Sit Down – You’re Rocking the Boat

Life and Death Part 5

Dr. Karagulla, a famous neurologist, in her book Breakthrough to Creativity, has described an experiment she made with two doctors. To test heightened sensory perception she blindfolded one of the doctors and gave him a photograph. It was a medical picture of a pregnant woman. He was asked to pass his fingertips over the photograph and report any impressions and sensations. At this the other doctor began to protest that what she was asking was not possible. But at this point the blindfolded doctor began to speak of impressions which vividly described the picture he held. The other doctor began to protest so violently, and began to feel so ill, the experiment had to be terminated.

When we demonstrate, or even talk positively about a viewpoint that disagrees with another persons firmly held convictions of what is real, they may become violent, feel ill, faint or fail to hear what is being said. When Jung explained and demonstrated to Freud his ideas concerning man’s spiritual nature, Freud fainted. When Dr. Wilhelm Reich demonstrated a view of the universe and human existence not acceptable to his fellow scientists and society in America, his books were burnt, equipment smashed, and he was put in prison. In the past, social response was usually violent. Jesus was crucified for daring to actually demonstrate the validity of his views. Socrates was given the hemlock. Savonarola was crucified in Italy. Millions such as the Cathars in France, and the early Christians, were tortured and murdered. Somebody should have said to them – ‘Sit down, you’re rocking my boat. Shut up, you’re shattering my reality.’

In general life however, our present ideas of and relationship with reality, is not shattered except in extreme situations of stress of shock. Our existence is one of growing Self realisation and gradual adaptation and change to reality. New views and a changed relationship only occur to us when in some way we invite them, or seek them, or actually produce them. We cannot, except with much pain, and usually, sickness, stop ourselves growing up. We cannot, without similar results, stop ourselves moving toward a greater awareness of reality. It is in our nature to do so.

For instance, let us make an experiment in the process of dying. This will begin to show in a yet deeper manner, how we create our world, and how we break free of the very situations we create. If it is true we create, even unconsciously, our heaven and hell, then if we are to cope with our experience of death, and of course of life, it is as well to understand how we can consciously break the situation we find ourselves in. Up to a certain stage in our growth as people, this knowledge is not important or necessary. Without any effort or understanding on our part we are born, we grow, we perhaps marry and have children. We exist and die. The creative and destructive forces and cycles of the universe act in and through us without our being aware of them. They live us, and our life and death will travel on one way or another, carrying us along through experience after experience, quite spontaneously. But there comes a point in the process of becoming an individual where we begin to wonder where our actions, our likes, dislikes, fears, circumstances, sickness or health, our very existence, arise from. We seek to become conscious of who we are, where we came from, where we are going. We also seek to consciously direct our own experience, and this faces us with the nature of our being.

Mastering Fate

You may already feel you are the master of your own fate. But of course, if you chose not to eat, or drink, or breathe, or die, you would see your area of free will is quite tiny. Some people, facing impending death, are so horrified by the idea that some other power than their own will is moving them toward death, they commit suicide. Nevertheless, our area of will direction can expand. Let us make two experiments to see how we break through results to causes, and direct results by manipulating causes.

For the first experiment, seek to remember and record your dreams for some weeks. Everybody dreams, even if they do not remember, and the interest in the dream life will usually cause them to break through into consciousness. Watch for a dream that presents an area of fear or difficulty or paradox. If none of these appear, literally challenge life to show you something of your fears. Common dreams which arise in this way are – being chased or attacked by a creature or person -drowning – falling into a hole but hanging on grimly to the edge – diving into a pool or the sea, but being afraid of the depth – battles – impending darkness -cataclysm – etc.

A dream of this nature dreamt by a woman is as follows. ‘The ground is icy and very slippery. I notice an open window touching the ground in the wall of the Royal Oak Inn. It leads to a dark cellar. My feet seem to lead me there against my will, I’m afraid I shall fall in.’

A paradoxical dream may be a harmless snake – a tame tiger – an unexploded bomb – a nice murderer – and so on.

The nature of the experiment is, having found such a dream, to explore it. A dream is a result, and we wish to search for causes. From the evidence already presented, it seems likely death faces us with a heaven or hell rather like dreams. If we learn to pierce dreams and break through into underlying causes, we will have the ability to do the same during death, and to escape not only from our hell, but from our heaven, which also may be a prison.

Here is how we explore the dream and conduct the experiment. Supposing the dream is as the one above, a dark cellar you are afraid of, you now sit where, for a few minutes, you will not be disturbed and can be quiet with closed eyes. Relax your body by tensing the muscles and letting go of them. Relax the mind by letting go of opinions, moral judgements, your desires and will. In fact take the sort of attitude and feelings you allow to happen as you go to sleep – let go.

Now recreate in your mind’s eye the images of the dream. Stand in imagination before the cellar door – or see again the creature you ran from – or the unexploded bomb – or the deep pool. You do not have to have a perfect picture. Now do the thing you feared to do in the dream! Walk into the cellar – let the awful man or creature catch you – kick the unexploded bomb, dive into the pool.

Toward Inner Suppleness

If you have not let go of your preconceived opinions, moral judgements or self will, very little will happen. If you have become mentally fluid and supple however, you will suddenly find you have pierced right through the barrier of fear, of morality, of intellect, into the underlying causes of your dream feelings and imagery. In this way you may experience past events in your life that gave rise to the fear felt in the dream. You may release passions or anger held back by moral values, and because they are held in the unconscious, emerge in the sleep or death experience as a violent creature or person, creating inner circumstances we did not will. Or you may break through into parts of your nature quite unknown, and discover locked up love, wisdom, creativity, or a ‘voice from behind you telling you important information or givine valuable insights.’

You must understand from the start that to ‘wake up,’ to explore oneself in this way, to break through into other levels of reality, is not easy. To face your life and death experience in this way requires heroic qualities, perseverance, trust, an ability to surrender your ego, and much patience. The woman who dreamt of the dark cellar door eventually explored it, not consciously as above, but in a following dream. She opened the door and saw a huge engine room filled with smoke. Guards had been removed from fires. “I desperately wanted to close the door” she says, “but I felt that if I didn’t go down into the engine room and replace the guard, the fires might harm my children.

“So I climbed down and over the top of two engines. I fasten the guard securely round the fire. I stoke the other fires up, it is terribly hot and smoky. I must get out before I suffocate. But the engines are not working. I feel I must get them going first. There is a switch on the side of one of the engines, if I leave it I will be able to get out easily. If I press it I might not be able to get out at all.

“I decide to switch on. The room vibrates with life as the engines all begin to work. There are wheels going round and driving belts. It is very noisy. I start to climb through and over the engines. Lots of times I almost get trapped, but I wriggle free. Sweat pours off me as the room gets hotter. I begin to think I will never get out. Eventually I climb up the step ladder and through a trap door. I breathe a sigh of relief as I bolt it down.”

Prior to this dream the woman had felt fed up with her husband and children. Her emotions had been largely going out to another man. Her nerves were ‘in a shocking state,’ and she was quarrelling frequently at home. The dream shows her putting back the fire guard, which means her passions are now properly directed. The engines are representing her energy and flow of life; basically her health giving processes going on unconsciously with her. After the dream she says, “Funny, but I feel so much better, free somehow. My husband and I have got on better.” After this, things got very much better at home, although, of course, one dream does not metamorphose ones whole life or death.

It is true there comes a point in your development when inner values can be used to direct your outer behaviour, but generally the rules for physical life are different to those for the inner life. Brought up as we are on a tremendous amount of physical exterior experience, where fire burns, animals can rend us, cars smash or kill, people attack, rape or damage us, if not in body, then in reputation, it is no wonder we often fail to quickly see the rules governing inner experience. In the subjective and interior worlds of ourselves, quite different laws are involved; and in the transcendental these are different again.

The above experiment shows, if we persist in it, how in the world of inner experience, by walking directly into fear and danger we pass right through it into another dimension of experience, like Alice through the looking glass. Not only do we pass through it, but in doing so we usually undo it, as the woman did above, where she ‘undid’ the damaging flow of emotion outside marriage, and her irritability to children and husband. In the inner world things are back to front. It is not being hit by the pursuer that can cause us grievous harm, it is running away and avoiding the blow which can hurt us. For by avoiding it we are literally running away from ourself, and therefore not finding out why we desired to hit in the first place. The attacker, the depth, the door, the creature, are all ourself. When we dive into ourself; when we let our split-off anger hit us; when we let the ravaging wolf eat us; then we are allowing these parts to unite with consciousness and become known.

The tremendous impact of breaking through into another level of our being that this experiment affords if persisted in, shows where some ancient doctrines arose from. The yama and niyama of Yoga, which is one of its earliest stages, before meditation; and the Christian meekness, apply very definitely to inner levels of experience. The crucifixion is an example again of how if we consciously allow ourselves to meet the negative within, it thus becomes known and redeemed. The experiment also shows us some of the basic rules for entering into and metamorphosing our inner life. We face and walk into danger – fire – -darkness — the depths. We allow the attacker to hit us – the creature to eat us – the snake to bite – the awful sensualist to be unresisted. Strangely enough this comes to us loud and clear in the New Testament, Matthew 5: 39, where Jesus says – ‘But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’

Rock Your Own Boat

Such experiments and attitudes as the above, if persisted in, put us beyond the need for anyone else to rock our boat. We rock our own boat so vigorously that it soon turns over and we plunge into the depths of our being. If we are unprepared for this. we may very well experience nervous breakdown or collapse. If, through discipline and understanding, we have formed a ‘chalice’ for these energies to pour into, new values and expanded awareness will be ours, even if in small degrees.

After such experiments, we begin to see through direct experience, that what we call our conscious self is only a tiny part of our being. To believe this is all we are, and to base our decisions and actions upon conscious contents and reasoning alone, is to be one-sided and un-whole. Most of our being is left unconsidered if we do not also listen to our intuition, our dreams or our sense of wholeness. If we cannot remember large areas of our adult life, our childhood, life in the womb, and the state of being from which we as a present individual arose, we are not whole. No matter how blissful our meditations, if consciousness has not penetrated our past, our sleep and our birth, we are still only existing in a tiny portion of our total self.

From experience we begin to see certain disciplines or rules as necessary aspects of self remembering or conscious death. For the small part of self called consciousness to bear the impact of realising more of its totality, it has to become very strong and very supple. Strong, not to be swept away into fear or breakdown by the forces released, supple to allow them expression. The religions of the world begin to be seen not as ridiculous collections of superstitions, moral prejudices and fear, but as extraordinary deep and vast reservoirs of knowledge and human experience relating to the human encounter with our vaster existence. They are seen as ways of preparing your conscious self for a wider life. Obviously, much of the dogma of religion, no matter what faith, has given rise to violence, inducing fear and bigotry, but behind this, at their core, religions they have retained the ancient mysteries. Their disciplines are to strengthen the ego. But within such disciplines a non-discipline must also be cultivated in the capability of standing aside from moral judgements, emotions of like and dislike, and rigidly held intellectual opinions. In this fluid condition produced by the non-discipline, larger patterns of experience and awareness can build up. Our larger being thus begins to enter into consciousness. The wider self we meet in death, is known during life. We die while yet living. The change in consciousness during sleeping and waking begins also to become apparent.

Piercing the Veil

As has already been stressed, the impact upon our ego of the vast reaches of our being coming into its awareness, is tremendous. It is not unusual to hear of people experiencing heart attacks, or chest pains, or dissociation of mind, who too quickly pierce the veil. But in talking about the sleeping or waking state, the death and life experience, we must use the word consciousness in a particular way. According to those who have fully awoken in sleep, consciousness, or at least, sentience, has always existed, even prior to birth. Our life and death, sleeping and waking, are simply aspects of consciousness. Individual consciousness, however, only exists while awake in the body, unless one has penetrated sleep. The body senses limit consciousness to a small compass we call wakefulness, or self consciousness. The difference between this and sleep becomes apparent once we analyse it. In wakefulness we have a fairly strong sense of being apart from and individual to other people. We usually feel a sense of being able to decide or direct our actions. In some degree we can reason or analyse ideas or situations brought before us.

Looking at our experience of self in dreams, a very different situation is seen to exist. We are conscious of ourselves in quite a different way. Although existing as an individual in most dreams, the power of choice, of decision, of manipulating our affairs, is either much reduced or missing altogether. Our actions in dreams occur not because we have chosen to do them, but although we are involved in them, they arise from something other than our own sense of being. They are, to sum it up, spontaneous in an extraordinary degree. Our image of self in the dream is submerged deeply into this spontaneous occurrence. Only in waking can we ‘escape’ from this involvement. It is often said by people projecting consciousness, that they escape back to the body from something they cannot deal with on that plane. Certainly conscious decision, ideas, and plans do project into dreams, but seldom in any ordering or directing degree. If it does, frequently, then we have penetrated sleep with waking consciousness far more than most. But as we learn to raise this inner life into awareness, transformation takes place and we move more easily and independently in this inner world. When we are able to do this it becomes apparent that unless we can become awake, lucid, in dreams and sleep, we will probably remain to some extent lost in our unconscious fars and longings even in death.

Again, this is not something one has to take someone else’s word for. It is something everybody with patience can observe or experiment with for themselves. In some cases, people with a strong waking consciousness have penetrated dreams and largely taken over their direction. They may not allow them to actually know much of that inner world as they are too much in control. This would be rather like a human ego entering the body of a dog, and completely humanising it. The person would still not know what it is like to be a dog. If we can consciously enter into another condition, and by not interfering let it still exist, we can experience its quality.

Obviously, all these conclusions are open to question. Nobody exploring the physical or inner universe can hope to bring back and define all there is to know. Nevertheless, these are an extension or explanation of many ancient and widely held views based on experience. If there is any truth in them, a very different picture arises of death than held either by those who believe death to be the cessation of consciousness, or by those who believe personal awareness to be enormously expanded or glorified.

The views suggest that our sense of individuality survives the body’s death, just as it survives the loss of body sense during sleep. But its relationship with self experience is very much changed, as it is in dreams. Self willed direction, the ability to reason inductively, the faculty of standing aside from the spontaneous eruption of experience in which we are involved, are missing. We can say the sense of self is totally immersed in its own memories, drives, hates, loves, aspirations and abilities. In as much as you wakingly pierced your being during life, you can it now do so in death?

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