View of Mt. St. Helena from Franz Valley Road off Highway 128, north of Calistoga, California.
(Although this experience happened many years ago, its meaning and significance is still unfolding in my mind. It elevates imagination to the level of reality and opens the door to greater insight and understanding of who we are. Hang on to your hats, it’s quite a ride!)
By Roger A. “Pete” Peterson
It began as an experiment in telepathic communication…
Between 1981 and 1986, I drove for various bus contractors in Santa Rosa, California. My job was to transport construction workers to and from geothermal plant construction sites at The Geysers in the Mayacmas Mountains, sometimes spelled, Mayacamas. Located north of San Francisco and bordered by Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino Counties, this area has long been famous for its natural geysers, fumaroles, and mineral-rich hot springs. At that time, it was the largest geothermal plant complex in the world.
In late 1985, new construction at The Geysers was winding down and I received a new assignment that only required a twelve-passenger minivan. My friend Michele and I were to provide service to two different crews in Clearlake Highlands. It is small town, sixty-five miles northeast of Santa Rosa on Highway 29, which winds over 4,344-foot Mount Saint Helena in Napa County.
Leaving home for work at 4:15 A.M. on my bicycle, I arrive at the nearby bus yard on Sebastopol Road a few minutes later. When I come to a stop in the bus yard, my attention shifts skyward for the first time; captured between the glow of the moon above and the city lights below, a large number of dark, towering storm clouds fill the sky. Unlike any I’ve seen before, they’re all separate and relatively small, each one standing tall and vertical, like a man. They appear strange and somewhat ominous. After leaving the dispatch office with my bus assignment, I pass Michele and say Hi!
During my bus safety check, I continue to look up at the clouds. After my safety check is complete, I lean over the steering wheel to look up at the clouds once again. They’ seem endless in number and, to my eye, they appear to be tiptoeing across the sky as if to avoid detection. After following their line of travel, it becomes obvious they’re gathering over Mt. St. Helena, the mountain Michele and I will soon have to cross on our way to Clearlake Highlands. The line between my imagination and reality blurs even further, when I begin to suspect these beings are not just strange looking clouds but armed soldiers bent on a secret mission. What can that mission be? Are they preparing to ambush Michele and me in the mountains? The thought, even though it seems unrealistic and whimsical, sends a shiver down my spine.
After dropping a copy of my DBR (Daily Bus Report) off at the office, I leave the bus yard at 4:45 am, just ahead of Michele. At the edge of Sebastopol Road, I stop to check for traffic and look up at the sky again with concern and curiosity. Using the power of imagination, I leave my body and fly to a point high in the air, above Mt. St. Helena. Silent and hopefully, invisible, I watch as the giant cloud warriors arrive. They gather on top of the mountain and mill around, seemingly, deep in conversation. To my surprise, they act like any patrons in a theater lobby!
These are not armed soldiers preparing for battle; they’re ghostly apparitions waiting for the show to begin! Sensing my presence, one of the cloud beings looks up, sees me, and alerts the others. Like Larry, Curly and Moe in the Three Stooges, they scatter and fall over each other in their haste to find impossible places to hide in the hills and valleys of Mt. St. Helena. Apparently, my spiritual presence signals the start of the show. With relief and laughter, I return to my bus and step on the gas with more excitement than concern for this strange force gathering in the mountains ahead.
I think most mountains are magical and Mt. St. Helena is no exception. Crossing it four times a day (two round trips) for almost five years, I personally experienced its magic. For example, there was the voice of actor Henry Fonda. Early one morning as I drove up the western slope, there it was repeating a familiar phrase from one of his westerns. I don’t remember what it was but I was surprised it grabbed my attention because, as usual, I was deeply engrossed in my own thoughts. How could this be, and why Henry Fonda, I wondered. He had a remarkable presence in movies but he’s never been one of my favorite actors. He always seems cold and distant, making it difficult to warm up to him as a person.
His voice became a semi-regular feature on my early morning trips over Mt. St. Helena. It always happened in the same spot, the middle of a short straightaway marked by two right turns about halfway up the west side of the mountain. Even though he used a different phrase from time to time, I always returned with, Hi, Henry, how are you doing, in an attempt to get something more back from him, but I never did.
Once, I asked him if he had a message for a friend or family member but his response didn’t change. As if it was a “Thumper” set to attract giant worms on Frank Herbert’s Dune, his mindless voice kept uttering the same phrase repeatedly. Since I was always on a tight schedule and there was no place to park nearby, I never stopped to investigate the matter further. Who knows, if it really was Henry’s ghost, maybe he’s just waiting for the right person to show up.
One of my favorite pastimes as I drove over Mt. St. Helena was experimenting with telepathic communication. The mountain itself made it seem possible. Only a few people live on it, even today. As I drove up toward the peak, it felt like I was rising above the din of human thoughts in the valley below. It was like rising through fog into sunlight. When you looked down all you could see was fog, but when you looked up, your visibility was clear and unlimited.
Driving home at night my telepathic experiments normally took the form of asking my wife, Sandra, what we were having for dinner. This question never failed to produce a word description or an image of a meal in my mind. Even though we shopped together on weekends, she took responsibility for planning and preparing our meals during the week. When I wanted to have a particular meal for dinner, or something special from the store like a deli sandwich, burrito, or fresh pizza, I’d communicate that to her telepathically. For example, I’d say, Hey honey, I sure would like to have a Grilled Steak Burrito from Pepe’s tonight. In anticipation, my mouth would water and I’d lick my lips.
Although I didn’t officially document my many telepathic experiments, the number of correct hits went well beyond chance or informed guessing. In reality, the results were almost perfect. On those few occasions I didn’t get what I wanted it was because I didn’t ask for it soon enough. In those cases, Sandra had already purchased or committed herself to preparing something else for dinner. Later, when I’d tell her what I had asked for, she would often say she had thought about it but too late to do anything about it.
One evening, after cresting the peak of Mount St. Helena with a busload of passengers returning home from work, I burst out laughing. I had just finished asking Sandra what we were having for dinner when I realized the similarity between fax machines and telepathy. Unlike ordinary face-to-face communication, where give and take can clear up questions, fax and telepathic messages require clarity and completeness. When I sent a telepathic message to Sandra, I clarified it as much as possible. Not only did I send her words, I also sent her a clear visual image of what I wanted, including the emotional components that went with it, like salivation, smacking my lips together and making pleasurable sounds like, mm, mm, boy, is that good!
In response to my thoughts, a ghostly fax machine materialized out of thin air between the steering wheel and me. With joy, the “Inner Me” immediately set to work composing a new message to Sandra. Loading the completed message into my phantom fax machine, I punched in her imaginary fax number. Through my Inner Vision, I watched in delight as she read it while standing under the shade of an olive tree next to her car in an almost empty parking lot. She read it with a big smile.
This morning, as Michele and I approach Mt. St. Helena, I playfully reach out to communicate with her telepathically. Thinking it might work best if I direct my questions to her Higher Self, the larger consciousness that surrounds us all, I ask my first question and listen for an answer.
At first, our exchange seems imaginary, but with each new question, the answers from Michele’s Higher Self seem to become more genuine and real. After my fourth or fifth question, it happens! In the process of mentally reaching out to deliver my next question, I literally slam into an invisible wall of energy that has inserted itself between us. Like a tightly stretched rubber band, I snap back into myself, sobbing uncontrollably. As one part of me reacts with shock and fear, another part of me observes my emotional reaction with calm deliberation and curiosity. Among other things, this calm “me” thinks, I haven’t bawled like this since I was a baby!
After blubbering for what seems like twenty minutes, I decide to check my location because it only takes twenty minutes to cross Mt. St. Helena from one side to the other. I’m surprised to see I’m only a third of the way up the mountain and it has begun to rain. Participating in my Inner Vision forced me to sacrifice details in my outer surroundings. My only concern was keeping the bus on the road and avoiding accidents.
Still curious, I reach out to Michele’s Higher Self again. Wham! Incredibly, the wall of energy is still there and, again, I snap back into myself with the force of a tightly stretched rubber band. While one part of me sobs with renewed vigor, a calm, objective me begins to wonder, did something happen to Michele? If not, why am I having such a strong emotional reaction?
With growing concern, I go through a checklist of possibilities. Was Michele involved in a car accident? Did she accidentally drive off the side of the mountain? I know she’s running several minutes behind me because I lost sight of her headlights before starting up the mountain.
In response to my questions, a voice inside my mind (her Higher Self?), says, “No, a vehicle accident or driving off the side of the mountain is not something she would choose to experience.”
Mulling that statement over in my mind, I can’t help but wonder, do we all attract certain types of experiences to ourselves while rejecting others? What an intriguing thought! As my concern for Michele’s safety begins to fade, more immediate concerns press in on me.
Nearing the top of Mt. St. Helena, the rain has become a downpour and, driven by powerful gusts of wind, it sheets dangerously across the road. Placing my spiritual experience on hold for a moment, I wonder if Michele is aware of the amazing drama playing itself out behind the scenes on Mt. St. Helena. My question, unanswered, my attention returns to Inner Reality.
This time, I decide that, if I encounter this wall of energy again, I’ll stay with it until I can figure out what it is. Wham! Again, I react to this amazing energy with the same emotional intensity as before. This time, however, I stand my ground. I refuse to budge one inch and, suddenly, I find myself within the middle of this field of energy!
When nothing happens, I ask, what are you?
“This is the Energy of Unconditional Love,” says a soothing male voice that seems to come from every point within the energy field, simultaneously.
Wow, sobbing in relief, I finally know why I keep bursting into tears every time I encounter this field of energy. Intuitively, I must have known what it was all along but my intellectual self didn’t have a clue!
Without noticing it, my normal defenses had shut down. When it suddenly occurred to me that every thought and feeling I’ve ever had and every act I’ve ever committed, the bad ones as well as the good ones, was now available for this Being of Aware Energy to examine, I went into panic mode and started to raise my defenses once again. Having grown up in a value judgment world of right and wrong, good and bad, ruled by the shame of guilt and the fear of punishment, I once again felt exposed to the threat of disapproval, ridicule and condemnation. Having personally witnessed the damage this level of judgment can do to me, I had no desire to experience it now.
During my lifetime, like most of us, I’ve exhibited biological and behavioral characteristics in this competitive world, that many people consider unacceptable. Having experienced how we treat one another when we fail to measure up to accepted standards of beauty and behavior, teaches us to hide these behaviors and shortcomings. That’s exactly what I was attempting to do now, hide my secrets.
Sensing my reaction, the Voice of Love, said, “Nothing you can ever think, feel, say or do can keep you from being loved unconditionally.”
Finally accepting this proclamation as genuine, I dropped my defenses again and cried even harder. I don’t remember ever experiencing this kind of love from a human being before! I’m not sure that, as human beings, we can express such love, except perhaps, for short moments at a time. As I experience it now, I know there is nothing I need to do to earn it. Just being myself is enough! Here, unlike the material world, there are no demands, no expectations, and no preconditions to satisfy before we receive love. It’s freely given to anyone, which forces me to ask, what does the Energy of Unconditional Love know about us that we don’t? Why and how can this Being of Aware Energy love us unconditionally?
Literally bathing in the Energy of Unconditional Love, I wonder if the anger, imagined sins and misperceptions of my past will wash away forever. I use this moment to imagine they will, if not forever, at least for now. Even if it’s just the beginning of the end to my emotional suffering, that’s good enough for me!
Soon, my own love begins to flow and I want to perform miracles for this Loving Energy. I want to honor it for the loving regard in which it holds me. A superman in this alternate reality, I’m able to perform feats of magic and strength that are impossible to perform in the physical world.
Suddenly, I realize much of my joy comes from “knowing” that the State of Unconditional Love is our home, our real home! It’s both our place of birth, or point of origin as living energy, and our ultimate destination. A beacon, it forever draws us forward in an eternal cycle of Being and Creation. As unique, individualized expressions of All That Is, we’re both one with and separate from All That Is. We’re not only products of creation; we’re creation itself!
I understand now why it’s important for us to fulfill our own unique potential as human beings here on earth. Using our abilities freely and playfully is how we find our way back to love, how we learn and evolve. The Energy of Unconditional Love is more than just a “place” – it’s a state of mind and being we can create and experience wherever we are, no matter what we’re doing.
With an almost imperceptible shift in consciousness, I find myself standing naked in the middle of a dimly lit room with golden, metallic walls. The walls meet at sharp 90-degree angles like most earthly rooms, which doesn’t fit my mood or the soft golden glow of the walls. Reshaping them with the power of my mind, I make them coalesce into one continuous, smoothly curving wall, including the angles between the floor and ceiling.
I am only satisfied when the room looks and feels like the inside of a large golden womb.
When I stop to admire my work, the air in front of my face begins to crackle and pop with dark, exploding points of energy, which become golden rays when they shoot out to form an oval frame of shimmering, radiating light. The face of a man with long brown hair and a beard materializes within the frame. Before my eyes become lost in his, I notice his serene, Christ-like features.
Looking through my eyes and into my soul, He says, “Roger, you’re delightful, just the way you are!”
Oh my God, here I go again! The impact of His kind face and loving words starts me on a new round of intense sobbing. Strangely, while the outer “me” sobs, the inner “me” calmly reaches out to lift the bottom edge of the energy field that surrounds us. Gently raising it above my head, I look out across the sloping fields and vineyards of Calistoga, lying at the foot of Mt. St. Helena. The Christ-like Entity is now standing on a grassy knoll a short distance away. Raising His arms, He sends waves of loving energy rippling out across the earth and into the universe. Like air over hot pavement, the energy ripples and expands outward in all directions to include everyone and everything in All That Is.
Meanwhile, the outer me is struggling to keep the empty minibus in the eastbound lane on the narrow, twisting mountain road. The emotional intensity of this mystical experience is so great my body is wrenching back and forth with each sob. Making matters worse, the tightly stretched muscles in my face narrow my eyelids to tiny slits. Through lids brimming over with tears, the road ahead is blurry.
As if this isn’t bad enough, after cresting the peak of Mt. St. Helena, a disembodied head appears outside my side window, traveling at the same speed as the bus. A quick glance to the left reveals another “me”, smiling back. Despite my surprise and curiosity, I force my attention back to the road and attempt to revisit my Inner Vision, but to no avail. The face outside the window commands too much attention as it laughs at me with tears streaming down its face. It’s gut-wrenching, knee-slapping, finger-pointing laughter!
Confused, I wonder what it sees, looking in at me from the outside. Why, oh why, did I ask? Suddenly, I’m outside the bus listening to the “me” inside as I continue to sob. Even from outside the bus, the sound is deafening! It reminds me of when I was a baby and cried with every fiber of my being. Of course, my adult voice is much louder!
Not only can I hear myself from the outside, I can see myself from the outside. Stretched tight from the intensity of my emotions the skin covering my face forms a rigid mask that looks both sad and grotesque. Out of curiosity, I re-enter my body to test the strength of the rigidity in my facial muscles. Can I overcome it by force? Yes, I can but I fear the effort will disrupt the continuity of my experience and stop.
Moving back outside the bus, I continue to watch my body as it jerks back and forth behind the steering wheel. It looks weird and I can’t help but laugh.
Drawn back inside, I begin to look my behavior with differnt eyes. For the first time, my movements feel contrived. It’s as if someone is deep inside me pulling strings or pressing buttons. First, the muscles on the left side of my body tighten and pull me to the left. Then the muscles on the right side tighten and pull me to the right, jerking me back and forth from side to side in tune with the sound of my sobs. My movements are no longer spontaneous but mechanical.
As the spell of unconditional love wears off, I wonder what my supervisors would say if they knew I was allowing this experience to continue on while driving their bus over Mt. St. Helena. I’m sure they would freak out and give me lots of reasons why no one should ever allow their inner senses to take over while driving, and I’m sure I would agree with most of them. What would Michele think if she could see me now? For that matter, what would any person think if they could see me wrenching back and forth behind the steering wheel with a grotesque, mask-like expression on my face?
In a cartoon-like flight of fancy, I stomp on the brakes and do a 180, coming to a dusty stop on the other side of the road, facing back in the direction I came. Suddenly, two people approach in their car. When my fantasy travelers get close enough to see the rigid, tear streaked look on my face, they react in horror. The female passenger throws her hands up to stifle a scream, and the male driver’s eyes bug out in alarm while his hands tighten their grip on the steering wheel. Slamming his brakes on, he turns the steering wheel hard to the left and comes to a screeching stop, sideways in front of me. Putting the car in reverse, he backs up far enough to complete a turn and peals out as if he’s being chased by the devil. After imagining several more wacky scenarios like this, the tension breaks and I begin to laugh. Soon, I’m laughing with the same gut-wrenching, knee-slapping, finger-pointing intensity as the earlier “me” outside the bus.
Looking out the driver’s side window again, I see a new face staring back at me. It’s no longer “me” looking back at “me” but the face of an older man with shoulder-length white hair. His upper chest and shoulders are visible and he’s wearing a thick, well-made quilted coat over several layers of clothing. He appears to be from a cold climate. A large ornate medallion hangs from a chain around his neck and he looks both wild and magical. I begin to suspect he’s responsible for orchestrating the floating head experience. What role does this play in my encounter with the Energy of Unconditional Love, I wonder.
Nodding, he smiles in approval and leaves me half expecting a wink. As I continue to watch him, his face begins to change. His smile disappears, followed by a look of anger then, hateful contempt. As his face continues to transform, it becomes younger and more ancient in origin. Soon, his features have turned coarse and brutish; the hair on his head, thick, black and tangled. In place of the nice, quilted coat is a dark animal skin wrapped around his hips with a wide strap over one shoulder. A large club in his left hand, he looks at me and raises it threateningly as if to hit me.
Changing his mind, he turns and runs off into the woods, his hair streaming behind him. He stops and turns once more, the look of hatred replaced by a look of sadness and loss. Does he feel a sense of connection between us? Is he another me in a past lifetime or alternate reality? Would this make me a future aspect of him? As he disappears, my mind fills with questions concerning his role and that of the magician in this vision within a vision.
With a start, I remember that in less than twenty minutes construction workers will be getting on my bus. Leaning over to look at my face in the passenger mirror, I see a puffy face, a runny nose, and red eyelids. Laughing nervously, I wonder how to handle this situation. Pulling my handkerchief out of my back pocket, I blow my nose and wipe my eyes the best I can. Time is short but I feel an urgent need to check the Energy of Unconditional Love one more time. I want to know if it’s real beyond any doubt. Forget the men in Clearlake Highlands, I think, this is too important to pass up! With this issue settled, instead of reaching out to Michele’s Higher Self, I reach out to Robert, my own higher self, whom I met in dreams, meditation and even channeled.
Wham! The Energy of Unconditional Love is still there and again I sob just as intensely as I did before. With my question answered, I spiritually hug Robert with a sense of profound gratitude. I thank everyone involved in creating this amazing and profound spiritual drama. I even thank the bus company for the timely job assignment and the bus that brought me here. I thank the earth spirits, including my ghostly cloud friends, for the cover of this dark and stormy night, and I thank the Energy of Unconditional Love especially. This experience would not have been possible without the willing participation of all these elements working together. For the fourth and final time this morning, I leave the Energy of Unconditional Love to get on with the business of waking reality.
As I continue my journey toward Clearlake Highlands in the afterglow of my Encounter with Unconditional Love, I ask, Why me? What did I do to deserve this amazing experience?
Rolling this question around in my mind, I travel back in time to a point two years earlier. At home alone, I’m sitting at my office desk feeling frustrated and depressed because every attempt I’ve made thus far to become independently wealthy has failed, and I’m unable to think about what to do next. My belief is that changing myself, and the world, for the better will require lots of time and money.
As a child, I was unhappy with life. In my world, most people didn’t treat each other very well and I hated that (were they unhappy too?). It seemed I had three choices; withdraw from life, end my life (if I could summon the courage) or do something about it. I chose to do something about it! Specifically, although I couldn’t express my desire in words at the time, I wanted to see more love, truth and joy in the world. I knew it was asking a lot of us but, hey, what’s life without a challenge? Changing the world for the better seems preferable to hiding from it in denial, or giving in to established beliefs with which we disagree.
I had decided to climb Mt. Everest but here I was, in my early forties, still stuck in the foothills with too little time and too little money to do more than maintain essentials. My salad dressing business after college had failed, my several attempts at multilevel marketing failed, and even though I liked my low-paying job, here I was, still working full time driving buses for a living. When the memory of my failures became too unbearable to stand, I threw my arms up in the air and asked whoever was listening, including me, what I wanted more than anything else in All That Is.
In response, a strong, male voice, about six inches in front of my forehead, said, “LOVE!”
Overcoming my surprise, I shouted, that’s it! More than anything else in All That Is, I want love – I want to give and receive love, unconditionally! In a flash of insight, I realized that everything I’ve ever done in life was for love, whether it was love from me or others. I was either looking for love or acting out because of a lack of it. When I felt or acted badly, it was because I felt unappreciated and unloved for who I was or what I was doing. How can I love others, if I can’t love myself, I thought.
As a young person, I was angry and frustrated because I found it hard to love the people around me, including myself. Almost everyone I knew, with rare and wonderful exceptions, seemed petty, mean, critical, insincere or vindictive. My parents and most of their adult friends seemed unhappy, unless they were drinking alcohol.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that we might all be suffering from the same problem, a cultural mandate to make value judgments, to constantly compare ourselves to one another and to outside standards of being and performance. It is the kind of belief system that fuels fear, anger, guilt, contempt, competition, conflict and violence because it assumes we’re bad and we can’t trust ourselves. In this psychological climate, many of us become Master Fault-Finders and a source of pain and anguish to others as well as ourselves. A popular belief system, it still dominates all others in the world today.
We can do better than create a fear-based value-judgment world of right and wrong, good and bad, guilt and punishment. In this world, unconditional love can only be an ideal, not a reality. Out of personal and culturally supported fear and distrust of ourselves, and others, we must place conditions on almost everything we do. As parents, teachers and civil authorities we end up telling each other, whether spoken or not, to “act ‘good’ (by my definition and authority) and I will reward you. Act ‘bad’ and I will punish or destroy you.”
By treating ourselves as little more than mindless masses of protoplasm that need to be poked and prodded into predefined forms of order and behavior, it’s no wonder many of us find it hard to like ourselves, let alone others. Our “official” belief system fails to acknowledge the true nature of who we are and what we’re capable of becoming.
As Pogo, an old comic strip character created by Walt Kelly, once said: “We have met the enemy (and savior)… and he is us.”
What amazes me most about my Encounter with Unconditional Love is that, even though it took two years for the universe to arrange, it gave me what I wanted!
Dawn is breaking as I pull into our temporary parking lot in Clearlake Highlands but, thankfully, it’s still dark enough to give me some cover. To keep the men from seeing my face as they board the bus, I open the driver’s side door and turn my head as if lost in thought. Even though the overhead light in the bus is dim, you can still see expressions on people’s faces if you look closely. Once the men seat themselves, I close the doors and turn around to drive. I don’t know if any of them noticed my puffy face and red eyelids but if they did, they’re kind enough not to mention it. Putting the bus in gear, we head for The Geysers.
It took several months for me to screw up the courage to ask Michele if she remembered anything different about that morning. I knew she would remember it because it was the only time she and I did the Clearlake Highlands’ Run alone. Her answer was “No.” Even when I described my fear that she had been involved in an accident or driven off the mountain, she could remember nothing out of the ordinary about that extra-ordinary morning. (Read Jay’s Story)
Copyright 1999, Roger A. “Pete” Peterson
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having (creating) a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“How you define yourself and the world around you, forms your intent, which, in turn, forms your reality.” – Seth
In other words, we create our own reality from what we choose to believe about ourselves, and the world around us.
If we don’t consciously choose our beliefs, we UNconsciously absorb them from our surroundings.
If our beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations create our reality, can we afford not to question them?
The more we love, understand and appreciate ourselves, the better we treat ourselves, and the world.
Be the God within you and bless us all with the energy of unconditional love!
The secrets of the universe lie hidden in the shadows of your experience. Look for them!