I think a lot of people who went to college might chuckle at the title of this post as partying, sex, and drugs at college can easily be MISTAKEN to be a “spiritual awakening”. But, here’s my story:
So, my second year of college, a new friend of mine from the punk rock scene and I randomly decided to forge across the prairie of South Dakota to go to the state University. For the first time in my life, I was away from my parents and I was free to completely find myself.
My roommate had connections to Sacramento and would get shipments of pot in coffee cans. I don’t know how it worked, but we were supplying almost all the pot on campus. As a result, our dorm became pretty popular. We had parties all the time, were high every single day, and got to know all kinds of people. It was exciting! We also developed a reputation on the campus–we were known as the “Beastie Boys”. We were very different from most of the farm-raised kids attending the college and we stood out. There was a circle of girls who started to notice us too and pretty soon we were partying with them. I had a crush on several of them, but ended up dated one that year. I was starting to get over my awkward high school years and come into my own. I was well-liked and respected. The parties created bonds with people I would have never saw myself being friends with before. We had jocks, nerds, hippies, punk rockers, and a rapper all hanging out together. It was pretty amazing really…
For me the drugs started to become less about partying and more about philosophizing. We would get high and just sit around and talk about life and meaning and all kinds of things. We had conjured up strange ideas about how colors had deep meaning, how numbers were significant, and how reality was not real, etc. I started thinking pretty deeply. This led me to the library and a shelf there called, “religion”. I spent a lot of time at that shelf that year. I read almost every book on it. The first book I picked up was called, “Traditional African Religion”. We would know this religion as “Voodoo”. I was fascinated. There were pictures of a bunch of Voodoo symbols. One night I burned one of the symbols onto my shoulder. The next night I branded two of my other friends with the same symbol. I felt we now had a deeper connection. But, I didn’t feel Voodoo really met what I was really looking for so I moved on. I explored Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American Spirituality, Baha’i, and Taoism. The only religion I was really adverse to was Christianity.
I didn’t mention in my “Childhood” post anything about my religious upbringing because it was pretty insignificant in my life. When we lived in the small town, we went to the Catholic church about twice a year. All I remember was crossing myself all the time, taking communion, standing up, sitting down, kneeling and then redoing the process all over again many times during the service. It didn’t make a drop of sense. I was confirmed and was an alter boy a few times. I always thought it was kind of fun ringing the bells whenever the priest held up the wafer but it meant nothing to me.
When we moved to the bigger city, my mom started taking me to some protestant churches occasional. We visited several, but I mostly remember attending regularly at one or two different ones. There was one in particular, a Wesleyan church, where we kind of stuck for a while. I got involved in a youth group there and kind of liked the kids although they always seemed a little bit weird to me. One night at a youth overnight, I was asked by the Pastor if I’d like to be “saved”. How could I say “no”? So, we went into a room and he said a prayer which I repeated after him. Then I was “saved”. I stood up the next Sunday and let everyone know. I think I even said my life was improved–which it probably was for the next few days. But, then my life went on as usual–nothing changed at all. Later, for some reason, we stopped going to that church and I never went back to another church again and never intended to. It had made no sense to me and no difference in my life.
So, as I’m in college seeking after God, I begin to narrow my focus to a few religions that seem to make the most sense to me at the time–Baha’i, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism (also sprinkled in with some Native American Spirituality). I was developing a New Age religion sandwich! I was “having it my way”. I got pretty serious about this stuff. I was meditating and praying and writing. I would sit around on my beanbag chair–high, smoking cigars, and just trying to figure life out.
Things began to happen which really started to impact me. I started to find dimes all over. Never pennies, nickels, or quarters–just dimes! I began to feel they were somehow significant. It was becoming ridiculous how often I would find dimes and in the most random places. I was also finding Bic lighters a lot. You might shrug this off as consequence, but several years later, I was scanning through the TV channels and just happened to see an episode of Montel Williams where he had Silvia Browne (a psychic) as his guest. An audience member stood up and asked a question that totally threw me for a loop. She mentioned to Silvia how she was finding dimes a lot and felt they were significant and wondered what they meant. Silvia told her it was a common way that dead ancestors would try to communicate with the living. WHAT!!!???? I couldn’t believe it! A few years after that (very recently in fact) I was going through my Facebook and an acquaintance of mine who I’ve never had any spiritual conversation with posted an article about finding dimes. I quickly clicked on it and read about a person sharing their own experience with significant dime finds. I even found out that there is a website called FindingDimes.org where people post their dime finds. As a newb dime-finder I had no idea that I was part of a small circle of people having this experience, but I knew I was part of something “bigger”. There were many things that began to become significant. One day, while tripping on my first acid hit, we were walking to the park. As I walked, I noticed a playing card laying face down on the sidewalk as I stepped over it. Normally, I would just keep walking but the card seemed to call out to me so I turned around and went back to it. As I looked at it I noticed that the back looked really familiar–we had a deck of cards at home with the same print. It was unique–a picture of green leaves. So, I picked it up and turned it over. It was a three of diamonds. Three had become my favorite number. Through our number philosophy, I had determined three was the most balanced and perfect number. Three and green had both become very special. This card had both! And diamonds was all about Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds… LSD… which is what I was on for the first time. I picked it up as if I had just found a door that few had opened. A year or two later, I was walking to the bus stop while reading Tao Te Ching (the book of Tao) and noticed a playing card pass under my feet in my peripheral vision. I walked a few steps and stopped. “Could it be?” I thought to myself… Yes, somehow I knew it was. I turned around went back to it and picked it up and turned it over–sure enough! Three of diamonds!! I felt, yet again, that I was part of something bigger and that I was being singled out by something bigger than myself.
Across from my dorm room, there was a utility room with an industrial sink in it. Since it was closer than the bathroom, I would go in there each evening and wash my face in the sink. But, as I would hunch over and scrub my face, I would always find that I would get an eerie feeling for some reason. After a while, I told my friends about it and asked them to try washing their faces in there and see if they felt weird. They said it was strange. We asked our RA if anyone had ever died in the dorm and he didn’t know–however we spent the whole evening with him hearing his stories about transcendental meditation. I decided to stop using that sink. But, after a couple weeks, I felt like maybe I was just being paranoid or something and I was tired of walking the extra distance to the bathroom so I decided to “man up” and go back in there to wash my face. The instant I started scrubbing, I got the most overwhelming fear. At the very same moment, a picture of blood flashed through my mind. Also, at the very same moment, I got soap in my eyes! I started to freak out a little bit and as quickly as possible tried rinsing the soap out. As soon as I opened my eyes, I was even more freaked out–there was blood all over in the sink! My nose had somehow started bleeding while I was washing my face! This was not only strange and freaky but also took on some significance when a few nights before I had had a dream where a fist holding a crucifix had come crashing through the mirror outside of my room–splashing blood all over the walls.
Needless to say, I was having some really weird experiences. My friends were too. My girlfriend had been walking through the campus late one night when she started to hear a saxophone being played in the center of campus. As she walked she sensed that it was becoming louder as if it was becoming closer to her. It seemed to be getting closer and closer, so she started walking faster. The faster she walked, the closer it seemed to get to her until finally it seemed to be right next to her. As she looked over she saw a ghostlike woman walking next to a midget playing a saxophone. She freaked out and ran to her dorm room which was on the second floor. She locked her door and was contemplating jumping out her window when we found her.
Another one of my friends told me how he had had a lengthy conversation with his uncle who had died in the past. All of these things were happening within about a six month span of time. It was pretty intense! I was fully aware that we are part of something more in this life and that there is some kind of significance and meaning–I still wasn’t sure exactly what though.
I left college that year a new person. My eyes were opened to something larger than myself. I still had a lot of questions but I was on to something. I was being transformed from a white-boy rapper to more of an earthy, spiritually-minded hippie. I was writing journals, reading tons of books, going into the trees to pray and meditate, etc.
I was Awakening Spiritually…
To read the next phase in my life, click on the link: “From New Age to Christian… What Happened!?”