I found a snippet about “The net of Indra,” an ancient Buddhist metaphor describing a net of jewels in the heavens where each jewels is placed just so that it reflects every other jewel in the net.  I recognized it right away:  here is a metaphor for the experience “I/We/All-That-Is” had.  I also was relieved, and elated, to learn that other people, in fact many, have had this experience, going back eons in time.  If we believe the Buddhist premise, then anybody, including you, can have this experience.

Interestingly, I read about the Net of Indra in the most unlikely of sources, in a book about quantum physics;  a bridge was cast between ancient wisdom and modern science.  And so, over the last twenty years, I must have read hundreds of books, trying to illuminate this awakening from many angles, from eastern thought to western philosophy, to quantum physics and mysticism.  And I am still learning.  Certainly, I do not claim to have all the answers.

After Awakening: what did I do with that insight gained some twenty years ago? And where is this going?

Let me address the big question first: did it make me a “better” person?  You know, I am not sure.  Today, I am just as flawed an individual as I was back then -- as we all are. And isn’t that what it means to be human?  It certainly did not have any immediate impact; I certainly did not become a holy man sitting on top of a mountain.  But then again, and I go back here to something I said above, it was different for me than, say, for a Buddhist monk in a monastery, because he (or she) would have been prepared and could have subsequently reveled in the glow of the experience within a protective environment created for just that moment.  For me, that very next day, life would start again, literally a new life:  After just having returned  from a long trip, we had to start from scratch, go find a place to live, meet old friends, get back to work, resume our “normal lives,” and so on.  Hardly an environment to expand on a glimpse of enlightenment.  There really was no time to let it all sink in, and build on it.

If anything, and I hate to admit this, there was a time of slight ego inflation.  Which is almost paradoxical, because the experience itself is egoless.  But you see, soon thereafter the ego creeps back in and says something like “Hey, >I< have been enlightened, so >I< must be holier, or better, than thou…“.   This is actually a common reaction for anybody having such an experience, and you have to work to get past it.  And that is where time really helped.  Or maybe it is just getting older and being humbled by the experience of living, for life has got a way of holding up a mirror to the face of the fool –the fool being me.  Today, I really don’t see myself as “better” because “I had an experience.”  Maye you noticed in this text that I struggle with saying “I awakened” because I know it is not true; it was All-that-Is that awakened.   So what is such a being to do?  I think, in due course, to help others on their path, for ultimately, I am them and they are me, and it is only through my own actions that I can change my/our world, one tiny step at a time. The trick is to do all this without preaching a way as the way, for “truth is a pathless land.”

Along those lines, about ten years back I did write a couple of books about the meaning of life and self-actualization and fun stuff like that.  For, if “at the bottom of it all” we are truly merged with everything, then what is the point of it all?  How can we, as human beings, find a purpose for our lives?  I wrote these books with the intent of helping others.  I think, and judging from the feedback, the products came out pretty OK; alas, I suck at marketing and so it never took off…

And I learned to trust my intuition, to listen to those quite thoughts.  Sadly, many lessons did not come easy or pleasant: Hard deaths followed, father, mother, the closest of aunts … With each, strange and inexplicable things happened afterwards that proved to me, without a doubt, that my loved ones were still here, in other form, trying to reach out.  There were many such occurrences. Many were quite subtle, and I would have missed them without my intuition.  At other times the hair on my back stood up; but when others would pull back in horror, I relished it, for in my mind, it was at this moment that I was led by a loved one.  

But then, life happened. My son was born, we moved…  and I fell into a spiritual slumber.  I read only occasionally, for crying babies and toddlers and teens have a way to pull you away from it all…

Tragedy: Awakening again, from a spiritual slumber

I was slumbering for some years, until…  tragedy struck again in the worst of ways. As mentioned in other parts, on November 23 2017 (Thanksgiving) my stepdaughter Heather was murdered.  Pray, dear reader,  that you never have to go through this. Every death of a loved one is hard, but a death of a child is an abyss without a bottom, because it goes against the normal order of things. Dealing with murder is yet another dark layer on top of that. Of all the deaths I witnessed, that one is the one we, my wife and me, struggle with the most.

For what it’s worth, and that is but a smitten, and oh if I could only give it back in return for undoing that fateful day, it ripped me out of my slumber with a vengeance. 

In the days and weeks that followed, again, many strange and inexplicable things happened (of which I do plan to write more). This time even stronger than before: It proved to me that Heather, a free spirit in life, is now a “free spirit” and is still here with us.

And it woke me up. It made me want to dig in my heals and go to work again on that spiritual path, this time for good, for somebody had paid the ultimate price.  During the months that followed, I picked up my spiritual research with the deepest and intense fervor.   

Since then, my views about the “afterlife” (for lack of a better and more correct word) have expanded drastically.  A more advanced view of “reincarnation” has emerged, of souls and oversouls, of probabilities and parallel lives, a different view of time and universes,  which  are all but layers and layers on top of the All-That-Is glimpsed in that moment of awakening some twenty years hence.

And so I tell you, dear reader:  We do continue on after death.   There is another side to us, beyond the physical.  There are dimensions and depths to us that our human mind cannot fathom; however, if we can shine a light on it, from many angles, we can once more become aware: we are divine beings that are all one without another.  We just forgot it when we took that plunge into the physical.

That is what I want to speak of.

And so, I’ve come to here.  And so have you, and us.  I invite you to join me on this journey.

Namaste — I bow to you and the Divine in you.
~Hanns

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