Spinning the Wheel of Prayer

A Spiritual Classroom Report.

In November 2017 Brad dreamed that we were in India where we met an old teacher who wore round eyeglasses. Here is his report:

His face looked familiar, but in the dream I could not remember his name. He spoke to me, but I was hesitant to really engage in a conversation with him because of my general distrust of spiritual teachers I haven’t experienced spiritually cook. He then went to Hillary and gently touched her. Soon Hillary had a heart opening and began to ecstatically tremble. I hugged her, too, and the three of us shared an ecstatic vibratory embrace.

Afterwards, I turned to the old man and said: “Now I can tell you what needs to be reported. I must tell you how all this began.” I started to give the testimony of my early formative mystical experience in the university chapel. Before I could continue, he said, “Yes, this must be heard. But this time in your recounting you must remember everything and tell me exactly what happened. If you leave anything out or do not precisely indicate what happened, then its truth will perish. Tell me everything so the whole truth can ring out forever more.”

In that moment, I dug deep into my heart and mind to find every detail of what had happened when I was nineteen years old (we tell the full story in our books, Sacred Ecstatics and Climbing the Rope to God.) Rather than discuss the events that led up to my mystical awakening, I started with the actual experience. As I described that momentous time, I re-experienced it, this time with a deeper understanding provided by spiritual engineering knowledge. I began by telling him, “My heart exploded.” Then I paused and corrected myself to make the description as accurate as possible.

“Actually,” I said, “I felt my heart expand and a big love was released inside it that was unlike anything I had felt before. To be more precise, it was not so much that I felt this love solely in my heart, but rather I felt my whole body as inseparable from an infinite field of love that spread to every corner of the universe. I could feel its far-reaching intensity. This immersion experience took place after a ball of compressed energy in my belly had spontaneously heated and turned into a liquefied fire that crept up my spine. As it climbed, the expanse of love reached farther outwards. By the time it arrived at the physical area of my heart, the fire had become pure love that was pouring into all directions.”

I kept changing the description over and over again as I spoke to the old teacher in order to make it even more accurate than before. I discussed how my inner body was filled with energy that changed to love and then light and how this inner body seemed to become bigger than my physical body. Its size did not pertain to the material occupation of space, but to the degree of radiance. Whereas before my inner body was small and unnoticed, it was now expanding and becoming a radiant field that rendered my physical body secondary. The descriptions became even more intricate and detailed, revealing changes and changes of changes that took place at every imaginable level of process. As I spoke to the old teacher it was no longer my mind describing what took place, because I am not able to indicate such complexity. It was the “big mind” I remembered experiencing that memorable night.

I went on to say, “As this new kind of sacred emotion and big love expanded, so did a different kind of knowing and understanding. I had no doubt that any question could be asked of me and that a response would automatically occur, in either the form of a spoken reply, a musical sound, or a vibratory means of transformative touch.” The tiny seed of heaven within had expanded into an outwardly infinite heaven. I understood how the reversal of inner and outer bodies was the same as the part-whole adjustment required for building sacred ground.

As I continued to describe the experience to the teacher, I learned more about the nature of the pinnacle ecstatic experience. The power of life force did not just transform into love and then later transcend into higher knowing and mystical luminosity. Each of these experiential dimensions was simultaneously expanding and radiating with all the others. Being all-loving, all-energizing, all-knowing, and all-illuminating were distinguishable phenomena as well as a blended unity. I recognized as I spoke that different orders of phenomena require different means of expression, whether for indication or evocation. It became apparent to me that the ego self disappears not by destruction but through the natural dissolve into divine expansion. Similarly, divinity is inseparable from spiritual heat and heightened vibration, and the latter involve full body attention that extinguishes any contemplative dissociation. The senses, heart, and mind I experienced that night in the chapel were essentially that of “the room” or the radiating field itself, which was becoming more whole and holier by the moment.

When power, love, and knowing—words that ultimately fall short of what I felt at the time—converged as a mystical light and came out of the crown of my head, I faced an egg-shaped body of light the size of another human being. I now realized as I recounted the story that I was seeing my inner spiritual body in its rightful place—the primary conductor of the external physical body. As the difference between inner and outer bodies soon dissolved in another luminous wash of tumultuous emotion, I experienced the light in front of me change its form from one spiritual icon to another. It began as Jesus and shifted to other incarnations of holiness from around the spiritual and geographical world, not as distinct jumps from one entity to another, but in a stream of shifting forms that came from the same source and force of creation. The egg-shaped luminosity began and ended as Jesus, who I deeply felt as a vast and radiating presence that encompassed all the holy ones.

As I finished my report I suddenly recognized that the teacher in my present dream was a luminous spiritual elder from my early vision whom I had forgotten after all these years. It was Mahatma Gandhi in his white robe and familiar spectacles. He shone with a deep wisdom that matched a godly love that cared for all. In an instant, I recalled how his life story, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, was one of the books I read before my spiritual awakening. I was inspired by how he dared to both stand like a prophet and sit like a student, erasing all prejudice in favor of embracing every religion that seeks nearness to God. As I remembered this, Gandhi stepped forward in the vision and said, “I pray with a spinning wheel. It is my prayer rope, my rosary. Each thread I spin is filled with God.”

I realized that it had taken me nearly fifty years to fully learn and appreciate that the mystical prayer wheel is what spins, weaves, and creates the world of God—the sacred ground of the big room. When such a space is built and entered, all else takes places spontaneously. Only on sacred ground in the big room are divine communion and union made possible. In divine fire you truly desire taking care of your neighbor and this includes forgiving debts, trespasses, and sins. In the highest heat the dichotomous knots are untied, the borders dissolved, and all prejudice and hatred are overcome by familial love. We become shamans of a mojo love who doctor whatever stands in the way of our all entering the big room together.

“I See God in Every Thread”

The miracle of Gandhi is that both his heart and his wheel resided on both earth and in heaven at the same time. He spun the spiritual ropes that could be climbed to the heavenly light and the material threads that could clothe those in need. He did not separate mysticism from worldly service. Rather than retreat to a cave or forest, he spun cotton and fought a revolution against material addiction in favor of spiritual conviction that alone cures selfish affliction. In actual practice, how Gandhi prayed and how he served took place on the same wheel.

The next morning after Brad’s vision we found that Gandhi said this about his spinning wheel:

If I am strong enough to turn the wheel, and I have to make a choice between counting beads or turning the wheel, I would certainly decide in favor of the wheel, making it my rosary, so long as I found poverty and starvation stalking the land. I do look forward to a time when even repeating the name of Rama will become a hindrance. When I have realized that Rama transcends even speech, I shall have no need to repeat the name. The spinning wheel, the rosary and the Ramanama are all the same to me. They serve the same end, they teach me the religion of service.[1]

Gandhi also said, “I see God in every thread that I draw on the spinning-wheel.”[2]. Furthermore, “the music of the wheel will be as balm to your soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life.”[3] Gandhi’s personal mystical aspiration was described as wanting to “see God face to face.”[4] He wrote:

What I want to achieve—what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years—is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha. I live and move and have my being in pursuit of this goal. All that I do by way of speaking and writing, and all my ventures in the political field, are directed to this same end.[5]

He further clarified: “I am striving for the Kingdom of heaven which is Moksha.”[6] While scholars will always debate their preferred definitions of “moksha,” its Sanskrit roots mean being set free like a horse released from its harness. For mystics, moksha involves an experience of oneness with Brahman, something that delivers the emotional bliss of sacred ecstasy.

When you encounter a word like moksha, satori, or salvation, among other religious terms for high spiritual realization and transformation, it is easy to get sidetracked into intellectual discussion and forget that it is accompanied by an actual physical and emotional experience. More than anything else, divine union features sacred emotion rather than inspires another bout of philosophical or scriptural speculation. The Bushmen of the Kalahari were among the first ecstatic cultures Brad met after his experience in the chapel as a young man. He discovered that they never forgot to emphasize the pragmatic “spiritual engineering” required for being spiritually cooked and how easily trickster can hijack the mind. Rather than chasing textual interpretation and never-ending exegesis, the Bushmen, like other ecstatic lineages, hunt the raw experience of God.

Brad also learned in the Kalahari that the pinnacle ecstatic experience isn’t a one-time event that leaves you permanently in a state of “enlightenment,” but an inner fire that must be lit again and again. There is only one effective way of striking the match and building a holy temple and infinite cosmos within—constantly spinning the mystical prayer wheel. It takes more than one affirmation, one prayer, or a single round of turning the wheel to keep the space vast and the fire lit. You must constantly spin the wheel to such an extent that when you leave it to do something else, you are still spinning the wheel inside, keeping it bigger and more prominent than what is taking place on the outside. Remember that whatever you spin will grow and bring you inside it. If you spin prayers, your life and relationships will be wrapped in holy cloth made of threads filled with God.

If what you spin only concerns your personal growth, development, and attainment of anything from material to professional and even spiritual outcomes, then you are not spinning the holiest, highest wheel. The Bushman n/om-kxaosi teach that a voyage to God’s sky village makes you ready, willing, and able to go back to earth and help others get on the high road. The purpose of spiritual journeying is not to indulge in spiritual candy, get stoned on inflated fantasy, or to become a spiritual somebody. You mingle and tingle with the gods to receive the most advanced preparation for subsequent service. You are purified, energized, and outfitted to administer intervention of the highest kind. Heaven must embrace earth, and the way you dance and sing with God must mirror how you dance and sing with other human beings, and vice versa. A true saint of any religion meets God when room is not only made for the trees and forests, but also for all of human nature. There isn’t enough room for God until there is enough room to include every human being.

Gandhi’s spinning wheel helped make the room bigger for everyone. He liberated himself by helping to liberate others. A true healer heals others and finds herself healed. A true teacher teaches others and finds learning. A truly cooked person does whatever is required to help cook others and becomes cooked as well. A big room never stops making more room for the fire that sends music and dance into all hearts praying for the heavenly ray. The absence of exclusion means total inclusion, and this includes every part of you. We invite you to turn a wheel of prayer that never stops spinning the holiest cloth that reaches and shelters all of God’s creation.

— The Keeneys, December 14, 2017. Adapted from our forthcoming book, The Spiritual Engineering of Sacred Ecstasy.



[1] Cited in Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski, Prayer: A History (New York: Mariner Books, 2006), 75.

[2] Young India, 20-5-1926, p. 187

[3] Harijan, 27-4-1947, p. 122

[4] Mohit Chakrabarti, Ganhian Mysticism (New Delhi, India: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 1989), 3.

[5] Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), xii.

[6] Gandhi, Young India, Bombay, April 3, 1924. Also cited in John Moniz, Liberated Society (Rome: Editrice Pontifica Universita Gregoriana, 1996), 62.

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