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Terry Reis Kennedy

The Visions of Elias
A True Story of Life in the Spirit
recorded and edited by Tom Veitch
Sky River Books
Manchester, Vermont. 206 pages
$18.00. Made in the USA.

Who are we? Why have we been born? What is going to happen to us at death? THE VISIONS OF ELIAS, A TRUE STORY OF LIFE IN THE SPIRIT, answers these questions. It’s a gentle book that many overwrought people might have wished for, a text that explains the search for intimacy with the Divine or the Energy of Creation if you prefer, without feeling hammered over the head with someone’s dogma while reading it.

It is author Tom Veitch’s first non-fiction book which he says he compiled from edited tapes of conversations he had and recorded, with his life-long friend and fellow seeker Elias when he was dying at a hospice in San Francisco, California. Remarkably, it is full of light-hearted wisdom and every day examples of how to live in union with the Spirit without giving up the world. But its deepest truths, travel with the speed of light, raising awareness of the connectivity of all beings—seen and unseen.

From age six, Elias is a god seeker, a lover of god, but it is not the God of Roman Catholicism, the religion of his parents. He intuits that there is more than a Judeo- Christian concept and in his lifelong wrestling with the Holy Spirit within himself, Elias attains the yogic Sat-Chit-Ananda of the ancient sages and saints of Eastern philosophy. His practice: Meditation, contemplation, and study of the major spiritual traditions of the world, resulted in his receiving hundreds of visions and life instructions from the Divine. Like the Roman Catholic mystics, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Theresa of Avila, Elias too agonized over the disparity between the physical world and the world of the Spirit. Buddha turned his back on wealth and pomp to sit in silence for six years to attain Enlightenment. Similarly, Jesus turned his back on a God of Vengeance and secluded himself for about 20 years until he found, in his own heart, a God of Compassion, Beneficence, and Love for all. It is, according to Elias’s visions, the Holy Spirit that drives us to discover of our True Nature.

Though THE VISIONS OF ELIAS is allegedly Elias’s story, it is Veitch’s role as interviewer that weaves the threads of remembered visions, struggles with God, and tests of faith that holds this “spiritual autobiography” together. The two men share parallel lives making them magically one. Sometimes it is difficult to separate the thoughts and words of one from the other. Consequently, the book is more of a long conversation between friends. Since Elias is the dying man’s “spiritual name” and we don’t, in the traditional sense, discover his identity; we nevertheless accept him as Veitch sees him—an anonymous saint. Does it matter what Elias’s name is on his birth certificate? Maybe not. For in this way we begin to understand who we are to those around us. Persons we are related to, for instance, have very little to do with our Real Identity, that is our Oneness with the Supreme Consciousness.

Terry Reis Kennedy Cont...

Veitch, now 74, born in a rural Vermont town became an internationally known poet, literary novelist, and worked for George Lucas with artist Cam Kennedy to revive Star Wars comics. Their award-winning graphic novel, STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE, helped pave the way for the Star Wars renaissance. Prior to his California debut, Tom Veitch ran with New York-scene Beats and post Beats including Allen Ginsburg.

But it was the same shy Catholic who graduated from his small-town high school in Bellows Falls, Vermont, who leapt into Columbia University and began to experience New York City and its diverse cultural roots head on, a baptism by the fire of existentialism, perhaps. If he once had protective blinders, gifted by Grace, the same Grace removed them. The God of his understanding was now amplified in the Jungian sense.

Coincidentally, Veitch and Elias were reading Carl Jung’s SYMBOLS OF TRANSFORMATION and his autobiography, MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS, at about the same time. On his deathbed, Elias noted, “It came as a total revelation to me that a man of Jung’s psychological depth and wisdom existed. What a gift! At the very moment I was being drawn across the borderline of consciousness into the veiled reality of the psyche, here was a highly intelligent man of our own culture (the west) who had gone before me, hacking a trail into that occult wilderness.

The “occult wilderness” had also captured Veitch’s interest. Like his friend Elias, he wanted more and more to explore Psychic Awareness rather than mundane reality. So, in 1967 he became a cloistered Benedictine monk. New York’s in-your-face panorama of existence had intensified his longing for direct knowledge of God, the “still, small voice” within. In fact, he discovered that what he believed at six years of age was even truer now. He was without question a believer and devotee of the Holy Spirit, so he returned to his roots to benefit from what he believed would be a sustained Communion.

Importantly, while a monk at Weston Priory in Vermont, Veitch met monks from other monasteries. He became friends with Elias who was a Trappist monk then. Both Veitch and Elias were mentored by the late Hugh McKiernan, a former Trappist Abbot, who was a spiritual visionary and lifelong practitioner of Oneness with Spirit. THE VISIONS OF ELIAS is dedicated to McKiernan.

As it happened, when Elias found out he was dying, he contacted Veitch because he wanted to share in depth the whole extent of his spiritual life, covering a period of more than 50 years, most of which he had painstakingly written about, filling his journals with dreams, visions, and the spiritual minutiae of daily life. Understandably, he wanted his kindred seeker at his side to do this. Their lives had covered the same turf. They both left their respective monasteries, both married their soul mates, and both found solace in daily communion with the Holy Spirit while working in the world. So, Veitch, about 70 at the time he got the call to meet up with Elias, traveled to the hospice in San Francisco where Elias read from his library of personal journals, spoke from memory, and answered the author’s questions about the nature and proof of the immortal soul on tape.

Beach of Dreams

                     Approaching Clouds by ©Bob Heman