The complete story is told in our forthcoming book: “Tequila and Chocolate, Far Travels of the Morning Star, Memoirs of this World and the Other, The Adventures of a Reluctant Prophet and His Soulmate.”
As the time approached midnight, we were approaching a bridge over a small stream that led the way from one world to the next—one of prophetic sanctuary. This wooden bridge separated the rest of the cemetery from the realm and mausoleum of the Great One. (A warning to heed: never cross a bridge such as this without prayers and permission asked. This bridge was a gateway separating sacred space, and permission to enter must be granted.)
After crossing the bridge, we beheld the Lantern Hall in front of us, ablaze with hundreds of yellow-tinged specks of light, sparkling like bees of life and love. It was in front of this hall that the exorcist stopped and offered incense before he led us around the back to Kūkai’s meditative residence. And it was here that the exorcism took place.
I believe there were approximately seven others, plus Keikō-san (our Japanese guide), the exorcist, and myself. He positioned us, except for Keikō-san, in a straight line horizontally facing Kōbō-Daishi’s mausoleum and told us, through Keikō-san’s translation, to sit still and relax. I was last in the line with Keikō-san angled in front and to the side, facing me.
He began working on each person, leaving me for last. He chanted; toned; and, every so often, screamed a spirit shout. Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see him working rapidly, with mudra, up and down each person’s spine. The sounds coming out of the exorcist were eerily of another world and another time. Feeling as if I was in a dream, I closed my eyes. And in no time at all, I could feel the exorcist’s presence and was unafraid.
The next part is hard, to say the least, to describe in words. I had a strong sensation of being disconnected, yet connected at the same time. I was I, but not I. I was the I in the we and the we in the I and felt like a top swirling in an every widening circle. And power, not the illusionary power of external humanness, but the power of the bodhisattvas, the archangels, to put a name on it—power not of this earth, and I, not wanting to let go or return…But then…
A woman’s scream penetrated through the night and ripped through the very fabric of time…
I was back…Who am I? What am I? As my eyes slowly opened, the portals to my soul gazed upon the surreal scene before me. Keikō-san’s face, beautiful as the dew glistening on a lily, was now frozen into a mask of terror. It had been her scream that had brought me back; on the other hand, had I ever left? This part of the cemetery contained a few stone lanterns. The shadows, cast by what little light there was, only heightened the mystical sense of wonder for me as I felt incredibly powerful.
The visually shaken Keikō-san was stammering over her words to the exorcist. From a place of stillness, I silently watched the gestures and body language of the exorcist and Keikō-san, not knowing or, in fact, caring about the meaning of the words being exchanged. A moment ago, or was it an eternity ago, I was in a space of power. But, no, I was the power. What does it all mean?
Keikō-san turned to face me and asked, “Are you all right? How do you feel?”
“I feel awesome and powerful. I can see so clearly, as if it is daylight… but mystified,” I replied. “Was I transforming into one of the guardians who serve the Great One—the Daishi?”
“Well, yes…but no. You may look at it as a merging or interpenetration of energies. Energies that few humans could accept, much less survive. It is the first quickening of your bodhicitta—your divinity. The others who were here will deny what happened, out of fear and envy. We sent them back to the temple,” said Keiko-san.
She then explained to me that the descending-spirit exorcism was a way to discover a spiritually sensitive person. This is a spiritually evolved person able to tap into other realities. “He believes that you are the most sensitive person he has ever worked with or met. This is why he came to Koyasan—to find you. He had a dream of you,” she explained.
“But I had to stop him because I could see that your face was so red like fire; you were not yourself.”
This abbreviated story briefly portrays my otherworldly experience—an experience that thrust me through a tear in the fabric of dualistic reality. Even the setting for the happening, courtesy of a descending-spirit exorcism, was mythically mystical. Commonly, exorcism is known as a spirit being taken off or out of a person who is supposedly possessed. A descending-spirit exorcism is where spirit merges or blends, interpenetrates, with a person. As recorded in the Bible, this was an experience of Jesus with the descent of spirit in the form of a dove.
As I looked back on my experience, the exorcism was the initial quickening (means “to bring to life”) of my awakening mind and a knowing of radical nondualistic interpenetrating reality. It was a sacred midnight happening I will never forget. The setting was a cemetery on a sacred mountain in Japan, and the time was October of 1987. The exorcism was performed by a Japanese esoteric, or shamanic, priest. It occurred in front of Kōbō-Daishi’s mausoleum on the sacred mountain Koyasan. Kōbō-Daishi was the founder of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. He is believed to be in eternal meditation in his mausoleum, awaiting the arrival of the next Buddha—Miroku Bosatsu.
“I always remember your sensitive, strong, sacred spirit. It was a great experience for me, too.” Keikō-san, October, 1987