- More than 30 years ago, when I was an agnostic, I began experiencing panic attacks that eventually drove me to the brink of suicide. Desperate to spare my wife and two young children any further pain, I prayed, not to the judgmental God of my childhood, but to the “creative force” responsible for my being on earth. Shortly after, I lay on my bed, not expecting any help, and gave up. My young daughter suddenly entered the bedroom, jumped on my back and called out “Daddy”. At that instant, I was transformed. I could literally feel a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders, as all of my fear and panic disappeared. I remained in that state of complete and utter peace for about 15 hours. My panic returned as soon as I started questioning why I was feeling so peaceful. This was extremely depressing, but I now knew there was help to be had beyond my own ego.
- A few months later, I flew home for a visit with my parents and siblings. Upon arrival, I was distressed to realize that I had somehow forgotten to bring my medication (for anxiety and depression). Late that evening, I sat alone at the kitchen table, reading the chapter called “Love” from the book All That You Are (by the anonymous author Mary), which my sister had loaned me. I thought about the incident described above, as well as other “coincidences” I had experienced, and I suddenly came to the unmistakable conclusion that God was real and God loved me. As soon as I realized this, I felt an exquisite energy (like an electric current) spring from the base of my spine, travel up my backbone, and seemingly emerge through the top of my head. This energy built and built in successive waves, until I was in a state of complete and utter ecstasy. I was basking in divine love, and I felt a tremendous love for God in return. I felt God’s intimate presence, and I considered the possibility that God could appear at any moment. However, the possibility of “seeing” God created some anxiety, and the ecstatic current gradually subsided. Although I was somewhat sad when the experience ended, I knew that I was forever changed. My panic was gone, never to return. Later, I learned that I had undergone a “Kundalini awakening”. Indeed, Kundalini was to play a central role in my subsequent spiritual development, including several more experiences providing further proof of God.
Here is a description of two events that occurred near the beginning of my active spiritual search that convinced me of the existence of a divine intelligence:
During the course of my spiritual journey, I studied the teachings of all of the world’s great religions. Concerning Islam, I found that many Quranic teachings are inconsistent with what my heart tells me. Perhaps chief among these is the teaching that our creator (Allah/God) only loves and accepts Muslims. This leads to the teaching that Jihad (holy war) is to be waged against non-Muslims. For the many reasons described in my book, I know that God loves me, just as I am. God’s love is fully and completely unconditional, regardless of belief or actions. Although I am a follower of Jesus, I am not a fundamentalist Christian. Jesus, I am convinced, did die on the cross (contrary to Islam’s claim that Allah put an imposter in his place). However, his death was not a sacrifice (in the Old Testament sense) demanded by God as an atonement for our sins. Rather, Jesus willingly went to the cross out of love for all of humankind, trusting that his destiny was a very important part of God’s plan. Jesus gave of himself as the suffering lamb, for all our sakes, to demonstrate God’s love and power to overcome darkness and raise us to new life. As Jesus says in the Gospel of John: “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly”.
God loves me, and God loves you, too.
Robert Keith Rinne's work focuses on the healing of mental illness, particularly where such illness has been fostered by fundamentalist religion. He and his wife have raised four children. As a family, they were always open about Robert’s own struggles and their individual spiritual journeys. Robert is now semi-retired but continues to offer spiritual counseling.