The back cover description first sets the stage:
The stage or set is, for the most part, a hospice.
But, that becomes a behind the curtain circumstance as many vivid vistas and experiential adventures play out via the recounting by a dying man, finally responding affirmatively to his friend Tom’s suggestion to share his private and sacred experiences.
Tom Veitch, the “recorder and editor” for Elias’s personal history of deeply connecting to Spirit, first met and befriended the then Trappist monk “Brother Elias” when Elias visted the monastic where Veitch was a novice Benedictine monk. Elias was there (in the late 60s) to see his old Trappist abbot, now a monk at the Benedictine order, and also a long time friend to Tom in the following decades. The three of them (which included the elder mentor of the spirit, Hugh McKiernan) would all move into the secular domains after the monastic experience.
As Tom describes the history for both of them, following these early monastic experiences, it appears to that he and Elias (the monastic name for the subject of this book, who is actually never identified by birth name) traveled somewhat parallel or similar paths:
Study and involvement with eastern traditions along with further continued connection to western spiritual mysticism.
Study and involvement with Carl Jung, the world of dreams and archetypes, and the addressing of the “shadow” as part of arriving at “wholeness”, alchemical psychological transformation, and realization of the essential or primal “Self”.
They had lost touch for about a quarter of a century, while traveling these similar pathways. Then, by chance they bumped into each other at the iconic Fields Bookstore on Polk Street in San Francisco. Elias was settled in the Bay Area, Veitch there only for a few years while working with George Lucas (as a writer) for the Star Wars comics series. But, they became reacquainted in the time Tom had in SF before returning home to Vermont.
This time, they kept in touch. Interestingly, Veitch reports that when the internet opened up, his friend Elias participated in discussion forums. And, created his own sites.
I say “interestingly” because my own first awareness of the existence of Tom Veitch comes from his own participation in the original Ken Wilber Forum set up to discuss Adi Da. Tom posted there under the name “Elias Oz”, LOL. AND: he created his own website for a time, the Lightmind site.
The sharing by Elias of deeply personal and sacred experiences of deeply felt connection to Spirit is a valuable offering to readers of all stripes. In this book, you get the added vividness arising from the fact that Elias’s experiences have an acute visual quality to them, largely arising from lucid dreaming or awake visions.
But, Elias makes a point at the very beginning of his outpourings to Tom and the cassette recorder. He does this by having Tom read a section from a book on talks by Ramana Maharshi, the 20th century sage from India. His point is (page 12): “The point of reading this quotation from Maharishi is that it’s important to put everything in the right context, and not get carried away by the wonderful visions and dreams and glittering images. So, this will be a guiding dictum, by wise, old Ramana…..”
If I may paraphrase in terms clearer to our cultural context or times, the point is that the experiences of great visions, along with the separate “I” sense, are (upon deep feeling examination and the bringing of the presence of bare awareness) seen as “insubstantial”, rising and falling in the primal Light of non-dual Awareness.
Elias lived the unconventional life. But, he had a great partner in life, his wife, and together they traveled the graceful currents of the Spirit.
This includes all the messiness. And, the roads traveled in the shadow lands. (This includes the work with the Jung system.)
Elias did not pass during the three weeks Tom took down his story a couple of years ago. When the time did finally approach more recently, he traveled back west and the moving account of Elias’s last moments here is inspiring. And, the report of it is a valuable signpost.