by David R. Hawkins M.D., Ph.D: Finding spirituality on a cold winter’s day…
In 1939, I was a paperboy in rural Wisconsin and had a 17-mile route. One dark winter’s night, I was caught miles from home in a blizzard. The temperature was 20 degrees below zero, and my bicycle toppled over on an icy, snow-covered field. A fierce wind ripped out the newspapers that I carried in my handlebar basket, strewing them across the terrain. I broke into tears of frustration and exhaustion; my clothes were frozen still, and I was far from home.
To get out of the wind, I broke through the icy crust of a high snowbank and dug out a place to burrow into. The shivering stopped and was replaced by a delicious warmth . . . and then a state of peace beyond all description. This was accompanied by a suffusion of light and a Presence of infinite love, which had no beginning and no end, and which was indistinguishable from my own essence. I became oblivious of the physical body and surroundings as my awareness fused with this all-present illuminated state. The mind grew silent; all thought stopped. An infinite Presence was all that was or could be, and it was beyond time or description.
After what seemed like eons, I was drawn back to an awareness of someone shaking my knee—my father’s anxious face subsequently appeared. There was great reluctance to return to the body and all that it entailed . . . but I loved my father dearly, and because of his anguish, I chose to do so. In a detached way, I sympathized with his fear of my death, but at the same time, the concept of “death” seemed absurd.
This experience was never discussed with anyone. There was no context available with which to comprehend it: I had never heard of spiritual experiences (other than those reported in the lives of the saints). But after this experience, the accepted reality of the world began to seem only provisional; traditional religious teaching lost significance. Compared to the light of Divinity that I had felt bathing all existence, the god of traditional religion shone dully indeed. I had lost religion. . . but I discovered spirituality.
Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., is an internationally renowned psychiatrist, consciousness researcher, spiritual lecturer, and mystic.