A Birthday Speech (I Haven’t Given)

When I was 19, I sat up in my bed one night and tangibly experienced reality — the impossibly infinite magnificence of existence itself. I could literally see and feel divinity saturating, permeating, being everything — even the most hum-drum of all stuff — like the walls I sat up to stare at.[0]

Since then I haven’t been normal.

Of course, I was never “normal,” but this amazing experience made my abnormalities escalate radically. There is such a deep feeling of happiness in truly experiencing reality — it is euphoric like a sustained, breathtaking, almost “orgasmic” wholeness. Suddenly my normal experience of life felt like a small box with very little inside. I lost interest in everything else and pretty recklessly threw my life on whatever tracks seem to lead towards this divine experience. [1]

The good news is that I have gotten somewhere on those tracks: I have been able to have this sort of experience with increasing regularity and increasing depth. The bad news, especially if you are my relative or old friend, is that it’s hard to relate to and easy to misunderstand me, because my spheres of interest intersect with most everyone else’s only momentarily and in ways always connected to mysterious spheres of things people often aren’t conversant in. I am not proud of my inability to connect with the “normal” level of reality. I realize that it is a hallmark of immature personal evolution on my part. Over the years I have improved, becoming able to interact with normal reality more and more fully while simultaneously having a satisfyingly deep spiritual experience of it.

But still, certain things that particularly challenge me. Unfortunately, these things are quite ubiquitous in today’s world. I dislike these things not because they are “evil” in and of themselves (which they definitely aren’t), but because the way that we usually deal with them is markedly antithetical to the profundity I experienced at 19, exacerbating the shallowness and disconnectedness of our live. Sports is one — but it’s not so bad, since at least it can be healthy and has lots of good side effects. A more annoying dislike is our obsession with being sexy. Often I feel like being a member of the Human Race in this day and age is like being a dog who is in heat 12 months a year, non-stop. Sex is wonderful, and the love of children is probably the single most inherently joyful thing in this world, but the way we are obsessed with being sexy profoundly “short-circuits” and reduces our ability to truly experience reality. Eating meat disturbs me far more then the “lets always be sexy” thing. To me meat eating symbolizes the short-circuited, short-cited mentality of putting one’s own wants before the needs and rights of other people and other living things. The fourth and worst of my pet-peeves: getting drunk. For many people it seems impossible to relax or have a decent time without drinking. This really disconnects us from reality and stunts our perception.

These four dislikes present challenges to my relationships. I don’t hold anyone in contempt for being immersed in these things, but I want people to know why I don’t have fun with such things.

Yesterday, I turned 44. Surely old age will pose increasing challenges to my health, maybe the fact that I was jet-lagged and quite sick at my birthday party is symbolic of that. But other than the worry that perhaps my body and mind will not remain operable, I am nothing but eager to turn 45, 55, 85, and hopefully even 108. “Age before beauty,” because age can give wisdom, wisdom is the key keeping the gates of reality, and within the gates of reality lie true beauty in its most opulent and abundant form.

I am thankful to my parents, and my aunt and uncle and their son and his nice girl-friend for making the effort to celebrate my birthday, which is merely a symbol of how deeply they have always made themselves and their resources lovingly available to help me, a blind-fool in pursuit of something abstract.

I am thankful to my mother-in-law, who called me from Japan twice with so much love in her voice.

I am thankful to my many, many superb friends who expressed birthday blessings towards me in such gracious ways.

I am, most of all, thankful to my wife for giving me her trust, her very heart, and for giving me four children who are unfailing sources of inspiration and anchors for my wayfaring life.

Above all else, always and forever, I am thankful to the Supreme Reality, whom I affectionately know as my Rādhā and Krishna.

Finally, I ask the forgiveness of everyone whose life my non-conformity has made more difficult than it already needs to be.

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[0]:I was “straight-edge” — no drugs were involved.

[1]: My exposure to Hare Krishna began just prior to this experience, and probably triggered it.