I remember a time, I was about 12 years old and reading an encyclopedia that day (I was a weird kid). Suddenly I have de impression that the world I was reading about and living on was not real but something created by my mind. It was not a thought, it was a deep feeling inside my body. I got
scare and try to dismiss that insight, thinking that something was wrong with me. That feeling went away but my life change.
Years later, I was 18 and after a couple of years involved in politics, I felt very dissatisfied. I started looking for ways to understand, rather than try to change the world. I was living in Caracas at the time. A friend told me about a house, close to my school, where a youth group was starting. There were activities: theater, photography, serigraphy, etc. And most important for me at the time… beautiful young girls.
This group called “Sintesis” had an older man that acted as a leader, rumors have it that he has been in India. He often talk about a saint call Ramana Maharshi. Several weeks later a book by Ramana got on my hands, I do not remember the name of the book, but on reading his rather complicated (at the time) prose I got the feeling that Ramana was taking to me about the insight that I have when I was 12.
Several months later I found out that the old man, the group leader, was having sex with some of the young girls as an initiation ritual. One of his prey was the young girl that I was platonically in love with. I got very angry, left the group, and dismiss everything I learn in those months as a hoax, including Ramama´s teachings.
Many years went by, I was concentrating in learning my profession, I am a film maker and photographer, and staring my career. Lived in England, Sweden, Spain and ended in California. Married, later divorced, with two great kids and a very successful film production company that gave me abundance. But inside me that insight I have as a kid was starting to move and threatening to change my life again.
In 1992 I was dating a beautiful actress that was involved in a practice call the “Sedona Method”. I got interested when I lean that the founder and creator of the “Sedona Method”, Lester Levenson, based his teachings in Ramana´s. Here we go again, Ramana is knocking at my door. I got involved in this group, went to seminars, retreats and all kind of activities hoping to meet this Lester Levenson, considered to be a realized person. I did not know what a “realized person” was, but I felt that meeting him was important. Lester´s health was declining and he stayed in his house in Phoenix and never came to Sedona so I never meet him, to my frustration.
In 1994 Lester died and was buried in a very humble and unmarked grave in the grounds of the Sedona institute. I was very frustrated, the Sedona method was working but I wanted more and felt that meeting Lester was the key. Now he was gone, the only realized person, that I heard of, was
gone and frustration was mounting on me. One day, I do not know how, found my self, driving my car towards Sedona, got on the Sedona Institute grounds and walk to Lester´s grave, it was just a shallow mount in an unkempt patch of dirt. In a very angry voice I told him something like this
“You got me into this quest and you are not leaving me, I demand you do something”.
Nothing happen so I got on my car and drove back to Los Angeles not in the best of moods. Two weeks later I was in my office working and got a very estrange call. A lady that I have met at the Sedona seminars, call me to ask for the address of my guru Robert Adams. I told her that I did not have a guru and did not know who Robert Adams was. She insisted that somebody has told her that Robert was my guru and wanted his address or telephone. I convince her that I have not idea who he was, I apologize to her and was about to finish the call when something came to me, I said – keep looking for him, and when you find him please call me, I want to meet him too.Two or three days later she call again with the address of the place where Robert was giving satsang every Thursday and Sunday. Next Sunday I was there, not knowing what satsang was or what to expect. That is how Robert Adams found me. I never saw her at satsang.
As it happens the place where satsang was held was bout 15 minutes from my house in Sherman Oaks. How convenient. When I got to the place and sat on the floor there were about 25 devotees listening to beautiful music (Robert love music I learn). Then Robert started to talk and I could not understand anything he said. I was very relax but no knowledge was been transmitted to me, but I was not disappointed at all. After about 20 minutes it was time for the devotees to ask questions that Robert answer but again I did not understand, there was laughing and enjoyment in everybody, then we share food that the devotees have brought. Everybody seem to know everyone and I was feeling accepted and I believed Robert look straight at me a couple of times. When satsang was officially over I stud up but stay in place, Robert came out of the bathroom and walk straight to me, look at me with his beautiful blue ayes for a long time (it seem to me), then he hug me and walk towards the door. It was a very pleasant experience but nothing out of the ordinary happened, except maybe, that he notice me.
I went about my life in a normal way for about two or three days. Then I was at my girlfriend´s house watching a soccer world cup semifinal, when a wave of joy and love overcame me. I never felt such happiness and joy for no reason at all, it was coming from me and no given to me by any event or pleasure. Pure, unadulterated, unmotivated Bliss was overcoming me and it felt normal and natural.
I started going to satsang every Thursday and Sunday from then on, Robert´s presence – his emanations, as Ed Muzica put it- will multiply the joy and bliss in my daily life. I was a little bit concerned about not understanding what Robert was telling everybody. At the end of a satsang I kneel in front of him and told him – Robert, I cannot understand anything you said- He looked at me smiling lovingly and said -goooood- after that, my concern was gone, I just sat at his feet every satsang in silence until he left to Sedona in 1996.
I saw him last when he came to Los Angeles to have his teeth done. We have satsang at a different place, at the end he came to me touch my heart with his finger and said- I will never leave you. I knew I will never see his body again. The picture included is from that day, he was very proud of his new teeth.
Luis de Santiago
I have always thought that reading the description of how beings attained their realization was not very useful, and might even have the opposite desired effect. The mind creates expectations and tries to reproduce these experiences and the resulting phenomena to trick, to confuse. The nature of my experience was so, that I doubt anyone would like to reproduce it.
In 1996 Robert Adams had me cooked, very cooked, but I decided voluntarily not to take the last step, the last surrender, at that time. Why and how is part of another story which I will tell some other time.
In 2010, my wife Bibiana was diagnosed with 2 inoperable brain tumors and a few months of life expectancy. After battling breast cancer for 5 years, she suddenly fainted at work and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where I was waiting for her. Some hours later , the doctor showed me the results of her tests.
I thought these things happened only in the movies, but the nightmare was happening to my character. What would be the worst time of my life had begun by having to tell Bibiana that afternoon, that her life was ending.
After being hospitalized for a month under paliative care and apparently in good health, she was discharged from the hospital. The doctors told me not to worry, that when things started to deteriorate, we should return to the hospital and they would take care of everything.
When we got home, Bibiana and I decided not to return to the hospital. What would happen, would happen in our house. We would be together and I would take care of her.
To avoid any drama since this story is not about that, I will tell you the outcome. During six months, Bibiana worked and enjoyed her life with a few limitations. We would go to alternative therapies and maintain a trickle of hope. We had faith in a miracle. In August all hope evaporated. In a matter of hours, her deterioration resumed at a fierce pace, taking us by surprise. I remember an afternoon when Bibiana held my hand , looked fearfully into my eyes and said “ Luis, I am dying.”
Everything happened as expected. Her constant deterioration and her growing dependency on me. At the final stages she was blind and could not speak, although she could hear all the words of love that I would say to her. I know this for a fact since they would calm her. She never needed morphine nor any strong sedatives. So on December 7th, 2011, I whispered in her ear “Bibiana , my love, stop struggling, it’s not worth it, I will be all right and God is waiting for you.” She understood perfectly that the moment to leave had arrived.
But this story really starts at the moment that Bibiana said “Luis , I am dying.” Something happened inside of me , deeply inside of me, and I begged, like I had never begged before. I did not want to reach that stage in my life believing that “I” was going to die. I asked my self to not keep me in ignorance. I asked Robert Adams to help me. With a strength that surprised me, I begged not to die in fear.
And just as when I asked to meet my Teacher at Lester Levenson’s tomb, again the response was immediate. The pain of seeing Bibiana dying grew to such an extent…, the thoughts about what I should have done to help her, her imminent death and a future without her grew tremendously. My ego’s suffering reached a point where it could no longer suffer any more. I had reached my limit. And something very profound cracked. My mind no longer functioned, my ego exploded into a million pieces.
I started living in the present , second to second. There were no thoughts, therefore there was no suffering. But that wasn’t only it, every situation had an extraordinary beauty. Everything that had seemed terrible, unjust and not normal some days ago, now was beautifully natural and easy, just perfect. Bibiana and I would laugh, we loved each other, I enjoyed every second with her. I would look at her and saw her so beautiful, so lovely. Changing her diapers, helping the nurse clean her, feeding her, were all tasks that I did with total surrender, a love so profound that I had never felt before. I did not have any idea of what was happening, I thought that I had gone nuts, that I had lost my compass. But I didn’t want to change anything. I started to live a double life. In front of family and friends I behaved like the usual Luis. I didn’t want them to notice how crazy I was.
There were moments during the day when Bibiana slept, that I would sit in silence in my studio and I would surrender to that which was unknown to me. I would disappear into a void full of peace, I would surrender fully and completely to this. At the beginning I was afraid of disappearing totally and leaving Bibiana alone. But I started to realize that this void was wise and it would recreate Luis at the necessary moment. Luis would reappear seconds before Bibiana would call me with her bell. Luis became present right before the nurse arrived. So with that trust, I would surrender to the void. Luis would disappear and all that remained was pure consciousness, pure perception without object, parameters, concepts , and an eternal peace.
After the funeral, the question was, what would happen with all of this? Would this sublime madness disappear? What would remain of the experience? Surprisingly the peace and the stillness stayed like always, it remained the same. The feeling of living in a dream, the lightness that that feeling gave to my life, that sensation, rather the certainty, that all that happens is unreal, remained unchanged.
And curiously, someone appeared that I had thought lost. My ego, Luis, the character, tried to reclaim lost territory. It tried to seduce me again, take advantage of the situation. It would say “ You are accomplished, you are realized, you are one of the greats, one of the few.” It continued, “You need to get out into the world, let everyone see what you have achieved. Start teaching, you are a Master.” But my ego was so ridiculously false, so desperately inoperative that it made me laugh. It was so funny to watch it try . It bombarded me with concepts related to my children, my career, my future… all those things that I had worked for in the past but had lost all substance. Nobody could be fooled anymore .
I kept calm, ready to accept that everything could be a mirage and that it could all disappear at any moment. I remained open, without desires, surrendered and in silence. I didn’t speak to anyone, not even with my realized friends. I had no need to comment on what was happening. Who was I going to tell it to if “I” was everything?
Time passed , years passed and the stillness remained. I did the same things, I even forced situations in the spirit of testing my limits. But peace remained immutable, inviting me to a total surrender, without effort, in complete and absolute trust.
Luis de Santiago