Faces: A Journey’s Beginning
One morning in 1940 I had what can only be called a spiritual experience. Remarkably, eight decades later I still recall that experience as clearly as if it happened this morning. Its influence on my thoughts and ways of thinking was slow to take hold, but as aftereffects gradually accumulated the effect has been profound.
Because of the new direction in which that early childhood experience subtly pointed me, I have spent much of my life, especially the most recent thirty years, becoming conversant in astrophysics, quantum physics, evolutionary cosmology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, theology, histories of all religions, psychic phenomena, paranormal phenomena, reincarnation, consciousness studies and more. En route, I have been through hundreds of personal reports about near-death experiences (NDE) as well as wide-awake-and-healthy spiritually transformative experiences (STE), and more hundreds of scholarly writings about human prehistory of the last fifty thousand years and—among other things—modern economics since Adam Smith as a broad avenue of entrée into human ethics and immoral behavior. This list assuredly does not cover the relevant ballpark.
Among these overlapping pigeonholes of accumulating human knowledge my special, personal curiosity has been to integrate them, to discern whatever patterns and interactions may range across all of them, plus—the biggest deal of all—to identify and understand the interface of science and spirituality. The latter is of paramount interest because, somewhere along this questing journey, I concluded that science and spirituality are but two apparently differing aspects—different faces if you will—of one and the same unity. Like the two sides of a coin—or the endless manifestations of energy, which is also part of the unity. I cannot explain the basis for this curiosity, I can only affirm that it just is—demanding my attention for a lifetime, intensifying greatly in recent decades.
After years of research into such interface I discovered that the place where science and spirituality meet is not an “interface” at all. Rather than the term interface, which implies planes coming together, I have realized the correct term is “merging.” This more applicable concept is a conjoining, a mixing, an integration so complete that the better metaphor for reality is that of Russian nested dolls wherein the universe we are aware of, out to its uttermost limits, is like an inner doll contained within a vastly larger doll of super-natural reality. Yet this metaphor fails too, for the material-immaterial merged reality to which long searches can lead are more like a single bucket of water in which some of the molecules are “veiled,” i.e., they can see each other, but little more—while all the other molecules, the great majority, are not veiled, they can see everything, all of it, including the limited little molecules that are us. This level of integration—of creation really—is beyond most human imagining.
I hope the purpose of these seekings after knowledge and understanding will be self evident after I’ve finished telling my story. Let me begin it by just saying, with modesty and very considerable gratitude, that I feel I’ve made a bit of progress.
I think I should also preface this section with a few comments about childhood memory, for some readers may wonder how I seemingly remember so well the childhood religion-related experiences related above, much less the one I’m about to relate. How well, one may reasonably ask, can one really remember events that took place in early childhood the better part of a century ago? In fact lasting memories from early childhood are not all that unusual and many people have them, though studies suggest such long-memoried people are a minority of the population. I personally retain a great many early memories, particularly from pre-school ages one through five—and several from before that.
A good example is my recollection of the thrill of freedom I felt while climbing over the rail of my baby crib. It was not unlike what I imagine I would feel today if breaking out of jail after wrongful imprisonment—twinge of guilt, don’t care, thrill of imminent freedom. I recall having many times watched my parents raise and lower that rail. I knew it somehow locked in the raised position, and I remember hoping the lock wouldn’t fail and let it fall under my weight as I cautiously climbed over. I didn’t walk yet.
I still clearly remember how I felt after successfully going over the top—then hanging full length outside the rail, hands grasping its top—then looking down, letting go and dropping the final inches to the floor. I remember immediately turning and crawling full speed away from the crib. Speedily discovered by my mother, I recall to this day the exuberance I felt despite her amazed-dismayed reaction to what I’d just accomplished.
I clearly remember the first time I walked instead of crawled. It was the evening hours, when my parents sat doing things, reading or listening to late 1930s radio. I pulled up beside the coffee table and, holding on for balance, took my first cautious upright steps around it. My father immediately noticed, held out his arms urging me to walk the gap of three feet or so—and with an all-or-nothing lunge, I did! His hands caught me, and I remember the thrill of accomplishment—no more limitation to baby-crawling only.
From age two years and three months I remember when my new sister was brought home from the hospital. She was given my crib, and I—joyfully—was moved to a real bed, a grownup twin size. I recall an afternoon soon after when, annoyed by baby sister’s squalling, I fetched my constant sleeping companion, a close friend named Teddy Bear, tossed him over the rail to her and admonished, quote: “There now, be quiet!”
On another afternoon I remember mounting the rotating piano stool, holding it steady as I clambered onto the closed keyboard cover, and struggling up onto the top of our upright piano…then freezing in realization that climbing back down would entail considerably more risk than had ascending. Momentarily in fearful indecision atop my mother’s piano, I was saved when she sailed through the door, snatched me down and—I clearly remember—gave stern warnings that I’d better not do that again. I don’t think I was walking yet on this one either, but I could climb.
I am of the opinion that I probably have pre-birth memories. Of certainty, I retain vague recollections of being in a soft quiet place, absolutely secure and content, in subdued light, aware of hearing muffled voice sounds that felt comforting—but I cannot claim this as objective truth for, as memories go, these are hazy, impressionistic. I seem to have at least two such vague pre-birth remembrances, but their reality is unknowable—they are exceptions among the many other childhood events I remember clearly and in detail.
I mention this small sampling from among many early childhood memories to establish credibility for my remembrance of the definably spiritual experience I now relate. After many years I gave it a name: Faces.
This wide-awake experience, which occurred sometime during my third year of life, has profoundly affected the rest of my life. It didn’t seem to much affect me at the time, or for years afterward, though it would often pop into conscious awareness to be pondered all over again. During my early twenties I finally wrote it down because I feared the memory might fade, and it seemed too precious to risk losing or becoming blurred. Now eight decades later I doubt such risk ever existed because the memory remains as crisp as ever. My original writing is edited here only for brevity, omitting nothing of substance.
Though I might have been age four, I think I must have been three because I recall how pudgy my legs were, how easily they bent at the waist during that stage when a child likes to sit on the floor, examining things. By age four a boy’s legs grow gangly, not pudgy. Plus I still recall my own self awareness of being very young. When I still crawled, for example, my parents seemed to tower high above me, giants, but with passing time and my own growth they quickly descended in size to normal perspective.
At age three most of my images and thoughts reflected my environment of house, yard, surrounding fields, and nearby small town which included stores, post office and church. There were also people—“others”—but they didn’t become meaningful until I reached school-going age and became one among a class of thirty. Some of my remembered thoughts were probably carried home from church, the weekly social event of note in our prairie life. One was probably a concept of “heaven,” a desirable place reputedly somewhere-not-here; probably also “spirit”—something invisible—whatever that meant.
So there I sat, on the floor behind one end of my mother’s couch, in the narrow space between couch and wall. The experience began when—for no remembered reason—I glanced up and saw “faces” coming at me. Here they came, all in a row, steeply from the upper right, one behind the other. Just faces, no complete heads, no bodies. In some way I absolutely cannot explain I “knew” these were the faces of spirits, and they were observing me for a purpose. For reason or reasons unknown, I was of special interest to them. This knowing I felt and remember so well is utterly unexplainable in words.
Their purpose seemed to involve my “helping” them experience real-time observation of this mortal world through the perspective of my mortal eyes and other senses. They especially wished to observe, and perceive for themselves, my particular mental perceptions of the things my senses experienced. For example: what I and my sister both recognize as “blue”—do we both see it the same way, or does it appear to her as what I would call “green?”
Decades would pass before I learned that this question involves something called “qualia,” notably in relation to an odd sensory condition known as synesthesia—which I happen to have. (When I hear or think of music I also “see” it in my mind; I don’t just hear music, I see it. Synesthesia has many different manifestations—just as energy does—and is a fairly common condition in the population).
These spirits wanted to observe my thoughts. I didn’t know why, but their observations—I knew—were very important to me as well as to them. To accomplish their observations they had to enter my mind, as they were now doing, one at a time. Their entry did not displace me, we coexisted mentally, each spirit and I, for a fleeting brief instant. That was all the time required, I somehow knew, for a spirit to enter, assimilate the whole of my mind—memories, perceptions, thoughts and reasoning—and move back out, to my upper left, to its own realm. It was instantaneous transfer of a total mind copy, leaving the original unchanged, to each of thousands of spirit faces—and all happening very fast.
As each spirit face moved out another moved in, used its infinitely thin slice of time to “read” a complete copy, and instantly passed out to be replaced in turn by yet another. I recall them all as right there, approaching one close behind the other in a very long line that descended on my upper right from the far reaches of “Heaven” (or whatever), flitting through and looking over my mind, each in turn then departing to my upper left. Though each spirit’s stay was incalculably brief, they were infinite in number so the pass-through I was experiencing would never cease.
I “understood” that this had been going on since before I was born, and would continue until I grew old and died. Even then only a fraction of this host would have “experienced me,” they were so great in number. All this, inexplicably, I just “knew.” To this day I remember that feeling of marveling at what I was experiencing as I experienced it.
I remember that as I wondered what was going on, what it meant…I received an answer. And quickly became aware that each time my mind posed a question, I instantly felt their answer coming back to me. Telepathic is the only word I know that might convey how this felt—whole understandings simply appeared in my mind, all at once, with no words or sentences involved. When I eventually committed this memory to writing, I invented the following words in a poor attempt to paraphrase the communications that in fact were exchanged directly. In actuality there were no real words, just whole thoughts that came instantaneously into my mind, and my understanding of them was total, complete.
My first thought-question was not to them, it was about them: Are they doing this to all people? Thought-answer: No, just a few who were expressly placed here on Earth for this experiment. You’ll probably never meet any of the others—they’re few and far between on the Earth.
From that point my thought-questions were addressed directly to them: Q: Does this mean that we—me and those few others—are we more important than other people? A: No, you’re just serving this particular…purpose…which sets you a little apart from the rest. Other than that you’re no different from all other people. Everybody experiences the same things you do, through their own eyes, ears, taste, touch and smell, but we’re not observing them as we are you. Most of those in the experiment aren’t even aware that they’re in it or being observed. You are one of the very few who has perceived it.
Q: How long will this last? A: All your life.
Q: Will you be controlling me? A: No, you have free will like everyone else. Your choices and actions are your own. We are immensely interested in how you will choose as you encounter each situation that will come before you, how you will respond and opt for your perception of right or wrong, good or bad—and how your judgment will operate in those cases where you’re not sure what’s best. No, you’re in no way controlled. In a way you’re more like an actor on a stage. We are the audience.
Q: An actor just plays a role that was planned by somebody else. Is my whole life planned in advance? A: No. Certain situations you will encounter are arranged; how you respond to each one is up to you.
Q: Are you in here inside me right now, I mean any one of you, since a bunch of you must have flitted through just while I was asking this? A: Yes, we are here now, as we have been and will be, but you can have no conscious awareness of us as we go through—only we of you. Do not fear, we hold no harm for you, only good will. We love you, little spirit, you are one of us, but you may not speak with us, or understand why you have this purpose, until your earthly life has been lived out and you rejoin us.
Then the communications stopped, the experience ended. I returned to awareness of myself setting there on the floor behind the couch. I cannot say if the episode had lasted seconds or minutes, for my sense of time simply suspended while it was happening. But as I now write in this present moment, my bright remembering of it has lasted undiminished for almost eighty years. And after all this time I am still just floored by it.
That last sentence of their message still has power to moisten my eyes with an irresistible emotion that recurs virtually every time I recall it, and has all my life. I don’t know why.