The Five Signs

Five profound mystical experiences that verified the existence of something greater than the body’s eyes can see.

By Joe Wolfe

Author of Letter To A Prisoner

The First Sign

My first recollection of the sensation of ‘being in a body’ was very uncomfortable. The clothes felt tight and restraining and extremely unnatural and alien. I cried uncontrollably as I viewed the bleak surroundings of an old wooden farm house and unkempt conditions of the front yard where my older brother happily played with a small group of other children.

I was about three or four years old then and my father, who had recently acquired legal custody of his two sons, was in the process of negotiating with the owners of the farm over the care of my brother who, for the next few years, would remain under their supervision. I would be taken to The Carmelite Home for Boys, a Catholic orphanage, in Gary Indiana and until the time when my father, now divorced, was settled and able to reunite his family in a new home environment.

I continued to sob and rejected my brothers requests for me to join them in play, instead became increasingly aware of the distinct feelings of despair, hopelessness and deep anxiety over the sudden realization that "I had to do this all over again." I was back in this terrible place once again, after a brief period of having left it once before for a much more peaceful ‘place’ only to return once more for another bout with an existence I did not look forward to.

Many years later, in retrospect, I’d recall this experience as the reentry into the form of a body, reincarnated into another human entity. With this retrospective realization came the understanding that the term recurrence might better describe the events, and any body only serves as the temporary recluse from unconscious feelings of guilt and fear at a much deeper level.

The Second Sign

In the orphanage some time later, under the care of Carmelite nuns, I was suddenly stricken with a very severe case of the mumps. In the nineteen-fifties, the mumps was a terrible childhood sickness, highly contagious and since it was not an uncommon cause of death for some, it was taken very seriously.

I was quarantined in a private dorm. There, placed in a crib, one of several that lined one side of the rectangular dormitory and directly across from a row of large six foot windows from which shone the light of day or the dim street lights at night.

A nun was assigned my personal care giver. She was the little one who rarely spoke but spent most of her days in quiet service to do the bidding of other, more senior nuns. She was the silent one, who under other circumstances, I would toddle behind as she cleaned floors, dusted rooms and piously attended menial duties. She’d always fill my little pockets with candy when the days chores were completed.

When I fell sick, she tucked me lovingly and gently in for that night, leaving an opened bag of root beer barrels on the night stand at the head of the crib. When she left and retired for the night, I fell into a deep feverous sleep.

When I awoke all was quiet. The normal bustling of the busy sounds of the orphanage had all but been replaced by the stillness of the night. My head, swollen at the cheeks, throbbed in pain and my little body was very weak. I remembered the bag of candy left for me and reached through the wooden bars of the crib to retrieve a piece and placed it into my mouth between my teeth and cheek before turning on my back to stare at the ceiling. I remember counting the squares of ceiling tile above me and was grateful for the faint but comforting light of the streets that illuminated the room just enough to see.

Then it happened.

Out from nowhere and through the wooden side bars of my crib, a very large hand began to move over my chest area, patting it, and communicating to me that "I will be alright." There was no sound, just the unmistakable presence of one who cared and the hand that completely covered my entire upper torso. At first, I expected to see my little nun or another who might have sought to look in on me, but when I turned to my right to look in the direction where one would be standing I saw nothing. There was no one there.

The light from the windows would have definitely created an outline or silhouette if anyone were standing there, between me and the rest of the room, but there was nothing. Just the hand that continued to soothe and comfort me, assuring me with feelings of gentle compassion that "I will be alright."

I was suddenly terrified. I reached out and grabbed the fore-finger of the hand and leaned up to bite it. I bit down very hard with all of the energy and fury I could muster. Despite my full set of teeth, and the fearful force applied, the hand didn’t even flinch. It gave no indication that it even felt me but rather allowed me to continue. When I released the finger, the hand just faded away.

Shaking uncontrollably with fear I threw the covers over my head and trembled for what seemed like a long time. I must have fallen asleep then, because when I awoke again, the room was bright with the morning light of the sun that streamed through the windows. I stood up and grasped the wooden railing of the crib, wide eyed and full of recollection of the visitor event of the night before and I could feel a tiny remnant of the root beer barrel that was still lodged in the corner of my mouth.

But what I felt most, was the complete sensation of wellness. The sickness was gone. There was no swelling and the pain and throbbing in my head had left. I had been completely cured. And when after my feeble attempts in little boy terminology failed to convince the mother superior of my late night visitor, and the host of nuns who were shocked at my quick recovery, and after the doctor was summoned and he too shook his head in bewilderment over a miraculously sudden turn about for the better, and after they were all gone and only my little nun and I remained, she lifted me from the crib and knelt me down beside her on the floor and together we gave thanks to God.

From then on, the message, "I will be alright," stayed with me throughout this lifetime and in times of despair, pain or fear it would always remind me.

The Third Sign

I was eleven or twelve when I first experienced Love. My brother and I occupied one bedroom on the top floor of my father’s house, and it happened while I lay in my bed in that place between sleep and wakening.

Real Love is unlike anything even remotely describable. Multiply your deepest passionate feeling ever felt by thousands and it still doesn’t give it a hint of the vastest and constancy of what flowed to me that memorable morning.

In my half sleep, half awake state I was suddenly starring upward at an image of an elegantly attired female, whose rich robes and exquisite adornment spread from the tight collar to the tops of her sandals. She radiated bright light like a shimmering star and an aura of majesty that glued my attention to her with utter and complete awe.

She emanated feeling and emotion so completely overwhelming that tears welled in my eyes. We looked at each other, while I stood speechless at her feet and she looked down at me with an expression I can only describe as indifferent yet compassionate. Love of a degree as deep as the oceans flowed from her presence and spilled over me like raging waterfall that saturated everything around her. She wasn’t smiling; the stare was one of simple tolerant acknowledgement, nothing more.

I was deeply moved and blown away with love and a sense of constancy and permanence unlike anything ever experienced before or since.

I ventured a thought. I begged her to let me stay there with her forever. At that instant, at the moment I made the request, she faded away. It was as if she was deliberately rejecting the very idea. I felt crushed and devastated. I rose from my bed and remember the streams of tears that flowed down my face as I made my way to the bathroom, sobbing quietly and feeling loss and abandonment. It was as if I were loosing connection with the dearest one to me…the closest loved one…yet no human experience of love even comes close.

Many years later, while strolling in an outdoor art gallery in Sedona Arizona, I came face to face with the image of the Being I’d experienced in the vision. It was Kuan Yin. There was no mistaking it. It was Her. Kuan Yin, the enlightened Buddhist Goddess of Love.

The Fourth Sign

Many years later while serving a ten year sentence in a maximum security prison, I laid on the cot in my cell half asleep and half awake when suddenly I felt a strange sensation of power, not unlike what electricity might feel like unto itself, as it slowly and comfortingly emerged from deep within me. It felt like pure power as it gently began to flow ’up’ into a gradual but defining steady increase.

I ’watched’ it in awe and as soon as I focused my own attention on it, it subsided.

This experience occurred several times over the next few months, where it would seem to want to emerge in full blown expression, but just before it completed its total manifestation it would fade back to where it had come.

Then one day I felt it again. It was as if the electricity moved its way slowly up into the terminal of a light bulb, then enter the filament that would ignite the bulb, and rather than mingle my own thoughts with what it was, instead I allowed it to flow and all of a sudden I smiled from deep within because I "knew" what would happen next.

A blinding white light emerged from deep within and shown from me to fill that tiny cell with a brightness so great as to be uncommon in the world. It shown outward, out of the cell and completely illuminated the gallery outside the cell. It was late at night and I sensed that I was the only convict awake as I experienced the light explosion totally illuminate the entire area.

Forty cells away at his watch station at the end of the gallery was a guard who immediately jumped up at the strange sight and began to run quickly down the gallery toward my cell. I witnessed his view of the event as if through his eyes. It was as if my own legs carried him toward me and stopped directly in front of my cell. By then the light, interrupted with the guard’s reaction had subsided and disappeared. When he looked into the cell all he saw was another convict who appeared to be asleep. He walked slowly away, dumbfounded. I never heard a report about the event.

The Fifth Sign

Some years later, still in prison, I felt the another experience of power one warm summer afternoon after a previous sleepless night filled with apathy, despair and hopelessness. Earlier that day I’d gotten into a verbal confrontation with another convict, the leader of one of the largest prison and street gangs in the Chicago area.

I don’t fully recall what the argument was about, but it was serious enough that the order came down that on the following morning I was to be killed, and there was no escape.

Alone in my cell that night, I paced floor nervously and smoked the last of cigarettes as I experienced the darkest moments of dread and fear ever in this lifetime. Images and visions of a horrible physical struggle followed by my inevitable death filled my thoughts.

So for the first time in many years I turned to God. I got down on that concrete cell floor and prayed. In the recent past, I’d long since given up on the God thing. That, to me, had become nothing less than a fairy tale, something only the gullible believed in. Until that moment, God had all but been forgotten or at least replaced with the predominate blame for all my sorrows and circumstances.

I prayed for hours. Begging, pleading, promising, asking for a way out. Soon I had the thought to write out a note for help and give it to the next guard who would pass by my cell. In the note, I described my predicament and the impending danger.

After many more hours my prayers were answered. I’d passed the note to a guard to who returned much later, just before the dawn of the new day and was led away. Eventually that same morning I was transferred from that maximum security prison to another facility, a minimum security confinement prison miles away.

And when they delivered me to that new environment and locked the door of my new cell behind me, I immediately got down on my knees and thanked God for what could have been nothing less than divine intervention. I thanked for a long time, remaining on my knees in grateful prayer until I became weary. Then I laid down on my new bed and the instant my head rested on the pillow it happened.

A feeling engulfed my body with a vibrant sensation of comforting lightness that was gentle while all powerful, as it lifted ’me’ away from my body and raised me to inches below the ceiling of my cell. Sounds filled my being…the sounds of a gradual progression up the musical scale…three notes in all…do, re, mi…all of the instruments of all of the bands and orchestras in all the world and in heaven saturated that tiny cell in perfect harmony and then something else began to occur.

’I’ felt an expansion. I was slowly becoming everything around. I was the cell, the floor the ceiling, the walls, the air, the trees and grass outside my bared window, the rustle of the leaves and the sunlight…

I was everything.

I wanted to go farther but as quickly as the power began to flow it subsided and very gently returned me into the body. I was dumbfounded. What was this strange feeling? While it seemed oddly familiar and comforting it remained like something out of science fiction or religion which never before held my interest for any notable period of time. In fact, until that precarious previous night, when I begged for help and prayed for the first time in years, I’d long since given up any hope or belief in spiritual subjects or that God guy.

This had to be something bigger than all of that…bigger than anything I’d ever been told about or taught. This was BIG.

I was convinced that the feeling I’d just experienced had something to do with God-stuff, or maybe there was some scientific explanation, but without knowledge or a reference of any sort I could only wonder in awe.

What was it? Where did it come from? How could I feel it again?

I would spend the next thirty years asking those questions before finally understanding that the "I" who searched would never find the answers.

While many books on the subjects of spirituality and ’enlightenment’ fell into my lap and years of engagement with various seeker study groups occupied a rigid discipline of regular attendance, I found myself struggling between the search and the attraction of every day needs and desires. Making a living and finding happiness with worldly success was important and gradually took precedence over the search, until the very memory of that profound experience in prison had become almost completely obliterated from memory.

I even began to doubt its very occurrence, attributing the event as a product of a dream or some explainable scientific phenomena of mental delusion. I fell completely off the path. I sank into a twenty year depression, loosing all possessions, my marriage and family, and all desire to do anything but saturate myself in drinking and drug use. I would be fifty before finally beginning to return.

I met Judy Hall, who encouraged me with unconditional love and compassion. She sent me books, like Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God, which served to reignite the search in me and lead me back to the path. Other books fell into my lap, introduced by members of our study group and finally one day, A Course in Miracles. And when I was able to pick it up, read it and do the lessons as instructed, I realized the truth in the idea that an untrained mind can do nothing; I was grateful for this treasure. Here was a practical application of a disciplined course of action that could lead me to the truth and I embraced it, like a long lost treasure map.

I would eventually come to realize that these doubts arouse in the ego, the false personality of this Joe guy whose totality of emotional investment refused to permit anything other than cherished beliefs that went along and coincided with attractions of the illusion and linear Newtonian world. The ‘world,’ I began to realize, was everything I created and everything I called into being through my own distorted perception.

I wrote and published Letter To A Prisoner, a small book created to send the message to prisoners of the events of the time spent in prison and the verifying testimony of the experience of the existence of something greater than the eyes could perceive. And that this something was the true source for all questions and answers. I realize now that the “I” who searched for answers would never find them and that all confusion, doubt, insecurity, fear, guilt, embarrassment, loneliness, anger, frustration, judgment, boredom, annoyance, feelings of inferiority or superiority all arise from that false personality, that ego, that perception of special ness embodied in flesh, something I have, not what I Am.

A Course in Miracles came into my life, and shortly thereafter, an introduction to ACIM Gather, a live interactive on line group of teachers and students. And then, after completing the workbook, (the 365 lessons) I was led to The Way of Mastery.

After years of study with Gurdjeiff, Ouspensky, Walsch, Zukav, Dr. Hawkins, and many others, finally the gravy on the mashed potatoes reignited the Light within and reclaimed the need for a spiritual discipline. While grateful for all authentic teachers and authors of the past thirty years and recognizing that each made a contribution of another step on the path, one very distinct and vitally important element emerged.

I began to understand the truths that,

(1) Of myself I can do nothing,

(2) Nothing “outside” of me is the cause,

(3) I am not a victim of the world I see,

(4) An untrained mind can accomplish nothing,

(5) All judgment blocks the awareness of Love’s presence,

(6) Forgiveness is the means to peace, trust and faith.

(7) I am not this temporary body but pure Spirit created in the likeness of

the Source of everything, the Absolute, the All and Everything, God.

Armed with the teachings of all of these great messengers I realized that it was important that these ideas to be shared with anyone with an ear to hear. And that if one truly realizes that there is something greater behind everything the body’s eyes can perceive, if that truth resonates somewhere within, then it is necessary to pick an integrious spiritual discipline and stick to it. Replace negative thoughts with compassion and love for all of life and all of its expressions. Spend less time identified with things in the perceived world that have no real value. Pray more. Ask for help more often. Practice true forgiveness. Do something on a daily, hourly, and finally on a moment to moment regularity. Your Higher Self (or Holy Spirit) will not let you down.

Love, Light and the peace of God.

Joe Wolfe,

Author of Letter To A Prisoner Student & Teacher of A Course In Miracles.
What can correct illusions but the truth?
And what are errors but illusions that remain unrecognized
for what they are? Where truth has entered errors disappear.
They merely vanish, leaving not a trace by which to be remembered.
They are gone because, without belief, they have no life.
And so they disappear to nothingness, returning whence they came.
From dust to dust they come and go, for only truth remains.

Can you imagine what a state of mind without illusions is?
How it would feel? Try to remember when there was a time,–perhaps a minute,
maybe even less–when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were
certain you were loved and safe. Then try to picture what it would be like
to have that moment be extended to the end of time and to eternity.
Then let the sense of quiet that you felt be multiplied a hundred times,
and then be multiplied another hundred more.

And now you have a hint, not more than just the faintest
intimation of the state your mind will rest in when the truth has come.
Without illusions there could be no fear, no doubt and no attack.
When truth has come all pain is over, for there is no room for transitory
thoughts and dead ideas to linger in your mind. Truth occupies your mind completely,
liberating you from all beliefs in the ephemeral. They have no place because
the truth has come, and they are nowhere. They can not be found,
for truth is everywhere forever, now.

Lesson 107 ACIM Workbook

Author's Bio: 

Joe Wolfe, writer, author, speaker and teacher of A Course in Miracles.