A Quiet Mind was founded by Robert Jackson in December of 2005 with the help of a friend who suggested Robert start a podcast to help people to meditate, relax and quiet their minds. In February of 2004 Robert had a profound spiritual insight that lead him to investigate the truth or who we are, why we are here and what happens when we die. The podcasts explore all of these questions in a format that allows the listener to put into practice tools to quiet the mind and cultivate inner peace and stillness.
The following is the introduction to the manuscript I’m currently working on.
Introduction to Waking Up In The Dreamworld
THE DAY I DIED
As the searing pain ripped through my chest for the third time I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I’m having a heart attack! I’m dying, and it’s absolutely beautiful!” I had been walking along a mountain road with my dog Arlo when suddenly a strange yet familiar energy exploded in my chest. In an instant my body had become filled with a power so intense and explosive that I thought for certain I would exploded.This energy was ten thousand times stronger than any pain or sensation I had ever felt in my life and ten years later I’m still trying to explain it and understand it’s meaning and origin. The closest thing I can compare it to is love but it was no love I had ever known before, it was unbounded, unbridled love and so much of it that it was killing me. Though I was dying there on the side of that mountain I knew that I had nothing to fear, that I wasn’t alone, as a matter of fact I was being held by this energy.
The love was so strong and unlimited that it filled me to bursting. I knew one more ounce of it, just a tiny increase in its intensity and I would be turned literally to ash. If this was my death, then it was the most wonderful, ecstatic and joyful thing that could ever happen to me. So instead of being fearful or resisting my own death I decided to surrender to it completely. I let go, and when I did, the joy, ecstasy and bliss enveloped me entirely. The loving presence took over and I was immersed in it, then something amazing happened. As I let go I became it. I became one with the energy and then I was gone. All thoughts, all fears, all questions, all doubts, all pain, everything was gone. I had been erased and there was nothing left but this ecstatic, joyful energy ripping through me at the speed of light. In this equation there was no room for Robert, for thoughts or a thinker; there was only this energy coursing through a vehicle, and this energy was everything and nothing. And I was everything and nothing. I was home and the ride, this physical life was over. In this union with all things I understood about everything that I had ever wanted to know about God the universe, death and life. I was complete. I was a witness to and one with all the secrets of the universe.
I remained in this state for a long time. I have no idea how long. It could have been minutes or hours. Earthly time had ceased to be and I had no connection to “reality.” I was in this fire of truth and love and it was burning away all fear, doubt, and pain. The stories about me, my past, my memories, my dreams and my desires were consumed in this cleansing fire. The energy was healing and reshaping my mind and heart and it was transforming my very being, without realizing it I had fallen to the ground and hunched over sobbing. Everything around me was so bright, beautiful and alive I could only cry. The trees, the mountains, my dog, Arlo, the snow, the sky; everything was alive, connected, aware and bursting with love and it was me and I was it and I was somehow gone.
When I got up the strength I pushed myself up onto my to my knees, and when Arlo saw me get up he came to me for a hug. I put my arms around his furry neck and buried my face there. I cried until there were no more tears to cry. After this dog hug I felt better, so I got up on my feet, brushed the snow off of my clothes and started walking down the road again. Arlo kicked up the snow with his heels as he raced by me to lead the way. As I walked along the beautiful snow covered road my heart was full but my mind was empty calm and clear. I knew that I had be given a wonderful gift, and a clear glimpse of the workings of the universe. I walked and walked for hours in the snow smiling to myself feeling free, clear and loved. When I saw a tree I would either burst into tears or laugh out loud it was a strange and amazing reaction to what before had be taken as life and death. Weeks later I was still experiencing flashbacks of intense moments of bliss, ecstasy and love.
At these times “I” was one with everything and in love with everybody around me. This heart opening shift in consciousness would happen in the strangest of places and at the worst of times. On one of these occasions I was with my good friends at Ikea looking at furniture, the place was jammed packed with peopl. when I was so overcome with the power of love in I felt coming from the people in the building I thought I was having a panic attack. I had to sit down and focus on my breathing to keep from bursting into tears and passing out. I never thought this powerful energy would return again with the same force and intensity as on the mountain but it did and right there in Ikea of all places.
As I sat there trying to catch my breathe, bliss and love coursing through me in waves I noticed quite a few people walked passed me with mixed looks on their faces of fear and concern. You may think, how amazing. How wonderful to have such a thing happen to you in your life, what a gift, but I was changed forever from my mountain zap. I lost myself. I lost my purpose in life. I lost my dreams and my desires. I lost my identity with myself and my story. I lost my direction in life and it was as if a part of my memory had been deleted and replaced with something else, some other purpose that hadn’t yet become known.
Over the years I have discovered that there was no way for me to recover this lost data, my story was falling apart. The old me and my old desires and dreams didn’t hold sway over me as they had before. My whole life had been transformed and I wasn’t the old Robert anymore. Now I had to rediscover how to be, how to live in this world without the story of Robert.
I experienced pure bliss, love and joy, with very little effort as long as the conduit ( my body) remains open and free of obstructions. I have found that by opening my heart and having no expectations keeps the energy flowing and when there is no thought or concern for the small self the love just surges through me like a powerful and pure stream. There still remains some conditioning and habits that I know know will take time to fall away but as long as keep serving and dropping self concern all will be right and well.That is the walk, that is the journey and open heart ready to serve. At times I catch myself still attaching to a thought form and wondering why this happened to me and what I should do about it. My course direction and what had guided me before was all self serving in nature. My dreams, my plans and my desires all were focused on me, mine and I and know they all paled in comparison to what had transpired on my mountain. How could anything in my life be as amazing as that? I knew that no matter what I created, accomplished or experienced in my life, nothing could ever top that moment and nothing could ever hold a candle to my death on that mountain.
So now what? What do I do with my life? I had no idea. For the days that remained on the mountain, I was still deeply connected to the Source. I would sit daily and just resonate with it, being filled by its love and healing. Most times I would just lose myself in it and bask in the warm glow of its light. During one of these moments I got an idea. I thought I would ask this Source a question, so I did. I said, “How do I remain forever in this energy and feel this always?” Well, I got my answer relatively quickly. What happened next I wouldn’t say was really a voice per say, it was more like a feeling, than a hearing but this is what it said, “Tell people about what happened to you, on the mountain. Tell them who we truly are. That we are love and we are everything, that we are all connected and that we should love one another.” It continued, “ To remain always a conduit for this energy, lose the me, mine and I and serve people.”
Ok, that seems clear enough to me. It had spoken and the direction was clear but how do I best serve? Before this experience I had the dream to become a full time, professional artist and a musician. I had worked my whole life at dead end jobs to support my career as an artist and entertainer. My destiny was to become a famous artist and that was my goal. I would never have imagined in a million years that one day on a walk I would have some sort of near death experience would and that I would hear a voice tell me that I must lose my ego, tell everyone we are love and serve people. So here I am telling you what I heard and I’m serving you because this is the only thing that makes sense to me anymore. Nothing else matters but to share this journey with you, to serve and lose my ego.This walk of discovery has been long and difficult.
I have suffered, made many mistakes, failed time and time again and lost more than I have gained but it’s been a beautiful journey. Along the way I’ve searched far and wide to get the answers about what happened to me on that day in the mountains. I’ve talked to many people, reads tons of books and articles, spent our in meditation, wrote thousand of words in journals and spent countless hours in retreats and meditation. Then one day I finally realized that no one can answer those questions but me and the only thing to do is do it. Live life and share this message. I’ve worked hard to learn how to quiet my mind to be a conduit for this energy and my only purpose is to share that healing and guidance with you. So here is my story and I’m honored and humbled to share it with you.
At the time of this wonderful occurrence, I was sharing a beautiful straw bale cabin with my wife, Tanya, the three dogs; Arlo, Tooney and Crucita. and a little white, dumbo rat called Sassy. The cabin was perched on the side of an arroyo near a small town called Lama, high in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. The cabin was remote, off grid and the living was primitive and challenging. There was runing water from a catchment tank but there were no inside toilets. It was quiet and very private. We all loved living out there in the middle of nowhere that is until we lost our business and our car within the same month.
After that we hit hard times and found ourselves snowed in and several miles from the nearest town. In this limited and challenging situation I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out how to save us from certain doom. Night and day my mind was spinning and churning with worry. I tried in vain to figure out how to get us out of this terrible fix. We were low on food, heating, gas, and money and we were unable to pay the rent. We were facing eviction and possible homelessness if I didn’t do something fast. I worried and pondered and lost all hope trying to think my way to a solution. I felt hopeless, scared and depressed. I was worrying myself into madness.
I reached a moment when I realized that thinking and worrying about the problem was not going to help me or my family. I decided to take a different approach and stop battling with my mind. Instead I worked at taking a break from my mind. Every day I spent hours in meditation, letting go of my thoughts, feelings and troubles. When I wasn’t meditating I was looking for answers in books like The Tao, The Gita and The Bible. I was also reading Krishnamurti, Vernon Howard and a score of others. The meditation brought some relief from the incessant mind noise but in time I grew tired of it, and the answers I was looking for were not coming through in my meditation practice. In fact meditation had grown stagnant to me, it became draining and mechanical. I began to doubt its authenticity and began searching for another way to find peace and receive guidance. I became open and receptive to change.
It’s funny when you become open in mind and heart; magical things can happen. It is as they say: when the student is ready the teacher appears. I was ready and one day he, the teacher appeared. Though we were many miles from the nearest town and snowed in my teacher arrived and on the television of all places. It was a small miracle that the television was on and working because we never watched TV during the day. Being off the grid, we conserved our battery power for the evening to have the lights on to read and cook by and I could have sworn–no, I was positive–we hadn’t paid the satellite bill in weeks. Despite these two things the TV was on and as I walked by it I heard these fateful words, “We practice mindful walking.”
I stopped in my tracks and I turned my head so fast that I cracked my neck. “Mindful walking? I said as I looked at the screen in wonder. There I saw a thin, slight man wearing a brown robe and a straw hat. He was walking so slowly and methodically it was almost painful to watch. There was a group of people following him from a distance and they too were all walking slowly and quietly. It was one of the most beautiful and sublime things I had ever witnessed in my life. The more I watched, the more peaceful and calm I became. Soon the pain and worry I had been experiencing for weeks turned into bliss. Just watching this little man walking along this path brought me to a deep place of inner calm and well being. He was doing nothing special, just walking along without a care in the world. It was sublime.
Then, suddenly, the show went to a commercial. I was stunned and shocked. I wanted to know more and I didn’t want this peaceful feeling to stop. I waited for the show to return after the break but it didn’t come back. I wanted more of this peace and calm, so without having much of a clue of what this slow walking was, I decided to invent my own version, after all how hard to could it be to walk like a turtle. How hard could that be? You would be surprised, it’s pretty hard to walk that slowly. In my ignorance or naivete I proceed to walk on without a inperson teacher.
I was all fired up to give this practice a try regardless of the weather or my lack of expertise. It was cold outside and there was about two feet of snow on the ground but this didn’t stop me, I had a warm snow suit, boots and mittens to keep me warm. I stood by the front door and announced to Tanya that I was going out for a little walk. Tanya didn’t even raise an eyebrow; she had grown used to my little eccentricities. I called out to Arlo, who needed no snow suit, mittens or hat: “Wanna go for a walk, boy?”
He wagged his big fluffy yellow tail and smiled up at me. I took that for a yes, then braced myself for the cold blast as I opened the front door. Arlo shot out of the door like a bolt of lightning, flopped into the deep snow and rolled around like a happy fish. He snapped onto his feet with a grace and style and shot off down the snow filled path like a bolt of lightning. Arlo blasted up the primitive road west of the house that led to the mountains. This was our spot to walk.
Once outside and on the path I just made things up as I went along. I shuffled along as slow as a turtle trying to copy the movements of the little monk (Thich Nhat Hanh). I saw on TV. At first I noticed that my boots made a wonderful crunching sound in the snow as I was walking. I decided it would be a good idea to tune into that sound. “Crunch, crunch, crunch.” I focused all my attention on the sounds of my slow and patient footsteps. Arlo bounced along up ahead and stopped and turned every once and awhile to watch me. I walked on like this for a while until I noticed that I had forgotten the sound of my footsteps and realized that my mind was chattering away like a canary in a coal mine. It was busily analyzing the absurdity of this activity and was saying things like…
“This is ridiculous!
What a silly thing to do!
It’s friggin’ freezing out here,
lets go back inside where it’s warm.
I wonder how we’ll pay the rent?
You’re a failure!
You’ll never get out of this mess and
this is your fault!
We better ask for help or we’ll be screwed!
Oh look! A squirrel!”
My mind was all over the place and it was driving me crazy. I needed to do something to shut it up. I wanted peace and quiet during my walk, not a crazy monkey mind, so I began to focus on my breathing as I did in seated meditation. During my seated meditation sessions I discovered that I could quiet my mind by repeating, “In” with the in breath and “out” with the out breath. This focused my mind, filled in all the gaps with sound, thus allowing the incessant thoughts to subside and my mind to become calm and serene. I tried this while walking but it was too difficult to focus on the breath and walk at the same time. So I kept bringing my attention back to the sounds my boots made in the snow. The crunching sound was pleasant and it distracted the noisy mind monkeys. At one point there was a natural transition that occurred. I began repeating the following mantra in my mind:
And I focused on the sound, “Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.”
And so it went for miles and miles, day after day. Step after step. Slowly, deliberately, and peacefully we walked.
Every morning Arlo and I would go out and trapse around in the deep snow, just enjoying the moment step by step. After many days, my mind was becoming still and the gaps between thoughts were growing wider and wider. I was experiencing everything around me fully and deeply. All the sights, smells and sounds had become amplified. Everything looked and sounded different. As I walked, I was totally engaged with nature in this silent and reverent act. I saw that the beauty and majesty of nature possessed a deep silent knowing and there were many hidden lessons to be learned and discovered. Slowly and step by small step, nature was revealing a sacred teaching to me. My activity was simple: I was just being, just walking and just listening. I was literally losing myself in the action of non action. I felt light, at ease and peaceful. I was happy and content for no reason despite all my my problems, stresses and worries. Just by being present with the moment my troubles were seemingly falling away.
The silence and the peace that exist in nature were becoming my medicine and my teacher. What a gift those moments of deep silence were at Lama Mountain. I was beginning to relax, heal and become receptive to my conditions and surroundings in a new and eye opening way. As the days passed I noticed that I was carrying the peace and serenity from the walks all day in normal life. There was a crossover from the practice into my so called mundane activities like sweeping the floor or doing the dishes. I would find myself in the midst of one of these activities and I would catch my mind wondering or worrying, then I would simply bring my attention to whatever the activity was such as washing dishes or sweeping the floor and I would hear an inner dialog which sounded something like this:
ME THE VOICE IN MY HEAD 1
“We are not thinking about the phone bill!?
They’ll surely cut us off and if they do what’ll we do in an emergency?
Without a phone we could die up here!”
Don’t worry, we’re just sweeping the floor.
ME THE VOICE IN MY HEAD 1
“What about the rent!?
We’re sure to be evicted. Then what will we do?
We’ll die out here, we’ll freeze to death?
Don’t worry, this too shall pass,
It’s all just thinking.
Everything’s going to be okay.
Just sweep and breathe, sweep and breathe.
My inner life coach was training me out of my old habitual thinking patterns and teaching me stillness. When I heard the coach’s words, I would sometimes feel lighter not only in mind but in body and soul. As my troubles left me and my mind settled only peace remained. Sometimes I would be become deeply relaxed just doing the dishes and listening to the inner voice tell me all was well with the world. I had fallen upon a profound and powerful teaching by chance and what I discovered was this: just by being mindful during mundane activities, literally everything one does becomes a spiritual practice and giving things space allows for inner peace to prevail and subvert a chaotic situation.
After a few weeks, Arlo and I developed a daily habit of mindful walking.We loved our walks because they made us feel good and brought us peace, and happiness. We were soon enamored of the new practice and jumped out of bed early every morning to go for our walks. By this time I was quickly falling into a trance-like state almost immediately after I came out of the front door and my boots hit the snow. Today was no exception and I hardly noticed Arlo as he shot down the drive and into the road. He turned right and barrelled down the road toward the arroyo, snow flying up from his paws in a fine spray of white. I followed but at a much slower pace. I automatically fell into the trance like state and the inner dialog of “Left, right, left right, left right, left right.” started up almost immediately. I was rapidly drawn into the meditation, feeling calm, clear and peaceful as I slide along. My mood was light and happy, as I watched my breathe plumes fill the air in front of me.
I had only been walking for two or three minutes and had just turned the corner out of our drive when I casually looked up from my boots to view the surrounding snowy landscape. The Arroyo, the road and all the trees as far as I could see were covered in snow and there were thousands and thousands of tiny rainbow colored glints covering every inch of the ground. It was so beautiful I burst into tears at the sight. The beauty was so intense it literally took my breath away. I was awestruck, breathless and filled with joy.
Then suddenly I was hit in the chest with a powerful blow. All the breath left my body in a terrific woosh. I doubled over, clutching my chest as a searing pain arose in my heart. My knees were wobbling, and I was gasping desperately for air. At first I thought, I was having a heart attack. Then I remembered saying to myself, “Shit, I’m having a heart attack! My God, I’m having a heart attack and I’m going to die!” A moment of sheer terror arose in me. I was more terrified than I have ever been in my life. The pain was so intense my chest it felt as if it was being cracked open by powerful unseen hands. My heart felt as if it had been exposed through a gaping hole to the outside world. As the piercing pain increased in my chest, the unchecked tears flowed down my face into the snow. I was dying here on the mountain. I was taking my last breathe. It was all over for me, and it was beautiful. I began grieving my own death, seeing pictures in my mind of my own funeral. There in front of me was my casket and my loved ones surrounding my lifeless body, crying and grieving my death. I was somehow floating above them and watching, grieving my own death and feeling their pain and sadness. Terror, sorrow and sadness filled my being completely. I had never felt such sorrow and pain. I went into this powerful grief wholly and completely and gave into the terror and fear of my own demise. As I surrendered and accepted my own death all fear of dying left me. All the panic and doubt subsided into the energy of love, joy and bliss.
I was free.
The huge weight of life had left me and all at once, everything was illuminated, glowing, pulsing with life and light. Everything I saw was alive and awake, all the trees, shrubs and plants were pulsing with light and life. I felt as if I was SEEING all of nature for the first time in all its true glory. The perfect stillness of the moment stopped all time. Lama Mountain and the foothills of the Sangre De Cristos were so gorgeous and quiescent, all I could do was cry. I had never cried so hard in my life. I began to feel weightless and my body felt like it was being lifted off the ground. Suddenly, another powerful burst of joy and ecstatic energy filled my chest. I became so full of joy and love that I thought my heart would explode in ecstasy. I feared one more ounce of this love and I will turn to ash. In that moment I knew my body could explode and I would be fine. I knew that I wasn’t alone and I knew there was no such thing as death.
Everything was fine because I wasnt alone, I was being held by someone or something unseen. Some energy or consciousness was holding me. I didn’t know what it was but the only way to describe it is to call it pure love. In a flash, all my wants, dreams and desires fell away, the story of myself and my past had disappeared and I was one with everything. Everything in the universe was me and yet I was nothing; completely free and loved. I knew without a doubt there was nothing to fear about death because there was no death. Dying isn’t the end; there is no end to anyone or anything.
Immersed in the energy of love, I saw nothing ever dies and nothing is ever born. Everything just IS. I was completely enveloped by love, bliss and peace. I was love, bliss and peace. “I” became IT, the love, and I was the energy that holds everything. The true nature of mind was revealed to me and I was feeling and knowing there are not two, nor are there many, there is only ONE and WE are that and THAT is nothing. Robert had left the building and there was just pure awareness of being.
Though I use the reference of “I”, there was no “I” present. “I” had come home. “I” had arrived. “I” had reached the end. Searching for answers and proof was over. All the questions, theories and ideas I had had about life, death, God and the Universe had been blown out of me completely. There was only the suchness, the consciousness, the Source of everything. My body was simply a conduit for this energy, a pipeline for love. It (the energy) may have been killing Robert but something else remained; the some -”thing” that had always been there. It can be called many names; compassion, true nature, Isness, awareness of being, God, Allah, Jehovah, Source, Tao, whatever you want to call it, IT was and IS.
At one point I heard a voice inside me (I refer to this voice in this book as the Heart-Mind). I heard it say, “This is who you are Robert. You are this love, bliss and happiness, WE are this energy. Everything and everyone in existence or that has ever existed is this energy. There is no death and there is no birth. Nothing and no one ever dies. It’s impossible to die because you were never born.”
Of course my higher Self knew this as truth but my ego, my false self, my conditioned mind said,
“No, that’s not me! I’m not love!
I’m not compassion or bliss!
I’m a mess. I’m all screwed up. I’m not awake.
I need fixing. I am not this loving awareness!.”
I was being flooded by loving awareness but my paltry little ego denied everything. Thankfully my True Self, the Heart-Mind, persisted,
“Yes you are”, it said,
“Everything is this energy.
And you are love, bliss, joy and happiness itself.”
The little self/my ego subsided again and “I” just radiated in the bliss and said,
When I said yes, the compassion amplified in me to such a powerful extent the conditioned mind rolled over and went to sleep. I surrendered to it with tears of joy and gratitude. I cried and cried, falling to my knees in the snow. I cupped my face in my hands and wept. The pain was leaving my chest and I was feeling weakened physically but my heart was filled with love and joy.
Arlo ran up to me to see if I was okay. It was his habit to run to anyone who sat with hands cupping their face in tears. He nuzzled my face and pushed at my arms so he could rest his head against my chest. We sat there for awhile, me crying my eyes out and hugging Arlo as he comforted me.