The Eye of Dreams – Ch. 8
The Eye of Dreams
Secrets of Mind and Spirit
While working on this book I dreamt that I was walking through a large ruined building. Some walls were still standing and I was climbing over them or walking around them to go in the direction I felt was right. Then I came to the remains of a thick wall, now only five feet high. I clambered up on top of it to go over, but on looking down the other side I saw an immense drop. Beneath me was level after level of ancient structure going deep into the earth. It was all carved out of the natural rock, with many cell–like rooms. It was as if something had gouged away a great chunk of the earth revealing the enormity of it. I sensed the age of it and that it was built by a long past culture.
On exploring the dream I came across things I did not expect to find. It seemed to me that a non–physical being communicated with me explaining that the cell like structures I had seen deep in the earth represented cells buried in my body. The being explained to me that the cells formed vestigial organs. It told me that in fact there were several such vestigial organs in the body of humans. These clusters of cells throughout the body were what remained of organs developed by long past races. The people in those races had lived with an awareness quite unlike our own, limited as it is in most of us to only what we can experience through our physical senses. In those races the organs that in us now are only vestigial were fully functioning. This allowed them to be aware of dimensions completely outside the range of our five physical senses. Those races lived in the physical world and other dimensional worlds at the same time. It was normal and everyday for them to be aware of non physical forces, and beings with no physical body.
The being then touched me causing me to lose all awareness of my surroundings and my body, and to be filled with an intense flood of buzzing energy. In doing so a great deal of information passed to me. In brief, it was that as humans we have all grown from seeds. From the sperm and ovum, like a seed planted in our mother’s womb, we have experienced the miracle of growth to become who and what we are. In this way a seed of consciousness was planted within the earth of our body. For many of us this is all we know, the physical world and its needs and demands. But some of us have grown enough to reach above the surface of the soil so to speak. Then our being opens to a new power, the sun.
Of course this is just an analogy. It means that many of us have extended the growth of our awareness beyond the limitations of our body senses. We have in one way or another become aware of dimensions beyond the physical – just as a musician or mathematician sees or understands things that are not simply due to sight or sound. But we have opened to a cloudy sky. The environment, the mental, emotional and social environment within which we live is like heavy cloud. However, now there is a break in the cloud and the sun is shining through. Again this is an analogy, but it says that enormous transformative power is now touching the lives of those who are open to it.
Like the sun touching the leaves of a plant, this powerful energy throws immense possibilities of growth and change into us. I call this ‘the quickening’. It is a power that is flowing into many lives transforming them and the lives of the people around them along with the world itself.
In its simplest form we can think of the changes taking place as a shift in the paradigm or worldview existing in the Western world. We are emerging from a paradigm dominated by the old viewpoint about the nature of the observable universe. This arose from the mechanistic ideas of Newtonian physics, in which the universe was seen as a huge mechanical device. As Newtonian physics developed the fundamental particle of the universe was defined as the atom. Nothing in scientific research at the time could prove that anything existed beyond the atom, and the atom is a physical object. Therefore, nothing other than physical substance was ‘real’. This, so it appeared, disproved the possibility of personal awareness being anything other than some trick of chemicals, molecules and atoms in the brain and body. There could be no spirit or life after death because, after all, we are only atoms! Nothing in our consciousness can exist unless it is produced by the physical brain.
But in 1900 Max Planck proposed a revolutionary new view of the universe in publishing the quantum theory. Since then the theory has gathered strength through an enormous amount of research, and is showing us a universe in which the atom is by no means the fundamental material of our body or the cosmos. In fact it shows us that the core of our being is an almost indescribable condition of infinite potential. (56) Research into the particles and processes beyond the atom is also opening the door to what is described as a multidimensional universe, or as David Deutsch calls it, the multiverse, or multiple universes. (57)
The dream and exploration of it I mentioned above hold within them several remarkable suggestions. They say that we have vestigial higher sensory organs; that powerful beings exist in dimensions many of us have no experience of; and that there is a huge shift occurring in the way individuals and society are seeing and relating to the world. The exploration of the dream also suggested that we are seeds of consciousness planted in a physical body, and as such can grow in awareness beyond the limitations of our physical senses.
Of course, in our society any subjective experience such as described above is seen as highly suspect, perhaps even illusory. Knowing the way the unconscious works I have to admit that there are many reasons why one might have an impression of communicating with a discarnate being. The unconscious often uses such beings to represent one’s own intuition or potential. Whether what I was experiencing is a higher dimensional being or my own potential can be thought of as simply a matter of interpretation. What is important is that during the experience I received a huge influx of information, and my body or being was flushed through with enormous energy that shifted the way I experienced myself. The information and the shift were both extremely creative in that they enabled me to reach new perceptions and a new sense of myself. Quite honestly I felt as if I had been touched by a god. So whatever the interpretation we give to the experience, it does point to the possibility of enormous energy release accompanied by a great expansion of perception. However we achieve or interpret this, it is still remarkable.
Such experiences have been recorded throughout history. Many past cultures left records in their writings or myths of meetings with these other dimensions and the beings in them. We, limited to our own view of the world and universe believe that if we cannot ourselves see such things, then past cultures were making it up or expressing purely superstitious views. But every culture holds within it descriptions of angels, spirits, subtle beings, who interact and communicate with ordinary people. Emmanuelle Swedenborg, the great Swedish engineer and mystic, reported many meetings with what he called Angels and the spirits of the dead. At one time, along with Immanuel Kant, he helped a woman by the name of Mrs. de Marteville. The women’s husband had died and left behind a bill to a paid debt. Mrs. De Marteville did not know where her husband had put the bill. In the presence of witnesses Swedenborg communicated with her dead husband and was able to say where the bill was hidden.
However, the aim here is not to attempt any proof or long description of such phenomena, simply to outline something of a map for dedicated explorers of dreams and visions. I know that such a map can be of great value when we face the unknown and new in exploring the unconscious and further reaches of awareness, and one of the basics of such a map is that sentience or consciousness appears to be fundamental to everything. Therefore with self awareness we have the ability to direct the spotlight of awareness to any aspect of self, the earth and its creatures, or the universe.
Strata of Consciousness
To have any sort of our understanding of what will be described we need to have a basic plan or map of the territories we are going to look at. Such a map means a description of what it is to be human. Any full description of that is impossible in a book this size, but certain things can be given that act as a practical guide. One of the ancient maps of human life says that there are five zones of human experience. They are:
The first is waking consciousness. In this zone our physical senses give us information about what appears to be an external and reasonably solid world. To change anything in this external world is quite difficult. It takes effort, sometimes prolonged. This external world is called objective.
But also in this zone there is a subjective or interior aspect. In it we are aware of sensations of our body such as pleasure and pain. We experience personal thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions of what we experience through our senses. There is also an ability to think and reason, but this is very dependent upon our education, training, and also the culture we were raised in. Any self observation shows us that we also have what is called a temperament. By temperament we mean things such tendencies toward being happy, sad, thoughtful, serious or jovial, etc. What may not be so obvious to us is that we also live in what might be called ‘mind space’ or a worldview. This latter will be looked at more fully later.
The next zone is called sleep, and this includes dreaming. In this zone of experience very different influences are at work than occur in waking. You are either unconscious – in other words you lack any sense of yourself, of an exterior world, of your body and directed reasoning – or you are dreaming. While sleeping your senses are partly or totally switched off, and while dreaming your voluntary muscles are paralysed. This means you cannot consciously move any part of your body. However, your body does move from another centre of will as you dream.
You also lose the ability to reason and critically evaluate situations. In dreaming you are immersed in a world of your own creation that is infinitely variable and easily open to change. You unconsciously create an apparent reality – a full surround virtual reality – expressed as dream images and drama. Although in dreams you usually have a sense of self, you can seldom decide what actions to take because the dream process is spontaneous. That is, it does not arise from your conscious will.
There is a zone beyond the images of dreams in which it is possible to directly observe the forces of mind and body that create the dream imagery. Usually to enter this you need to be lucid, otherwise it expresses as dream imagery. Here you can directly work with the bodymind processes. This lucidity is doorway to a totally changed relationship with what we call self.
There is a zone within dreamless sleep that is worth noting. Usually in dreamless sleep we are unconscious. In other words we have no experience of existing. But it is important here to remember what was said in the previous chapter about our conscious self or ego, and our core self.
If we enter this dreamless world with awareness – i.e. lucidly – it becomes an infinite ocean of consciousness in which you are an integral part of the cosmos and all that exists in it. Here there is the possibility of gaining insight into how your present personality was formed out of this ocean of possibilities and collective experience. Christianity has called this zone spirit or God, and Buddhism has named it the Void. In nature it is experienced as formless, having no features and is thus indefinable. Yet it also is seen to be the fount from which all phenomena arise. It is also experienced as being self existent and unchanging. In this zone you have moved beyond the limitations of your personal memories and experiences and are immersed in a collective ocean of consciousness.
This zone is sometimes entered by people using meditation. What happens is that one enters sleep and yet maintains personal awareness. This allows consciousness to penetrate levels of self usually completely hidden. People aware at this level say they have access to all knowledge. A man exploring a dream describes it as follows.
This is when I entered into the house of God. At first I saw the image of a huge cathedral or church with a magnificent domed roof and I knew that I was in the house of God. I felt the utopia, I felt like I have never felt before, so very good, so excellent. I knew all things. I didn’t have to read the bible or any kind of teachings because the answers are all here in the presence of God. In this state I could ask any question and know the answer. I knew God, yet I was God because there was no separation. Neal C
Totality. In some cultures called enlightenment or liberation, also known as cosmic consciousness and illumination. In this phase you are both the ocean of consciousness and also the individual waking awareness at the same moment. In this zone you have access not only to your impressions of the external world, but also of the unbounded connection with all else. An enormous intuitive ability therefore exists to enter the states of experience to be listed below.
As can be seen from this short outline of the human areas of experience, there are more zones beyond waking than there are in normal everyday life. And in terms of the worlds of experience within dreaming and visions that we have been considering, there are several very important principles to be mentioned. The first is that there is a different will operating while awake than there is while asleep. This means that you are dealing with something quite different in exploring dreams and visions than when you are meeting with waking experience. Many people fail to see this and the failure is akin to diving into an expanse of water and trying to use the means of locomotion that you use on dry land.
The will that operates in sleep and dreams appears to be the same that underlies your unconscious bodily and psychological functions. You do not consciously will the beating of your heart or the digestion of your food. Nevertheless there is a motivation that drives these processes, that produces them, that in fact grew you from a seed in your mother’s womb – and I am calling this the ‘will’ that operates in the unconscious. We might not easily accept the term ‘will’ when thinking of digestion or heartbeat, but if you have any experience of working with and within dreams, you will quickly see that something other than your conscious self, or your conscious will, is operating very powerfully and producing impressive changes in what you are experiencing and meeting. I believe that in past cultures this was called the will of God, and was seen to be acting upon the life of the conscious person. Freud said that dreams are ‘ego alien’. They have a will and direction quite different to ones conscious aims and desires.
This will of the unconscious is a force to be reckoned with. Remember that when it is acting and expressing in a dream it produces full surround virtual reality, body movements, sexual feelings, emotions of all sorts, and physical movements in terms of you moving and calling out in the bed while you dream. Remember also that there is a part of the brain, in the pons, that inhibits the full flow of such impulses into the body while you dream. If that were not so you would have very full body movements mirroring what is happening in the dream, as well as full emotions, sexual feelings, vocalisation and intuitions. When that internal will is allowed to express consciously, all of those spontaneous processes are lived out while awake, as mentioned in many of the experiences quoted. (58)
Another factor that arises out of the five zones mentioned, and one that is reasonably well accepted, is that something of focused waking awareness can enter into what is usually sleep and dreams. There are numerous mentions of this in writings about lucidity, meditation, near death experiences, LSD psychotherapy and of course experiences under anaesthetic.
Anybody who enters dreams and sleep with lucidity, or allows the unconscious will to break through into waking life, quickly learns they are dealing with a different set of laws or processes than operate while awake in the world of the body. For instance, if a bull is charging you in waking life it is best to get out of the way. In the psychic world of dreams the most productive thing to do would be to recognise that the bull is an external image of some aspect of yourself, and let it be completely absorbed in you. What this does is to integrate some of your own energy, energy that was otherwise split off or that you were in conflict with.
In this psychic zone everything you see around you is an expression of your own hopes, fears, unconscious beliefs, past experiences such as trauma, and your residual self–image. There is a supra–self aspect of this too in that some parts of dreams are links with possibilities in you still remaining latent. As such they can be immediately transformed by a shift in your own feelings, attitudes or your relationship with what the dream images depict.
Understanding what is meant by residual self–image is important. Most people believe that they are their body, that they are a male or female, that they are a certain age, or that they are clever or stupid, capable or incapable, gifted or lacking talent. Such beliefs mean that in the psychic realm we create around us exactly what we unconsciously hold as true. However, as in the nature of dreams, you can be anything or nothing. You can be an animal, a bodiless awareness witnessing events, a beam of coloured light, a baby or a frightened person running away from darkness. But this is the way you experience yourself in this zone, and you can pass beyond that – pass beyond form, pass beyond gender and become naked awareness.
At the very foundation of your being, as suggested by the five zones mentioned above, you are an ocean of formless consciousness. That formless mysterious life enters into form and knows itself as you. If you believe that all you are is a physical body, a male or a female, a fool or a genius, then you are limiting yourself. Those are the things you may be externally, but beyond the limitations of your physical life, your personal subjective life, you are infinite potential. If you believe otherwise then you are missing an enormous wealth you hold within you.
Suzanne Segal, speaking from her continuous experience of being the infinite says, “The vastness carries a non-personal desire to experience itself. This appears to be the purpose of human life—for the vastness to meet itself everywhere it turns. The notion of personal growth or inner development is contrary in every respect to the way the vastness exists. The quest to awaken implies a sense of futurity that precludes basking in what actually is right now.” (From her book Collision with the Infinite)
So in the psychic realm you are constantly meeting yourself in the imagery and environment you find yourself in. Although this gives you an opportunity to deal with the limiting ideas and beliefs, traumas and history that have led to your present situation in life, there are levels of experience beyond this image world. Moving beyond the imagery you discover direct insight into the processes and energies that are woven together to produce your body and personality. Here you begin to move beyond your physical form and gender. The awareness develops of being an integral part of the web of life on our earth and in the cosmos. Language is not so important at this level. In the psychic world and in the levels beyond it language is limiting. A much vaster awareness begins to operate as you learn to function lucidly in the zones in which you know yourself as the infinite. In this wider awareness you experience knowing, not thinking about, yourself as existing beyond boundaries . The separation between yourself and others melts away. Your awareness and their awareness blend. Time and space are no longer the obstacles they are while in the physical body and believing oneself to be the mental concepts we take as truths.
Learning to move around in and explore these other levels of experience is perhaps a little bit like what we have seen in regard to the men and women learning to live in space. Their environment is completely different to living on the surface of earth. They cannot move around in the same way, they cannot eat in the same way, they cannot even sleep or make love in the same way. They are in a totally different environment. So as you read the descriptions of people’s experience below, remember that they are travellers of inner space.
The Multiverse of Experience
Now we will look at the many and varied dimensions and experiences that we can touch when we travel beyond limitations. Below are outlines of what people have experienced as they explored inner space.
One of the prime drives of your being is to survive and if possible to prosper. This reverberates through every aspect of your life, from breathing, eating, reproduction, to learning, absorbing new experience and growing. Behind these fairly obvious drives is a longer term plan of action intricately involved in the circumstances and events of your life. But at the very front of the action is physical and psychological survival. With both, survival includes experiences leading to growth, change and adaptation to change. Because of this a very high percentage of dreams and altered states of consciousness are expressions of attempts to continue adapting and integrating experience in the face of inhibiting factors. Such inhibiting factors are usually some form of trauma or fear put into place in childhood. This is clearly illustrated in the example Don describes in connection with his premature birth and what it led to in his adult life. The process behind dreams and our existence is constantly trying to melt away such situations. So an enormously high percentage of dreams are expressive of this action. (59) Below is a very clear example of this.
A young woman experienced a recurring nightmare of a piece of cloth touching her face. She would scream and scream and wake her family. One night her brother sat with her and made her meet those feelings depicted by the cloth. When she did so she realised she was dreaming about her grandmother’s funeral shroud. She cried about the loss of her grandmother, felt her feelings about death, and was never troubled by the nightmare again.
We can also be aware of the deepest levels of our body, its functions, organs and tiny cellular activity. The Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, in his book Realms of the Human Unconscious, gives details of people experiencing vivid and specific awareness of what he calls Organ, Tissue, and Cellular Consciousness. Also, Dr. Bernie S. Siegel started the Exceptional Cancer Patient Clinic through his experience that patients dreams showed what was happening in their body. Such dreams diagnosed their illness long before present technology could.
Grof says that it is quite a frequent experience for people in this altered state of consciousness to experience their conception, knowing themselves to be the sperm and ovum from which they grew. He goes on to say that such experiences give many concrete insights, details of anatomy, the microscopic structure of tissues, the processes of the organs and chemistry of the body, and reveal information that the subjects did not have before the expanded awareness.
Travelling space and time is another experience expressed in some dreams and in altered states of consciousness. There are many confirmed cases of this, so we know it is possible. However, that doesn’t mean it is easy to do. Perhaps the most publicised research in this area was conducted under the name of remote viewing. Hal Puthoff, experimenting with a sensitive electronic device called a magnetometer glimpsed the possibility that ordinary people can reach beyond what their eyes can see and ears can hear, to see and witness what was happening in distant parts of the world. He started on a thirteen year research to explore this, and his first paper on the subject started the greatest spy program in the US using extra sensory perception. Two CIA officers approached to ask him if he would do some test experiments. (61) The results were successful enough for Puthoff and another researcher, Targ, to be suspected of receiving classified information from government officials in secret locations.
The difficulties that stand in the way of achieving this lie in the shape and quality of the mental world we each live in. The moment you close your eyes and discount physical sensations you live in a world created by the very thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. If you are convinced that nothing exists apart from the three–dimensional world of time and space you know through your senses, then, in fact, that is all that exists. To move beyond that world with any real belief is difficult for us if we have lived all our life in those beliefs and events have not shown us any alternatives.
Lyle Watson, a scientist and biologist, in researching human potential for one of his books, was asked by a boy’s father in Italy to observe his four–year old son. In Watson’s presence the father rolled his son an ordinary tennis ball. A little while later the boy rolled it back. The ball was turned inside out without any cuts or damage to its surface. Watson then signed his name on another tennis ball and the boy repeated the change. Later Watson cut open the ball in front of witnesses, revealing his signature on the inside of the ball. Watson says that what the boy did stands completely beyond the generally accepted laws of physics. Obviously the child was not limited by the ideas of three dimensions that imprison most of us. He was able to think and work in dimensions that seem inconceivable to us.
An interesting way of looking at this, and the way of helping to move beyond the limitations of three dimensions, is given in a book I read many years ago by Claude Bragdon. The book was called, as far as I remember, A Primer of Higher Space – The Fourth Dimension. It illustrated shifting dimensions with the story of a goose drawn on a piece of paper with a circle drawn around it. The goose in the circle is a two–dimensional creature, therefore the circle drawn around it means it could never escape. In our three–dimensional world the pencilled circle would almost be like an enclosing sphere. However, if the goose managed to become three dimensional, it could step across the drawn circle with no problem at all.
If you can grasp that and gain a sense of what an amazing change it makes to shift between two and three dimensions, then the shift between the three–dimensional world we live in, into four, five, or six dimensional environments would produce extraordinary changes in what we could achieve. Things that to us at the moment are absolute barriers would disappear. The small child, in those other dimensions, could easily turn the ball inside out without cutting.
Ancestral memories have been mentioned in an earlier chapter, but it is worth adding a few comments to what has already been said. Grof, commenting on this area of extended awareness says that often what is experienced relates to the present personality, adding to the understanding of its composition and makeup. At their best they give clear information about the lives and environment of long dead ancestors. These details are often extraordinary, have been verified, and bring to light distant history. At a psychological level they can of course have nothing to do with history, but be scenes that illustrate the person’s conflicts, fears or traumas, enabling them to avoid directly confronting those issues. Apart from that such experiences may have nothing to do with biological ancestors, but bring to light what I call ‘past dwelling places’. I use this term instead of past lives, as the past characters we meet are not directly a life that the present personality lived. They are lives that ones spirit expressed as – spirit being the silver cord on which the beads of different personalities are strung. It is the fundamental energy and awareness resident in every aspect of the universe, and the foundations and source of your own personal awareness.
In trying to put into words my own discoveries of this far memory, or past dwelling places, I have written elsewhere: ‘The years have gradually brought me growing awareness of all that I owe to my ancestors. The weather and storms of my life, the sunshine and rain, the loss and the seeking of love, have slowly revealed the roots of the tree that I am. Through those roots I knew my life fed upon the rich soil formed out of all that had lived in the past. I knew I lived on the nourishment of the dead and had entered into the house of the ancestors. And in the grandeur of that house I had found previous dwelling places, ancient graves, the buried drama, the numbed agony and the living spirit of the long dead. The guardian of the threshold led me into my forgotten past. And there beside me in her spirit form my love explored with me. We experienced the rising and falling waves of life; time unfolding from the timeless; the gradual knowing of everything in nothing; the slow realisation of the dance in utter stillness. In essence that is the journey. And here I now sit in the present wondering why the being that I was vast ages ago journeyed away from home.’
To give some idea of what it is like to meet the full impact of ancestral influences I quote from a dream and the exploration of the dream by Cal.
I dreamt I was in a large, old, unoccupied building, on what I think was the ground floor. (60) It was all quite dark from age, and lacking colour, but the building was not in ruins or bad condition. I found a hole in the floor through which I looked down to the large room of an apartment below. The rooms were big. I had a long rope or piece of wire that I swung in a circle in the room below. The aim was to ‘catch’ something down there – a bit like fishing. I had an intuitive knowledge that my forebears had lived in the place and there were things worth retrieving. But I realised the wire/rope was not effective, so I decided to go down and knew I could get in as I had the key for the door.
It was a large place, but my main impressions were of a huge – seven foot – butler type character who I immediately thought of as Lurch, the TV character playing the comic role of Frankenstein’s monster. He came apparently to assist me and lived or existed in the place. I noticed he had a huge knife stuck in his belt and I thought he might use it to attack me. This didn’t worry me too much, but I asked him why he had it. He told me there was a big puma in the place that leapt on people and you had to guard against it. So he gave me a knife to protect myself. (62)
Then Lurch and I started walking off into the gloom of the place to search for ancestral relics. But as we did so a beautiful big puma leapt on me. At this point I was suddenly lucid and knew that nothing could harm me in the dream state. So I caught hold of the Puma in my arms and held it. As I did so I saw it was the beautiful, powerful, female and wild untamed expression of the woman I loved, and so I treated the she cat lovingly. We then went off in search of the important thing or things to recover connected with my forebears. Puma came with me, purring and a very close companion.
Cal says of his further exploration of the dream, “Many experiences arose from exploring, while awake, the further reaches of that House of the Ancestors. In brief I met what I felt sure were residues of long past lives that linked with mine. It was very real, and I felt very strongly that when we look back in that way and accept those links and influences, we take part in resurrection of those lost lives. Because we integrate them into our present conscious life, they move beyond death into a communion with the living.
Very often, either in dreamwork or through the emergence of unconscious processes, experiences relating to evolution occur. Jesse Watkins, whose threshold between his conscious personality and his unconscious broke down due to overwork and stress, describes such an experience. He says, “At one time I actually seemed to be wandering in a kind of …. desert landscape as if I were an animal, rather a large animal. It sounds absurd to say so but I felt as if I were a kind of rhinoceros or something like that and emitting sounds like a rhinoceros and being at the same time afraid and at the same time being aggressive and on guard.”
He goes on to say that he slipped even further back in the evolutionary chain to experience what it was like to be a creature that had no brain, but was just struggling to survive against other things that were opposing it. (63)
Another man experienced what it felt like to be a primitive human being. This happened while practising LifeStream in a group. He recorded the experience as follows: (64)
My body moved into a squatting posture. Inwardly I felt the “enemy” had been frightened off, and I was watching, but resting. At first I came out of the squat a few times to ward off further attack, and even in the squat was very much alert. Then I gradually subsided, the danger over, yet I was still very much on watch. I felt as if I were outside a cave, the watcher for the group, and felt myself to be not an animal, but not a human. I seemed to be something in between, not yet capable of speech.
Then I began a strange sound which started as an out blowing breath, but then became rather a foghorn sort of sound. This, I felt was just a primitive type of song – a sound to a) pass the time – b) an ‘all is well’ sound for the group who were sleeping behind me in a cave. It developed into a three note sound, rather mournful, and then stopped, to reappear a couple of times. My observing self recognised that these chanted sounds helped the primitive self I was to reach more fully to a sense of personal existence; to wake up to being aware as an individual.
This subsided into a sleepy state, but I lived in the alertness of my ears, listening for sounds of danger. This was extraordinary because I had never before experienced hearing like this. Just as in my normal awareness I can experience depth, colour and dimension in my sight, now my hearing was a world I could sense in a similar way. It enabled me to ‘see’ a whole world outside me. Then a strange sound alerted me. Angry growls rose from me. The human – partly self aware – part of me was so newly developed at this phase of evolution that any danger or excitement submerged it in the powerful animal emotions. Then I simply squatted out the rest of the session through what felt like a night watch. There was no conclusion to this.
In such experiences there is often complete identification with an animal, or ancient creatures. During this there is often a very full sense of understanding or experiencing the animal or creature. As will be described in other sections, such knowledge is often highly accurate and informative.
Jung and Grof have both written about the archetypal themes that emerge from the unconscious into personal experience. Grof says that in his experience with people undergoing LSD psychotherapy, even uneducated subjects frequently describe experiences in which they enact scenes resembling ancient mythological stories from Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, Greece, and Central America.
One subject reported to me the following account.
“I lived through an experience in which I had a brother. This brother was a very beautiful being. He was almost angelic, or at least had an awareness of the divine, a full sense of eternity and his place in it. And this brother, who trusted me implicitly, because that was his nature, I got to dress up as an animal, saying that we were going to take part in a carnival. And I sent him out through a door knowing there were those waiting to kill him with arrows. And when he was out and shot I walked out and shot an arrow through his heart. Some of his blood spotted me on the breast.
As I experienced this fantasy I felt it to be a deeply buried part of my mind, there in my unconscious because it is a story of past human pain.
As this experience came to a close I understood the story I had experienced was mythological. It was the story of Loki and Baldur, Cain and Abel, and I felt it expressed a long past event in humanity’s development, and was therefore an ancestral memory. Then understanding came to me slowly of what the story depicted. I felt it told that early humans, as their identity was developing were confronted by a choice of direction. They were aware of survival drives to deal with the world, as animals have, but also they still had a direct awareness of the sources of existence, the foundations of life. They knew through direct experience that they arose from what we call eternity or the spiritual. I suppose we would say this is like a divine being, but they knew themselves as that being. They held within themselves that divine awareness as well as awareness of the world. But a critical point was reached where the instincts to survive killed out that divine awareness. The drive to survive, the motivation to kill or be killed, dominate or be dominated took over. And as I understood it, I realised we are the children of that event. We are the results of that change. Who we are today is based upon those beginnings.”
There are very many archetypes that we may confront in exploring dreams and the unconscious – too many to list in this book. But some of the major archetypes are:
Addict — Alchemist –Artist –Athlete –Avenging hero or heroine – Beggar – Child (wounded – magical – holy – orphaned) – Clown – Death – Doctor – Father figure – God – Goddess – Guide (such as guru, priest, old wise man or woman, divine being) – Healer (wounded healer) – Hero/Heroine – Judge – King – Lover – Magician – Martyr – Master or Mentor – Messiah – Monk – Mother – Mystic – Nun – Nurse – Pilgrim – Poet – Priest – Prince – Princess – Prophet – Prostitute – Queen – Saboteur – Samaritan – Saviour – Scientist – Scribe (this could appear as somebody who witnesses and records) – Seducer/Seductress – Servant – Shaman – Slave – Teacher – Therapist – Trickster – Victim – Virgin – Visionary – Warrior – Wizard. See Archetypes
We are all influenced by archetypes far more than we are aware. Seth Godin says about archetypes that, “Parts of the world wrestle with hunger, famine and even starvation. Yet in many of these cultures, it is unthinkable to eat brown rice. Think about that. For thousands of years people ate brown rice, which is easier to prepare, more nutritious and far more efficient than white rice (more food per bushel harvested). And yet, there’s something so powerful about the symbol of white rice that it is embraced by people who should (and probably do) know better.” He goes on to point out that in Hawaii an enormous amount of the canned luncheon meat Spam is eaten, yet not elsewhere. Why?
Much of our behaviour arises out of unconscious urges or patterns, or what we are calling archetypes. Sometimes the grip of an archetype on our personal way of responding to the world is enormous. An archetype is formed by a prolonged repetition of certain types of behaviour, of beliefs, or of modes of survival. Therefore a cultural response to death is an archetype. The American dream is an archetype. The world view that a whole group of people have is an archetype. Particular religious beliefs are an archetype. Becoming a real individual means a gradual emergence from and recognition of the archetypes – or as they might be called, ‘habits of the soul’.
Exploring what has remained unconscious within oneself through dreams or other methods means confronting these archetypes that posses your conscious self. It means becoming aware of who and what you are. It means remembering whole areas of your existence that most people have blanked out – life in the womb, early childhood, life in eternity.
The meeting with superhuman beings has already been mentioned, and is recorded in the cultures of all ages. Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy is an example of one such being who leads Dante through the different levels of life after death. Such superhuman or divine beings are described in many ways, but often have the relationship of a guide, especially a spiritual guide. But this is not always the case, sometimes they come as a teacher, healer or messenger.
Not only are such beings described in different ways – for instance as angels, aliens from other worlds, higher dimensional beings, spirits of the dead, or even the spirit form of a living great master – but they also appear in different guises as suggested by what has just been said. Because the unconscious is a master of expressing itself in the full surround virtual reality we call a dream, it is easy to explain away such beings as aspects of oneself portrayed in different ways. However, when we personally meet such a being it is difficult to believe such a description. The reason being the impact such superhuman beings have upon us is extraordinary, and they often give us information, sometimes about the future, which we certainly do not consciously know at the time, and is later proved to be correct.
However, there is another aspect to these beings; they can be forces of destruction as well as forces of healing and knowledge. Like any subjective experience such beings can be an expression of unconscious facets, processes or energies in oneself. (65) Jung described them as images or meetings with archetypes. (66) But Grof brings them much nearer to our personal reality through his work with patients. He found that when a person was re–experiencing traumatic aspects of their birth they would be confronted by evil deities such as Satan or Ahriman, and when they were experiencing blissful aspects of birth they would feel the presence of beings such as Osiris, Isis and Krishna. As with most aspects of human experience and life itself, there is never any one concrete truth about things. Therefore such beings may very well be independent, intelligent and potent forces in some encounters, and aspects of our own unconscious in others. But there is also the possibility that such things can be both. At some levels of the multi dimensional inner experience there is no contradiction in opposites being paradoxically the same.
Universal symbols appear again and again in both dreams and waking encounters with the unconscious. When these are experienced they are usually not seen simply as a static physical object, but are full of meaning, movement and power. Common symbols met are in the form of a mandala, the crux ansata, various forms of the Shiva lingam, jewels, shining objects or animals, or the wheel of life such as shown in Buddhism and in Native American rituals.
Very often profound understanding flows through such symbols to the person meeting them. An example of this is as follows:
I looked over at a plain wall in the room. It was light green. To my amazement a huge living and wondrous circle appeared on the wall. It was full of movement, everything dancing in time to music. At the very centre of the circle was emptiness, nothing, a void. Yet out of this nothingness all things emerged. There were plants, animals, people, hills, rivers and mountains all coming to birth. They danced out in their own individual movement, yet each unknowingly was part of the whole wonderful and intricate dance which made a great pattern and movement in the body of the circle. All danced to the periphery and there turned and moved, still in their ballet, back to the centre. At that centre they plunged into its oblivion again. But at that very moment new life sprang from it to dance once more.
This experience has stayed with me over the years and continually enlightens me about the essence of life. We emerge from something that is beyond any form, yet is potentially everything. We dance our life, and without knowing it are part of the whole movement of creation, of life and death. Then we move back to our source, lose ourselves in it, only to be brought forth again in a new and unique form.
Grof noted that people experiencing such dynamic symbols, often learned whole systems of thought and insight from the experience. They felt them to be glorious living doorways to the cosmic mind. In one such meeting they would understand the whole structure and meaning of the system it depicted. It seems probable to me that some of the great symbolic systems such as astrology, the chakras and the I Ching were originally grasped from this type of visionary experience.
The possibility of and experience of past lives crowd the pages of any literature about exploring ones innermost being. What was said above about the paradoxical nature of some phenomena is true of the experience relating to past lives. Remember that in all visionary and dream experiences you are dealing with the process that can create a full surround virtual reality – asleep or awake. The dream process expresses its message in symbols, in mime, in drama that while you are experiencing it is very here and now and real. If this is not understood you can easily get lost in a web of symbols and experiences that you do not get to the heart of. It is therefore easy for your dream process to create a dream or waking dream experience (vision) of a past life that feels completely real. What is happening in such cases is that the ‘dream’ presents as a past life, a situation that is a problem in the present, but too difficult or painful to directly experience. Much easier to meet it as if it were at a distance – a past life.
I am not thereby suggesting that all past life experiences are illusions – far from it. What I am warning of is that such an experience might be taken at face value and thus its important message of here and now lost. So it is important to be able to discriminate between a symbolic experience and a direct memory. The following description helps to clarify this.
During a period of my life when I was going through a primal type of psychotherapy in which I was re–experiencing traumatic episodes from my childhood, I had a very dramatic thing happen in which I experienced being captured by the Germans during the First World War. I was then tortured and afterwards strapped face down on a bed and homosexually assaulted. This didn’t emerge as a daydream or fantasy. It was like full replay with body contortions, screams and reliving it in the here and now. So real in fact that I was sure I had experienced part of a past life that was negatively influencing my present. However, having relived things from my childhood in a similar way and seen how the recall healed psychological and even physical things that had been troubling me, I noticed something was not quite right about this German event. It didn’t leave me changed. So I began to wonder what was going on. Was I meeting some sort of wishful thinking or tragic fantasy? The questioning, in further therapy sessions led to an experience in which I was attacked by youths in this lifetime – but in fact no such attack had taken place.
But then an amazing breakthrough came. The German and teenage attack had been true but truth hidden in symbols, and because what they revealed was not something I wanted to see, it had been disguised as a past life event. What I eventually met was to do with the killing of my sexual desires in teenage. I had been led to believe that masturbation was a terrible thing and from the age of thirteen had completely killed any sexual expression until I was twenty one. This had set up a huge internal conflict – my First World War. The results of this conflict had tortured me bringing about depression in my teens that had blossomed more fully in my adult life represented as the torture. My sexual drive had also been turned inward on myself again and again ‘buggering’ my youthful personality – represented by the homosexual attacks and the symbolic experience of being attacked by youths. Though this latter thing was not depicting in-turned sexual energy, but aggression turned against myself. So the imagery of the events I experienced had been very precise, and the screams and emotions experienced were a release of what I had internally felt as a teenager leading to depression.
I believe that many ‘past life’ experiences are actually of a similar nature, depicting trauma in this lifetime that is too painful to immediately meet and acknowledge. The past life story line enables us to hold it at a slight distance and possibly avoid a full experience of and responsibility for what it depicts.
However, some past life experiences are of a very different nature, and are both healing and extraordinarily helpful in understanding and dealing with present life situations. The meeting with such memories shows us in detail how events in the past prior to ones present life create and flow into circumstances, fears, and personal traits that weave current problems and situations. You see them as a thread that is interwoven with all the major aspects of your present personality, skills and failings. They become a key influence in your life because it is obvious that there are issues you are meeting that are of enormous importance to deal with and transform. There are destructive influences that unless you learn to forgive and give love to, will arise again. There are loving and creative relationships that come to you from a span of time that is staggering. You see what becomes for you the real meaning of human life, a long journey through many dwelling places during which you learn how to unfold the divine seed that is at your core.
At the heart of such memories is the understanding of the law of return, of cause and effect, or as it is called in the East karma or kismet – what you sow is what you reap. You see for yourself that the learning of love and self giving is at the heart of real growth. Grof, having witnessed many people going through such powerful self confrontations says, “The inability to forgive and transcend one’s suffering appears to be as conducive to karmic imprinting as actively performed injustice or violence.” And when we manage to free ourselves from something we may have been carrying through immense ages, there is an intense experience of wonder, of glory, of bliss, and an awareness of your eternal existence as part of an infinite flow of life and love.
One other aspect of this worth note is that there arises from such memories the realisation that the real work of a lifetime isn’t to become a millionaire or a pop singer, but to discover and transform issues that may have their source in a far distant past. This is, from this perspective, the real work of humanity, and the only one that will transform our warring world.
Extra sensory perception in all its many forms can occur when we move beyond the boundaries of what we experience through our body senses. Dreams do this for many people, without any attempt at personal growth, meditation or any other method of extending awareness. In our culture ESP is sometimes seen as weird, scary, or even a sign of sickness. The prevailing attitude is that nothing can exist that is not physical, so clairvoyance or far seeing are felt to be signs of a person’s wishful thinking or imagination – or even mental illness. A person is thought to be sad who wants these things to be true, or who sees signs of ESP in ordinary events. In her book The Gift, Mia Dolan writes that when her own extended awareness began she thought she might be mentally ill. She went to her doctor who sent her to a psychiatrist who thought she was strange but not sick.
A person I recently met described her own first responses to ‘visions’ by saying, “At first when I started experiencing things I felt uneasy about it, kind of emotional like there was something wrong with me. I decided to check first if it was a physical ailment so I went to my Optometrist who suggested I should see a Neurologist. But then one of the visions turned out to be prophetic, so I realised that it wasn’t a neurological problem. I was torn between curiosity and uneasiness about it all.”
The term extra sensory perception is very useful because it uses the word sensory, but in an extended way. So what we experience may be like seeing something, a vision or like a waking dream. We see or know things that are not present externally in any physical way. Sometimes the extended perception occurs as hearing things, a voice, or sounds of various kinds. For some people their sense of touch or emotional response is the way they reach beyond what their eyes, ears or sense of smell can tell them. They ‘feel’ things about environments or people. And of course, taste and smell can also be the means of experiencing beyond the normal.
Sometimes these are outshone by what might be called transcendent insight. This is an experience of direct perception or knowing, beyond any visual, auditory or sensual presentation of what is being met. But in such cases the direct insight might also at times be accompanied by imagery and the other forms of ESP if they are helpful.
Although, as said above, in our Western culture such experiences are sometimes at first seen as sickness, in other cultures the inability to have extended perception was often seen as a form of illness or incomplete growth. Considering that there is enough evidence of a scientific nature now to assure us that personal awareness can reach beyond the boundary of our body, it is a sad comment on our medical and psychological institutions that there is not wider support for those who develop or have such skills.
However, ESP is not a new thing discovered or discounted in our times. It has always been with us. On October 31, 1898, a young woman named Bertha Huse left her home early in the morning, vanished without a trace, and was thought to have drowned in a nearby river in Enfield, Vermont. A search was begun and for a whole day a hundred and fifty men explored the woods and the shore of the lake. Then, for two days a diver searched the lake without results. Four miles away in a village, Mrs Titus told her husband prior to Bertha’s disappearance that something awful was going to happen. Mrs Titus was a great dreamer, and her mother also had the gift of prophetic dreams. Then, on the 31st as Mrs Titus and her husband were walking to work she told him the thing had happened. She had seen it in her dreams. Two days later she dreamt of seeing the exact spot in the lake where Bertha’s body was trapped. She went with her husband to look at the spot and recognised it from her dream. Then, with great certainty she got Mr. George Whitney, who had been active in the previous search, to call the diver out again. The diver protested angrily about this saying he had searched the spot, but Mrs Titus said he had not searched exactly where she pointed, and that she knew the body was trapped in mud head down, with only a foot showing. So with many protests the diver went down on the exact spot, eighteen feet into muddy water. Feeling around his hand came across the protruding foot of Bertha. He said he was used to finding bodies, that was part of his work, but he felt great fear – not of the foot and body, but of the woman who knew exactly where to send him. (67)
Identification with animals appears in many dreams and waking visions. In fact animals appear in a very large number of dreams. In most cases they depict aspects of our own nature, such as instinctive responses to events and people such as flight or fight, sexuality or our innate wisdom. Some animal identifications depict our anger, possible focussing on particular people or situations. But in some cases the identification is different. This has already been covered under section five above.
Something that is seldom mentioned in terms of wider awareness is an experience connected with music. I suppose this might equally apply to any of the arts, and in fact in various places in this book, mention has been made of the information that can arise out of our relationship with architecture, art and literature.
If we build an image of the place our personal unconscious plays in the scheme of things outlined in this book, what is about to be presented will be easier to understand.
Limited range of sensory information.
Access only to ones personal memories, or external sources of information.
Relationships with things and people as external objects.
Blends the resources of the waking awareness and the cosmic.
Acts as a transformer of one to the other.
Interprets or translates the formless into the imagery of dreams and intuitions.
Holds all personal memories, most of which have been consciously forgotten.
A unity of all things and at the same time expressive of what exists as an individual life.
Beyond time and space.
Holding not only all gathered experience, but also the potential for what has not yet existed, been thought or made real in the three dimensional world of form.
Considering the divisions and their description, perhaps it can be seen that if we consciously hold a thought, or experience something in our surrounding, and at the same time are open to the unconscious, or even the cosmic, then we can have a much fuller awareness of it, or information about it, than if we were only active in normal waking awareness. Consider then what might happen when we listen to music or view a painting, or look at a building.
Here is a description of such an experience.
“I listened then to the South American folk music. As I listened to the first track it was almost like I had taken a drug. I began to hear behind the sounds of the music the quality, the soul of its composers. On the surface it was gay and lively, but I felt a tremendous loneliness and pain expressing through it. There were glimpses of the being of God coming through, daring life, meeting aloneness, pain, love, death, the burden of survival, the wonder of awareness in the breast of men and women, that hides, carries on, calls out through the things meant to cover it.
I began to shake with sobbing as I felt this awareness work in me. I called out, ‘Please go away. Please go away from me.’ I meant that to have this awareness and have people near me tore my heart open, because I felt what it was to be a man or woman. “Please go away!
As the music carried on my awareness deepened and I sobbed deeply but quietly. I felt more fully than ever before the loneliness of the human condition – God living in the human heart and bearing the whole tragedy of birth, struggling to survive, and death; the tragedy of human personality with all its defences, pains, problems and fears; all its attempts to hide itself in religion, drink, ideas, surface pleasures; and bearing the beauty of living, being parents, working with each other, loving, losing, carrying on blind, beaten, lost.
My life with my wife was woven into this awareness, because we are parts of humanity, and I could see how alone she has been in our togetherness. I felt I was becoming aware of God. But real awareness of God is to be conscious of humanity, and see God in it. But to really see God is to feel what I have tried to describe above. I can only bear a tiny bit of that, and only for a while, because to see is to experience our own part in this terrible and beautiful situation. To know deeply our own failure and pitifulness as well as our own divinity. That is why I was saying, “Please go away.”
The wider awareness, as explained elsewhere, is not necessarily all peace and light, although some people describe it as such. Wider is more. You really know/experience, not simply have an interesting intellectual interpretation of the world. This enlarged awareness stretches you beyond your usual boundaries of experience, and usually this happens slowly except in cases of shock or injury as happened with Jesse Watkins mentioned above. As explained in the above description, the soul, the struggle, the love and the spiritual life of the people were known through their music. But also each one of us is part of the whole, so what we feel applies to us also
In a lighter vein, Krysia Gallien, in her essay called Descent of the Phoenix, says:
As we listen to the music in the trance dance experience, we are taken behind the music itself into the racial memory of the piece. The history of the people, the emotional heart of the nation is inscribed in every note.
In the Native American chants we are taken back to the trail of tears. We can experience the majesty of nature before it became tamed and the direct relationship between that majesty and the heart of man.
In the Sufi whirling pieces we are taken out of the body and into the starry cosmic spheres. We see the spiral of evolution leading us back to the stars.
In the Aboriginal pieces, on the sound of the didgeridoo, we are taken deep into the entrails of existence. Here we enter the nucleus of creation, the origin of form.
In the African pieces we are taken into the blood stream of life, into the heart beat of the earth on the drum. Here we participate in the great dance of creation that spills its abundance in all directions.
In the Japanese shakuhachi music we enter the distillation of all experience condensed into eloquent stillness. We touch without touching.
A man describes below something different to this in that he arrives at particular insights.
I was looking at my feelings about the problems I faced in my life, and I had put some music on – Tchaikovsky. As I began to get in touch with my feelings more fully I began to feel a background irritation. This got stronger until it was in the foreground of what I was feeling, and as such I could see it was the music. And as soon as I gave it my full attention I knew who Tchaikovsky was. The music created this intense picture of him, or maybe it was a feeling of knowing what was driving him. The music brought to me a massive influx of information about the life he lived – and I had not to my knowledge read about him. I saw that he lived in a social world of money and aristocracy, ballrooms; a world in which people were completely ignorant and even disdainful of the working class, the peasants. The feeling was so distasteful I stopped the music. But it was like a bad taste in the mouth and left me with an awareness I had never really encountered before of the huge divide between the classes in those times. Later this deepened and it felt like a massive conflict in an individual; a conflict between the head and the body. I could understand how it had developed into a bloody revolution, and that in many people today a similar divide existed within themselves creating neurosis and depression.
The pieces quoted are just a few examples, but they suggest that when we open to the wider possibilities within us, we not only gain information we had not encountered before, but we might intensely experience it rather than simply intellectually learn it or think about it.
Grof reports identification with plants as appearing very seldom. As with animals, plants and especially the tree appear frequently in our dreams. These often represent the processes of growth or nutrition, or the way you relate to your environment. In full identification though, insight and direct experience of the wonderful processes of photosynthesis and transformation of minerals into living cells is met. This is a very profound thing because it not only brings understanding of the plant’s needs to the person identifying with it, but also can lead to insights about the plant’s medical and other properties. Recognising this opens enormous possibilities for us to take part in the life and understanding of the plant life surrounding us.
That plants, as with all other living things, have a level of awareness, is not a new idea. The great African–American scientist George Washington Carver arrived at many of his discoveries in connection with plant synthesis through what he called prayer, or identification with the plant he was examining. He said, “When I touch a flower, I am not merely touching that flower, I am touching infinity. You have to love it enough. Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough. Not only have I found that when I talk to the little flower or to the peanut they will give up their secrets, but I have found that when I silently commune with people they give up their secrets also if you love them enough.”
Dr. George Carver discovered how to extract, or synthesise, face powders, printers ink, peanut butter, shampoo, creosote, vinegar, dandruff–cure, instant coffee, dyes, rubber compound, soaps, wood stains, and hundreds of other uses from plants. (68)
An example of how this feels is as follows:
My wife and I attempted communication with a sick New Zealand tomato tree we had. It was in a large tub, well fed and watered, but had the greenfly, and was also wilting. We had sprayed, but the general debility of the plant seemed to attract the fly. I used the technique of opening myself to the plant to see if my intuition could tell me the condition of it. The first thing I felt was an unexpected wave of love, as if the plant was wordlessly saying thank you for caring. Then I had the sense of my consciousness meshing with the being of the plant. My impression was that the plant was an entity, a form of life and awareness, but it did not have a focused mind that could ask questions about what was causing its sickness? Because I could ask the question, and because I allowed myself to consider the plant, a new situation arose; the plant could be aware of itself through me. The difficulty of the process was that everything was direct experience without words. As the experience of plant life was new to me, I had to spend some time allowing the sensations to soak in and be analysed. What arose out of this was the understanding that the root system of the plant needed to spread sideways, not down. We therefore put the plant in a sack, with the same amount of earth spread thin. Within a week the greenfly had all gone without spraying, and the plant grew strong and luxuriant.
Awareness of or identification with another person is one of the most common experiences when we move beyond the restrictions of our five senses. There are many aspects to this, and what was said at the beginning of this chapter needs to be remembered in regard to the zones and the way some experiences are expressed in imagery or symbols.
The major facets are, awareness of another person’s thoughts or feelings; awareness of a dead person; feeling that we are, and acting like another person. Each of these also has subdivisions, but we will only look at the major facets here.
Knowing what another person is thinking or feeling is reasonably common in everyday life. If we are observant we can witness the change in the facial expression, the tone of voice and the way a person responds, and gain a strong impression of what they are feeling or thinking. This often happens at a distance too, without any ability to see or hear them. This is especially so in cases of crisis or high feelings. At one time in my life I heard a man call me from over a mile away because he suddenly and urgently needed my help.
Thinking about such incidences as if they were some form of telephonic mental connection is not a helpful way of understanding them. You are not dealing with the laws as they exist in connection with a physical body. Space and time do not operate in the same way in the other zones of awareness. The next description emphasis something of this.
Waves of sparkling radiance were flowing through me or in me. I sensed this as waves rolling around the earth, generating from the earth’s power or magnetism. These waves roll around and therefore through all of us, and I felt I was experiencing this. I felt I was riding these beautiful waves of sparkling energy. At this point, I had no physical form, no sense of having a body or being a shape. I was naked mind existing in space, and the waves were rolling through me. Then I felt myself at one with Dakota. As this happened I had a vision of migrating birds, of the whole flow of living creatures through the seasons, moving like energy across the Earth. I was the energy of life flowing through its creatures. I felt the urge of life in its move towards mating, towards building a nest, having young, caring for them. I experienced this from feeling the mystery of life that is in the Earth, and in the waves I had felt part of. It was a very beautiful experience. And as I saw and felt these things I realised I knew something of Dakota and what was an incredibly powerful inner experience for her. Because I had no boundaries my being and her being were merged, and I understood why she identifies so much with the animals, with nature and with birds; because here I was seeing it, experiencing it as the flow of life through creatures and through Dakota. Daniel
As mentioned, it is sometimes not easy, when exploring these inner zones, to know whether you are meeting a distinct individual, or whether you are confronting an aspect of yourself that has been expressed in image form as another person or another being. But in the widest sense, just as you have two hands that can operate individually, and even push against each other, and yet they are part of the one body, so every individual is a facet of one life, and part of one being, one universe.
However, while living as a physical person, one of the most profoundly moving experiences is to connect in some way with someone we love who has died. Lara Poliszewski died suddenly when she was four years old. Her parents Beverly and Jan did not know exactly what the cause of death was. Eight years later two friends of Beverly’s mother visited Rita Rogers, a famous British psychic. During their reading Rita was pestered by a little blonde girl who said her name began with L. The two women did not know anybody with a name beginning with L who had died. Rita was told by the young spirit that she had died of a heart spasm, and to say to the couple seeking a reading that they were going to see ‘Lara’s’ grandmother shortly, and to tell her what was said. In fact the couple had tape recorded the session and played it to Beverly’s mother. Hearing this from her mother Beverley quickly went to see Rita Rogers and recognised everything that Rita communicated as being said by Lara; things nobody else would know. (69)
Dannion Brinkley was struck by lightning while on the telephone. The strike was so powerful it melted the telephone he was holding, welded his shoes to the floor and threw him up to the ceiling. He was clinically dead for some time but later revived. While ‘dead’ he went through an incredibly clear near death experience. Near the beginning of the inner journey he made he met what he describes as a Being of Light. In its presence he felt that no one could love him better, no one offered more sympathy, encouragement and compassion than this Being. He says it was like meeting a lover, mother and best friend, multiplied a thousand fold. The love he felt was almost too pleasurable to cope with. The Being gave the impression of being both male and female, and had a translucent shimmering body emitting sparkling colours. Dannion goes on to say that the Being of Light took him through a complete life review. But as it began this review it engulfed him. (70)
At the beginning of this chapter I said that a non–physical being touched me and I lost awareness of my surroundings. That too was like being engulfed as Dannion describes. The power and influence of the being totally permeated every part me. Such an experience gives some idea of what is possible in these meetings beyond the limitations of the body. But there is some evidence from other descriptions of near death experience, and the meeting with the Being of Light, that in one way the being is ones own eternal self – ones spirit. The life review is part of the process of being absorbed into the eternal self you have always been at your core. It is part of the process of moving beyond the limitations of gender and three dimensional life you have been experiencing.
If you remember that there are zones in the experience of your inner world, then it follows that the quality of the contact you make with another being will depend upon where, or what zone you make it in. At the physical level the contact will usually be of two very distinct and separate individuals. Communication will have to be through some form of signal such as speech or one that depends in some way on the physical senses.
In the zone of sleep and dreams there are a lot more possibilities, but usually the person will still be seen as having a body, communication might still be in speech, but can also be directly by exchanged thoughts and feelings. So a much fuller exchange can occur. There is still an emphasis at this level of being male, female, aged, young, and ones physical appearance.
The zone beyond this is one in which you can be directly aware of the energy of Life flowing through and working within yourself and the person you are meeting. This allows you to know them much more fully and to have insight into what is happening deeply within yourself or the person you meet. You can be aware of their health or their inner quality. Gender and the other factors of the physical life might still be strongly evident here, but not so importantly.
Beyond the previous zone the limitations of physical life begin to fall away. The being will lose their male or female self and also their defined physical form. They will become shining light, or a vast awareness and power. In these less formed zones the division between beings falls away. There are no barriers between two people unless they choose to shut themselves off from the ocean of awareness in which we all exist. The knowledge or experience they can share is infinite because at that level we are at one with the infinite.
Awareness as inorganic matter seems at first to be a contradiction. Centuries of Western thought and science have created the picture of matter and consciousness being at the opposite ends of a continuum. Matter is not conscious, and consciousness is not material. This duality has led to the sort of imagery that we create in meeting the different zones of experience described above. We create the image of a being outside of ourselves because we cannot believe that unity and cohesiveness is fundamental to our universe. In an out of body experience we frequently have a sense of travelling somewhere because the concept of timelessness and spacelessness do not fit into the materialistic universe we believe exists around and separate from us. To get somewhere we HAVE to travel. It is inconceivable to us that consciousness pervades all time and space.
Nevertheless, people who have consciously moved beyond the dualistic imagery of dreams into the other zones of experience frequently penetrate the worlds of molecules, atoms, and other substances such as stone and water. What they find is that everything has sentience – everything has consciousness. Of course it is not the focussed, self–aware consciousness of human beings. But what these explorers of the zones find is that consciousness is fundamental to the universe. Consciousness or sentience pervades everything. Therefore even your car or computer has a level of sentience that can be experienced and connected with. The crystals and wooden objects that you might admire and love are imbued with their own sentience and identity; also their own energy and power. Sometimes that power is seen to have been enhanced by focused human attention and thought. In this sense all material objects are states of consciousness. Grof reports that some of his patients undergoing psychotherapy, identified and felt at one with the Himalayas, or the great stone statues of immediate and other cultures, experiencing them not as portrayals of deities, but of states of mind such as timelessness, the changeless and the eternal.
The energy of Life has already been mentioned in several places. People describe their experience of it in various ways. Sometimes they know it as a force that causes the body to vibrate. Sometimes it is felt like a streaming flow from the base of the spine to the top of their head, or from the crown of the head to the base of the spine. At other times it can be experienced as a spiralling whirling force that integrates the various aspects of one’s feelings and attitudes and transforms them into widened awareness. Overall the energy leads to greater insight into your meaning, to the gradual transformation of your identity or identifications, and to the flowering of your potential, and your overall health.
Fundamentally this energy flow is an expression of the psychobiological life processes in you. In the East it is called kundalini. Attached to the word is the concept of the chakras. These words are foreign to us unless we have given them close study. They can also sometimes lead people to conceive of this life energy as something strange and mysterious, when really it is simply the energy behind our everyday existence, expressing as it does in the multiple ways that we know ourselves. For instance, organic functions, movement, digestion, reproduction, responsiveness or sentience, speech, thought, and all the negative and positive emotions that we create consciously or unconsciously are expressions of that energetic process. This is the force of life in action, and it becomes whatever we express it as. It is therefore creative or destructive depending upon the actions, emotions and thoughts we express. Understanding this lies at the very foundation of living an ordered and satisfyingly creative life. If we express that life energy as constant bitterness, anger, self–criticism and hateful emotions, then we are self destructive in a powerful way. Some writers about Kundalini say how dangerous it is, but again they are treating it as if it is a supernatural force, instead of as described above. Electricity is a natural phenomena, and of course it is dangerous, as everything is, if abused or not understood.
Nevertheless, the eastern teachings on kundalini tell us a great deal more about this wonderful energy of Life and its possibilities than western science and medicine.
The cosmic mind is often confused with other levels of experience in the zones. Several times in previous chapters or paragraphs the words ‘ocean of consciousness’ have been used. The following example will help define what it is like to meet this.
I had been singing Ave Maria in a dream. With Ave Maria still sounding its lovely quality I realised I was dreaming and became awake enough to observe and think about what was happening. I realised that as a musician – in the dream – I had very great ability as a composer, and decided to compose an ‘Ode to Mozart’. No sooner had I decided this than the music poured through me. So much so I heard it as if listening to an orchestra or record. The music soared and moved in a wonderful expression of human vision and transcendence. As this occurred I could observe the process of creativity or composition, which was spontaneous to an extraordinary degree. It appeared that by asking for or seeking the composition I had opened a window in myself. Through it I had contact with a huge and unlimited sea of mind or experience. In it was all that had ever existed, merged and yet distinct. Every human talent and thought was in it alive and vital. My ‘Ode to Mozart’ drew on this unfathomed depth of people’s life and genius. I knew as I observed this that the music itself, although precise and clear and arising from the spirit of Mozart within the unlimited mind, proclaimed the human ability to leap beyond boundaries into this immense and apparently limitless world – to allow the mind to soar and fly, to move beyond its own conceptions and rejoice.
I wanted to test this amazing ability and asked the huge mind how I could compose ‘modern’ music. What followed was like being instructed. The Mind communicated with me as if in speech – but there was no speech, I experienced each new communication as direct insight within me. In this way I was told that music was a reflection of basic life processes. The Mind led me through an experience of evolution, starting from the most fundamental life forms such as a crystal or single celled creature. Such a creature was like one note sounding over and over. After doing this single note in infinite repetition, perhaps the process stumbles upon a slight change in itself. This would be like the playing of two different notes over and over. Then maybe another basic process was learned so three different notes played, and if these two meet they play a more intricate music together. As life became more complex these ‘notes’ began to develop into unfolding musical themes. Then suddenly the Mind let me hear a wonderful symphonic flow of music with its many different processes playing together, in which so many opposing ‘themes’ in the end form a whole. And the Mind said to me, “This is your body.” Kathleen.
Kathleen has a distinct awareness of herself apart from the cosmic mind. The mind communicates with her and teaches her, but still remains distinct. The mind she describes holds in it all that has existed – everything alive and separate. Edgar Cayce, in his years of work as a seer who could access the cosmic mind easily, drew from his contact an immense amount of information about people’s health, about history and the unfoldment of human life and destiny.
When we experience the cosmic mind, or enlightenment as it is sometimes called, not only do we often have an enormous influx of immediate understanding, but also we have a sense of knowing the source of life, of being life itself. However, Sri Aurobindo, who explored these regions of human experience for many years, says this is not an ultimate level of existence. He describes it as the sum total of life experience, the summary of every life that has been, and all present life forms, and human life and thought. But as such it is only the sum of what has been, and there are levels beyond that. He calls the experience beyond it supramental, the manifestation in human life of a leap forward in evolution.
The Void has also been called many names in different cultures and myths. In Hebrew writings it has been called Ain Soph, or the Unknown God. The Rig Veda, the ancient Hindu scriptures describe it as, “Then neither Being nor Not-Being was. Nor atmosphere, nor firmament, nor what is beyond.”
The early verse of Genesis describes it in this way: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Writing about this fundament of being, Barbara Sproul says, “This unknowable, this ground of being, this spatial and temporal limit of reality is what religions consider to be the absolute reality or, for want of a better term for the moment, what they call “God.” Forget all of your own religious conceptions of the word “God” for a little while, and think about this ground of being. It is purely definitional: you will inevitably come to it if you think enough about the limit of any finite thing. Where did you come from? Your parents gave birth to you. And your parents? From their parents; and so on down through the animals to micro–organisms and chemicals and elements and matter and energy to what? To the moment of creation and the “creator,” if it is possible to name such a force.” (71)
That is the Void. It is beyond any final definition because it is nothing and yet the source of everything. It includes all opposites, and so touching it might at first be a shock as all the littleness of our wants and desires, our so important aims and goals, our precious beliefs and certainties fall away in its presence.
In number eight of this series, the multitude of possibilities consciousness can experience, the person says about the Void, “At the very centre of the circle was emptiness, nothing, a void. Yet out of this nothingness all things emerged. There were plants, animals, people, hills, rivers and mountains all coming to birth. They danced out in their own individual movement, yet each unknowingly was part of the whole wonderful and intricate dance which made a great pattern and movement in the body of the circle. All danced to the periphery and there turned and moved, still in their ballet, back to the centre. At that centre they plunged into its oblivion again. But at that very moment new life sprang from it to dance once more.”
All things fall away. There is no self separate from the Void. The emptiness is bliss.
Death and rebirth are experiences any serious explorer of the usually unconscious inner worlds will meet, perhaps many times. The cycles of death and rebirth are basic to life in many ways. The sperm and ovum die to themselves to become a new being. The unborn baby dies to its uterine world to take on the new life of a breathing and eating creature. We die to our childhood as we are reborn into adolescence. And in a wider view we die to life in the body and are reborn into a spiritual life – and vice versa.
During our existence, if we watch our inner life carefully, most of us go through real psychological death and rebirth experiences. A woman whose children have now left home and become independent, or a man who has aged beyond employment, are prime candidates for an experience of death and rebirth. Death in these situations is often felt as a falling away of all motivation, or a sense of connection with society or others, or a feeling of emptiness. The rebirth comes as new impulses and motivations emerge and old aspects of personality fall away. Often there is a completely new identification with what you conceive as yourself. One of the great moments of change is when the identification with your body and looks drops away and there is a swing over to a spiritual being.
Sometimes, if you are someone who can enter quite fully into the waking dream type of experience, you might even experience dying and crossing over. Part of our growth – yes, growth – is toward and into death. So our inner being enters into the experience of death again and again as part of moving toward it. In the same way young girls as early as ten dream of being pregnant and giving birth as they grow toward full womanhood, so we dream of death as we approach it. Full adulthood means an acquaintance with death. Only through death can we find new life.
Looked at overall, these examples of people becoming aware of the world and themselves in ways that are usually considered impossible, shout out to us that we are more than we usually admit. Dr. Shafica Karagulla, in her book Breakthrough to Creativity describes her observation and study of professionals in such work as medicine, business and engineering, accessing information in a way that leaps beyond the limitations of their senses. Dr. Shafica was a pioneering physician and neuropsychiatrist who after training in psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, went to Canada to work with Dr. Wilder Penfield of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Later she became an assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of New York. So she is not a lightweight in observing the human condition and potential. The point she, along with so many others make, is that we each have vast resources of creativity, of intuition and perception that most of us never tap.