Loooong story, short.
In the early 1980s I was working with a theater company in New York City that was creatively challenging and filled with experience for a young artist. I had also been smoking pot pretty much every day since 1975. I was slowly becoming aware of a deep need yet vague notion of having a spiritual life and that the marijuana was an attempt to fill that vacuum.
One evening, sometime in 1982 or 3, I went to see/hear the Tibetan Buddhist Monks Overtone chanting at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine in New York City. The vibration reached deeply into my heart. I closed my eyes and quietly chanted along with them and was immediately taken on a dream journey that included the skull of an Eagle, Eagle wings, and a Shambhala-like destination with long soft grass, glaciers, and my ancestors over thousands of years. The journey ended with the words, “Come Passion,” chanted over and over in my mind, finally melding into, “Compassion.”
I was telling a guy I knew from a bar I was working at in the West Village—a cocaine and Pre-Colombian Art dealer— about the evening. He looked at the program, and before I told him about the dream, he explained to me that the chant I was concerned with was a chant for the incarnation of the God Of Compassion who often appeared as an Eagle.
Soon thereafter I came across the book, Halfway Through The Door by Alan Arkin, an actor whose work I have long admired. It is his story of his devotional practice and his journey to Agni Yoga. At the time, for him it was a life-saving practice and his words resonated with me like the evening of chanting with the Tibetan Monks.
I then met a beautiful woman. How many spiritual journeys start with that sentence? Laura Gates. Laura was a dancer at the time, a dear collaborative friend who I worked on several shows with. I mentioned the Arkin book to her and she said she was periodically going to Agni Yoga meetings in New York! Being in the market for a good mediation class, I begged her to tag along, along with a few other friends.
The meetings were at an apartment on the Upper East Side, and I remember walking into a room with a white baby grand piano covered with portraits of Mahatmas and Masters. It was there I met my irreplaceable teacher, Nanette Hucknall, and so many others I have since come to love as brothers and sisters.
I began to easily shed my habitual behavior and the Teaching has since brought me deep challenges, family, protection, life-saving understanding and a sophisticated interaction with my heart and mind, my creativity and the Universe.