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My spiritual quest began in 1970, a year after I arrived in Los Angeles. I was twenty-five years old and away from Chicago the place of my birth for the first time. I had the opportunity for marriage and a traditional life, but something inside told me that there was more to life than a wife, children, two cars and a mortgage.

I was not what you would call ‘well-adjusted’ my life had caused me considerable pain, and I hoped that if I could find some answers for the purpose of my existence, it would help me to cope in a world that I clearly did not seem to belong. I was not certain what I was searching for or if it could be found, but what I was certain of is I would not find it in Chicago.

Some years earlier my mother's brothers had gone to Los Angeles, and were well established in business. I was closer with my younger uncle, who sponsored my move West. When I arrived I was thrilled to be in a warm place with seemingly boundless sunshine. My uncle arranged for a position for me as a sales representative for a convalescent hospital supply company. I was shocked at how many nursing homes there were in Los Angeles all full with my company building more. I knew something was wrong that so many people were sick, and many of them had to be diapered, but at the time I didn’t have the answer. After a year, I had had enough of hearing the moans and groans and the smell of urine when I made sales calls. The experience of this job led me to begin my spiritual quest for the meaning of my life.

I knew that I needed a life-style change, so when I left the job I decided to take yoga. I enrolled at the Sivananda Yoga Institute on Larchmont Blvd., a trendy part of town, where I began exploring spirituality. I became an ardent spiritual seeker visiting ashrams, attending lectures, becoming a vegetarian and following all the prescribed disciplines to reach a state of enlightenment. Seven years later, I had the opportunity to move north to Santa Cruz, a more natural and spiritually oriented place where I continued my practices. There, I took classes and attended workshops always striving to become more spiritual. Ten years had passed and though I had made some progress, I definitely did not feel enlightened. I had not found the meaning of life or was I satisfied with what I had learned. I was confused and felt that I had come to a dead-end in my spiritual quest. It was then that I had what could only be described as a spiritual breakdown. I wasn't sure what to believe any longer or where to turn for answers.

In the weeks that followed, I spent hours each day in the garden asking for help. I had no way of knowing if anyone was listening, but at the time I didn't know what else to do. Then, one afternoon when I was feeling particularly low, a power came over me and had me in its grasp. As the energy ran through my body, I was pinned to the ground. I couldn't move! I felt as though I was being purged of a lifetime of pain. When it ended not only did I receive healing, but this experience offered me my first glimpse of the supernatural, which demonstrated to me that there were great unseen powers that I knew nothing about.

Soon after, a series of unusual coincidences led me to a small group of spiritualists very near my home. They were kind and seemed genuinely interested in my well-being. At first I was attracted to their Wednesday evening healing and then their Sunday morning service, held in the medium's front room. They were the gentlest people I had ever met, though I thought it curious that they never asked me to donate any money or to read any literature. At the healing the medium did not give messages from departed loved ones, but went into a trance-like state and gave a wonderful healing message to each person present. The evening was always uplifting and made me feel better, which is what I needed most at the time.

The Sunday morning service included an address, spirit messages and something we recited in unison called the "prayer perfect". I was informed that this prayer was channelled from Jesus, and if sincerely offered it fulfilled the requirements for God's love to flow to the aspirant. At the end of the service they sang original compositions of their love for God, and the service ended with long heartfelt hugs. I can't say what it was exactly, but when I left there, I certainly felt more at peace then when I went in.

During the week I was informed that this coming Sunday there would be a special service conducted by the newly appointed leaders, who were coming up from San Diego. It was to be held out-of-doors in a park among towering redwood trees. When I arrived people were gathered in a circle and I quietly sat down. As I looked around to see who was there my eyes met those of a woman I had not seen before. My first thought was that she could pose for a Madonna painting. Then, I saw a flash of light, and felt something travel from her eyes to mine and felt a zap. It was as if someone had reached down my throat, grabbed my heart and gave it two hefty tugs. I didn’t know that such a thing was possible, but had heard the expression.

At the end of the service a nice looking young man can up to me and introduced himself. I couldn’t help but notice that he was carrying a thick blue book. I immediately asked him, ”What’s that book you have there”? He replied, “A book of messages”. I said, “What messages”? He said, “Messages from our founder”. I said, ”We have a founder, why hadn't anyone told me about this before”? He said, ”I don’t know”. After the service there was a luncheon at the home of one of the members. I was dying to find out what the zap and heart tugs were all about. When I asked, her response was “I felt Jesus”. And she proceeded to try to explain to me that their founder was a Washington, D.C. lawyer named James Padgett, who shortly after his wife’s passing in 1914 became an automatic writing medium and four nine years until his passing wrote messages from the spirit world mainly from Jesus and his disciples. As I read the messages in the blue book given to me the philosophy rang true and made perfect sense. I marveled at their simplicity and, at the same time, their sublimity. I wondered how could it be possible that after my long quest I had found what I was searching for.

At the following Sunday morning service, the young man announced that he was driving down to San Diego to visit the headquarters of the group, and inquired if anyone wanted to join him to share the expenses. I said, “you can count me in”, and that Friday we left. The first night, I experienced psychic phenomenon with a comforting invisible hand on my shoulder. The second night, after dinner we gathered around the kitchen table talking, and before I knew what had happened, something had lifted me up, stood me on my feet, my vibration went way up, and I became someone else. It felt as if my body had been invaded and couldn't do or say anything of my own. I had lost my identity, and was under the complete control of someone that I recognized as the Master. I said to the others “come to me”, and they came. I wrapped my arms around them and a great power descended upon us that I can only assume was to offer us a celestial healing.

The next evening I was taken over again, but this time by the spirit of Moses of old. The experience was accompanied by the overwhelming feeling of being the leader of the Hebrew Nation. I told the others that I was Moses, and that I had come to help them to organize their efforts to make Padgett's writing known to the world. I explained to them how to structure their people into groups and how to use their talents in the most effective way to ensure success. I had been reading Padgett's writings for only a week at this point, and this experience validated for me that the spirit authors of the writings were the people whom they claimed to be.

When I returned home I was utterly consumed by the extraordinary events of San Diego. I spent my evenings reading Padgett’s writings and, then one evening I heard a voice say, "go to Jerusalem". I was never interested in Israel or religion before, but now that I was, a visit to the Holy Land made sense for it would serve to give me the religious education that I lacked. I knew that I could ignore the voice, but thought if I did, I might regret it the rest of my life. Besides, I was extremely curious to know where this spiritual drama would lead me. As I made preparations to leave it became evident that I was not going for a holiday, but rather to embark on a journey of discovery. I intended to stay as long as was necessary and was not certain when, or if, I would return to California. I decided to free myself completely by liquidating everything that I owned, so that I could follow the guidance wherever it took me.

My first spiritual experience in Israel occurred at Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast at the Roman amphitheater. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that I had been there before, but after thinking it through, I knew that this was not the case and realised that I had just experienced a powerful déjà vu.

After a week of exploring the Galilee, I arrived in Jerusalem and had the good fortune to rent an apartment in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is where I wanted to live after seeing it in the travel brochures - the heart of Western religion. When I opened the windows, I could hear the devout Jews davening at the Wailing Wall, the bells at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter, and the blaring Moslem call to prayer five times a day, which I was not fond of.

While living in the Old City, I studied religion. During the day I attended traditional Judaism classes and, in the evening I studied the Kabbalah. The text was taken from the Zohar and was read in Hebrew, then translated into English. I can remember the rabbi saying, "This may seem difficult and confusing, but wait, in four or five years you will begin to understand”. I thought, "Four or five years! I haven’t got that long”. Besides, I found better spiritual understanding in Padgett's writings than from the Kabbalah.

In one of Padgett's writings from Jesus that was of particular relevance he stated, "God's truths are plain and can be understood by common people. Any religion that requires the exercise of the mental faculties to an extent greater than what is required in the ordinary affairs of life cannot be a true religion. God's truths can be understood without the necessity of having a highly developed mind”. I did, however, learn one thing from the Kabbalah, that one must prepare oneself to be a vessel to hold the Shekhina - the light of God. I understood what this meant because in Padgett's writings, this is clearly explained as the implanting of God's love into the human soul in response to sincere prayer.

The second spiritual experience I had while in Israel took place at the Coenaculum, the room of the Last Supper. That afternoon, a friend and I went sightseeing to look for the Upper Room not far outside the walls of the Old City on Mt. Zion. It was late in the afternoon, the weather was cool, rainy and windy, and the tour buses and Arab vendors selling carved figurines had left for the day. The room was difficult to find, and there was not a soul to ask. Upon seeing the building I knew that it was not nearly old enough to be the actual site of the Last Supper, but I also knew that it was the custom to built on top of the rubble.

According to the Biblical account the location was correct, so I assumed that this was a reproduction built on the same sacred site. We searched and found an unlocked door. When I pulled on the door, it opened and there was a room that fit the description. As we gazed in, I said, "There is only one way that a long table could fit in this room according to the Da Vinci picture, it would have to go this way and Jesus would have been seated right there by that alcove”.

I said to my friend, "Let's go over to that spot and see if we can detect anything”. Immediately, we found ourselves basking in a heavenly energy. We stayed in it for quite a while in a state of bliss. Then I said, "Lets go to a different part of the room and see if it is there", which we did, and we felt nothing. When we returned to the spot to our amazement it was there. As we left the room nearly floating out of the door, I wondered if this heavenly energy was there just for us or if it was always there for pilgrims to find, if they located the spot where he would have sat.

While living in Israel, I made many friends and had a colourful and interesting time. I was invited to weddings where the men and woman were separated, which I did not care for. I explored the country from top to bottom. My favorite activities were snorkeling in the Red Sea, taking mineral baths in the Dead Sea, hiking the ancient footpaths where the Prophets had walked and most impressively was the hike to the top of Masada. I observed some of the customs and celebrated the holidays and learned about the prodigious number of rules and regulations of Judaism and, although a Jew, they were not for me.

Then, one extremely hot June day, I was in the Old City market place shopping. It was packed with tourists from all over the world and more crowded than I had ever seen it. Right then, I knew that I had learned all that I needed to know about religion, and it was time to leave and travel north to cooler climates.

I had strong guidance that Britain was my true destination, and that the Holy Land was just a religious stop over in preparation for my discovery of Spiritualism. I had not been to Britain before and did not know what to expect, but was excited to visit such a legendary place. Upon my arrival in London, I found my way to an affordable Bayswater hotel, and that evening at a Queensway news agent I discovered Psychic News, Britain's leading spiritualist publication. In the church listings, I noticed the London Spiritual Mission, which was within walking distance of my hotel. The church was lovely with flowers inside and out, and the evening service was taken by a Scottish medium named Albert Best.

I will never forget the thrilling evidence of the afterlife he gave to a woman whose brother had been a missing person for two years. Mr. Best was in contact with him, and told the sister in his rather difficult-to-understand Scottish brogue, "I have your brother here, and he says that he was murdered and his body was stuffed into the boot of a car, and that the whole bleed-in thing was sunk into a boggy marsh". Then, I heard a loud scream come from the sister and she cried out, "I knew it, I knew it he was in the rackets". A chill went up my spine and I could feel that it was genuine.

I soon learned that Britain was the hub of Spiritualism, and I needed to find out how many spiritualists knew about James Padgett and his writings from America. I read in Psychic News that the International Spiritualist Federation was holding their weeklong Congress in London at a college campus near Kew Gardens. This was the perfect opportunity for me to survey spiritualists attending from countries around the world.

I found my way to the campus and paid the tuition. The Congress was an interesting week of psychic development, lectures and demonstrations with the highlight being a demonstration of clairvoyance by Gordon Higginson. I was amazed at how many names of departed loved ones he could deliver to people and how exact were his details. After each demonstration, he received a round of applause from the three hundred people in attendance. Though, at the time, I did not need evidence of the afterlife, though, it was reassuring for me to know that Mr. Higginson could consistently give the kind of evidence that could be considered proof of survival of the human soul after physical death.

At the Congress, I was most effective in my survey work during meals as I would sit at different tables and talk to people about James Padgett. After the Congress, I learned that some of the people were going to a place called the "Arthur Findley College" at Stansted Hall for International Week. When I heard that Gordon was the principle there, that was all I needed to know and was on the coach for Essex.

The demonstrations were held in the library by some of the country's finest mediums. After one of Gordon's usually brilliant demonstrations, I saw three tearful ladies on a sofa just outside the library, one of whom I knew. I went up to her to see what was wrong and asked, "Abigail, what has happened?" She said, "All three of us are widows and we just heard from our husbands”. Then, sobbingly, she said, “I've been waiting five long years to hear from my dear Jack and wouldn't you know, it would take the best medium in the country to bring him to me”.

My survey work was not as effective at Stansted because I was assigned to a vegetarian table. Still, the setting was intimate and I was able to talk to most everybody there. In the end I had found just one person who had even heard of James Padgett, but she had not read any of his writings. Although, not encouraging this told me something, and in the end I did get a first-rate introduction to Spiritualism, and I was learning as I went along.

After Stansted, I returned to London to continue my survey work. I visited the office of Psychic News and had a long chat with the editor, Tony Ortzen. I visited the Society for Psychical Research, the College of Psychic Studies, the Swedenborg Lodge, the White Eagle Lodge, the Greater World, the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain, the Aetherius Society, the Theosophical Society and to Scotland to the Findhorn Foundation. The response was always the same - never heard of him (James Padgett). After three months, it was apparent that James Padgett was not known in Britain.

One day in Psychic News I read about a spiritualist community in Western New York State named “Lily Dale”, founded in 1879. I thought this would be an ideal place to continue my survey when I returned to my own country. Lily Dale was a charming Victorian of wooden gingerbread houses with a community of mediums and healers situated on a lovely placid lake with white long-neck swans.

While there, I discovered Spiritualism's humble beginnings. On the grounds I saw the stone marker where the Fox cottage had once stood. It had been moved from Hydesville to Lily Dale in 1916, but burned down in 1953, the cause of the fire is believed to have been arson. I visited the Lily Dale Museum and saw some of the remains of the peddler who had haunted the cottage, and even made the journey to Hydesville where Spiritualism began. I was disappointed to find it deserted, although, I had an interesting time rummaging through the remnants of this famous hamlet.

I spent my afternoons in Lily Dale at the Marion Skidmore Library, the only brick building in Lily Dale, and the world's largest spiritualist library. I examined the archives of newspapers and magazines of early Spiritualism, and looked through countless books, most notably the complete works of Andrew Jackson Davis. To my delight I found several volumes of Padgett's writings placed there in the 1950s by the lawyer's closest friend, Dr. Leslie R. Stone.

After Lily Dale, I visited Camp Chesterfield in Indiana and, in time, all the other spiritualist camps in America. I continued my survey of American spiritualists though the result was only marginally better than in Britain. I found just one woman at a spiritualist church in Phoenix, Arizona who had read James Padgett's books and thought highly of them.

It was now clear to me that the spirit writings of James Padgett were little known even in his own country. I thought, how could it be possible that such important knowledge could have been completely overlooked”? From the information available to me in the first volume published by Dr. Stone, it was clear that James Padgett chose to keep his mediumship private, revealing it only to his closest friends for the remainder of his life.

Though unknown, I knew that I had found a spiritual treasure, and that there was a job to be done to bring this knowledge to people interested in going beyond what is already known. Even in the earliest stages of my efforts, I knew that my work was not be to convince people that Padgett's writings were genuine or truthful, but simply to make them available for people to examine and decide for themselves. To this end I have published three books and seven websites that clearly present a spiritual philosophy that Spiritualism and the world does not know exists. If you would like to learn more I invite you to look at my other sites.

Alan Ross