In January of 2009, at age forty, I was born again through faith in Jesus Christ into a living relationship with God. My life, my view of myself and of this world, truth and reality were radically changed overnight. I had been a spiritual seeker for over two decades and had explored many different teachings and practices. I was convinced of the value of meditation and other spiritual techniques developed by the world’s mystical traditions, and of the potential of such practices to change our moment-to-moment perception of reality. I believed this was the real purpose of all spirituality.
I had daily spiritual practices for fifteen years; I would commit myself to a particular practice and teaching for a period of time – usually a few years – until something else would “come along,” resonate with me and I would follow that. I felt often as if I was being guided, as if all these different experiences, belief systems and paradigms were leading me by some guiding hand to a destination which I conceived of in terms of enlightenment and the realm of mystical experience. I assumed that realizing spiritual truth necessarily involved experiencing some kind of shift in cognitive perception and I understood spirituality as a quest for altered states of consciousness. I also believed that availing myself of access to such states was what I needed to be free from the burden of my day-to-day experience which I felt was a kind of bondage.
I further believed that the search for non-ordinary transcendent states of awareness was the source and essence of all religions. I was absolutely convinced that “all paths lead to the same mountain top,” so strongly convinced that I was more than happy to spend hours arguing the case with various Christians who tried at different times to talk to me about the good news of Jesus. It seemed clear to me that these well-meaning Christians had a mistakenly short sighted and incomplete view of spiritual matters due to their lack of detailed knowledge of any teachings and paradigms other than their own. During these debates, the possibility that I, not they, might be mistaken, never entered my mind. In fact, this possibility did not enter my mind for one moment until the very morning that God revealed Himself to me through the preaching of the gospel!
From an early age I badly needed to find answers to the way I felt in myself. I did not feel free. I felt constrained and imprisoned inside a personality which was a huge burden to me. As I grew up, I looked at my family, friends and other people and it seemed that they had a kind of confidence and at-homeness in the world and in themselves that I just didn’t have or understand.
By comparison (never a good idea) I felt like a shadow, an impostor, not like a real person at all. I didn’t know why, but I knew that I was not OK; I couldn’t be myself. I didn’t seem to know who ‘myself’ was, and when I looked within myself to find something real, solid and sound, there was just nothing there – nothing in myself that I could trust at all. There seemed to be nothing at the centre of me! What a fearful state this was and is, yet now I see this is actually the natural fallen condition of us all – “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
At sixteen, I had a strange experience. I was walking through my hometown when for no apparent reason I felt a powerful and tangible force enter my body through the top of my head. It filled me up. I felt suddenly weightless, as if my body was walking but I wasn’t doing it. The world appeared transformed. It was all beautiful, perfect. A profound sense of peace and stillness which I had never before experienced enveloped me. I felt a fearless love for everyone I saw, and I wanted to communicate this thing I was experiencing. It felt like I had awoken into spiritual reality.
This made a huge impression on me and set me on the road of spiritual reading and research. I read books about Buddhism, Carlos Castaneda, Hermann Hesse, Western occultism, and also, the 60s drug gurus – John C. Lilly, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley. I got into the psychedelic drug/music culture of the 60s and was powerfully allured by the hippy vision and its exciting promise of a permissive rock and roll lifestyle mixed with freewheeling drug fueled spirituality. The allure involved “expanding my mind” by taking psychedelic drugs in my teens and early twenties, which I did a lot, despite the fact that I experienced frequent paranoia, darkness, and fear while under the influence.
At twenty-five, I was inducted into Transcendental Meditation which I practised for about two years. This was my first regular, daily, spiritual practice. I continued some form of daily meditation from that time on until shortly after I was born again fifteen years later. Some of the teachings/practices I got involved with: TM; Carlos Castaneda; Gurdjeff & Ouspensky; Theosophy & Rosicrucianism; Hatha Yoga; Tai Chi & Chi Qong, New Age channelled material such as Seth (Jane Roberts), Pleadians (Barbera Marciniak), & Keylontic Science (Ashayana Deane); A Course in Miracles. Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Taoist meditation, Non-Dualism teachers like Eckhart Tolle. The two biggest influences on my thinking I would say were Buddhism and J Krishnamurti.
In my late 20s I became chronically ill. My illness meant I had to give up smoking, drinking, and caffeine as well as a lot of the foods I liked. At the same time, I got involved with a Tibetan Buddhism school which held meetings in my town. I threw myself into it and for two years my life became about Buddhist meditation practice. This lineage (New Kadampa school) was setting up a new residential centre in my town and I moved in as soon as it opened. Before long I began to consider being ordained as a monk. It was the logical step to take as I loved Buddhist teaching and the practices. Yet as I considered this step of commitment, something started to bother me: The Buddhist aspires to cultivate “equanimity” towards all living creatures. That means having the same tranquil, and detached attitude towards all living creatures; whether it’s a stranger, your grandma or a stick insect, it makes no difference. There is no room for the emotional attachment that goes along with “special” relationships. All relationship should be impartial, equanimous, compassionate but impersonal.
Why then, I wondered, are we humans, male and female, having an innate desire to become as one in a unique relationship? Why then is there the bond of family? Gautama’s answer: It’s all just “Dukkha” – suffering—born of a grievous perceptual error. Something simply to be escaped from and eradicated. A mistake.
The goal of Buddhism is the eradication of the alleged “illusion” of self, the cessation of conscious identification with individual personhood. What exactly does that imply for human relationship? Surely, it means the end of what we think of as human relationship. Surely, in fact, the Buddhist goal means the end of being human. This is, of course, what Gautama taught – Nirvana, if attained, results according to Buddhist doctrine in liberation from Samsara – Samsara being the phenomenal world of form in which one is continuously reincarnated on the merciless wheel of karma. So, no more being born into a body: No more me, no more you, no more humans, no more relationship of any kind. I couldn’t help wondering, in a vague way, whether there might not be something amiss with all this, and somewhere along the line it was if a bubble had burst. I found I couldn’t go on at the ashram, so I left. The sudden break was traumatic as “Dharma” and “Sangha” (Buddhist doctrine and community) had for two intense years been my life.
Not long after that my spiritual interests led me to the Findhorn Foundation, a well-known New Age community in Scotland where I lived for seven years. While there, I continued a daily meditation practice. For a few years I practised simple breath meditation and Chi Qong; eventually I gravitated towards contemporary teachers of non-dualism.
One summer I decided to go on a mission to gain enlightenment. I planned a round trip to England which involved a weekend retreat with teacher Andrew Cohen (since denounced by the organisation he founded), an 11-day intensive Vipassana meditation course, followed by another weekend retreat with non-dualism teacher, Tony Parsons.
During my time with Tony Parsons, I experienced the “awakening” that he was teaching. Imagine being suddenly and involuntarily plunged into the perceptual world of a new-born baby. Imagine all the cognitive learning and conditioning of a lifetime suddenly and completely short circuiting. You’re stuck in a continuous present moment where you absolutely have no way of understanding anything. As you are incapable of forming a single word in your mind – thinking is impossible.
For example, if you look at a chair you have no idea what it is, but you’re amazed by it in the same way a baby is continually amazed by the world round it. I remember another retreat attendee coming over to talk to me. They said something like, “Hi, have you travelled far to come here?” My perception at the time was as follows: Something has appeared before me, I have no idea what it is, and it is inexplicably making incomprehensible sounds – I have no idea why. Then I find myself replying, “Yes, I came from Scotland.” I am utterly amazed that this is happening. I have no idea what the noises I just made are, or how I made them. Everything happening is utterly inexplicable and I have no clue as to what will happen next.
For all I knew, I was going to spend the rest of my life like this, but the “awakening” lasted the rest of that day and gradually ebbed away over the following day rather like an LSD trip. It continued however to affect my perception for weeks afterwards. For a few months after this event, I tried hard to re-enter this peculiar perception. Finally, though, I realised that I couldn’t, because the effort and desire to try and make it happen was itself a perpetuation of my normal mental processes – which has to disintegrate in order for this state to occur. It was a Catch-22 situation. I should be clear that I now regard this kind of psychological state not as a spiritual awakening but as some kind of dissociative psychosis.
After that I had a dilemma: The goal that I had been searching for so long had apparently actually happened, but now, I knew that there was nothing I could do to maintain it. At the same time, I couldn’t go back to not knowing about it. The effect of this was to empty life of any and all possible meaning. I felt like I’d had a terminal revelation of the absolute meaningless and emptiness of everything including my own existence. My life became quite unreal to me, and there was absolutely no way back to “normal life,” as I couldn’t deny or forget what I’d experienced.
I started also to think rationally about the “awakening.” Non-duality teachers like Eckhart Tolle teach that this kind of “awakening” is part of an evolutionary step in human consciousness and that an ever-increasing number of people are waking up into the liberated state (a proposition which by the way I saw no evidence for in my years spent within New Age circles). The teachers say this collective awakening heralds the dawning of a new spiritual golden age.
I thought logically about what it would actually be like if the whole planet flipped into this thoughtless state of awareness that I had experienced. The inevitable conclusion I came to surprised me and left me feeling even more hopeless: It would not be a golden age of peace, love and harmony, a hippy’s heaven on earth – it would be the end of humanity. There simply would be no point in humanity continuing to exist. Whether the population would be even capable of surviving or reproducing in this state seemed improbable.
About two years passed after this experience and my coming to faith in Christ. During that time, I carried on living and working in the Findhorn community, leading outwardly a normal life (which for me included a futile pursuit of sexual immorality). I also kept up meditating. Although I could see no possible answer, I nevertheless felt that there must be one and there was nothing left for me to do but keep meditating.
One day I found myself in the meditation sanctuary in Findhorn where I often went to meditate. While sitting silently, I noticed the room filling up with people who then held a group meditation: the theme was LOVE. We were invited to meditate on LOVE and afterwards to share any insights we felt we had received. I reflected on LOVE for half an hour during which time I replayed events in my life having to do with my relationships with family, friends, and lovers. At the end of it, I shared what I felt I had clearly intuited: I did not have love in me. After reflecting over my life, it was clear that whatever love was, I didn’t have it. Yes, I could say I felt like I loved my family at least. But when I looked, not at some deeply buried, instinctive feelings rooted in the bonds of childhood, but at how I had actually lived my life and behaved in significant relationships, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t love. I wasn’t good in any intentional way, I just drifted through life. I wasn’t a good person; I didn’t have it in me. I didn’t have love, and without it my life was worthless.
As I did not have love in me, I thought, no amount of turning within was going to discover it there. If love was ever going to be in my life, it was going to have to come from outside me. I felt quite sure about this, and this intuition turned out to be right. I had no idea at the time that LOVE was going to come into my life from outside. This was about six months before I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the two years between the Tony Parsons experience and my coming to faith, I kept on having the same identical recurring dream, over and over:
I find myself in a bare featureless room. All that’s in the room is one bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. I open the door to leave and find myself in another identical, featureless room. I go out the door and find myself in another identical room, and on and on. Sometimes there’s no door, just one small window. It’s hard to squeeze myself through but I finally manage and …. another identical room. I start to panic. I feel that I won’t ever find my way out. This goes on for what seems like an eternity. A sense of horror and despair mounts as I begin to realize that there is no way out because there is no outside: the endless empty rooms are all that exist. I will remain there searching for a door to freedom that doesn’t exist – forever.
I got so fed up with this horrible dream that I started to practice a lucid dreaming technique which I had learned years before. First you have to realise you’re dreaming, which I had learned to do by looking at my hands in the dream. Then in the dream you say, “I’m dreaming” and you shut your (dream) eyes and let yourself fall backwards from standing.
I learned to have some success with this, and it works. After falling you invariably find yourself in a totally different dream scene. Sometimes I would fall and have the wonderful sensation of falling or flying through space before “landing” in a different dream. I set the intention that whenever I found myself in the empty room, I would remember I was dreaming and fall backwards. The first part worked: when I found myself in the room, I realised it was a dream and would fall backward. I’d fly through space, sometimes for what seemed like ages, and then suddenly there I was again – back in the room. There truly was no escape.
Also during this period, I had the odd conviction that my soul was dying or leaving me and that this was an unavoidable and irreversible thing. This conviction had nothing to do with any belief system I’d previously had. The “death of the soul” was not a concept I’d heard of, yet somehow, I felt sure that this was now happening to me and there was nothing I could do about it. I even wrote songs about it like “Saying Goodbye to My Soul” (I’m a musician and now lead worship at my church). I wrote a song called “Before the Fall.” The chorus ended with the words, “I’m looking for the time before the fall.” I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I meant by this as I hadn’t read the Bible and knew very little about Christian theology. It just seemed to express the longing I was feeling. My soul felt empty and dead; all that was left was a deep, but obscure longing for something lost long ago, and this something was everything. That’s how I felt while writing and singing the song. I remember wondering if I was going to die soon and that was why I was feeling like life was over.
Finally, I had the dream one last time, but this time it was different. There was no light, it was very dark. In the gloom, I could just make out the form of a derelict church – decaying and ruined. I was entombed in it. All the doors and windows were walled up and I realised with certainty that nothing existed other than this place. I would be there, alone, undying, for eternity. I floated off the ground and down what would have been the aisle to a crumbling altar at the front of the church. I floated up over the altar, face down, and I started screaming with indescribable anguish, “JESUS! HELP, JESUS, HELP” – over and over – and I woke up shouting this out loud.
A few days later I was visiting a friend and neighbour in the Findhorn caravan park, and I told her about this dream. She thought it was very significant, although to me, the fact that I had shouted the name of Jesus seemed quite arbitrary. This friend had been telling me recently about a Christian man called Howard whom she had met around the Foundation and who she said was having some kind of impact on her. “There’s something about this guy,” she would say, “I don’t know, I just feel a peace when I’m talking with him. I think you should meet him.”
I had been happy to listen but was not in the slightest bit interested in meeting a random Christian called Howard. Nevertheless, she persuaded me to come with her to a local church which she had started attending. Because of the dream, I thought, “Why not go?” Not long afterwards, I went along with her.
I had no expectations whatsoever. Sunday came and I was in two minds about going, but she got me to go. The church service was held in the local school assembly hall. It was a modern rather than traditional style of service. On arriving, I felt fairly awkward about being there. It still had not occurred to me that there could be any kind of answer for me in this place. I told myself I was just going for something different to do and because Caroline had asked me to. I sat down and the band started playing. I was reading along with the words which were displayed on a screen. Before the song was halfway through, I was in tears. I didn’t really know why I was crying. It was like a momentous wave breaking inside me and I couldn’t stop. I cried uncontrollably through the duration of the service.
The sermon was on repentance, and it so happened that the message that day was preached by Howard, who was not the regular minister at this church, but was an associate who preached on occasion. The truth of God fell upon me, and I knew I was in the presence of God. I suddenly knew who God was, that he is who he says he is in the Bible. And with it came the knowledge of the truth about myself: I was terribly, hopelessly, horribly lost. I had been utterly wrong. I had willfully rejected the truth a long time before and run after lies and sin.
In the space of thirty minutes, my “spirituality” dissolved into the ashes of shame as the Lord spoke to my heart, not with an audible voice, but the unspoken power of the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, in accordance with scripture:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. (Romans 3:19)
If I could put into words what God silently spoke, I couldn’t do better than these words of Isaiah:
“I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you…I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like me” (Isaiah 46:4,9)
In the following months, I did a lot of crying. I went to church and spent time with Howard and his family. Howard, before being born again and training for ministry, had been deeply immersed in New Age spirituality and had also lived at one point in the Findhorn Foundation. After some weeks I said a prayer of commitment and faith, professing Jesus as Lord and asking him to take total charge of my life.
The following morning, I was sitting in a spot where I often went to meditate in the upper balcony of the Foundation’s “Universal Hall.” I was gazing passively out of the window and there was a tree just outside. Being upstairs, I was on a level with its foliage, and I noticed that the leaves of the tree appeared to be impossibly green. I was startled by how the leaves of any tree could be as green and vibrant as these were. It was so unusual that I went outside to have a closer look at the tree. When I got outside, I realised there was nothing unusual about the tree; everything else was the same! Wherever I looked, there was a newness and beauty and vibrancy I had never seen before. The world was made new, and I too felt new – brand new. The old was gone the new had come! From that day on I knew Jesus – the very Jesus I remember singing about in primary school assembly – was with me, within me. The happiness, release, and joy I felt then, and in the days to come, was something I never could have imagined.
As I read the Bible I soon found it explained perfectly what had happened to me. It took me a while to put some pieces together, but in Romans 8, Paul says (quoting from the book of Joel) – “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I realised that this is what had happened: by giving me this dream over and over God was showing me that my future without him would be hell, and he led me finally to call on his name. Then having called out to him, he saved me.
As deceived and hardened as I was, I would never have chosen to call on the name of Jesus or given any serious consideration to the gospel, so God in his mercy made me call on his name while I was unconscious. The memory of how God reached me in the complete darkness I was in, was and continues to be to me, precious proof of his incomprehensible mercy, wisdom and sovereignty. God’s grace is irresistible, his will irrevocable, and his ways are high above ours. He destroys the wisdom of the wise, frustrates the intelligence of the intelligent, and makes foolish the wisdom of the world in bringing us to repentance. Paul also gave the exhortation:
I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
I realised that I had done this also in the dream. An altar is the place where the sacrifice is made. In the dream I placed my body on the altar before calling out Jesus’ name. I had presented myself as a living sacrifice. To call on the name of Jesus for salvation is to give your life back to the One who made it, to render to God that which belongs to God (Mark 12:7). To hand your life over to Jesus, to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given, is true worship and the only act of worship acceptable to God:
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
We cannot come to the Father except through Jesus His Son, who declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). There is no other way. Apart from Christ and his blood shed for us, all efforts, beliefs, practices, experiences, wisdom, and teachings will amount to nothing and lead nowhere except ultimately to the destruction of body and soul in Gehenna. (Matthew 7:13; 10:28).
Having come into the amazing truth – that God is not an impersonal state of consciousness, but a person – I soon stopped practising meditation. Entry into the Kingdom of God is by invitation only. God has written his invitation (the gospel) and sent it to the whole world. All we have to do is acknowledge him and accept and answer his invitation. Once the Lord had revealed himself to me personally that he was a personal being, the idea of Eastern meditation – that we can somehow make contact with the divine by fooling about with our own perceptual functioning – changed from the appearance of wisdom to absolute folly. I saw that the whole system was predicated on a misconception and its adherents were completely in the dark concerning truth – every bit as much as any staunch atheist.
After being born again my heart and life were transformed. Addictions dropped away (e.g. smoking, pornography) with no effort at all on my part. I wasn’t trying to stop these habits; they just didn’t feel good anymore. What changed more than anything was my attitude towards women and sexuality. I was deeply convicted. From an early age, my behaviour in this area was utterly shameful. Having been forgiven, I felt no guilt, but repentance and thankfulness that God had had mercy on me despite my actions, and instead of squashing me like a bug.
The lady who took me to church is now my wife and we have two children. I have a family, a blessed life, an eternal future, and best of all, the privilege and joy of knowing, following, and loving the One who is above all – Jesus; and I get to play a part in the greatest purpose in existence, indeed the only true purpose here on earth – the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.
Even if we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony that God has given about His Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him; whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given about His Son.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:9-12)
You may contact Jonathan Luxon at the following email address: JonathanLuxon@hotmail.com