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THE MEANING OF LIFE
To gather experience over countless lifetimes.

We Realize who and what we really are, and come to behave like That.

Ignorance of That and associated bad habits result in mistakes and consequential suffering.

The accumulation of experience eventually brings us to realize that we are not separate from others, which forms habitual devotion to the ultimate welfare of all.
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Nestled in the valley between two huge mountain ranges just inside the British Columbia border is the town of Golden, where the mighty Columbia River and the wild and rocky Kicking Horse river meet. 

In June 1967, where the Kicking Horse river enters the edge of town along the steep wall of a rocky cliff there was a public campground, and close to that campground were the houses of my friend and I. 

I was 11 years old that year and it was the year of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, or Expo 67 as we called it.  The fair was held in Montreal, Canada, in honor of that being Canada’s centennial year.  It was considered to be the most successful World’s Fare of the 20th Century with over 50 million visitors and 62 nations participating, and nearly everyone in the country wished to go. 

Every year, the moon’s most powerful solar day of the year is the day that the sun enters the moon’s own sign, the sign of Cancer.  That day, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year and has been considered for millennia a day of union between the God and Goddess (sun and moon, as the former enters  the latter’s own sign). In 1967, the evening of June 21 was a particularly powerful day for the moon, as it was not only the evening of the summer solstice, but it was also the evening of the Full Moon.

That night, the moon was particularly bright, so much so, that it actually woke up my riend, shining through the window onto his face as he slept.  Creeping out of bed in the silvery moon light, he went to his window to marvel at its brilliance.  He was accustomed to seeing the river just outside his back yard, and the rocky cliff off to his right, but this evening, everything looked anew in the wash of the moonlight. As he gazed at the fantastic light shining off the cliff, something moving caught his eye.  What would someone be doing, climbing that dangerous cliff so late at night?  His interest was peaked.

At first, catching sight of long flowing golden hair, he thought this might be a woman, but in astonishment, he realized that the person climbing was a totally naked man!  Fascinated, he watched the man reach a small outcrop part way up the cliff, stand straight up, face the moon, and lift his arms toward it as if in prayer.  Not 10 minutes passed, when to the further amazement of my friend, from all directions there emerged a cloud of what seemed in the moonlight, and from the distance, what he thought to be silver butterflies, surrounding the man as he stood there with his arms outstretched.  As if that scene weren’t strange enough, lit up so brightly by the powerful light of the moon that night, the silvery creatures actually gathered around close to the man, and all landed upon him, completely covering his body in one shimmering silvery mass.  It was as if the man with the golden hair had turned to silver before my friend’s very eyes. 

A few minutes passed and the man let his arms down.  The silvery creatures dispersed, and the naked man climbed back down the cliff, disappearing into the campground.  My friend didn’t sleep at all that night, with the wonderment of what he’d seen.  What kind of man was this?  What on earth was he doing there on that cliff!  Why had the silver butterflies covered him like that? 

As soon as his parents woke, which was about 7 am that Thursday morning, my friend rushed his breakfast and bolted out the door.  Racing to the campground on his bicycle to see if he could find this amazing man, he spotted the man, who had his hair tied in a pony-tail.  He was with a couple of older women, beside a Volkswagen van. He noticed that they were breaking camp, and would be leaving any minute.  Immediately he turned and rode as fast as he could back to my house, where he began pounding on the door, punching the door-bell, and yelling out my name in frantic desperation.

Groggily I came to the door to see what the fuss was all about.  He was talking so fast I couldn’t understand at first, and didn’t understand why I should change out of my pajamas and go bicycle riding with him so very early in the morning.  In what must have seemed like forever to him, the story of what he had seen came out, and after asking him to repeat that several times, I finally understood the urgency.  There was some kind of “super-human” man in the campground, and I should come and watch immediately because he was about to leave at any second.

Rushing into my clothes and onto my bicycle, we sped to the campground, looking for the Volkswagen van.  To our terrible disappointment, it was gone.  I didn’t know why, but the disappointment was all-consuming.  Over the following weeks I fell into a deep depression, spending much of my time huddled inside a cardboard box in the basement.  My mother and a doctor tried to snap me out of it, but all I could think of was: I had my chance to meet an angel in the flesh, someone like no other being on the planet, and I was unworthy, so I missed my chance.  The sense of loss and unworthiness was overwhelming, far more than I could take.  All I could do was sit in that cardboard box and cry for days and days.

 

Five years passed.

Now I was 16 years old and my younger brother and I had moved to Toronto to stay with our Mother after the divorce, and after our abusive father had once again brutally beaten me, and finally threatened to kill me.  We were listening to our mother in her drunken stupor, explaining that she was moving to Yellowknife with her 17 year-old boyfriend where he would make a lot of money working in mines there, and she would work as a bar maid.  “The rent’s paid to the end of the month, boys.  Have a nice life,” she said.  I had been living in parking garages before our mother had eventually sent for us to join her.  Now, it seemed, it was back to the streets for me, and this time also for my bother.

I burst from the apartment crying, the sense of abandonment cutting so deep into me that I couldn’t think.  I wandered the unfamiliar streets of downtown Toronto tortured with thoughts of uncertainty and fear, of hostility and helplessness.  What was I going to do?  How would I find food?  Where would I live?

I was standing on Bloor Street, under the shelter of a construction walk-way, where the Manu-Life Center was under construction at the time, sheltered from the soft rain that fell that evening.  I stopped, bewildered and lost, as the feelings of betrayal, exposure, and terrible uncertainty washed over my head, far deeper than I could handle.  Tears streaming down my face, I closed my eyes, and shouted in my mind as loud as I could, “If there’s any kind of god or goddess or super-human or alien or anything out there listening, please, please, I need help.  I don’t know what to do.”  I tried desperately to imagine any kind of superior being that might exist, concentrating and focusing my mind as strongly as I could.   I thought of that angel-like “super-human” I had only just missed the chance to meet, five years ago, in Golden B.C.

Immediately, I was bathed from nowhere, within an infinite ocean of rose-pink colored light.  With the pervading light, came an absolute certainty that I was not alone, and that I would be taken care of, that everything was going to be OK.  This particular color of light, I would learn in years to come, was none other than the signature of a particular being, who would be as close to me as my own mind for the rest of my life.

Suddenly calmed and comforted, and even excited with the secret knowledge that everything was going to be taken care of, I opened my eyes, wiped away my tears, and sought our mother’s apartment where I had 2 weeks to live.

 

A year passed.

My brother and I were living on Yonge Street, sometimes sleeping in the storage room of a “head shop” (a shop that sold drug paraphernalia), sometimes sleeping in parks, or parking garages.  We had become accustomed to stealing food, visiting parties where we might find something to eat, and some way to get stoned for free, and sometimes skipping out on restaurants (where the waiters knew us, pitied us, and served us knowing that we had no money). 

We badly needed and wanted jobs, but couldn’t find anything.  It takes money to make money: the only clothes I had were the ones I wore and those wouldn’t get washed for months on end, and we couldn’t pay for transportation to possible job prospects.  My brother was too young to work yet anyway. 

To pass the time, I sometimes spent the day at the University of Toronto, downtown campus, where there was a computer terminal room that was open to the public.  I had been hanging out there after school before our mother left, and had school friends who did the same.  We were trying to learn to be main-frame hackers.  I was trying to learn what I could about computers from my friends, and the older “hackers” that hung around that place.  Eventually I managed to get a part time job there changing the type-writer ribbons in card punch machines.

One day my brother was on his way from hanging out with other street kids, to the Sanford Fleming building at the University, where he was to meet me on pay day.  We were going to celebrate payday by doing to McDonald’s for dinner.  He took the same short-cut he usually did, through a long alley way just off Yonge Street.  He passed the same garages, the same garbage cans, the same fences as he always did, but for some reason, today, he had an impulse to climb into the narrow space between a telephone pole and a fence, and then look up along the height of the telephone pole.  To his surprise, tacked there on the telephone pole, far above the height of his reach, was a bright blue flyer.   “Why on earth would someone deliberately tack a flyer where it could not normally be seen?”   The only way it could possibly be seen would be to wedge oneself between the pole and the fence and look up, exactly as my brother had inexplicably done.  The poster was too high for him to read or reach, so he left, wondering about it, and then forgot about it.

A few weeks later my brother was taking that same route again, when he remembered the curious flyer.  Again he wedged himself between that telephone pole and the fence, and looked.  Still there.  Of course, why would it not, since it was too high to reach, and completely out of sight anyway.

This time, on meeting me, my brother pleaded with me to come with him, because he wanted to show me something strange, though he wouldn’t tell me what.  He thought I wouldn’t come if I knew it was just to look at some dumb flyer tacked to a telephone pole.  He told me to wedge myself against the fence as he had done, and then he said “Ok, now look up.”  At first I was looking at the sky, not knowing what he meant, and then I too noticed the weird bright blue poster deliberately tacked out of sight, and out of reach.  “Why would someone do that?” I asked my brother.  “How would I know?  I was wondering the same thing,” he replied.

I asked my brother to crouch and provide a foot-hold, so that I could climb on top of the fence.  Doing so, I was now within reach of the poster, which I tore off the pole.  Jumping down, we stared at it with excited curiosity at first, and then with a sense of weird apprehension.  The poster said that it was from a group of people that meet each full moon specifically to help people in need.  It said that those in need could receive this help either by writing to a post office box, or by concentrating on the image of the full moon, any month on the night of the full moon.  We both wondered why an advertisement like this would be deliberately placed where it couldn’t be seen.  But then, we had seen it, hadn’t we?  On the night of the next full moon, my brother and I sat quietly, focusing on the image of the full moon, praying in our minds that he might find a job.

The next afternoon, my brother was rushing up Yonge street, just about past Charles Ave., on his way for a meeting with friends, for which he was already late.  As he passed what was then the flagship Coles bookstore, a man with a European accent ran out the front door of the bookstore and literally grabbed my brother by the arm.  The man apologized, and begged my brother for a few moments of his time.  He explained to my brother that they’d just gotten a huge shipment of books and were opening the next day, and needed help stocking the shelves.  The man said he would pay handsomely for my brother’s time, if he would only please help.

Ok., just hours ago, we were doing as this weird poster said: praying to the full moon, asking that my brother find a job. Now someone had literally grabbed him by the arm, and begged him to take a job.  Wow. 

That couple of hours helping out turned into a steady part-time job for my brother.  One of his co-workers at that store was Geoffrey, a young man from New York City.  My brother used to see Geoffrey taking his lunch hour and coffee breaks by sitting alone in a small room in the basement, “meditating” as he put it (though my brother often saw him nod off into a snore).  One day Geoffrey was talking to an older man about an occult subject that my brother and I happened to be reading about the very night before.  My brother surprised them both by chiming in on the conversation, holding his own with knowledge of the particular topic.  More conversations like this eventually led to Geoffrey’s explaining that he belonged to a meditation group, and that my brother and I would be welcome to try to meet his teacher, if we would write a statement about why we wanted to join such a group and learn meditation.  After so writing, our applications would be reviewed by existing members, and a decision would be made as to whether or not we would be invited.  That night we wrote, and my brother gave our letters to Geoffrey and a week later we were invited to meet his teacher.  It was explained to us that while the group normally did not accept members of such a young age, we were accepted because we had specifically mentioned in our desire to learn meditation, the desire to help others in need.

It was Monday (moon-day) October 29, 1973 when we were to meet the “Teacher” and other members of the meditation group.  My brother and I walked fast through the brisk Autumn evening in a state of high excitement.  Wow.  We were actually going to meet Geoffrey’s teacher, and these other people who were into mysticism and meditation.  Then I realized we were a couple of kids, completely alone in the dark, going where no-one else knew, to a meeting that no-one else knew about, to meet a bunch of complete strangers who were bound together by some kind of mystical practice.  I realized that we could completely disappear that night, and no-one would know what happened.  Fear mixed with excitement in the quick pace through the night, but the fear and the doubt were not strong enough to deter me.  I mentioned my doubts to my brother, but he said, “Nooo… Geoffrey would never hurt anybody, nor have anything to do with anyone who would hurt anybody!” I decided to take his word for it and forget about my doubts.

Arriving at the address written on the scrap of paper that we had, we found ourselves standing in front of a two-story apartment building in Cabbage-town (a trendy part of downtown Toronto), just a few doors from the dilapidated Winchester Hotel on Parliament street, and nearly across from an old church that had been converted into a community center.  The building was recessed farther from the street than other buildings, probably because it was older than the rest.  It was dark back there, and we could see no lights in any of the windows.  Cautiously, we approached the huge front door.  The wooden stairs creaked loudly as we climbed to the second floor where we stood at the door to apartment number 3.  We could hear voices inside.  We waited a couple of minutes, shyness and worry overtaking us.  I really didn’t feel confident in meeting a bunch of strangers, but reached out and knocked anyway.  A few seconds later, we could hear the floor creaking as someone approached the door, and then took what seemed forever unlocking what seemed like ten different locks, latches, and chains before opening the door.  To our relief, there stood Geoffrey, his frizzy hair tied back, wearing a meditation robe, and grinning at us with outstretched hand.   He motioned us in, and introduced us to his Teacher, who was now right in front of us.

I looked at him with shocked wonder, noting his side-burns and long golden hair, tied in a neat pony-tail.  He was smiling at us with such warmth, I thought I saw a radiant aura of gold emanating from him that enveloped and pervaded the whole room.  Looking around the room, I saw a group of people I didn’t know, but my brother recognized one of them to be the older man who often visited the book store to talk to Geoffrey and my brother about mysticism.  (His name is Richard.)  That night Geoffrey’s teacher offered to become our Teacher too, on condition that we never partake of street drugs again.  (I immediately agreed, but my brother would not.  My brother and I parted ways not long after.) 

That was the first night of the happiest, most wondrous and magical part of my life.  Sometimes I’d visit our Teacher when he was helping Richard in his bookstore, and often he would say, “Have you eaten today? Because we were just about to get some dinner and would like you to join us.”  (Years later I learned that they had actually usually just finished eating, and said this to me so that they could buy me some food, without embarrassing me about the charity.)   I met with our Teacher, Geoffrey, Richard and others, learning to meditate, and taking long walks in the night discussing and learning philosophy and mysticism from our Teacher.  We learned to meet as a group on the nights of the full moon, to direct prayers to anyone in need who might also be concentrating on the image of the full moon. 

Yes.  This was the very same meditation group mentioned in the weird poster!  It was Geoffrey himself who had deliberately tacked that poster out of reach and out of sight, so that only the person with the right “karma” might see it.  Years later I learned later that my Teacher performs a special practice by himself, where he tries to find people in distress, and bathes them in an ocean of rose-pink light as part of beginning to take care of them, and assure them that everything will be OK.

So here’s how it all fell into place: 

  • I had been in terrible distress, praying for help from anyone or anything that might be listening.
  • I was answered and comforted with an ocean of rose-pink light
  • We took down a poster that had been deliberately hidden for the right person
  • We did as it said, to focus on the full moon when a group would be offering help, praying for a job for my brother
  • The next day my brother was literally grabbed by the arm with offer of a job, and ended up meeting the very same guy who hid the poster, a member of the group that had been offering help through the full moon, the night before (though we didn’t know this at the time)
  • That eventually led to our meeting and joining that very same group
  • The teacher of this group happened to be the same being who helped with the rose-pink light in the first place (though I didn’t know this until several years later)

Twelve years passed.

One evening in 1985, upon learning that I’d lived in Golden B.C. as a child, our Teacher was prompted to telling us a story about a really strange thing that happened to him in that very town.  He said that he was travelling with two older women in a Volkswagen van, headed across the country to attend Expo 67.  They had stopped for the night at this campground in Golden, by a river, near a rocky cliff.  He explained that he had waited until the women were asleep, swam in the river climbed onto the shore (not the cliff as my friend thought he saw) to do some prayers, when suddenly, out of nowhere, these gold and pink moths (not silver butterflies as my friend thought he saw) appeared and covered his whole body!  Very weird experience, he said.

Socked, I said, Oh my gosh!  That was you?!!!!  18 years ago?  You were naked when you did that!  He asked how I knew that, blushing quite red.  I explained what my friend had seen.  He said he really didn’t think anyone would have been watching, so late at night, and so far out in what he thought was wilderness.

So, to add to the chain of events above, is the fact that the very same “super-human” being I had been so close to meeting as a child, actually came to my aid when I was in such desperate need, and even became my life-long Teacher, and guided me through life from then as a new father might.

While I will never shake the terrible feeling of unworthiness I have always felt, even when crying in that cardboard box as a child, to him I owe all of the best parts of my life:

  • Most importantly, whatever training in Life, meditation and mysticism that I’ve been able to take to heart, being such a poor and unworthy recipient of such.
  • The “luck” and encouragement and direction that helped me climb from the streets into a successful life-long career, without formal education.
  • The “chance” meeting of my beautiful and loving wife (who is also one of his students).  Together with our son, of whom I’m so proud, I have a family more wonderful than I ever dreamed I would.
  • The most spectacular adventures of my life, in Egypt and traveling with him through Nepal and India

I wish I could someday make him proud to be my Teacher, as I am proud to be his student.  Some day.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

 

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2 Responses to “The Butterflies”

  • Dear Mer Amun
    I have also experieced this wonderful rose pink light.

    Last night I meditated under the light of the full-moon. I prayed that all the confusion in my mind would cease and release the weight of my tortured soul. I have locked my self away from the interactions of the world in the hope that less confusion from the outside world could still the mad rantings of my mind which have been there all my life.

    I dream of Ancient Egypt, magic that transforms, and undying truth and love that will last forever, unconditionally. I believe in my God, the Heavenly Father and the many miracles in the universe of celestial and Mother Earth. I have no idea why I am on this planet earth. The confusion of past and future continually steal my magic in the moment… The only time that I exprience the Divine Moment is when I work. I am a creator and a dreamer feeling worthless.

    This day is Good Friday. As I think of Christ on this day and feel his journey on earth, dragging his cross to Mt. Calvary, my heart is so very heavy, the tears will not stop, and the vision of last night’s full moon keeps filtering through the images of His suffering and the crowds that witnessed and did nothing.

    Your message today leaves me with a sense of something loving and tender.
    I cannot help think of what fear, responsibility and sometimes holpelessness you must have experienced as a young boy, and motherless as well… so to speak. Your bravery and strength as well as faith, humbles me and delivers great perspective to my moment here this ‘Good’ Friday.
    Thankyou, Sincerly for posting your personal message of hope today.
    ~*LOVE ALWAYS*~

  • lindamarie says:

    Thank-you for sharing something so vital to your heart.

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