Can the spiritual influence of a great man sometimes become so powerful that it reaches even from beyond the grave, to radically change the life of a living human by giving him mystic insight?
The written and spoken words of the prophets and spiritual leaders throughout history have often remained after their death to do exactly this. But can the spiritual influence of a great man give revelation from beyond the grave even without written words -- through direct contact of one spirit with another?
According to the recent experience of nationally-known singing star Bobby Darin, it most certainly can.
Bobby knows, because it happened to him. And it happened due to the spiritual power of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
While standing at the grave of Robert Kennedy, just after the burial service, Darin experienced a mystic revelation. So powerful and rich in meaning was this revelation to him that it not only expanded his wisdom about the significance of human life, but changed the whole direction of his inner and outer selves.
According to Bobby, the spiritual influence of the late Senator reached out toward him with such strength that it enabled him to attain what he describes as "metaphysical illumination." For a few hours, as the aura of RFK's spirit surrounded him, Bobby experienced what the oriental call "Satori" or sudden and absolute realization about himself and the world.
Since then, his whole life has been affected. And he himself has changed, in the most basic sense.
"Thanks to those hours standing at RFK's grave," Bobby says today, "The old Bobby Darin is gone for good. There's a new me, a better me, a person who's at peace with himself, and striving to for only one thing: to help the world change toward goodness, just as the late Senator Kennedy ardently desired."
That Senator Kennedy was a man deeply involved in the struggle to better the world is something which Bobby is strongly convinced. The late Senator's struggles on behalf of peace, civil rights, and against poverty both in the US and abroad, had impressed Darin a great deal in the last few years.
Then, about nine days before the assassination, Bobby had a chance to meet RFK in person. The meeting was brief, and the conversation limited to a few pleasant remarks on each side. Bobby would have liked to discussed more important matters, but the Senator's crowded schedule prevented it.
Nevertheless, Bobby left the Senator's presence feeling strongly affected. Ideas, thoughts, and feelings which he couldn't clearly define and understand seemed to be stirring inside him.
Then, nine days later, the shocking news was broadcast to a stunned nation: Robert F. Kennedy has been shot in Los Angeles. All too soon afterwards, the nation learned of Kennedy's death.
Bobby Darin was one of those most strongly affected by the death. Although he has never been a person of spiritual inclinations, he now felt a sense of emotional upheaval that took possession of him completely. Some how, somewhere in what had happened, Bobby felt there was a message for him -- a store of tragically gained wisdom which could be deeply important to him.
It was for this reason, as well as as due to his deep respect for the late Senator, that Bobby attended the funeral services.
Later that evening, Darin joined the rest of the immense crowd of mourners around RFK'S grave. He stood in solemn silence, with his head bowed, as the service proceeded.
By midnight that night, the crowd of mourners disappeared. Only one man stood beside the grave of Robert Kennedy. That man was Bobby Darin.
With a flickering candle in his hand, Darin stood in solitude and silence, enveloped by the most intense experience which had ever come to him -- a sense of contact with the spirit of Robert Kennedy, still overwhelmingly powerful beyond the grave.
"Everybody had left except the guards remaining to lower the coffin" Bobby remembers. "I just kept standing there, I didn't really know why, but I felt an inexplicicable compulsion to stay, I just couldn't move from that spot."
Gradually, as the burial ground became totally silent, Bobby felt more and more encompassed by a sense of mystic contact with the spirit of the late Senator. He felt the spirtual influence of RFK pervade his own being.
It was 12:45 am that it happened. Almost as if the spirit of the late Senator had spoken some silent words which unlocked the treasure-house of mystic wisdom, Bobby's whole soul was suddenly flooded with a sensation of peace and understanding.
It was as if a door has opened, a veil had been torn aside. It was, Bobby gives us to understand, as if a bright light had suddenly lit up for him all that he had been unable to see in the past.
"Suddenly," Bobby remembers, "I saw things with a peace and calm I had never seen before.
"It was as though all my hostilities, anxieties and conflicts were in one ball. That ball was beginning to fly away from me into space.
"As I stood there, I could feel it getting farther and farther away from me all the time, leaving me finally content with myself."
When the moment was over, and Bobby slowly felt the spiritual influence of Robert Kennedy losing contact with him, he was left with a sense of total serenity. His body was exhausted, actually trembling from the intensity of his experience, but his spirit was exhilerated and full of a newborn sense of strength and purpose.
Like most intense experiences of mystic revelation, Bobby's can't be accurately and fully described in words and conceptions suited to the non-mystical world. Nor can Bobby say in so many words exactly what the wisdom was that he gained in those all-important moments before the grave of RFK.
But this was no mere illusory feeling of insight, giving no real wisdom and having no effect once it was over. Following it, Bobby knew exactly what he had to do and how he had to change his life. Even if he couldn't always put his feelings into exact words.
He knew he had to change his attitude toward other people.
He knew he had to change his career, and his image as a performer.
He knew he had to change himself, his values, his ambitions and his life-style.
In order to understand exactly how radically changed Bobby has become due to the mystic revelations he underwent at RFK'S grave, you have to understand what kind of person Bobby was before it.
Bobby Darin first hit the big time as a singer with his recorded performance of "Mack the Knife." It was a smash success and Bobby became famous almost overnight, the idol of teenagers and older folks as well, for his strong and personality-plus style of belting out a song.
Like many other performers who become famous suddenly, and while quite young, Bobby got something else besides fame and money -- he got an enormous swelled head. He became almost as well known for his vanity as he did for his singing.
After awhile, the word was out: Bobby Darin was a talented performer, but a spoiled brat -- discourteous and pompous as well as vain.
He had a choice of hundreds of beautiful and famous actresses, due to his good looks as well as his fame. He chose cute-as-a-button Sandra Dee, then making a name for herself in Gidget.
But, when you're as immature personally as Bobby Darin was, the cards are stacked against a successful marriage. Bobby and Sandy had a tumultuous and unhappy marriage, and finally got a divorce.
Bobby acted as though he couldn't have cared less. He kept on living a life as far removed from spiritual insight as can be imagined.
Still vain and pompous and rather rude, he began a round of partying and romancing the socialites and jet setters of San Francisco. He became the Don Juan of that fast crowd, living from one day to another with never a thought for anything but the moment's pleasure -- satisfaction for his ego and senses.
A little over a year ago, though something began to happen to Bobby. A sense of disatisfaction with his way of life began to bother him. He felt, vaguely but with increasing strength, that some of his deepest needs weren't being satisfied.
Lately, this feeling hasn't been at all uncommon among people in the entertainment world. The desire for wisdom, for self knowledge, for a spiritual insight to bring them peace and inner fulfillment, has gripped many of the top stars of films and pop music.
The best known examples are Mia Farrow and the Beatles, who followed their "guru," the Maharishi off to his retreat in India, to try to gain peace and understanding through meditation. But dozens of other stars have sought to counterbalance the superficial glitter and shallow excitement of the entertainment world with studies of Yoga, Zen, Taoism and the wisdom of metaphysiscs.
Bobby Darin then, was standing at a spiritual crossroads in his life when he approached the grave of Robert Kennedy. His inner self was in a state of readiness and openness for enlightment. That enlightment came, through the spiritual influence of the late Senator.
Since then, Bobby has divided his life into two periods -- before the revelation and after.
"Since then," Bobby says, "My whole approach to people has changed. Because I feel at peace with myself, I feel more open and at ease with others as well.
"In short, I'm now able to get along with people. I've lost that chip on my shoulder."
What Bobby describes in his down-to-earth terms is quite often a result of a mystic experience. As one feels the sense of unity of all things, and acquires an intuitive grasp of universal oneness, personal relationships become deeper, more full and more easy.
This happened in another and far more intimate part of Bobbys life, also -- his relationship with his former wife, Sandra Dee.
After his mystic revelation, Bobby says, a wonderful thing happened. Although he and Sandra or "Sandy" as he calls her, remained divorced, they began to feel closer and closer. The hostilities and differences which has orginally forced them apart, and the anger and bitterness which has pushed them even further apart during their divorce, all began to melt away. "I'm more married to Sandy now", Bobby says, "than when we were married under a piece of paper.
"I've come to realize that legal marriage is like accruing a piece of paper and then you own somebody. I don't want to own anybody. I just want to live in a state of love between Sandy and myself, and that's what we're both learning to do."
As his personal relationships changed, Bobby began to make radical changes in his professional life as well. By the time he made his appearance at the Copacabana nightclub in January, 1969, it was "The New Bobby Darin" who strode upon the stage.
Instead of the elaborate and flashy costumes he has usually worn before, he was clad in simple denims.
For years, Bobby had felt embarrassed he had been going bald. To hide it and sooth his vanity, he spent a great deal of money on toupees. At the Copa for the first time, he appeared without a toupee -- and didn't seem embarrassed in the least.
Bobby's dressing room had always been jammed with the "You were great, Baby" crowd, those hangers-on who flattered his vanity and puffed his ego. At the Copa, those useless and deceptive folk were absent, banished from his life for good. Bobby didn't need their false support any more.
"I've banished hypocrites and negativists from my life," Bobby says firmly. "I've even changed the agency which handles my engagements."
"There's no longer any place for phoniness in my career or my personal life. Honesty, goodwill and simple naturalness, these are the things which are helping me shape a valid outer life to match my new inner life."
Seated backstage at the Copa, between acts, more calm and at peace with himself than he ever has been before, Bobby smiles as he talks about his plans for more changes in his career.
"I've already reshaped me," he says "and now I'd like to take a part in reshaping the universe.
"I want to give up nightclubs and start devoting my time and talent to college concerts. I want to help tell young people what to do to change the world into a better place, and what they can do to change their inner selves to make them wiser and more serene as persons.
"I don't want business or politics, I don't want to get involved in those things. In them, you can't tell the truth."
Among those who experience a mystic revelation, or as Bobby calls it a "Metaphysical illumination," one thing is common: a feeling of being reborn, of becoming a new person in a new life.
Bobby Darin, standing at the grave of the assassinated Senator Kennedy with a flickering candle in his hand, was so struck by the spiritual influence of the late Senator that he experienced this feeling. It was possibly the most crucial moment since birth. "I'm just glad," he says simply, "to have a second beginning with my life."
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