Dannion Brinkley


This is a story I wrote years ago right after it happened and after I had published my first book, WindWalker: Journey into Science, Self, and Spirit (2000). It’s a great story, but didn’t fit into my Guru book either. I would like to get it out there for others and want to thank Dannion Brinkley for the experience. For those that don’t know, Dannion is a international motivational speaker and the best selling author of Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received, and several other books. Meeting him was a real adventure. Experiencing his Klini bed was a real honor–as well as quite of an experience. Read on…

The Chamber

I had asked Mel, Dannion Brinkley’s cousin and a friend of mine, if Dannion would let me try out his Klini “bed.”  Mel had told me about the bed, and I had subsequently read about it in one of Dannion’s books. It was some sort of bed that put people into an altered state of consciousness.  Among other things, Dannion used the bed in his hospice and advocacy work with veterans.

Mel helped Dannion organize and keep track of his busy appearance schedule. They grew up together in Aiken, SC. Mel talked to Dannion about my meeting him and experiencing his Klini bed. Dannion had sent word back to me through Mel that, yes, he would be at his old home place in Aiken, SC, and he would let me experience the chamber and the bed. Chamber? I thought it was a bed of some type? Nonetheless, I felt truly privileged that he had agreed. Mel later told me that Dannion only invited a few people to his house to use this special chamber. It was his family’s home and where he grew up. He stayed there when he was in Aiken from all his world travels, which were extensive. I felt greatly honored.

Dannion was a true Warrior, even though his work now is that of a healer, teacher, and advisor. If ever there was a Platonic copy that reflected the Ideal Warrior, Dannion was it. He stands about 6’3” and was striking with his red hair and goatee. Women’s heads turned when he passed. At age 56, he still looked in top shape and not someone with whom you would want to tangle. On top of all this, he was brilliant and talented. Among his many talents were his psychic abilities, which were substantial. To encounter Dannion was be a real head trip. Before his first near death experience (NDE), he was just your everyday black ops commando sort of guy.

He started this illustrious career as an angry boy in Aiken, getting in fights with anyone that would take him on and in general, raising hell. By the time he was in high school, he had to go out of town to find someone to fight him. Such was his reputation and abilities. As a young adult, the local police knew him well, and usually sent him home when they caught him out drinking and getting into his general mischievous activities. They did not want to tangle with him physically. He was likable even then.

Vietnam came and he joined the armed services. His talents and abilities being recognized, he was trained in special operations. He was a hit man. He would go out in the jungle alone, sitting for days to take out specific high ranking enemy targets. After Vietnam, he moved on to help out the CIA with similar activities in South America. A very talented guy. Then came his first NDE.

Dannion writes about his near death experiences in his book,  Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received. As his story goes, while talking to his mother on the phone one evening during a thunderstorm, he had just remarked that they really should get off the phone so that they would not get electrocuted. (Remember the days of telephone lines, before cordless versions or cell phones?) Lightening struck, and he was glued to the ceiling by the powerful electrical charge that came through the telephone line. If it had not been for his wife at the time, who was a nurse, he probably would have died. It took him years to recover from the neurological and physical damage from this near fatal accident. It ended his career as a hired killer, and turned him down the path of a peaceful warrior. He still suffered greatly from intense pain from those injuries.


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Dancing with the Dragon

Bandido and his dragon, Chaos, guarding my Shadow cave and its “treasures”. She lies asleep here in the lake of my great unconscious. .

Just finished a three-day Zen sesshin. For those who don’t remember from my earlier posts and writings, these are intense meditation retreats where one is in sitting meditation (zazen) for about nine hours a day. These days involve rounds of multiple sittings, broken up between with walking meditation (kinhin).

For me, these have never been fun. They are hard and often involve unpleasant internal work; and usually, for me, are accompanied by a lot of discomfort and pain from the long hours of sitting. On this one for example, I had to make a run during one of our breaks to my chiropractor. My T7 vertebrae began screaming out almost from the start. I usually try to get into see him for an adjustment before a sesshin, but too many things were going on before, and I hadn’t made it this time. Having to get out like that is scattering when you come back and try to merge back into your sittings.

Again, many of you may ask, so why does he do these things again? I wrote a blog post on that just recently, but need to expand on it some, as it will be a section or chapter in one of my book projects. Basically, though, it is for the spiritual and personal growth they promote.

In my lifetime quest to cultivate peace-of-mind and personal growth, such intense experiences as these, along with vision quests, really make you stand and face your own shit! That deep inner stuff most of us would really prefer not to know about much less face. It’s called our Shadow, which I also need to write a separate post.

Shadow is those instinctual, suppressed parts of ourselves that reside down in our subconscious. Meaning, we are usually unaware of them and try to keep them stuffed down, or hide them when they do come up. They come up when we are stressed, inebriated, tired, and, of course, in our dreams. Shadow is those parts of ourselves we really don’t want to know about much less face. Well guess what, during sesshins, Shadow is out, unchained. Enters, my dragon, Chaos. She’s out, and I have to dance with her if I want to move forward in my life.


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Desert Wildness

Desert mountains of Chihauhuan Desert of Texas

“Fuck!” Bandido exclaimed as he removed his smelly cigar from his mouth and looked over at first, Chaos, then at me with an accusatory eye. “You’r waking her up,” and sighed, heading over to her, I assumed, to calm her down. Walking away, he said over his shoulder, “It’s our damn desert calling to again.”

I had awoken early this morning with my anxiety way up about 1) tomorrow would be the last day of my counseling career as we did our last equine-assisted psychotherapy day at our boys’ school. We had been taking the horses out to for some 14 years now and earning a good salary for doing it, and it that only involved being out there four days a month. My income was about to take a major nosedive! But, what Bandido was referring to was #2: about another trip out to the desert of Big Bend National Park, 1500 miles of driving one way, in the Chihauhuan Desert in far West Texas.

Those few that have read my two books, especially the Guru one, know, Bandido and his sidekick, Chaos, his dragon, are my Jungian Shadow complex. Bandido is the dragon keeper. His job is to keep Chaos calm and mainly sleeping. She’s the dragon that guards my inner-most sanctum, those repressed parts of myself that I’d rather not deal with or admit to. Although, at this late stage in my life her “treasure,” my stash of issues and repressions that she guards, is greatly diminished hopefully. Thank goodness. I’ll have more to say about these two in later posts on Shadow work and individuation.

Briefly though, Bandido is rude, crude, doesn’t miss words. He shoots straight to the point. He is not very civilized, so to speak. He is my alter ego. He’s the part of me that comes out when I’m pissed, anxious, or just irritated, for example. Stupid irritates me. And there was a lot of stupid running around the last four years. I like him. He takes after my heart. What’s this about the desert then?

The desert, or rather its wildness, calls to me in times of transition. I am now neck-deep in transition as I leave my old life in mental health counseling and aim to devote what lefts of it in these sunset years to discern and follow my calling, which is basically about writing and teaching to help others in their own spiritual and personal growth. To be clear, when I use the word “spiritual,” I define it as inner-peace and personal growth.

I have been in a series of personal transitions over the last several years. My first was back in 1998 when I was leaving academia and giving up my tenured professorship. Over the last recent years, I have felt the need and taken trips to the desert in 2015, 2017, and 2019. I have a biannual pattern going here. So a trip in 2021 would fit into that pattern. That’s not why I’m going, though. Rather, like I said, I am amid another major life transition, and that is calling me. I need to go out to spend some clarifying time out in the desert.

Now, this is more vision-quest type time. It’s intense, alone, and camping out in the desert; experiencing her directly and head-on. Experiencing her wildness! What do I mean by “desert wildness”?


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Synchronicity: Discerning a Path in the Darkness

I’m a true believer in synchronicity. It happens to me mostly when I am in the midst of a major life transition, which is where I find myself right now.

Psychologist Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud, defined synchronicity as the simultaneous co-occurrence of two events that seemingly have no discernible causal connection. I discuss three of these during a major life transition I was going through in my first book, WindWalker: Journey into Science, Self, and Spirit, available for now through this website (darrellyardley.com) directly from me.

One of those synchronicity events was when I had walked out of my office at the university and over to get on my Harley to go home. I had only recently realized that I wanted to make a major change in direction in my life, a calling that had been subliminally calling to me for years, but I had ignored and shoved down. That calling was to leave my academic, research career in evolutionary genetics and go into mental health counseling. I was pondering this as I walked out to my Harley that day, wondering how I could go about making that change.

My Harley was usually the only one in the motorcycle parking area, but that day, sitting right beside mine, was another beautiful Harley. As I was looking over at it and getting on my riding leathers, upped walked its owner. We stood there and talked for a few minutes. He said he was just coming back from completing is last course for getting his counseling degree. This immediately got my interest. Was I not just thinking about that? I didn’t even know Clemson University offered degrees in counseling. I had checked into it but with the Psychology Department. This degree program was through Education. Several days later, I found myself enrolled in my first course in the program. Classes were held in the evenings and so would not interfere with my faculty “day job.” Plus, as faculty, I could take one course a semester for free!

Enters my current life transition, having decided that after 23 years, I am through with counseling, and terminating my contract with the boys schools we have been doing horse therapy (equine-assisted counseling) with for 14 years. I am in a discernment phase now 1) trying to decide what my callings are in this late stage of my life; and 2) the need to find an additional source of income to replace some of the income I am loosing from the boys school. Something that involves using my callings.

I know a lot of the pieces (the #1’s), just not yet how to pull them together to accomplish #2,. One of those pieces was to go deeper into my Zen Buddhist spiritual practice. In this regard, the COVID pandemic and the extensive use of Zoom actually works in my favor toward this end. I am now a participating member, mainly via Zoom, with the Windhorse Zen Community, about 90 miles away, near Alexandria, NC. Now, back to synchronicity…


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