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Scenes from an Awakening

Painted soon after the second significant event, this shows the spiritual light Salzman sees.

Daybreak at La Touraine, by the author, Bertram W. Salzman

At the age of eight, this Academy Award-winning filmmaker had a mystical experience that would eventually lead him to teach others the power of wordless attention.

This article appeared in our April 2004 issue. I was born in Brooklyn in 1931. When my mother died, my father, unable to take care of us, sent my brother and me to live in a Jewish orphanage. I was four and one-half — old enough to figure out that my life had changed in a big way. On the morning we arrived, my brother explained to me that “Mama was dead” and “We would never see her again.” My heart felt heavy and I became very sad. About three years later, on my seventh birthday, I awoke feeling really light, as if something good was going to happen. Maybe someone was going to give me a present; perhaps it was the electric train set I had seen in the window of a toy store. I was just lying there in bed when all of a sudden I began to whisper to myself. It was as if I were repeating the words of someone inside of me; it sounded like my voice, only older: “You’re seven now, you’re not a baby anymore.” This was all the voice said, and the idea that I was not a baby anymore made me feel good. About a year after that, I was slumped in my seat in Mrs. Braverman’s music appreciation class in Public …

This article is adapted from Being a Buddha on Broadway, Copyright © 2004 by Bertram W. Salzman. Used by arrangement with Inner Directions Publishing, Carlsbad, California.

After a successful career as an artist, Bertram W. Salzman became renowned in the world of educational films for children, winning an Academy Award for Angel and Big Joe as well as eight other festival awards. His many spiritual documentaries include Abide as the Self: Teachings and Life of Ramana Maharshi and Open to the Infinite: An Evening with Ram Dass

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