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Spirituality in the 21st Century
by Kurt Kawohl
In 1956, when I was fifteen years old, I had pneumonia and thought I was dying. My father took me to a doctor who gave me a penicillin injection and recommended immediate hospitalization. We had no medical insurance or money, so my father took me home to recuperate. I remember the drive home vividly. Every breath was painful and my chest felt as though a great weight was upon it.
I watched cars and trucks drive by, and wondered how people could make long term plans when life was so unpredictable.
Several nights later, it felt as if my spirit left my body, and it experienced being in a place with a gathering of souls or spirits. I sensed great peace, tranquility and ecstasy -- a rapture that was beyond imagination. I felt part of the "ultimate supreme spirit." I was mentally communicating and in sync with everyone, including not only some of my deceased acquaintances and relatives, but many of the prophets of the Bible, and historical people I had read about. There was no dominant force, no forceful leader. I somehow knew who everyone was. Every thought interacted with the whole community. I had no questions; it seemed as if everything was revealed and crystal clear. I saw the universe stretched out with spirits engaged in mental interaction, like master craftsmen contemplating the creation of a new frontier.
When I told my father, a Lutheran preacher, about my experience he dismissed it abruptly and said that this "supreme spirit" my spirit had witnessed, was not the God of the Bible, and he told me to pray for my salvation. We never talked about it again.
And I rarely thought about it afterwards until the 9/11 New York World Trade Center tragedy. I went into deep meditation. I wanted to find an answer to why and how some misguided individuals could believe that their actions would be rewarded by eternal life with God. I then had a couple of experiences similar to the one I had at age fifteen of my spirit communicating with the "ultimate spirit."
One spiritual experience seemed to last throughout the entire night. My spirit observed the entire history and the evolution of the universe and our varying perceptions of God, as if in a fast-forward film.
I realize the "messenger" is of no significance. It is the message that needs to be taken into account and judged for its merits. The experiences I encountered after the 9/11 tragedy helped me come to this conclusion: In this twenty-first century, we are still plagued by religious beliefs that are a contributing cause toward terrorism and wars between nations. Belief in a deity, who keeps causing catastrophes, punishes people, and who created the universe out of nothingness as if by magic was brought about by hysteria and superstitions. This thought process needs to be reassessed and brought up to date. Open-minded people must use common sense to determine whether this so-called deity was incorrectly perceived, misinterpreted, and misunderstood by the masses of a bygone era.
Some will say that my personal experience of oneness with a supreme spirit is nothing but a dream or a vivid imagination. It doesn’t matter whether you accept or totally reject my story. What does matter is that we evolve to a point whereby we can encourage open-minded people to offer feedback on how our religious beliefs can be brought into the twenty-first century.
Kurt Kawohl is the author of a book called Transcendentalism—A New Revelation. See http://transcendentalism.us.
All contents of this page Copyright © 2003 by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Materials may be excerpted, reprinted, or republished only with the express written consent of IONS.