"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to Man. It is a dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity. It is the middleground between light and shadow, between science and superstition; and it lies between the pit of Man's fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call...the Twilight Zone."
My cosmic journey began at a very young age when the questions, “Who am I? What is my purpose in life?” and “What am I doing here?” haunted me and burned in my mind night and day. While other children were content to play, I was driven to ask questions about the meaning of life. Raised in New York City, I came from a liberal, educated family. Both my parents were teachers, and neither believed in God or religion.
As a young boy, I thought science could give me the answers to my questions about life. Reading every book I could get my hands on about science and the lives of the great scientists. I often devoured ten books a week. I read about men like Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Enrico Fermi, Louis Pasteur, John Oppenheimer and Dr. Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry. Goddard was mocked by a 1920, a front-page story in The New York Times, "Believes Rocket Can Reach Moon,” where his idea was ridiculed. I learned early on that most people think and live inside the box, for fear of ridicule. I vowed that I would not be bound by the opinions of frightened little men and women. Building a huge laboratory in my New York City bedroom, I undertook amateur experiments in cryogenics, where I attempted to freeze plants for some future purpose. Soon, however, I realized that these scientists did not have the answers I was looking for. Thus, at an early age I discovered the bankruptcy of pure scientific materialism and like the authors I admired like Aldous Huxley, Dr. John C. Lilly, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac and Timothy Leary, I looked for answers beyond the doors of perception.
After exhausting science as a means of finding the meaning of life, I next investigated the occult and Eastern religions. Biblical Christianity was not even an option for me. At that time, I had never once met a Bible-believing Christian or seen an evangelist on television, or in churches, that had any understanding of what I am writing to you about. The only religion we had at home was secular humanism – the belief that there is no God and man is the center of the universe. As a result, I was raised to believe that there was no absolute right or wrong. Around the dinner table, my parents taught me that human evil was due to ignorance and that the concept of a personal God was an archaic belief any educated person should transcend. In addition, they told me that Christians were intellectually pathetic people who were “anti-love,” “anti-joy,” and “anti-sex.” Instead of promoting anything good, Christians were responsible for the crusades and the Inquisition. Obviously, that was highly prejudiced view, but that is what I was taught.
One Thanksgiving evening my grandmother asked my father to pray. Instead, he launched into a thunderous tirade about how there was no reason to thank God – everything we had came from man’s hard work.
In the atheistic environment of my home, the spiritual void within me grew deeper, and I plunged headlong into the New Age philosophies and radical politics. These are the superficial radical politics that have now become the consensus for entertainment, politics, education and media. Soon after I reached puberty, my parents divorced, ripping my world apart. My spiritual pilgrimage merged with a growing hatred of all authority and society. I was ripe to be seduced by the counterculture and the psychedelic philosophy of the ’60s which has now become the New Age Movement.
Although my mother held a secular humanist worldview, she was always full of loving concern and discipline. She spent thousands of hours reading me books and taking me to museums and libraries. Genuinely concerned about her rebellious son, my mother sent me to a psychotherapist whom she hoped would solve my rebellion. Since in my quest for truth, I had read countless books by psychological theorists, like Carl Rogers, Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Carl Jung, Primal Therapy by Arthur Janov, Abraham Maslow and others. Many of my childhood friend’s parents were psychologists and psychiatrists. As a group I found the majority of these people among the most intellectually lost, disconnected from reality and messed up people I had ever read about. I thought the writings of Sigmund Freud, nothing more than the projections of his personal insanity. These were men and women lost in a maze of their own delusion.
I told my therapist that I wanted to know why I was alive, who I was, and what purpose there was for my life. He could not help me and only provided a listening board. In the vain hope of finding answers, I began reading Sigmund Freud, Carl Rogers, and Carl Jung. But all the leading psychological theorists seemed to contradict each other, and I was left more confused than ever.
Then the “hippie” movement with its drugs and “free love” exploded across the nation. I remember the first time I saw Timothy Leary. Wearing a white outfit and grinning like the “Cheshire Cat” from Alice In Wonderland, he said on national television “Tune in, turn on, and drop out.” This psychedelic prophet of LSD was in distinct contrast to the people involved in organized religion. Then the Beatles recorded “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and the psychedelic invasion of drugs, Eastern religion, and promiscuous sex spread.
At the age of fifteen, I was wearing long hair and boots and demonstrating with Abbie Hoffman in New York City. I organized demonstrations and was even made an honorary member of the Black Panther Party. Beneath all the bravado, these were men and women who pathetically clung to the failed theories of Karl Marx. Simultaneously, I deepened my activities in Eastern mysticism and was introduced to drugs by an “honor student” in my high school. I read a book by Aldous Huxley titled Heaven and Hell and the Doors of Perception, which describes Huxley’s experimentation with hashish and mescaline as a means to enter a higher state of consciousness. This fellow student, whose father was a doctor, “turned me on” to hashish and mescaline as part of a serious scientific experiment. Together, we passed through the “doors of perception” and entered a higher realm of consciousness.
Fueled by drugs like LSD and mescaline, it was the psychedelic ’60s that ushered in the current New Age Movement. Powerful mind altering drugs like LSD blasted people into the spiritual realm and forced them to acknowledge the presence of a spiritual reality. This opened the door to the occult and the myriad practices of Eastern mysticism that gave birth to the New Age Movement.
In my own life, the use of powerful psychedelic drugs like LSD intensified my plunge into the New Age philosophy and Eastern Mysticism. Thus began an electric pilgrimage into Hinduism, Buddhism, and the teachings of Don Juan, yoga, and mental telepathy, altered states of consciousness, hypnotherapy, astral projection, reincarnation, the occult, devil’s weed, spirit guides, and a smorgasbord of mystical experiences. I was greatly influenced by men like Baba Ram Dass, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, and Stephen Gaskin.
In fact, my major at the University of Missouri was called “Altered States of Consciousness,” a brand-new accredited field within the Department of Psychology. We studied different means of entering higher states of consciousness and engaged in exercises based on Eastern mystical teaching and experiences by men like Carlos Castaneda. It was during this time of intense New Age activity that I developed spiritual powers and “cosmic consciousness.”
My professor at the University of Missouri was a practicing mystic and taught a number of courses on mental illness. He believed, as did popular psychologists like R.D. Laing, that mental illness or madness could be a means of entering higher consciousness. In this theory, insane people are considered spiritual pilgrims caught between two realities.
My professor invited gurus to teach and perform supernatural feats of levitation. Once while my professor was lecturing, I imagined hearing a distinct voice within me shout, “Surrender to the dark forces within!” At this point in my life, I noticed a growing intensity in the manifestation of strong spiritual experiences. Yet at the same time, I had a growing feeling that this was self-induced, I believed I was moving toward “enlightenment, and therefore created a consciousness of enlightenment. This was a form of self-hypnosis. I became convinced that everything happening was due to my excess “karma” burning off. I felt like the journalist, Hunter Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” dropping acid before going into the casinos.
In the early ’70s, a strange thing happened at the University of Missouri. The Jesus Movement spread from the West Coast and entered the campus town of Columbia, Missouri. I remember seeing an article on the Jesus Movement in a national magazine. Reading about these Christians, who I thought were going to regress mankind into a new Dark Age with their “primitive blood-stained religion,” made me furious. I hated them because I thought they would stop the “revolution” and the establishment of the new world order based on higher consciousness. People involved in the New Age Movement hold the very same beliefs, for their goal is to create a one-world government and unify the planet under a spiritual system of higher consciousness. Like many New Agers, I viewed Christians with all their talk of Jesus Christ being the “only way” as an anachronism and a threat to the spiritual/political revolution coming to the planet.
About this time, however, I finally came face to face with Christians who seemed to have some connection with something divine. I delighted in attacking and debating these Christians in philosophy classes, whenever they spoke out about their faith. I attempted to humiliate them and prove them wrong through intellectual arguments.
In addition, I increased my “outrageous” behavior in front of Christians in an attempt to mock and ridicule them. Since I studied film, I made X-rated animation movies with Barbie dolls in an attempt to mock Judeo-Christian morality.
Finally, I challenged these Christians with all kinds of intellectual questions, so my religious friends gave me a book by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, “Escape from Reason.” I was shocked to discover that a person could be both intelligent and a Christian. Talking about God, film, art, and philosophy in brilliant and articulate terms, Dr. Schaeffer explained contemporary culture in a way I had never understood.
One afternoon a guy named Tim, who invited me to a retreat in a wooded area about an hour away from the campus. Dressed in boots, blue jeans, and long hair, I arrived at the retreat center. A brief look at the place quickly convinced me that these people didn’t have what I was looking for. They were the kind of Christians I had seen before – religious but lacking the depth and dimension of people who have claimed to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
While at the retreat center, I noted vague references to the Bible, but primarily we played games like “spin the bottle.” I was totally disgusted, for these people reinforced my worst preconceptions about Christianity. After spending the night I told Tim during breakfast that I was going to hitchhike back to the university. Tim walked me to the highway and said, “Paul, God will take care of your ride home.” Wondering if he was some kind of religious nut but hoping to humor him, I said, “Yeah, yeah sure.” Then I stuck out my thumb and tried to hitch a ride.
The first person to pick me up was a Pentecostal preacher. He and his wife talked to me about Jesus the entire ride. Stunned, I chalked it up as coincidence; after all, this was the "Bible Belt." After they let me out, I stuck out my thumb and was picked up by a Bible salesman with a station wagon filled with Bibles! As we whizzed down the highway, he opened a giant Bible and began reading. With no hands on the wheel, he asked me if I wanted to pray ? I managed to gulp a “yes,” and he pulled off the road.
As we rolled to a stop, the thought raced through my mind, “What have I got myself into? Is this guy some kind of religious psychopath or axe murderer?” Growing up in New York City had taught me to suspect everybody’s motives and not to trust strangers.
The next thing I knew, this Bible salesman was leading me in some kind of fundamentalist a prayer. I wasn’t even sure what sin was, although it seemed to me like an archaic concept. But I managed to ask forgiveness for my sins, whatever that was. Hours later, I forgot the incident had even occurred and “partied” the night away with friends by getting drunk. The next day I woke up hung over and decided to visit a Christian girl named Laura. She and her boyfriend, Burgess, had spent a lot of time talking to me about Jesus Christ.