When the red-head woman placed the book in my lap and placed my hand firmly upon it, I disappeared. No mountains, no glacier, no woman. I was stripped of anything that I had even considered to be real. I remember shedding all god-ideas, all values, all beliefs, all moral prescripts, all definitions of time, space and the dimensions of mind and sense. All in an instant without contemplation.
The culmination of this dissolution was a spontaneous flash of the one reality which was the real reality, not the endlessly stupid stories of thousands of millions of lives. No, not those. For an eternal instant I was on . . . And now I must resort to metaphor, for no other instrument of language, including light symbols, can carry you to where these words want you to go.
I was on a ladder. I had no physical substance but I was holding onto a single rung as a point of view. This was a simple realization, small at first but significant. I was somewhere without being who I am as the writer of these words. A wave passed through me with the urgent intent that I move. Suddenly finding myself in a situation in which movement had no meaning, I extended my awareness beyond the single rung and realized, again a relatively insignificant realization, that this rung belonged to a ladder and that there was indeed the possibility of motion. But to where? The impulse to motion had, as far as I could tell, no direction built into it. So, I probed the ladder. I looked up and saw rungs above me gradually disappearing into infinity. I looked down and saw rungs below me gradually disappearing into infinity. There was nothing else there. The next realization shook me to my core and threatened to burst through whatever matrix of my existence constituted my being. The ladder extended both directions into infinity. Now all of what I am saying here occurred in mind-measured time as an infinitesimally small instant. It would not be possible to manage even that early realization were it to extend beyond the minutest of moments. Were I to follow the impulse of the energy to climb the ladder up, I would have no sense of destination or ending; were I to follow the impulse of the energy to climb the ladder down, I would have no sense of destination or ending.
If there were an up and down in this reality to describe, (and there wasn’t), this would be one dimension of infinity, and I, now the that of that, would have barely touched the untouchable. But that was only the beginning, for as I fought the urge to move, terrified as I was, another dimensional ladder opened up in front of me and behind me, as infinite as the other infinite direction, extending out from the ladder to which I clung, and this other ladder included the rung that represented in an indefinable way my place, the particularity of that within the infinite dimensions of that. Then from other dimensions infinite ladders suddenly appeared, all pulsing with a life energy that was the intelligence of that reality, and all of which were joined to the single rung of the one ladder which was by itself a devastating reality to know even before the infinite dimensions of infinity appeared. And still the persistent urge to move.
Insanity might have been the only response to such an exposure of my human sensibility to a reality it could obviously not sustain beyond the naked, instantaneous realizations. Perhaps I have gone insane and the presence of these words represent an insane desire to destroy other peoples’ minds. But there was something else there which had an entirely different quality about it and assuaged the madness that was, nevertheless, still an actuality. I wasn’t just a wanderer between stars that had suddenly disappeared—to use another metaphor—I was a point of view, a point of view that drew me into its reality for reasons known only to it. I cannot refer to it as anything other than it because I had no frame of reference. What I felt, though, was that whatever this being was, it was sharing its reality with me as an act of creating—I can find no other word for it—an intimacy. I felt this intimacy during instances (oh, how irrelevant time is!) in which a veil seemed to shelter me from the maddening infinitude. The realization of infinite dimensions of infinity was a profound mystery of pure existence, but beyond this mystery was an even deeper one of a living being who had this insanity as its natural domain of existence. In order for it to know me and for me to know it, it had to create for me instances of relief from the madness in order that I might know of its existence and its desire to reveal itself to me. Here was not the mystery of human life and the universe of science or religion; it the mystery of what it was like to be God.
If at this point, you want to call me insane and throw this book across the room, please do so. Go to a movie, make love, beat your dog! I don’t care. It is all in your hands now. Sometimes I think it is criminal to put these words in front of another’s eyes. Perhaps, as Hamlet put it, “it is a damned ghost that I have seen.” Now matter. If you can face the fact that living and dying is not the main issue of life, that the mere fact of your existence is the primary mystery imbedded in all things—if you can live with that and still walk the world carrying out your normal activities—if you can and still stay sane, you will have stepped onto a path, which for all intents and purposes, no other human being has traversed. The reason—you can only experience it alone.