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Has anything ever happened to you that changed everything in an instant?
Most of us have heard about such things, or maybe we’ve read about someone who had an epiphany or an awakening or some other radical shift in consciousness that allowed him or her to perceive an entirely new array of colors and meanings within the spectrum of reality. I once had such an experience. In the year 2000 I was a college student at Florida International University in my final year of study, well on my way to graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.
It was late (early in the morning to be more exact), much too late to be standing outside in front of my dormitory “shooting the breeze” with a friend. I don’t recall what we were talking about, but I know it was not far off from nonsense. We were laughing uncontrollably–the kind of laughter that happens when you’re sleep deprived but pretending to be wide awake.
Then suddenly, without any build up, something changed. One moment I was talking to my friend, bent over with laughter, and the next moment I was in another dimension. In front of me I saw a towering book, emerald green, iridescent–majestic. On its cover were the words “The Middle Theory” in gleaming gold letters that had a kingly presence. It felt like a lightning bolt of inspiration.
I stood there, transfixed; the book seemed to read my soul. It knew me. It was somehow connected to me. Everything ceased to matter as I gazed at this book. I was not aware of myself in the way I am during wakeful consciousness. The “self” that I carry in my mind of who I am—my name, my age, my address, my likes and dislikes and so on—was simply non-existent. I was just awake and at ease. I didn’t feel especially happy, nor was I sad. The best word I can find to describe that eternal moment is contentment. I was content. Nothing mattered. I could have stayed in that state forever.
Then it ended, as suddenly as it began, and I was back in my body with my present awareness, my friend’s laughter reverberating in the darkness. He didn’t notice anything. I was not about to tell him, either—I knew he would only laugh all the more. Despite my silence, something remarkable had happened to me; something I could not ignore. Grace had unexpectedly entered my life.
I briefly share this life-changing experience in the opening chapter of a book I published in 2009 entitled The Middle Theory. Not until this series of essays, however, have I shared the whole story with such detail and within a larger context. This essay is the first of a 10-part series written exclusively for BahaiTeachings.org. These essays will be intimate and I hope inspiring to many readers. They will discuss insights from personal encounters I’ve had with grace since that mystical experience years ago. As my journey to balance continued from that unforgettable moment in 2000 to the moment I began writing The Middle Theory, I open my mind and heart to a profound wisdom that I later found perfectly mirrored in the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. That wisdom resided at the heart of The Middle Theory, although I didn’t know it when the journey began.
In one word, the Middle Theory is about “balance”—not balance in the sense of a little of this and a little of that; balance in a deeply spiritual way, a pervasive sense that influences every dimension of reality.
The Middle Theory describes a balance that leads to peace in the world, stronger communities, religious unity, the equality of men and women, justice, prosperity and everything else imaginable that supports the advancement of the human race. This balance is powerful. It is real, universal, and it is achievable when we understand certain fundamental truths that burn away our limiting mental paradigms. This balance doesn’t require us to become anything else, other than deeply aware of and consciously connected to a Source far greater than ourselves. This balance is kind. It wants nothing from us other than what helps us to be happy and to live peacefully with everyone else on earth. This balance does not have to compete for anything for it is whole as it is. It is beautiful beyond description. It is available to us–not in some distant future, but right now, even as you read these words:
Set before thine eyes God's unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that Balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life. - Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 236.
So we begin this journey together as friends. We will learn much on this journey. The lessons will mostly be simple, but there will be times when you may wrestle with a concept or an idea that is not a part of your current belief structure. That’s fine. Isn’t the point of every worthwhile journey to have new experiences, to digest new information that compels us to investigate new interior territory?
Let’s relax into this journey. Let us listen deeply and reflect sincerely on what we experience together. As you read each essay, imagine that you are a wayfarer on the path of life looking ahead to the bright horizon, eager to see the new frontier beyond the reach of your vision.
O wayfarer in the path of God! Take thou thy portion of the ocean of His grace, and deprive not thyself of the things that lie hidden in its depths. Be thou of them that have partaken of its treasures. A dewdrop out of this ocean would, if shed upon all that are in the heavens and on the earth, suffice to enrich them with the bounty of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Ibid., p. 279.