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It is essential, if this experiment going to work, that you NOT take it seriously at first. It must be ONLY for amusement (at least at first). This is the “bitul” aspect (bitul is the Hebrew term for self-abnegation of will, will-less-ness, and humility). Think of it as a “controlled folly” (as Carlos Castenada put it in his works on Yaqui Indian “sorcery”.)

  • So, do not believe the following, just try it. If you do believe it, you are disqualified.

The reason what you are about to do, and especially its outcome, MUST be a “folly” is because if there is any desired outcome whatsoever, your ego will be involved and you will not have nullified your will. That is not bitul. (It is interesting to speculate that this might be because, physically speaking, conscious ego involvement collapses the “wave equation” prematurely and prevents the experiment from working.)

The necessity of nullifying your will provides some additional guidelines for the experiment. You must either be completely alone, or the people you are with must never know what you are doing. (You can do this without telling your companions.)

If you tell anyone before you try the experiment, your reputation and the credibility of the experiment will be riding on whether or not you are “successful.” This is not bitul. This is ego involvement and it engages rather than nullifies your will, so the experiment will not work.

If you intend to tell anyone after the experiment – either bragging about success, or mocking the foolish-superstitious experiment if you fail – your ego will be involved and the experiment will not work.

Now, if you are already a person who can nullify their will, like a tzaddik (saint), these precautions are not necessary. But, it is best to start out without presuming you are a tzaddik. <smile> (Presumptiveness is willfulness.) Willful ego-consciousness is inextricably tied to our 3-D bodies. The experience of “hyper”-reality is not consistent with 3-D reality, because 3-D reality is causal and deterministic. Although this is a repeatable experiment with consistent effects, it is definitely NOT physically causal in the usually understood sense. What other sense is possible, you ask? Read on.

If the experiment is going to have meaning for you, you must be prepared to keep it entirely to yourself. You may, however, repeat the experiment to your heart’s content. You will find that IF and WHEN you are able to meet all the conditions, the experiment will become reliable – from your point of view. Of course, there won’t be any other point of view, because you are never going to tell anyone about any particular experiment at any time when it could be externally checked on. Without humility, the experiment will fail. You cannot objectively demonstrate this experiment to anyone else. You can only encourage them to try it, and, if they succeed, to discuss their and your common experiences.

This experiment is exclusively repeatable and subjective. It only works in consensus reality IF you are a genuine prophet. Since it is unlikely that anyone reading this is a prophet, we can neglect this case.

  • You may wonder how it is that I am going to be able to tell you what I can without ruining the experiment for myself. You will never know WHEN the experiment has worked for me, so, in any given instance, you will not know that anything has occurred. Likewise for everyone else.

Okay, here is an example of what to do. Remember it is only an example. You will have to interpret it and try something equivalent to it in your own particular circumstances.

The situation: I am driving down a narrow country highway with only one lane in each direction. Passing is not allowed and/or it is too dangerous because the road is too winding to see far enough ahead.I am in a hurry to get to my destination and am zipping along merrily down this country lane when I come up behind farmer Brown who is driving his model T at 20-miles per hour. I was happily going along at 45-miles per hour, and could safely continue to do so IF farmer Brown weren’t in the way.What to do?I could risk the chance of an accident or a ticket and cross the double yellow line to pass farmer Brown. But, it’s not that much of an emergency. (If it were a real emergency, I would have a real stake in getting to my destination in a hurry and I would have a very difficult time trying to remain bitul. See more on this, below.)I could pull up behind farmer Brown, flash my headlights, honk and make an angry gesture. But, alas, we already know that farmer Brown has declining eyesight and doesn’t hear so well anymore – else I wouldn’t have evoked the stereotype of “farmer Brown in a model T”, and he wouldn’t be driving so slowly in the first place. <smile>So, I decide to try the experiment:The first condition is that I actually desire to pass farmer Brown. This is my will. I will later have to give up on my desires and nullify my personal will.

  1. I pull up behind farmer Brown, but not so close that he would feel pressured by me. Just so he sees I’m present.
  2. Actually or in my mind’s eye, I smile at him. I imagine that I can look into his eyes through his rear view mirror and I, in my imagination – or for real, if possible – greet him with my eyes.I form the thought: “Top of the morning to you, sir. Do you mind if I pass you? I would be pleased if I could.” This is my statement of my will.Another thought that works is tied to the casual/friendly feeling connection you make with a person as you are trying to get by them in a crowded hallway. You sort of tap the person on the shoulder and they quite naturally and unconsciously make way a bit as you squeeze by.
  3. I drop back a bit more from behind farmer Brown, and I COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY GIVE UP on EVER passing him. I submit my will to God’s will. This step is vital and it CANNOT BE FAKED. I must nullify my will or nothing will happen. Unless I actually give up all hope and expectation of passing, and resign myself to God’s will by following farmer Brown to the ends of the earth or to my destination – whichever comes first – nothing will happen. If I get uptight that nothing is happening, then nothing will continue to (not) happen. Often it is not possible to actually give up. When this is the case for you, you will know this is true, and you will observe that the experiment doesn’t work.

1. When all the conditions are met, When I clearly form the thought that I would like to see manifest

2. AND when I feel my need and lovingly share my feelings about it

3. AND when I completely let go of my wish by nullifying my will to God’s will,

…..then and only then IT happens.

At the very instant when I have actually nullified my will to God’s will (just as in the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac) and given up on anything happening, and I am completely resigned to follow farmer Brown forever, Farmer Brown will inexplicably pull over or turn off the road and let me pass. Or some other means will open up that allows me to pass. (In essence, just as with Abraham and Isaac, God provides the alternative for the sacrifice.)

Sometimes all that is required for me to actually give up and let go of my will to pass farmer Brown is for me to turn on the radio and get lost in some discussion or music. At the instant that the radio catches my attention, the instant that I drop my will – and not a moment before – the obstacle will disappear.

This “car passing trick” is especially useful when you find yourself behind a police officer traveling at the speed limit on an otherwise completely open road. No one is foolish enough to speed by a police officer when the officer doesn’t have some other problem to occupy his or her attention. (It is always safe to speed past a police car after a fire-engine red sports car speeds by first. <smile> )

You may have to experiment for a very long time before you will get the hang of it. It may work for you the first time and then it won’t work again until you get out of the habit of counting on it. (Counting on things is not consistent with a state of bitul.) In fact, it won’t work at all at first for some people, because, try as they might, they can’t turn off their ego expectations. This will even be true for very pious persons who observe all their religious obligations.

You have to keep running variations on this experiment UNTIL JUST AFTER YOU CAN GIVE UP ON IT so that it will REALLY be a controlled folly and you really will be in a state of self-abnegating bitul. After a large number of attempts, you will naturally stop expecting anything to happen. Then, when your will is dropped, you will be caught by surprise. After the first breakthrough, if you are not ego pushy, it will become easier and easier to the point where this just works naturally whenever you can actually afford to give up on getting what you want. It will stop working entirely the first time you are tempted to demonstrate “your” ability for someone else. That turns on ego. Ergo, no effect.

You can also make an experiment of preventing the effect this way from time to time. You will find that the willful ego-switch turns the effect on and off with absolute precision.

  • This is not magic. It is the opposite of magic. Magic is based on power-tripping one’s own will. The “car passing trick” is based on nullifying your will to God’s will. It is a example of how a kabbalistic perspective on our traditional teachings can be instructive and helpful in real life.
  • This is a science of consciousness. It should be tested, not believed.

Whatever you do, do not attempt this in any way that is inconsistent with your understanding of what is right. Improperly understood this experiment can lead to “siddhi-tripping” and idolatry. Be careful, but if you are up to it, I think you will find a startling experiential proof of the reality of the teaching in Pirke Avot.

…And if you know someone else who has had the same experience, you will have someone with whom you can share this subjective demonstration – in objective discussion.

Have a happy folly.

Note: An earlier version of The Car Passing Trick appeared as an essay in The Zen of Close Encounters (Edited by Paul David Pursglove, © ‘95, The New Being Project, POB 3070, Berkeley, CA 94703).

1See The Reflexive Universe  by Arthur M. Young, available from Meru Foundation at http://www.meetingtent.com. See also the Arthur Young home page: http://www.hypersphere.com/ay






Some people come into the world with a message for the rest of us. I learned this years ago, on a beautiful spring day in La Grande, Oregon – my hometown. This was the day Ken Kesey came to town.

The story starts with my friend Mike complaining about the over-use of certain phrases, rendering them clichés. As it happened, the cliché in question was: “Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid.” The way I remember, this warning would never have surfaced had it not been for cult leader, Jim Jones’s, and the massacre he orchestrated. Stuff that doesn’t need retelling here.

Before this, anyone who said anything about Kool-Aid, and meant anything other than, well… Kool-Aid, was speaking wistfully of events recounted in Tom Wolfe’s book. Enter: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and, Ken Kesey. Mike and I had read the book as had all our friends. “All,” in this usage is a small number, given that we lived in small-town Oregon where ordinarily there wouldn’t be many counter-culture types. But La Grande was home to Eastern Oregon College, now E O U, as the school has been granted university status. So, add our small group at the High School to the College population where everyone had heard of Kesey’s novels. Now you have an audience. Prior to his appearance in Tom Wolfe’s book, Kesey had already published, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Now his second book had made it to the big screen and people were rushing to the “movies” watch Paul Newman’s performance in Sometimes A Great Notion. Newman was a movie star, but to those in the know, Kesey was a rock star.

Where’s this going? On a whim, Mike and I decided to call Kesey and invite him to town. Audacious. Yes, for a couple of seventeen-year-olds it was bold. But with the idea floating right there in the air between us we knew we had to give it a try.

Fortunately, those were the days of dial type phone books and operator assistance. With a little help from each, we found a number for his family’s business – The Springfield Creamer, East of Eugene, OR. These were more trusting days. The woman who answered gave us Kesey’s home number. Dialing, a little dizzy now – we must have been holding our breath – Ken picked up the receiver, and presumptuous as we’d already been, we plowed past the awkwardness of two kids calling a nationally acclaimed author.

Our request was simple enough; Would Ken Kesey drive himself four hundred fifty to La Grande and speak at the High School? My guess is that on that particular morning he was feeling more like a bored farmer than a celebrated author. Apparently, Kesey was ready for a vacation all that was required to keep a creamery supplied with milk. We just happened to be the best excuse for a road trip he’d received that week. The long and short of it? We invited, and Kesey accepted.

All was shaping up well. No rumblings of decent – Amazing! Well, actually, not so amazing. The problem was that neither Mike or I considered, or were considerate enough to ask permission. I was president of the student body, so arranging assemblies was a regular thing. We’d invited this guy we knew of, and thought we knew something about – invited him to say a few words. Never mind that our guest speaker was none other than the spokesman for the acid evalgelist, Merry Pranksters. As such, an infamous counter-culture hero, one of the decades most celebrated and vilified personalities – second only to Timothy Leary on the villification scale. Yes, we forgot to ask anybody. Simply slipped our minds. No, wait – we were only seventeen. We had yet to grow minds!

So we forgot, conveniently forgot right up till the point where we had to tell Dale Wyatt, our highschooll’s Principle that he was supposed to cut us a check for $250.00 in favor of, “Ken who?” Dale may not have known who Kesey was, but he knew Mike and I, and knew trouble when he saw two of its local representatives standing in his office. We must have said something like, “Paul Newman starred in the movie version of one of his books! Ya, Mr. Wyatt, Paul Newman!” Whatever, it was spring, just before graduation. I think Dale just rolled his eyes and figured he’d be rid of us in two months, so why not just wait and see what we were really up to. Part of me still wants to believe that the man found us entertaining – a source of variety and amusement in his otherwise predictable world. But that’s just speculation, something I’ll never know. “So long Dale… Hope your next gig has been more fun than this last one!”

If I had a conscience, I’d feel a little sorry about it all. Whatever he’d known or suspected, we had set out to fool a nice guy. Think about it. It was 1971 and Dale’s job was the social and academic care and feeding of several hundred kids. At which time, there was that war in S.E. Asia, and a related one in most homes in America. Add to this mix – with the release of about a dozen albums, the Beatles had just ripped serious holes in six thousand years of recorded history, then walked off stage leaving the Stones – Jagger & Co, to mop up any resistance. In Dale’s mind, if not in fact – he stood on the front line, defending civilization. Representing the opposition – Mike and I looked him in the eye with the straightest of faces, assuring him that Kesey was coming to talk about writing and, “You know, good literature and…” So Dale signed the check. Yes! So much for feeling bad long after it makes a bit of difference. Add to this, on the “Bad Ass” scale, Mallory and I were the minor-leagues compared to what Dale had dealt with in his time.

It was one of those days. Spring. Warm. Blue sky and not a cloud of doubt that all was well in our world. I was driving my dad’s jeep back from lunch at Nell’s, a local N’ & Out, burger place. Up N avenue, and a left on 8th, climbing the hill by the Admin. Building with a right turn on to K Ave. put us directly across the street from the college library. This was back before the university thing.

Anyway, glancing out the driver’s side window, I spot two guys sitting in a funky looking beige sedan. A Ford, a Dodge… an ugly car. But the guy behind the wheel was Kesey. I guess he and his pal were thinking that he’d been invited to speak at the college. Or maybe it was the first place they’d found that looked academic enough to be their destination. A better guess is they weren’t thinking. I have evidence for this last idea.

Braking fast and pulling to the curb, I was out the door with Mallory close behind – both of us loping across the street to make introductions. Kesey wasn’t exactly friendly. He wasn’t unfriendly either – just unimpressed. Smoke from a joint the two of them had been passing drifted and curled out the window. Which brings us back to why he was sitting in a car a mile from the location of his big speaking engagement, looking totally unconcerned about his shabby car, his two new acquaintances or where he was supposed to be for the rest of his life. The joint between his thumb and forefinger – there’s my proof of the theory advanced in the previous paragraph.

Kesey looked at what was left of their smoke and glanced up at me, apparently inviting, but he wasn’t he going to say the words. So I asked for a hit and passed it back to Mike. Big mistake. Two lung-fulls apiece was all it took for Mike and I to realize that before that moment, anything we’d ever rolled was closer to lawn clippings than a federally controlled substance. Fortunately, the onset of effects took a few seconds. During which time we delivered directions, time and… that must have been about it.

Driving away, we made it back to the high school building struggling to figure out what was supposed to happen next. Neither of us could remember how we got through the next class and on to the assembly thing… the pledge of allegiance and an introduction. But I know it happened. Mike assures me it did.

Time passed, and the effects of the smoke began to dissipate. But there was still one more twist scheduled for our heads that day. After the preliminaries, Kesey took the stage and the microphone. Within the first few minutes, he’d also taken charge of the minds of everyone in the auditorium.

What did he say? I’ve got only the barest glimmer of a memory, and none of it translates well into English. I remember feeling that we’d all been dropped into the deep end, and nobody seemed to have the sense to paddle to safety. Something shifted. By this time, Dale must have known that he’d made a mistake, a big one. Maybe something was shifting inside of him too.

Some people are very smart – smarter than the rest of us. More to my point, there are people who come into the world with a message for the rest of us. Kesey was no man’s fool, but his message was not about being smart. It was not about being, “all you can be,” at least not in any conventional sense. Instead, it was about really being alive, and not being afraid to do whatever it took to figure out what that meant.

Comparing memories with others, it’s clear that we all heard something different, just as everyone reading the previous paragraph interpreted it differently. Something happened on a beautiful spring day in La Grande for which Ken Kesey was the catalyst. What that was – how it may still be resonating in the heads and hearts of those who were present is impossible to specify. The thing is, when a person who knows something about how big the human spirit really is, when somebody speaks from experience, if you’re listening, whether you fully understand what they’ve seen or not – it makes a difference. Maybe your world shifts a little. Maybe I caught my first glimpse  of something previously unnoticed but now obvious. Speaking about it, people, say similar things. It’s all empty. It’s peaceful. And one more thing, it’s funny, too funny for words.

Or maybe Kesey just ranted tired lines. “Screw the Man! Screw the cops!” Truth is, I’m guessing, just as those I’ve asked were guessing. The only thing for sure is that we all remember the day Kesey came to town.







My friend Bryant and I were talking last night, trading Facebook posts which is often the closest thing to conversation nowadays. He’s posted a clip of a Big Bad, Brazilian rodeo bull, named, The Bandit, an animal nobody had ridden successfully. Bryant has this stuff in his blood – rodeos, bull riding. I knew little about the sport, other than the obvious – that it’s a dangerous thing to do, bull riding in general – a ride on the back of The Bandit, in particular. Bryant agreed.

“Ya,” I say, “but if it weren’t for the dangerous part, they wouldn’t have as big a payday when things go right.”

Bryant says, “Those guys aren’t making that much compared to the docs putting them back together.”

He’s got a point – a big one. But he’s also stimulated a memory. I remembered that I’d heard about all this before – from someone who knew the story from both sides of a bull – the top and bottom.

I met Jody Tatone in Pendleton, Oregon. For those who don’t know the place, think, Pendleton wool – their blankets and shirts. Then there’s Pendleton whiskey and a hundred years of big-time rodeo!

Tatone, it turned out was an aspiring attorney and professional bull rider. An odd mix, but it was working for him. He had recently qualified for the National Rodeo Finals – something he’d done several times already. At the moment, he was riding a wave of regional fame. I didn’t know squat about bull riding, but I’d heard about Jody and was surprised when, given the chance proximity in the bar, he introduced himself.

A short guy – he looks tough. He was also funny and a genuinely humble guy. Humble, in spite of the hub-cap sized trophy he was wearing, the kind that doubles as a belt buckle. The bigger the prize – the bigger the hub-cap.

I learned a few things about the sport that evening. Not surprising, bull riders are adrenaline junkies, which explains why many don’t stop after multiple body parts are smashed, shattered or both. A lucky bull rider’s body is a walking demonstration of a wide range of serious injuries. Unlucky riders no longer ride or walk.

Tatone told me stories of his encounters – explaining, (I knew this), that cows fall somewhere between dumb and not very smart. Bulls are those males of the species lucky enough not to have been castrated early in life. Their neutered brothers live quieter, but shorter lives, hanging out in beautiful meadows and eating grass just long enough to make a good steak. Bulls are four-legged testosterone factories with horns. Their bodies pumping rivers of hormones, rodeo stock is selected and prized for temperament. The meaner, the better.

Even with this selection process, Tatone talked about how different rodeo stock can be. According to Jody, each animal is unique. “Some are bored,” says Jody. Others act board, he explained, only to surprise everyone, including the rider, when they explode from the chute, twisting a mans spine unmercifully before throwing him into the air, where the rider spins, ass over belt-buckle before slamming back to earth.

Added to the mix of bored, and the, “ready to fake you out” animals, there’s a third variety. These are ones that seem to be as scared as the riders. Frightened as they are, they give a rough ride, adding to the possibility of higher scores. Another plus – after dumping you, as the bull almost always does – these animals run harmlessly for the far fence. A rider lucky enough to go the full eight seconds slides off as gracefully as possible, picks up his hat. Whacks it on a leg, to knock the dust off, he walks casually back to the gate, watching the scoreboard, hoping for a big pay-day.

The head-nod. Every rider has chute rituals – a unique and personal system of rope synchs and superstitious rituals, practiced and carefully executed in preparation for the one move common to all – a single nod of the head. Very, “Old West.” Why say a single word when a nod of the head will do? Pitty the rider who’s wife picks these final moments to ask, “Did you make that health insurance payment?” or worse, “Do you love me?” No head-nod, and he’s screwed. Offering a head nod to preserve his marriage – he’s out the gate prematurely and screwed. So – the head-nod. It’s used once and for one purpose – the only gesture that will open the gate.

As Jody was telling it, a scared bull can be a good bull. But the boring ones can wreck your dreams. Riders who draw one of these are given an easy ride, resulting in a low score. The sport is about drama and danger. You could ride a bored animal all afternoon, and the judges would still hand you low numbers.

According to rodeo legend and Jody’s stories, there are also some killers, bulls known for what passes convincingly, as hatred for the man on their back. We’re talking about animals weighing fifteen hundred to two thousand pounds, up to a ton of mindless anger. These are the ones with an ever-growing repertoire of tricks they execute with blinding speed, each intended to visit pain and injury, if not death to the rider.

Fortunately, it’s rare for a human male to have his testicles clipped. But there’s is an argument in favor of the procedure. Case in point – after visiting with my new friend, and bull riding finalist – even after hearing him tell stories of his painful injuries – his encounters with killer bulls, I still wanted to ride a great big rodeo bull. Again, fortunately, I never got the chance.

So, my friend, Bryant is right. Careers cut short by injury and doctor bills ensure that very few bull riders are rich bull riders.

And I’m right; blood sports pay big bucks. The current, all-time money earner is a guy named J.B Mauney. I bet they pronounce it, “Money,” as J.B’s earnings top seven million bucks. Proof that money and blood run in the same veins.

Mauney may need every one of his millions and more when his riding days are over. News reports tell of his injuries at the Calgary Stampede. Apparently, he’ll only be out of the game for six months, (from the time I write this). But add em’ up – this most recent, compounded by past and future injuries; “Save some of the money, J.B. My friend Bryant is right. Doctors are expensive.

The postman left a box yesterday but I was napping on the couch and didn’t hear the screen door open or close. So it was not until this morning when I gathered the nerve to brave the morning chill and ran to the car for a book that I had left, that I noticed the delivery – a package sitting on the porch. Passing it on the way out the door… mentally, I ran through the possibilities. I was not expecting anything ‑ nothing ordered. Nothing left in Sandpoint that had to been mailed down. Then it came to me. It was the week after Thanksgiving ‑ There was a fruitcake waiting on my porch! Snatching it up on my pass back through the door I used a knife to slice away tape, freeing the box flaps and foam packing. And there it was, protected and perfect with a card on top.

Christmas cards are nice, and yours was the first, waiting neatly on top of your ‑ I mean ‑ my fruitcake! But not an ordinary greeting card. This one was hand made and featured that old, black and white photo. Continue Reading

This past Sunday afternoon, refreshingly candid, humorously irreverent – teacher and counselor, Eva Marice conducted the first of three classes for people like myself who felt a need to brush up on their public speaking skills. “You must love yourself” said Eva. You must first of all, love yourself if you want to connect with an audience. This somewhat surprising – almost counter intuitive insight is the basis of compassionate expression, Eva explained. Loving yourself allows you, as a public speaker to give the audience your full attention. A person who love’s them self – is much more relaxed and sensitive to those seated in front of them – sensitive to the needs and shifting mood of their audience. Continue Reading

Here are some words from Friend and Medical Intuitive, Catherine Carrigan.


Catherine writes:

One of the many blessings of following the steps in my recent Amazon No. 1 best seller, Unlimited Energy Now, is that you get to develop a deep reservoir of inner well being.
At first, it’s very helpful to learn what actually works to build your personal energy.Unlimited Energy Now teaches you what you can do on every level – physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual. Small practical steps. Easy to understand language. Even if you are totally exhausted, believe me, you will get the message.As you become more practiced, however, you can begin to let go of the need for external conditions and become a source of well being for yourself and everyone else.As you build your own well being, you can experience happiness no matter what is actually going on around you.How do you do this?How do you develop the habit of unconditional well being?

February 7, 2013

Also posted at: www.sedona.biz

A spiritual partnership is a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. This agreement between two people places the growth of their souls above the convenience of a “comfortable,” conventional relationship.

Speaking of, and referring to material contained in his latest book,  author, Gary Zukov tells readers that a new and surprising world is emerging that requires each of us to explore the sources of our love and cultivate them while observing the inner sources of all that prevents us from loving and feeling loved. The root of these blocks are our fears. However, for those who are ready, a conscious relationship between spiritual partners can place us on the fast track to healing. Continue Reading

December 14,  2012

Also posted at: www.sedona.biz

Are you ready? No, I don’t mean Christmas. Are you ready for life? Again, no – not me! I never have been. I never knew what to expect. Short of preparing for the worst, how can you be ready for the unknown and the unexpected? And having prepared for the worst – how can we enjoy all the good that comes our way? “Ya, that was pretty good but you never know what terrible thing might be coming next!”

And just look at the vegetative and animal world – how they protect themselves. Hard as a nut, we say. Thick hides and claws, venom and jaws! Old Lady Natures pack’en and protected! Continue Reading

Late afternoon, early evening. Daylight is fading. Lights that illuminate the Wailing Wall push back the growing dark. The Wall, though emmence, is only a one hundred eighty-seven-foot section of the western side of the ancient wall that rings the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount, center of attention in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Old City roughly centered in modern Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the heart center of Israel. Centers within centers. Chambers of the heart of Judaism. A priceless jewel in the eye of Muslims. A touchstone to Christianity and an often, irritating mystery to the rest of the world.

The Temple Mount – site of three temples – the first, built by Jewish, King Solomon. The second by the Roman appointee, Herod. And a third temple, so far existing only in the minds of Jews, Christians, and fearful hearts of Muslims.

Walking here from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, Jane and I had descended a long series of stairs, passing through a security check point as we reached the plaza below. The plaza, a stone paved expanse built to accommodate crowds exceeding one hundred thousand – the immense crowds that gather on holidays – holy days. It stretches out and away from the Wall at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount. At its North West corner, a waist-high retainer of stone blocks bisects the edge of the plaza preventing falls to the prayer floor, two meters below. The prayer floor, paved with white marble, stretches the full length and thirty meters back from the actual Wall. Capped with an angle cut stone lip, the retaining wall is comfortable to lean against as many do, content to watch the ever-shifting spectacle. Wherever you were in the world that night, if you’re Jewish your attention was on this place – this gathering. Attention and intention are key words. I was about to learn something but not nearly all there is to understand of their significance. Arriving early, Jane and I had this front row view as the spectacle unfolded around us – perfect for events that would mark the evening and set a further progression of events in motion.

The year was 2000 – Y2K. The lights hadn’t gone out. Even so – the world was a darker place. These first High Holy Days of the new millennium had already been stained, just the day before, when PM candidate, Ariel Sharon had walked up and into the Temple Mount. A thousand or more Muslims went crazy, claiming Sharon’s presence as justification for more riots – the second intifada. After Sharon’s visit, unsuspecting worshipers standing at the prayer wall below had been showered with fist size stones thrown by Muslims gathered on the temple grounds, above. Large numbers of police and military units had been brought in to discourage further attacks. Still, there was no guarantee of safety. The blood of those injured the day before – lots of blood – was visible where it had run and pooled, drying between the paving stones. Despite these tensions, Jerusalem’s largest gathering of the year swirled around us, growing as night fell. What had happened could not keep the faithful from gathering to pray.

Jane and I were there to witness the Jewish world’s most important day of the year at its epicenter. Having done a little research, it was not by chance that we’d come early enough to be standing at the front. From here we had an unobstructed view of a thousand or more men as they milled about, raising a din as the talked and prayed. Behind us, tens of thousands more had already streamed into the large plaza. A relative few, going directly to the prayer floor fronting the wall, while others were content stand back, to carry on their own conversations or quietly honor the occasion as suited them.

According to Jewish tradition each new day begins at sundown, making that evening the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the one day in the Jewish calendar given over to confession and forgiveness of sins, to enter the new year absolved of guilt for the previous year’s mistakes.

I had drifted. Moving farther to the left, away from my friend, alternately standing and leaning, watching the activity in front of me. More than just watching I was thinking how unfortunate it was, all these men so anxiously pleading, pledging repentance and praying again. Each one, earnestly attempting to ensure that he had brought everything to account. I was thinking that Christians had a better way. One died for the sins of all, and if these guys could just see this they could all walk away free. The Christian alternative, as I saw it, was tidier – much more economical. All my Christian understanding stood with me, leaning comfortably against the retaining wall – a wall of stone and one of belief separated me from all those sincere but misguided Jewish men.

Without warning, a loud voice broke through my thought – the voice seeming to come from a very big, very tall man standing directly behind of me. With no warning, no preceding twinge of conscience, these hard words, were spoken, sharp with disapproval and delivered with absolute authority.


The voice cut through the noise of the crowd, several hundred people standing so close that movement was difficult. Turning, I looked behind, expecting to see a massive man scowling down at me. There was no one out of the ordinary. As loud as the commands had been, apparently, I was the only one who had heard them. Hearing voices is schizophrenia territory, but I knew what I’d heard, knew that they had been directed at me. Validated beyond logic, a I knew that a powerful, unseen individual was aware of not pleased by my thoughts. Reacting in a way I would have never expected, in the moments after the initial shock I felt a kind of thrill, call it the gratification of infamy. From experience I can tell you that a message from a divine source, even a harsh rebuke such as this can make you feel really good if you take it the right way. Or maybe I just in shock.

Below, the action was intense as larger numbers crowded onto the prayer floor. Men stood everywhere, all with their heads covered. Some wearing wide brimmed streimals and fedoras – others, a simple knitted kippa or their complimentary, paper equivalent for tourists. Many had gleaming white prayer shawls around their shoulders which could be pulled up over their heads to form a tent under which they met privately with God. Alone or in small groups men prayed, leaning against the wall or back some distance around tables full of prayer books, all bowing from the waist rhythmically, repeatedly, the style unique to Jewish prayer.

Shaken but excited by what had happened, I jostled my way back. Jane was standing where I’d left her, watching the sea of people. Having just managed to make it to where she stood, there was no time to say anything before the Divine hand reached out to grab me one more time. Standing below and at least twenty feet away, one among many rabbis stood surrounded by a dozen men that he was leading. Without explanation this man turned and looked up, searching faces and pointing his finger as if to sort one from another until his attention fixed on me. Shouting over the din, he looked me in the eye and asked, “Do you know what we are doing?”

It was a freeze frame moment. Feeling completely hollow and exposed, I was still literally vibrating from the power of the voice that had just shouted me down, foretelling the answer to this Rabbi’s question.

“No, I… I guess I don’t,” I stammered.

In response, his arm still raised and finger pointing for emphasis, he began to explain the activities and significance of that night. I tried to listen but was not catching it all. By my clothing and answers to his questions I was clearly not Jewish. So, forget the disembodied voice that had just scalded my ears, the Rabbi’s behavior made no sense. That on this of all nights he would turn from the men he was leading, turn and pick me from a group of thousands for an impromptu lecture? It got even stranger.

Seeing that I was not tracking, he said, “Wait a minute, I’ll come up there.” It took full five minutes for him to push his way through all the people. First, back toward the wall, then over to the exit ramp, circling up and around, he edged his way through to where we stood and continued speaking.

“As we pray here tonight, he said, we are opening a hole in the heavens – a channel, connecting earth and heaven, a connection for all people, people all around the world.” He said. There was more, much more. After a few minutes another man in an expensive black suit and wide flat brimmed hat had joined him. One on one side, one on the other, they tag teamed – each picking up the narrative if the other so much as paused. I was too overwhelmed to pay attention; I remember little of what was said.

What was is that I had been spoken to by a disembodied voice telling me that I did not know what I thought I knew – telling me that I was wrong to imagine that my views were correct or that they encompassed the whole of spiritual truth. And I was most wrong to have held a condescending attitude from which I looked down on these men. Their love of God, even more, their single-minded devotion overrode any difference of doctrine.

Their words tiring and I soon heard the limitation of the ideas they expressed. Condescension for other faiths leaked through – an indication that they were making the same mistake as I. Realizing that they were the tool of the “Voice,” I listened respectfully, but was really just waiting for them to finish. What they said was not as important as the fact that they had been placed in front of me to reinforce the evenings real message. I had been told to suspend my judgements. The Voice had implied that what any of us thought we knew was partial; at best, only a small part of what was happening around us, and probably beyond the understanding of us all.

What happened that night drove home the point I now see – the fact that we all fell short when confronted by divine authority. At the end of the day, none of us were being transported beyond mortality like Enoch or leading with the authority and miraculous power entrusted to Moses. Individuals who, following instructions, had truly put on the mind of Christ should stand out as clearly as night fire on a hilltop. Scanning the horizon, I saw no one.


Before leaving Singapore for the US, I booked a second flight to Israel. I’d been gone four months, but my home-coming would be brief; I stayed only long enough wash cloths and re-pack. Flying from the Boise to Chicago, with a night in the air over the Atlantic, put me in Munich early, the morning of the next day. Changing planes here meant I would be flying the last leg on Lufthansa. Unlike United, Lufthansa, allowed a bare minimum of carry-ons – insisting that I check anything larger than a wallet before boarding – which meant more hands pawing through my stuff. Pre – September 2001 but post 1972 olympic’s massacre, airport security was tight. Passengers waiting to board flights to Israel in particular were watched by well-armed guards.

Thankfully, no shots were fired and we were soon on our way. Crossing the Alps and Southern Europe the plane banked left once we were out over the Mediterranean routing us straight into Tel Aviv. Nearing the end of a long trip I was anxious to get to a room, shower and sleep. After a short wait at passport control, I retrieved my roll aboard and made my way unchallenged through customs and out into an arrival hall. There I was greeted by expectant faces – all waiting for someone else. Some held one word signs spelling out names like, Greenburg or Sheraton or UNESCO. They are never for me but I can’t resist looking, as if by chance someone knew I was coming. Apparently no one did. Outside of the terminal the late afternoon sun felt good. A warm breeze tugged at the tops of the palm trees as I stood waiting for the bus that would take me the last thirty miles. Continue Reading