Kneeling in a vast hemispherical hall, I am surrounded by what seem to me must be the souls of all who have ever lived and of all those who ever will live, stretching away beyond my vision to the left and to the right. My view of them fades out around a circular barrier, head-high, that isolates the central point of the floor, from which a standard rises, tipped by a flame. By this sole light, all that I can see is the shapes of heads – no eyes – because all of us are focused on the flame. If I close one eye, I can see the flame dancing in place; with both eyes open, I can see that it has roundness and sways fitfully – now in one direction, now in another. When I open my third eye, I become aware that there are actually three flames in the same place, each dancing independently, yet all somehow producing the same illumination; and now I recognize that the one that I saw with just my two normal eyes has a persistent core that is a blood-red heart.
All about me I hear a dense, low murmuring, and I get the impression that almost everyone is whispering to neighbors, fearfully wondering where we are and why we are here. Suddenly, I am inspired to speak to my neighbors: “Let us be quiet and try to listen to the flame! Perhaps, if we are still, some message will come to us in the silence and lift our fears from us, and we will come to know who the flame is and what purpose has brought us here. Have we somehow been called? Will the flame demonstrate that it has the authority to claim our attention, perhaps even our allegiance?”
I sense that this idea travels outward right and left from me, like a wave, with silence spreading in its wake, and I try to open myself to whatever message the flame might have for us. A feeling arises within me, as if some internal door has been opened and my central essence has walked through that door and sat down in an inner room, alert yet still, quietly receptive. I no longer wonder what I will hear, if anything; I exist merely in a state of openness to a presence or experience.
I start to know that a wordless message is gradually filling my soul, a message of unconditional acceptance and complete reassurance, and it is my true name. Every image – the hall, the throng, the flame, the inner room – fades away, and I simply am and am loved. I don’t even feel grateful – just totally validated, accepted, and embraced.
Eventually, although I have experienced no duration, this period without thought succumbs to my human impatience, and I begin to transform the message of the flame, inadequately, into my native language: “I will come to you in the silence, and you will hear my voice; rest in me, your source of hope and being, and I will be your light. You did not have light, so you could not find your way to me, no matter how hopefully you stumbled about, no matter how much you longed to see me, and no matter how often I called you by your true name; but, by waiting trustingly, you welcomed my coming to you. I am the light, and I have brought myself to you. Struggle no more, but rest now in me.”
Montgomery County, Maryland