Site Welcome

About This Site
Flash Introduction

The Quest of Every Heart

Worldviews Contrasted

Seven Pillars of Wisdom
World Religions & Teachers
Celebrating Commonalities
Acknowledging Contradictions

Identifying the True Light

My Spiritual Journey
Other Personal Stories

Various Articles and FAQ

Interact with us

Contact Us
Message Board
Mike Shreve's Itinerary


Purchase the Book
Suggested Links

Bibliography


Mike Shreve was a teacher of yoga at four universities. (The portrait above was drawn by one of his students in 1970.) Then a spiritual rebirth brought him into a real relationship with God and drastically changed his heart, his life and his belief system.  Read his story here.

Mike Shreve Today

Visit Mike Shreve's
Main Ministry Site!

 

TheTrueLight.Net
Site Completed–10/15/01
Major Revision—5/28/03
Last Updated–03/19/09

The True Light Project
P.O. Box 4260
Cleveland, TN 37320
Phone: (423) 478-2843
Fax: (423) 479-2980

Hit Counter


TheTrueLight.Net
©2002 copyright
Mike Shreve.
All Rights Reserved.

BuddhismChristianityConfucianismHinduismIslamJainismJudaismShintoSikhismTaoismZoroastrianism


Brad Scott's Personal Story

Imagine yourself adrift at sea in a dense fog. From afar, faintly, you hear voices chattering and laughing. But you can't tell what they are saying. Desperately, you paddle your dingy toward them yet make little headway against the currents. You are alone (and lonely), you realize, and nothing about your plight makes any sense.

Such was my state of mind between the ages of 15 and 21. I felt stranded, as though my life had little purpose and less direction. So in a desperate, passionate search for meaning, I threw myself into one preoccupation after another: rock 'n' roll, romance, literary success. All ended in disillusionment.

In the early stages of my quest, I discovered the occultic musings of Edgar Cayce, Jess Stearn, Madam Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, and others. They taught me that life does have meaning: It may be found, they insisted, WITHIN oneself as the TRUE SELF. They assured me that I could experience this Inner Truth-directly. From then on, I grew more and more exhilarated by the prospect of discovering the Secret of the Ages and using my Powers of Mind to overcome my doubts and insecurities. I took up the study and practice of astrology; I meditated on my past lives in search of the truth; I sought out the best authorities and read their works. At last, I felt, I had found the light and the path I had been seeking-and for which I had been aching.

By my senior year in college, buoyed but dissatisfied by these teachings, I was drawn to the enchanted isles of Eastern mysticism-to India and its elaborate, expansive Vedantic philosophy. At 21, I fell head over heels in love with its stateliness and grandeur, its breath-taking heights and all-penetrating depths. This time I knew I had really found the Way. I read assiduously: the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Shankara's Vivekachudamini, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, and so on. On fire for pure truth, beauty, and love, I began practicing meditation and austerities according to a daily regimen.

After earning a master's degree, following an "intuition," I traveled to India, where I visited the ashram of Sai Baba for four weeks. Although I felt disillusioned by Sai Baba when I left, my ardor had not waned. I returned to the Vedanta Society in my hometown, where I had been studying in the few months before I left for India. Now I was ready to settle down and seat myself firmly.

Thereafter, for seven years, I studied under a swami of the Ramakrishna Order, who initiated me into Vedanta with a mantra and a new name, Yogiraj. Inspired by his example and instruction, I became fiercely intent on achieving union with the Brahman. I would adopt whatever means the rishis had set forth in the Upanishads: austerities, meditation, renunciation. Having lost interest in the illusory world of pain and pleasure, in the allurements of kama and kanchana, I began to look indifferently on the vain pageant of human history and the "endless rounds of births and deaths." Disciplined and focused, I grew unflinchingly otherworldly. To develop my stamina and will, I practiced raja yoga; to learn humility and gain detachment, I practiced karma yoga, in the process enduring years of humiliating employment.

Curiously, although I "practiced" humility, certain that I must give everything and lose everything to possess the Truth, I secretly, without realizing it at the time, reveled in the elitism and exclusivity of this "macho spirituality." I was firmly convinced that I had found the autobahn to God, the true way for the "spiritually advanced." Most of all, I was certain I had the right stuff. So I pushed on.

My journey carried me so far, in fact, that one day I found myself asking my guru for permission to join his monastery. If he agreed, I would be undertaking the seven years of training required of one who might, if he proved worthy, earn the title of "swami." On that May afternoon in 1977, my guru was sitting as usual behind his massive oak desk with his lips pursed and brows knitted, his eyes half closed like the Venetian blinds to his left. When I dropped the question, he burst out laughing like a child, his large glassy eyes widening. He gleefully declared, "Why, of course! You will be my successor!" He asked only that I wait a few more months so that certain arrangements could be made.

So there I sat, a few months before my 28th birthday, prepared to abandon everything-career, family, identity-for what I was certain was the highest goal of all, "Self-realization," "God-consciousness," "Brahmajnana," "moksha."

Or so I thought. Within days, with the fulfillment of my greatest desire in sight, I began to experience searing doubts about my spiritual fitness. I was helpless beneath the sudden barrage of questions. Was I really "advanced" and "pure" enough to devote my entire life to yogic austerities? How could I ever possibly be "worthy" enough to be the successor of my guru, a Self-realized swami? None of the handful of non-teaching American swamis had ever run a Vedanta Society in America before. None had seemed worthy, and we Americans knew it.

Moreover, it made no sense that this old swami with his high reputation and strict orthodoxy was ready to depart from tradition so easily. He was so esteemed by the Ramakrishna Ashram in Calcutta that the powers that had already twice asked him to return to India to become its president. Every other swami who visited him paid him homage. He also possessed another sterling credential. As a young monk, he had been the hand-picked secretary to Swami Shivananda, the then-president of the order, who like Swami Vivekananda had been one of Ramakrishna's dozen or so spiritually-gifted boys and then later "apostles."

All the while I felt troubled and haunted. Some power beneath the mile-high girders I had erected for myself as a yogi seemed now to be shaking the very foundations of my belief. The structure really began to shake, however, when the next barrage of questions like arrows rained down on me. The questions seemed heretical, but they represented the crux of the matter, really. I was about to hand my life over to someone else, my guru, who would from then on control my every movement and decision. Was he one under whose care I could really place myself? Did he really know me well enough to assume this role?

Knowing myself as I did, I kept returning to a single disillusioning conclusion: "Swami doesn't really know me." When he had tried to pump up my resolve with the word "successor," he had overlooked my humility and spoken to an ambitious ego that had played little part in my decision, ambition being the farthest thing from my mind. It might sound to others as though he had played me up, but he had in fact played me down. My faith and vision were nobler than that; my devotion, more earnest. What was this flattering bauble he was dangling before me? Did he think that highly or that meanly of me? The structure of my belief was now swaying precariously.

For 18 months, I wrestled with such doubts until, exhausted, I could wrestle no more. By then, during meditation, I could only weep, rock, and pray. Nevertheless, I received no response from Ramakrishna (who was an "incarnation of God"), or from the abstract Absolute, or from any "master," embodied or ascended. Even my guru seemed indifferent to my suffering. Once, after I had gotten up the pluck to express my fears to him in private, he chuckled and responded dismissively, "What? Are you afraid you are going to hell?" After all my spiritual efforts, I realized, I had achieved nothing really, certainly not "mind control," much less peace of mind. So I began to duck the old swami and sucked it up, suffering in silence. Again I felt stranded.

My torment finally reached its peak a few days before Christmas in 1978. As eclectic, syncretistic yogis do in that holiest of seasons, I was reading the New Testament. In anguish, conscious of my own inadequacy and helplessness, I chanced upon the story in Luke about the sinful woman who bathes the feet of Jesus in her tears (Lk 7:36-50). As I contemplated the beauty of his unconditional response, I realized that I was in the same position as that woman. Then something luminous and powerful seemed to engulf me. In faith, utterly broken, I surrendered to Jesus Christ and opened my heart to receive his love, trusting him to save me from the misery in which I found myself. In response, as though I were the sinful woman, he poured into me, an empty cup, a Love that surpassed all the loves that I had ever known-indeed all the "highest" truths, beauties, and ideals for which I had ever longed.

Nothing I had ever experienced as a yogi compared with this blessing-not the world-embracing love I had felt in meditation as the kundalini rose up my spine to my heart center nor the dizzying delights of savikalpa samadhi that I had enjoyed on two or three occasions. This encounter was inexpressibly profound and personal. As the Spirit of Christ filled me, he seemed to be whispering warmly, tenderly, "I am a Person, and you are a person, and I shall love you personally, Bradley E. Scott, forever."

Because I had striven so long to take heaven by storm, by my own efforts, I realized that this experience of Christ had taken place by grace through faith, not by my works (Eph 2:8-9). All my former fervency had been nothing more than sound and fury signifying nothing. Jesus had accomplished on the cross for me all the work that I could never do by myself-even in a million years (or "births and deaths") of striving. He alone had led a perfect life, and he had given himself as a perfect sacrifice in my stead (Ro 3:25-26; Heb 9:11-15). He was the bridge between God and man. I had finally accepted the truth: No matter how I might conceive of Perfection, I was unworthy of it; I always would be.

From that moment on, I realized that the only fitting response to this grace was to abandon myself to Christ, asking him to lead me into his truth. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . . ," I heard him say. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Mt. 11:28-29). Because I longed for that rest as a marooned seafarer longs for rescue, I yielded everything that I was, and might be or become, to him in trust.

This change of heart required that I turn away from all that I had been to myself, to become what he wanted me to be. I had to give him a chance to work a miracle in my heart and mind. To know him and his way, I had to search the Scriptures (Jn 5:39), for they speak truly of him, he being their fulfillment (Lk 4:21). Where else could I find a historical record of his life and words? To be set free from disillusionment, I had to keep my gaze fixed on him alone. "I am the way and the truth and the life," says he. "No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6).

In this way, I allowed Christ to renew my mind and make me a new person (Ro 12:2), not by my power but by his. With my mind and heart still so full of the preconceptions and philosophy of Vedanta, I simply had to surrender to Christ day after day, depending on him to transform my emotions and thoughts. Willingly suspending my former disbelief in Christian doctrine, I bowed my formerly stiffened neck, prepared to let the sword of his word perform the work that needed to be done. Daily I prayed, "I no longer know what is true. If you are the way, the life, and the truth, you must show me. Even if you have to turn my world inside out or upside down to do it, please show me the truth." In this way, I yielded daily.

The incarnate Christ, I slowly discovered through study and experience, is the secret of the ages, the alpha and the omega: "the mystery of God . . . in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" resides (Col 2:2-3). The risen Christ is the hidden power of all our strivings and yearnings, the power of life and love that will, if we believe, remain always "at work within us" (Eph 4:20), helping us to grow into the likeness of Christ. I no longer had to look elsewhere for meaning. I stopped looking for light in all the wrong places.

Since then I have faced my fair share of the storms and stresses of life-and I have made my share of mistakes, too. But I have also known that Christ is ever with me and within me-and not because I must discipline myself to remember him, by some ascetic act of will, but because he never forgets or fails me. He wants to complete the good work he has begun in me (Php 1:6). He is always present in me to dispel the fog and steer my course. As he is in all his faithful followers, he is alive in me.

Now, 24 years later, I know that I have found definite purpose and direction in life-in the only Lord whose Light always shines like a beacon on a clear night, never misleading, never deceiving. He who is that light, Jesus Christ, beckons to all the hungry seekers-after-God to follow him. Yet should any of them be too weak to make the longed-for journey, as I was, Christ himself will stride across the wide waters to carry them home.

And so what do I now make of all that "light" I witnessed "experientially," even palpably, during my years of New Age and yogic involvement long ago? And how do I account for the powerful, seemingly benign presence of the glassy-eyed gurus? After all, so many spiritual routes appear to lead to God, wending their ways toward a distant light. Here, I encountered a truth about New-Age and Eastern religions that was the hardest for me to acknowledge and accept. Only spiritual discernment in Christ made it plain, even if unpleasant: It's possible for one to be deceived by a counterfeit light so brilliant and beautiful in its evidence that it would deceive Christ's own if it could.

Raging against this possibility, as I did for many years, many truth seekers steer clear of the one true rock and safe haven, the Rock of all Ages, Jesus Christ. Only a miracle of God, the gift of his grace, can alter their courses, no matter how bright or earnest they may be. Only the love of Christ, I have learned firsthand, can reach into them as they now are-and as I too once was-to transform and renew their minds and hearts I am no one to condemn or boast. I was saved by grace through faith in Christ, a faith itself that was bestowed by God.

But I do wish, as I have done here, to encourage all who read this essay to reconsider the claims of Jesus Christ. For many years before my conversion, in the background of my thoughts, always on the fringes, Christ played upon my heart and soul. If you also hear him at some level, I implore you to set aside any disillusionment you may have with Christianity as a whole and heed his call. You have nothing to lose, even if you yield only a little to him-one day at a time. May the Spirit of God bless and guide you.

 


Go back to Personal Stories

TheTrueLight.Net ©2002 copyright by Mike Shreve.
All Rights Reserved.

Back to the Top