Editor's Note: The following post is an excerpt from the prologue of David's memoir, Apprenticed to Spirit, reprinted with permission from Penguin/Random House.
When I was twenty years old, in the summer of 1965, I made a choice to follow an inner calling. At the time, my actions were seen as either a bold leap of faith or a foolish misstep in what might be a very short life. My friends and family were about evenly divided as to which it was. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure which it was either.
I had been enrolled at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor of science in biochemistry. Since entering college in 1962, I had a straight - A grade average, two scholarships, a student draft deferment, and a part-time job working for one of my professors in a laboratory, taking photographs of cell structure with an electron microscope. As a college student, I was a success.
But there was another side to my life. For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of invisible,non-physical beings and the dimensions from which they come. These dimensions have been given many names in many traditions: the Other Worlds, the Inner Worlds, the Higher Realms, the Spiritual Realms. As a child, I never thought to call them anything. The fact that at times I could see and talk with beings who were not part of the physical world did not seem strange. They were just part of the diverse, rich and wondrous world that I experienced growing up.
These non-physical dimensions are vast, much vaster than the physical territory of the earth. I usually call them “inner worlds,” not because they are inside anything - and certainly not simply inside me in some psychological sense - but because I reach inside myself for the senses and capacities to see and engage with them.
In my junior year at college, these two worlds collided. Although I lost none of my love for science, a series of experiences led me to recognize that my heart’s calling was not for the laboratory but to share with others the reality of the spiritual realms.
I had no idea how to go about that. However, I had friends who did….
We were discussing the future when I felt a powerful stirring of energy in the room around us. (One friend) who was not particularly psychic, sensed it. She looked around and said, “Do you feel that? It felt like someone just walked into the room!” And to my inner sight, someone had, preceded by a powerful wave of love and radiance as he moved from his dimension into ours.
At first, all I could see of this being was a presence of intense light. But as I watched, this light coalesced into a fully distinguishable person, looking like a man in his early forties, handsome, clean-shave, with a full head of dark brown hair, wearing a light shirt and dark trousers beneath a tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows. I remember thinking he was dressed like some of the college professors I’d known. It was a comfortable, familiar image for me, one that immediately put me at ease. Later I learned that that was precisely why he adopted it.
We humans identity ourselves by our names, by what we’re called, but most inner beings in my experience identity themselves by a unique energy or vibration. This can be as distinct as a fingerprint is for us. In many cases this vibration provides a deep and clear insight into that being’s spiritual nature and depth and the quality of its consciousness, what I define as its beingness. That was the case with this individual. I had a clear impression of a very wise, experienced, and very loving presence. Then he said in words that I heard in my mind like telepathy, “You may call me ‘John.'” It’s not my name, as I do not have a name as you do, but I can see it’s a name you like, so I am happy to use it.” I repeated this to (my friend), who could neither see nor hear this being but still could feel his presence.
“Ask him why he’s here,” she said.
John replied immediately. “If you are willing, we have a work we can do together. We have worked together in the past in other lives, and now we have an opportunity to do so again. I am not your teacher. Your teacher is the divine within you, as is true for everyone. But I can help you with the training you will need to follow your calling. I can help you access the teacher within you. As I say, if you are willing, we shall be partners. Think about it. I shall come back in a day or so for your answer.”
And with that, this presence disappeared, leaving behind a very sweet and loving feeling. “Well,” (my friend) commented when I had repeated what John had said. “I guess this answers your questions about your future!” So it did. When John came back in two days, I was ready to say yes.
Though I didn’t realize it at that moment, with that decision I became apprenticed in an invisible school, one dedicated to the realization of the sacredness within us, to empowering the sovereignty and spirituality of our individual incarnations, and so building collaborative partnership with the spiritual worlds in bringing blessings to this one. John often spoke of himself and his colleagues as part of a school on the inner, and though he never used the phrase “mystery school,” in effect he was tutoring me in some of the most basic mysteries of life on earth and the nature of the human spirit. The training I received from him and his colleagues fulfilled the spirit if not always the form of the mystery schools of old.
This partnership and the work we undertook is part of a larger pattern of spiritual unfoldment in our time, one that is calling to all of us as human beings. It is a work of creating wholeness - I call it "holopoiesis” - and of integrating and collaborating more fully with spirit and with the world of which we are a part.