My name is Rich Van Horn. I am the developer of this website.
Originally I had planned to say very little about myself. This is not a personal website about me. I am retired; I am not selling anything or trying to make money. But now as I near the end of this project I realize that, in some ways, it is all about me.
I have set forth here my thoughts on how consciousness creates our experience of life. I have come to believe that the human race is lacking a capacity that we very much need — and that we have within us — but that we are not using. If we were to start developing this potential, we would expand the nature of our own human experience. And maybe more important, we would have more capacity to resolve our human problems in the world today.
Our situation today is like that of a person driving a 6-cylinder car but only 5 cylinders are working. The car works but not as well as it would if all 6 cylinders were humming away.
I hope I can make these ideas clear and compelling because I believe this is important.
These ideas are the direct result of the life I have lived. If I hadn’t lived the life that I did — if I hadn’t had the experiences that I had — then this website would never have come into existence.
Which leads me to wonder: if the ideas expressed here seem vague or abstract, they might make more sense if you knew more about the life that spawned these ideas. It would give you more context to understand what I am attempting to explain.
Let’s begin with the basics:
I am not a spiritual teacher. I have never published any books. I am not an authority on anything, except maybe the life I have lived.
And yet there is something about my life and the experiences that I have had that have compelled me to spend 10 years developing this website. Over this period of time my understanding of what I have been doing has changed.
There is only one claim that I can make with regard to this website: everything I have written about here I have personally experienced myself.
What I am attempting to describe is as real to me as the life I have lived.
This began as a website about enlightenment
In 2006 I had an experience that is often referred to as an “awakening.” This experience was both profound and disorienting. It left me unsure of myself. In many ways, I felt like I was starting life all over again.
I began to write, hoping this would help me sort out my own thoughts. At first, my writing was mostly restating what I had learned from different teachers. But over time I noticed that I was examining topics my teachers had never touched upon. Unusual ideas started popping into my mind. It seemed as if there was a new point of view arising within my consciousness.
Around 2012 I decided to organize my writings and to see if there was a framework for a book here. It was not clear to me how all of this might come together into one coherent framework. A friend suggested that instead of a book I create a website. I liked this idea. A website could offer many different options for organizing the material. I could add photos. Best of all, it would be easy for people to access and send links to other people.
By 2014 I saw my writing as an attempt to explain enlightenment. The disorientation I had felt in 2006 had finally lifted, although it took about 5 years for that to happen completely. My life was simultaneously just the same as before I awoke and also completely different. I wondered: could I make any sense out of this and explain it to others?
But how to go about it? At the annual Tucson Festival of Books I learned about the power of story-telling. I also learned that Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey could be a powerful framework for writing a novel. I got the idea of describing enlightenment using a story format. I called it the Story of Enlightenment and you can read the original version here.
In 2016 the website was up and running. More work was needed so I did not link it to any search engines. I sent a link to my site to anyone I thought would be interested in reading it and asked for their feedback.
And this is where it got complicated. I was often wrong! Many people who received my link did not even bother to read my website. Others read it but had little or nothing to say about it. Based on this, it would seem I had done a pretty lousy job. Perhaps. But there was a third group of people who loved the site. They emailed back with lavish praise.
What was going here? Why such a wide range of reactions to my writing?
After mulling this over I realized that enlightenment is a Buddhist concept. For folks who have not read much about Buddhism the idea of enlightenment probably has very little currency. And then I remembered something that the linguist George Lakoff once wrote: to understand something fully you have to understand it in context. Only in context is the full meaning revealed.
And then it hit me: we have no context here in the west for understanding enlightenment. We do not understand how it might relate to our everyday life.
At this point you may well be wondering: what’s the big deal, Rich? Why is this so important? After all, it is not as if the future of the human race depends on our knowing this.
But that is just the point. The future of humanity may very well depend on our knowing this!
I have included a number stories from my life to help illustrate what I am trying to convey. But there is one experience I have not wanted to share. I have told very few people about it. My wife keeps saying: please tell me that you are NOT going to write about that experience! You don’t want to embarrass yourself. Please.
But I have worked myself into a corner. When people ask me why I have spent 6 years working on this website, nothing I can say makes sense unless they know about this incident.
Sorry my dear, but here goes.
One Sunday afternoon in 1986 I got a phone call from an old friend in Boston. I was living in Menlo Park, CA and had not seen him for over a year. He said he was calling to invite me to a meeting that was to take place the following Friday up in Tiburon just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. There would be three people there, he said, who were “extra-terrestrials” and they had important information to share with us. He thought I would want to be there.
Back in the mid-eighties there was a lot of talk in the Bay Area about “extra-terrestrials”. I tried to avoid it. But I was impressed that my friend had reached out to me from all the way across the country and I decided to take it as an omen that this might be worthwhile.
Tiburon is a quiet, upscale community on the north bay close to the Golden Gate Bridge. The house where we were meeting was large, modern and had a huge bay window that looked out over the bay to San Francisco. As soon as we walked in we were dazzled by the lights and city skyline across the bay. The view by itself made the trip up here worthwhile. We were greeted by two men and a woman who described themselves as “walk-ins” i.e. they were using bodies of humans (with their permission) on a temporary basis in order that they might communicate their message directly to us.
Of course, the rational mind resists this story. Surely these were nothing more than human beings claiming to be extra-terrestrials. But if this were true, then we have another mystery: how did these human beings develop such incredible energy?
I have done a lot of energy work. I have been with many people who have strong energy fields. But I have never experienced anything that remotely compares to the energy in the room that night. This energy was so strong that it disoriented my own consciousness. That night and all the following day I was completely disoriented. On Saturday afternoon I drove to the ocean with the hope that the incoming waves might calm me down. Instead, I had the same experience which I would have 20 years later when I awakened, except this first time, I didn’t awaken.
Whoever these people were their energy was powerful!
There are only two choices to explain what happened that night and neither is plausible: extra-terrestrials or humans with mysterious energy.
Whatever they were they made a big impact on me. I decided to take seriously what they told us that night.
The Message from the “extra-terrestrials”
The extra-terrestrials claimed that we humans were placed here on earth by beings from other planets. According to them, there are many different life forms that exist throughout the universe and, from the comments they made, it would appear that these beings interact harmoniously. When they discovered planet earth, they saw it as a place where a new kind of life form might be able to live. They decided to conduct an experiment by introducing human life here. Then they watched from afar to see what would happen.
These walk-ins gave us no details about how or when all this came about. It is not clear, for example, whether they introduced our physical bodies, our human consciousness, or both. Nor did they tell us when in the evolutionary unfolding of life this occurred. But contrary to what science teaches, our existence here is not an accidental outcome of the big bang.
We were put here for a purpose.
What the extra-terrestrials hoped to learn (or maybe I should say what they hoped we would learn) they did not say. But they made one thing very clear: we have failed badly at whatever they had in mind for us. We have gotten off the track from the kind of life the extra-terrestrials envisioned for us.
If we do not turn our situation around, the destiny of the human race will not have a happy ending!
But there is room for hope. Humanity still has time (at least we did in 1986) to turn this around and get into alignment with the way we were supposed to be.
30 Years of Pondering
It has been over 30 years since that evening with the extra-terrestrials. I have been left to ponder:
- What are we supposed to be like?
- Where have we gone wrong?
- What do we need to do to fix it?
There were a few conclusions I could draw from that evening’s discussion. Whatever it is that we have done wrong is fundamental to our human nature. This is far deeper than climate change or our current political wars.
Two possibilities come to mind:
- Something that we fundamentally need is missing, or
- We have taken on characteristics that are out of alignment with our true nature.
- Perhaps both are true. If something important is missing, we may have compensated for this loss by over-using other characteristics.
The issue, I am convinced, is structural. It is inherent in the very way we experience life itself. It has to do with how we understand the nature of reality. It has to do with how we understand who or what we are and why we are here.
And if you want a one sentence summary, it would be something like this:
We have developed the mind; now we need to strengthen our heart.
I would like to be able to tell you that, ever since that night, I have worked tirelessly to discover and disseminate the message of the Extra-terrestrials. But I cannot, because I did not do that it.
I went back to living my life as before. But there were some memories I could not forget. There was my confusion and disorientation. There was my experience of the Great Void out at the ocean the next day. And of course there was the warning we received that night.
But there did not seem to be anything that I could do about it. My life returned to normal. I continued on with my personal journey. I continued forward with my professional journey. And 25 years later, I awoke.
It is only now, as I try to sort through people’s reactions to what I have written, that I have come to understand why I feel so compelled to get this website right. Perhaps there is a link between enlightenment and what the ET’s told us that night.
Maybe enlightenment is not some rarefied state that only a few people can attain. Perhaps it is how we all were expected to live life. Maybe the message from the ET’s was that enlightenment is our birthright for living life and somewhere along the way we lost touch with it. If enlightenment is indeed our birthright, then it should not be that difficult for us to attain.
There is one last experience with the ET’s I would like to tell you about.
The purpose of the Friday night meeting was to invite us to a more in-depth retreat to be held in Sedona. I had signed up to attend but my wife had a fit (the only one during our 55 years of marriage!). She called a teacher we had been working with and he did a distant reading of the ETs. He said he did not know who or what they were but their energy would tear me apart.
I knew this to be true and so I called them to cancel.
I was nervous about calling. I am always uncomfortable when I have to back out of a commitment I have made. And what does one say to an ET?
I got the woman ET on the phone and explained my situation. She was immediately sympathetic and understanding. But then something happened that I have never experienced before or since. As we talked, I felt pressure start to build in the center of my heart. It got stronger, stronger and still stronger. I could feel it push up against the inside wall of my heart. The feeling of love was overwhelming. A peace and calm settled over me. Everything was just fine!
Later I wondered: Could we all do this? Could we connect directly with one another with our hearts? Could we all experience such over-whelming love?
Is this our lost destiny?