As far back as I can remember I have never had a sense of separation from the spiritual force I now chose to call God…. From the age of about 6 to 12 in places of quiet and desolation this feeling of `oneness’ often passed to a state of `listening’. I mean by `listening’ that I was suddenly alerted to something that was going to happen. What followed was a feeling of tremendous exaltation in which time stood still.
“I heard nothing, yet it was as if I were surrounded by a golden light and as if I only had to reach out my hand to touch God himself who was surrounding me with his compassion,”
“I think from my childhood I have always had the feeling that the true reality is not to be found in the world as the average person sees it. There seems to be a constant force at work from the inside trying to push its way to the surface of consciousness. The mind is continually trying to create a symbol sufficiently comprehensive to contain it, but it always ends in failure. There are moments of pure joy with a heightened awareness of one’s surroundings, as if a great truth had been passed across.
About ten years later I began to pray for my children’s safety, and this became a habit which I have never lost, and often the answer to such a prayer is spectacular. Now I’ve evolved a belief which is identical with Beatrice Webb’s: `I find it best to live as if the soul of man were in communion with a superhuman force which makes for righteousness’ May I add that since this belief grew in me I feel as if I had grown, as if my mind had stretched to take in the vast universe and be part of it.
I find it difficult to describe my experience, only to say that it seems to be outside of me and enormous and yet at the same time I am part of it, everything is. It is purely personal and helps me to live and love others. It is difficult to describe, but in some way because of this feeling I feel united to all people, to all living things. Of recent years the feeling has become so strong that I am now training to become a social worker because I find that I must help people: in some way I feel their unhappiness as my own.
It seemed to me that, in some way, I was extending into my surroundings and was becoming one with them. At the same time I felt a sense of lightness, exhilaration and power as if I was beginning to understand the true meaning of the whole Universe.
When I was on holiday, aged about 17, I glanced down and watched an ant striving to drag a bit of twig through a patch of sun an a wall in the graveyard of a Greek church, while chanting came from within the white building. The feeling aroused in me was quite unanticipated, welling up from some great depth, and essentially timeless. The concentration of simplicity and innocence was intensely of some vital present. I’ve had similar experiences on buses, suddenly watching people and being aware how right everything essentially is.
I have a growing sense of reality, and personal identity, which comes from being united to something more powerful than myself, something that is helping me to be what I want to be.
I was in Scotland and had been to the cubicle in my hut and was walking back to the Mess when suddenly a light shone on the wall of the passage with a cross clearly displayed, as though intense sunlight was coming through a window with the cross casting an intense shadow. There was in fact no window or source of light to account for what I saw. The curious factor to me was that although in those days I was nervous of the dark and very impressionable, I had the curious feeling of comfort and a deep feeling of intense emotion.
The phenomenon invariably occurs out of doors, more often than not when I am alone, though it has occurred when I have been in company with others. It is generally prefaced by a general feeling of `gladness to be alive’. I am never aware of how long this feeling persists but after a period I m conscious of an awakening of my senses. Everything becomes suddenly more clearly defined, sights, sounds and smells take on a whole new meaning. I become aware of the goodness of everything. Then, as though a light were switched off, everything becomes still, and I actually feel as though I were part of the scene around me.
In 1948 I had an out-of-the-body experience spontaneously, in broad daylight, for no obvious reason, and being in perfect health. (At the time I did not know that such experiences were fairly frequent and well documented.) The experience itself was unsensational – for a while I contemplated my body, which was lying on a divan, from under the ceiling; I felt splendidly liberated, light and only a little surprised, and it became amply clear that the `I’ was not the body on the divan but the consciousness which contemplated it. `I’ returned into my body with the greatest reluctance – I knew I had to return – and since then I have been quite unable to fear physical death.
At the age of twelve, I was quite ill in bed, I found myself floating up from my body into a ray of sunshine. At the time I thought consciously that I was dying, and I remember that the feeling of liberation was joyful beyond anything I have ever known. I didn’t die, of course, but returned quite gently to my body. From that time on I’ve never been afraid of death.