Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love
“The key to almost all the stories is not necessarily the spectacular nature of the miracle but its life-changing effect.”
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A decade before Dan Millman wrote his spiritual classic Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a motorcycle crash ended his Olympic dreams. Some years later, two thugs, one armed with a metal pipe, closed in to attack a young writer named Doug Childers. These two young men had no notion that they would one day meet, become friends, and draw upon their experiences to/i>
A decade before Dan Millman wrote his spiritual classic Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a motorcycle crash ended his Olympic dreams. Some years later, two thugs, one armed with a metal pipe, closed in to attack a young writer named Doug Childers. These two young men had no notion that they would one day meet, become friends, and draw upon their experiences to create a collection of inspiring stories about people whose lives were changed by extraordinary events.
Each story in this newly revised volume (formerly titled Divine Interventions) describes a unique journey across a metaphorical bridge to a higher reality. These stirring accounts of the lives of ordinary people as well as iconic figures, past and present, will awaken in readers a renewed faith in the mysterious possibilities hidden in daily life.
The stories invite believers and skeptics alike to consider the well-documented phenomena that challenge conventional assumptions about reality. They point to a dimension of transcendent possibility awaiting us across the Bridge Between Worlds.
“The key to almost all the stories is not necessarily the spectacular nature of the miracle but its life-changing effect.”
Citizen of the Universe The Transformation of Bucky Fuller
Until he was four years old, little cross-eyed Bucky Fuller saw the world as a blur of shapes and colors; he didn't even know what the members of his own family looked like. When he got his first pair of glasses, the sight of the world struck him with the force of a revelation. "For the first time," he said, "I saw leaves on a tree, small birds ... the stars and the shapes of clouds and people's faces. It was a time of utter joy, as though all these things had been newly created just for me. I was filled with wonder at the beauty of the world."
When Bucky was thirteen, his father died after a series of strokes. The resulting family crises catapulted him out of the magical realm of childhood into a harsher, more troubled world in which he often felt awkward and isolated.
Years later, through family connections, Bucky was accepted into Harvard University, where his quirky personality made him an outsider; a sense of alienation tormented this sensitive youth and brought out his reckless side. That first year, as midterm approached, Bucky impulsively withdrew the funds his mother had saved for his education, went to New York City, lodged in one of its finest hotels, and attended the Ziegfeld Follies. Captivated by the show's star, he returned the next night, sent roses and five bottles of champagne backstage, and, in a grand self-destructive gesture, took the entire cast out for a party at one of New York's finest restaurants. In one evening he squandered his entire college fund and ran up a bill it would take his family years to pay.
In the aftermath, Harvard expelled Bucky for irresponsible conduct and his mother sent him to work as an apprentice mechanic in a Connecticut textile mill. A blessing in disguise, this stimulated in Bucky a natural aptitude for mechanical engineering. He threw himself into his work with a passion, sketching his ideas and designing new mechanical pieces for textile machinery. He received glowing work reports and was eventually allowed to return home, rehabilitated in his family's eyes.
At twenty, Bucky met Anne Hewlett, the young woman he would marry in 1917 and love until the day he died. When World War I began, he joined the Navy and patrolled the New England coast searching for German U-boats. Though still a bit odd and erratic, Bucky was a bright, likable young man with a zest for life and a creative knack for inventing "contraptions."
When the war ended, Bucky returned home to his beloved Anne and their infant daughter, Alexandra. By that time Alexandra had suffered bouts of polio and spinal meningitis that left her partially paralyzed. To help cover the extra expenses, Bucky found a high-paying job. But three months after he had begun, the company shut down, leaving him penniless and unable to find decent work. Everything seemed to go wrong after that. At twenty-seven Bucky began to look and feel like a failure. He'd never been a drinker, but now he became one.
In the midst of this difficult period, to distract himself from a chronic depression, Bucky decided to attend a Yale-Harvard football game with some old college chums. Before leaving home, Bucky, Anne, and Alexandra took a walk in the fresh air. Seeing her father's cane, which he used due to an old knee injury, Alexandra asked, "Daddy, when you come home, will you bring me a cane?" He promised he would.
To Bucky's delight, Harvard won the game, and he spent the night drinking and celebrating. The next day he phoned home from Pennsylvania Station to find Anne distraught. Their beloved Alexandra had caught pneumonia and now lay in a coma. She was still unconscious when Bucky arrived. She awoke only once, looked up at him, and asked, "Daddy, did you bring me my cane?"
Bucky turned away in agony and shame, unable to meet his daughter's eyes — he'd forgotten all about his promise. Alexandra died that night in his arms.
Forty years later, Bucky still couldn't speak of this incident without weeping. It would haunt him for the rest of his life. Bucky was devastated, driven nearly out of his mind with guilt and grief, and stricken by his loss, his inability to provide for his family, his self-centered nature, and his failures.
That same season, Anne's mother, one of her brothers, and her brother-in-law also died. Bucky called it "a winter of horror." To escape his personal and financial abyss, he started a company designing and building construction machinery. Each day after work he came home and drank long into the night.
After five difficult years, with the nation moving toward the Great Depression of the 1930s, Bucky and Anne had another daughter, named Alegra. Bucky's struggling company was bought out by a large corporation; he became an employee, and was fired. Once again, he became a pauper with a wife and newborn child to support. These blows destroyed his last shred of faith in himself. Believing he was cursed — and fated to bring tragedy and suffering to those he loved — he fell into a suicidal depression.
On a bitterly cold winter evening, in a mood of utter despair, thirty-four-year-old Bucky Fuller walked out of his apartment down to the shores of Lake Michigan, determined to throw himself into the frigid waters. "I've done the best I know how and it hasn't worked," he declared to himself. "I'm just no good." His own mother had believed he might turn out worthless, and had told him so — she had even tried to stop his wedding, warning her future in-laws that he was too irresponsible to support a family. Now, it seemed, she was right about everything.
As Bucky stood on the windy shores of Lake Michigan, his mind suddenly cleared, and he began a sober and spontaneous inquiry into his life, its worth and purpose, and the ultimate origins of his being. He determined then and there to discover the truth about himself, and then to act upon what he found — to live or die. If he was worthless, a "bad man" as some said, destructive to those he loved, he would end his life in the freezing waters. Anne would find someone better, Alegra was too young to miss him, and his in-laws could easily support them both if he were gone, or so he reasoned.
With a sudden urgency, questions arose in him: Was there a divine intelligence in the universe? Was his life of any value? Bucky resolved to accept only the evidence of his own perceptions, not what he'd learned or been told by others. As his intense questioning deepened and as he considered the nature of reality, he experienced a sudden and overwhelming inner certainty that a divine intelligence existed. His engineer's vision saw proof of this not in beliefs or dogmas, but in the universe itself — in "the exquisite design of everything from the invisible microcosm of atoms to the macro-magnitudes of the galaxies, and all of them inter-accommodating with absolute integrity."
Next, Bucky began a heartfelt inquiry concerning whether he might "be of any value to the integrity of Universe." As Bucky reviewed his whole life and all he'd learned, an intelligent pattern began to emerge. And in a moment of supreme insight, he knew: "You do not have the right to eliminate yourself; you do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experience to the highest advantage of others."
These insights struck Bucky with the force of a command — as if his soul had perched on his shoulder and counseled his mortal self. That night Bucky Fuller went home a changed man. With a profound new sense of inner strength and purpose, he knew that to go on living he was called to consecrate himself to the highest purpose of serving of others and his world, of working "for the total well-being of people everywhere."
Bucky knew he had no gift for reforming humanity; rather, his abilities were uniquely suited for reforming the environment. He decided he would no longer worry about money. "If the Intelligence directing Universe really has a use for me, it will not allow us to starve; it will see to it that I am able to carry out my resolve."
Within a matter of hours, a new vision of his life's purpose had unfolded in Bucky's mind; an inner revelation had completely reorganized his being. The only thing remaining was to act. He returned to Anne and told her what had occurred, and how he intended to live. And this remarkable woman not only understood his vision, but also agreed to his purpose. The radical nature of Bucky's transformation revealed itself in the way he went about changing his life, deepening his illumination begun on the shores of Lake Michigan. Determined to unlearn the mass of secondhand beliefs and opinions that filtered and distorted his direct perceptions, he now rarely spoke, and then only to convey essential communications to Anne and Alegra.
Anne became his voice to the outside world.
Driven by a profound urgency, Bucky moved his family to a cheap apartment in a poor section of Chicago and dedicated himself to prolonged contemplation and rigorous study, hoping to discover "the wellspring of true creativity and authentic life, to regain the sensitivities I was born with." To salvage every possible moment, Bucky began napping briefly when his mind began to flag, in time cutting his sleep to two or three hours out of twenty-four. His friends and family thought his behavior wildly irresponsible, perhaps insane. Anne alone understood and stood by him, picking up the slack and defending him to the world.
As it turned out, Bucky's peculiar experiment released tremendous reserves of energy and creativity in him. Alden Hatch, his biographer and friend of many decades, wrote: "From this intense period of silent thought emerged in embryo most of the great philosophical and mathematical innovations that have made his fame and moved the world forward."
Remarkable ideas, insights, and information began to pour through Bucky, among them his radical architectural innovations. The solar-powered house-on-a-pole, his first famous invention, recycled all water and wastes or turned them into fertilizer. It weighed six thousand pounds and cost fifteen hundred dollars.
In 1929 Bucky broke his silence; his friends joked that he never stopped talking again. In fact, he became a prolific lecturer and writer to explain his revolutionary ideas and inventions. He designed a car that traveled on land and water, and also flew. This aerodynamic Dymaxion car, with a land speed of 120 mph, was twenty years ahead of its time. When his circular Dymaxion house was shown to the public, thirty thousand orders flooded in.
But Bucky's most successful architectural design, for which he would become known worldwide, was the Geodesic Dome — the simplest, most durable, economical, and elegant architectural structure ever devised. It could be assembled in hours and withstand winds up to two hundred miles per hour. The U.S. Marines purchased over three hundred domes. The Air Force used them as Antarctic bases. His famed aluminum-skinned Kaiser Dome musical auditorium in Honolulu, roughly fifty yards in diameter, was constructed in only twenty-two hours.
Bucky also designed a self-contained, solar-powered pyramidal city of the future that floated on the sea. His lightweight transparent domes could cover conventional cities and create perfect atmospheres. A pioneer global visionary, Bucky saw humanity as a crew of astronauts soaring through the galaxy on Spaceship Earth — citizens not of nations but of the universe itself.
Of course, Bucky was now able to afford a far more comfortable home and neighborhood for Anne and Alegra. Anne remained the one constant throughout his long, creative whirlwind life. Now certain of immortality beyond bodily death, Bucky made Anne this promise: He would die before her so that he could greet her on the other side.
One day, after lecturing in New York City, Bucky, then in his eighties, got a telephone call. Anne, back in Los Angeles, was in the hospital, seriously ill. He caught the first plane back, but by the time he arrived Anne had lapsed into a coma. The doctors doubted she would regain consciousness. Once again Bucky had returned too late. Perhaps Bucky recalled the heartrending incident decades earlier — his forgotten promise to buy his dying daughter Alexandra a cane.
Bucky set a chair by Anne's bed as she lay unconscious, her breathing faint. He spoke to her softly for a few moments. Then Bucky Fuller leaned back, closed his eyes, and quietly died. Minutes later, a nurse came in and found him. Bucky had kept his promise. Anne, the love of his life, followed him several hours later.
Perhaps Alexandra was there to greet them both on the other side, waiting just across the bridge between worlds.CHAPTER 2
Surrender in the Flames A Gift from the Inferno
The night before the house burned down with Valerie Vener inside it, she and her college roommate had sat on the front porch discussing the worst way to die. Her roommate feared drowning; Valerie's worst-case scenario was death by fire.
The following evening, the full moon of July 15, 1981, both Valerie and her roommate were invited to a party. At the last minute, Valerie, who was exhausted, went to bed at eight o'clock and fell deeply asleep. The fire department later determined that the blaze started at about 9:30 PM directly below her, in a living room uniquely insulated by plush furniture, Persian carpets, and two walls lined floor to ceiling with record albums.
The fire smoldered for half an hour in the contained environment, heating the room like a kiln, melting the records and unleashing thick, black, toxic smoke. As fire spread across the lower floor, poisonous fumes permeated the house and rose to fill the entire upper floor, including the room where Valerie was sleeping. At approximately 10:15 PM, a stifling heat and hellish stench awakened her. She sat upright in bed in an eerie darkness, woozy from oxygen deprivation and the heat, drugged by the toxic fumes she'd been breathing for half an hour. The light shining into her room illumined an ethereal realm of smoky vapor. As she later recalled:
I was in a dreamlike. Time had stopped. I felt both crystal clear and utterly disoriented. The environment was so bizarre. The usual laws of physics no longer seemed to apply. Logically, I should have panicked from the stench, abnormal heat, and darkness. But all I could imagine was that one of my roommates had left a pot burning on the stove.
Valerie started for the bedroom door to call downstairs, but stopped in her tracks when she spied several large, oval-shaped forms made of smoke hovering nearby. They appeared as pulsing, living beings — their outer structures enclosing a kind of circulatory system made of swirling smoke, Mobius-like threads spiraling up and down inside them like internal energy circuitry. "Their beauty was mesmerizing," Valerie recalled. She stopped before one of them and gazed in awe, not yet wondering what the smoke was doing in her room, until the overwhelming stench and the pain of breathing brought her back to a momentary sense of reality.
Valerie pushed at the door, already several inches ajar. It seemed heavy, as if some outside force resisted. Peering into the hall she saw only impenetrable darkness. For the first time, fear pierced her dreamlike state. She did not yet realize the house was on fire — only that something was terribly wrong. She stepped into a hallway so dark she couldn't even see her hands, instinctively raised to protect her face from the extreme heat. Now she noticed a muffled, rumbling roar below, like a distant train.
Valerie found her way down the hall to the stairs, where another wall stopped her with tangible force. It was a blast of searing heat, sucked up the stairs by an open window acting as a chimney. The first floor was now engulfed in flames. (The fire report later determined that temperatures in the house ranged from 1200 to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit).
In toxic shock, Valerie's mind clung to the idea of a burning pot on the stove. She tried calling out with a rasping croak. But with each breath she took, the repulsive stench and infernal heat blistered her nose and throat. Then, out of the darkness at the top of the stairs, a huge tongue of fire darted out at her, shocking her awake. Suddenly, everything was obvious. In terror, Valerie groped for the hall phone, lifted the receiver and dialed 0.
"Operator," came the answer.
"I'm at five twenty-four South Forest Avenue!" Valerie gasped. "Five twenty-four South Forest Avenue! On the corner of University! My house is on fire! I'm in the house! It's five twenty-four South Forest Avenue!"
"Ma'am, I'm sorry; I'll have to put you on hold for a moment."
Excerpted from Bridge Between Worlds by Dan Millman, Doug Childers, Nancy Carleton. Copyright © 2009 Dan Millman and Doug Childers. Excerpted by permission of H J Kramer and New World Library.
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Dan Millman is a former world trampoline champion, hall of fame gymnast, university coach, college professor, and bestselling author whose eight books, including Way of the Peaceful Warrior, The Laws of Spirit, and The Life You Were Born to Live, have inspired millions of people in more than twenty languages. His books and seminars have influenced people from all walks of life, including leaders in the fields of health, business, education, entertainment, and sports. A youthful grandfather, he lives with his family in northern California.
Doug Childers is an author, editor, and writing coach whose books include The Energy Prescription and The White-Haired Girl. He lives with his family in northern California.
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