I first began my writing partnership with “Reverend Barry” around 1992, when we met each other on the editing committee for Psychedelic Illuminations magazine, a quarterly featuring not only reports on psychedelic substances and experiences, but also thoughtful essays and interviews by leaders in the psychedelic and consciousness community.  At first I saw nothing particularly exceptional about Barry Klein aside from his propensity for irony and self-deprecating sense of humor but, as I continued to work alongside him and to discuss with him (and with the others on our committee) the significances of various ideas and events, I began to realize that this fellow had been pursuing the hidden secrets of the human mind (and the universe) for decades and had encyclopedic knowledge of the field.  In some cases he had retraced the paths of seekers I had only read about in storybooks on the subject, and learned that he had taken numerous initiations and discipleships along the way, apparently without having become a “true believer” in any particular lineage although he had studied and practiced them all seriously and assiduously.

   As we continued to edit the articles and essays in the magazine, I came to respect the depth and breadth of Barry’s insights into each subject, and soon concluded that he did not operate from the usual levels of opinion and intellectualization, but instead his thoughts seemed to emanate from the practices he had studied; that is, Barry’s perspectives all had some mystical or esoteric rationale behind them, and they somehow all fit together at some obscure level.  It was largely from Barry’s insights and inspirations that I wrote the three essays under my name which appeared in successive issues of the magazine.

   I was, of course, curious as to what, in particular, Barry knew that was different from what was available in the standard literature on psychedelia and consciousness; he was obviously familiar with the ideas of Gurdjieff, Lilly, Huxley, Castaneda, Watts, Wilbur and many others of the well-known authors on the subject, but Barry’s foundation apparently came from long years of daily practices assembled from all of the disciplines he had studied, including computer logic, modern physics and neuro-linguistics.  One of such practices was the way he required questions to be asked.  We normally do not realize that we do not even know how to ask what Barry referred to as “clean, open questions” but, instead, construct vehicles for eliciting confirmation of our assumptions and prejudices.  Naturally I was initially annoyed by Barry’s requirements, and almost gave up on asking him questions, but my curiosity drove me to find a way into his fortress of knowledge.  Ultimately I discovered that what he asked for was quite simple and natural, almost childlike; the difficulty lay in overcoming the general acculturation from our society which actually prevents the productive exchange of ideas and knowledge.

   So, in order to ask him questions, I could not begin with “Isn’t” or “Doesn’t,” and I was not allowed to limit a question by offering a true-false or multiple-choice construction, as was habitual for people from my particular culture.  As annoying as this felt, Barry never lost patience or determination about it, so I eventually learned how to pose questions in his way, and I discovered that the answers to such well-formed questions were usually much larger questions with implications that I would not have expected.

   Another of Barry’s idiosyncrasies was that he would connect everything together, no matter how obscurely they may have been related.  Some of these ‘synchronicities’ (as Barry referred to them) seemed so absurd that I tried to dismiss them, but Barry had “psychedelic eyes” for seeing perspectives and relationships that others would disregard or miss entirely.  What he showed me about this shed a whole new light on much of Castaneda’s writings, for example, that had been obscure to me, up until that time.

   Our colleagues also noticed something about Barry that was truly extraordinary: he would know what we were about to say by the time one of us had formulated the first three words of a sentence.  It was as if he were walking around in the dreamscapes of our minds, and could see directly the thoughts that we were attempting to describe.  Another special quality of Barry’s was something that slipped by us at first: occasionally, especially when searching through his experiences for a response to some obscure question one of us may have asked, Barry would disappear in front of us!  This was such a subtle phenomenon that the rest of us did not even mention it to each other for some time, but eventually we agreed that it did happen.  One of us described the event as “a hole in space where Barry had just been”; another spoke of a kind of ‘outline’ around a blank spot.  For myself, it was as if some TV program I was watching had cut out for a moment or two, and it was only in retracing the last few frames that I would see that part of the content was missing.

   Barry tended to shrug off questions about such phenomena, saying that it was just a matter for our attention to catch up, whatever that meant.  He told us that our perceptions comprised ‘layers’ of attentional energy and that, as our energy increased, either gradually from practices or suddenly from, for example, brushes with death, we also might be seen as disappearing or even bilocating.

   From interviewing various of Barry’s companions, I learned of other unusual phenomena observed from time to time.  One young man had been sitting in a coffee shop with him when Barry told him to watch what happened when the service people went by them.  My informant said that he soon noticed that, for the next few minutes, every person who passed behind them either dropped menus or receipt books they were carrying, or turned around and went back for something they had apparently forgotten.  Not just a couple of them, but every single employee who went past them for that period of time.

   Another person was talking to Barry just after he had channeled a song, which he mentioned was what he had been doing, upon her inquiry.  She asked to see the words, but Barry put her off, saying that his hymn was to be sung only in sacred ritual.  Our friend pleaded with him that she would take “full responsibility” if Barry would just send over the text.  The next day, however, she complained to him that, after reading those words, she was up the rest of the night, crying and puking.

   One lady, who had been with Barry for several years, told me of a circumstance which could have been dismissed, had it occurred only once. Barry loved to ‘witness’ to born-again evangelists, and it turned out, at a Christmas party, that the young wife of one of this lady’s cousins was a true believer, so Barry began to share with the young lady about how he kept his own faith going, and proceeded to ask the acolyte how she herself kept her faith going.  The ‘miracle’ was that, as if in a single gesture, everyone else in the room suddenly had to put on their jackets to “go take a walk.” Even the girl to whom Barry was talking put on her own sweater, but was as if stuck in the doorway for at least a half-hour, assuring Barry that her faith could not possibly be shaken because she had accepted Christ as her Savior, etc.  But there was not one person left in the room to hear the dénouement of that conversation.  Later on, when everyone had assembled to exchange gifts, the young lady innocently offered her pong-paddle to Barry, without uttering a word.

   I suppose that what I am attempting to illustrate is that “the Rev” has always changed reality to some degree, tends to turn things upside down, and “pulls scabs off,” meaning that he never lets anything stay covered up or unaddressed.  Some of his acquaintances have accused Barry of having Asperger’s syndrome because of his way of not staying within normal social bounds, but really, has not every genius been labeled as being psychopathic or eccentric?  We all ended up learning extraordinary things from Barry, many of which were not obvious from the storybooks about extraordinary people that we all had read.  Aside from his knowledge of the world, and of how everything works in it, Barry seems to have first-hand experience of other dimensions, if we can call them that.

   Many writers have speculated about alternate worlds and wonders that could only be found by the “pure of heart” or whatever, but Barry is one of those who can describe, in great detail, how everything fits together in those realms, the textures, smells and even perceptions in senses unknown in ordinary reality, to such a degree that it is hard to deny that he had really been there and done those things.  People have seen Barry perform ‘miracles’ – healings, reality shifts, causal anomalies, disappearances, etc. – about which, had it been someone else, they would have written a book or created a TV feature or movie; but upon realizing that it was “just Barry,” they “edit it out” of their consciousness.  I have seen this happen a number of times.

   Something that I noticed, on occasion, and which was reported to me by people who had known Barry for long enough, was that some people would feel high or stoned when Barry was around; others would fall asleep or become disoriented.  I myself found that I could think differently around Barry – have thoughts that I would not have ever had otherwise, causing me to find new modes of creativity, new qualities in my writing, extra intensity and ‘color’ in my perceptions.  The others reported similar experiences.

   However, there were times when the Rev actively provoked us.  We could never say, afterwards, what exactly it was that he said or did that got one or another of us shouting or “blowing a fuse,” but then we “popped over,” as Barry would put it – our whole perspective shifted and suddenly we had no argument with him; everything just seemed light and clear.  I remember reading something in Castaneda or Gurdjieff about the master’s operating on their students somehow – a whack between the shoulder blades, or a certain kind of confrontation; you see this sort of thing in Zen stories, as well.  Barry’s explanation was that  all he had done was to speak to the essence in us, and doing so infuriated the personality-ego because that ‘mask’ had no control over the situation.  The “popping over” occurred in those of us who had been preparing ourselves, wittingly or unwittingly, for a shift, although we never felt prepared when the time came.

   And so, my friends, what we have here is a book written by a truly extraordinary man – not someone’s picture of a saint or a hero, but a quirky, irreverent iconoclast who has never wanted anything other than for somebody to wake up and speak to him in his native language, which to me is the language of higher mind and connectedness to our own divine nature.  Reverend Barry invites us to share the wonder of living outside of the ordinary world, in a realm where everything is possible.

– Runyan Wilde
© 2012, Runyan Wilde, St. Louis, MO