How to Find Spiritual Freedom in This Lifetime
By Sri Harold Klemp
A belief drummed into me as a boy about life after death had little appeal. It was that at death Soul "sleeps" until the final day of judgment, a time of unconsciousness.
How My Search Began
I grew up on a farm. Family life revolved around raising and caring for cattle as a livelihood, planting the crops to feed them and us, and just as important, going to our country church for services. Church was a social center. Of course, we all came to worship God, but most of us found the visit with neighbors later outside just as fulfilling.
Nearly everyone in church was related. It's natural, then, that everyone knew everyone else very well. A church service was a weekly reunion of relatives.
During those years, Grandpa and Grandma often lived with one of their children on the family farm. The grandparents were wise and beloved elders, for the most part. They helped care for the grandchildren, did light chores, and gave instruction to their grown children. In time, of course, one by one, the old ones would pass on.
The day of the funeral was generally like a Sunday in that farmers only did the regular morning and evening chores. It was a sad day of worship.
But children were on hand during the time before a grandparent's passing. The process of dying had not yet become sanitized as it often is today, when the sick and elderly go to age and die away from home. It all happened before our eyes. We came to grips with death on many occasions. Death meant the loss of someone near and dear, not the mysterious departure of someone seen only a few times a year on a festive vacation.
Even more than that, a farm child watched his parents and neighbors get ready for the funeral. He heard them on the phone. They'd call each other to express sorrow, offer consolation, and perhaps, give a gentle commentary about the good deeds in the departed one's life.
The final good-byes were said at church. Whole families, from baby to the most feeble elder, would come to the funeral service if health and weather allowed.
Our congregation first listened to the pastor give the funeral blessings. Then, the entire assembly filed out to the cemetery alongside the church where the coffin disappeared into a dark hole, whose piles of dirt were spruced up with green ground cloths. We boys stayed to watch the assigned farmers close the grave. Last, into the church basement for a meal of fellowship.
The Beginning of Doubt
It was at funerals that doubts began to grow in my mind about the "sleep" state of Soul. Everyone just assumed that the deceased's body and Soul were pretty much one and the same.
True, the physical body would soon decay and be eaten by worms, but on the Last Day a more glorious body would rise from the grave.
What kid wouldn't give his eyeteeth to be at the cemetery on that great day to watch the spectacle of a lifetimethe opening of graves and all these people helping each other out of the ground? Wouldn't that be a splendid show? (Better than a county fair!) Yet for all the promise of excitement, a dark cloud hovered over this one-of-a-kind picture. What were the odds this spectacular event would come in my lifetime? A million to one. That left at least this farm boy with a most unhappy prospect.
Would I be another of the millionsbillionsof unlucky Souls trapped in a dark hole for maybe a thousand years?
And what if I failed to awaken from the sleep of death?
Over time, funerals got more and more of my attention. You could say I was looking for something better. Unknowingly, I'd become a seeker.
A Seeker Is Born
Indeed, there was an awakening from sleep as I passed from boy to young man. It came slowly, at the most unexpected times.
What was that mysterious humming sound at night when I was two and three? My brother, two years older, and I still slept in our parents' bedroom, so my tiny voice pierced the darkness.
"What is that humming?"
But neither Mother nor Dad could hear it. "It's the electric wires outside," they said. "Now go to sleep." Dad's alarm rang at four o'clock, to wake him for morning chores. He had no time for such nonsense. Yet as the years passed, my thoughts at night often alighted softly upon those early childhood memories of the mysterious humming sound. Where had it gone? The electric wires still ran outside my open window, but that soothing, almost musical, sound had disappeared over the years.
Later, in Eckankar, I found this humming to be one of the many sounds of God. It was the movement of God's Voicethe Holy Spirit, or ECKvibrating the ethers of time and space.
To hear one of these sacred sounds is a great joy and blessing.
Anyway, a lot of water passed under the bridge of my life before that revelation came to me. There were other awakenings too. Little ones, in looking back. Yet they were all I could accept at each level of unfoldment. These awakenings included visions, dreams of the future, Soul Travel, and other wonders that left me in awe of the once hidden mysteries of the Eternal One, God.
They were all directed at one goal: my spiritual freedom in this very lifetime. Here and now. There was no need to enter into a "death sleep" that could last for centuries. Maybe forever. What if my childhood religion had it wrong? Then the risk was all mine.
You, the Seeker
You are at that point in life, too, where some Voice of God has gently shaken your shoulder to awaken you from a deep spiritual slumber.
I think you'll like the stories in these pages by people like you. You'll hear others tell of a compelling experience that shows the gentle, all-caring love of God. It works wonders.
Within this small but precious book are the voices of seekers like you, people now on the most direct road to spiritual freedomhere and now.
Excerpted from the 1999 Eckankar Journal, copyright © 1998 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.