I thought I had reached the end of the road. In one sense, I had. After spending almost thirty-five years with one spiritual teacher, it finally became painfully and everlastingly clear that I had to find another way to go. It became a matter of spiritual life or death.
I had been studying drama and fiction writing. Like a standard movie plot, I had reached the “all is lost moment” in the middle of the third act. Allow me to explain.
I come from a large extended family. I have a few good friends, but I never had to go far when it came to my direction in life and people to turn to for good advice. My father and my uncle provided everything I needed in terms of my physical survival, and I had found my own way to satisfy my spiritual needs. Spiritually, I traveled an unorthodox path, but I was able to integrate it into my conventional lifestyle. I’m not the type to live in a commune or an ashram, and I never discussed my spiritual life with my parents and extended family.
And then things changed. Life moved on, as it inevitably does. In my late fifties, the only close family relationships I had left were my wife and my daughter. With no spiritual community to turn to, I felt terribly alone, rootless, and achingly lost. I felt myself sinking into an abyss of despair.
At this point in 2013, I found Saniel and Linda Bonder through a local Meetup Group in Miami, Florida. I had been actively searching for the next step, but nothing had clicked, and then it did.
The leader of the Miami Meetup group encouraged me to attend a weekend retreat with Saniel and Linda at a private home in the Atlanta suburbs. At the last minute, I decided to go.
The teaching and the experience I had been following involved a long-distance relationship with a teacher who appeared periodically in Miami amid thousands of people. In the local groups, we watched videos of the teacher appearing at events around the world. I never felt I had much in common socially with any of the local practitioners, except one very good friend who I still have lunch with regularly. And the teaching was a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. I wanted something more personal. I wanted something deeper and more intellectually comprehensive. And I wanted the chance to awaken now, not in some distant future if I jumped through all the right hoops.
At the retreat in Atlanta, I sat next to Saniel’s wife, Linda Bonder. The first thing she did was offer me her hand to hold. I suppose she intuited that I was nervous. I was amazed at Linda’s act of kindness. I felt at home with the audience of twenty practitioners seated in an intimate circle in the lovely living room. Saniel came into the room to start the meeting. He took a seat less than twenty feet away from me. This was the kind of personal touch I was looking for, and the transmission of peace/love was powerful in the room.
I learned that many of the people at the retreat had experienced their awakening to consciousness. They were working towards stabilizing and embodying their individual awakenings. I learned that the Trillium Awakening Path is a completely individual process with constant support available from teachers and fellow students. The process does not center on a Guru. It centers on the individual. It is an awakening within community where each person learns to grasp the means to their own realization. Hundreds of people in the community have awakened.
I am deeply grateful that Trillium Awakening exists. I feel that I am holding and being held by the others. I feel personally seen and met. I am deeply committed to the process and the community. Recently, the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle has created a program of online events to enable anyone interested to participate in daily gazing, meditations, mutuality circles, mini-seminars and weekend retreats.
After eight years of participation in Trillium, I am significantly more rooted in myself and the community. I lead a normal life pursuing multiple interests and avenues of self-expression. There is nothing I have to conform to in Trillium. I am becoming more and more my true, authentic self within the Trillium Community and in my everyday life. Feelings of peace, love and joy dance in my heart intermittently throughout my day.
I’m fortunate to have found this next step. When the river bed is dry, the rain falls, and fresh water flows, once again.