I registered for the next available time for the prerequisite standard class and my schedule at LIJ, where I was doing a fellowship in neonatal medicine.
The trip out to the farm in New Jersey was by bus, a meeting place at a truck stop and a trip out to the farm. No directions were given at that time in writing. Those who had cars would also meet at the 76 truck stop and follow the guide. Accommodations were primitive. Those without tents, like myself when I started, slept in sleeping bags on straw in the barn, the top part, packed like sardines, only not on top of each other. There were about 50 of us. Until I can retrieve my own photos from storage, I borrowed a couple of pictures from the fan-pages on facebook. For tracker students who came to classes in the early 1990ties, I was still going by a different last name then.
The barn in New Jersey, now sold as per info on facebook.
Food: In those days, 1990, they were tough. We ate self-made survival stew all week...with 1 break: peanut butter and jelly pockets. This American dish I had tried once before but that was it. Here I learned to really like it. Wow, it was sweet - tasted great. The classroom barely had room for everyone, we sat on simple wooden benches. There was a stove for heat. Tom, who gave most of the classes himself, sat in the front in an armchair. There was a blackboard and on the walls things of feather, wood, stone. His main assistants were top in what they taught, especially Karen and Frank. In talking to some folks prior to meeting Tom, I heard he was like a guru to them, some high and special guy. I knew nothing of this or gurus or his reputation, honestly, I really had no idea about such things or Tom.
From one day to the next during the course of the first week there, I went through several stages - adaptation, curiosity, respect, admiration, a day of inloveness and finally recognition of him as a spiritual teacher and master...a real master – with impeccable integrity and dedication to the vision and path and mastery of mind and matter, and tracking. It's not that others in my life have not been teachers prior to meeting him, but Tom is my first Teacher. During that time Tom's private life was in upheaval – he was going through a divorce. This, in some strange way – might have made him more accessible.
During the standard, I made my first fire from scratch with a self made bow drill: an amazing and primal experience.
Tom did a sweat lodge that class, my first Native American sweat-lodge,...and I remember when my healing began: it was when he said: let the healing begin at a door opening.
He also, and quite uncharacteristically I was told, hugged everyone in that class at the end, it was after the sweat-lodge – to this day it is the best hug of my life, and, as I finally determined about 10 years later, was imbued with a powerful transmission.
At the end of standard class – I knew I was coming back for the philosophy classes, which I took several of. I also did the Back to Back, a 2 week survival class in the Pine Barrens.
Here are some things I came away with over the course of several classes with Tom:
Being trained as a physician, I found this beginning advice very helpful: For 1 week, just forget about your doubts and skepticism or training or idea...put them on the self and just play, participate and see what happens.
He had us work with our hands most of the time, making this or that necessary for survival.
His teaching style is brilliant. It works.
The meditations were extremely effective.
I understood and loved the system (though I did not recognize it as a system at the time) of what he presented and were he had us access, through guided meditations, and exercises, the various levels and layers of reality.
He never said we had to believe a word he said, rather: go out there and prove me right or prove me wrong!
He said eventually you have to find a path and stick with it, go deep.
Do you love the earth enough to die for a square foot of it and not have anyone know about it?
He debriefed after exercises and meditations: those which powerful result, or those who wanted to share, would share. He said: this strengthens everyone. At some point all of you, each one will be reporting. In the meantime, just listen to the others. Very powerful approach.
Some of the most amazing, and literally mind blowing experiences and tools I took away from there. Realizations happened years after I had attended classes with him. Most importantly, I, my scientific mind, got proof of the existence of non physical realities and high sense perception and their validity, which it could not deny – as I, my body-mind, had physical results to show for. It allowed me to start an entirely different path with knowing that needed no further proof, that needed neither to defend itself or try to convince anyone.
Deepest respect and gratitude towards the teaching and Tom himself is how I would describe my feeling and disposition. From what I know and experienced, I can recommend him without hesitation or doubt, whether you want to do survival training or are looking for a spiritual teacher. Yes, years have passed since then – and if you do seek him out, you must decide for yourself if any watering down or corruption happened. Years of dealing with people can do a number on anyone. Let me know how it goes.
In the Pine Barrens
If you are interested, here is a link to the Tracker School