“Any Moment You Are Truly Present, You Are an Awakened Being, at Least for That Moment.”
In 1981, Leonard experienced the first of a series of spontaneous mystical awakenings that profoundly altered his perception of life, truth, and reality. Each of these enlightenment experiences revealed deeper and deeper levels of consciousness, filling his teachings and his writings with profound wisdom, clarity, love and compassion.
There have been six of these awakening experiences, each more powerful than the one before, and they occurred approx every three years, beginning in 1981. What follows is an account of these awakenings in Leonard's own words.
The First Awakening
In December of 1981, I attended a week long personal growth intensive. The workshop was wonderful. I participated fully in the processes and I gained a great deal during those seven days. At the end of the workshop, I went down to the river. We had swum there every day, enjoying the cool, fast flowing water. There were some rapids in front of where I was standing and just beyond the rapids was a deep swimming hole. On the other side of the river, the densely forested bank rose sharply upwards towards the sky. With the sun warming my body, I stood on the bank of the river, appreciating the natural beauty of my environment.
Suddenly, I found myself being taken through a spontaneous meditation which unfolded in stages over the next fifteen or twenty minutes. I didn't know what was happening or what I was doing. In a way, the meditation was being done to me. Each sequence of the meditation was spontaneous and unplanned. It was as though, in some mysterious way, I was being guided from within. I felt my arms opening and for about ten minutes, I stood with arms outstretched embracing the trees on the opposite bank of the river with my consciousness. I became very present with the trees, and quite literally took the energy and consciousness of the trees into me. I became one with the trees.
After about ten minutes, I walked slowly into the river. The day before, it had been raining and the river was quite high. The waters before me flowed rapidly over the rocks. It was difficult to gain a foothold. But I managed to walk into the river where the rapids were at their strongest. The water was about chest high or perhaps a little lower. I turned to face the force of the flowing river. Under normal circumstances, there was no way that I could stand against the rapids. I would have been swept away. But I had the trees within me. I felt incredible power and strength and stability within me. I defied the rapids. I defied the river with my strength and my will. I was in total inner silence. It was as though I was revealing my true self to the river. I felt completely exalted. I stood against the rapids for about ten minutes. Then without thinking, I took three or four strong strokes through the rapids to the deep swimming hole, which was lay just beyond.
Spontaneously, I dived deeply. The swimming hole was dark and murky and I had the sense that I was diving into the very depths of darkness. As I surfaced from the depths and arose out of the water, I let out a sound, which I can only describe as a primal roar. This primal roar filled the whole valley as it emerged from deep within me. It seemed like a declaration that I had finally arrived. I repeated this process three times., each time emerging from the water with a primal roar.
I then took three strokes forward into the heart of the rapids and surrendered to the river. I let go completely and was carried away. My eyes were closed. I was face down. I was carried over rocks. I gave no thought whatsoever to protecting myself. I could easily have been injured. I could easily have been dashed against the rocks and knocked unconscious. But I surrendered. I trusted the river completely.
I came to rest in a still part of the river about one thousand feet downstream. As I made my way to the riverbank, I could tell that I was in a completely different dimension. I was in an altered state of consciousness. It was my first experience of the awakened state, although I had no idea at that time what was happening to me. The sum total of my past experiences could not provide any kind of explanation for what I was experiencing as I emerged from the river.
Time had disappeared. I was overwhelmed with a sense of love and Oneness. I was overwhelmed with a sense of the sacred and the divine. Everything seemed perfect to me. Everything was alight from within. I was in a state of total bliss. Magic was in the air as I set off along the road that ran beside the river.
I had awakened into a world of extraordinary beauty and I felt completely intoxicated with divine love. I found myself saying "I love you" over and over again. I could not stop myself. I told the cows that were grazing in the meadow that I loved them. I told the trees that I loved them. I told the sky and the clouds and the river. Songs of love, which I had never heard before, began pouring out of me.
Everything I saw and heard was embraced by my love. I felt like St Francis of Assisi. I was consumed with love. I was devoured by love. I was intoxicated with love. Everything in existence was perfect. I was filled with a sense of wonder and amazement.
After a while, I began to receive a flow of insights and revelations about the nature of the human condition. Some significant keys to spiritual awakening were being revealed. My consciousness was opening up to the wisdom of the ages. It was an exhilarating experience. Many of these insights and revelations are included in my books.
Just then, the energy of the experience changed. The level of love and light in everything around me dramatically increased. I felt a Presence within me that I had not known before. Suddenly and without warning, God began to speak to me. Up until this point in my life, I had been an agnostic. I could not accept a God who had allowed so much suffering in the world. But this was a God of Love and perfect compassion. I could not tell whether the voice of God was coming from within me or outside of me but I wrote down everything that was being said.
As God's message unfolded, I realized that I was being asked to do something. I was being asked by God to tell the truth about Jesus. And I was being asked to speak publicly about it. I did not know what God was talking about.
"I do not know the truth about Jesus!" I cried. "And even if I did know, I would be too afraid to speak about it publicly!"
"As you wish my beloved," was God's loving reply.
God's response to me was overwhelming. I had never before experienced such a level of love and acceptance. This was truly a God of love. This was an allowing God. I was even allowed to refuse God's request. Several days passed. I was still in an exalted state of love and bliss. I could still feel the Presence of God within me, even after I had refused God's request.
I remained in a heightened state of consciousness for about three weeks. I was in the eternal realm in which time seemed to have no place. I was experiencing the deepest levels of universal love. I saw beauty and Oneness in everything.
Gradually the communications came to an end. I was being returned to a more manageable and peaceful state. It was time for integration. I visited several friends in the area. I then headed south to join a friend. I was still in an awakened state of consciousness, but I had come down from the peak of the experience considerably. After about three months, it suddenly stopped and I was returned to the level of consciousness that had existed prior to this whole experience.
I felt such a deep sense of loss. I felt a deep sadness, a terrible despair. My conscious connection with God had disappeared. On that day, my spiritual search began in earnest. I had to find out what had happened to me. I had to find a way back to the love and the truth and the beauty, which I had experienced in such full measure. I had to find my way back to God.
Three years would pass before I experienced the second awakening. It was during the second awakening that I opened into the eternal dimension of existence. It was during the second awakening that the truth about Jesus was revealed. It was during the second awakening that I entered fully into the experience of Heaven on Earth.
The Second Awakening
It had taken three years to integrate the experience of that first awakening. During that time, I read extensively and visited several Masters in India in an endeavor to understand what had happened to me.
Gradually, I was returned to the Oneness and love that I had experienced three years earlier, but it was much softer and I was able to function more easily in the world.
I began to run groups, sharing with others what had been revealed to me.
In December of 1984, I returned to the Jasmine Retreat Center, where I had experienced my first awakening. This time I was running the retreat. There were about thirty people in attendance and most of them had worked with me for over a year.
It was a very powerful event and almost everyone opened into the deepest levels of awakened Presence.
On the last day of the retreat, I began to open into the eternal dimension of existence. Time had disappeared and I knew that I was entering into another peak experience. This one seemed even more powerful than the first. I experienced Oneness with everything I encountered. It was magical. It was full of mystery and wonder. I was in a state of perfect silence, Presence and love.
I spent the next few days in blissful communion. The trees, the flowers, the birds, and even the insects were experienced as loving friends, sharing this beautiful world with me.
On about the fifth day, I lay down on the grass to rest. I closed my eyes, stretched my arms out wide and relaxed deeply. I could hear the sound of the river in the distance. I could hear birds singing. My mind was silent and I was in a state of perfect Presence.
Then, all of a sudden, I found myself transported through time into another dimension. Somehow, I was on the cross, experiencing the crucifixion in perfect detail. It was as though I was looking through the eyes of Jesus, hearing all the sounds and feeling all the feelings involved in that experience. I felt the physical pain of the crucifixion and I experienced that terrible moment on the cross, when he cried out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Then followed a series of revelations about what really happened to Jesus on the cross, and what has happened to him since his death.
This process of revelation unfolded over the next few days. I was in several different realms of consciousness at the same time. It was very confusing and quite a difficult experience to go through. I felt overwhelmed by these revelations. Although they affirmed the divinity of Jesus at the deepest level, nevertheless there were some startling departures from traditional Christian beliefs.
By the time this awakening began to subside, I was completely exhausted. I had not slept for many nights, nor had I eaten much.
Some close friends drove me to Byron Bay and I stayed in a cabin behind their house. I collapsed into bed and slept for three days. When I awakened, I was in Heaven on Earth.
It is difficult to describe what it was really like. I can only say that I no longer existed as an individual. I had been completely absorbed into Oneness. My mind was utterly silent. The past and future had disappeared. Quite literally, there was no life outside the present moment.
The cabin was set in a beautiful forest. It was quiet and secluded and all I could hear was the sound of birds singing. For the next three weeks, I lay in bed or sat in a chair by the window, totally immersed in the mystery of existence. Occasionally, I went for a walk, but my body was quite weakened by the experience.
I had very few visitors during this time, and the few that did come did not really know how to be with me. I was not able to engage in conversation, but if anyone asked a question or sought guidance, I could respond. I was in a constant state of profound love and Oneness.
Then one day, these words spontaneously arose from deep within me.
"No one will come."
Somehow these four words conveyed a message to me. I must come down from the mountainous heights of consciousness and return to a more normal level. Then I could function in the world of time and make myself available to others seeking guidance.
"If no one would come to me, then I would go to them."
It was difficult to come down from that peak but, after about three months, I was able resume a life within the world of time.
I had no expectation or desire for any more awakenings. I was more than content to live a quiet and peaceful life, going for walks, sipping tea in the local cafes of Byron Bay, and sharing the teaching with those who found their way to me.
In December of 1990, I scheduled a residential retreat, once again at the Jasmine Retreat Center. I was about to enter into my third awakening.
The Third Awakening
It was a seven day retreat and, on about the sixth day, once again, I began to open up into the eternal dimension of existence.
If I reflect upon the earlier experiences, I would say that the first awakening was a massive opening of the heart. The second was an opening into Christ consciousness. The third was an awakening into God consciousness.
I was taken on a journey through the mystery of existence. I became the rocks and the trees and the birds and the sky. I journeyed through time from the beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning. I experienced God in everything. I felt the Presence of Buddha and Jesus and Mohammed. I was in the company of saints and sages. It was profoundly mysterious.
After several weeks, the awakening gradually subsided and it took many months of integration before I could resume a normal life.
Three More Awakenings
There have been three more awakenings. The fourth occurred in 1992 and lasted only a week. It involved revelations about the nature of love and what it means to live lovingly in the world.
The following year, I was invited to run some workshops in New York and Boston. The response to my teaching was so positive that I decided to move to America. I spent the next five years traveling from place to place. I would simply go wherever I was invited. All my possessions fitted into the trunk of my car.
The fifth awakening occurred in New York City during the summer of 1994. It was an integration of all the other awakenings. As I wandered the streets of Manhattan, in a completely altered state of consciousness, everything seemed to fall into place. All the insights and revelations of my earlier awakenings collapsed into a single point. Sacred geometry arose within my mind, somehow revealing the origins of existence.
Once again, I experienced Oneness with everything I encountered. But this time it was with cars and buses and lamp posts, rather than trees and flowers and the river. Everyone looked enlightened to me. I could see that we are all brilliant actors playing out roles upon some cosmic stage.
After the fifth awakening, I was sure that it was over and that my journey was complete. I did not expect anything more and then, without warning, the sixth awakening occurred in May of 1997. During this sixth awakening, which lasted for about fourteen days, I felt like an Immortal. I was very connected to the stars and to space. I was connected to the world of ascended Masters and to the angelic realm. I was in a continual state of rapture.
A Final Word About Awakenings
The awakenings that I have described are peak experiences and, like all experiences, they come and go. They arise through grace and they leave of their own accord. You cannot hold onto to them, nor can you desire them.
Peak experiences are not necessary in the process of awakening.
For most people, awakening will be gradual. It will involve embracing true responsibility. It will involve right relationship with the ego. It will require courage and honesty to reveal every aspect of who you have become on this long journey through time and separation. You will have to empty out those reservoirs of repressed emotions. You will have to release yourself from entanglement in others. You will have to transcend judgment. You will have to open up into the truth of life, the truth of love, and the truth of power.
But the real key to awakening is to learn the art of being present, so that the present moment becomes the very foundation of your life.
Presence is the master key. It reveals the I AM of you. It reveals Oneness. It reveals the living Presence of God in all things present. It reveals Heaven on Earth. And it transforms your life within the world of time.