Shortly after my visions of the man with a white beard—and the deep yet intangible sense that I was loved and all would be well—I woke from a dream so vivid it has stayed with me for fifty years. I was at a retreat center near a lake. Enemy soldiers invaded the property and rounded us up into the mess hall. They told us they did not have enough supplies to feed prisoners so they had to kill us. Everyone began to panic. Some took cyanide pills, others started crying and begging for mercy. The soldiers lined us up and started shooting.
Somehow instead of panicking I looked out the picture window at the lake and sky and trees and was overcome with an assurance that there was more to life than what I could see. I calmed myself and decided not to be afraid.
In my dream, when I was shot, I did not lose consciousness but was instead released from my body. It was as if the bullet broke the tension that held my existence within the confines of my body and I expanded outward into a peaceful place of love.
When I awoke I realized that if I had been afraid when the bullet hit me, I would have contracted into the center of my own gravity and disappeared. The dream reinforced the message from my visions: Don’t be afraid.
The two visions and the dream stayed with me and made me want to be a courageous, loving person, but I had no idea how to recapture those feelings. I wrote in my diary that I wanted to live my life to make other people happy, but how could I do that if I wasn’t happy myself? The last thing I wanted to be was a hypocrite. So I became a hedonist.