O U T   O F   B O D Y   E X P E R I E N C E

J. Reuben Silverbird
Native American Elder, Ambassador of Peace

The subject of spiritualism has been a part of my life since almost the day I was born. Actually I was around three years old when my mother would speak to me about spirits, angels, little men and creatures from the forest and strange stories from her own Navajo ways. Since I was blind, naturally, I had many questions to ask. I was a very curious child. There were no colors in my world, just darkness, besides the colors my parents would describe to me. And though I was only three, I had questions all the time, and it was my mother who did most of the answering of the serious ones. My father always filled in with the lightness of animal stories and playing his variety of flutes including the Ocarina and the trumpet which he loved to play. They were both singers so I also had the joy of spiritual music in my young life. But what interested me the most were the stories of spirits, which my mother told me were ever present in our daily life. They both believed that a person's spirit could come out from within the body and see the body from a distance. Both my parents believed this theory, which I heard so often that it became a strong influence deep in my mind. They would teil me that it was possible, for some individuals to develop the ability by using strong mind concentration. The concept fascinated me because, since I couldn't see, I wondered if I would be able to develop this and, if I did, would it be possible for my spirit to see for me, or see for me. My thoughts were those of an older child, I guess anyone born blind grows up faster than a normal child that has the ability to see. I credit and thank my parents for my way of thinking today and the way I've been all my life. I believe that it would be very hard for parents today, to have the patience mine did, if they had to spend the countless dedicated hours my father and mother spent explaining, caring, protecting, and loving me.

By the time the miracle happened, that I could suddenly see the world and it's wonders, I had advanced immeasurably into the development of the sense of out-of-body experience. For a long time after regaining my sight, I became a quiet child that sat quietly and just observed everything before my eyes. All of sudden I was nowalone, without the constant attention my parents had showered on me. It was like being born all over again. Every object, flower, animal and human had a name. I saw my parents on stage and immediately ended up doing my own act. My father taught me a monologue of a little old man with straw hat, dark glasses and cane. They thought I had great sensitivity. While on stage I noticed that I could see myself from an audience point of view. One day I told my mother and she explained to me that being able to see or feel oneself in this manner was a precious ability. I asked her if this was what her and dad meant that a person could do if they tried hard enough. She said yes. I told her, I didn't think I had tried so hard. And she told me, perhaps, but the fact that you were blind helped you develop the ability without even realizing that you were working that hard, because you were not distracted by anything and were able to focus on that which you wanted so much. At age seven, just two years after my wonderful miracle of sight, I had another, most horrifying vision that will remain with me until the day the Creator decides I am ready to go to the mountain and join my dear parents, Sun Bear and Thomas Banyanca. The experience conceived the year 2012 and my death and bringing back to life by a spiritual, almost Holy Stranger. This story and the one about my blindness is too long and will be a part of my book "Spiritual Healing Words of Wisdom".

As I grew older I became a circus performer, with the ability to do things that took others twice the time to accomplish. My sense of balance was impeccable. My mind worked in complete coordination with my body. I enjoyed flying through the air. I could feel the sensation the audience felt as I did some death defying and daring moves in the air. Simultaneously, I decided to learn an instrument, being that I had every instrument at my disposal. I learned to play the French Horn, Trombone and although my one desire was to learn to play Piano, it was the one instrument that was not available with my father's traveling circus. So one day my father surprised me with a Mahogany Guitar. It wasn't a piano but I learned guitar, with the help of a Yaqui guitar player that traveled with the show. I learned everything that Manny had to offer, and continued learning, by listening to radio and records.

My spiritual journeys have taken me from one end of the World to another with music as the strongest spiritual influence throughout much of my life long experience. I have met with people from all aver the World; including the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa and same world leaders such as Nixon, Clinton and Native American leaders, educators and activists such as: Chief Shanandoah, Chief Irvin Pawlis; Russel Means; Lianel Burdeau, Oren Lyons; Thomas Banyanca (Hopi) and Sun Bear. In one way or another these people have contributed some spiritual awareness to the world with their very own way of thinking. I met many of them because I had a dream of opening the first Native American Restaurant in New York City. It was something that I thought could be good for Indian people to unite in some way and make something of themselves without having to depend on hand outs from the US Government. I went from circus performer, Catskill Mountain singer/musician/entertainer to Mr. Restaurateur in the biggest city in the World. I owned the first Native American restaurant, which my friend Shelby Roth frequented on a regular basis. He was a good natured, white man who had been instrumental in starting the first twelve McDonalds in New York City, and near by New Jersey. We had become good friends and had been talking, for sometime about the same kind of idea as McDonalds for my restaurant which had become the talk of New York City and the World as well. So many things were happening so fast.

In 1988 I was talking to Sun Bear who was calling me from somewhere in the west coast. We were discussing a dream we both shared. To have a world of all peoples united. He knew as well as I, it was something hard to accomplish, with many obstacles in the way. Another Indian man in the early eighteen hundreds, Tecumseh (Shawnee) had tried and failed. But maybe now, it was time to try again, and it was a good dream. He asked that we meet in Upstate New Yark to plan our working strategy. I drove to meet him in the Catskill Mountains, the place we had in mind for the Indian Village Retreat I knew well. I had worked all over the Catskills: from The Concord Hotel to Jennie's Grossingers Hotel and every Bungalow Colony in between. I knew the area like the back of my hand. I also knew it was perfect timing for buying a bungalow colony in the Catskills. The younger generation of the people who had made it a haven for so many years got tired of it and had started to move to other areas, and when the government gave Atlantic City the go ahead for gambling, those that had hopes for the same in the Catskills were disillusioned and started their final evacuation, and the area became financially depressed. At that point a place could be bought for a song, which is what I had done so successfully with my singing/musical group during the peak of the memorable Jewish epoch. Sun Bear's conversation was in a form of a proposition to start this place in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

It was to be a Retreat for Seminars, Vision Quests, Meditation, Sweat Lodges, Spiritual and general knowledge of Native American Culture. We talked at length about different life experiences. He told me of his reception in Germany because of his books, to which I asked "Why not open this retreat in Germany?" He replied: "That's too easy. The hard task is in America." We planned another meeting upon his return from Germany and it never came about because he passed on before we could meet again. A week later my friend Shelly took off in his private plane with his wife to visit his mother for mother's day, and they never arrived at their destination. A few days later they found the small plane in the mountains of New Jersey, both passengers dead. I was left alone with two unfulfilled dreams that I thought could help Native Americans become free and independent of the stigma of the reservation Indian in America. So many years passed by and I lost myself in the acting world of make believe. Playing on films, television and in off-Broadway musical productions that told stories of some of our famous Indian heroes such as: Black Elk, Black Kettle, Crazy Horse and many others. It was torture having to relive the true experience of our Indian heroes' lives and Indian people every night on stage again and again. One day while in Orlando, Florida playing Chief Powatan in "Spirit of Pocahontas", a call came in from an agent offering to go to Europe to a place called Indian Village. Immediately it brought back the memory of Sun Bear, and our Indian Village Retreat. I knew I had to come and see what it was all about. I found the spirituality of the Village, on opening day non-existent, but then the management did not mean it to be a spiritual place at all. It could have been possible. It was built on an old property that was alive with ancient spirit energy, but it was a matter of management. They thought of it as a commercial venture, and that was the difference between their concept and the one Sun Bear and I had in mind. I became Ambassador to the place and learned much from the experience, but I knew all along that it could never survive, from the initial opening day fanfare. I still think that if presented properly it will become unique in Europe, where I believe the followers of Karl May's countless German speaking Apache Winnetous, are anxious to hear about real, true and honest Native American Spiritual energy today.

(This text may be used only with permission of the Author)