Welcome to the website of

Bruce Fraser MacDonald, PhD

A Message of Hope for Troubled Times

Email: TheThomasBook@gmail.com

 

Auto-biography of
Bruce F. MacDonald

 

 

A Brief Auto-biography of
Bruce F. MacDonald, PhD

© by Bruce F. MacDonald, PhD

I was born in December, 1944, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  World War II was still raging in Europe and the Pacific.  My father was chaplain to the coast regiment of the Canadian Army which guarded the entrance to Halifax harbour and Bedford Basin, where ships gathered from all along the eastern coast of North America in preparation for the convoy run across the Atlantic.  His regiment manned the guns along the harbour entrance and the submarine net which stretched from McNabb’s Island to the southern shore.

            After the War, we moved to India where my father served in the Church of North India.  Even though I was not yet three years old, some features of our trip from Southampton to London still stick in my memory.  On the positive side, I remember the long, dark banister in our hotel down which “big kids” could slide, but I couldn’t.  I loved the small steam trains which I remember being green and gold and cute.  However, I also remember seeing the bombed-out buildings in London, buttressed with huge beams, and the many vacant lots filled with rubble.  I knew people had died there and that we were to talk in hushed tones about that time because the people around us might have lost loved ones in that time of horror.  Dad had been in England after the War, helping to repatriate Canadian troops, so he knew first hand the stories of the suffering, both from the battle fields and from the London Blitz.  The awareness that we had been through a terrible war stuck in my mind even at that young age.

            The ship we took from England to India was an old troop carrier and, because it was on its last voyage before being junked, not much had been done to make it more comfortable.  We slept in bunks three high, women and children in one area, men and older boys in another.  The ship was almost worn out and parts were scarce.  It broke down in the Mediterranean and again the Red Sea and had to be towed into Malta and Port Said by ocean-going tug.  In Egypt we went ashore and then almost sank in a rowboat when the drunken boat man lost one of the oars and tried to retrieve it.  I also remember that cigarettes came in flat cans and many people smoked.  We went around rescuing the tins, took the tops off and floated them as boats in what seemed to me to be huge bathtubs.

            On my third birthday, we arrived in Bombay, India, just after Independence and the partition of India and Pakistan and a month before the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.  That year, 1947, was a time of great violence as the pent-up rage of centuries (dating back through centuries of conflict after Muslim armies conquered India centuries earlier) erupted when Pakistan and India were separated.  Muslims fled to Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs to India.  In the process, unspeakable atrocities were committed by both sides.  War had obviously not ended in India and conflict continued.  And as if that was not enough, my father caught some very serious illnesses and was extremely sick for over six months.  Fortunately, penicillin had been discovered during the war – otherwise he would have died.

            This time of violence was also a time of great promise.  We were told that the last shipload of British officials left Bombay harbour at the same time we entered.  The new Indian rulers were just starting to build the largest democracy in the world, an experiment in human social and political organization never tried before in the history of the world.

            From a history of great discord, they were trying to build a new, just society for millions of people without resorting to violent revolution as happened in France, the United States, Russia, China and many other countries.  Before the British arrived, India had been a collection of princely states, divided by religion, race, caste and social class. I spent almost twelve years of my youth watching the truly heroic struggle to bring this new country into being.  India, for all its weaknesses, was a symbol of what could be done to bring about a peaceful transition in society.

            I attended Woodstock School in Mussoorie, in the mountains of north India, until returning to Canada in 1959.  I was in Mussoorie in 1959 when the young Dalai Lama fled from Tibet, and was able to see him, sitting in state on a wooden, dining room chair, at “Happy Valley.” 

            The mountains were a wonderful place to grow up.  In those days there were no terrorists, so we could go anywhere we wanted.  We hiked back into the hidden valleys along Tehri Road or had picnics on “Prayer Flag Hill.”  For school projects we collected ferns during the rainy season or played tops in “top season,” and had “chestnut battles” in “chestnut season.”  There were no TV’s, so we made our own entertainment -- and there were always things to do.

            Of course, there was also the negative side of being in boarding school with parents hundreds of miles away in central India – loneliness, lack of family, being continually subject to the whims of bullies. 

            We had no relatives in India, aside from immediate family, so grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were distant realities.  All of us “mish-kids,” missionary kids, became like one big family and some of us still keep in touch, even if only sporadically.  The adults were all “uncle” and “aunt.” One of my close friends from those years died in November, 2009, from a fall down a cliff in Mussoorie and losing him was like losing a brother.

            There was much fear as well.  The Suez Crisis blocked the major travel route “back home” while we were there – traveling by air was not yet common.  The Korean War erupted and we knew that China was just to the north, had taken over Tibet and was in an expansive mood, with Mao at the helm.  And always, the threat of atomic warfare hung like a pall over everything, although we did not think anyone would want to bomb our little part of the world.  There was always the fear that our “home,” Canada, might not survive such a war and we might not have anywhere to return to.  Living in India we had a very real sense of being in the middle of world events, not on the edge of things like North Americans feel.  There were no Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as buffers against the rest of the world.

            During the monsoons the rains came so hard and for so long we always had the fear that a landslide would destroy our house.  That fear was always just under the surface, and even living on the flat prairies in Canada I still had that fear for a long time when it rained for any length of time.  I remember one time we lived in a place called Tehri View.  One night, while we sat at the supper table and the rain poured down outside, we felt the earth tremble and heard the deafening roar of a landslide.  We all stood silently and looked at each other, as if this was the end.  The next day we found that a landslide had gone through the roof of a school building not far down the road.

            But there was also the secure feeling of going to sleep with the drumming of rain on corrugated steel roofs – I still like that sound.  During the monsoons we collected those amazing beetles with long stag antlers, rhinoceros horns or short, sharp pinchers.  We put our pet beetles in jars with mango to eat and took them to school to play with during recess. 

            We children looked after the sand tennis court in Oakville when our parents were in the mountains and, in return, had lots of opportunity to play tennis.  Oakville was a wonderful place to play hide-and-seek. We dodged snakes on the way to school (literally) and boasted about the number of snakes we had almost stepped on.  We knew black panthers were around, since one killed a neighbour’s dog not more than fifty feet from their house.  When we were camping, we once saw the glowing eyes of some creature watching us as we slept out under the stars, but we put more wood on the campfire and comforted ourselves with the knowledge that no one was ever killed by a panther or tiger in that area.

            My father worked in central India.  We spent winter holidays in the dry, dusty plains of Madhya Pradesh -- in the sacred city of Ujjain or the railway city of Ratlam.  India had a profound effect on me. It seemed like a biblical land, as if Jesus and the disciples, or the Old Testament heroes, Abraham or Moses, could easily fit into the landscape.  The Bible seemed so much more real there than in North America.  But I was also aware of the other religions around us, of the tremendous religious forces which had formed society and landscape.

            It was by going to India in early childhood that I was able to re-awaken an inner awareness of the previous life of Didymos Judas Thomas, whose life had ended there, but who was to have such a key role in my own life.  India was the key to uniting the two lives.  I also sensed a closeness to the “sadhus,” holy men, as if I had been one of them at some time. I sensed dimensions of memory and consciousness there that I have felt nowhere else and can understand why, in spite of its problems, India continues to cast its spell over so many people who feel they have to “go back” there, even if they have never been there, to find something they have lost. 

            I have returned to India twice since 1959, but not as part of a spiritual quest (although that was in the background of my thought).  I was the coordinator of a research team from the University of Regina, examining the social impact of computerization in universities in Canada and India.  We traveled to many universities and research institutes in India, from New Delhi in the north to Bangalore in the south, meeting with the people involved in developing computer use.   This was in 1986 and 1987, at a time when computers were only beginning to enter into extensive use in India, well before India became a world centre of computing.  Our research program may even have helped in that process.

 

            India was home, as I knew no other country for many years.  Perhaps the greatest difference between Canada and India, for me, was the sense of lived history.  In India history lay all around us -- in the ruins of ancient fortresses, palaces, temples and even whole cities, which had been re-absorbed into nature.  No wonder Buddha said that everything changes – 2500 years ago!  In his day, as in ours, the same forces of history and change, stretched into the distant past.   

            We used to go for picnics at the “Water Palace,” the ruins of a palace which some Maharaja had built on a river not far from Ujjain.  We traveled to several sacred sites like Sanchi with its Buddhist stupas or Kedarnath, one of the holiest of Hindu sites and one of the sources of the Ganges River at 12,000 feet -- high in the eternal snows of the Himalayan Mountains with peaks stretching another 12,000 feet above the temple.  The Ajanta and Elora cave temples, not far from Bombay, were especially fascinating, carved from the solid, basalt rock of an ancient lava flow, by monks two thousand years ago.  I marveled at the effort and dedication it must have taken to chisel the caves by hand over hundreds of years.  Seeing these things in youth makes one realize that not everything has to be instant, that we can work over centuries to achieve the results we want, if we have the devotion we need.  The little ego becomes much less important in that kind of atmosphere.

            Even the dusty city where we lived was sacred. Ujjain had been old at the time of Christ and it was said that one of the Wise Men who came to see Jesus was from Ujjain.  It was built on the banks of the sacred Sipra River and was the site of the Kumbh Mela (a key gathering of Hindu devotees held on a regular cycle of years).  I was just a small child at the time it was held there but I still remember the sadhus, gathered from across India, doing their devotions, standing in the hot sun in all manner of yoga postures, surrounded with fires made of cow dung and incense.  In India one knew, even as a small, Canadian child, that religion was ancient and spiritual questing was something which had gone on for thousands of years.

            I was a member of a prominent United Church of Canada family.  My father, Rev. Peter Stuart MacDonald, was the President of the Maritime Conference of the church and served in many congregations in Nova Scotia, Bermuda and India.  My uncle, Very Rev. W. Clarke MacDonald, was the Moderator of the United Church.  It seemed strange to bring a “Canadian religion” into the heart of India where there were so many other religions.  But I also became aware that Christianity had been in India long before we got there.  In fact, Thomas had come there 2000 years earlier, so Thomas Christianity was older than some of the “Indian religions” – and I was to make surprising connections with him later in my life. 

            Ironically, I married a woman from Trinidad, in the West Indies, whose ancestors came from India.  One of her relatives was a Christian who came as a missionary from India to Trinidad!  Her brother came as a minister from Trinidad to Canada. Buddhist and Muslim and Hindu missionaries were traveling all over the world, bringing their religions to the West and the East.  We were part of a great movement of peoples and beliefs, traveling about the globe, bringing about the possibility of great enrichment to all cultures if we can only get over the conflicts which exist between the absolutist claims of some religious groups.

            In 1959 we returned to Canada, to the culture shock of rural Nova Scotia and the village of New Germany, where I went to highschool.  I found out that our ancestors had come to Canada all of two hundred years ago.  In Canadian terms that was a long time, but to eyes accustomed to thousands of years of history, everything seemed so new.  There seemed to be no “depth” to events or places in Canada.  And it felt like I had moved from a place which was at the centre of the world’s activity to a place on the distant edge of things.  I became deeply aware of the fundamental differences which exist between cultures and countries.  I knew that history is very important.  And I gradually learned that in some ways, I belonged nowhere and everywhere.

Although I knew that I was not Indian, and could never really return there, I was attracted to India, perhaps because my soul related better to huge stretches of time than to the newness of North America.  I sensed that I had live for centuries, not just years, and I felt drawn to the ancient lands of India and of the Bible, steeped in the events of millennia.  I knew that, in a way I did not yet understand, I belonged there.  I read Hesse’s Siddhartha during my first year at university, and was moved by a tremendous longing to be part of that ancient quest.  I did not know my soul had been in those lands for thousands of years.

            In 1963 I graduated from New Germany Rural High School, yet again left many good friends behind, because I did not know you could carry friendship with you, and went off to Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, where I started studying for my planned career as a minister in the United Church of Canada, following in the family tradition.  However, that was not to be.  During those first two years at university I was trying to come to terms with the deep perceptions I sensed welling up within me.  But they were perceptions which did not find support in the culture around me or in the kind of Christianity which was practiced in North America.  I knew there must be something more to life than I was experiencing, but I did not know how to access it.

            In 1965 I took a year off from my studies and went to the Canadian prairies, to Regina, Saskatchewan, where I worked in the bank, drove heavy road building equipment and taxies, worked as a trucker's helper and carpenter and read many books in my “little room under the eves.”  Regina was even more ephemeral than Nova Scotia.  Here a building that was fifty years old was considered ancient.  Everything was so new!  But I had time to read – Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard, Buber, Hesse, Buddhism, Patanjali, Shankaracharaya,  – works which began to give me a sense of something beyond the surface life I was leading.  I used to take these books to the bank where I worked, to read on my lunch break.  The other employees glanced at a few pages and thought I must be really hard up for something to do if I was reading that kind of stuff!  My consciousness was obviously not in tune with Regina, even though it was to play another central role in my life.

            Regina was also a place where I made a lot of friends.  And it was there I met Olive, from Trinidad in the West Indies, who was to be my wife.  She was boarding with some friends of mine while going to university and almost as soon as I saw her in the fall of 1965, I knew we would be married.  I did not know why, but that deep sense of recognition was there.  Later, I discovered we had spent many lives together and that we had planned this union long before we came into this life.  But I did not know that then.

            She was of East Indian ancestry – I grew up in India.  She was educated in a private church school, much like the one I went to.  We both had essentially the same background, even though we had grown up in widely different parts of the world. We were products of India and the West, of Christianity and of Indian religions.  We shared the same likes in food and in many other things.  Although she did not know Hindi as I did, she had grown up with many Hindi words and Indian customs with which I was familiar.  Looking back on it now, it seems like a surprisingly short time between when we met and when we were engaged, especially considering we were far from our families and hardly knew each other, but maybe on some level we knew what was going to happen very soon in our lives, and so had to commit ourselves to the relationship before our world was turned upside down.  We were engaged at the end of May, 1966, but it wasn’t until two years later, in August of 1968, that we were married in Olive’s home in Trinidad, because a lot of serious things intervened. 

            Only days after our engagement, while working on a construction site on June 3rd, 1966, I fell down a 37 foot piling shaft, crushed one of my vertebrae to half size, badly fractured two others and tore all my inner organs out of place.  A few days after that, I died and had a Near Death Experience during which I met and talked with Jesus, Elijah and Moses, in a scene which mirrored the Transfiguration.  We discussed a "project" in which we were all involved, a project which had to do with the development of human spiritual consciousness and which involved many thousands of people over thousands of years. I describe the NDE in detail in both The Thomas Book and The Prayer of Silence, since it is at the base of the relationship I established with Yeshua (Jesus), which allowed me to write The Thomas Book, and which opened up to me the inner nature of human consciousness in a dramatic way and gave me clues to practicing and teaching the kind of meditation I later learned from spiritual sources and wrote intoThe Prayer of Silence.  The rest of my life was given focus and impetus in the Near Death Experience.  It is the pivot on which everything else swings.

            I did not expect, before the accident, while reading my books in my third floor room, struggling with a growing sense of the emptiness of modern culture and while looking for a deeper meaning in life than the one I had found so far, that I would be thrown into such a deep experience of the spirit.  I did not even know it was possible to leave the body and return.  I did not believe that we could exist in that kind of spiritual state. When I returned to life, I was aware of a few surprising things.  I knew I could no longer be a minister because I knew there was something very wrong with the gospels in the Bible and I could not teach many of the key Bible stories on which contemporary Christianity is built, or the doctrines which had been developed from them. I knew the rest of my life would be devoted to discovering what was wrong with those stories and then sharing that knowledge with others. 

            I also knew that the materialist picture of consciousness taught in the West, which I had been studying in university, was woefully inadequate. I knew that another aspect of my future life would involve exploring consciousness in depth from a "spiritual" perspective, not from merely a psychological view.  The NDE had opened many areas of human possibility, which I had to explore, because I had not been given any answers in my short time in the land of death.

            After seven months in hospital, I returned to university in order to solve the mysteries of consciousness which had been given to me to unravel. I realized that studying literature would give me an excuse to study everything else, so I took some classes at the University of Regina before returning to complete a BA from Mount Allison University and an MA from The University of New Brunswick.  Then I taught at Acadia University for two years (1970-72) – all of this in Canada.  

            I knew I had to complete a PhD if I was going to continue on to my chosen career as a university professor, so we went to England.  I held a faculty position at the University of Leeds, teaching Commonwealth Literature and Renaissance English Literature, and completed a PhD with a dissertation in African and West Indian Literature and classes in African, West Indian, Indian, Australian and Canadian Literature.  I wanted to learn about the literature, culture, history and creative traditions of the world in order to try to understand human consciousness in as many contexts as I possibly could. 

            Our two children were born in Leeds.  It was a good few years, even though we could not do much traveling because Olive was pregnant much of the time we were there – two children in three years.  We bought a house in Headingly, a suburb of Leeds, and immersed ourselves in yet another culture.  Yorkshire was very different from Canada, but oddly, was closer to my experience of India.  Here again were the ruins of thousands of years of history all around us.  We could drive to York for a day and see the old city walls and the Roman and pre-Roman excavations under York Minster.  We could drive north to Scotland and see the ancient sites where my ancestors had fought and died.  We could drive south to London and see more Roman and pre-Roman ruins, Stone Henge, Wood Henge and other historic sites. The students I taught at the university also had a sense of the past.  They knew their identities stretched back into events long gone.

            We returned to Canada, and a teaching position at The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton for a year.  We had been in Fredericton when I was completing my MA.  But the circle came full circle.  We did not think we would ever return to Regina, but the position at The University of Regina was the only one available in 1976.  University teaching posts were getting very scarce.  Two years later, I transferred to Luther College, a federated college at the University of Regina where I was Professor of English until my retirement in 2010. 

            We had come full circle.  Regina was like a magnet, drawing us back over and over.  Even though I chose not to enter the ministry, the church continued to be a magnet and being drawn back into a church atmosphere, at Luther College, was essential for me to find my past-life identity and for writing the Gospel from the perspective of Judas Thomas.  Over and over I was returned to the church to make sure I paid attention to its beliefs and practices and to the reason for which I had returned to life after the Near Death Experience in 1966.  I felt a bit like Jonah who tried to run away but was swallowed by a great fish and vomited on the shore to do what he was supposed to.  There was no escaping the force and direction of my life’s work.  I had committed myself to the “project” and could not escape, even if I had wanted to.

            One of my aims has been to understand human consciousness in a non-traditional way.  To that end I have studied the creative processes involved in literature and art.  I have closely examined and practiced the rational processes of discourse in teaching, research and the writing of articles and research papers.  I have had a career as a sculptor and have experienced firsthand the creative process of "channeling" sculptures, where I could see them in my mind and then make them in three dimensions.  This seemed to be a prelude to channeling the Gospel which solved the riddle I brought back from the land of death, of what was wrong with the Gospels in the Bible.

            However, none of these experiences brought me to an understanding of exactly what happened to my consciousness in the Near Death Experience so, in the early 1980’s, I began to explore the inner world through meditation.  I found the tremendous potential for healing in a variety of meditative methods, as I repaired some of the problems in my body through meditation.  I discovered how meditation could heighten the rational processes and how my research could be enhances with the kinds of psychic and other perceptions which meditation makes possible.  I did a lot of counseling of students and members of the community and used meditative techniques to aid in their emotional healing, because the meditative methods I developed allowed them to enter more quickly and more deeply into their inner being than any other methods to which I had been introduced.  I taught meditation to a number of church and university groups and discovered the potential for personal spiritual growth in the regular practice of what I came to know as the Prayer of Silence.

It was through this varied application of meditation that I began to discover what had actually happened to me in the NDE – how a Near Death Experience is a level of consciousness which can be achieved through a particular form of meditation instead of dying -- a particularly effective technique which is central to the book I wrote on The Prayer of Silence

            It was also at this point in my explorations that I began to re-examine the teachings of Jesus as they applied to consciousness.  I began to see his teachings through the eyes of Judas Thomas because he had been right there when the teachings were given in the first place.  I realized, through him, that Jesus was not planning to formulate doctrines or a new moral code or even a method of worship.  In fact, Jesus did not want people to “worship” God.  He told people to retreat to their “closet” to pray, which is an instruction only really appropriate to some form of meditation. He wanted to introduce them to a relationship, that which can exist between a child and his/her loving parent, Abba/Father.  And Jesus was carrying on a long tradition in this regard.  Moses had “talked to God as a man talks to his friend,” and Elijah had listened for the “Still small voice.”  Looking beyond the doctrinal and moral meaning, which is the main focus of most religious interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, I began to discover what I call “spiritual psychology.”   As I entered deeper into the experiences of meditation, I realized that the parables and other sayings of Jesus were describing spiritual and psychological states and a divine relationship which people could learn to enter through meditation.

            This level of teaching about the inner Kingdom of God had to do with the development of the "Christ Consciousness," that state where we can say with Jesus, “I and the Father are one.”  I was able to introduce this awareness about the Bible into my own meditative practice and it has become an important part of the spiritual insight ofThe Prayer of Silence.  This part of the book is not theology, but a new way of seeing the biblical text, where the text is seen as containing hints of a practical teaching which was at one time taught to the “Schools of the Prophets” about the life of meditative prayer -- not just ideas and stories which are limited to being the basis of theology and doctrines.  I began to realize why Elijah and Moses had been in my Near Death Experience – because they had helped to develop the insights on which these “Schools of the Prophets” were built.

            There are a number of theorists working on NDEs and their effects, but I believe The Prayer of Silence is the first in which the level of consciousness reached in a Near Death Experience, reproduced in meditation without a NDE, becomes the basis for a new level of spiritual growth.  I discovered it was possible to help those who have not had an NDE to enter into many of the profound spiritual perceptions which NDE survivors have.  At the same time I have found that NDE survivors can learn to adapt and develop their experience for greater spiritual learning through the Prayer of Silence.  One of the problems faced by those who have returned from Near Death Experiences is that it is difficult to integrate that experience into everyday life.  The Prayer of Silence provides guidance for that integrative process.  

            While developing these spiritual perceptions, I found myself entering into a type of consciousness which I call “the Watcher,” which is similar to that in which I "saw" my sculptures in my mind.  It is also similar to that level of awareness which made it possible to solve the mystery I brought back from my NDE conference with Yeshua, Elijah and Moses, of what was wrong with the Gospels.  In this new meditative state I was able to channel The Thomas Book and was also able to find physical, emotional and spiritual healing and to receive profound spiritual teachings. Others can also enter into that state to find their own inner guidance.

            I was hesitant to make claims about my reincarnation identity – to “bear witness to myself” -- until 2007, when I wrote to Walter Semkiw, MD, reincarnation researcher, and was told that Kevin Ryerson, (the trance channel who helped Shirley Maclaine in her spiritual quest and who has been on many of the key US television shows, including Oprah), said in a spiritual reading that I was “the scribe who wrote down The Gospel of Thomas” in The Nag Hammadi Library.  I knew that the writer of that Gospel claimed to be Didymos Judas Thomas and that the early church knew him as the twin brother of Christ.  Later, Kevin Ryerson confirmed my own inner guidance that I am a reincarnation of this Didymos Judas Thomas the writer of The Gospel of Thomas in The Nag Hammadi Library and twin brother of Jesus. Unfortunately, Kevin will not allow me to quote from those readings because they reveal a fraud which a best-selling writer is committing and this writer is Kevin’s friend. I deal with this intrigue fully in Part One of The Thomas Book which deals with the events leading to the publication of the Gospel, which is in Part Two.

            From all of these explorations, I came to understand how we humans are capable of learning a great variety of forms and levels of consciousness, including talking to God “as a man talks to his friend,” like Moses and also entering into the consciousness of our “past” lives.  I was able to develop and teach meditative approaches to healing body, mind and emotions.   I was able to develop and then teach methods of effective learning and research along with stress reduction and improved relationships.

            But I obviously I had many more things to learn   In this lifetime it seems that the way I am taught spiritual lessons is to throw me into an almost impossible situation and then to let me find my way out of it.  In 1966 I fell down a piling shaft and died and had to learn to put my body back together.  To learn these new lessons, in 1991, I contracted a severe case of viral encephalitis.  I suffered severe brain damage.  I could no longer recognize people I had known for years.  Almost all my professional memory was wiped clean.  I could not sign my name or copy numbers from one place to another.  I hardly knew members of my immediate family.  As my daughter said later, "One day my Dad was there.  Then the next someone completely different was in his body."  Fortunately, my wife, Olive, has stayed with me through all of these difficulties.  I sometimes think it is unfair to her that she had to live this kind of life, but then realize that, if I had consented to this life, she must have as well.  I am certainly very grateful to her for providing continuity and support through it all and know she has learned a lot in her own right.

            Overcoming the effects of encephalitis was like an advanced course in meditation and consciousness.  Fortunately, I was able to take what I had learned earlier in my meditation practice and was able to heal the brain, rebuilding memory and my life from Spirit.  I found I could enter in meditation into a transcendent level of consciousness, the Watcher, and there could perceive a “memory field” in which I was able to re-experience my whole life (some would call it the personal Akashic Records or the information field which interpenetrates all reality).  This memory level is not usually accessible to ordinary consciousness and was certainly not available to the badly damaged physical brain.  However, I could gain access to this level of awareness in the Prayer of Silence.  I could then consciously will the memory from this level of information into undamaged, more conventional areas of memory storage in the brain.  

            At the time I was doing this it was not known that the brain could rebuild itself.  The neuropsychologist I consulted after the illness told me, “You’re not supposed to be able to do all of that.” It took many years, but I was able to rebuild my whole life from this area of universal memory.

            Overcoming the effects of encephalitis helped me learn other meditation skills.  I discovered emotional trauma and conflict stored with memory in this elevated level of awareness.   I had to resolve every conflict before I could store the memories in the brain.  The process of rebuilding memory was thus a process of intense life review and resulted in profound emotional and spiritual healing.  The resulting skills of resolving trauma have become an integral part of the meditation I teach and will be extremely valuable for people to learn as the world moves into a time of economic, personal, religious and social upheaval. 

            I discovered that, in this elevated level of universal consciousness, memories of "past lives" were just as easy to re-experience as memories of the present life, so that, as I transcended the present life and gained access to many “past lives,” I began to build a sense of a "person" who transcended lives and time.  I was not longer just Bruce, because I was entering into and becoming the transcendent Self which transcends individual egos, that state of which the mystical traditions speak -- the “Atman consciousness” or “God-consciousness,” of the Hindu tradition, the “Christ Consciousness” of the Christian tradition or the “Gnosis” of the Gnostic traditions.  As a direct result of developing an awareness of this “Higher Self,” I have had several experiences of oneness with the Divine – experiences which are the ultimate (though not the only) aim of most of the meditative traditions of the world.  Having been there myself, I can lead my readers gradually toward that kind of Divine Union.

            This process of healing brain and memory damage is an important part of The Prayer of Silence and would be helpful for anyone who has had brain damage or memory loss, since it provides a means of bypassing the brain consciousness and entering into other levels of consciousness from which the brain and its functions can be rebuilt.

            I found many other areas of awareness which I was able to teach to groups in the community and to write into The Prayer of Silence.  In writing of this Atman/Spirit level of spiritual learning I do not have to depend on quotes from others to illustrate my points because I "have been there."  I can therefore teach from experience in a practical and repeatable way, spiritual truths and experiences which have only been hinted at in many of the great mystical texts of the world. 

             
It is as if my whole life was directed toward the goal of writing about spiritual consciousness.  Both The Thomas Book and The Prayer of Silence arose from all these influences:  from my early life in India, the Near Death Experience in 1966 and the exploration of both the external world, through my travels and research, and the inner world, through meditation and spiritual experience, so that readers can benefit from a rich, multi-dimensional fabric of theory, example and exercises to build their own sense of a varied, multi-dimensional spiritual personality.  The aim of this meditation is not just Nirvana, “blown out,” where all attachments are removed, but a balanced fulfillment of all the potential which is within us – a fulfillment of spiritual evolution to higher and higher levels instead of a destruction of the personality or the world.  I have faced many of the problems readers are liable to face on their own inner path and have found ways of dealing with inner weakness or blockage or difficulties of many sorts, so that I can teach people how to move to a fuller sense of spiritual identity beyond their inner blockages.

            One of the things I am very happy with is that readers do not have to be highly educated to benefit from The Thomas Book and The Prayer of Silence.  Many people, some without even high school education, have told me that they have no trouble understanding the principles discussed in the books.  They found the books spoke directly to their circumstances. One woman told me she takes The Prayer of Silence on the plane to read because it helps her overcome her fear of flying -- just by reading it.  Another told me the books help after a hectic day with the children, because they put her in a peaceful state of mind, again just by reading.  People who have also tried the exercises in The Prayer of Silence have found them very powerful indeed.  Housewives, engineers, teachers, electricians, store clerks, printers, clergy – all have benefited from the books.

            I think this quality of the books, that they appeal to people of all educational and cultural backgrounds, arises from my having worked and lived with people in many cultures around the world and in most social classes.  I used to drive taxi and work as a construction worker and was also a professor and have interacted with people from many walks of life. 

            Not only is the theory in the books sound and clearly explained, but it is practical and repeatable because it has been designed for ordinary people and is written in ordinary language.  It is not just made up of pious or spiritual platitudes nor is it about the now overly repeated generalizations about “overcoming the ego.”  The ego is actually a valuable aid to spiritual growth and losing it (as when I had encephalitis) is not something to aim at.  Most people who advocate ridding oneself of the ego (and this includes most people who write about the superficial levels of meditation) have not actually done that -- they speak only from speculation.  

            The Prayer of Silence IS about the popular “creating your own reality,” in that, when we change our inner lives, we change our world.  But it is not about growing rich by using the “secret” of manifestation. Some of our financial problems around the world arise from the selfishness and “spiritual materialism” which has been preached as “the Secret” for a number of years before the economic crash of 2008.  Psychic power is very real and its use for personal, materialist ends has always been warned against on the spiritual path because it can be used for good or ill.  In the East these powers are known as “siddhis” and can be a block to spiritual development.  In the West they are known as “Black Magic.”  Most people do not know that. 

            The danger of this kind of practice is that it strengthens the lower ego with the higher powers and makes it very difficult for the seeker to move beyond that level of “psychic” rather than “spiritual” growth.  That is why Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  That is because the rich man has likely defined his possessions, rather than his Spirit, as his highest good, by using his spiritual power to attain them.  In fact, when the story is told of Jesus in the wilderness, “tempted by Satan for forty days,” he is being tempted to use these very powers.  He rightly rejects them because, if he had gone down that path, his spiritual development would have come to a stop right there in the desert.

            Psychic powers may make you rich for a little while or get you a nice car if your psyche is powerful enough, but they have their consequences as well.  The Spirit is not supposed to be perverted into the material realms.  In fact, as we grow in Spirit, we gradually realize that the material desires are fleeting, always changing and are, as Buddhism points out, the source of suffering. 

            Jesus puts it another way.  He says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. But if you seek only the things of this world, that is all you will have and you will lose your soul as well.” 

            It is becoming all too obvious that we cannot always create the reality or the wealth we want and that there are many aspects of our lives where meditation of the kind I teach, meditation which is centered on the Divine within us and which aims at developing spiritual, rather than psychic, power -- and thereby forming a balanced life with a unity of Mind, Body and Spirit -- is badly needed for us to move beyond the selfishness of much of present “self-help” literature to an awareness of our oneness with everyone on the planet.  Perhaps, instead of manifesting cars and large houses for ourselves, we need to serve our fellow human beings and make sure their inner needs are met and that justice is done.

            Because The Prayer of Silence arises from my own intensely observed spiritual growth processes, it gets into the actual, detailed nitty-gritty of the profound conflicts with which we all face, the day to day difficulties of the spiritual path, as well as specific steps we can take to heal body, mind, emotions, relationships and Spirit.  And finally, once the reader has resolved difficulties and has laid a foundation of reliable experience, I explain the path to the spiritual enlightenment for which we long, and of which we are all capable.  Again, I can describe those advanced stages of the spiritual journey accurately because I have been there.  The book thus describes graphically and clearly spiritual truths and experiences which have only been hinted at in most mystical texts or spiritual self-help guides.

            When I was about six years old, I stood on a path in the mountains of north India, looking down over the Dun Valley.  Suddenly, I found myself above my little body, looking down on myself looking at the valley.  Then I realized that I had done something similar before I was born.  I had looked down on the Valley of Time.  I knew I could have decided to be born to the right, in the future, or to the left, in the past, but I had decided to be born right down there, in the middle, in the present moment of December, 1944.  It was not a comfortable time, nor was it going to be a comfortable life.  It was a time of war and violence and the possibility of nuclear annihilation.  Strangely, it was also a time which led to the greatest prosperity the world has ever known.  It is a time when countries know they cannot fight full-scale wars but also a time when various groups still feel they can fight small wars against their neighbours.  More seriously, it is now a time when the ecological problems we face might destroy us if we do not address them quickly.  I had decided to be born now.

            In 1966, as I have related, I had a Near Death Experience which put me in touch with Jesus, Elijah and Moses.  The project we discussed had to do with The Thomas Book and The Prayer of Silence and the spiritual evolution of humanity.  I now know I was not the only one who was part of this project.  It includes the efforts of millions of people who are currently trying to find solutions to our world problems – to create a better place for us to live and grow.  My contribution is in the books I have written and will write. Unfortunately, there are still people who are so ignorant of what we face as a human race that they continue to try to destroy the efforts of others who want a better life on this planet.

            I am one of many who are learning that they, too, have a role to play in the spiritual evolution of humanity.  I now know that my birth in the closing months of the Second World War, my years in India, my life in Canada, England and the United States, as well as my travels in many parts of the world, were all part of a “learning lifetime” from which I could gain the insight necessary to write The Thomas Book, The Prayer of Silence and other guides to spiritual growth from which others can benefit.  It has been a difficult way of learning, but it has also been very effective. I have learned the profound truth of a message written on a little plaque which Olive gave me while I was in the hospital in 1966:  “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).  I pray that we may all find ways of contributing to the collective good of humanity.  My way is one way, but there are millions of ways for others to follow, all the while seeking the Divine Guidance which is to be found within us, if we will only stop for a little time each day to enter the Inner Silence and listen.