By Jordan Chaney
I’ve always been a seeker, but I never really felt spiritually connected in a church environment. I’ve had a preacher lay hands on me, and while everyone else around was convulsing and speaking in tongues on the floor, I was scared motionless — shitless! I wanted to feel what they were feeling; I just couldn’t.
And still, I’ve pursued enlightenment. Several years ago, in a Hail Mary attempt to get a taste of what that might feel like, I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda and also completed a 30-day fast: an Islamic fast where you don’t eat or drink during daylight hours. A week or so after the fast ended, something big happened. Something truly holy and unique finally happened!
I had just put down Autobiography of a Yogi when I experienced a total blossoming of consciousness.
It was the kind of glow that Leroy Brown experienced in the Last Dragon, or what Neo came to realize about himself in The Matrix. I was glowing and levitating. I saw auras around people’s heads. My energy level shot through the roof! The book’s worn and tattered body lay in my booming wake like a python’s snakeskin had just been shed. Enlightenment? Yes please, and at the bargain bookstores clearance price of $1.99. Shit, not only am I elevating my consciousness, I’m being economic about it too! I had tapped in, I was the new born Jedi ready to get out and kick some secular Storm Trooper ASS. I was ready to heal the lepers, donate to charity, hell, even pick up some damned litter and maybe clean up a neighborhood park. These things are noble acts, the characteristics of a saint. And by gosh, that is exactly what I had become.
Yogananda and all of his illuminated homeboys had just imparted centuries of meditation from concentrate all for my higher self to absorb. They would be totally proud of this grasshopper! I experienced the omnipotent total connectedness that I had read about in The Celestine Prophecy, or like in the story I heard about the Buddha himself being umbrella-ed in a rain-storm by a colossal cobra when three hobos trippin’ on mushrooms stumbled upon the Great One. I was having THAT experience.
And it fit: from all of the pictures and souvenirs that I’d seen over the years, Buddha and I were both portly brown guys with big smiles. \ Though admittedly, in a loincloth I probably look more like a big brown cupid that somehow misplaced his bow and arrow. All the would-be lovers missing their divine romantic connections, the ladies overeating chocolates on their periods watching chick flicks all by their lonesome, and the fellas out taking Jaeger shots and playing beer pong with the boys rather than dining with one another on a balcony overlooking God’s twinkling creation while sipping champagne… All of my sage burning, meditating, praying, fasting, not having sex for 30 days in a row finally paid off. The veil of darkness and ignorance had dropped at lightning speed. I was awake.
That very first night of Christ Consciousness, a very cold and rainy night in December, I had starlight coursing through my veins and was standing barefoot in the fountain of the Space Needle splashing water on security guards.
I felt the kind of elation angels must feel in mid-flight. An hour later, Seattle’s Police Department had wrestled me into a paddy wagon, headed to West Seattle Psychiatric hospital, where I was tackled by orderlies and sedated.
Enlightenment came with room and board and Depakote cocktails and some other kind of red pill, unlike the one in The Matrix, and Morpheus became a silly little devil on my shoulder laughing out loud at me! The psychiatrist told me that lots of creative individuals at 25 years old have “psychotic breaks,” and that this was normal. I laughed hysterically, trying to prove my sanity. (By the way, here’s a tip should you find yourself in a psychiatric hospital: the moment you begin to try to explain or even prove your sanity to someone, you automatically look and sound nuttier than squirrel shit. You should probably keep quiet.)
A few days later, Dr. Dye, the psychiatrist appointed to me, told me that if I didn’t take the meds I would be placed back in psych wards throughout my life. “I have a SEVERE apprehension toward meds, doc,” I said intensely. “So as a precaution we are going to check your blood for the next 90 days to make sure the med levels are there,” he shot back, almost cutting me off. “And if they’re not?” I asked defiantly. “Then you will be committed.”
“How far will you guys pursue this? Would you guys follow me out of town?” I asked, wearing a poker face. “No, Mr. Chaney, this is only a county thing.” I gave blood three weeks later — pure blood, my blood, blood that had not been tainted with anti-psychotics, lithium or any other brain-candy they tried to force me to take. Knowing the consequences, I packed up all my things into my Nissan wagon, pumped my last $20 dollars into my gas tank, and drove to a quiet town in Eastern Washington. I would lay low there for a few months until it all blew over.
Well, as the adage goes, “what goes up must come down.”
I fell into the deepest darkest depression that I could fathom. I wanted death to come. I was lonely. I lost my job, all of my friends, even my family members shunned me. For months on end I only ate, slept, read and wrote. I ran out of tears; my grief sponge had been squeezed dry. Looking back, I realized that I did die in a lot of ways… but I also rose from those ashes. I rode out the storm and things did get better. A whole lot better, and without psychiatric meds. I ate mindfully, slept, exercised, took vitamins, and eventually what had snapped, snapped back.
Throughout history, there have been many great people who have lost their minds in order to find themselves. So if you are Jesus or Buddha or the great reincarnation of a transcendent alien being who was secretly born into our species to raise the elevation of all mankind and decipher the hieroglyphics and deliver truth to us, keep quiet about it. You’re not crazy, but you most certainly are not status quo in the sanity department for what hopefully is only a short stint, as it was for me. But if you for some preposterous reason feel the urge to shout your newfound spiritual revelations to the world, I suggest doing lots of cardio and pushups, because orderlies are strong and psych wards are scary, but ultimately your enlightenment is for you and you only. Holy Shit can happen, so be prepared!
Metaphors be with you,