Faber – Nelson County, Virginia
Update 12:00 Noon
A 2PM EST press conference has been set at Synchronicity. We will have additional details from there shortly after it ends.
As feared, and as NCL has been alluding to in recent reports, we received absolute confirmation this morning that Alan Scherr and his 13 year old daughter Naomi were gunned down by the terrorists in the Mumbai, India siege. “We sadly have confirmation that both Alan and his daughter were killed by the attackers. Master Charles Cannon identified the bodies after he and the others were able to get out of the hotel,” said Bobbie Garvey of Synchronicity based in Nelson County, Virginia.
Garvey says all of the other members in the Synchronicity group are accounted for and will be returning to the U.S. as soon as possible. “Master Charles Cannon will be staying behind with the bodies to eventually return with them to the states,” she continues.
Scherr who was the president at Synchronicity put his thoughts down in words about his conversion and joining Master Charles Cannon at Synchronicity in the mid 90’s. Here is the direct link, but we have also placed the writing in its entirety here. Out thoughts and prayers are with everyone at the Synchronicity Foundation in the coming days.
My Life With a Contemporary Master
25 years of Eastern meditation brought me to the feet of a Western Master.
By ALAN SCHERR
IT IS ABOUT 7:30 PM in mid-April, 1994 and I am sitting in the second-row aisle seat of a large round room in a small town called Faber in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. I have come to a place called Synchronicity Sanctuary to meet Master Charles, a man who is described as a contemporary mystic and Master of meditation.
Perhaps it is a mixture of curiosity and a compelling sense of destiny that brings me to this remote place, after spending the last 25 years of my life in close connection with a well-known Eastern Master. At the moment, however, what I notice is that my heart is pounding out of my chest and I am buzzing all over with electric energy. Thirty minutes remain before Master Charles is scheduled to arrive, and I am sitting on the edge of my seat, enveloped in an expanding awareness that can barely be contained. Minutes pass while others enter and find their seats, yet I remain nearly transfixed by an energy that keeps pouring into me and through me. It is pleasure almost to the point of unbearable ecstasy.
Suddenly, music begins to fill the room from huge speakers placed on opposite sides. It is a sweet rendition of “Guru Ram Dass,” I am told later, that is used as Master Charles’ entrance music. As everyone stands, I watch him enter through a side entrance and walk down the aisle past me to a seat on a slightly raised platform in front of the room. I cannot feel anything at all now; my eyes are glued to his form as he seats himself and the music slowly fades into the sound of ocean waves.
The room is dimly lit and a deep, musky scent fills the air. A spotlight barely illuminates his face as he begins to say softly, “I take this opportunity to welcome you… in the awareness of our Oneness.” I am taking in his every word and gesture with my eyes, while I feel my heart melting and my head reeling, opiated beyond understanding. I am drunk and I do not know why or how. I am confused and I don’t care. I want more and yet I am beyond all wanting. Everything inside me that is truthful is saying, “Pay attention, you are in the presence of your destiny.”
Such things do not happen to me. Others have related to me their experiences in similar terms, but my spiritual life has been, for the most part, ordinary and unexceptional. Twenty-five years of diligent meditation have yielded much transformation and unfolding to be sure, but nothing like this has ever appeared in my life. I float through the rest of the two-hour meeting in a cloud of bliss, happy without reason or past or future.
He is many-faceted in his presentation that evening. There is sober commentary on the importance of meditative experience, peppered with lively and often hysterically funny insights into the myriad ways people misinterpret masters. Every major spiritual tradition is acknowledged in satirical form. Current events are analyzed in the light of their overblown importance, and a celebratory atmosphere overtakes the room. For a time, he becomes the cosmic jester, using body language, gestures, and all manner of facial expressions to underscore the endless entertainment that is the human condition.
At once, I am confronted with an enigma. Obviously sitting before me is a most potent transmitter of spiritual energy and purity of intention, but without the air of aloof inaccessibility and cultural elitism I had so often experienced in the presence of Eastern masters. Here was someone from my own culture, unpretentious and available, fully aware and connected to modern life in all its complexity, who had most demonstrably realized the full potential of life. It was apparent that I had a lot of unlearning to do.
I walked half stumbling out of the hall that evening back to the country road that led to the guesthouse I was staying in. It was a warm April night and the air was fragrant with the scent of apple blossoms, green woods, and the musky scent of perfume that clung to my clothing from the meeting room. The Milky Way shone clear in the sky above me and I walked weightlessly and carefree the short half mile to my room. My mind was expanded and subtle electricity vibrated all over my body. Master Charles’ entrance music still played on in my ears and I felt full. Nothing needed to be done or could have been added to This.
Arriving in my room, I remembered having promised my wife a phone call after the meeting to share with her my new experience, as she was unable to join me for the weekend program due to a prior commitment. We talked, and as I attempted to convey to her some of what I had seen and felt, she stopped me in mid-sentence to share her own experience. What she had to say was remarkable. During the hours I was in the meeting with Master Charles, she had felt an experiential awareness that mirrored my own. The very same opening of the heart… the expansion of awareness and dizzying opiation… everything! Her words literally completed the story I had begun to tell her when I called! We were stunned by this realization and simultaneously recognized the immense importance of this synchronicity. Little did we know at that moment how radically our lives were about to shift.
As the summer drifted by, we were anxious to return to Master Charles, together this time, and move deeper into the process that had begun so magically a few months before. In August, we committed ourselves to a week-long in-residence program with Master Charles. My wife was five months pregnant and it seemed the fullness that she was becoming on the outside mirrored the awareness we were both becoming on the inside. We were both immediately captivated by the power of the energy that constantly reverberated throughout the sanctuary, and which was most intense in Master Charles’ presence. It was an undeniable experience of blissful intoxication, at once crystal clear and euphoric while intensely purifying.
We both felt what must have been years or lifetimes of habitual patterns of stagnation and fear rise to the surface and dissipate in an instant. This was no mild or meek contemplative oasis, but rather a full-on, intense expansion of awareness and clearing catalyzed by the presence of a living Source so potent that not even a stone could remain unmoved. Added to this was Master Charles’ system of contemporary meditation: a cutting edge application of sound technology he had originated some 25 years earlier under the name of Synchronicity High-Tech Meditation. It was the first and only meditative system I knew of that required no instruction or preparation. I saw people who had never been exposed to anything like meditation, put on a set of headphones and within minutes experience the subtle energy and expanded awareness that normally come only after months or years of practice.
I myself, a 25-year practitioner and teacher of meditation in the traditional Eastern model, had moved light years beyond my previous experience when first introduced to Synchronicity technology. It was that encounter which first drew me to investigate further into what or who was behind it all.
At the conclusion of the week’s program at Synchronicity, Master Charles took a moment or two to individually bid each participant farewell. Usually, I was told, there is an embrace and a few words are exchanged. Awaiting my turn, I stood next to my wife watching each person say their good-byes while beautiful harp music, reserved only for these occasions, filled the room. It was a heart-opening moment for me, and as my time came to walk over to where he stood, an impulse arose in my awareness that I had noticed in the background throughout the week. Though it came out of a very pure place within me, I dared not entertain it then, knowing that in its fruition, my life would be radically and inalterably changed, pulling my wife and yet unborn child along with me.
Quite suddenly, I found myself before Master Charles with a simple piece of fruit in hand as a token offering. He accepted it gracefully, acknowledging the gift, and invited me into a brief but warm embrace. His energy seemed to move right through me, enlivening and uplifting every particle of my being. I felt a mixture of joyous ecstasy and sweet sadness welling up as tears filled my eyes. Then, looking directly at him, I thanked him for the uncountable gifts and blessings I had received since I first met him. At that moment, as I spoke, my soul’s intention rushed forth, placing words on my lips I could not say to myself but could not withhold from him. “It’s my intention to move here with my family and be with you,” I said. His face lit up with a broad smile. “Just have the intention and see what happens,” he answered. I thanked him and returned to my seat.
Wave after wave of emotion moved through me, from joyous ecstasy to the pain of separation. I realized that in stating my intention to him, I had revealed to myself what I really wanted, a desire both noble and seemingly impossible. Here I was, a householder with a child on the way — not the most opportune time to make such a choice. And yet, I found myself doing just that. The means were unclear and the timing beyond knowing, but the intention was clear. And, with his assistance, I believed the way would reveal itself.
As he prepared to leave the room, the now familiar music began and I stood next to the aisle to be near him one last time. As he passed, something occurred that was beyond my understanding at the time but since then has revealed itself to me. He reached out and touched my shoulder briefly with his hand.
What followed soon after that farewell proved to be the start of the most difficult trial I have ever faced (and hopefully will ever face) in my entire life. Fresh from my confession that I intended to move my family and be in his company, I was filled with joyful expectations of support from all sides, allowing me to gradually extricate myself from a three-job work life and a large, expensive suburban home. My wife and I excitedly discussed the possibilities of beginning a new life and I imagined arriving at Synchronicity in a position to purchase a nice country home and become self-sufficient, offering my services to Master Charles as I was able.
It was not to be. In fact, piece by piece, everything I had acquired or accomplished began to fall away, as if by design. Three jobs became two, and then one. I scrambled to find work as the floor seemed to collapse beneath my feet. The faster I ran, the further I had to reach, and it seemed that my world was reflecting back to me a picture that I could not (or would not) look at. With a family to support, it was an extremely difficult and fearful trial.
Over a period of two years, I went through a journey to hell and back a hundred times. Every attempt at keeping up the facade of my life as a suburban householder, resulted in failure and bitter disappointment. The more stubbornly I held on to an idealized vision of material success as my savior and goal, the more elusive it became. Through it all, I maintained contact with Master Charles via facilitators who phoned me regularly with questions and messages from him about my process. These contacts served as my oasis in the dry and dark times, keeping the thread of my faith in life alive in my heart when everything else was reflecting the futility of my efforts back to me.
SOMETIME IN THE autumn of 1996, I surrendered.
IT IS DECEMBER 1996 and there is a 26-foot moving van in the driveway of my five-bedroom suburban home. All our possessions are packed in boxes and, along with my wife and daughter, we are finally setting out on our journey to fulfill the intention I had stated to Master Charles two years before. What lay ahead for us was unknown. I had secured a job as chef in a local restaurant as a means of providing us with enough income to rent a nice chalet-style house in the woods on some farm property near the Synchronicity Sanctuary. That and other odd jobs served us for a little more than a year, as we gradually spent more and more time at Synchronicity.
I realized that as long as I maintained my status as a “community member,” with typical householder responsibilities, there would never be an opportunity to work closely with Master Charles and address the real purpose for which I had moved close to him. I pondered my position and the gap between where I found myself and where I really wanted to be. It seemed that I had come to an impasse… I had to support my family and yet I felt increasingly drawn to direct contact with Master Charles as a primary focus.
Then, late one afternoon, a phone call came. It was Master Charles’ personal assistant, an Australian woman I knew well from my previous times at the sanctuary. She was calling on Master Charles’ behalf to convey his request that I meet with him as soon as possible. Of course, I agreed and we set up an evening appointment later that week. I could only imagine why he wanted to meet with me, and my mind was filled with anticipation and excitement.
As I packed my briefcase on the way out the door, I allowed myself the luxury of not-knowing. I relieved myself of the need to prepare and let whatever was to happen unfold by itself. It was out of my hands, anyway. I drove up the long, steeply sloping gravel road to his residence on the top of a small mountain. I followed the instructions I was given to enter through the front portico into a slate-floored entranceway, removed my shoes, and climbed a short, winding staircase to Master Charles’ reception room.
I was struck by the subtle, almost dizzying expansion of awareness that I noticed as I entered into his personal space. A beautiful stained glass mandala overlooked a glass case filled with mementos and precious objects from his years of journeying with his teacher, the renowned Eastern mystic Paramahansa Muktananda. I was soon greeted by a personal assistant, graciously offered tea, and invited to join Master Charles on his enclosed porch. I was led through a hallway and office space to a sliding glass door that opened to where he was waiting. Each step towards him was another step up in the increasing intensity I felt as my moment with him approached. My heart was pounding noticeably and my breathing was deliberate and deep. I felt I needed all the air I could draw in.
As I entered, the way he was seated revealed his profile, and as he turned towards me and spoke my name in greeting, the meltdown began. I felt my control begin to relax as the energy that he is penetrated deeply through all my attempts at propriety. I sat facing him full-on and felt as vulnerable and open as a child. It would not have mattered what he asked in that moment, I would have said “yes.”
He began by asking how my family and I were doing. I replied that we were happy and adapting to our new lives in the country. He nodded his approval and then, indicating he had something of importance to address , began to speak again. “What I have in mind,” he said, “is to see if you would have an interest in being the introductory speaker at our retreat programs here, orienting people to this place and its purpose. Of course, you would also speak about me and my role here and generally assist people in understanding the value of spending time here with me. Also, you could facilitate other aspects of our programs and come on board as a full-time staff member.”
I was thrilled beyond all my hopes. Here finally, was a chance to use all my teaching skills honed through fifteen years as a college professor, in a context which really spoke to my heart and soul. I said I would speak to my wife about it and let him know within 24 hours, but that it was a virtual certainty. He seemed satisfied with my response and then said, “What about your support and home? We should take a look at what you need.” I was deeply touched by his concern. I knew he was an eminently practical person down to the detail who left no area unaddressed. I told him I had been working odd jobs and managing to keep the rent paid, but really preferred to be free from householder responsibilities and give all my focus to him. He said, “If you no longer want to keep up a house, you shouldn’t have to… give me a few days and let me see what I can do.” Those words brought home the reality of what was about to happen. Who could have imagined? A Master who wanted me to work directly with him and was willing to help create a practical way for me to do it, family and all! The tide had turned and I was standing joyfully at the start of a new life for me and my family.
IT IS JUST BEFORE eight pm on a Sunday evening in early February, 1998. I am sitting in the back row of the same room I sat in when I first met Master Charles. It is the opening night of the Mastery Program, a seven day intensive experience of meditation and conscious living under the direct guidance of Master Charles. The hall is filled with people and Om Namah Shivaya, a meditative soundtrack, plays softly in the background. At the stroke of eight, I get up from my seat and walk slowly down the far left aisle to the front of the room, where I remove the microphone from its stand and bring it to my lips. A bright spotlight is shining in my eyes and I squint to see out into the rows of people who have come from all over the world to experience the energetic transmission of a contemporary mystic. I begin to speak, “On behalf of Master Charles and the Synchronicity community, I welcome you to this Mastery Program.” I am clutching carefully made notes in my right hand, but by now, with days of preparation, I no longer need them. For the next half hour, I am a detached witness of my own words, watching without thought as they flow through my lips. A warm, expanded, opiated sensation overtakes me as I tell the group of newcomers and regulars the principles of Mastership and its inestimable value for the meditators’ journey. Nearly thirty minutes pass in an instant, and the reflection of headlights from Master Charles’ car appears through the back window of the hall. I quickly conclude and find my seat as the now familiar entrance music begins.
Everyone stands and awaits the Master’s entrance. As he slips silently into the room, the already pulsating energy steps up noticeably and again I am transfixed, an iron filing drawn to a magnet. As he takes his seat, the music slowly fades, first into ocean waves and then into the special harp music played as Master Charles welcomes each guest individually with an embrace. I take my place at the back of the line and await my turn. As I approach him, he smiles and gestures with a graceful movement of his arms. We embrace for a few moments and I offer a small gift, which he accepts. Then, looking directly into my eyes he asks, “How was your debut?” with a whimsical expression in his voice. I smile and answer the only answer I could in that sweetest of moments,
“Great…..it was great.” And it was.
I was flying high, intoxicated by my own neurochemicals, the enhanced release of which, Master Charles explained, is a natural outcome of both meditation and the energetic transmission one experiences in the company of a Master. He spoke of this phenomenon and many others in the evening’s discourse that followed the welcoming. He spoke also of the freedom that can be found whenever one is totally present, here and now, in any moment. But the nature of the mind, he said, is to pull us back into our life-negative history, interpreting and judging what is happening based on stored “data” accumulated from the past rather than direct experience. Thus, we are trapped in an imbalanced cycle of habitual and fraudulent patterns of thinking and action, based on the predominance of the mind.
Meditation, he said, is the primary tool for creating balance and allowing us to experience a more expanded awareness which keeps us focused in the present moment. With regular practice, expanded awareness becomes more and more constant, and the enlightening state of being can be lived as one’s moment to moment experience. Under the tutelage of someone who is living constantly in such an enlightening state of awareness, a person can move very quickly to balance, bringing the journey full circle. The candle now becomes a torch, fully capable of assisting others in their own process and passing on the light from one generation to the next. So it was with Master Charles in his journey with his teacher, Muktananda. The Master-disciple relationship is as contemporary as it is traditional. Whatever the language and context, the basic principle is always the same.
And so, it is the new millennium. I find myself today at nearly fifty years of age. My entire adult life has been dedicated to this one purpose. It is challenging, to be sure, since the culture in which we live does not honor such a way of life. We have no cultural basis or context for Mastership. There is no “Hero’s Journey” outside the framework of material or objective accomplishment. So, it is a solitary journey for anyone serious about it. Living with an enlightening Master in a community of like-minded individuals with a daily life centered around conscious living and meditation, is for me the most truthful way to actualize my own intention. It is a simple life, free from distractions and highly focused. My family and friends sometimes ask about the seeming sacrifice of “personal freedom.” I answer that personal freedom is merely a mental construct. In practical terms, the freedom to do whatever one pleases does not deliver any significant experience of real freedom. People remain unhappy regardless of wealth, leisure time, any attainment of skill or knowledge, or any other conditional state.
For me, real freedom means living life in each moment, as it unfolds, without concepts or conditions. It is a life very few choose because it requires an orientation and re-prioritization of life that is, in many ways, antithetical to our modern Western culture. And yet, it is always available whenever one is truly focused upon self-mastery. The miracle of this life continues to unfold for me on daily basis.
Copyright 2000 Alan Scherr.
Alan Scherr, his wife Kia, and daughter Naomi have been actively involved in the Synchronicity community since moving to Maryland in 1996. Prior to that, Alan and Kia had been regular program participants, as was Naomi, in utero. Before meeting Master Charles, Alan was affiliated with the Transcendental Meditation organization for 25 years as a practitioner, teacher, and program facilitator. He was also a university faculty member in the art departments of the University of Maryland and Loyola College. Presently, Alan serves as president and administrative council member of Synchronicity Foundation, USA.