In the Presence of the Divine

This essay is excerpted from Pathways to the Divine: One Man’s Journey Through the Shamanic Realm of the Ancient Maya, in which Otto recounts his visionary experience with the ancient Maya and offers insights from recent discoveries about their spirituality and ceremonial practices. 

Everything around me seemed to be coming to life in a totally new and different way. An overwhelming and awe-inspiring sense of sacredness was intensifying as if everything around me was taking on another dimension infused with a pulsing, radiant aliveness I had never experienced before. I recalled the Indian elders’ descriptions of everything being alive and filled with Spirit—rocks, trees, animals, and all living beings. I remembered their guidance about opening to the presence of Spirit in ceremonies and allowing Spirit to be fully present in and through all things. Memories of my encounters with the Sacred at Maya ceremonial sites—the cave at Balankanche, the ocean temple at Tulum, the pyramids at Coba, Palenque, and Yaxchilan—came flooding back.

Suddenly I realized that the experience I had been seeking was now unfolding before me. I had encountered sacred time and space on many, many occasions over the previous 15 years. I had been led deeper and deeper into the heart of the sacred mysteries and indigenous spiritual practices in North America, Mexico, and Guatemala. I had journeyed into the Lower World and Upper World and traveled through the Dreamtime of the Maya. I had been allowed to experience higher spiritual realms and expanded states of consciousness. And now it seemed as if all those experiences had been leading me to this encounter. At the deepest level of my being I was aware that I was having the experience for which I had spent the last year longing and praying.

The intensity of the experience kept building and I was filled with the most extraordinary sense of peace—a deep, deep peace I had heard about in Sunday school that “passeth all understanding.”  I was also filled with complete unconditional love. The sacredness I was experiencing—above, below, around, in, and through everything—was perfectly balanced masculine and feminine energy; the complete embodiment of the Eastern concept of Yin and Yang. God, the Source of all that exists, the Divine, both male and female, was here with me. Now, for the first time, I completely understood the true essence of the indigenous spiritual experience. Although different peoples have used different terms at different times to describe it, what I was experiencing was the one, all-encompassing Divine reality.

In spite of everything, I felt small doubts begin to creep in. Though powerful, this experience wasn’t turning out to be anything like I had imagined it would be. Part of me was thinking I was having the wrong experience, that this wasn’t really the way it was supposed to happen. However, another part of me recognized that this was the way it truly was and it couldn’t be any other way. For the first time the Indian elders’ teachings that the world is alive and filled with Spirit, filled with the Divine, made sense to me. I understood their experience of humankind as a manifestation of Spirit in an earthly body. I understood the Lakota wisdom teaching that living a good life involves knowing Spirit, becoming our "true selves," and following a path with heart.

Find out about upcoming programs with Otto John Kralovec III at Kripalu.

Excerpted with permission from Pathways to the Divine, © 2015, by Otto John Kralovec III.