Magical Journey to Cagayan de Oro

Magical Journey to Cagayan de Oro [Photo: Randy Chester]

Three weeks into my Philippines adventure, and suddenly I feel like Carlos Castaneda in Mexico, under the tutelage of don Juan Matus. My Filipino friend Fendi, aka “the shaman”, would seem bizarre and incomprehensible to most people, but that’s because most humans live their lives firmly shackled inside their culturally-constructed box. The shaman lives outside the box, and has no use for it.

Is it possible that even after living 15 years in Thailand, I’m still not completely purged of all my own cultural assumptions? Now that’s a disconcerting thought. I feel like I need to just shut up and observe.

This week I had to travel from Valencia to the coastal city of Cagayan de Oro, some 155 km to the northwest, to get a visa extension. I was hoping the shaman would go with me, but he insisted I make the trip alone.

“I’ve only been in this country 10 minutes, and I’ve never been to this place”, I protested in vain. The shaman’s mind was made up. “You can go alone”, he told me bluntly.

Almost from the moment I stepped out the door, it felt like I was on some surreal journey. Everything appeared to be Perfection unfolding. I mean, almost everything was so easy and effortless, like the Kosmos was dropping magical gifts into my lap.

The small bridge on the dirt road where I live had flooded the other day, leaving a muddy mess. I was wearing brand new dress shoes, along with dress slacks and shirt, due to the strict dress code of the immigration office. The shaman gave me two plastic bags to put over my shoes.

On the way, some friendly locals pointed to my bags and jokingly laughed. “Oh, hi-tech” I explained. More laughter. Yeah, well, whatever gets you through.

The bags not only worked to perfection, I was able to give them to a damsel in distress on the other side of the bridge, a college student who was practically in tears over the prospect of getting her clean uniform muddy. It was a win-win situation for everyone.

A passenger-less motorela was miraculously waiting (for what? me?) up the road at the Versatile Lodge when I got there, so I didn’t even have to walk the several more blocks to the main highway.

When I got to the bus station, I told the friendly guard I needed a bus to Cagayan de Oro, and he pointed to a red one just about to pull out. I jumped on and we took off immediately.

I was glad to see the back several rows empty, so I grabbed a seat and got out my camera. Only then did I notice it was a non air-con bus, but it was cloudy and so cool that air-con turned out to be unnecessary.

The bus conductor graciously allowed me to put down my window, and when I did it was almost too cool. Who needs air-con anyway?

I’d brought an awesome book along, “The Essential Ken Wilber”, to read on the bus, but rolling through the exotic countryside was so exciting I never even got around to opening the book.

Along the way, I waved and joked with the locals, especially those we passed along the side of the road, and also the food vendors who appeared at every stop.

Everything was going great, and as we neared Cagayan de Oro, a Westerner surprisingly boarded the bus. This was only the third Westerner I’d seen in over three weeks in the Philippines.

He took one of the seats behind me. Only later would I realize that the Kosmos had sent me an angel, cleverly disguised as an Australian tourist, to help me find my way around Cagayan de Oro.

This stranger soon struck up a friendly conversation. He announced his name as Peter, which upon later reflection I found both suspiciously Biblical and suspiciously sexual. I announced my name as Randy – explaining that my mother didn’t speak British English. He laughed and said, “Ha! That’s okay, mate!”

I told him the Brits I worked with in Bangkok chuckled so much over my name that I started using my middle name instead, which was spelled “Leigh”. Rather British-esque, huh?

The Aussie angel befriended me and offered some valuable information concerning the visa extension process. For example, I didn’t know I needed copies of two pages from my passport for immigration, as this information was not mentioned in the government website.

So I went with the Angel/Aussie to a nice mall where I got the copies. He even paid the full taxi fare. Somewhat suspiciously, he claimed he happened to be headed to this very same shop anyway. After offering to have lunch when we got our business finished, he then sent me to immigration in a taxi, instructing the driver where to take me.

He’d already adamantly told me on the bus not to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which was a different location from the Bureau of Immigration. Back in Valencia, two Filipinos had told me I needed to go to the DFA.

The taxi driver seemed to know where immigration was, but soon pulled over and asked another taxi driver. This one told him to take me to the DFA, so my driver headed there instead.

Four humans had now agreed that I needed to go to the DFA, and one angel had said no, that was the wrong place. Hmm, wonder who’s right?

That mix-up was the only thing that went “wrong” during the whole trip. But there’s an obvious lesson in it. Never trust humans over benevolent angels!

When I arrived at the DFA, the guard told me it was for Filipinos only, and that I needed to go to the Bureau of Immigration – precisely as the angelic Aussie had said. That’s the last time I will ever listen to humans over angels.

I arrived at immigration a short time later, and found a delightfully small office with friendly staff. I only saw one other foreigner/customer in there, and I was out in 10 minutes, business completed. If you’ve ever been to immigration in Bangkok, you know how miraculous this was.

I then took another taxi back to the bus station, the angel giving me the exact name, as there is more than one bus terminal in Cagayan de Oro, something else I didn’t know.

I easily boarded a bus back to Valencia, this time an air-con one. Again, the whole back section was empty, so I had my choice of seats and plenty of room. The windows were clean in this bus, so I could take good photos out of them.

Leisurely eating snacks I’d bought from vendors, I sent an sms to the shaman to tell him everything went amazingly well and I was now headed back. I mentioned that the Kosmos had even sent me an angel disguised as an Aussie tourist. (This was a bit odd because I never use the term “angel”. I always use “Spirit Guide” instead. I don’t know why I called the Aussie an angel.)

The shaman messaged back a “hahahaha!”.

About an hour later, I burst out laughing when synchronicity suddenly struck. They were playing good Western music on this bus, and now a song came on that I’d never heard before. As I listened, the lyrics kept repeating over and over and over, “Send me an angel, send me an angel, right now, right now.”

Anyone who can’t see that the Kosmos has a great sense of humor just isn’t paying attention.

As if that wasn’t synchronistic enough, went I got home I googled the song and discovered that it was a 1983 hit by an Aussie band called Real Life. Both angel and band from Australia? Hahahaha! Carl Jung rocks!

I now see why the shaman sent me alone on this journey. I needed to see the magic unfold for myself. And if he’d been along, there would have been no reason for the angelic Aussie to show up.

The following day the shaman told me he always travels with angels, and that he sent two with me yesterday. The Australian tourist was clearly one, but I’m not sure who the other was, though there are a host of candidates. Perhaps some reflection will reveal the identity. Or perhaps the other one was not manifested in physical form.

A few days before the trip the shaman had bluntly said to me, “Practice what you preach! You know what to do. You know how to raise your vibration, how to get in the vortex. Only you can do it. No one else can do it for you”.

And though he didn’t say it, I might have added “Yeah, you know far too much to ever go back. So stop wallowing in self-pity. Just tap into Source Energy, as you always do.”

Yes, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. And this magical journey to Cagayan de Oro was evidently part of the shaman’s plan to jolt me back into alignment. He knew I needed to take this trip alone.

You are a non-physical being and chose to have this temporary human experience. Only a small part of your consciousness is focused in this physical experience, with the greater part of You always remaining in non-physical.

When your physical body dies the part of You that has been focused here will re-merge with your Higher Self in non-physical.

The physical brain acts as an interface connecting your non-physical Self to the physical body, in much the same way that a radio translates non-physical radio waves into the sound we can perceive with our physical sense of hearing.

Your essential being is Prime Source Energy, which is 100% positive. Your Source never feels negative emotions, and neither do you as long as you are in vibrational alignment and perceiving things from Source’s perspective.

Some people think it’s natural for humans to feel negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, unhappiness, or despair. But you only feel negative emotions when you are out of sync with your Self/Source.

If it’s “common” for humans to regularly experience negative emotions it’s because most humans are out of sync much of the time. Negative emotions are simply indicators from your inner guidance system telling you that you’re out of alignment. The more out of sync you get, the stronger the negative emotions. Conversely, the more in alignment you are, the better you feel.

Can you gain spiritual benefits through suffering or experiencing negative emotions? Yes, but that’s going about it the long and hard way. Suffering is unnecessary, for whatever benefits or lessons you learn through suffering can be gained in other ways.

Happiness is your natural state, and automatically comes with being tapped into Source. The only thing keeping you from it is negative thoughts which produce negative emotions.

Happiness is not dependent on external conditions around you. It is an inner state of being – one which you have control over all the time.

So pay attention to your emotions, and feel your way into alignment. Focus your attention on things you like, things that make you feel good. This is the easiest way to get and stay in alignment.

Control Freaks

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Spiritual/Mystical

One hears a lot about “control freaks” these days. This futile attempt to control others comes from a place of misalignment with your true Self.

Those who are in sync with their Higher Self feel no need to control others. They are in their natural state of happiness, and it is not dependent on what anyone else does or doesn’t do.

But if you’re not connected to your Self, you feel a certain dissatisfaction, a void that nothing else can fill. Everyone knows intuitively that they are supposed to feel good, that it’s their natural state. And when they don’t feel good, they know something is out of whack.

When people get disconnected they often mistakenly believe if they can just control the behavior of others it will make them feel good. But it never works.

First of all, it is impossible to control other people. And even if you managed to do it through force, it would never fill the void within you that’s caused by your own misalignment.

Your problem is not the behavior of others, or even the conditions around you. The real problem is always your own state of disconnection with your true Self – which is the Source of all happiness and joy.

You can watch these people thrashing around, trying to control others in a desperate attempt to make up for their own vibrational misalignment. They’re chasing an illusion, based on a false premise.

The answer, as always, is inside you. Tap into that, and you’ll find the Source of genuine happiness, peace, and joy.

“If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality.” – Abraham-Hicks

The Playful Universe

Posted: June 8, 2015 in Spiritual/Mystical

“It’s not the normal thing for most humans to understand the playfulness of the Universe, because there really is nothing serious going on here. It’s just joyful expansion, you see. And you’re the ones that introduce the seriousness of it to it.” — Abraham-Hicks

Vedic wisdom says all creation arises from Lila – the Sanskrit word meaning cosmic play or the play of creation. All too often, humans (especially Westerners!) have the misunderstanding that life is supposed to be some dreadfully serious thing.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing keeps people from connecting to their true Self more than a lack of playfulness. This serious approach to life is rooted in fear, and arises from a disconnected human perspective.

When you fail to realize that you are loved unconditionally, and that it’s not about what you do or don’t do, you tense up and are in a state of resisting the very alignment that you seek.

And so here’s the deal: just relax, lighten up, and know that it’s never been about trying to live up to some imagined standard, reach some perfect state, or any such thing.

Be light and easy. Laugh. Be playful. Have more fun. Do this and you will feel your alignment. You’ll begin feeling the genuine happiness and joy that you came here to experience.

You’ll also begin to notice the Universe has a great sense of humor. Your awareness will rise, and you’ll begin to see synchronicity everywhere. Things too bizarre to be a mere coincidence will start showing up, and it’ll feel like the Universe is winking at you. You’ll begin to get in on the great cosmic joke.

“All buddhas have laughed when they awaken…They laugh, not at you, they laugh at the whole cosmic joke.” – Osho


“Death – the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.” – Sir Walter Scott

I recently heard an interview with Bill Guggenheim, the former Wall Street stockbroker who became a pioneer in the field of After-Death Communication (ADC), defined as a spiritual experience where a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a deceased family member or friend without the use of psychics, mediums, rituals, or devices of any kind.

Guggenheim estimates that some 60 million Americans, 20% of the population of the United States, have had at least one ADC experience, and says that is a conservative estimate. Another researcher puts the figure at double that – 120 million or 40% of the population.

I read many years ago that at least 60% of American parents who lose a child report having some type of ADC, and that the phenomenon was so widespread that psychologists consider it a normal part of the grieving process.

Needless to say, in a society so strongly focused on materialism, many people who experience ADCs would tell few others for fear of ridicule. As a result, most people are unaware of just how widespread the phenomenon is, and may consider such experiences weird and incomprehensible.

I would also point out that numerous other cultures around the world are much more open to this phenomenon than modern American society.

In Thailand, where I lived for 15 years, spirit houses (shrines intended to provide shelter for spirits) are found outside of most houses and businesses, including large shopping malls and skyscrapers. The belief that spirits are all around us is widespread in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Veneration of the dead, based on the belief that the dead have a continued existence, has been common throughout history in numerous cultures, including those of India, China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, and in indigenous and shamanic cultures all over the globe. It was prevalent in ancient Egypt and Rome.

Indeed, modern Western societies that tend to reject these type of experiences are in a distinct minority when compared to the rest of the world and all of human history. The phenomenon is probably as old as mankind.

But it’s hardly surprising that many Westerners would find ADCs hard to accept, as any society will reject anything that doesn’t seem to fit into its culturally prescribed worldview.

Guggenheim, an agnostic with no interest in spiritual matters until he experienced a profound awakening in 1974, began his research into ADCs in 1988, eventually interviewing 2,000 people living in all 50 American states and 10 Canadian provinces, and collecting over 3,000 first-hand accounts of people who believe they have been contacted by a loved one who had died.

In the interview, Guggenheim said he followed strict guidelines in his research, and did not include anyone’s encounter that did not fit his definition of an ADC. The contact had to be direct, without the use of any kind of intermediary, and it had to be with a deceased loved one or friend – not with an unknown spirit. The reason for this was that many books had already been written about contact through psychics and mediums, or with unknown spirits, but none had yet been written about ADCs as he defined them.

Guggenheim gives 12 different categories of the types of ADCs he found to be most common in his research. These include sensing a presence, hearing an audible voice, feeling a touch, smelling a scent or fragrance, visual appearances, an intense “dream” that feels like an actual visit, out-of-body encounters, literal phone calls, and various unexplained physical phenomenon such as a stereo or radio suddenly turning on.

When my close friend Aon died in Thailand in August of 2012, family members and friends reported several of these kinds of experiences in the days that followed. Looking at Guggenheim’s list, at least six of the 12 categories of ADCs have been experienced with Aon by various people in the time since he made his transition back to non-physical reality.

Guggenheim also talked about deathbed visions, a commonly reported phenomenon where the dying person begins seeing into other dimensions during the last few days of physical life. These are powerful and comforting experiences where they often see non-physical beings or deceased loved ones beckoning or comforting them. I could tell Aon was having these experiences by watching his eyes, and knew immediately what was happening.

As with any kind of spiritual or mystical experience, the person having the experience reports that it was as real or “more real” than what we call physical reality.

And how can anyone know that these non-physical realities exist and are real? The same way we know anything – by direct experience. These realities can be experienced directly, and have been by many millions of people.

“There is no death. Death is the greatest illusion there is, the greatest myth – a lie.” — Osho

“Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind, and cannot be proved to have any other existence.” – Erwin Schrodinger

The other day I was talking to someone about quantum physics, and Schrodinger’s Cat in particular. The main point I was making was that without a conscious observer, reality doesn’t even exist.

What we generally call “reality” is actually a creation of our consciousness, and when we’re not observing a certain thing it doesn’t even exist from our perspective. There’s no such thing as a single reality that everyone perceives. Rather, everyone is creating his/her own version of reality, and no one but you can ever see your own self-created reality.

Numerous scientific experiments have confirmed this, including the famed double-slit experiment. When unobserved, there’s just a wave of energy (waves of potentialities). Only when observed does the wave collapse into what we call physical matter.

The person I was conversing with then replied, so if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? You’re saying the tree itself doesn’t even exist if you’re not there to observe it, right?

Yes, that’s right – from your perspective. If no human is there, then the tree doesn’t exist from any human’s perspective.

But everything that exists, not just humans, is ultimately the same One Consciousness appearing in one form or another. Everything is made of that One Consciousness – even what humans perceive as “inanimate objects”.

The tree is, of course, made of this Consciousness. So are the other trees in the forest and everything else that is present when it falls. So from those perspectives the tree existed when it fell.

What makes the tree falling in the forest analogy a bit tricky is that it exposes some of our misconceptions about reality. Some humans don’t realize that we’re all creating our own reality all the time, and no one else perceives your reality except you. This is true even from a scientific point of view, because all your sensory perceptions are created by your own brain.

So the question “Does it make a sound?” implies that there is objectively either sound or there isn’t sound – when in fact it depends entirely on the individual and his/her perception. There may be sound waves “out there”, but sound occurs inside of us, not outside of us. The sense of hearing, like all our physical senses, is actually a vibrational translation of the energy around us.

So the question “Does it make a sound?” is meaningless, being based on a flawed assumption.

The words “Know Thyself” were inscribed on the ancient Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi, where many (including kings of other lands) journeyed to hear the words of the famed Oracle of Delphi.

While there may be various levels of meaning to these profound words, the ultimate meaning is obvious to me. It is precisely what Ramana Maharshi and other enlightened people throughout history have always taught – that your essential Being, the real Self, is the ultimate One Being that is the very ground of Everything that Exists. The Hindus call it Brahman, and many contemporary teachers often call it Source.

This One Consciousness creates all reality. And the forms it takes are all characters in the mind of this One Consciousness, much like the dream world we create when we sleep. We are the Universe perceiving itself through our tiny and severely limited human forms.

Mystical traditions all over the globe have often spoken of the mystical union with the Divine – a profound spiritual experience. This insight is found in countless spiritual traditions throughout history, and even in those that appear to be the furthest from it – such as in the mystical forms of Judaism (Kabbalah), Christianity, and Islam (Sufism).

The most spiritually sophisticated among the ancient Greeks, like those in numerous ancient cultures, were well aware of this insight. The very popular mystery religions were built on this insight, though initiates had to advance to the inner mysteries before this secret was revealed to them.

So it’s hardly surprising that the ancient Greeks, advanced in virtually every area, would put the simple yet profound inscription “Know Thyself” on their most sacred temple.

I’m going to say something here that may come as a surprise to some.

I now consider the 12 years I spent in a Pentecostal church as an advantage. Probably more than any other type of Christianity, Pentecostal groups put much emphasis on the individual having his/her own direct, personal spiritual experiences. I had my first experience of this kind the very first time I went to a Pentecostal service, and I continued having them almost daily for those 12 years.

I now see that what I was actually doing was learning to focus on my own inner Source energy, and feeling it in a profound way. (The Pentecostals, of course, call it the Holy Spirit). Many Pentecostals become very good at this, to the point where it’s almost instant and automatic. We got much practice through our worship in church services, and also in our own private prayer time.

And while I certainly don’t subscribe to the doctrinal beliefs of Pentecostals any more, or of any group’s traditional/orthodox Christian dogma, (which after much research I concluded was entirely man-made), I am grateful for those years because the genuine spiritual/mystical experiences are of enormous value to me today.

When I hear teachers like Abraham-Hicks talk about connecting to Source energy, getting in the vortex, or doing whatever feels good to you, I have the advantage of knowing precisely what they’re talking about.

Absolutely nothing feels any better than tapping into your Inner Being/Source energy. I knew from my very first experience in my old church that I’d discovered the source of all happiness and joy.

It took me many years to realize that direct experience and dogma were the two separate components found in many organized religions. One can have genuine spiritual/mystical experiences in any of the world’s religions (or without any religion at all), but these experiences do not validate whatever dogma the group happens to embrace.

I’ve written about this quite extensively on my previous blog, so won’t go into further detail here.

Though I left the Christian religion over 20 years ago, I do not view my time spent there as wasted. Any genuine spiritual experience is of value, regardless of where it may have occurred.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck

When asked what was the one question he most wanted to see answered, the British scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins said it was “How does subjective consciousness work, how does it evolve, and what is going on?”

Consciousness remains a mystery to Western science because scientific materialism is based on some false assumptions.

The great fundamental flaw in Western scientific materialism is the belief that consciousness is a mere by-product of the physical brain, and that it ceases to exist upon the death of the physical body. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Consciousness is the Ultimate Reality. It creates all reality, including physical reality.

The physical brain acts as an interface, connecting non-physical Consciousness to the physical body.

Consciousness is one in number. Everything that exists is this One Consciousness appearing in countless forms, perceiving the universe through each particular form.

Our most sophisticated religions have always known this. Many other terms have been given for this One Consciousness, including Brahman, Source, the Tao, and the Self.

We are all the One Consciousness perceiving the Universe through different forms – for the sheer experience of it.

When the physical body dies we re-merge with our Higher Self, and regain the perspective of the One Consciousness.