Chapter 3 – Eden
Altair had no easy time adjusting to this new information. To be told one can heal is one thing but to know that he was able to call Beings from another Star to visit is quite another. Altair knew his path lay between stars and magic. He just didn’t know quite how that would come about yet.
Altair didn’t get time to worry about that for long as there were school days to fill with music and art and books. His favorites, now placed with honor alongside Autobiography of a Yogi and the Kybalion, were Lord of the Rings, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Michener’s The Drifters.
Before three years were up he had mastered a number of instruments and was about to start his first band. That band had a lot of fans, especially young girls, one of whom was AD. She was in a gang of some notoriety and that was when all the trouble started.
“One evening we were messing with ouija board just for fun,” she told Altair amidst hysterical tears, “and the glass started moving of its own accord. It was possessed!” She continued sobbing. “The glass spelt out one of our names. It totally freaked us out so we smashed the glass. Woke up the neighbors who thought we were having a fight. That’s when it happened. To Carl. He’s in the Mad Ave gang too. So on his way home he hit a telephone pole. Not another car on the whole street. He’s in hospital.”
“What sort of car?”
“His dad’s! So his family found out and now they’re real mad at all of us. They think we caused it. They don’t know how awful we feel!
So the rest of us were in a fix then, coz we thought this thing must be coming for us. And sure enough, Alan, that’s Carl’s friend, he tried to steal the church’s offertory one Sunday after mass and the cops came and he got arrested.”
“So what did you do?”
“It got worse,” AD took a heavy breath and her head slumped. “John, is in critical care.”
“Were you with him?” John was AD’s boyfriend.
“Yes,” was all AD could say and the tears kept flowing down her cheeks and wouldn’t stop.
“I’m next,” AD said finally. “John took an overdose and I’m next.”
AD was Samoan and came from a large family of Catholics. Psychic experiences were the norm rather than the exception. But black magic was black magic. Altair knew AD’s family would have frowned on her excursions into Ouija boards. She would not get any support from them. Suddenly a strong conviction came over him. He felt Master R.’s words weaving through and dispelling AD’s fear. Healing, casting out demons, freeing people by giving them faith.
“You’ll be OK,” said Altair. “And if you get frightened again come back and I’ll see if I can help you.” He told AD what the Master had promised he would be able to do.
“Healing? I want to learn that too. There’s so much I want to do. I don’t want to die! I’m too young! We only did the Ouija board as a joke. We never meant to cause anyone any harm! You’re such a good person. Why did I ever get mixed up in this?” AD managed to calm down after lots of breathing.
“You’ll be OK.”
She nodded and left.
Altair was convinced AD would be fine but he had the feeling this wasn’t the end of it.
That night when he was alone he said his prayers and sat down to do his daily meditation. Since reading Yogananda’s book he had started the lessons with Self Realization Foundation and he was also practicing Alchemy through the lessons of Builders of the Adytum. This gave a strong foundation for the feeling he had that his path to the stars and magic was unfolding surely and clearly. He had also began a study of both Eastern and Western astrology so on this night he was contemplating how to unify these philosophies and practices.
Remembering what Yogananda had said about divine consciousness and being receptive to what the divine sends you, or doesn’t, Altair focused his mind on meditation, prayer and alchemy and the symbols of the stars. He found that if he truly relaxed with awareness by practicing the AUM technique and breathing calmly, new visions and insights would come.
Tonight the only message he received was to go to sleep. AD was on his mind. Her fear and worry whirled round in his mind like a playground roundabout. He found if he didn’t avoid it but embraced it like a warm cuddly cat then its energy would shift and he could appreciate its angles and glimpse its deeper meaning for both AD and himself. So he decided to go to sleep.
He was no sooner asleep then a shaft of light brighter than the sun struck his room and he awoke to a radiant presence. The majestic Light poured from an eternal Source blazing and blinding him. It sent a thrill through his body of something far beyond anything he had known, heralding the arrival of someone who was always there for him, a powerful presence and joy he had always felt since a baby when Mother Adamson and his own mother Mary had first whispered the words “baby Jesus” to him. That same deep thrill filled his heart with joy as Jesus appeared in the room, radiating the dazzling light of the Christ Consciousness from his Sacred Heart and said to him
“Be healed according to your faith”
“By the power of Christ begone”
In that moment and forever more Altair knew that he would never fear death or demons or the world of the Dark because the Light that shone on the darkness was so much greater.
Altair sank back into his bed with a sigh and fell immediately into a deep sleep.
Several days later, with much coming and going, friends visiting and relatives dropping by, there came an evening when his parents were out helping a family of Cambodian refugees, charity work they had all done for years. His mother Mary received the Queen’s medal for her service to several hundred Cambodian families in placing them in jobs and houses in the community so a sudden trip to help someone in need was not out of the ordinary. The house was empty which seemed scarcely possible. Altair was sitting on the sofa when there was a knock at the door.
AD could barely get up the grey steps and through the double doors. She looked like she was weighed down with a burden. As she came through the door Altair noticed a slight shift in the air, as if something ominous was attaching itself to AD.
“It’s got hold of me,” said AD as she sunk down into the sofa.
“What is it?” said Altair even though he felt he knew.
“A demon,” said AD and slumped even lower, her hair falling forwards and her face sinking into her hands. She began to cry. Big whale tears the size of olives welled up and stalked down her cheeks. “Do you know why it is harming us?”
Altair didn’t know but he could guess. The Agents of the Dark were cunning and manipulative. They bred on fear and vulnerability and loved to meddle. They preyed on young people who exposed themselves to the unknown through drugs or black magic without knowing what they were dealing with. They were insidious and deadly dangerous.
“Lie down,” said Altair. “I can help you. Close your eyes.”
AD sighed and lay down. Her face was damp with sweat and her eyes were glazing over. Altair looked at AD. She was lying very still. He placed his hands on her forehead to begin. He had no real idea of what to do. Just follow his heart and trust in Jesus.
AD’s breath was very shallow. It began to follow an uneven pattern with ragged gasps. Altair moved one of his hands from her forehead to her heart.
Then he said in a very loud voice.
“By the power of Christ, begone!”
AD shuddered. Her body tightened as if she were going to have a fit, her breath came in gasps and her eyes closed tighter in pain.
Altair cried aloud again,
“By the power of Christ, begone!”
AD’s body began to spasm. She frothed at the mouth. The room filled with dark wild shapes and sounds that created confusion and fear.
Altair stayed steadfast and said a third time in a commanding voice,
“By the power of Christ, begone!”
AD gave a fearful cry, groaned and was still.
Above Altair’s head there was a burst of light and for an instant he could see the radiant face of Jesus. Tears of gratitude filled his eyes and he remained for long moments with his hands on AD’s forehead and heart before removing them.
AD had sunk into a deep sleep. She didn’t wake for nearly an hour and a half and when she did she looked at Altair with soft, comprehending eyes.
“Thank you,” was all she could say. “It’s gone.”
Then she left. She was never bothered by demons or evil spirits again.
That night Altair lay in the comfort of his bed in the east wing of the house. It was a bitter night with heavy clouds, swirling winds and driving rain.
Suddenly something hurtled out of the dark and struck his window. It sent his heart into a flutter of shock. He got up to peer out of his window into the darkness. It was like a sharp pain, buzzing and murderous, trying to fill his head with confusion and fear. As his sleepy eyes adjusted he saw it. A face, black, angry and furiously trying to get in the window. It scratched and clawed on the smooth glass. It was so monstrously angry Altair thought it would break the glass. It had two gaping holes for eyes and a twisted malevolent mouth. It saw Altair and Altair saw it. And in that moment he spoke.
“By the power of Christ, begone!”
And with a flash of light burning bright in the darkness like magnesium set to a flame the creature vanished with a howl.
Of all the colleges in the Sky City the largest was Sacre Couer. It was built around a mountain and was coveted for its sports fields and its musical heritage. The Chapel was at its center, and not far from there Brother Stephen could be found narrating stories of heroes in Latin. Beyond his rooms was the library and it was here that Altair’s parents had invested their money to help fund research. The money was used to buy books for the astronomical and astrophysics wing, the subjects after Altair’s own heart. As a center for sports and music there was no equal and Altair loved to boast of it to his friends from other schools. He regarded his teachers as being of little help or consequence except for Mr Lake, the English and literature teacher, whose interest in Altair led to him many years later publishing his first best seller.
Altair was more concerned with his path between magic and the stars, as well as playing rugby on Saturdays, flute on Tuesdays and tennis with his father at every other opportunity. Rugby he loved for its speed as Altair could run as fast as the wind and became the top try scorer in that year’s competition. Flute he loved for the smell of his teacher’s perfume and because every flute player seemed to be a girl. Tennis, well both his dad and Mum had been tennis champions so it seemed only proper to continue their legacy. As for magic and the stars, he had to let those come to him in their own time and way. And so they did. Because after AD came Grace.
Altair was searching for Eden one day. He liked nothing better than frolicking in nature through gardens and roses and sweet spring flowers. In many ways he was a true poet. He loved the call of the wild, to get lost in the call, to let the caller and the called disappear. This was true surrender to the powers of creation within. And who better to do it with than Grace, an exquisite elfin creature that his best friend introduced him to at a party and whom for the rest of the summer he would spend every hour with, climbing hills to seek splendor, weaving pussy willow through each other’s hair, racing through fields of long grass where the paspalum stuck to their clothes and they would pick them off afterwards one by delicious one, and dancing through the night.
Altair was unaware that beneath the surface of his world the politics of fear were stirring, because he was enveloped by the innocence and charm of love at play in his heart.
Altair faced three enemies in his battle for a path between the stars and magic. The first was the bullies. On certain occasions, for example, Desmond, whom he had infuriated in Grade 6 for revealing who had actually thrown a rock through the Headmaster’s window when the whole school was about to get punished, would chase him round and round the paddocks and fields of the outer school with a promise to beat Altair up if he caught him. He never did. Desmond was big and heavy and used to beating up kids which was not a habit Altair wished to encourage, least of all when that punishment was directed at him. He was grateful to Desmond however, as he learned how to run very fast, and build incredible stamina, two factors which helped him compete in the Sky City athletics competitions at a very high level. Altair was not unused to bullies. At elementary school an undertaker’s son named Perry helped build his initial speed by chasing him around and around the elementary school opposite his house, merely for the fun and games of it. Altair was also grateful to Perry, because in one of those circuits he met his first girlfriend, Linda, from Canada Ontario, who was also a speedster and accompanied him on one of his escape routes and then on their first date which was to race each other to her home. Perry’s bullying days ended when one of the St Joseph nuns caught him terrorizing the kids and held his head underwater when the class next went swimming until he promised to stop his errant ways. Such were the old ways of discipline. Force met with force.
The next enemy Altair could not outrun. They were the Brothers, earthly Agents of the Dark, whom he called The Inquisitors. Altair was forced to attend classes he often loathed and as good fortune would have it, because he was bright, he was put on individualized programs in which he taught himself, and so had little if anything to do with The Inquisitors except on exam day. Inquisitors were known for their particularly cruel methods of punishment for children. Of course there was the strap, the cane, and the wallop, during which the Master of Discipline would force you to bend over and then hit your bottom with such force you would collide with the opposite wall and bang your head. Altair received one of these for whispering to his friend in assembly that the Master actually did do this heinous act, because no one ever saw him do it, there were no hidden video cameras or iphones and everyone was too scared to say. But there were equally devious and manipulative methods of control used by other Masters such as Hang-glider. He was known for his big ears. If you spoke in his class he would come and drag you out by the ear and then yank and pull vigorously on your ear with such force that your ears would ring and you would get a headache and you would have to promise not to do it again. There was also the notorious Golden Ruler. This was a Master who wielded a particularly hard ruler that if you were not paying attention he would come and force you to lay your hand on the desk and rap your knuckles so hard that bruises would come and he would watch until tears came. The Inquisitors were Masters of Torture, sadistic and twisted and unfortunately there were far too many of them for one kid to deal with. The exact opposite was Peeps, a mild-mannered Brother who was famous for having absolutely zero control of any class and so the class did what they wanted for the entire year of Grade 9 and learned exactly nothing. Altair’s class used to fly paper aeroplanes and launch innumerable objects, a hobby Peeps grew so tired of that one day he said to everyone, “OK, if you want to fight, go ahead and fight, outside!” So the class did, and they all went outside and had a ding dong fight and one of the bullies Tozer, ganged up with his mates against the friend that Altair was coaching in maths, Martin, laid into him and broke his arm. That was the last day Altair ever saw Peeps.
The most difficult enemy to deal with was the Dark itself sent to plunder human consciousness through the forces of fear and ignorance and innumerable distractions. The demons tried to invade Altair’s world through Claude who had been besieged by demons since birth, and Julianna who had attracted a demon onto her property so that it lurked around her house, and Lisbeth, who unfortunately had built her house near a graveyard and incurred the wrath of local spirits who became increasingly angry and moved and smashed objects in her house. All these Altair could help by using the same words Jesus had given him to cast out demons and liberate spirits and in the case of the warriors, as it had been an ancient battlefield, he went and had a chat and they compromised. Lisbeth moved house and the warriors never disturbed anyone again. Such was Altair’s life and he would never wish for another as his life was far too interesting and unexpected and filled with adventure and love and mystery.
Then Grace vanished.
It happened after a summer holiday in which everything was sheer delight and perfection. The flowers could not have been rosier, and the beach could not have been more romantic. The hills were rolling and alive and the grasses they cavorted in were surely planted for them alone to hide in and kiss and share secrets. As with all holidays and young lovers the joy also had to include going to school and keeping in touch and promising to return every holiday as they lived in different islands and so they parted with every good intention. And Altair sent her letters every day.
With none in return.
First there was disbelief, then disappointment, then grief. It was like an arm or a leg had been cut off. A part of his life snatched away. And his heart hurt so badly. He was like a ship with no anchor or an adventurer with no compass. Stars and magic no longer seemed to have quite the same allure.
So it was that days went by with no love or stars or magic. Until the visit.
Altair had been deeply devoted all this time to Alchemy on the one hand and meditation and yoga on the other. He would get up every morning to practice for 2 hours and the same in the evening. He used the family’s second lounge, would shut himself away with their two cats, Milligan and Ziggy, who would curl up, one at his feet and one on his lap, and away he would go, deep into worlds beyond this one. He found that by following Yogananda’s instructions exactly, all the experiences of the Masters would manifest just as Yogananda had said, and at the same time, while following the practices of Alchemy to the letter, equally wondrous worlds would be revealed in his consciousness for him to explore.
So he could hardly have expected what came next.
One thing that Altair noticed as he deepened his practice was that ideas began to manifest in reality. Dreams would come true. He would think about someone and they would call. He would dream about a package arriving with a particular gift and a few days later it would appear unexpectedly in the post. Very simple things. Nothing to boast about. Everyone has these. But the frequency was increasing.
Meditations were the same. Altair wrote in his diary.
‘Diary of A Yogi’
“They begin like any normal meditation, deluged by disobedient thoughts and rebellious ideas. A stormy mind with a spirit as wild and free as a young horse. Then calmness, as if the ocean waves subsided all at once and a vast presence, radiant and alive, was lapping at my consciousness. Then the breath, unceasing and endless would stop and would be drawn out of my lungs and another breath would take its place, one in which I was not the breather. My sense of self would move outwards, into the room, the street, the world and stars, so that the people and the stars moved as one with my consciousness. I could see the phenomenal whirling of the planets and fiery spheres as well as feel them all melting into one luminous sea. Joy would fill my soul, and continue unabated until I would drag my consciousness back to this mortal coil. God as Bliss, God as Light, God as Love, these were realities within the infiniteness of my Being. Worlds upon worlds throughout the cosmos were at play within my Being. The heavenly realm was made manifest in my heart. The nectar of immortality, amrita, flowed through my Being. The Voice of God resounded as Om throughout, just as I had heard when I was two year old child. To have an experience of cosmic consciousness like this was a priceless gift, my heart would swell with deepest gratitude. I could see how the sacred breath and mindfulness were the key to calming the ocean and how the perception of the One Light in the Shared Heart arose from this. As I dipped into silence daily, with my guru Yogananda filling my heart with the Light of God, deep devotional bhakti and regular yoga practice had prepared my mind and heart for omnipresence. The force of God attracted me like a bee to honey.”
After these meditations Altair would go immediately to bed and sleep deeply. On this one particular night he awoke with a sudden start. A bright light filled the room. There standing in front of Altair was Master, Yogananda. Tears filled Altair’s eyes.
“Master,” was all Altair could muster.
“It is time to make a choice,” said Yogananda, looking straight at Altair. “You have been following the path of meditation and alchemy. In order to go deeper you need to choose only one.” Then he gave Altair a most magnanimous smile and disappeared.
In the morning Altair took the winding path beside the pohutukawa tree to Suzie’s door. He hoped she would understand.
The door opened as he stood on the top step wondering just how he should say it.
Suzie’s beautiful face was framed in the doorway.
“I thought it might be you,” she said.
“I had a vision.” Altair’s heart was beating. “Yogananda came to me. He said I could only choose one path. I need to follow him. I…I have to stop. The lessons. The Alchemy.”
Suzie smiled that beneficent smile Altair loved so much. She always made him feel warm no matter the occasion.
“I thought it might come to that,” she said. “Some are more suited to this way and some more suited to that. You have always struck me as a Yogi.”
Altair nodded not sure what else he could say.
“You may find you will come back to it, in time,” said Suzie. “All that you have ever wanted, or looked for, is here now.”
“Outward longings drive us from the Eden within; they offer false pleasures which only impersonate soul-happiness. The lost paradise is quickly regained through divine meditation. As God is unanticipatory Ever-Newness, we never tire of Him. Can we be surfeited with bliss, delightfully varied throughout eternity?” (Sri Yukteswar to Yogananda)
Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists
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