The awakening of Jerry Katz
Paula Marvelly: Was there any defining text or moment or event in your life that initiated the sense of I AM?
Certainly, as a kid I experienced events. When I was two years old, I saw myself waking up to the world and experiencing it. I knew I was having my first memory. It fascinated me as I witnessed the first memory happening. Then when I was seven years old, I realized myself as I AM.
I had different experiences up to the age of 11 – out of body experiences – where I would find myself as awareness in a starry black sky. I would look at a single star and I would focus on it and it would open up and I would recognise it as I AM. I saw I AM in different versions. Each version was like an initiation. I received several initiations into the knowledge that my true nature was I AM.
Also around ages 10-11, I had psychic visitations from two men, always the same two men. One would loudly chant a certain mantra which would penetrate me. It was another initiation. Years later I realized that the guy who chanted the mantra was probably Swami Nityananda. I never figured out who the second guy was.
Then after ages 11 or 12 I forgot about those initiations – I never knew what to do with it at those ages anyway. Around age 25, I revisited them and re-evaluated them again and explored the sense of I AM.
PM. So why did you start to re-evaluate these things again at that particular point in your life? Were you disappointed with your life?
A little but nothing like some people who talk about experiencing pain and depression – I had none of that. I only knew that I wasn’t interested in life in the same way most people were. My only interest was 'being' and exploring it in the way that made sense to me.
There was definitely an edge of seeking and exploring. I got into parapsychology. At the conference I saw someone reading a copy of Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain by Sheila Ostrander from the seventies. Many of us went through that exploration – it was a mind-opening experience reading about parapsychology as part of a journey. Then you move beyond – some people stay there, which is fine. But some move on, which I did.
Then I realized that this I AM is fundamental so I got back to looking into that.
PM. So where did that take you? You say you had a Jewish upbringing – did you find solace in the Old Testament or other Hebrew texts?
No, I went to Hebrew School at ages 11 and 12 in order to prepare for bar mitzvah, but even in Hebrew School, I would hear about Abraham and Moses and I had a sense that I was the same as they were. I didn’t think they were special. I didn’t see myself as they were in the sense that they were great legendary figures but I knew that fundamentally, I was the same as they were. I didn’t think they were special and I didn’t know why they were making a big deal out of them!
I had the sense of equality with these legendary Biblical guys because I somehow understood that we were all the I AM, although at the time I didn’t understand where that sense of equality came from.
PM. I am interested to know why you didn’t get into the Kabbalah. Perhaps, as it is for many people, when someone wants to go deeper into a teaching, they don’t go deeper into their own tradition, they investigate another.
In my seeking days I did read the Zohar and found a great resonance with yet another I AM initiation I had as a kid, which came out of a very active inner third eye. At some point there was no need for me to go to any tradition because the I AM is what I had, it was my initiation. The I AM itself was my teacher. To go anywhere elsewhere wouldn’t be the point. The I AM was the point, so I had that. At one point in seeking, I would ask myself, 'Why am I studying this? Why don’t I just focus on the I AM?'
PM. What happened then?
I was always interested in spiritual stuff, I wrote poetry into my twenties, read a lot. In 1977, when I was about 28, suddenly everything became like one day. That was when I AM became stabilized and everything was like just one day for years.
In my thirties, I knew I had to get set up for life so I worked hard to save money, I got married and tried to build up some kind of material background for myself but all the while, I was always reading, always studying, just being aware. In 1987, my wife and I moved to Nova Scotia, where she was from.
Then at some point, I guess when I was in my forties the I AM, the one day, dissolved too and then there was just this…
PM. Can you expand on that?
Well, I don’t know if I can expand on it, express it. This is just everything I see, right now …
This is just reality. I don’t really know how to express it. I was talking to Jeff Foster a couple of days ago and saying it’s not easy to express this stuff. It’s easy for him! It’s not so easy for me.
PM. Do you also mean a sense of oneness?
Not necessarily, I don’t think in terms of oneness. I don’t know. I guess it’s more thisness
Original interview here