Editor’s Introduction

Bob Riley (real name) has an M.S. in mechanical engineering and has been employed as a Chief project engineer for a large company. He has since become employed doing social work. The unexpected experience occurred in May of 1981.

Awakening to Peace
Robert Riley

As an engineer with a paper company in Philadelphia, I was hosting some engineering academic visitors from Penn State. Our conversation had been business-oriented, although I was going through a period of inner turmoil for several years. This occurred during a brief coffee break in the company cafeteria, which overlooked the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Without “warning,” I suddenly had a feeling of complete peace and of complete unity with the universe. Not living in the universe, but being an integral part of it. I thought to myself, “Something must be wrong – I don’t deserve to feel this peace!,” but in spite of my best efforts to find things to worry about, such as world hunger, threats of war, etc., the peace remained. I soon accepted it, and enjoyed this persistent overwhelming feeling of peace for perhaps 10 minutes. I could not even force myself into a state of worry or anxiety. I did not attribute this to “God” or “Christ” at the time – it was not a “religious” experience, just an experience of BEING. Finally, the normal neurotic anxieties returned over a period of a minute or two. The memory of my experience sustains me to this day, and it also tells me how limiting/limited our conceptions of the Divine and of each other are. What is TRUE is beyond our manmade concepts. We need not be afraid!

Contributor’s Comments on the Experience

In hindsight, I had a “religious” experience, which transcended the usual thinking about “God,” “Christ,” etc. The memory of that experience sustains me to this day – all is well, ultimately, although we still need to find ways to help each other attain wholeness. We still need to fight hunger and war, but we are not alone.