Before the onset of AIDS-related symptoms, which started for me in 1995, I had not been inclined to ponder the big questions of life. I had rejected religion as a teenager and was content to accept the scientific view that life was a chance evolution, one that I considered should be enjoyed as much as possible while it lasted. In ’92, a couple of years after my diagnosis I sat down and considered my lot, coming to the conclusion that since I had no feelings about my lack of awareness before birth, it was not going to be a bother to me that I would cease to be after death. It simply would not matter, to me or to the greater scheme of things, so why be upset about it? If my time was up my time was up.
Oval, London 1995
A year or two later I had to face a feeling that had arisen in me. The feeling was that this existentialist viewpoint was simply not enough. It felt like an opt-out. Something inside me wanted to know more. I reflected that humanity had been asking questions about life and death for thousands of years – cultures, religions, philosophies, magical paths and mystery schools had emerged from the search for answers. There was so much here to explore, a vast area of knowledge and experience I knew nothing about, and which it seemed both irrational and unhelpful to dismiss just because mainstream science, the new kid on the existential block, seemed to do so.
In January 95 my t-cell count had dropped to 77, and although I still felt quite ok I now qualified as a Person With Aids. I quit work and felt all the numbers and spreadsheets of my time in finance escape rapidly from my mind. I could see them going, was shocked at how full of figures was my inner mind space, and sensed it becoming emptier. Into this space I fed the contents of books on witchcraft, buddhism and the tao. I read Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’, and, unlike the first time I had opened it some years earlier, felt deep truths pouring out of it. I also revisited a book about spiritual healing by Nick Bamforth called ‘AIDS and the Healer Within’ – this too made sense to me now, I was suddenly open to hear its message that I had rejected a few years earlier when the book had been given to me.
chapter continues in the book….
“On a global scale, AIDS is symbolic of the changes, the birth pangs that the Earth is going through. AIDS is a disease, a consciousness which is primarily rooted in the third chakra, the centre of power and strength. To rise out of it, we must leave power behind and open our hearts to love in its broadest sense.” Nick Bamforth
FROM AIDS TO ETERNITY, published on Lulu.com ON SALE SOON
I felt that I was changing on every level. I was experiencing new emotions, mostly highly enjoyable ones though there were some major dips too; my mind seemed to be running in pathways that I did not recognise, except perhaps from lsd trips. I started to experience that I had a spirit that could expand and fill with energy, or contract and take me on inner visionary journeys. It suddenly hit me that my assumption that I was a lump of meat with a meaningless ability to think and feel was completely wrong, I began to know myself as an energy being with unexplored powers and a desire for knowledge that I had hardly tapped into, connected to the energies of life itself in ways I had not imagined.
I wondered if I was undergoing a rapid evolution of the human condition, brought on by the imminent threat of death, my mind expanding and revealing new levels of awareness, my spirit coming to life. Psychic abilities, inspired creative surges, euphoric periods of intense excitement were suddenly part of my life. I felt I was becoming conscious of energy flows and how to direct them, feeling healing energy pouring through my hands, through others and from nature. I started to sense that on some deep level our souls were pushing us into life experiences that were going to wake us all up to a higher dimension of reality, where we would see the profound connections going on between all things as the veils gradually lifted to reveal that life is an intricate dance of many dimensions, which normally our overactive thought processes and self-obsessive attitudes prevent us from detecting. I resonated with the message of Shakti Gawain in ‘Living in the Light’, –
“… on the deepest level of consciousness, a radical spiritual transformation is taking place … The new world is being built as we open to the higher power of the universe within us and consciously allow that creative energy to move through us.”
I eagerly read David Fontana’s descriptions of the many forms of active and passive meditation, in ‘The Meditator’s Handbook’, taking on board the aim to be,-
“…more open to environment, more aware of the beauties and colours of nature, of the joys and sorrows of others.”
Getting out of the analytical mind and into other forms of perception became my goal. I started to create rituals from my imagination, communicate with beings who had no physical form, I entertained the notion that consciousness can not be destroyed – our bodies might fail, but the sense of self, the ability to be aware, did not depend on the body. I decided I could live without fear, that death was not real, so why be afraid of anything in life? I started going to healing circles at the Landmark in Brixton, a community centre for the HIV+. A group of us met weekly to explore vibrational healing through visualisations and meditations. I believe the proximity of death opened us to feel and channel light energy powerfully. We knew we were connecting worlds, and were getting used to the idea that non-physical realms exist. But when I tried, enthusiastically, to share my discoveries with people who were not on that edge, I was met with resistance, negativity and fear.
- “I have a thought about something. Then I give myself a thought about thinking about something. Then I choose to think a thought about a thought about thinking about something. A feeling of colour and sound burst through my head. My whole body shakes, I am having an orgasm in my brain. Explosions and eruptions flood through my body. I see this feeling, I hear this feeling, I smell this feeling. All my senses are heightened and joined together to produce a new sense. A new sense of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting, all working together in a new harmony, rising above my expectations of how these senses work. I am shown a new existence, a layer of reality that is usually invisible to us. We get glimpses of it, we call it fate, god, love in order to rationalise it. But it cannot be rationalised, explained and analysed. At least not in any terms that have been invented so far. This experience calls for a new vocabulary. A vocabulary where there are no words, that exists in seeing and hearing, in knowing you are sharing with other people when they show that they are sharing it with you.” (Spring 1995)
I began to write down key life guidance that was coming from my higher mind/spirit, such as
- “To find the meaning of the Universe, go along the road to Self, a place where you understand and are honest with yourself, about your feelings and actions, then take a turning along one of the many side roads to love. When you hit trouble, learn from the experience and put it behind you. When you’ve got to love, allow you feelings to go further. I promise you good health, good friends and multiple orgasms.”
- “Live life, learn from it, take out of it what is good, what is worthwhile, leave behind the bad influences, create your own existence.”
FROM AIDS TO ETERNITY, published on Lulu.com ON SALE SOON
Around me my friends were dropping fast. Everybody I knew who took the only drug on offer to treat AIDS, the dreaded AZT, left the planet. Those of us who were struggling with symptomatic conditions quickly learnt that the best way to keep going was to be POSITIVE in mind as well as body. I refused to take AZT and tried to hold back the advance of physical deterioration with herbal treatments, chinese medicine, spiritual healing, and by filling my life with positive thoughts and love. As my body got weaker and I succumbed to pneumonia, Karposi’s Sarcoma and sank down to a weight of 45 kg, I continued my spiritual quest. My inner eye had been opened to a much bigger reality than my senses had previously revealed to me. If I was about to leave my body I wanted to be ready to consciously merge my individual soul with the great spirit of creation, which I was now convinced was real. I saw all religions as attempts by humans to explain and relate to the great mystery that we are part of. Each faith limited in its view, but pointing to an aspect of the ultimate truth. The mystical voices from every path all attested to the possibility of direct communication with source consciousness, and seemed always to point to an underlying unity of creation, held together by and manifesting through the power of love.
Mystical writings from every corner of the world, plus my own inner journeys, visions and voices, led me to see my individual journey as part of a massive evolutionary surge. With all the world’s religions and magical paths available to be studied as the 21st century approached, I started to feel that humanity was on the verge of a leap in consciousness to a greater understanding of who we are and what life is. The negations of the rational scientific outlook were just a phase we had to go through, to free the world of the domineering grip of religious dogma and to make us learn to think for ourselves.
“Between each life is a Veil of Darkness. The doors will open at last and show us all the chambers through which our feet have wandered from the beginning… Our Kas, our spiritual selves, show themselves to us in various ways. Drawing from the infinite veil of wisdom, hidden in the being of every man, they give us who are instructed glimpses of truth and the power to work miracles…” (Egyptian Papyrus Anana, c 1320 BCE)
“Now we are in a critical stage of our spiritual, moral and technological development as nations. All life is precariously balanced. We must remember that all things on Mother Earth have spirit and are intricately related. The Lakota prophecy of Mending the Sacred Hoop of all nations has begun.” Native American teaching.
“There is a grand awakening, after which we know this has been a grandiose dream. Yet fools think themselves to be awake.” Confucious
Even in the Bible I found references to the sense of awakening i was undergoing. “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that should not see and ears that they should not hear, even unto this day.” NewTestament, Romans 11:8
AIDS had become for me a doorway to a review my understanding of life and to confront fear of death, plus it became an invitation to experience transcendent awareness, not as a drug induced trip but as part of normal life. Cannabis was my medicine and my teacher plant during this time, assisting me on body, mind and spiritual levels through this long period of sickness and transformation. Accepting death was the gateway to higher states, passing willingly through that gateway – while still in the body – became a way to open and access my spiritual consciousness. I started to accept that my limited understanding of myself until this point in my life was being replaced by a new vision of the multi-dimensional human towards which the species is evolving, and of my nature as a shaman, one who connects the worlds of spirit and matter (of heaven and earth) by virtue of being queer – of containing a balance of masculine and feminine energies, an ability to connect the sexual and spiritual in my own being. Facing death, accepting it, embracing it, was the key to make this possible…
Oval, London 1995
1995 was the most incredible year of my life to date. Instead of preparing to die I was suddenly experiencing much more to life than ever before. Signs and wonders convinced me that we live in a multi-dimensional reality, and I drew my own ‘ladder of consciousness’ with 10 stages to it. After six levels of growth and personal development, the seventh stage was the crucial one, the point of make or break – I called it ‘rainbow or void’ – a point I felt myself to have reached as I negotiated some seriously altered mind states that suggested I might be having a psychotic or schizophrenic episode. This is how the doctors saw things: I was sent by my HIV consultant for a talk with a psychiatrist, who was a Sikh and not entirely unsympathetic to my talk of the evolution of consciousness. His concern was that I was too happy! He wanted to give me pills to calm me down, which I refused, saying that something amazing was happening to me and I did not wish to stop it or numb the experience. I felt I was on a knife edge, treading carefully, not knowing if I would reach the rainbow or drop into the void, but I was not about to let medical professionals tell me what was what. As I discovered energy centres in the body, the chakras, I was appalled that the medical profession gave them no credence. Yet I was experiencing them as real, and gaining much insight and joy through learning about them.chapter continues in the book…. FROM AIDS TO ETERNITY, published on Lulu.com ON SALE SOON I listened to the words of mystics such as the Indian poet Kabir and set my goal, –
“O friend, hope in Him while thou livest, know Him while thou livest, for in life is thy release… It is but an empty dream that the soul must pass into union with Him because it hath passed from the body. If He is found now, He is found then: If not, we go but to dwell in the city of Death. If thou hast union now, thou shalt have it hereafter.”