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Excerpt from "The Narrow Gate: A Journey Through Identity, Belief and Perception"

by Joe Danna


Given retrospectively through the character of Salvatore DeSanti, this universally themed fiction is set to a backdrop of real events in my lifetime. Although for some the presentation may be difficult to understand, I hope this will serve to stimulate concentration and develop a sustained attention in the reader.

The transmission considers different levels of receptivity in its audience; therefore, its approach from various angles may be repetitive to some, yet necessary to the assimilation of others who are unfamiliar with the genre.

Please be assured that references to the harmful conveyances of authority figures and belief systems aren’t made with the intent to place blame. Depictions of unfortunate events related to persons and religions are presented in the light that people often act without questioning the dominant forces in their lives.

Many of the ideas are shown metaphorically while gravitating toward the positive pole of growth. The concept of forgiveness is examined with the acknowledgment that it can sometimes be difficult and at times thought impossible to do. My intention is to bring this difficulty into the light of a broader perspective where the potential to see beyond our ego-personalities and perceived capabilities waits to be recognized. I hope to bring clarity to the truth that nothing seen as external changes until change occurs within us. Only then, can we begin to understand why we are better off not to freeze-frame ourselves in the past with an attitude of resentment.

The book embraces the A Course in Miracles concept that we are all of One Source, and that there is but one sin and one solution. But I don’t make a religion of ACIM, believing it is subject to each person’s interpretation as are other philosophies revolving around the same concepts. Drawing from the belief we are more than physical beings, my writing traverses the strata between superficial, habitual thought and transformational thinking; opening the way to conscious self-actualization.

The material is a showcase for the changing degrees of identity between the poles of Salvatore’s ego and Spirit while he stands at the gateway to the mystical science of thought, as electromagnetic energy with vibration governed by natural laws. Cultivating the seeds of a new perspective proves to be a painstaking process for the questioning Salvatore, who wrestles with his humanness to the end.

The terms Natural Law, Spiritual Law, and Universal Law may be used interchangeably as are Absolute Reality, Christ Consciousness, Universal Mind, Universal Intelligence, God, Truth, Light, Source, Infinite Wisdom, the Great Spirit, a continuum, unified field, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience, the Holy Spirit, The All, Perfect Love, First Cause, and the Highest Vibration—to show how universal truth transcends human terminologies and is the crux of all the great religions of the world.

To avoid confusion, I will take this time to say Salvatore’s interdimensional experience, the one which begins on the first stairwell landing of the Victorian he calls home in chapter six, continues to take place on the stairwell through to chapter thirteen.

I'd also like to alert readers from or familiar with Gloucester, Massachusetts, that the geography of the city was changed in places to suit the continuity of the story.

Chapter Five

There are No Accidents

Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you another eye, the eye of wisdom.

Sri Yukteswar


’ve often heard that it’s best to live each day to the fullest and discovered why the following day at work. My buddy, Jack, told me I was knocked unconscious when a storage bin collapsed. A concrete wall broke its descent, but not short of the top of my head. I knew nothing of this accident except what I was told. My only recollection was of our morning break, a flood of colors, and then finding myself in a church full of people.

Feeling disoriented as though emerging from the residue of a daydream I couldn’t recall, I stood in a pew. There was no reason for me to think I had been knocked unconscious in some other life. I was in the church, and the life I was living there was the only life I knew.

“Feeling okay, brother?” Ray asked, the man sitting next to me.

“I’m fine, thanks, just a little dizzy from the heat—I guess,” I replied woozily.

I watched Suzanne, an elder of the Gospel Searchlight Church, stride purposefully to her place adjacent to the pulpit in her gray, ankle-length dress, as though assigning herself guardian of all things sacred.

Listening intently as the pastor rose to speak, nothing he said reached inside of me to revitalize my life. I needed relativity—something to ring true on Sundays, but all I got were contradictions and proclamations pointing to the possibility of eternal separation from God, and people wanting to hold my hand.

I questioned whether I had a reprobate mind—a term used to describe the spiritually incorrigible as parishioners whispered, “Blasphemer” and “Plucked right from the flock!”

They thought I lacked faith because I asked too many questions.

Suzanne told me that the Holy Spirit would shut the door of reformation in my face for becoming amused when a woman in the church spun her head wildly, her hair whipping around in a two-foot radius as she spoke in tongues.

I was rejected and denied the promise of the unconditional love I’d so often heard about, but never felt from these haughty-eyed people—especially from the women with their beehive hairdos.

During the Sunday service, a church acquaintance by the name of Sandy sat nervously at a 90-degree angle across from me. She appeared shaken, as though she’d just drunk a pot of strong coffee. Sandy looked like she was having an anxiety attack.

When I had symptoms, I tried to hide them in the hope no one would notice, so approaching the subject with Sandy would be done in a diplomatic way at another time. Anxiety and panic disorder was frustrating, and I thought that if she had it maybe we could develop a supportive relationship. Just having someone to talk with might have helped to lighten her burden, and maybe a dose of humor would go a long way. At least I knew joking about it helped me between episodes.

I expected the compassion I felt for Sandy to bear fruit in some way; but through a turn of events, I discovered the universe sets a time and place for everything. I wouldn’t be talking with Sandy anytime soon. Further into the sermon I looked to where she was sitting, but she wasn't there. When I asked where she had gone, some of the male members of the church laughingly told me, “Sandy flipped out,” and pointed toward the window. I saw Sandy standing outside. She was crying while talking with Suzanne. A van pulled up with two men inside who got out to help Sandy in, apparently against Suzanne’s wishes—and they drove away. Suzanne came back inside, brittle and stone-faced as ever, and sat in her place near the podium. Whatever happened in the last twenty minutes concerning Sandy was yet to come to light. But there was nothing I could do. She was gone.

I turned to watch an elderly black woman visiting from the south light the platform at the front of the church with her elegance as she prepared to sing, adorned in a pristine, yellow gown. Her facial expression radiated such warmth that I wanted to stay, but as the target of Suzanne’s scowl, I felt uneasy and like an unwanted guest. Unable to withstand her unrelenting assaults on my psyche, my footsteps reverberated to dissociating stares as I left the church feeling defeated for the last time.

Making my way to a quiet patch of grass amongst the tall pines across the street, I sat to the angelic tones of Amazing Grace echoing from the walls of the church as the lovely old woman sang. I reached into my pocket for the picture of Jesus my mother had given me, which grew noticeably warm in my hand—and while seeking forgiveness for wrongs I didn’t even know, I held to what faith remained in the promise of asking.

A tingling sensation ran through my body and I caught the scent of lilac as a vaguely familiar woman wearing a white shawl appeared sitting next to me. Her skin was startlingly translucent and she smiled softly, comforting me.

After repositioning me gently by my shoulders to face her, she held my hands and with indigo eyes, looked through to the depths of me. Her lips didn’t move, yet she conveyed to me distinctly, emphatically, “Life is about being”.

A softness of every color of the rainbow surrounded us when she pressed something solid against my palm. As I sat motionless in the aura of her kindness, I saw moving across upper space in front of me, Holy Symbols of Truth shining more silver than silver. The Symbols dispelled all illusions of separation from the Omnipresence of God. A final display in verse read:

“Forgiveness is the recognition of everything you already have inherent in your creation. You do not lack forgiveness from God. You only need remember, and to forgive one another. This is the narrow gate to truth and the pathway of absolution”.

In that timeless moment, I knew the peace that passeth understanding and the unity of everything. A voice began calling to me from a distance, becoming louder to the point of urgency.

“Sal, are you all right under there? Wake up—Sal!”

“Who are you?” I asked as a hum faded from my ears and tingling warmth radiated from the palm of my right hand to the crown of my head. Then it dawned on me that I was back at my workplace laying on the concrete floor, apparently where my accident had taken place. The fallen storage bin lay suspended one foot above, keeping me out of full view.

“What do you mean who am I, Salvatore? It’s Jack. Are you alright under there?”

“I’m okay,” I answered; still unaware of exactly what had happened.

There was increasing heat in my right hand, and when visually inspecting what I thought to be a wound, I saw what appeared to be an exquisite, crystalline object glistening in an array of colors. I jostled to get into a position enabling me to move my hand toward my face for a closer look. Holding the strangely transparent object to my eyes, I gazed into it when what unfolded both fascinated and baffled me.

I’d heard that colors have an effect on people, but these colors were permeated with a certain lusciousness, activating sensations new to me. I was swimming in a rainbow of awe until the creaking of the metallic storage bin I lay under distracted me. Heavy footwear scurried near as I peered out from under the bin. Despite the danger looming above, my thoughts gravitated to the magnificence of my find, which cooled as I tucked it into my pocket.

Two paramedics snaked their way under the bin and slid me out of danger. Following a quick examination, they fastened me to a flat-board and carried me to an awaiting ambulance. I was rushed to the local hospital emergency room and admitted for 24 hours of observation.

Bewilderment and joyfulness were what I would have considered strange bedfellows, but that was the emotional tone blanketing me as I lay in my hospital bed. Images of people in a church flooded my mind, leaving me confused as to why. More confounding was the certainty that I knew them. I was just talking with someone there, but couldn’t remember whom. I had been there in that place or why was it so real, just like life before and after my accident?

Even if there was truth to the idea of bilocation, I still couldn’t wrap my mind around how I could be in two places at once. Could a ding to the head be medical grounds for strange ideations of a separate reality? Wherever I’d been, I knew the people and didn’t think of here from there. Some say the answers we seek are in our questions, but I got none.

Exhaustion rolled over me like an opiate fog bank, but before I reached the shores of slumber, I felt the incessant nagging of some unfinished task. Sandy! Wait a minute. Who was Sa—?

A nurse woke me to take my blood pressure after an unusually long sleep brought me to the next day. Afterwards, while lying on the hospital bed, I understood why I had always heard that in dream studies it was important to log your dreams immediately upon waking. But on this occasion, it was events of the previous day that were becoming foggy at best.

I struggled to piece fragments of memory together in some type of order. Thoughts of a church associated with a sense of displacement, a picture of Jesus, and images of a loving mother figure along with an incredible sense of exaltation, were all passing away quickly—like strands in the wind.

Excitement rose in my chest as though I awaited the final scene of a melodramatic opera. But the fleeting pictures on my mental screen faded to black and I forgot everything with a final, receding wave.

Despite failed efforts to remember, it was the afterglow I basked in that left a sense of something too real to be misconstrued as a dream or an injury-induced hallucination. Whatever the case, my absence of memory digressed to the dismal feeling of losing the love of my life at sixteen. The first love that slipped so easily right through the palm of my—“THE GEMSTONE!”

The nurse was still in the room and jumped when I bellowed, “Nurse, where are my clothes? Bring me my pants!”

“Your clothes are right there in the closet, Mr. DeSanti,” murmured the discombobulated nurse. “I’ll get them for you.”

I couldn’t restrain myself when the nurse, distracted by a crash outside the room, changed her course. Barely dressed, I rose from the bed and raced to look behind the door to where my clothing hung. While probing my pants pocket, my fingers found the annoying hole loose change had poured through twice the previous day. Fumbling to find the other pocket, my knuckle bumped something hard as I slid my hand inside. I felt the smooth solidity of tangibility—at last.

My breathing and movements slowed as I retrieved my trembling hand from this pocket of serendipity. In my palm rested the crystalline proof that what we think to be dreams may very well be actualities.

Learning often happens indirectly, and in a relapse of what would become known as inter-dimensional experiences the difference between remembering and reliving would grow apparent in the succession of my imminent thoughts.

Joe Danna has been a member of The Rosicrucian Order (A.M.O.R.C.) since 1976. His spiritual beliefs and profession as a neuromuscular therapist have nurtured an interest in the subtle functions of the endocrine system and the psychology of the body. Through his contemplations and studies of A Course in Miracles and the Hermetic philosophy of The Kybalion, his most profound inspirations occurred after he acknowledged the essence of all life as One. What started as a short story developed its own momentum, compelling him to write what evolved to The Narrow Gate, A Journey Through Identity, Belief and Perception. Joe is a Gloucester, Mass. native who currently resides in New Hampshire where he runs pain relief and relaxation clinics. His book can be ordered through Barnes & Noble and most bookstores, and purchased at http://www.jpdanna.com for $15.95 plus $2.00 for s/h. Also available at the stores listed on his website as well as through Ingram distributors.


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