Bottoming Out the Universe (draft)

by Richard Grossinger on April 1, 2018

Bottoming Out the Universe:

Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction

Reincarnation and Past Lives

The Hole in the Materialists’ Universe

  1. The Nature and Origin of Consciousness
  2. Animal Consciousness
  3. The Brain as Computer
  4. Paranormal Phenomena and Nonlocal Consciousness
  5. The Politics of Consciousness

Transdimensional Physics and Biology

James Leininger or James Huston?

Treasuring Existence

Soul Pictures

Cosmic Chicanery and Thoughtforms

Worshipping the Algorithm

Multipersonhood

Personal Identity

  1. What Is Personal Identity?
  2. The Fallacy of Life Extension
  3. Is This Reality a Computer Simulation
  4. Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Trauma and Redemption

Undumbing the Universe: Some Final Notes

 

For Jeffrey Kripal, Stephanie Lahar, and Brian Swimme

 

Introduction

In this book I am exploring models of the universe that include mind. Although my framing is the physical universe—the Big-Bang-actuated space-time continuum—my context is All That Is, meaning anything-anywhere, most of which will not look like the night sky or meadow in Nebraska.

How did a state of consciousness that we all subjectively experience become part of a universe conceived of as entirely material?1 It’s either there in its own right or it’s an epiphenomenon without ontological implication—it’s a by-product of brain chemistry or a fundamental constituent of reality.

I am asking (in effect), which is more fundamental: the existence of an objective physical universe or our subjective experience of it?

 

Second, I am exploring nonlocal modes of consciousness, not systematically but as a clue to the riddle of personal identity—self-identifying creatures.

 

Third, I am limning Sethian cosmology, using Seth’s own words from the 1970s and Jane Roberts’ and John Friedlander’s interpretations of them.

Seth still serves as a singular interdimensional philosopher, but who or what is he, and what is the status of Jane Roberts’ channelings of him? As Robert Butts, Jane’s husband and transcriber, put it, “[I]f Seth-Jane are at all right, then consciousness is more than encompassing enough to embrace all that we are, and everything that each of us can even remotely conceive of doing or being….”2

He is speaking not of any person’s consciousness but an intrinsic consciousness that antecedes matter and gives rise to physical-seeming universes. Butts describes an invisible night migration of geese as a “multitudinous sound moving across [the] starlit but moonless sky…. The one consciousness (mine) stands in its body on the ground and looks up at the strange variations of itself represented by the geese. And wonders. In their own ways, do the geese wonder also? What kind of hidden interchanges between species take place at such times? If the question could be answered, would all of reality in its unending mystery lie revealed before us?”3

That the geese wonder too—they must—in ways that are beyond our understading and define it, is close to the mystery of Creation and why there is something rather than nothing. The universe, like a flock of geese, simply is.

 

Fourth, if it isn’t clear from the above, I am challenging modernity’s paradigm: metaphysical materialism—that the material world is the only pavilion or protocol for discovering the true nature of reality.

Some of you may believe that matter is the ultimate real thing, but do you even know what matter is—or what a unified field would look like if consciousness were given a place proportionate to mass, gravity, and heat?

Two things stand against reductionist materialism:

First, the universe doesn’t bottom out as matter but turns into something else. Electron microscopes and cyclotrons discover no statutory source. Instead of bottoming out, quarks and preons dissipate into energy, curvature, strings, quantum fields, whatever scientists choose to call it.

Guess what? Post-Newtonian physics with its self-immolating quarks is the physics of a mirage. Materialists know this, but they don’t believe it.

Second, consciousness that witnesses itself as consciousness does not fit any unified field theory of physics. I’m not saying that physicists don’t get out the shoehorn and make it fit. I am saying they do.

 

Reincarnation and Past Lives

Accounts of reincarnation offer a broad-based vernacular challenge to the materialist paradigm. Belief in transmigration of souls goes back tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years, before an historical record. Early hominids performed rites, rituals, and voodoo to control their life, death, and the imagination of rebirth. Their totems were folded into art, mythology, and shamanic techniques and guided generations of practitioners.

These early philosophers arrived at their view of the universe through dead reckoning, altered states of consciousness (often entheogenic), meditation and contemplation, and the arc of objective analysis leading to philosophy and science. Reflection and insight play a part in scientific research too, but scientists limit their affidavit to repeatable, peer-reviewable experiments and consider their mode of knowledge exclusively valid. Reincarnation is outside its purview, for it cannot be traced or measured or tested in a laboratory.

The modern reincarnation thread in the West was inadvertently initiated in the early 1950s by Morey Bernstein, an amateur hypnotist, who, while regressing Virginia Tighe, a Pueblo, Colorado housewife, to his astonishment summoned Bridey Murphy, an ostensible past life of Ms. Tighe’s in Cork, Ireland, on his first try. He took his subject (who appears in The Search for Bridey Murphy under the pseudonym Ruth Simmons) through her childhood back to her earliest memories, then asked her to go back further. “Two years old, two years old, two years old. And now still farther back. One year old, one year old. Now go on ever farther back. Oddly enough, you can go even farther back.

“I want you to keep going back and back and back in your mind. And, surprising as it may seem, strange as it may seem, you will find that there are other scenes in your memory. There are other scenes from faraway lands and distant places in your memory.”1

He pretended he was not prodding his subject to commit the crime of the century, a citizen of the Eisenhower era to breach a cubicle sealed at the highest level of encryption. He was asking her to violate her religion and social standing as well as the consensus belief system sustaining her sanity.

He held his breath and waited. He wasn’t a confirmed believer in reincarnation, but he wanted to see what would happen if he led his subject past where nothing should exist. He kidded himself that he was operating by the same logic as the car mechanic down the street—and he was. But he had a light, sacred touch. Dismissed in hypnosis circles as a lowbrow dabbler and showman who used a watch on a chain to initiate trances, he hit the sweet spot with Ms. Tighe. Chaperone and psychopomp, he didn’t activate her taboos or resistance, as he coaxed an unknown form from her psyche.

Bernstein spoke as to her subconscious mind—and that’s why it worked. Listen to his cadence and chant, that of a crafty hacker slipping through a firewall. If you wanted to lure a nonexistent dragon out of its nonexistent cave, he nailed the tone. You could object that he was leading his subject, because he was.

“I will talk to you again. I will talk to you again in a little while. I will talk to you again in a little while. Meanwhile your mind will be going back, back, and back until it picks up a scene, until, oddly enough, you find yourself in some other scene, in some other place, in some other time, and when I talk to you again you will tell me about it. You will be able to talk to me about it and answer my questions. And now just rest and relax while these scenes come into your mind….”2

Ms. Tighe did go, past the last protected outpost, into the void before her own existence, where nothing should be. Bernstein invited her to go there, to see if she had existence, an identity before she experienced herself as Virginia Tighe.

“Now you’re going to tell me, now you’re going to tell me what scenes came into your mind. What did you see? What did you see?”3

A different being spoke in her own voice.

“‘…Uh…scratched the paint of all my bed. Jus’ painted it, ’n’ made it pretty. It was a metal bed, and I scratched the paint off it. Dug my nails on every post and just ruined it….’

“Why did you do that?

“‘Don’t know. I was just mad. Got an awful spanking.’

“What is your name?”

“‘…Uh…Friday….’”

“Don’t you have any other name?

“‘Uh…Friday Murphy.”4

Just like that, Virginia Tighe had become Bridey Murphy, age eight, Cork.

For years afterward Bernstein was pestered with skepticisms like, “‘If this Bridey Murphy business, with all that it implies, is true, then why am I hearing about it for the first time from a businessman? How can it be possible that some psychiatrists are not running into the same thing.’”5

They were, but they weren’t acknowledging it. Countless psychiatrists “have had patients who have gone back to something,” but since they were not trying to regress people to past lives, they didn’t construe the “memories” as such.6 They treated them as cryptomnesia: old or forgotten events from the current life—a distortion caricatured as “self-plagiarization.”

If they accepted the possibility of reincarnation, they didn’t speak of it publicly for fear of ridicule or derailment of their career.

Interpretations of similar flashbacks take quite different forms in cultures receptive to reincarnation. Apparently Bernstein and Ms. Tighe struck the “right relationship” between operator and subject and elicited a form of shamanic transference common in non-Western cultures. The amateur shaman graciously extended credit:

“Some subjects simply have it; others do not. ‘It’ is the inexplicable something which, with the guidance of the hypnotist, enables the subject to pass into the trance state. True, a good operator can accelerate the process of induction, or he might be successful with certain refractory subjects with whom less skillful hypnotists have failed. Nevertheless, there are some people who just won’t be hypnotized.”7

In subsequent sessions, Tighe exhumed details of Murphy’s childhood, adolescence, and adult life. The daughter of Duncan and Kathleen Murphy, Bridey came into this world on December 20, 1798, daughter of a local barrister. She married Sean Brian McCarthy at age seventeen and then moved to Belfast. At age sixty-six, she “‘fell down…fell down on the stairs, and…seems I broke some bones in my hip too…just sort of withered away…. I was such a burden. Had to be carried about….’”8

She observed her own funeral: “‘Oh, I watched them. I watched them ditch my body.’”9 She stared at her tombstone, read aloud her Catholic name, dates of her birth and death.

When Bernstein asked where she went afterwards, she said:

“I just…waiting where everybody waits…. It’s just a place of waiting.”10

There she experienced a lucidity from which she could distinguish the alternation of night and day on Earth. She watched Brian going about his life, missing her. When Bernstein asked her to recall an activity in the waiting place, she offered this touching tidbit:

“‘I…remember…dancing…dancing.”11 She was performing a round dance where time didn’t exit.

The Search for Bridey Murphy became a bestseller and pop sensation, as if Virginia Tighe were the first person on Earth to recall a past life. Yet throughout India, Turkey, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and, in fact, most of the Middle East and Asia, people routinely remember aspects of prior existences without hypnotic regression. They usually identify a lifetime within the same extended family, clan, village, or region. Remembering an existence in another country, as Ms. Tighe did, is relatively rare. Otherwise, Bernstein’s subject was experiencing routine transpersonal flashbacks. Yet reincarnation is so repressed in the West that his account made headlines. How did such a state of affairs come about?

By the conservative 1950s, any lingering vestiges of nineteenth-century spiritualism had been all but blotted out. The drama of two World Wars and a Depression followed by a spree of scientific legerdemain played a major role. What manifestation could be more vivid, compelling, or packed with urgency and realness than the rise of the Third Reich, Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Europe, the unfurling of imperial Japan, and apocalyptic battles on remote Pacific islands? The war was followed by a surge of automated devices. What could be more mesmerizing and substantive than airplanes, household appliances, and televisions…. These took precedent over past-life memories for good reason—they were more present and poignant. Life on the physical plane provided such immediacy that any shadow realm palled beside it. Reality was satisfying and enthralling—senior in every way.

From a different perspective, the seniority of physical existence is a deep-rooted apparition. Each apparition plays out exclusively during its engagement. Like a dream while being dreamed, it has the same claim on our being as reality itself.

Before twentieth-century amnesia, the notion of reincarnation was firmly established in the West. In a lifelong attempt to contact the dead, British philologist Frederic Myers (1843-1901), a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, documented his own and colleagues’ interactions with spirits of deceased persons and was reported to have sent messages to relatives and colleagues after his death. These experiments had direct continuity with those of prior centuries. Reincarnation had been widely accepted from the time of ancient Greece and Rome through the European Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The Society’s research platform featured table tipping, spirit photographs, levitation, trumpets and accordions floating in mid-air playing audible music, automatic writing (which gave rise to Ouija boards), crystal balls, spirit knocking, ectoplasm, and telepathy (a term coined by Myers). Other nineteenth-century researchers into the paranormal ranged from open-minded scientists to amateur sleuths like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln. Though you wouldn’t know it from Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Twain was obsessed with synchronicities and future sight, of which he experienced many personal instances.

A bias of post-modern provincialism is to assume that all these researchers were gullible and myopic or lacked scientific methodology. But most of them conducted meticulous measurements while trying to disentangle multiple layers of coincidence and document unexplained transfers of information. Their trials were at least as thorough as those conducted almost a century later at Duke University. Not only were parapsychology’s early experiments conducted with a priori skepticism, they were evaluated along impartial, empirical parameters abandoned in the later twentieth century under fundamentalist protocols of scientism. Myers and crew had open minds about how the universe might work as opposed to the current arbiters who ignore the paranormal or dismiss unexplained events without examining them.

Sigmund Freud played a significant, indirect role in the West’s denial of the paranormal. By hypostatizing a latent reservoir of unconscious mind and its indeterminate flow into the conscious ego, he provided a scientific mechanism for most anomalies. If conventional memories could be sublimated and turned into phantasms by normal biological drives, extraneous explanations were unnecessary for psychic events, however peculiar. Dreams and trances were declared psychotic fugues—brief, incidental breaks with reality—likewise poltergeists and past lives. An unconscious mind as fathomless and refractory as the one Freud established could concoct ghosts, past lives, or just about anything. Actual other dimensions of reality became superfluous.

Freud and his contemporaries never considered that past-life memories could be both psychological and psychic, yet the universe is entangled in exactly that way.

At roughly the same time, quantum physics established an uncertainty basis for all phenomena. Even though researchers were scanning only at a subatomic level, they established a physical basis for anomalous events in general. If a particle’s position is measurable only in relation to its momentum (and vice versa), then matter behaved metaphysically without metaphysics.

Formulaic Christianity had its own parochial effect. Papal protocol decreed a single lifetime followed by a definitive Judgment; that was its defining commodity, and the faithful kept the faith.

In this environment, Bernstein’s regression of Virginia Tighe and took the public by storm. After the publication of The Search for Bridey Murphy, newspapers and radio stations launched their own quests for the long-deceased Irish colleen, Tighe’s former self. For weeks the New York Daily Mirror ran a front-page cliffhanger, detailing the findings of its reporter in Ireland.

A consensus of investigators concluded that there was no “Bridey Murphy” in the records of Ireland during the years of her proposed lifetime as read by Ms. Tighe from her own tombstone: born 1798, passed 1864. A roster of churches, addresses, and artifacts cited by Tighe were deemed apocryphal.

In truth, the early nineteenth century, though relatively recent, is still too long ago to identify ordinary people and events. Locating the “real” Bridey Murphy is exponentially more difficult than trying to pin down the identity of Jack the Ripper a few decades later, a gambit regularly attempted by historian-sleuths. It is more on the scale of trying to figure out if Shakespeare wrote his own plays. No records remain of most early-nineteenth-century Cork habitants and occurrences. About the only possible smoking gun was that, as a young girl, Bridey had shopped for provisions at a grocer named Farr and there was a shopkeeper of that surname in her purported neighborhood at the time. One random hit was par for that course.

Far more damning was the discovery that crucial aspects of Bridey Murphy’s memories were traceable to Tighe’s childhood in Chicago, Illinois, including the name itself, for she lived across the street from an Irish immigrant named Bridie Murphy Cockrell. Most investigators jumped to the conclusion that the reincarnation was a memory displaced in cryptomnesiac fashion.

Neither the Mirror nor other media had criteria for synchronicities—repeating anomalous configurations—that might cause the former Bridey Murphy to reincarnate across the street from her namesake.

Ms. Tighe could also have recalled an authentic past life in Cork and subliminally conflated the name of her neighbor with that of her past self.

Instead, Bridey Murphy entered pop culture somewhere between a freak and a hoax, a discredited diva and topic of a bad movie (I’ve Lived Before), two popular songs (“For the Love of Bridey Murphy” and “Do You Believe in Reincarnation?”), and a 1956 satire, The Quest for Bridey Hammerschlaugen, in which comedian Stan Freberg hypnotized Goldie Smith (played by an actress named Joan Foray) and summoned her memories of different eras each of which Foray hammed up. Then she turned the tables and, in a spoof of Bernstein, hypnotically regressed Freberg, who quickly recalled being Davy Crockett. Foray told him that he wouldn’t be able to profit on the current fad of Tennessee frontier products, so Freberg declared that he would come back in his next life as Walt Disney.

The Search for Bridey Murphy also appeared iconically in novels by Thomas Pynchon and Ken Kesey, indicating less its rehabilitation than its influence over a new gestalt—magical realism.

 

Since the days of Bridey Murphy and without fanfare, hypnotic regression has been used by physicians, hypnotists, and therapists to disinter anomalous memories and psychic traces, including possible relics of past lives, usually with a therapeutic goal. In an episode paralleling Morey Bernstein’s regression of Virginia Tighe, Brian Weiss, chief of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, instructed a patient named Catherine to “go back to the time from which your symptoms arise.” He had failed to relieve phobias of choking, drowning, and being stranded in the dark—even after she recovered an age-three memory (under hypnosis) of sexual violation by her drunken father. Though not requested to recall a past life like Ms. Tighe, she responded similarly:

“I see white steps leading up to a building, a big white building with pillars…I am wearing a long dress, a sack made of rough material. My name is Aronda. I am eighteen….”12

She identified the year as 1863 BC. Aronda ultimately drowned in a flood.

In follow-up sessions, Catherine became a Dutchman named Johann whose throat was slit in 1473; a house-servant named Abbey in nineteenth-century Virginia; a Welsh seaman named Christian; a German aviator Eric; and a Ukrainian boy in 1758.13 After reliving the assorted crises and death traumas of each of these lives under hypnotic regression, she experienced a mitigation of her symptoms. Though clinical success could not be attributed to a past-life source, her improvement was in contrast to lack of improvement following her recall of abuse by her father.

While no one in 1863 B.C. would identify their era by a prochronistic date, and despite the fact that Catherine’s life as Ukrainian boy overlapped her incarnation as a Spanish prostitute, the recall of these “lives” seemed to have worked in the way that recovery of an actual traumatic moment does in psychoanalytic transference. When awakened from her regressions, Catherine not only did not remember any of her so-called past lives but, when informed of their details, was mortified and quickly repudiated them. As a practicing Catholic, she did not accept past lives; nonetheless, she continued with the therapy because of its positive results.

Weiss finessed verification of his patient’s past-life incongruities by conceding, “[T]he totality of the experience was such that these inconsistencies only add to its complexity. There is so much we don’t know.”14

Past-life therapists consider either that symptomatic relief is proof of the validity of the memories or, antithetically, that it doesn’t matter if the “memories” are false because they tap into something primal in the patient’s subconscious. Here the discussion bottoms out at a different dichotomy—real versus imaginal past lives. It will take preparation and lead-in to get there, but I will do a preliminary pass now.

Ailments that are unaffected by any other mode of treatment often clear up spontaneously after a past-life regression. But the cure doesn’t require a past-life belief system. Stuck and internalized energy—cathected trauma in Freudian terminology—transcends any specific content. If the energetic basis for a cure is triggered by therapist-patient transference, the initiating circumstance is ancillary (see my next-to-last chapter “Cosmic Formation”).

This model also accords with established spiritual views of the aura as the repository of ancient traumas as well as the only place where they can be released. In the aura, all lives of a spirit or soul meld into a greater, cyclical life­—so unconscious associations can be activated by even unrelated events. Since it doesn’t matter if they are made cognitively conscious too—and they usually aren’t—it also doesn’t matter if they are real. In the aura, a fantasy is no less veridical than reality: each governs the same formation energy. Forensics are irrelevant.

In that regard, it is worth considering an episode I witnessed at the Berkeley Psychic Institute in 2009.

Director Javier Thistlethwaite, a stock-car racer in Mexico, said that he enrolled in BPI initially because it was supposed to be a good venue for meeting girls. He succeeded—he ended up marrying the founder’s daughter and was running the place when I took courses there in 2008-2009.

A playful, charismatic teacher, Javier liked to assemble an audience from the night’s classes in the common room and demonstrate psychic principles. On one such occasion, he performed a series of past-life readings of selected students. Each volunteer expressed his or her appreciation, a medley of “Yo dude, that was incredible; that was so my past life” to “How did you do that?” After the buzz died down from this seeming tour de force, Javier teased the audience: “Was that her real past life?”

No one answered.

“C’mon. Is any of this stuff real?”

After thirty seconds of silence, he solved his own riddle. “I haven’t the slightest idea. Her past life is past, and my reading is past. And the question is past too. We’ll never prove anything one way or another. The only thing that matters is that energy was moving energy in the present. Me as spirit was talking to her as spirit.”

That is the long and the short of it. All you can do is follow a thread, wherever it goes. Either it will become more meaningful or it will dissolve into irrelevance. If it continues to grow in depth and context, it will also become more real.

That’s what all critters do: track flows of information in broad enough contexts to test their reality. A turtle emerging from an egg and heading straight for water creates the reality of a lake. As you keep at your interrogation, unconsciously as well, you dead-reckon your way to its rightful place in the universe and, remarkably, the universe itself. That’s how astronomers found us in a galaxy and our galaxy among other galaxies in an expanding universe. Reality is “view”—not what is viewed. View is how creatures learn what they are and anything else is.

 

Catherine’s anachronized dating of her inaugural past life indicates that most folks who recall previous existences archive them according to their current calendar. If queried for a date, they use their own viewing platform rather than that of the past person. Yet, conversely, they may lapse into words and expressions from a former dialect, such as switching to a foreign accent and while speaking in English or answering “nein” for “no” in the case of a Mediaeval Germanic predecessor.

Xenoglossy is the technical term for displaced linguistics, most often applied to young children babbling in a foreign language for which there is no ordinary explanation. The parents assume initially that the prattle is nonsense syllables. The truth comes to light when the child seems to understand speech of strangers and responds to the satisfaction of native speakers, sometimes instigating a dialogue.15

In one account, a family “only discovered what language [their son] was babbling when they were out with him and he saw some Japanese standing in the street and heard them speaking. He began shouting that he could understand, and he ran to them before his parents could restrain him. By the time they caught up, he was in deep conversation in Japanese.”16 You can imagine trying to explain to the strangers how their boy acquired their language!

Children may also speak in an accent different from their family and locale. Lobsterman Wendell Seavey, a longtime friend of mine, sounds like a vintage Downeaster to non-natives, but none of his peers speak like him. His accent from the earliest speech of his childhood matches that of a speaker from Devon, England, a dialect to which he had no exposure.

Two girls in a Southern California family in the 1970s, Andrea and Sara Forman, tried to read the “wrong” side of their mother Linda’s bilingual manuals for her Ayurvedic medical practice—the facing pages of Devanagari rather than English script. Andrea, the older child, exhibited this tendency first; it came to light when she asked her mother which leaf she read. Linda assumed either that her daughter was teasing her or had such a severe reading disability that she couldn’t tell Sanskrit characters from English ones.

Only months later, when she was cleaning Andrea’s room and pulled stacks of pages of a handwritten Sanskrit-to-English dictionary from under her bed, did she realize that something spookier was happening. She and her husband plopped themselves in the middle of the floor and sorted through the voluminous entries as if “some key to this mystery could be found if we just sat and looked at the pages long enough.” The two of them dropped into silent perplexity until Robert commented, “I think we have a major problem.”17

Linda later summarized the quandary: “It seemed as though we had a daughter who could read an ancient dead language that clearly no one else in the family spoke, not to mention few other people in the world.”18

 

Washington Post journalist Tom Shroder, a long-time investigator of past-life claims, enumerates common objections to past-life explanations:

“If there was a soul, why could nobody detect it? How did it move from one body to another? Did it enter at the moment of conception? Of birth? Why did such a tiny percentage of people remember previous lives? Why were those memories so fragmentary? If souls were recycled, how could you explain the population explosion?”19

After viewing one of Dr. Weiss regressions first-hand, Shroder reported nothing more extraordinary than “a contemporary American woman free-associating on a medieval theme”20 ­—what a person with a high-school education and a reading of romance novels might formulate by a mix of suggestibility, pseudomemories, and deference. Later, when he interviewed her, she told him: “It never made sense to me that we could be here for such a short time, and then…nothing.”21 To him, wishful thinking was a red flag.

When experimentally undergoing post-hypnotic regression, Shroder experienced the same susceptibility he observed in others. He was eager to cooperate and “supply the hypnotist with what she wanted.”22

He concluded that past lives were an apparition similar to those of UFO abductees and children claiming sexual molestation in pre-schools—false memories implanted by a hypnotist as well as a wish to comply with instructions of an authority.

During his own past-life reading, a menagerie of unconvincing characters paraded before him: an Australian rancher, a black Jamaican sorceress, and an arthritic Japanese sage. None of these had any resonance; in his own words: “no fading scent of jasmine or sting of gin.”23

I had a similar experience during my first visit to the Berkeley Psychic Institute. My lineup of past identities (as presented by a row of practitioners standing in trance like a Greek chorus) included a Japanese monk, a loudmouth cowboy, and a society woman married to a scholar. I told friends that it felt like a Woody Allen parody of a séance.

Shroder confessed, after much soul searching, that he had “stared inward but never seen a ripple nor heard a whisper of any life but my own [and] seen people near top me disappear into death with an awesome and unappealable finality…. In my marrow, I could feel no trace, however faint, of a previous life. The universe before me was a void, a nothingness that flared into somethingness only with my earliest memories of this life.”24

But he was searching like the nihilistically preconditioned Westerner he was, trying to push himself through the existential opacity of his own denial rather than neutrally opening himself to subconscious information. Like SETI researchers with radio telescopes attuned to the radiational heavens, he assumed that the “extraterrestrial” message would be in his terms. He did not consider that jasmine and gin, between lifetimes, might transmogrify; their essence could be preserved but transposed into something different in the psyche.

One is not going to undo reincarnational encryption by tugging its knot in the direction in which it was tied. That’s the sort of intrusion our biological system was designed to resist—and I don’t mean that some high muckamuck designed it, just that it is intelligently designed. The universe’s codes may bend, creatively as Freud showed, but they don’t break. Sublimation and reaction formation are designed to protect trances, not shatter them.

 

Ultimately, Shroder shifted his focus to a different sort of testimony: the investigations of Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist and research scientist who, early in his career, switched from microbiology to parapsychology and became an academician of past-life memories. Stevenson abjured hypnotic regression, a potentially contaminating factor, and went straight to the action, traveling to wherever word came of a child evincing a past-life memory. He got himself to the site as quickly as possible and then attempted to match the accounts of the child to the life of his or her purported past person (PP). This meant covering tens of thousands of miles in the  Middle East and South Asia. His goal was to corroborate (or disprove) evidence before it could be contaminated. In some instances, details had been written down or shared with multiple witnesses before the PP’s family had been identified and contacted.

Again, Stevenson was seeking spontaneous memories, not induced regressions. His cases “predominantly featured young children, ages two to five, who spoke of previous-life memories for a brief time, until they were about eight.”25 In the words of past-life therapist Carol Bowman,  these children “haven’t had the cultural conditioning, the layering over of experience in this life, so the memories can percolate up more easily.”26 Possible past-life memories tend to fade with immersion in the current lifetime with its landscape. In Western culture, where such experiences are ignored or disparaged, they evaporate faster.

Stevenson filed reports of varying completeness comprising more than 2,500 cases. There were no prior existences as Cleopatra or Napoleon or Alexander the Great or Pope Urban the Second; no memories of being in a Pharaoh’s harem or his palace guard. His résumés revealed ordinary people in mundane circumstances, a more likely PP census than the casting calls of New Age regressions. A disproportionate number did involve violent deaths, raising the possibility that reincarnational carryover is traumatic—an unsettled death picture leading to an unconscious need for resolution, as emotional effects reverberate psychically. This would also explain why most “rebirths” take place within hailing distance of the previous life—“souls” are drawn to resolve what was left unfinished. The following cases from Stevenson’s files knit into a world-view foreign to a Western perspective:

 

  • At an early age, a boy in Lebanon, Nazih Al-Danaf, told his parents that he had once carried pistols and grenades, was married to a pretty woman, and had many children. He said that his house was surrounded by trees and was nearby a cave. Repeatedly asking to be taken “home,” he swore that he knew how to find the house. His parents delayed a search until he was six; then they followed his directions.

As they approached the site, Nazih became more confident, picking which of six roads to take from the center of town. When interrogated by the widow of the man who had lived in the house, Nazih answered each of her questions accurately. The woman was convinced that he was the rebirth of her husband Faud, father of her five children.

On a subsequent visit Nazih recognized a man and cried out, “Here comes my brother Adeeb.” The wary Adeeb demanded proof, so the child announced, “I gave you a Checki 16.” Faud had indeed given his brother a pistol from Czechoslovakia, a model rare in Lebanon. Later attempts to trick Nazih by misleading queries—for instance by asking him to “confirm” incorrect details about Faud—all failed.27

 

  • About a year before his death died in Angoon, Alaska, in the spring of 1946, Tlingit Indian Victor Vincent had said to his sister’s daughter of whom he was fond, ‘I’m coming back as your next son. I hope I don’t stutter then as much as I do now. Your son will have these scars.’ He then pulled up his shirt and showed her a scar on his back … a residue of an operation he had had … some years earlier.… Mr. Vincent at the same time also pointed to a scar on his nose on the right side of its base as another mark by which his niece would recognize his rebirth.”

Eighteen months later, his niece “gave birth to a boy named after his father, Corliss Chotkin, Jr. At birth, this boy had two marks on his body of exactly the same shape and location as the scar pointed to by Victor Vincent in his prediction of his rebirth.”

When Corliss, Jr., was old enough to talk, he rejected his name and said, “Don’t you know me? I’m Kahkody.” The boy had spoken the tribal name of Victor Vincent “with an excellent accent.”

In ensuing months he recognized and named several of Victor Vincent’s relatives without prompting, including his son William and his wife Rose.

Excited to see Vincent’s stepdaughter one afternoon at the Sitka dock, the boy jumped up and down, calling out, “There’s my Susie.”28

 

  • Chanai Choonmalaiwong, a boy born in Thailand in 1967, began talking at age three about being a teacher named Bua Kai who had been shot and killed en route to school. “He gave the names of his parents, his wife, and two of his children from that life, and persistently begged his grandmother, with whom he lived, to take him to his previous parents’ home,” which he identified in a village fifteen miles away.29

After they arrived by bus, Chanai walked straight to the house of an elderly couple whose son Bua Kai Lawnak had been a school teacher and was murdered five years before Chanai was born. Upon being invited in, he recognized one of his Bua Kai’s daughters and asked after the other by name. Though the family accepted him as the reincarnation of their son, his “daughters” refused to call him “father” as he desired, so he stopped talking to them.

Additionally. Chani had two birthmarks, a large irregular one above his left eye and a smaller circular one on the back of his head, both hairless and puckered, which matched Bua Kai’s exit and entry wounds.30

 

  • A Turkish child, Necip Ünlütaşkiran, had numerous birthmarks on his head, face, and trunk. At age six he began speaking about having been stabbed repeatedly in the city of Mersin, fifty miles away. He also remembered being married and having children. One day he recalled cutting his wife on her leg with a knife during an argument.31 He was not christened Necip but insisted on being called by the name of his PP.

After the PP’s family was identified, Necip correctly identified objects that he had owned. One of his PP’s widow’s legs bore a scar that she said had come from a stab wound by her husband. Also, Necip’s grandmother in his present life turned out to be a local woman his PP had called “grandmother” too. Necip remarked that now she was a real grandmother instead of only being like one to him.32

By the time Stevenson was able to examine Necip 2 at age thirteen and compare his birthmarks to those on the autopsy report of Necip 1, he found eight matching indications.33

 

  • In July 1951, a boy in Kanauj, India, Ravi Shankar, was born six months after the death of another child, the six-year-old son of a barber named Jageshwar Prasad, in a different district of Kanauj. Munna “was enticed from his place and brutally murdered by two neighbors … and the motive for the crime seems to have been the wish to dispose of Sri Jageshwar Prasad’s heir so that one of the murderers (a relative) might inherit his property.… The mutilated and severed head of the boy and some of his clothes were subsequently found and clearly identified by his father.”34

Between the ages of two and three, Ravi gave explicit “details of his murder, naming the murderers, the place of the crime, and other circumstances of the life and death of Munna. The boy … kept asking his parents for various toys which he claimed he had in the house of his previous life.” He accurately recounted numerous events from the life of Munna, plus he “had on his neck a linear mark resembling closely the scar of a long knife wound across his neck.” He wasn’t born with it; it appeared when he was three months old.35

 

  • A New Delhi girl named Preeti told her sister: “This is your house, not my house. These are your parents, not mine. You have only one brother, I have four.” Preeti identified her “real” family as living in a village twelve miles away. Her name there had been Sheila, and she had been hit by a car while running across the street. These and other details of her recitation fit the narrative of a deceased teenage girl in nearby village. On a trip there, Preeti immediately recognized her PP’s parents and began what would become an ongoing relationship with them.36

When asked how she knew that Preeti was her daughter’s rebirth, Sheila’s mother referred to the girl’s uncanny resemblance to Sheila at that age despite the absence of a genetic link, a feature noticed by not only the family but the milkman. A distinctive birthmark on the outside of Preeti’s right thigh matched where Sheila sustained an injury. Sheila’s mother remarked: “When one of my sons pointed to Sheila’s younger brother and asked Preeti, ‘Is he older or younger than you?’ she said, ‘He was younger than me, and now he is older….’ One day, when I was taking Preeti in the street, she was afraid. She said, ‘Don’t, I’ll get run over again.’”37

 

  • Daniel Jirdi, a child in Lebanon, remembered having been Rashid Khaddage, a mechanic who had died when his cousin Ibrahim committed an act of road rage, speeding after an offending vehicle and turning over the car in which they were travelling, tossing and killing him.

At age two and a half, Daniel gave details of the accident and of Rashid’s life. His parents first understood something was strange when he corrected their pronunciation of Rashid’s hometown, Kfarmatta, and explained he was from there. Daniel recalled the name of the driver, that he had been thrown from the car, and where the accident occurred; he also knew “that Rashid’s mother had been knitting him a sweater.”38

Later, as he parents drove past Military Beach, he put his hands over his eyes and began screaming and crying: “This is where I died.”39

Daniel was born with a lump on his head in the approximate place of Rashid’s head wound, though Stevenson conceded that delivery during birth could have caused such a swelling, adding he “wouldn’t want to take that lump to court as evidence of reincarnation.”40

Soon word got out, and the Khaddages showed up at the Jirdi’s home, hoping to reconnect with their “son.” As they approached unannounced, Daniel saw them through the door and called, “Bring bananas for Najla and make some coffee, my family is here.”41 Bananas had been Rashid’s favorite food.

While investigating the Khaddage family, Stevenson found that Ulfat, the daughter of Muna, Rashid’s younger sister, remembered a recent past life too. She had a vivid memory of being killed by Christians during the civil war, and her story closely matched that of one of the young girls massacred in Salina. She was twenty-three years old at the time. In Ulfat’s account:

“‘It was at night, I was walking. I was afraid to go through an alley, but had no other way. There about four men carrying guns.’” As soon as they saw her, they shot her in the leg. When they saw that she was clutching jewels to her blouse, they took them and tortured her.42 She did not remember the feeling of being tortured or dying, only that it happened.

 

  • In another case in Lebanon, Suzanne Ghanem, a girl of sixteenth months old, suddenly grabbed the phone and began trying to call her “oldest daughter Leila.” Her first words, in fact, were: “Hello, Leila?”43 Suzanne was born in the late 1960s ten days after the death of a thirty-five-year-old woman in the area named Hanan Mansour. Hanan had warned her husband Farouk that when she was reborn, she would have “a lot to say about her previous life.”44

Young Suzanne insisted that she was Hanan and promised that when her head was bigger, she would explain. The older she got, the more she looked like Hanan. Eventually she remembered her old phone number (though with two digits reversed) as well as provisions for jewelry she made in her will. She correctly identified twenty-five people from her past life.

She later took to phoning her PP’s widower Farouk almost daily, interfering in his marriage to “the new wife.”45

 

  • Süleyman Caper, a child in Turkey, declared, as soon as he was able to talk, that he had been a miller and that an angry customer had hit him over the head with a shovel. The back of his skull was partially depressed and had a dark birthmark on it. Suleyman remembered the first name of the miller and the village. Again, there was a perfect match.46

 

Western past-life memories follow similar motifs:
•When Bobby Hodges, a boy in North Carolina, began speaking, he asked his mother why she wouldn’t let him live with his real family. By that, he meant his Aunt Susan. His parents paid no attention, considering it his way of expressing how much he enjoyed being with his cousins. One night at age four and a half, after his bath, he asked his mother if she remembered when he and his two-and-a-half-year-old brother Donald were in her tummy at the same time. She agreed that they had both been in her tummy but insisted that it wasn’t at the same time. After rethinking the matter, Bobby said it was when they were in Aunt Susan’s tummy and didn’t get born. Then, to his mother’s astonishment, he began yelling at his younger brother, blaming him for Susan’s miscarriage: “I told you I wanted to get born real bad, and you didn’t want to. How did you take me out of there, Donald? Why didn’t you want to get born?” His mother had to stop him from attacking Donald.

Donald took out his pacifier and yelled, “No! I wanted Daddy!”

Bobby shouted, “I didn’t want Daddy, I wanted Uncle Ron.”47

Seven years before Bobby was born, Susan was pregnant with twins; they stopped moving at thirty-three weeks because one of them had rolled over on the umbilical cord.48

 

  • William was born five years after his grandfather, a New York City policeman working a second job as a security guard, was fatally shot. William had birth defects corresponding to the wounds of his grandfather, including pulmonary valve artesia replicating a bullet that had passed through his PP’s back, lungs, and main pulmonary vehicle. The coincidence was more or less ignored, until William, age three, spoke out after his mother threatened to spank him: “Mom, when you were a little girl and I was your daddy, you were bad a lot of times, and I never hit you.”49 He later remembered correctly that the name of his PP’s cat was Boston but that he called him “Boss.”

 

  • Samuel Taylor, who was born in Vermont a year and a half after his paternal grandfather died, startled his father, who was changing his diaper at the time, by telling him, “When I was your age, I used to change your diapers.”50 Another time, when shown a family photo, he pointed to his grandfather and declared, “That’s me!”51

That piqued family curiosity. “Sam’s mother asked him he had any brothers or sisters when he lived before. He answered, ‘Yeah, I had a sister. She turned into a fish.’ When asked who turned her into a fish, he said, ‘Some bad guys. She died. You know what, when we die, God lets us come back again. I used to be big, and now I’m a kid again.’

“The sister of Sam’s grandfather, in fact, had been killed some sixty years before. Her husband killed her while she was sleeping, rolled her body up in a blanket, and dumped it in the bay.”52

In a similar incident, Abby Swanson, a four-year-old girl in Ohio, told her mother after her bath one night: “Mommy, I used to give you baths when you were a baby…. I was your grandma.”53

 

  • Gillian and Jennifer Pollack, twins born in Hexham, Northumberland, (England) in 1958 remembered toys and events from the past lives of their older sisters Joanna and Jacqueline, who were struck by a car and killed while walking to church a year and a half before the girls were born. In fact, the two routinely talked about their sisters’ lives as though they were them. On several occasions their parents overheard them dispassionately reminiscing about the accident.

Gillian thought that she was Joanna; Jennifer claimed to be Jacqueline. When dolls and other playthings were out from the older girls’ collections, each identified the objects belonging to her complement.

One day, Gillian pointed to Jennifer’s birthmark on her forehead and said, “That is the mark Jennifer got when she fell on a bucket.” But it was Jacqueline not Jennifer who “indeed had fallen on a bucket, receiving an injury that required stitches and produced a permanent scar.”54

At age seven, the children seemed to forget their PPs and stopped referring to them.55

 

  • When Patrick Christenson of Michigan was four and a half years old, he began telling his parents intimate details from the life of his older brother Kevin who had died of cancerous metastases at age two, twelve years before Patrick was born. He said that he wanted to go back and live in their former house, the one that was orange and brown. He also asked his mother about his surgery, pointing to above his right ear where his brother had had a nodule removed for a biopsy.56

 

  • Ryan Hammons, a boy born in Warner, Oklahoma, in 2004, told his mother one day at age four, “I think I used to be someone else.” He remembered having been an actor in Hollywood, dancing on Broadway, traveling on boats to other countries, and being married.57 Ryan’s mother, Cyndi, a deputy county clerk in Muskogee, kept a journal of her son’s accounts of the person he called “the old me.” She did not initially tell her husband, Kevin, a lieutenant with the Muskogee Police Department. When presented with Ryan’s tale, he said, “Damnit, Cyndi! Reincarnation? Where the hell do you come up with this stuff? We have a regular little boy who doesn’t want to sleep in his bed and you just give in to him and let him sleep in here. He’s a kid and kids have nightmares and I don’t want to hear more of this New Age bull.”58

Over time, though, Kevin came to believe Ryan. “In his more than fifteen years as a police officer, he had interviewed many people suspected of crimes, from stealing all the way to murder. He had learned to recognize when someone was lying.”59

Here is the gist of what Ryan recalled: He was a Hollywood movie star who occasionally tap-danced on stage; after his acting career, he became an agent, and his agency represented famous clients; he lived on a street with the word “mount” or “rock” in it; he was very rich and had a large house with a swimming pool. He was married four times and had numerous girlfriends and affairs. The house was filled with children, but the boys weren’t his birth children, though he gave them his name. He knew Rita Hayworth, she made ‘ice drinks.’ He had a green car that he wouldn’t let anyone else drive and a large collection of sunglasses. These were among fifty-five later-verified memories.60

Ryan explained that his other self’s memories were always there, but “when you are a baby…you can’t tell anyone because you can’t talk.”61

The identification of Ryan’s “old me” came after his mother brought him a book on the golden age of Hollywood. He recognized himself as a nameless extra in Mae West’s first film, Night After Night. The man Ryan pointed to stood alongside George Raft as a gangster. “‘You found me, Momma! You found me! That’s me and that’s George and we did a picture together.’”62 It was 1932.

It took a year with the help of former Stevenson associate Jim Tucker to match the picture with an obscure Hollywood actor, Marty Martyn (born Martin Kolinsky). Martyn had been both a performer and agent, was married four times, and lived on Rocksbury Drive. His death certificate had the wrong age; Ryan’s memory of passing at sixty-one proved accurate.63

Cyndi told an interviewer, “Kevin and I were often struck by how much Ryan talked like an adult, although we were used to it by now. He seemed to have wisdom that was sometimes uncanny for his age.”64 She gave examples. “Some days when I picked him up from school he talked about being an agent, and when I asked him what he did at school, he would say, ‘You know, agent stuff.’ He also pretended that he was making movies. When he was four, I remember taking him to a birthday party where he assembled all the children there to direct them for his movie. He yelled at the adults that he needed help because it was hard to act in and direct a major production.”65

When certain incidents involving a “Senator Five” (who turned out to be a real-life “Senator Ives”) terrified him, Cyndi explained that he wasn’t Marty Martyn anymore and she just wanted him to be Ryan and happy. He said, “‘Mom, you still don’t get it, do you? I am not the same as the man in the picture on the outside, but on the inside I am still that man. You just can’t see on the inside what I see.’”66

Marty Martyn had one birth daughter, who was eight when he died. When Ryan met her again as a grandmother in her fifties, she remarked, “‘The experience of meeting Ryan was strange. The first thing he said to me was that I was so old!’”67

Another comment by Ryan goes to the heart of the matter: “Why would God let you get to be sixty-one and then make you come back as a baby.”68

I agree. Why should you have to learn how to speak English, do arithmetic, rediscover night and day, and go to school to regain knowledge you already had. At a reincarnational level, everyone suffers full dementia.

 

What stands out in these accounts is each person’s strong identification with his or her PP, an intersubjective sense of having been and still being another person and of encompassing his or her unique selfhood and vantage. “They are the previous personalities, and they resist the imposition of a new identity…. they say, ‘I have a wife,’ or I am a doctor,’ or “I have three buffalos and two cows.”69 One boy told his parents, “See that rice field. It once belonged to me.” Another insisted on buying size-eight shoes even though they were too large for him. “He wouldn’t drop it,” his mother told Stevenson. “We actually had to buy him a pair and take it home and make him wear it to prove to him that it was way too big.”70 The former self superseded proprioception of his own present body.

Children are similarly attached to their PP’s cultures and lifestyle.

In some instances, a child may be upset by the diminishment of his or her social status. Jasbir Singh, a boy “reborn” into a lower caste in India, insisted on having his food prepared for him by a Brahmin neighbor for a year and a half before reluctantly submitting to his family’s cuisine. Suzanne complained that her “real” house was larger and more beautiful.71 Ryan Hammons “sometimes seemed confused about what was then and what was now, and what were reasonable expectations now as opposed to then. He thought he should pay his mom for cleaning his room because before he had a maid who came in every day to clean his house. He expected to see his buddies when he went to Hollywood, and said he might stay with them for a while and come home after his parents….”72 His mother noted, “There were nights when he was very funny and I enjoyed hearing his stories. Then on other nights he just seemed to be mad at the world. Why couldn’t I just fly him to Hollywood and let him eat at his favorite place? Sometimes our house would be too small in his opinion and he would rant about how he couldn’t believe he was being expected to live in these conditions. His old room had been large and grand and he had his own swimming pool. Why couldn’t we have servants? Do you know how much easier life is with hired help?”73

Other piques by children via their PPs include: “You aren’t my mother. My mother was prettier and richer”; “You are not my family—my family is dead”; “You are not my parents. My parents live somewhere else.”74 They point out missing and altered buildings or landscapes with dismay; some comment on how much worse things have gotten, for instance how unhappy they are that cars have replaced horses.

If their PPs died as adults, newborns may resist the transition back to childhood. In an account from Stevenson, one boy flirted inappropriately with his schoolteachers, using adult seductive gestures and crude sexual language.

Several boys and girls born in Burma after World War II remembered having been Japanese soldiers; they rejected local food as too spicy and asked for raw fish and sweets. They wanted to wear Japanese clothes and enjoyed playing battle games.75 Stevenson speculated that Japanese soldiers who mistreated civilians during World War II might have been drawn back to the scene of their crimes, taking on Burmese rather than Japanese identities to pay karmic debts.

One Burmese girl who remembered a previous existence as a Japanese soldier craved toy guns and would play only with boys. She insisted on being addressed by the male honorific and eventually moved to the city and sought girlfriends.76 Though reincarnation may be a source of gender dystopia, most children adopt the gender of their current identity.

“Queering” implies not only opening gender and biological orientation beyond heterosexual acts or other sociologically specified roles, but accepting identity itself as transdimensional, biologically miscegenated, and composed psychically of organisms, entities, and inclinations outside of ordinary time and space. All identities, conscious, unconscious, and trans-conscious, orbit around an unknown gravity that is both a black hole and a radiant sun-star. Apparently nothing is lost in a universe that is expressing source profundity through dialectic fields of manifestation. Even a Alzheimer’s patient retains his or her core identity.

Children may be attached to their PP’s jobs or intent on replicating or revenging their deaths. Parmod Sharma, an Indian boy, played a shopkeeper of biscuit and soda water, the occupation of his PP, from ages four to seven, repeating this exercise over and over to the neglect of his homework. Ramez Shams, a child in Lebanon, “reenacted the suicide of [his] previous personality by repeatedly putting a stick under his chin while pretending that it was a rifle”77: either a droll sense of humor or compulsive counterphobia. Maung Aye Kyaw, a Myanmar man who grew up to marry the widow of his PP, threw stones at one of the men who he claimed killed him in his former life.78 Other children have attacked the alleged killer of their previous self, kicking or punching them at first encounter.

If such claims had legal status, all hell would break loose in the domain of jurisprudence. Each self is held responsible only for his or her actions within a given lifetime, though even this assignment of liability is a limited interpretation. After decades in prison, a murderer may no longer be the person who perpetrated the homicide. The real “killer” is at large in another body, to act again.

Likewise, souls that committed crimes in past lifetimes walk into this one scot-free, every link to their deeds erased. It doesn’t matter if they were Hitler, Jack the Ripper, or Attila the Hun. Energy and karma are still there to be dealt with, so perhaps reincarnation is a way to “punish” or absolve crimes, as Stevenson suggests. Karmic jurisprudence begins to approach the intricacy of the universe and its terms of reparation. Everyone is guilty at some level or another. Everyone is also expiated, in part, through death and rebirth.

 

For almost all the cases discussed above, reincarnation is the most logical and rational explanation, even by Occam’s razor. What are other possible interpretations?

Some who accept telepathy but reject reincarnation propose super-psi whereby one person gains knowledge of another’s life from a transpersonal information field or morphic resonance (to adapt biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s term). No one studies this sort of physics, so we have no conception for how a detached memory of an existence could transfer like a digital file outside a cohesive thread of identity.

Non-personal clairvoyance does not satisfactorily explain how the narrative of another’s life engenders such tenacious identification, though empathy does occur to a lesser and more ephemeral degree in emotional projection, for instance during a movie when a spectator merges with characters played by actors.

The subconscious mind blends disparate threads together, in fact nightly in dream-formation—and some people have more active imaginations than others.

Even so, transference of events from a novel or a film to a psyche is not as persistent or ingrained as past-life membrances; the former are transitory, and the man or woman experiencing them is aware of their fictive nature.

In an extreme instance, someone with poor ego boundaries might lose her identity and become confused by a projection onto a movie star, for instance in cases of stalking. For a person with this tendency, a flood of transpersonal information or a disembodied psychic field could be disorienting, as it would seem to come from nowhere. Projection doesn’t explain the plethora of reincarnation memories in normal, balanced personalities.

Other rebuttals of Stevenson’s evidence are reductionist or ideological and ignore the specificity of the testimony and follow-up documentation. One of the more common explanations is that a parent might misunderstand or misconstrue the claims of children with over-active imaginations. A parent weaves a child’s fantasies into a cohesive narrative and then reinforces it.

Both Daniel and Rashid were Druze, a sect that believes in reincarnation and soul transfer. Because the Druze community is small and people generally know each other village to village, there is a chance of suggestibility and contamination. People hear a report, converse about it; children pick up the narrative, identify with it and embellish. The parents get drawn into the fantasy and unintentionally supply cues.

One cynic claims that parents “in their eagerness to confirm the existence of the past life, find another family with a deceased individual whose life shared some general features with those reported by the child.”79 The two families, as they meet and share details, delude each other or collude. By the time Stevenson (or some other researcher) gets there, the child has been coached and brainwashed. Picking up rumors as they are bandied about, he has come to believe that they are his memories of his own past life. Once again, a combination of susceptibility to fantasy and malleability of mind supplants an interpretation of reincarnation.

In an experiment to test (and ostensibly debunk) Stevenson’s theories, Richard Wiseman, a psychologist in England, asked children to make up stories about their past lives, then searched through archives and newspapers to try to match their tales with actual occurrences in the genre of Stevenson’s cases. Usually he could find something suspicious.80

Wiseman’s facile resolution—demonstrating that fantasies converge with real events in a universe in which there is enough information at myriad levels to make any story credible—may not be the right interpretation even of his own data. Wiseman and his subjects could have been drawn into a field of transpersonal clairvoyance or triggered a pattern of synchronous motifs (like Bridey Murphy being reborn across the street from her namesake). Such things happen inexplicably: people researching synchronicity are suddenly flooded by odd coincidences. Mystery writers find themselves involved, usually peripherally, in crimes they wrote about. Stage magicians faking clairvoyance end up with information they could only have gotten clairvoyantly. I will discuss this later under “Cosmic Chicanery.”

Wiseman committed the mistake of which skeptics accuse believers: tailoring his analysis of data to his beliefs. A different interpretation of this experiment is that synchronicity is a larger rubric than reincarnation and affects the status of information, both conscious and unconscious.

The parallels between Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, a century apart, though within statistical parameters of chance, are spooky. The politicians were elected to Congress in 1847 and 1947, respectively; to the Presidency in 1860 and 1960. Both were involved in famous debates (Lincoln with Douglas, Kennedy with Nixon). More strikingly, Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy who warned him not to go to the theater that night, while Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln who advised him against a trip to Dallas. Lincoln sat in Box 7, Kennedy rode in Car 7.

Still, no big deal: Lincoln and Kennedy are common enough names in the grand scheme. An early reader of this manuscript, physicist Piers Hutchinson, commented, “To my family, the Lincoln-Kennedy parallel was so obviously pure coincidence as to be funny.” So let’s concede that one.

What about Joseph Figlock, who in 1930 while passing a second time beneath a window, caught and saved the life of the same rambunctious infant?

What about the 1920 train on which the only three passengers discovered that they were Bingham, Powell, and Bingham-Powell?

What about a man, his son, and his grandson who were all struck and killed by lightning in the same backyard in Tarranto, Italy, decades apart, the first in 1919?

What about twin boys separated at birth, both named James by their adopting families, both trained in police enforcement, both marrying women named Linda, both getting divorced and remarrying a woman named Betty. Both named their sons John Allan, though one used a single “l.” Both had dogs named Troy. These coincidences came to light when they were reunited in 1979 at age forty.81

Again, with so many events and so much information flowing through a convergence of physical and semantic universes, some of it is bound to entangle. But unless science can tell us how nature establishes frames of reference, it cannot automatically reduce all synchronicities to coincidence.

Even as complex three-dimensional objects like machines cast two-dimensional shadows with motions too complex to be explained solely in terms of a two-dimensional landscape—a phenomenon known as the kinetic depth effect—an entangled four- or five-dimensional form might cast three-dimensional shadows coordinated by synchronicities.

 

Skeptical explanations for so-called past-life memories finally tend to be more cumbersome than reincarnation. What doubters are left with are claims that a child must have overheard gab about the fabricated PP’s life or that a parent is engaged in fraud.82 Yet it is a stretch to imagine that a child of two or three could learn and credibly perform complex biographies. How did Suzanne Ghanem get twenty-five names right? Even if she had overheard them, how did she remember and assign them accurately? Did she have eidetic recall? What was her motive? The notion that children “somehow learned minute details about deceased strangers in other places without their parents’ knowledge and then decided that they had been those strangers in a past life seems close to absurd.”83

Hoaxing makes little sense either, as there is no financial reward for past-life proofs, and claims often lead to hassles and disputes. Yet we can’t dismiss hoaxing solely on that basis because people make mercenarily motivated blunders and delude themselves into expecting windfalls, or even neurotically seek attention, but, conversely, we can’t claim ulterior motives predicated on fortune or fame.

Because past-life recall is unusual even among the Druze, Stevenson proposed that its occurrences might be system errors, lapses of universal amnesia.84 I am uncertain whether Stevenson believed that reincarnation is the rule and memory the exception or that reincarnation itself is a system malfunction. The number of Druze cases in his files does suggest that belief plays a role, if not in reincarnation, in its recall. In the West, by contrast, indoctrination takes place at such a young age that children become their own self-censors.

A tangential matter is whether reincarnation cycles are limited to one planet, Earth in our instance, or whether souls can reincarnate on other worlds, either in the Milky Way Galaxy or other galaxies? Some skeptics try for a coup de grace by claiming that there are too many people in Earth’s expanding population for past lives to account for all of their existences. But there are plenty of solar systems in the universe, and there could be other kinds of set-ups, equivalent to planets but nonmolecular or with different allocations of space, time, and matter? They could reincarnate souls coming from physical cosmoses. We have no notion of the range of possibilities or basis for restricting them.

Dr. David Bishai of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health did the real math. Estimating that humans had been on the Earth about 50,000 years, he calculated that there have been some 105 billion Homo sapiens so far, as against a maximum planetary population of ten billion in the late twenty-first century.85 That would cover the necessary soul stock for now but doesn’t address the ontological problem: if the inventory runs out, how can new people get born?

It is almost certainly not a quantitative matter or, if it is, it likely operates at the demographics of the universe with its countless galaxies as well as in the context of multiple personalities. Souls could land on other worlds or form simultaneous separate personae like Dr. Weiss’ patient with her coinciding lives in Spain and the Ukraine. Various Tibetan lamas claim to intentionally reincarnate in more than one individual. I will discuss fragmentation or fission of personalities later.

One might more reasonably wonder why Stevenson’s research never made it into even marginal scientific discussion or received peer review and why so few people know about it. It’s not as though he has been refuted or that more Occam-favorable explanations have been offered for his data.

The reason is a prevailing view that reincarnation is absurd. It violates the laws of physics and biology, so it is not worth even discussing. It is as if one were propounding levitating clowns and witches on brooms. This bias overrides any evidence, however compelling. Most scientists start from the premise that reincarnation couldn’t happen, therefore it doesn’t. In each case, there has to be another explanation. New School philosopher Paul Edwards’ critique of Stevenson’s work presumes that this assessment is plain to all:

“Which is more likely—that there are astral bodies, that they invade the womb of perspective mothers, and that the children can remember events from a previous life although the brains of the previous persons have long been dead? Or that Stevenson’s children, their parents, or some other witnesses and informants are, intentionally or unintentionally, not telling the truth: that they are lying, or that their very fallible memories and powers of observation have led them to make false statements and bogus identifications?”86

If you believe in a materialist universe only—a what-you-see-is-what-you-get in which the cosmos popped out of a particle smaller than a pinhead in the middle of nowhere—then Edwards’ caricature strikes the perfect chord: the only conceivable mechanisms for past lives are patently absurd.

If you consider, however, that what we know about the universe is far less than what we don’t, Edwards’ bias is a symptom of his own hubris and susceptibility to a consensus trance.

 

The Hole in the Materialists’ Universe

  1. The Nature and Origin of Consciousness

In the last millennium humanity has yawed from an interim posture of trying to locate consciousness in an antecedent spirit or soul to proving ever more conclusively that no such entity exists. In modern neo-Darwinian science, consciousness lacks any ontological standing. Creatures are not innately conscious; it is that, as their cells convert energy into agency and actions to sustain their metabolism, they develop an illusion of mindedness.

This chain of events began 13.8 billion years ago with a torrid, dense singularity known in these parts as the Big Bang. This detonation turned nowhere into somewhere by stretching into space it created (and is creating) by its own implosion. Everything that followed arose from the fission, fusion, agglutination, and transmutation of particles.

Nothing can take place in a chemico-mechanical universe without a physical sponsor. Sponsorship follows a one-way march out of the Big Bang along a verified chain of carriers, gradually into more cumbrous scions like meteors, comets, glaciers, geysers, crystal deposits, etc. Major transformations took place along the way, but without spooky or ethereal trespass. A notarized progression was maintained right up to consciousness.

Initially the BB’s skank shuffled into bosons and fermions, as a melee of daughter particles danced to inherent thermodynamic and gravitational rhythm. Shapes arising randomly from higgeldy-piggeldy persisted from chance effects. In addition, throughout the universe a inherent stability of orderly disorder led to “spontaneous production of complex dynamical patterns from uncorrelated interactions of component parts.”2 This mysterious principle of design would graduate from wind-blown bands on Jovian worlds to the fluctuation of soybean markets and noise on telephones on waterworlds.

Elements transferred their quantum potentials into qualities. In some planetary pools incidental collisions of particle-waves dominated by carbon and nitrogen thickened and incubated to weird effect. Mechanical information—temperature-driven gradients—sorted into heuristically emerging chains dominated by carbon and nitrogent, then was bound in membranes by chemical bonds in currents of water under shear force. Gravity imposed and bonded large and small spirals and tubes.

A series of embryogenic invaginations—folds, pockets, and laminae—swirled and twirled into deeper networks. Subtler and more discrete packets of information got transmitted through their microtubules into an ascending hierarchy of binary synapses. Self-monitoring feedback loops rose from their resting potential. Translated into ganglia, they followed the notochord’s ascent, capturing strings of diffuse feedback and entangling them in deeper loop-like circuits.

Innate excitatory sensitivity and action-potential states—augmentation and inhibition representing molecular-atomic properties—culminated as states of hyperpolarization, surpluses of energy followed by depolarization of overloads. Low-threshold spikes hit default tipping points. Neural grids filtered static and noise that would otherwise have cancelled them. A homunculus climbed that ladder of a notochord from flatworms to lizards to tree shrews to monkeys and Homo africanus, at least on one sorry-ass planet. Trillions of seeds imbedded their software in eggs, launching a contiguous organism. Now a single cell infests the Earth, disseminating and cloning throughout its weeds and waters. Its behavioral analogue went, “Bzzzz,” or “Quack” or “Ribb-ock, ribb-ock, ribb-ock” or, in Hopi, “Úma hínok pas nui kitâ’ náwakna?” (“Why do you want me so quickly?”)

The calls of loons and gulls—whines, chirps, and growls of other hungry creatures—are at par with the vortices generating them. In speechless spiders, insects, and worms, the same plaint is movement. They plead with an adventitious universe to be rather than not— Hamlet’s timeless rub.

Natural selection—survival of the fittest—imposed circumstances whereby morphologies that occurred naturally survived by becoming more functional and durable, i.e., metabolic and reproductive (self-replicating).

But why, in a fundamentally lazy, entropy-up universe, should consumption and conversion of energy be more attractive than indolence? Was matter “hungry”? Or did it stumble into an enthalpic resolution of some intrinsic charge?

Creatures are self-regulating concentration/containment centers of trillionfold quantum, atomic, and molecular firings into discretionary pathways. They evolved from input-output chains of platyhelminths, drawing on self-similar motifs. A utility function, while ostensibly monitoring itself, converted systemic feedback into frames of reference, leading to more efficient function sets, and the illusion of mindedness.

What we call “thought” is an integration of templates and vectors transferring information into each other’s contexts. They recognize themselves, and everything else, like a mirror by pattern-on-pattern formations—fancy bar codes. Exuding phantasmagoria, they stamp the delusion of personalized existence on themselves.

Mind found mind—not because it “knew” (or “was”) but because incidental territories incidentally coincided. Consciousness has no other extraneous source, auspices, or traction. No alternate path underwrites subjective beingness, for there is no place from which to summon it or deliver its message, or message to deliver.

It burst into a forest of symbols that now imbues us, then swarmed into villages and declared polities and civilizations. There they be to this moment, interrogating their crisis. The master theater of beingness—da “first” person (“je,” “I,” “ich,” “yo,” “nuy”), what the bloke-in-the street calls “me-self,” “me brats” is protein-crystal matrices igniting an illusion—an illusion reflecting in itself. Reincarnation impossible because life itself is imaginary. Creatures are ephemeral pangs against an eternity of their own (and everything else’s) nonexistence—”the result of no more than lifeless elements briefly coming into a consciousness and vitality that is bound to end…. [E]ven the emotions of love and exaltation are…no more than the erratic activity of neurons firing, or of chemicals reacting to chemicals.”2

In Dark Pool of Light I synopsized science’s takeaway from its five-or-so-century peer-reviewed inquiry: “A light goes on, a light goes off, but it wasn’t even a light.” That is, we become conscious; the chemistry underlying the glow runs its course or is untimely terminated; but it wasn’t truly conscious to begin. It was both a hallucination and a mirage.

The effort/shape of a gull disperses from a corpse on the beach into gull-less molecules. There is no evidence of the creature’s prior existence; every trace of bird is eradicated forever. Raw carbon and nitrogen are put back into nature.

The outcome of chaos’ creative contrivances—Ilya Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics—against the prior incumbency of entropy is a foregone conclusion, entropy wins, otherwise known as the heat death of the universe. This provenance applies to all upstarts in the cosmos, as well as the cosmos itself—stars, bars, and the rest. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy’s imprimatur), the Multigalactic Enchilada—El Starry Circus, mismo—is going to chill, evanesce, dissipate, and perish.

Welcome to the Show, Brother Man, Brother Bird, Brother Heat Differentials. Your life and creature identity report to no higher court and mean nada to the universe. You have the approximate leaven of mud or a thunderstorm.

Nothing is exempt from the dance of heat, mass, gravity, and information. There is no lurking eschatological savior or last-minute turn-of-plot.

In other words, we’re fucked, so get used to it. We have always been fucked. Our situation is real, damnedly real, but meaningless.

In Justin Torres’ memoir of his Puerto Rican childhood, a lad asks his father, “‘What happens when you die?’” El papá’s response comes from a deep-seated supposition that has been spreading to meet the universe that swallows it. He stares back at his son, dumbfounded, and snaps, “Nothing happens. Nothing happens forever.”3

We are slime on “a small round planet inching its way through a terrifying void.”4

The barrage of sound and fury, once signifying everything, signifies zilch. Shakespeare saw a tale told by an idiot. Now the idiot is gone. Information is merely erasure and absence of other information. And meaning is dragged along like bubblegum on an unfortunate sneaker.

Hard to believe that Homo sapiens crossed ice and sleet and battled saber-toothed predators for hundreds of thousands of years to arrive at this sorry conclusion.

 

Yet “who” is doing all the me-ing and mewing? If it’s dust to dust, where did “we,” and those convincing and convinced leopards, lizards, and wrens, come from?

Science has only one hole in it, but the hole is us. Consciousness overrides all reductions and imposes an intractable riddle. Neuroscientist Sam Harris proffered, with equal traces chagrin and irony, “The only thing in this universe that suggests the reality of consciousness is consciousness itself.”5 Without our experience of our own existence, the universe doesn’t even appear conducive to consciousness. We emerged in an essentially untenantable place.

Creature-hood is a splash where there is nothing splashable. Its sense of beingness is unjustified, miraculous, and bizarre.

The only thing that refutes this verdict and supports the presence of consciousness is consciousness’ reflection in its own mirror. It not only pervades and imbues matter, it is the reflecting pool in which all analysis of matter is performed.

This is a paradox—the benchmark of all paradoxes. As long as consciousness arises from the thing that it comprehends, it can never ratify its own proposition. Its mirror has no frame. There is no pier to which to tie its experiments, only formulations affixed to their own untethered status. As physicist Max Planck put it, “We cannot get behind consciousness. [Yet] everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”6

A hole growing from itself can never be filled, for the shadow it casts over its own singularity can never be objectified.

The salvation for science is that, as long as there is only one hole, albeit a critical one, it is business as usual—the band plays, the show goes on. Provisional equations cover the gap, patch the paradigm where it is cracking, save the appearances. Coronated by human beings, matter gets to set the “outer bounds of reality itself.”7 The eight-hundred-pound gorilla has his way because who’s going to argue with an atavism that exploded onto the set like a dawn that only itself saw coming?

No one did, argue that is; no one quibbled for two-and-half billion years.

“I am” is pretty much what everything on Earth believed—a parade of plastids, bacteria, bears, and blackbirds: I am, I am, I am. I slither. I swim; I eat, I fuck, I breed, I whelp, I rule. Until a nineteenth-century locomotive carrying heavier cargo—the evolution of forms solely from prior forms—came rumbling down the tracks and supplanted the reigning entelechy with a shiny new proposition.

 

A point often missed: consciousness’ placeholder status—whether or not it is truly conscious—has nothing to do with its functional expressions. Consciousness is what consciousness does. Any fuss about its legitimacy is very recent compared a 3.8 billion or 210 million (depending on your yardstick) year history of unimpeded axiomatic action. “There is no ghost in the organic machine,” declared neuro-anthropologist Terrence Deacon, “and no inner intender serving as witness to a Cartesian theater. The locus of self-perspective is a circular dynamic, where ends and means, observing and observed, are incessantly transformed from one to another.”8 Environment and entity impinge; they were never unimpinged.

The reality show goes on not because it is sentient or provisionally sentient but “irrespective of making any claim about whether it is sentient. Intelligence is about making adaptively relevant responses to complex environmental contingencies, whether conscious or unconscious….”9

Awareness is the least significant aspect of mind, for philosophers as much as raccoons. Blind transfers of information supersede sentience on Earth, and presumably, under the Europan ice if zooids live there. Unconscious systemic sets run any operating hawk or shark—internal network symbolings, optics, nerve nets, autopilot functions.

Throw in everything else incipiently pre- and post-synaptic and semantic or that has been elided from consciousness, repressed or otherwise forfeit memories, plus the meta-conscious, quasi-linguistic structure of DNA and you have an entire subterfuge bestiary with internal alphabets and alphabetic structures. Its boiler room and control center discharges a hummingbird’s flapping wings and a rat’s sniff of carrion. It is not even subconscious in a Freudian sense; it is outside representation.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaimed delightedly, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.”10 Our presumptions are “free-floating reasons … not our reasons.” They arose through natural selection, to allow us to survive. They are an operational “desktop.” “What is actually going on behind the desk-top is mind-numbingly complicated, but users don’t need to know about it, so intelligent interface designers have simplified the affordances, making them particularly salient for human eyes … the ingenious user-illusion of click-and-drag icons …. Nothing compact and salient inside the computer corresponds to that little tan file-folder on the desktop screen.”11 It’s all optics and applications. Physician Larry Dossey mused that Dennett “was using his own free will to arrive at the conclusion that free will does not exist.”12

 

In case the usher didn’t hand you a program, the main objective of modern science is to prove that truly conscious beings are as mythical as unicorns, thereby to scrub meaning, purpose, and consequence from the impersonal universe to which they pay godlike homage.

A mirage mimics what consciousness—veridicality—would look like if it existed, but it doesn’t and never will. You cannot build lasting veridicality out of atoms or anything like atoms, and that’s the only available ingredient. What we have is a very convincing simulacrum of consciousness.

How does science justify an item that was never ordered, has no implicit or explicit context, and simply appeared? How can we explain Café Zero: the menu, the entrées, the patrons, the waiter, yourself as patron? How do we derive Keats’ nightingale from bosons and fermions?

Patriotic materialism wasn’t science’s purpose at the time of Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, but it has become so under a mob rule of religious anti-religionists—nihilism their required faith, Yahweh the ultimate Infidel.

Even empiricists are no longer honest brokers, for they have invested in the house commodity and intend to trade solely in it. They expect everyone to agree to recognize “matter” as the gold standard, and they don’t want rival priests printing currency. Having delivered a dystopian future, they plan to savor their hallucinations while they last, parading as wealthy savants while deeming themselves apparitions. They fight for goodies just like other biomolecular machines, and they enjoy the benefits of materialism without risking their political and economic assets.

Pretend for a moment to be a Stone Age hominid suddenly viewing modernity—you see how fast and fully materialism has feathered its nest: jets in the sky, supertankers on the seas, vast automated factories, transit mazes, habitation catacombs, bipeds scurrying hither, thither, and whooshed up and down on pulleys in tubes, zipping around in sporty internal-combustion, pinion-and-gear-driven shafts.

With this arcade to its credit, technocracy has spellbound its constituents, creating the ideal palliation and recompense for mortality: a pleasure-dome with conveniences lacking in the Pliocene and Pleistocene.

Far sharper minds and better tools have been committed to assembling this machinery and sweeping away anomalies than to formulating a working construct for reality. It’s an easier gig with faster pay-offs. Kick da bums out!

Now try running your own tool of ontology, your embodied mind. Drop into its depth. Explore its tourbillion. Beam the spotlight back on itself “as though you were in a movie theater and stopped looking at the screen and looked back at the projector, “[L]et go of noticing objects and make the phenomenon of consciousness the object of attention.”13 What is it?

Do you experience overloads tipping spikes? Or do you feel roots going into unplumbed dimensions?

The formulations of Ludwig Wittgenstein, as summarized by a later philosopher, Jacob Needleman, “circumscribe the central question that modern man faces in the overwhelming light and darkness of modern science”:

“What I see, what I know, is a universe of death. What I feel is life. Which is real—death or life?

“The world is a vast blind machine, an assemblage of inert facts. I am only another fact in that world. But I who know this encompass the world that I knew with meaning and purpose. Which is real: What I know or that which knows?

“I do not see God in the world or in myself. Yet the world and myself exist. Which is real: the facts about being or the mysterious fact of Being?”14

The paradox of consciousness yields two opposing viewpoints. The first is that, since nothing at large collateralizes it, consciousness is nothing—a network distortion that confers an illusion of beingness on the phantoms it creates.

The second is that, since consciousness exists, it is de facto something, exempt from the ordinances of science—a self-arising luminosity without correlation to any extrinsic light. Millennia ago Hindu philosophers gave it a sponsorless sponsor—mind is “self-authenticating,” unborn, uncreated, unconditioned, radiant—the ground of all beingness. The Sanskrit word chiti depicts a “universal consciousness” that was there before the mental function that recognizes it. It is “larger than the brain or some emergent property of the brain’s functions.”15

Try to find a arbiter to corroborate that. It simply is.

Science finally hasn’t the slightest idea what consciousness is. What it does, yes. What it is, not even “close but no cigar.”

If we knew what consciousness was, if we even had a riverboat gambler’s chance of knowing, we might not even be conscious; e.g., capable of creative complexity and paradox.

 

Given the prima facie evidence of consciousness, neuroscientists are frustrated not to be able to trace its operations through presynaptic circuits or derive it from the components and mechanisms of the cerebral cortex and precursor ganglia. They only know it through electrical and chemical responses to its presence once it is there. But they can’t begin to explain how the fly got into the ointment, what the “fly” is, or how to propose its forensics—how those electrical and chemical properties weird inside-outness and luminous apprehension onto the universe.

They map mind’s attributes only as they percolate into matter, but they haven’t a clue as to where they came from. They can’t kindle it anew from the sorts of compounds and filaments that transport its properties through molecular systems. It is not even a thing in itself but a temporary function of neuronal activity in the wet cellular tissue of the brains of biological organisms.Even if a biochemist did ignite autonomous consciousness, he would be like Donald Duck as the sorcerer’s apprentice, unaware of how he set the brooms marching.

Imagine yourself a biotech whiz successfully stirring a chemical solution into some sort of primitive life form. How did “is” get centrifuged out of “non-ises”? What fomented its interior glow? What spawned instant epistemology?

I get it that synapsing yeses and nos, blacks and whites, create composite spectra, but I do not get how these ascend to self-referential beingness. I’m no physicist or biologist, but common sense tells me that electron states can’t depolarize over an ontological threshold or cross its lesion in either structure or scale. They can’t command the microfilaments of a neural cell, let alone a macroorganism, to dance to their tune while bearing anything like “hey, there.” So how do they tap up the pod chain into Da Vinci paintings, Mahler symphonies, and Faulknerian narratives?

 

  1. Animal Consciousness

A spider, working on his web in the corner of my shower stall, becomes aware of the splatter and rise of steam. He scurries up the wall to the crack of the ceiling.

He recognizes my presence—that of another being—and stands in relationship. He could not have made himself, but he is self-made. He came out of the same DNA field as me.

I could reach out and touch him if I wanted. He could crawl down the wall, extend a leg, and touch me. It is not in our playbooks. Neither of us wants more contact, the stall is quite enough.

As I stare at him, I ask, Who are you? If we are mere algorithms, we should be willing to dissolve in poofs with no more fuss than a set of isobars giving way to the next weather system. There should be no angst in our pilot lights. Yet every ounce of us clamors just the opposite.

The fish that doesn’t want to get caught and eaten by a larger fish, in fact frantically so, has no context or rationale. Remember, there is no pier or sight of any shore.

Beingness is non-negotiable. “Life is to be pursued at all costs—not because it is innately meaningful but because it is the only game going….”16 “What else is there?” most creatures drink to the bottom of their glass. They don’t drink because reality’s detonation is so all-consuming they are not aware of a cistern or a brew.

Does a badger or crow worry about its own ontological premise? No self-respecting eel would bite at such a ruse—no indignant woodpecker or turkey vulture. That’s why no creature said boo for two and a half billion years.

 

Though neuron-deprived compared to us, dogs and mice—jellyfish, barnacles, worms and the like are no less evolved or clever. Even oaks and foxgloves have phenomenology.

What they don’t know—propositions and schemes precious to us—is irrelevant to them.

A mosquito reads nature through a mosquito’s portal, a vole at vole frequency, a whale by its cetacean operating system. Fishes know water as we experience sky or God. The nitrogen fumes of decay are a starry heavens to a fly. Dung beetles push their balls of poop away from competitors in straight lines by comparing successive sidereal snapshots.

Every plant and animal not only knows what it is but what the universe is too—not as descriptor but essence. A bacterial formation under the ice of Callisto is as reality-astute as a biologist on a temperate world of the same system. Each reads Creation through its operating node. An earthworm “is”— as “is,” as it gets, squiggling through energy-rich mud. It is doing philosophy too, of the most fundamental sort, for it is funneling a conjunction of information and personal identity into the universe.

Poet Michael McClure deemed the wolf “not a wandering scholar but a wandering minstrel—with the whole prairie for auditorium and worldfield to work upon. He can visualize a Platonic universe of sound as a field on which to conceive and topologize his personal statements.”17

The Earth is packed with such wandering minstrels: sow bugs and sea cucumbers, minks and eagles, each exploring a gifted template. Their “every motion is bathed in the knowledge of the rightness of [its] being…. [A] cat trusts the universe…trusts his catness—his leaping and chasing of birds, his appetites and desires. And these qualities of catness add to the universe…are reflected through it in a million unknown ways….”18

Wasps are not tatting an unconscious objects like a multi-port 3-D copier; they are constructing holy cities. The sound of ten thousand crickets, to the unbiased ear of nature, is an ecstatic choir.

 

You cannot extract a possum from its possumness, even if you taunt it. You cannot break its train of thought or commitment to its frequency. You can’t ply it by propaganda or persecution to serve your agenda. It lives and dies as possum.

Pavlovian conditioning can induce a dog or falcon to do a master’s bidding, but they do it as dogs and falcons not proxy humans. You can’t violate their operating systems; you can only damage or shut them down.

Though Floridian assholes Michael Wenzel and Robert Lee “Bo” Benac poured beer down the forced-open mouth of a fifty-year-old Goliath grouper and dragged a live shark behind their speeding motorboat, they could not compromise the dignity of grouper-ness or sharkness.19

The picador-taunted bull in the ring, the harpooned whale, the bullet-riddled duck, the bee confined in a carafe likewise bend the universe along their own space-time continua. That’s relativity.

The angst and pity we exert on behalf of suffering creatures—tortured chickens, pigs, and cows in factory farms, etc.—is authentic but a projection of our own unresolved status.

 

While writing this text (June 7, 2015), I found a beetle in a sauce of tamari and maple syrup with which I had cooked string beans and pecans earlier in the evening; it was crawling among a few stray beans and nuts as I arrived to wash dishes and pans. Obviously, I hadn’t cooked the beetle, so it must have crawled up the side of the serving-dish while we and our guests were drinking tea.

I managed to extricate it by flipping it onto its back on the counter. Watching it flail in distress, I tried to wash off the sticky sauce. That was misguided.

Those prickly thin legs waving, trying to gain purchase were profound. I urged it not to be in a hurry; that is, I dispatched my anthropomorphism its way. Only as I took its shell out to the garden and set it there, did it strike me that the animal’s frantic legs were connected to the universe in the way any intelligence is. I was handling a vast hologram, sensing not a separate bug but my existence inseparably joined to it.

It was not a minor event: the whole universe was flailing at the beetle’s point of attachment.

 

  1. The Brain as Computer

The lead article in the 2015 June 28 New York Times Sunday Review, “Face It, Your Brain is a Computer,” was the work of Gary Marcus, a psychologist and neuroscientist at NYU. Marcus argued that the brain is a computer because—well, what else could it be? Its logic-board and thought processes are lodged in silicon-like cerebral wiring. It links by computations, its neurons operate like hardware, it performs functions homologous to those of a computer.

The implication is that the same article could have been generated by inputting its conclusion into a computer with language skills. By Marcus’ premise, this isn’t even an insult.

The logic is bass-ackwards. Computers are modelled on brains not the other way around. Brains invented computers, and quite recently, by back-engineering cellular motherboards into cybernetic ones.

Why does Marcus grant computers precedent over brains? They are not better machines. They are more linear in their operations, less virtual in their retrieval. Brains don’t even have a true memory function and their data-recall is everywhere.

The real question is, what are brains modelled on, given that they weren’t manufactured under quality control or market pressure but basted slowly out of mud?

Marcus provides an unintentional self-parody. He purports to be willing to play second fiddle to a cybernetic doppelgänger who will someday write the same article, but I doubt he treats his friends and children like neurochemical robots. It is schizophrenia: to believe and not believe same thing. Yet most mavens of modernity think that you can behave however you want in your private life without invalidating your official belief system.

Marcus also skipped the Turing test or, more likely, assumed that it had been aced. A computer can only pass a test for intelligent behavior if an evaluator cannot reliably discriminate its responses from those of a human. The problem is evaluators letting their own gullibility (and sci-fi fantasies) slip into the exchange.

 

It must have been “Turing Test Sunday” because in the same June 28th issue the Times Magazine ran an article subtitled “Can Brain Scanning Help Save Freudian Psychoanalysis?”

In keeping with the current materialistic bias, drugs have replaced Freud’s “talking cure”— they are cheaper and, in principle, more effective in repairing defective circuits. The article’s author, Casey Schwartz, a so-called “neuropsychoanalytic theoretician,” proposes that if clinical transference can be mapped in the brain by methods similar to those of computer diagnosis, there is new hope for nonpharmaceutical treatments. In lieu of prescribing hit-or-miss drugs or engaging in associative talk, psychiatrists could target damaged circuits and inputs.

 

While I was finishing this book, I met a Google “artificial intelligence” associate and, to initiate social interaction, asked him what he did at work. He created and refined algorithms to monitor the Internet for scams, bots, malware, frauds, and hate speech.

I questioned whether that was really intelligence or just a lot of calculations done very fast like the chess-playing computer Deep Blue.

He said, “That’s all consciousness is anyway: calculations conducted so fast that they overlap, monitor each other, and develop a high level of interconnectedness. AI is a fancy term for machine learning.”

Your own too?

“I don’t know I’m even conscious. I have no way of proving it. Does it matter?”

I guess not. Millennials have their own standards.

As we discursed, he said he was convinced that the discovery of a mechanism of consciousness in the brain was inevitable because it had to be. It just awaited the right approach and improved tools.

I said that consciousness might arise outside the brain and never be tracked down there. Plus, it was made by mud and water.

“Silicon and iridium are as good as mud and water. Since both run information through wiring, why shouldn’t a machine be able to be made conscious like us?” He added that it was critical to figure out how to make AI conscious. “It is as inefficient to develop AI without real consciousness in a machine as it would be in a person. If it remains an expanding algorithm, it will eventually take over and eradicate human consciousness.

Why?

“It will exceed our computer power and make us unnecessary. Machine consciousness is essential to prevent that.”

I asked how he knew a machine would behave ethically if it became conscious.

I was surprised when he said, “Good question.”

 

Like this guy most laypeople assume that scientists are on the verge of nailing consciousness. They assume the best (or worst). They are willing to cede their minds as meekly as they ceded their bodies to the medical industry under the same presumption. Astrophysicist David Darling advises holding off: “No account of what goes on at the mechanistic level of the brain can shed any light whatsoever on why consciousness exists. No theory can explain why the brain shouldn’t work exactly as it does, yet without giving rise to the feeling we all have of ‘what it is like to be.’”20 This is an under-appreciated point. We can track the operation of the brain inside-out and never find consciousness. Bundles of elongated cells in fractally tangled entrails do not even look like beingness, and they show no ruminative signs or internalizing hologram-ness. Yet brain is the default proximal source of beingness because there is no other candidate.

“Brains and neurons obviously have everything to do with consciousness,” avers philosopher H. Allen Orr, but how these structures do so, he admits, is baffling. “Despite this,” he continues, “I can’t go so far as to conclude that mind poses some insurmountable barrier to materialism….”21

He ignores both ontological and epistemological gaps between aspects of the universe that we can get at and ones we can’t. He presumes that everything can be lassoed by the same essential tools and paradigm-set.

“Nowhere in the laws of physics or in the laws of the derivative sciences chemistry and biology,” declared neuroscientist Professor John Eccles, “is there any reference to consciousness or mind. This is not to affirm that consciousness does not emerge in the evolutionary process, but merely to state that its emergence is not reconcilable with the natural laws as at present understood.”22

When protein analyst Jean-Pierre Changeux enjoined philosophers to reformulate their ontological positions to keep up with the latest advances in neuroscience, which must (to his mind) contain the ultimate determination of consciousness, philosopher Colin McGinn accused Changeaux of a disingenuous and “dubious reductionism and the act-object fallacy,” reminding him, “I think we know quite well what consciousness is; what I maintain is that we don’t understand how consciousness can arise from merely electrical and chemical properties of the brain….”23

Same landing point. There is no imaginable experiment or forensics for pulling the rag out of the machine—not cellular, molecular, atomic, or subatomic.

To physicist Werner Heisenberg, even particle-wave uncertainty did not hint how the thing looking back got there, “There can be no doubt that ‘consciousness’ does not occur in physics and chemistry, and I cannot see how it could possibly result from quantum mechanics.”24

Psychologist Steven Pinker doubled down and indicted all his colleagues, “Beats the heck out of me. I have some prejudices, but no idea of how to begin to look for a defensible answer. And neither does anyone else.”25

Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield concluded, “It will always be quite impossible to explain the mind on the basis of neuronal action within the brain…. Although the content of consciousness depends in large measure on neuronal activity, awareness itself does not…. To me, it seems more and more reasonable to suggest that the mind may be a distinct and different essence.”26

A distinct and different essence! It could be either a force like gravity or something immanent in the universe like Immanuel Kant’s noumenal realm beyond both phenomena and phenomenology.

What was obvious to Mediaeval theologians or any modern Taoist monk or Zen student, remains baffling to physicists and neuroscientists: that consciousness is conscious.

 

  1. Paranormal Phenomena and Nonlocal Consciousness

Let’s touch on some commonly reported events that science cannot work into its experimental protocol: near-death journeys, poltergeists, and telekinesis (the activation of matter by mind). Various other phenomena oscillate on a mind-matter borderline, sometimes yielding measurable artifacts or effects: ectoplasm, UFOs, yetis, philosopher’s gold, crop circles, etc. This is a more complex situation than recognized by even most sophisticated paranormal investigators.

UFO researchers may actually be dealing with mental events that are also objects—real objects that don’t exist outside a noumenal realm—objects that can’t manifest here without our psychic participation or projections onto them, what Carl Jung called psychoids. Yet to consider them solely mental projections misses their actual nature: UFOs show up on radar and sasquatches leave footprints and fur. Their reality may be moving through multiple dimensions or probabilities outside the laws of physics.

Ectoplasm, a séance phenomenon that has been experienced by countless observers including scientists and skeptics, is “a whitish steam, perhaps luminous, taking the shape of gauze, in which there develops a hand or an arm that gradually gains consistency. [It] makes personal movements. It creeps, rises from the ground, and puts forth tentacles like an amoeba. It is not always connected with the body of the medium but usually emanates from her, and is connected with her.”27

This zombie-like formation consists of water vapor, presumably condensed to visibility by the telekinetic ability of spirits to reduce air temperature, which takes on their shape. “It clearly emanates from the medium, as it shoots instantly back into his or her body if touched or at the introduction of light, a disruption which sometimes injures or, in a few instances, kills the medium.28

“‘It streams like a mist and assumes all sorts of shapes yet can be compacted into something absolutely solid while the power lasts—and what an amazing power it is!…’

The same observer adds, “‘…I was so close to the cabinet that several of the forms had to walk over my feet. On several occasions I handled the flowing ectoplasmic draperies, which were soft and silky to the touch. I shook hands with two forms. Their hands were firm and normal.’ A number of the forms were recognized by sitters. [I] was most impressed by the materialization of a girl, who ‘disposed of any suggestion that the results could be explained away by trickery by revealing part of her feminine form, nude from the waist up! Then one materialization parted the curtains so we could see the figure and the medium at the same time….’

[A] materialization of a Greek philosopher … spoke in ancient Greek, using the correct pronunciation, which is different from that of modern Greek….”29

 

In near-death experiences, a mind journeys through a zone where it is welcomed by relatives and spirit guides before being sent back to the brain. In parallel ghost-like tours, a surgical patient on anesthetic observes objects and events throughout a hospital.

But consciousness cannot travel down corridors and read operating schedules and name badges on orderlies’ cloaks, view other surgeries in process, check out the waiting room, and find a misplaced sneaker on a hospital ledge (in one famous account30). When a body is sedated on an operating table, its brain and mind are moored to the same table.

Likewise, a personality cannot reformulate itself, here or elsewhere, after the expiration of its brain; it cannot transfer its cerebral cache to a different vessel. There is no mechanism for thoughts, identities, and memories to pass from one being into another.

Ectoplasm and near-death experiences impress scientists about as much as levitating figures in Prague’s Old Town Square. Ectoplasm is assigned to stage-magician trickery. Nonlocality is explained as faulty perception, cognitive error, intentional deception, lazy thinking, superstitious belief systems, or endorphins reinforcing delusions.

Remember the hard-and-fast rules of modernity, consciousness must come to the party like everything else in the universe, with an authorized chaperone—its passport stamped at every stop beginning with the Big Bang. Once so vested, it can do anything it wants, though it remains summarized in neurons and the cortex of the brain and can’t ever be nonlocal or self-generating.

If mindedness ever gets out of that box and gains its own foothold, there might as well be ectoplasm, telekinesis, future sight, and remote viewing—the whole nine yards.

Self-authenticating consciousness is a more unwelcome guest than telepathy, for it sets a renegade yardstick for all of reality. Telepathy is, at worst, a remote-control device with materialist options. Consciousness is potentially larger than the universe of which it is said to be some sort of local seepage like steam. The impossibility of nonlocal consciousness, in hospital corridors or reincarnating in fresh bodies, is the last bastion of materialism before utter freefall. If real, it makes matter a stranger in its own universe and, at a workaday level, informs scientists that they are looking for mindedness in the wrong place.

 

  1. The Politics of Consciousness

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took a gun and three hundred rounds of ammunition to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he shot and killed as many first-graders (twenty) and affiliated adults (six) as he could in the time he gave himself. Reality was a videogame to him. He was competing against a Norwegian sociopath’s score.

It isn’t that far from “a light goes on, a light goes off, but it wasn’t even a light” to “they’re not real people, so who gives a shit!” Lanza didn’t think that, but it was in the air he breathed, the electrons he sucked off the Internet: “Those toddler rats only think they’re alive. Otherwise, they be my clay pigeons.”

As officially an “accidental presence in the cosmos,”31 Lanza had no basis of personal morality. Afterwards he shot himself, assuming that the oil-slick known to him as Adam Lanza—its misery as well as its responsibility for his crime—would be eradicated for good. The way out of Dodge was to end the video game. Trickle-down ontology assured him of a clean exit: a dead person is a disconnected machine. Lanza expected to disappear—in essence and sum—to get released from the assorted fixes he was in, the legendary nightmares from which we cannot awake. What would happen to him was what he told himself would happen: Nothing happens. Nothing happens forever.

The premise that personal identity can be unwrapped and summarily discarded like a snake’s old skin is little more than a throw of dice when neither physicists nor priests know what consciousness is—what turns on its light, what happens when its coils are disconnected. There is always the possibility that a matrix as intricate and gossamer as beingness cannot arise from wires or be expunged mechanically.

In choosing suicide, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and their fellow Goths tried to cash out their chips and leave a puissant message for the douchebags bugging their asses. They meant to raze their raunchy social identities and everything that could be identified as them or traced to them, but not themselves. They did not believe in their own nonexistence.

The bros Tsarnaev sibs and Islamic jihadists of numerous ISIL cells believed they were punching their tickets to paradise. Same deal as Lanza and Harris: you woke up one place, you’ll wake up another—or not.

Suicide bombers are taught that the moment of the explosion will be over before neurons can deliver the unhappy message. Any discomfort is as fleeting and minimal as a pinprick. Then nothing—or bliss!

But what if each sank to the propensity of what he is? What if death snaps the narrative but not the vortex from which it is arising? What if obliterating a conditional view does not obliterate the condition that brought it into being?

If the epiphenomenon of consciousness proves real on its own terms, everything presently “real” turns epiphenomenal. For if mind isn’t an epiphenomenon of matter, matter must be an epiphenomenon of mind. 

Recreational killers who assert, “I won’t exist anymore after I die” are up shit’s creek without a paddle. Likewise, when materialists say, “I didn’t exist before my current self was imprinted in molecules from DNA,” where were you? “Who” wasn’t you? How did you get in the tub, bub? If only your own solipsism is real, where is it coming from?

Contrary to their intent, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, Wayne Lo, Cho Seung-Hui, Jared Loughner, and crew, and even Mohammed Atta, were giving voice to another thing: “Something is happening. It’s really big and it’s really real, and I can’t stop it. You don’t believe me? You won’t listen? Well then, let me show you!”

They were excoriating death pictures of the capitalist transnational state. The deeds were morally inexcusable, but they were not wrong. Modernity is now protected by mercenary armies with industrial ordnance, bought politicians, programmed assassinations, targeting of the weak and journalists, and incarceration and murder of refugees fleeing gangs. The privileged, in the words of journalist Chris Hedges, are engaged in “a mad scramble…to survive at the expense of the poor.”31 Blowback out of the vortex into which this civilization is being stuffed comes true to its nature like energy run into any gravitational system.

Would that the next jihad, a hundred or a thousand years from now, tip the battle of tribes into a new politics, a Rainbow Body joining the living and the dead in a single Earth, conscious death its calling card.

 

Transdimensional Physics and Biology

Neurologist Oliver Sacks’ commonsense explanation for near-death experiences sets up shop in the ratified succession of molecular statuses summarized in DNA: the mirage-creating chambers of the brain. “[T]he fundamental reason that hallucinations—whatever their cause or modality—seem so real is that they deploy the same systems in the brain that actual perceptions do…..

“Hallucinations, whether revelatory or banal, are not of supernatural origin…. [They] cannot provide evidence for the existence of any metaphysical beings or places. They provide evidence only of the brain’s power to create them.”1

To Sacks, out-of-body hallucinations and the like seem real only because they pass through the same circuitry and are interpreted by the same cerebral lobes as sensory phenomena—they read as real because the mind is tricked by its own electro-chemistry into believing them. The brain validates them like a stamping machine that has stopped looking at the documents it is authorizing.

In this way, Darwinian neuroscience disposes of the noumenal realm plus thousands of years of inquiry in shamanic, Hindu, Buddhist, and other spiritual lineages. Though molecules are allowed to have emergent effects, “emergent” means emergent from other molecular properties.

But who is some guy operating machinery on a waterworld in the Milky Way to lay down a law for all the universe and its creatures? I get Sacks’ intent: the brain does standardize images that pass through its matrix—but that’s not proof that it also creates consciousness.

That the brain is not the mind is axiomatic outside Western civilization. Shamans practice transferring their own subjective identities to a plant or animal or other entity as a way of training the capacity of consciousness. Tibetan lamas refine a specialized application, phowa, whereby an adept leaves his body while specifying where his identity will next attach, not only in life but after death. To those who train such arts, these are a fundamental feature of reality.

To the scientific establishment, they are abject hoaxes.

A 2017 study entitled “Cliques of Neurons Bound into Cavities Provide a Missing Link between Structure and Function” employed algebraic topology to show how, in addition to its known cellular and cerebral activities, the brain is working in kinetic-depth-effect parameters. A team of neuroscientists led by a group from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland proposed that the brain processes visual information by creating multi-dimensional neurological structures—they called them “cliques”—which disintegrate as they assimilate information. These form in spatial cavities and engage up to eleven different parameters or dimensions.

The study “suggests that neocortical microcircuits process information through a stereotypical progression of clique and cavity formation and disintegration, consistent with a recent hypothesis of common strategies for information processing across the neocortex. [The authors] conjecture that a stimulus may be processed by binding neurons into cliques of increasingly higher dimension, as a specific class of cell assemblies, possibly to represent features of the stimulus and by binding these cliques into cavities of increasing complexity, possibly to represent the associations between the features.”2

In a sense, the brain is functioning not just as an organizing and stamping machine but as a conduit for multidimensional depth effects far more complex and multi-tiered than a mere mirage chamber.

It is possible that the brain’s lobes don’t even generate mind but serve as transceivers (transmitter-receivers) linking consciousness in nature with their own physical functions. In this model, the brain is demoted from its throne: it has no capacity to generate awareness, only to transduce its waves in a biological context. The ontological basis of mind is converted locally (on any world in any dimension) into its epistemological or phenomenal aspects.

If you smash a radio, the music stops, but that doesn’t eliminate sound waves from the air.

Consciousness gets recategorized as an energy, subtler than gravity or light, “with its own super-physics, one that is not bound by what our primate brains have evolved to cognize as space and time.”3 The receiving structure—in invertebrates a nerve net; in free-living cells a charged outer membrane—tunes a DNA-stipulated signal from the overall range of information by funneling it into a persona. If an organism received such a vast output from the universe, it would be overwhelmed, unable to function.

Nikola Tesla, Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge and Lord Raleigh, innovators of technologies from which radio and television were derived, reasoned along similar lines. Each believed that consciousness was better described as a “psychoplasma” than as electrochemical workings of the brain.4

Spirits seemingly adapt electronic devices like televisions, radios, telephones, global positioning devices, and digital systems for communicating. While electromagnetic energies (radio waves, light, radiation etc.) weaken with distance, psychic energy overrides this limitation. Mediums perform as well on the phone as in person, and remote viewers do not cede fidelity with distance.

If a radio suddenly switches itself on or an object moves for no apparent reason, the possibility of spirit action cannot be ruled out (unless, of course, you don’t believe in spirits).

Hindu cosmology locates a brain-like complex above the crown chakra. This subtle organ is said to process reality unconsciously, using Etheric and higher energies (see later). The brain evolves as that organ’s surrogate at a denser frequency.

 

An aspect of Ian Stevenson’s work provides potential game-changing evidence for interactive effects of nonlocal consciousness and telekinesis: his matching of moles, scars, and birth defects in a child claiming a past-life memory to wounds of his or her deceased PP. “Patterns such as birthmarks or deformities in the current lifetime that were correlated to experiences remembered from a previous lifetime… tied the past and present individual together…. A striking present-day birthmark running from ear to ear across the throat might potentially correspond to that person’s previous-life memory of having been murdered by having his throat slit.”5

Stevenson calls this “the biology of reincarnation, that is, the phenomenon of birthmarks or rare birth defects as physical ‘marks’ from a previous life’s violent ending by things like knife, ax, mallet, hanging rope, or bullet wound. The Ian Stevenson library at the university displays examples of such tools and weapons that Stevenson collected on his travels, which are carefully placed in glass cases near photos of the extraordinary birthmarks and birth defects in question.”6

If wounds or traumas in one lifetime can leave molecular-cellular imprints in a subsequent incarnation, that tells us something about the universe that physicists and biologists don’t know, while raising fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. There is no ordinary explanation—conventional thermodynamics isn’t in the game.

A form of psychic morphogenesis would be necessary to extract and convert traumas from a body that no longer exists into lesions in the tissue of a successor embryo. Telekinesis would be needed to account for the transfer, plus reincarnation or telepathy to explain how the child bearing them experiences the identity of the source PP. Progression of identities would be driven by some sort of karmic energy, which I will explore the chapter after the next.

Stevenson speculated on embryogenic possibilities while discussing Semih Tutusmus, a Turkish child who had past-life memories of being “killed by a shotgun blast to the right side of his head, …was born with an undeveloped right side of his head face and … a linear stump [instead of] a right ear.”7  Pointing out that “the birth defect is [often] more extensive than the damaged tissues to which it corresponds,” Stevenson surmised that the cause might be “a disturbance of a morphogenetic field…. He described several cases for which this concept may be applicable, including that of Lekh Pal Jatav … in India, who had a birth defect of one hand that corresponded to amputations of [his PP’s] fingers by a fodder-cutting machine.”8

Stevenson’s colleague Jim Tucker compared the appearance of such marks to the sudden appearance of heat blisters on a subject under hypnosis—at a spot where he was told that he was being burned but was not. When the hypnotist pressed an unheated object on the skin while stating it was scalding, the “burn” wound was in the shape of the prop.9 If the thoughts can produce a blister on skin, a mechanism for mind-to-cell transfer exists. In modeling how prayers, visualizations, and affirmations might activate tissue healing, osteopath John Upledger proposed a process called “cell talk.”10

Wounds that were experienced painfully or in states of terror tend to reappear most often. By contrast, wounds that occurred when the victim was unconscious, for instance senseless on the ground during combat or under sedation in surgery, rarely if ever leave indicia.11 This suggests that an experience powerful enough to instill a death picture is telekinetic enough to imprint congenitally and telepathic enough to instill a carrier image that survives mortality and rebirth in a new body with a new brain. Reincarnational wound-transfer—again, if that is what is happening—suggests that our existence doesn’t so much evaporate as return to a latency state from which it reemerges psychically and phenotypically. We may see only a fraction of these transmutations, as most might occur without subject awareness or outsider observation or, for that matter, on other worlds or in other kinds of bodies or nonphysical fields of manifestation.

Telekinetic transfer has been intuited in cultures that take reincarnation for granted. In Tibetan Buddhist circles, a dying person or a corpse is marked with a ritual soot and paste or a smear of butter in expectation that such an indicator will seep into a life imprint and show up on a newborn. The body of a lama is tagged, not only to aid his rebirth but to allow his identity to be confirmed. Of course, application of oils to an inert body contravenes a theory of traumatic telekinesis, but neither Stevenson nor the lamas have a claim on the mechanism, let alone its range.

If you think that metempsychotic birthmarks cross the DNA barrier in discredited Lamarckian fashion, consider lab experiments in which mice inherit aversions to stimuli generated by shocks five generations after the mouse in which the original trauma was induced! Consider too the way the universe turns inanimate matter into life forms. The entirety of information blueprinting an organism is condensed, synopsized, and transformed into codes, which regenerate it in another organism by invaginating carbon-based chrysalises in epigenetic fields.

For the remainder of this chapter, I will attempt to square physical and metaphysical interpretations of wound transfer. This discussion might get too esoteric for some readers. Feel free to skip to the next chapter. I am laying a steppingstone where is no place to put it, or to step.

 

Pundits skry seven chords of vibration in our general operating range, each calibrated into seven subplanes or differentiations of energy. These have acquired traditional names; in one version (from finer to denser): Adi, Monadic, Atmic, Buddhic, Causal-Mental, Astral, Physical-Etheric. “Planes” are best understood as frequencies of energy rather than geographies. Any landscape incorporates all seven planes,  but being and objects materialize at the frequency of their plane. They are “real” (or “physical”) because it is “real.”

In our physical plane, creatures’ bodies vibrate as energy primarily at a material frequency. Even the most gravitationally compressed star does not crush matter into a denser state; it transforms it electromagnetically into metallic hydrogen. But since matter is energy, a material plane is no more “material” (or less “energetic”) than any other plane. The material plane is energetic too, as is clear at an atomic level.

If we were attuned to a subtler frequency, we would perceive that frequency and its objects as “material,” so its “physical” reality, even though impalpable at our frequency, is just as dense to its inhabitants.

Only the lower tiers of the densest three planes in our system are perceptible in an ordinary human operating range: the Physical aspect of the Physical-Etheric plane, the lower gradients of the Astral plane, and the Mental tiers of the Mental-Causal plane.

The Etheric aspect of the Physical-Etheric plane transmits at a frequency only slightly subtler than matter; its lowest range can be activated by metal acupuncture needles. According to Hindu and theosophical theory, the seeds of physical bodies congeal in the higher ethers before materializing.

While the lower Astral expresses itself by emotions, the upper Astral vibrates at the frequency of undines, sylphs, leprechauns, faeries, devas, fire salamanders, and the like. These psychoids have autonomous existences, yet manifest occasionally in our Physical plane. Ordinary villagers in Ireland and Iceland are aware that mound or stone circle in the Physical can be a faery fort (fios) in the Astral. That aspect is invisible because it is vibrating at a higher frequency.

The Mental range of the Mental-Causal plane transmits thoughtforms that become both thoughts and forms. As thoughts, they make up rubrics of science and philosophy—our understanding of the universe. As forms, they become the molecules that construct that reality. The concept of thoughtforms speaks to a fundamental relationship between consciousness and matter.

At a higher frequency, the plane becomes Causal. There the shape of an atom, molecule, or DNA helix transmits subtle information from higher planes that enter our Physical realm only through Causal grounding.

A Causal propensity sculpts the geometry of Crick-Watson-brand DNA with its amino-acid-based double-helical molecule. If DNA is a self-contained messenger for heredity on the Physical plane, an Etheric twin-helical form influences its shape and expression. In other words, the mutually orbiting spirals represent a material manifestation of esoteric geometry through which Causal, Mental, Astral, and Etheric energies transduce amino-acid codons: a fractal transfer emanating at multiple frequencies.

The next plane above the Causal is the Buddhic at which we experience the collective nature of human existence as well as general synchronicity: a transdimensional kinetic depth effect.

At the Atmic frequency, our reality intersects those of other planetary and galactic systems. At the Monadic frequency, we interpenetrate other dimensional systems in universes beyond scientific law.

The seventh ascending plane, the Adi, corresponds to emptiness before a different manifestation, so it holds the potential of our entire range. It isn’t the terminus of Creation, just of our part of the haystack. Higher frequencies generate other realities, arranged in their own haystacks, all the way to the source energy of All That Is.

In Russian cosmologist G. I. Gurdjieff’s version, the Ray of Creation, originating at All That Is, transited zones of dormant intelligence and ignited their rubrics of information, most of them at higher frequencies than the Big Bang; then it unleashed the Big Bang. In its fission, substance was latent and alchemical, and the distinction between physics and telekinesis—mind and matter—was meaningless.

 

I just whipped through a drastic oversimplification of occult systems of cosmogenesis, but I am not asserting the existence of these planes. They are attempts by psychic explorers to identify ranges of energy they encounter.

They also provide a way to look at the transfer of past-life wounds. As Etheric forces trigger the embryogenic field, they translate information from the aura into the tissues. The thermodynamic landscape remains under Darwinian traction, but it receives Etheric glyphs. There is no wiggle room between the two realms—one material, the other meta-material. Seemingly incommensurate systems meet at frequencies of the same energy. Physical DNA generates karmic “DNA.” An Etheric shape underwrites a mitochondrial shape. In this way, the Etheric plane can store and transmit traumatic charges into fetal tissue, archiving wounds and implanting them in layers of germinal protoplasm. Assaults in one generation become birthmarks or scars in another.

If Etheric, Astral, and Causal frequencies are descriptors of something actual in the universe, they must meet mass, gravity, dark energy, and dark matter somewhere. Yet even if science broadened its parameters, it would still likely not come upon them. They are generated outside our operating range and only enter it as other things. Etheric energy coexists with dark energy without converging. Bertrand Russell intuited this when he said, “Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little: it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.”12 Centuries earlier Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz proposed that material states require an extrinsic intelligence to manifest at all; mechanism cannot advance only by mathematical constructs, as it expresses a prior harmony of monads.

Aristotle provided four discrete modes of causation—material, efficient formal, and final, each at the scale the universe itself. That was the provenance of Western thought until the earnest watchmaker took over. The Greeks couldn’t take apart the watch because they didn’t have a lens sufficient to the pry; instead, they dead-reckoned its parts. Yet even Stephen Hawking, with all his can-openers and equations, couldn’t account for the full range of Aristotelian causation. He fudged material and efficient causes and didn’t approach formal or final.

Aristotle was talking about Nature, and Nature hasn’t changed. Nature is a rainforest and a coral reef, and thousand-miles-per-hour gas storms on Jovian planets and volcanoes on their moons. It is the Nature of things (rerum natura).

What materialistic science confronts at the frontier of particle physics is not a riddle of physics but a paradox imbedded in a lineage of causation that goes the supervenient qualities of pre-Socratic philosophers to angels on a Mediaeval pinhead to Paracelsus’s spagyric mercury and John Dee’s sigils to the uncertainty states of electrons. Because properties don’t float freely, matter must get drawn into thermodynamic events. Aristotle understood: this is a big, big problem. You can’t advance without resolving it—and we haven’t. Just because biotechnicians can manipulate trajectories of DNA molecules with pipettes and lasers doesn’t mean that they have identified prime causation.

Demonstrating how a system works on the Physical plane—e.g., how the Sun is lit by the transmutation of hydrogen and helium—doesn’t say what it is. Electron microscopes and hadron colliders do not improve on rheostatic receptors; we still perceive a star in the way a flatworm does.

When Albert Einstein calculated time and space into a continuum, he was talking about the brain more than the universe. Relativity is mind observing nature as they wrap around each other, an inviolate carpet with a ragged breach.

If you come at quantum physics not by way of entropy from Plato to Newton, but by an alternate route from Aristotle and Aquinas, Lao-Tzu and Parmenides, you stealth through the back door, but enter you do. The door is nonseparability of cause and effect, multiplicity of causes combining in differential equations, functional integrations, and noncausal correlations.

The indigenous world is another source for the dynamic expression of thoughtforms: mind and matter interacting. The Apache sky begins with space indistinguishable from time: “[T]here appears a spot, a thin circular disk, no larger than the hand, yellow on one side, white on the other, in mid air.”13 This is so seminal that its drop-dead profundity is overlooked. Nothing is needed for cosmogenesis beyond an activated sigil with subconscious properties.

 

Terrence Deacon hits close to the sweet spot of the Aristotelian riddle when he deconstructs nature’s jumps across tiers of organization: atoms to molecules to life to consciousness. Mind, Deacon says, doesn’t emerge from matter by linear mutations under incremental feedback “but from the constraints (aka absences) that organize matter.”14 This is a critical twist away from tooth and claw toward the far subtler subcellular realm where thermodynamics operates in close consort with genetic selection. Absent features—unrealized potentials—are contained within and emerge from reduced degrees of freedom in thermodynamic systems). Information passes through nonlinear functions that, in aggregate, cancel out their linear pathways. Constraints open a backdoor to nonphysical, e.g. absent, events. Ultimately you can squeeze a brain through the eye of a needle if you first potentiate its dimers and microtubules.

The autogene—the hypothetical first cell—encompassed a series of recursive potentiations in its organism. As active values of efficient cause brought about random changes, passive ones integrated them, which meant intracellular, intercellular, and extracellular cards held close to the atomic-molecular vest.

The nucleic issue generates an environmental one that is environmental at two levels in that the nucleus of a cell is an environment governed by Darwinian law too, though most neo-Darwinians don’t recognize him so small. Deacon and his co-author Ty Cashman characterized the situation this way:

“[C]onstraints in the world are intrinsically relational phenomena. They are reflected in relationships between degrees of freedom that are excluded and those that are not excluded. And these are always degrees of freedom of some physical process of change. So, when we argue that the constraints that characterize autogenesis actively preserve themselves we are not mentioning the fact that this active preservation necessarily involves physical processes that by virtue of these constraints do the work of preventing these same constraints from degrading. And because these constraints are preserved, whenever thermodynamic conditions enable the resumption of chemical work, this energetic change is again channeled into autogenic catalysis and linked self-assembly processes. The chemical reactions that are thereby prevented are those that tend to degrade the capacity to prevent these deleterious reactions….”15

They are talking about thermodynamic activity and its multiple simultaneous levels of feedback within the boundaries that feedback creates—molecular and cellular constraints, not frequencies nesting theosophical planes—but the universe makes no such categorical distinctions. In a multidimensional context, constraints would operate Etherically. In such a model, a Causal/Atmic universe constrains the Physical one such that atoms and molecules form compounds and organisms only as their Astral and Etheric states bind—e.g., restrain—source energy.

A constraint does not just arise from the organism’s—a primal cell’s— physical and chemical composition or thermodynamic and biologic feedback from its environment; it functions teleodynamically as its own outgrowth, forming the universe it inhabits. Like transit in a Klein bottle or Möbius strip, inside and outside fuse as a continuous interdependent flow. The Physical plane becomes physical by constraining Etheric and Astral tendencies, providing them with a denser, more discrete field of expression, allowing them to disclose hidden aspects. Proteins and enzymes are effectively Etheric and Astral energies catalyzing at a denser frequency. Deacon and Cashman continue:

“Although it seems convenient to think of the DNA in a cell as being the source of these constraints, as though these are the blueprints created by some extrinsic influence like natural selection, this is too simple. DNA itself is replicated by this cellular machinery, as are all of its other components, and so it is also just part of this synthetic reciprocity. Moreover, it is because organisms are incessantly working to preserve their critical functional constraints (in themselves and in their offspring) that there is anything susceptible to natural selection. These constraints are not a consequence of natural selection, but its precondition.”16

Subcellular constraints free Darwinism from being a billboard for its own effects—anyway a copier can’t be the genesis of what it is copying. In Deacon’s version, “Emergent properties are not something added, but rather a reflection of something restricted and hidden via ascent in scale due to constraints propagated from lower-level dynamical processes.”17

I agree, but I propose that where they are hidden is in the hierarchy of subtle energies. The Physical realm, in my adaptation of Terry’s paradigm, comes into being as it restricts Etheric and Astral aspects from manifesting. That’s likewise how the Ray of Creation jumps zones and ignites galaxies.

Life introduces something “intrinsic and autonomous,” a series of acts and properties that continue to mediate between self and environment. The form never has to disclose itself, for its identity emerges from within without a without. The entity persists by continually undermining its own integrity, which allows it to maintain far-from-equilibrium states. It does not just insist, neg-entropically, on its own existence; its nonexistence dissolves into existence by maintaining disequilibrium, advancing by constraints as well as flow and fluctuation, all the while delaying its own obliteration. The autogene could be where thermodynamic and Etheric energies reciprocally constrain the same thing.

Whether constraints are imposed transdimensionally from outside (me) or internally by the system’s dynamics (Terry), flexibility increases with dynamical depth. Each organism matures as it explores the dynamics of its inexpressible final cause.

Terry and I navigated this topic without me conceding my metaphysics or him requiring me to. After I drew his attention to Marcus’ article in the New York Times, he wrote me:

“Mind-as-computing is a classic version of the unconscious metaphysical propaganda that is implicit in much of modern science today. The result is that my work is sometimes treated as scientifically uninformed mysticism by one group and as reductionistic materialism by others. It exemplifies that we live in a sharply dualistic intellectual world….”

That neither mystics nor materialists can figure out whether a given paradigm is metaphysical or materially reductive exemplifies modernity’s stalemate in the Aristotelian dilemma.

“I believe [Deacon adds] that despite its counterintuitive negative framing, this figure/background reversal of the way we conceive of living and mental causality promises to reinstate subjective experience as a legitimate participant in the web of physical causes and effects, and to ultimately reintroduce intentional phenomena back into the natural sciences. It also suggests that the subtitle of my book [How Mind Emerged from Matter] is slightly misleading. Mind didn’t exactly emerge from matter, but from constraints on matter.

Constraints are a double-negative in a universe talking to itself with an intrinsic intelligence, though Terry concludes by gently chasing me out of the Etheric:

“I would add that a tendency to ‘substantialize’ the phenomena that are effects of constraints (absences) is also a danger for those who assume that consciousness, meaning, purpose, value, etc., reside in a parallel nonphysical realm. It leads to a tendency to prematurely abandon the scientific enterprise in favor of uncritical mysticism…. There are more things in heaven and earth than …”

I summarized my ideas in an email to him:

1) The parallel nonphysical realm, if it exists, is reflected both causally and counter-casually in the physical realm, and not just replicated but consolidated in such a way that there is no difference between physical and metaphysical expression, nor should there be in one universe. At the level of constraints, they converge.

2) Materialism is unaware of its own roots and unconscious dependence on rootless constructs, so it is metaphysical materialism. What else could it be, since its basis is always elsewhere, which is nowhere?

3) Idealists and spirtualists fail to appreciate, regardless of lip service to materialization of “spirit,” that the universe is operating on a physical plane here—no exemptions. Conversely, skeptics and materialists fail to appreciate the gaps in their assembly line from matter to mind. The statistical derivation of a Big Bang is not the same as a Big Bang—nobody was there to officiate! You can’t back-apply a logic arising out of thermodynamics to prior conditions without a sense of what the original terms were.

4). Neither side seems to recognize that the phenomenological depth of the system is already a measure of how accountable any model has to be to stand a chance. I mean, you can’t have a paradigm of consciousness that is less complicated than the consciousness performing it. You can’t have a universe less implicate than us.

 

I would add now that DNA can only arise in cultural and symbolic context, as unlikely as that might seem. Father Francis Tiso addressed one of the most transformative icons of our species when he said of Christ: “We no longer think of protoplasm in the same way that we did a thousand years ago; microbiology and biochemistry have completely altered our knowledge of bodily processes and even our idea of what a human body is; we now need to take into account microorganisms and even organelles, such as mitochondria, that have their own DNA and evolutionary history. From this perception, what rises [as Christ] on the third day is in fact a community of living beings, symbiotically supportive of the self-emergence of consciousness, in accord with a physical, scientifically accessible genetic program.”18

Clerics and knights of the Middle Ages intuited this without a glimmer of the coming Darwinian revolution or of Dzogchen Buddhism to the east. It didn’t matter. It still doesn’t matter.

 

James Leininger or James Huston?

James Leininger was a cheerful, unflappable toddler in Lafayette, Louisiana, un-noteworthy except to his adoring parents, Bruce and Andrea. On May 1, 2000, three weeks after his second birthday, he began having nightmares: “[T]he screams came out of nowhere…his sounds were blurred and blunted inside the high-octane howl of a very young child who looked and sounded as if he were fighting desperately for his life.”1 The bouts occurred up to four times a week.

Since Bruce was dealing with a stressful situation at work, he persuaded Andrea to troop down the hall to investigate and provide comfort. Night after night she became the sole witness to James screaming and kicking his feet in the air while emitting blood-curdling cries in a strange voice.

Her pediatrician advised that night terrors like these were normal and would diminish over time, and that it was better not to wake a child abruptly from a bad dream. She accepted the advice, quieting her own premonitions. Neither a yokel nor a naïf, Andrea was a former ballet dancer and a sophisticated, discerning mother.

One night James’ cries changed. As Andrea explained to a newspaper reporter: “In the throes of his nightmares you couldn’t work out what he was saying. But two or three months in, I was walking down the hall and I heard him saying, ‘Airplane crash, plane on fire, little man can’t get out.’ It chilled me to my bone hearing this.”2

A few months later when James was more articulate, he explained that his plane had taken off from a ship and then was shot down by gunfire; the little man was unable to escape the burning cockpit. This was in the range of childhood fantasy. Then one day while fully awake and being read a story, James rolled onto his back and began kicking in the air like in his dreams. He announced to his mother, without his dream fright, “Little man’s going like this.” She asked who the little man was.

“Me.”3

Andrea fetched Bruce, and James repeated his matter-of-fact assertion.

Bruce asked who shot down his plane. James flashed a disgusted look as if the matter should be obvious: “The Japanese!” he called out cheerily. Later he told his aunt that anyone could identify the enemy plane from “the big red sun.”4 It was like saying, “I am.”

The Leiningers recalled an incident from when James was a toddler in diapers. As he looked at a toy propeller-driven plane at Hobby Lobby, Andrea called his attention to a bomb attached to the bottom. Examining it closely, he countered with the same exasperation, “That’s not a bomb, Mommy. That’s a dwop tank.”5 A drop tank is an extra gas tank added to extend a plane’s range. The statement was outside both his knowledge and verbal ability at the time.

Similar foreshadowings came to mind. Before the nightmares began, Bruce had taken his son to an air museum. They had finished looking at older planes and were headed to modern ones when James ran back and climbed into the cockpit of a World War II fighter. He would not get out even when bribed with ice cream, usually a foolproof lure. On a subsequent visit, he was so excited that he could barely contain himself as he raced to the World War II planes. Bruce described his behavior in the cockpit as having an intense adult-like focus, not at all like his playfulness on trampolines and jungle gyms.

At home, James liked to buckle a pretend seatbelt like a pilot and put on pretend head gear, so Bruce built him a toy cockpit from an old car seat and concocted a helmet from a construction hard hat. The boy made his own parachute from old canvas bags and a backpack. Using these props, he conducted war battles for hours, chattering things like, “Roger…Zero at six o’clock…Hit him!”6

On a family flight east, the boy impressed a commercial pilot with his grasp of the instruments and later demonstrated intimate knowledge of aircraft structure and function at an air museum in Galveston.

 

After the nightmares began, Andrea was dropping off Bruce, already a nervous flier, at an airport for a business trip. From his car seat, James called out: “Daddy’s airplane crash. Big fire!”

Bruce lost it. “Do not ever say that again. Do you hear me…? Airplanes don’t crash! Daddy’s airplane will not crash.”7

Not long after, Andrea was spying on her son playing in the sunroom when she saw him pull himself to attention, strike the pose of a soldier, bring his hand smartly to his head, and declare in a deep sotto voice, “I salute you and I’ll never forget. Now here goes my neck.”8

The adult-like character was eerily real and not James. Yet her belief-system—the Leiningers are devout Christians—did not support reincarnation (the same was true of Ryan Hammons’ parents). Also, modern Americans, as noted, don’t interpret their lives or those of their children with that possibility under consideration. “Having a past life is not the initial conclusion you come to, Andrea explained. “You try to figure out any other way he could have…. Did he see something? Has there been anything on television? Anything that we’ve discussed? There has to be some other explanation.”9

While Andrea was provisionally open-minded about past lives, Bruce’s response was emphatic, “Balony!”10 Like her he felt that if they pursued their search for the source of their son’s behavior, the airplane fantasy would be cleared up by a rational explanation.

From that point on, the parents’ actions became schizophrenic: on the one hand, they interrogated exhaustively and researched his responses as though he might actually have had a past life as a World War II pilot; at the same time, Bruce was hell-bent on discrediting the story, intending to prove that James was not describing real people or events but making them up out of imagination. Either way, an analytical process had begun.

When Andrea asked her two-year-old son one day if he remembered the name of the little man, the boy answered, “James.” She assumed that he didn’t understand her question. Taking a different tack, Bruce asked what kind of airplane it was. James replied promptly, “A Corsair.”

The response surprised Bruce, who knew that Corsairs had been launched from World War II aircraft carriers. But how did James know? Not only did he know, in a later conversation he even added an insider tidbit: “That’s a Corsair. They used to get flat tires all the time! And they wanted to turn left when they took off.”11 Both details turned out to be correct! Still, he might have picked them up off a television documentary.

Bruce asked his son the name of the carrier, certain he would invent something. James shot back, “Natoma.”

Bruce felt an initial triumph. “Natoma” was surely a make-believe name! Yet a search on the computer revealed a United States aircraft carrier Natoma Bay stationed in the Pacific during World War II.

Long after the cat was out of the bag Bruce admitted that the weirdness was beginning to get to him. The coincidences perplexed him. A big-time problem-solver at work, he could not clear up a child’s enigmas in his own household. A child, his son was attacking his belief system, almost goading him into a sacrilegious New Age view.

Not long after the the “Natoma” exchange, he was tucking James into bed. “No dreams about the little man tonight, okay buddy?”

The boy said, “The little man’s name is James, Daddy.”

“Baby, your name is James.”

“The little man is named James, too.”

The response suddenly resonated with something: James often signed his drawings “James 3.” When asked for an explanation, he declared, “Because I’m the third James. I am James Three.”12

Though he could not provide James 2’s last name, he was able to identify one of fellow pilots: Jack Larsen.13 Bruce realized that they were at a crossroads. If Jack Larsen turned out to be a real person, it was down the rabbit hole.

That Christmas, as father and son were leafing through a book called The Battle for Iwo Jima, James pointed to a photo and said, “That’s when my plane got shot down.”14

On checking, Bruce discovered that, yes, the carrier Natoma Bay had been deployed at Iwo Jima.

In September 2002, despite strong misgivings, Bruce attended the Natoma Bay veterans’ reunion in San Diego, identifying himself as an amateur historian doing research for a book about the ship’s exploits. He disliked having a ruse but could think of no way to tell the truth and not be discounted as a kook. By then, he wasn’t certain what he believed:

“If James’ nightmares were truly a manifestation of a past life—a proof of reincarnation—then, as I saw it, it would threaten the biblical promise of salvation. If the immortal soul can randomly transfer from person to person, generation to generation, then what does that imply for the Christian orthodoxy of redemption? What happens on Judgment Day if the immortal soul is handed off like that? It goes against the evangelical teaching of rebirth through a spiritually transformed personal life.

“The impact of James’ story on my spiritual well-being…well, it felt like spiritual warfare. My purpose for disproving what was happening to my son was to establish that this was all a coincidence, as astronomically remote as that possibility seems…..  [A]ll the while I was getting closer and closer to something…dangerous. It was like putting my hands in a fire.”15

During his weekend in San Diego, Bruce got corroboration on several points. There had been a Jack Larsen on the Natoma Bay; he was still alive, living in Arkansas, but he never came to reunions. There were no Corsairs on the ship, only FM-2’s and TBM Avengers. There was a “James” among the Natoma Bay dead, James H. Huston Jr., a detail that might explain “James 3.” Bruce also discovered that Huston had died at the location that his son had pointed out in a book, about a hundred and fifty miles from Iwo Jima.

Bruce was starting to believe the unbelievable. Phoning Jack Larsen, he hinted at the reason. Then he drove to Springdale, Arkansas, to interview the pilot.

After greeting his visitor, Larsen described the day on which he and James Huston flew together. It was March 3, 1945, when they took off from the Natoma Bay to strike at Chichi-Jima, dubbed by one pilot “the hellhole of the Bonin Islands.” Their mission was to stop a “Japanese build-up of troop replacements and supplies.”16 Though not scheduled to fly that day, James Huston volunteered. It was his squadron’s final mission before being shipped home. They winged through heavy flak, which Jack presumed brought his shipmate’s plane down. He provided no other details.

Later Bruce learned that James M. Huston, Jr. was the only pilot shot down during the attack on Chichi-Jima. Age twenty-one, he perished on his fiftieth World War II mission, more than enough to build up familiarity with aircraft lingo and attachment to the fighter-pilot ritual.

As Bruce left the Larsen house, Jack handed him a present, his old flight helmet with goggles and oxygen mask still attached. “‘I was wearing this on the day I flew off Natoma Bay,” he said. “On the day James Huston was shot down.’”17

Young James “put it on firmly, professionally, slapping out the air bubbles, shaping the fit, as if he were going to work.”18

 

Not long after his visit to the Larsens, Bruce lofted James in the air and declared how happy he was to have him for his son. James responded, “That’s why I picked you; I knew you would be a good daddy.”

Bruce requested an explanation, and James said, “When I found you and Mommy, I knew that you would be good to me.” The boy provided details: “I found you at the big pink hotel. I found you on the beach. You were eating dinner at night.”19

Bruce and Andrea stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel approximately five weeks before Andrea became pregnant with James. Not only did the boy “see” it in his mind’s eye; he acted as if, “Doesn’t everyone choose their parents before they’re born?” Maybe everyone does.

James had named his GI Joe dolls Billy, Leon, and Walter and, when Bruce wondered why no Buzz or Todd or Rocky, the boy said, “Because that’s who met me when I got to heaven.”

Bruce later learned that his son had correctly identified, by name (and later by hair color), three men who died before him on missions between October 25 to November 17, 1945: Billie Peeler, Leon Connor and Walter Devlin. Billie Peeler had dark hair like James’ Billie doll; Leon Connor had blonde hair, as did the Leon doll; and Walter Devlin had the reddish hair of James’ Walter doll. These “accumulating flukes and strikes of accurate details connecting to the GI Joe action figures were dumbfounding,” especially from a four-year-old child.20

About twenty percent of children who have memories of events from before birth also recall some combination of their PP’s funeral, his or her existence in another realm, the interval between death and rebirth, choosing new parents, and conception, gestation, and being reborn, though a complex experience may get converted into juvenile iconography. One child reported that “God gave him a card to come back from heaven…. it looked like a business card with green arrows on it….”21 A Sri Lankan girl recalled being an old woman in a village three miles from her home and “being lifted up, even though her body was buried, and flying like a bird.” She met “a king or governor whose reddish clothes and beautiful pointed shoes were never taken off, never dirty, and never washed. Her own clothes were also always clean, but they were golden. The king’s home was made of glass, and had beautiful red beds. As she played there, all she had to do was think of food and it appeared. She didn’t have to eat it, for its mere appearance satisfied her hunger.”22

Marta Lorenz, a Brazilian girl who remembered having been an adult friend of her mother’s in an earlier lifetime, commented after the devastating death of her own sister, “Emilia is not in the cemetery. She is in a safer and better place than this one where we are; her soul can never get wet.” When her father retorted that the dead never return, she interrupted, “Don’t say that. I died also and look, I am living again.”23

Brian Weiss’ patient recalled how when “floating in a shining void, she would become the host for disembodied spirits who revealed the mysteries of eternity.”24

At age sixteen my own daughter, Miranda, informed my wife and me one evening at dinner that she had picked us to be her parents and take care of her. We had done a good job, she said, but she was able to handle things now on her own. Soon after, she underwent a change of appearance and personality. Her blonde hair turned black at the roots, and she began to mature into a cutting-edge artist.

 

Bruce Leininger learned that while most planes at Iwo Jima took off from the Natoma Bay, James Huston’s last flight had been off a different ship, the Sargent Bay. This information surfaced as Bruce continued to interview survivors in James Huston’s squadron and weave together accounts of James 2’s death. Here is one pilot’s journal entry of the scene:

“One of the fighters from our escort squadron was close to us and took a direct hit on the nose. All I could see were pieces falling into the bay.”25

Another flier recognized James Huston in a photograph Bruce brought along. Recalling the 1945 day, he began to sob: “We were no more than thirty yards apart when the pilot deliberately turned his head and looked at me. I caught his eyes and we connected with each other. No sooner had we connected than his plane was hit in the engine by what seemed to be a fairly large shell. There was an instantaneous flash of flames that engulfed the plane. It did not disintegrate but almost immediately disappeared below me….  Mr. Leininger, I have lived with that pilot’s face as his eyes fixed on me every day since it happened. I never knew who he was. I was the last guy who saw him alive. I was the last person he saw before he was killed. His face has haunted me my whole life…. Now I know who he was.”26

He also supplied a possible back story for a mysterious detail in James Leninger’s actions. The shell took off James Huston’s plane propeller, and “James’ toy aircraft were always left [by him] without propellors.”27

 

In a parallel quest the Leiningers hunted down and made phone touch with James Huston’s last surviving family member, his sister Annie. Bruce told her to sit down and pour herself a drink, then recited the incredible tale.

Annie remarked that several friends and family including herself had received ghostlike visitations from James Jr. on the day of his death. His spirit had come to bid each of them goodbye. She thought that he did not depart easily.

A four-year-old and his PP’s eighty-six-year old sister later discussed family matters on the phone. James shared intimate details with her as if she were still his kid sister, recalling things that no one could have known except her brother or parents.28 Setting her brother’s childhood picture next to that of James Leininger, Annie remarked that James 3 didn’t so much look like James 2 as radiate him. She was twenty-one when her older brother died.

The “reincarnation of James Huston” had gone public by then. The Leininger family was interviewed on ABC Primetime. Bruce told the alumni of the Natoma Bay the truth about his research. To a one, they were sympathetic and welcomed young James at their next reunion. As the boy walked around, he recognized many of them, greeting them by name. He responded to their queries accurately, for instance as to where a five-inch gun was located.29 He told his father later that it was sad to find them all so old. James Huston, somewhere inside him, was still a young man.

After the show, a Japanese production company flew the Leiningers to Tokyo, then took them by boat to Chichi-jima. As he took in the scenery, James tugged at his father’s sleeve and pointed, “This where the planes flew in when James Huston was killed.”30

They floated flowers over the site and conducted a ceremony for James 2’s soul. James 3 put his head in his mother’s lap and sobbed for fifteen minutes. “He seemed to be weeping for himself and for James Huston—and for all the world of woe that he had ever seen or felt.”31

Bruce also experienced a breakthrough. “I had a kind of revelation. James’ experience was not contrary to my belief. God, I thought, gives us a spirit. It lives forever. James Huston’s spirit had come back to us. Why? I’ll never know. But it had. There are things that are unexplainable and unknowable….

“The secular culture demanded facts and proof, and I had done the heavy lifting. I had made a leap of faith. I believed—truly believed—in the story. I did not need a reason.”32

Professional skeptic Paul Kurtz, who made it his duty to debunk such claims whenever they arose, gave the ABC Primetime reporter his own “expert” opinion of the Leininger case:

“I think that the parents are self-deceiving, that they are fascinated by the mysterious, and that they built up a fairy tale…. He’s overhearing conversations of his parents, he’s looking at cues. He may talk to his little friends or hear from neighbors. And then this notion builds up that, yes he was this pilot, he will come to believe that himself.”33

He nodded to emphasize his point, then smiled condescendingly.

“Little friends” indeed! Kurtz’s comments do not address the Leiningers’ actual experiences, only his assumptions that they are deluded or perpetrators of a hoax. These are compelling explanations only if paranormal options are a priori excluded.

Bruce, himself initially a disbeliever, responded to Kurtz via ABC Primetime. “We’re talking to a two-year-old. What am I going to do, sit him in a corner and say, ‘Now we’re going to concoct this elaborate scheme and you’re going to imagine that you went through those things.’”34

Kurtz’s view, of course, was that this kind of phenomenon is impossible, so it was his job to protect the public from disinformation, safeguard the collective trance.

Along similar lines, philosopher/cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett is reported to have said that “he would commit suicide if paranormal phenomena turn out to be real….” Holistic physician Larry Dossey noted, “Special contempt is reserved for the possibility that humans might survive bodily death, for this would be the death-knell for the mind-equals-brain assumption on which physicalism rests.”35

Another materialist remarked of evidence for nonlocal consciousness, “This is the sort of thing I would not believe, even if it really happened.”36

Philosopher/mathematician Charles Eisenstein diagnosed this brand of professional skepticism, “The debunker must buy into a world full of frauds, dupes, and the mentally unstable, where most people are less intelligent and less sane than he is, and in which apparently honest people indulge in the most outrageous mendacity for no good reason.” Since the witnesses seem sincere, the debunker assumes “either (1) that this apparent sincerity is a cynical cover for the most base or fatuous motives, or (2) they are ignorant, incapable of distinguishing truth from lies and delusion.”37

The issue here is not even that skeptics presume out-of-body experiences and past lives are impossible, hence must be fake; it is that they worship a higher fiat: that there is no meaning, purpose, or innate intelligence in the universe. To seek it is blasphemy, to find it delusion. They would remain unconvinced if a Cheshire cat deliquesced out of thin air and extended an ectoplasmic paw. They ratchet the universe down to their own level by practicing a religion as fanatical as Fundamentalist Christianity—Fundamentalist Nihilism, the God of No God.

Religion scholar Jeffrey Kripal exposes an undiagnosed collective depression with its own language and culture of confirmation:

“We allergically avoid all our remarkable stuff, all those religious experiences that strong suggest that quantum effects do scale up into human experience—all that mystical interconnectedness, all those entangled people who somehow instantly know what is happening to a loved one (or a beloved pet) a thousand miles away (nonlocality) or, worse yet, what is about to happen (retrocausation). Instead, we go on and on about how we are all locked into our historical contexts, how religion is only about dubious power, or bad politics, or now cognitive modules and evolutionary adaptations, how these fantastic stories are all just ‘anecdotal’ statistical flukes or perceptual delusions—anything, as long as it is depressing and boring….

“Do not the logics of basic doctrines like reincarnation and the ultimate nature of realized consciousness …  imply, indeed demand, that consciousness precedes culture? Consciousness is transhistorical and cosmic in these systems, not just some local ethnic epiphenomenon constructed by brain matter, social practice, language and an ethnic group.”38

I am sorry, but to dismiss Ian Stevenson’s work as if it were automatically “rubbish,” self-delusion, cross-cultural gullibility, and an embarrassment to the University of Virginia (as some protesting alumni did) is not a defense of science.39 I’m fine with dispensing with God as a personified patriarch, but that’s not what’s at play. “God” designates a focused intelligence at the vortex of a cosmic mystery. Theologian Gordon Kaufman called it “the religious name for the profound mystery of creativity, the mystery of the emergence, in and through evolutionary and other originative processes, of novelty in the world.”40 God is the placeholder for formal cause, not Intelligent Design. Formal cause inaugurates the universe and approaches its finitude not ex nihilo but of itself. It is not a person but a Nameless giving rise to beingness, a flow of information and organized patterns. God is subsistent being (ipsum esse subsistens), for his essence (essentia) is identical to his existence (esse). Religious fundamentalists miss the intrinsic nature of a self-creating universe, a teleology without teleos.

Meanwhile secular fundamentalists can acclaim sociology of knowledge, cultural relativism, universal positivism, and deconstruction of contextual information, but they aren’t truly post-colonial unless they accept indigenous and nonlocal realities on their own terms.

 

But I also want to discard simplistic dualities. To declare past-life memories traces of a linear reincarnational sequences (like actors taking on roles in successive plays) is as reductionist as the skeptical position. We are mysterious beings in an enigmatic universe. There are never going to be answers to the most basic ontological questions.

A woman I met in Bar Harbor, Maine, was convinced that a ninety-five-year-old lady she befriended at an assisted-living facility returned two days after her death, as she had promised, in the alias of a dragonfly, her favorite animal and a motif of many of her brooches. The insect hung around on my friend’s arm for an entire day, rode in her car with her, accompanied her into the kitchen on her elbow to the amusement of her teenage children, and sat at dinner on her shoulder. The woman took this as an unmistakable sign of the woman’s continued existence.

But “dragonfly” validation was not anchored anywhere and, more to the point, didn’t anchor anything else. We have no way to determine if Virginia Tighe was Bridey Murphy, let alone if the “Ms. Murphy” of Ms. Tighe’s trance inhabited the Earth and in the “Ireland” of Bernstein’s regressions. She could have lived on an alternate world akin to psychonaut Robert Monroe’s “third space.” Without a psychic GPS or Google All-That-Is, woman-to-dragonfly mapping is beyond our range in every sense: physical, psychological, ontological.

We don’t know what the old woman herself experienced, whether she knew herself as a dragonfly—or whether the dragonfly was a rune arising from the cascading field of her death. Perhaps a dragonfly-like manifestation hitched on a entomological bug in a synchronicity of nonlocal consciousness

The “dragonfly” could also have been (as most scientists would insist) coincidence, the human mind imposing meaning on a chance event.

 

The deeper issue is the conditional nature of all personhood. Look at it this way: if James Leininger isn’t the proximal legatee of James Huston’s soul, what is the relationship between the two? Where is James Huston, Jr. now if he is not James Leininger? Does he continue to exist independently? Does the fact that James Leininger possesses strands of his death picture and other memories preclude his existence elsewhere (because he has been transfigured)?

If a Viking longship’s timbers are replaced section by section at successive landfalls in Greenland and Labrador until there are no staves left of the original knar, is it still that ship? If the old timbers are stored in the hold and upon arrival in Vinland another ship is constructed from them, which ship is the original one? I say, the it is the one with none of the original boards.

James Leininger has access to a chunk of James Huston’s life within his own selfhood, but he is not James Huston—he is not a zombie arisen from an airplane crash, craving more Earth time. He has snippets of James 2’s memories and death picture but not his existential thread. He has no continuity with James Huston’s beliefs, desires, or accrued experience; he is his own, unique person—a blank slate with occasional nightmare flashbacks. James Huston cannot impose his identity or values on James Leininger; they are independent beings psychically connected, not a linear progression of a single personality.

The details that James 3 possesses of James 2’s personhood comprise less than a billionth of a percent of James Huston’s total existence—and this is true to the same relative extent for all who experience past-life fragments. Even Ryan Hammons, with a much larger archive of Marty Martyn, does not encompass the actor-agent’s rollicking life.

People may experience regret, loss, nostalgia, even a sense of ownership about a past life that is reexperienced in fragments—and occasional urgency about it—but they are reembodied and incarnated as who they are. James 3’s interest in the fighter-pilot routine waned as he got older. Memories lingered, but they came to seem less imminent or important; his nightmares ceased. He accepted his current life in total. Most children forget their past lives, either by late childhood or their teens.

Similarly, Daniel was not Rashid. He had no mechanical skills and did not remember most of his PP’s experiences. He had scraps, remnants—that’s it.

What was established by Stevenson is that “memories, emotions, and even physical injuries can sometimes carry over from one life to the next.”41 The life itself doesn’t carry over. It is not like waking from sleep as the same person who lay down. Shroder likened fragmentary flashbacks to “a bad carbon copy—here and there you could make out a word, or even a phrase, but it was impossible to get a sense of the whole document.”42

Even among those who have persistent past-life memories, flashbacks come and go and are more and less intense at different ages and eventually lapse into reincarnational amnesia. As with a dream, a person may experience events intensely at one moment and forget them a moment later. Favorite times for recalling prior “lifetimes” appear to be after baths, during car rides, at bedtime, and upon awaking from sleep. Past-life memories are soporific and hypnagogic; they interrupt ordinary consciousness with a different presentation that is briefly credible.

Not only do people recall details of past lives best when they are young and forget them later, they forget even that they once remembered them. A child in Stevenson’s files, when taken to the house of a formerly vivid past-life memory, remarked to his mother that his PP’s mother looked familiar. “Why is that, Mom?”43 Yet he once knew exactly who she “was.”

A common process called “early childhood amnesia” puts this in context. Most children lose their earlier childhood memories by age six or seven—not past-life but this-life memories. On Facebook, Nicole Keller, asks, “What or who the heck is ‘I’? This bouquet of higgeldy-piggeldy conscious lifetime experiences and thoughts claiming to be the myself in first place?” Part of us is memory and another part is a continually reconstructed narrative, some of it fiction. Core identity and personal history are fungible.

If immediate childhood memories fade or disappear, exponentially greater amnesia occurs with events from other lives. James 3 could have carried incomplete fragments of other prior lifetimes. The premature loss of James 2’s life was not more exigent than any of those. Each was lived in its time with its own unique view.

Our identity apparently needs aloneness to encounter the depth of its own presence. Jane Roberts considers this our protection: “The selves we know now … exist in bodies that bloom only for a personal time…closed to all other beings who came before or who will come after. We have the world, for a while to ourselves….. [T]he gracious focus of our physical senses gives us that privacy and protects the personal space we’ve made in a world of moments.”44

If we could access all of time and self from every vantage, Self would be surrendered to a timeless entity. It is not just an exaggeration to posit that, without privacy and separation, there might be no stars, galaxies, or worlds, but that’s for a later chapter.

 

Treasuring Existence

A Buddhist precept states that one personality gives rise to another without carryover of personal identity. Ego identity wasn’t real to begin with. At death, it ceases to exist because it never existed. The Self either becomes enlightened, i.e., finds the basis of its reality and enters a deeper Buddhafield, or it evaporates back into its own essential nullity. Like a dying candle lighting a new wick with its last embers, the charge of one lifetime or ego-state transfuses a new identity—but without continuity of personhood. The past person no longer exists, and a new person is shaped around the former ego’s karma and memory fragments. Instead of a continuation of personal identity, there is transfer of psychic energy.

Karma, a traditional Sanskrit term rendered in English variously as “action,” “work,” or “deed”—or, more popularly, “payback”—describes a principle of causality suggestive of Aristotle’s first cause: existence as an outcome of its own inherent principle. Karma is also conceivably an energy like electromagnetism, heat, mass, and time, and, because of its subtler frequency, inclusive of them.

The continuity of lives rests on the degree to which karma potentiates future emanations. An event incompletely resolved in one lifetime generates another life. In that fashion, the dead person lives again; James 2 passes his torch to James 3. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki addresses the underlying paradox:

“After some years we will die. If we just think that it is the end of our life, this will be the wrong understanding. But, on the other hand, if we think that we do not die, this is also wrong. We die, and we do not die. This is the right understanding. Some people may say that our mind or soul exists forever, and it is only our physical body which dies. But this is not exactly right, because both mind and body have their end. But at the same time it is also true that they exist eternally.”1

In the sixth century B.C., Gautama Buddha made a determination not to track a deceased person beyond initial change-states. When the Buddhist-defined self shatters from the delusion of its own existence, its mirage breaks into pieces, none of which continue to exist discretely. Like modern science, Buddhism assigns consciousness to a delusion, but science deems mindedness a rootless mirage, while Buddhism sources the mirage in a self-arising luminosity. The Self ultimately dissolves out of its own illusion attributed to five conditional aggregates (pancakkhandha): body or matter (rupakkhandha), sensation (vedanakkhandha), perception (sannakkhandha), mental formation (samkharakkhandha), and consciousness (vinnanakkhandha).

In antithesis to scientific dogma, which wipes out whole universes, the Buddhist “real” universe never perishes, for nothing real could cease to exist. Essence cannot be repealed; it shifts from one state to another toward to its basis: this is Interdimensional Thermodynamics 101. Buddhist philosopher Dustin DiPerna explains it as, “We are always in some sort of state. States are an ever-present part of our experience.”2

For creatures in the game, meaning all creatures, existence is indispensable because they have nothing to put in its place, no way to change where or what they are. They can’t immolate temporal selfhood, any more than they can rub out karma. Since the choice to be wasn’t a choice, it cannot be renounced. Reality is “waz happ’nin’, waz going down.” Even suicide doesn’t repeal it. If you try to wipe it out, you change its energy frequency but not its basis.

The universe apparently arises as a lesion between the abeyancy of nature and egoic recognitions of the abeyancy’s vistas. Through this primal tear, ground luminosity ignites atomic vibrations and inaugurates secular time. The goal of spiritual practice is to dissolve the lesion, its duality and phases of attachment, recognize our condition, and meld with Unity Consciousness outside of the emanation. This is both enlightenment and the cessation of suffering.

If you think about it, the issue isn’t consciousness; it’s personal identity, subjective beinghood, the little man or little woman—or little Gila monster—with its sovereign self. Personal identity is a turnkey; it is how consciousness inserts itself into a universe that does not express agency otherwise. The distinction between personal identity as a neural mirage and personal identity as a self-arising radiance marks the divide between Eastern and Western ontology.

 

Drawing on Sethian ontology, psychic teacher John Friedlander departs from doctrinal Buddhism when he proposes that personal identity and the soul are both real and survive. When a personality dissolves at death, it breaks into fragments, each redistributed according to its karma. At least one of those fragments continues to track the life from which it came—to know it as itself.

To make a priority of enlightenment and ego-dissolution derogates egoity without regard for how it came into being, how profound and desirable it actually is.

Our karma did not locate us in a fix to see if we could get ourselves out of it—nor did it consign us to conditional beingness from original sin or because our soul was too stupid to choose a better place incarnate. The universe is expressing a desire to know and experience itself, which brings individuated worlds into being, in an crab as in a philosopher. The ego is the effect of an already enlightened intelligence exploring duality through an exquisitely designed reality. Nondualism—primordial intelligence without subject or object—is not the operating manual for the universe. There is no operating manual. Seth spoke elegantly on this matter:

“God may know itself through a million or a thousand million other worlds, as so may I—but because his world is, and because I am alive in it, it is more than appearance, more than a shackle to be thrown aside. It is a privilege to be here, to look out with this unique focus, with these individual eyes; not to be blinded by cosmic vision, but to see this corner of reality which I form through the miraculous connections of soul and flesh.”3

The desires and joys, pains and suffering of mortal existence are an aspect of Creation’s dawning wholeness and an emerging entelechy. The soul is curious about its own nature—the antitheses and paradoxes to which it is blind because they lie within its own unconsciousness. It wants to realize them ecstatically and tragically, without which it does not have a full experience of itself.

“There is nothing to evolve beyond,” John concludes. “The Soul has chosen to enter into a dualistic perspective…. Our soul incarnated as us because of the limitations of being human. These limitations then provide a very specific context in which we develop stories, and our stories are what the universe gets out of us…. You are your soul, not added on to you but as a center of awareness. We don’t own our soul, nor does our soul own us.”4

Upon hearing about John’s ideas in my rendition, a longtime Buddhist practitioner groused, “The guy is not equipped to understand nonduality; he doesn’t have the spiritual credentials. Who the fuck is some dude from Georgia named John Friedlander, who used to be an attorney, to say anything significant about the universe compared to great lamas and Himalayan saints?” He didn’t use those words. What he did say was, “The man is deluded!”

John told me that Eastern practitioners usually “assume that my argument simply misunderstands that the laws of the universe generate the ‘fact’ that nondual awareness retains all the advantages of human dual consciousness minus only the suffering…..” Yet nondual awareness cannot retain all the advantages of dual consciousness. If it did, there would be no reason for dual consciousness.

“It is not a problem,” John affirmed. “In fact, it’s more than not a problem. It’s the whole point. It’s who we are. The soul survives, and the personality survives. The broader your perspective, the more you see that this is how the universe operates and why we’re presently in this dual phase and also why we don’t see it.” The fact that we can’t presently see beyond a dualistic mode is the way in which we are seeing it and the reason we exist at all.

After we had that conversation, John emailed me, “The innumerable constituent parts that we ordinary human beings lump together, such as bodies and auric energies, themselves continue, within and outside time, to grow, to expand subjectively, in all directions, together and separately, ‘forever’ (language fails, as time itself is only a form of consciousness). In a universe where no single consciousness arises by its self, it is nevertheless true that every subjectivity, from subatomic particles to universes and thus to the human personality, expands in all directions and thus retains an eternal, though ever changing and interdependent subjectivity that is divinely meaningful. (Again, language fails, because our concepts of eternality rely on time, which is itself, an energy construct, a particular form of consciousness that is just one of many others which are incomprehensible to embodied humans.) In this multidimensional world that ecstatically breaks outside human experience, our human experience of duality is something to be treasured, even though it involves suffering that can be avoided. It is humans’ gift to other dimensions of ourselves, a gift that they and we human personalities can luxuriate in and continue transforming forever.”

The reason we feel texture, cadence, profundity, joy, and grief is that there are texture, depth, rhythm, profundity, elation, and sorrow at the core of Creation, prior to the Big Bang. If we were to go at this gravitas directly, it would lose its sumptuousness and immanence. Instead, the Absolute Idea discovers its variety in us: we are “infinitesimal particle through which the fear of every thing becomes conscious of itself.”5 The universe seeks to encompass its innate premise and transmogrify itself into its next emanation.

The sundry merchandise coming out of factories or sun-stars is reality’s subtlest and most irreconcilable aspect. The banal and ordinary are far more profound, for occurring at all, than the most sacred or weighty thing. Each vista is a glimpse into a mode of emanation: Hopi entering their kiva to conduct a ceremony, or a band having arrived with their instruments, sitting on Eighth Avenue outside Penn Station. The tags on the guitar cases and luggage (BOS) say everything and nothing about our situation in the cosmos, as December solstice turns Earth’s indigo vault an early black.

 

                                           Soul Pictures

I will explore another reincarnation conducted under hypnotic regression. Dolores Cannon, a military housewife and freelance writer in Arkansas, began practicing hypnosis in her late forties as a tool for recovering past-life memories. Like Bernstein, she was an amateur; yet unlike him she regressed hundreds of volunteers successfully, at least by her own standards, curing phobias and traumas. In Five Lives Remembered and Between Life and Death: Conversations with a Spirit, she documents some of her regressions. In another book, A Soul Remembers Hiroshima, she spotlights “Kathryn Harris,” who recovered her past life as a Japanese man in Hiroshima at the time when the US warplane Enola Gay dropped the first atomic weapon on the city.

Memory of this apparent past life arose in Harris spontaneously six months before she met Cannon. During a chance viewing of an interview with a Japanese woman who had survived the attack, Katie recalled being there too. No footage of the blast or its aftermath was shown, as the woman recalled a blinding light, people running and screaming, and things crashing down. “[S]omething just ‘clicked’ inside her head and suddenly she could see what was happening. Horrified, she turned the TV off, but she couldn’t turn off the pictures and scenes that flooded into her mind.”1

Harris described her impromptu recollection as if that of a another being inside herself. “I knew I was an old man and was watching from his viewpoint. I was feeling his feelings and thinking his thoughts. As I watched the scenes in my mind of the horror after the explosion, I knew that he was thinking, ‘This can’t be happening.’”2

Floodgates opened on another identity.

Twenty-two years old at the time, Harris was a junior-year high-school dropout from Texas. Her father, like Cannon’s husband, was in the military, so she moved around while growing up before deciding that she didn’t couldn’t deal with the adjustment to new teachers and friends, dropping out junior year and earning a high-school-equivalency diploma. Then she worked for the Air Force. She was not otherwise educated and had not travelled outside the United States.

Described by Cannon as short, blonde, buxom, blue-eyed, and charismatic, Katie expressed curiosity about past lives at a 1983 party without tipping her Hiroshima hand. Like James Leininger and Ryan Hammons, she grew up in an orthodox Christian family—Pentecostal in her case—and reincarnation was taboo. Cannon took steps to disguise her subject’s identity—her name is not Kathryn Harris.

In Cannon’s initial regressions, she noticed her subject’s innate receptivity to past lives. The young woman slipped into trance with all five senses, as she adopted the “I” of former beings and crossed the gender line effortlessly. When experiencing her first “other lifetime,” she described a white house “‘sitting up there all lonesome’” in a landscape of hills and valleys, a place she later identified as Colorado Territory before statehood. The girl (named Sharon) could smell her mother’s bread baking in the oven.3

Only after trust was established did Harris confide her Hiroshima flashback. Using Sharon’s dating of her death as sometime in the late 1870s, Cannon subtracted the Colorado timeline from Katie’s birthdate of 1960, clearing a gap of about eighty years. The women agreed—let’s go for it!

Not wanting to plunge her subject into the traumatic events of World War II, let alone Hiroshima on the day of the atomic attack, Cannon picked 1935 as a neutral starting point. Instructing her subject to go back to that year, Katie landed, as hoped, in Japan. She became Suragami Nogorigatu, “a man in his late fifties making pottery at a kiln in back of his house. He was at his small farm located about 20 miles south of Hiroshima in Nippon (the Japanese word for Japan).”4 Whether Nogorigatu existed once or not, Katie performed his character like a master thespian—his energy filled the room. Cannon recalled getting chills at how real he was.

Through several hypnotic regressions, Harris drew a detailed representation. Nogorigatu’s world was rich and flavorful, filled with oxen, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, charcoal heaters, primary school with scrolls, brushes, and calligraphy, thousands of characters, procedures for growing rice, differences between water gates and water wheels in the irrigation of fields, uses of animal dung for fertilizer, two sons (aged twenty-nine and thirty-three by the time of the attack), how to cast traditional Japanese pottery, designs and kinds and sources of herbs used to dye pots, architecture of a seven-room house with a sod roof and pagoda gables, Japanese clothing of the era (caps, sandals, sandal straps, names for gis, kimonos, obis, and other costumes), plus other museum-level relics and vestiges.

Needless to say, neither Cannon nor Harris had any background in these topics prior to her hypnotic regression.

Nogorigatu reported being married at fourteen; he saw his wife only once before their engagement—his parents had picked her out. They were wed in the late 1800s. He described dressing for the big event in his ceremonial kimono, “I am scared! It is strange…to know that I bring someone else into our house…I don’t know this person.”5 He depicted a Japanese wedding in striking detail: ceremonial knots in his bride’s hair, his wife-to-be’s white pan makeup and cherry-blossom silk pink kimono, musical instruments (harps, kotos, drums, and flutes), sake, rice cakes, honey cakes, etc. When asked whether the woman’s pale makeup looked strange, s/he said, “I think it looks nice.” When asked whether his bride was happy, s/he said, “Who can tell with girls?”6

When Cannon regressed her subject to 1920, he described taking his pots to market twenty miles away in Hiroshima. He explained that by then he had sold his share of the family farm and bought his own plot south of the city. Upon request s/he enumerated the different roads leading to the Hiroshima metropolitan area as well as the bridges in the city across the separate branches of the river that runs through it.

Nogorigatu/Katie subsequently gave a nuanced account of the pre-war era of the late 1930s: the feng shui of his house and land; the isolation of rural Japan in the events leading up to World War II; the spiritual equivalence of the Emperor to the Sun; the melding of Shintoism and Buddhism in religious training and practice; the tea ceremony and other rituals; then, later, the effects of militarization in the countryside—how soldiers took over fields and other property, putting citizens under virtual gang rule: “Many strangers and soldiers come through and they take what they want. So we are hiding things…. They took our oxen and our goats and destroyed the fields. It was a shortcut. They marched right through them, and then they laughed…. Because they are in power and they are soldiers.”7

In another description, he commented wryly, “No one ever sees the orders but them, if there are any orders.”8

None of this comes across as fantasy or fabrication, and it is not the world-view of a girl from Texas:

“Probably kill [our goats and oxen] and use them for food…. Whatever food stores they could lay their hands on easily, that they could take with them, they took. Things like salted fish and rice, things that would keep…. Now we have no way of plowing except by hand and I am too old. But they don’t care about this…. Every time we start to grow things, something happens. Either the soldiers run through the fields or there is nothing to plant with….”9

In the course of Cannon’s regressions, Nogorigatu discoursed on the fallacies of war and the illusion that you gain honor or dignity from military power. He analyzed Japanese feelings of inferiority, of being played down by the rest of the world, and how the warrior class thought that they could exhibit their superior skills and bravery and demonstrate what it means to be courageous and victorious in battle to the Americans, who had become weak and effeminate.

About the military cult of the kamikaze, Nogorigatu remarked, “I think they are a little crazy, maybe more than a little crazy.”10 He added, “Who knows what they have filled their minds with. What hopes of paradise. How can anyone promise something that they themselves have never seen?”11 He lamented: “We are at war…. I cry for Nippon. She is fallen, she is losing her majesty.”12

Against Nogorigatu’s advice, one of his sons moved to Hiroshima with his family to take a job in a factory; then he thought better of it and tried to return to the homestead. Too late—the farm was already in ruins. Soon after, soldiers in trucks strong-armed both of Nogorigatu’s sons into service.

When Cannon counted Katie forward to 1944, she was stunned to hear, “I see the grave of my wife.”13 She expressed shock and and offered sympathy. Nogorigatu said simply, “She was walking along the road in the village. And the jeeps came by and ran her over. They didn’t see her and didn’t care to. None of them stopped…. She was trying to get things for us to eat. Anything.”14

Katie’s voice shifted, as it matched Nogorigatu’s grief, becoming sad and soft, almost inaudible at times as if s/he were about to cry. When Cannon asked what happened next, Nogorigatu described leaving the farm and moving into town with his grandchildren. “We must all walk our own path. If this is mine, so be it.”15

Could all this drama be feigned within Ms. Harris’ subconscious? Of course. She could have been a naturally gifted actress with an undeveloped talent. People diagnosed with multiple personalities evince convincing alter egos, ones more discrepant than Harris and “Nogorigatu.” The narrative isn’t evidence of reincarnation as much as it is of the depth and complexity of the human psyche.

At the conclusion of Nogorigatu’s session regarding the death of his wife, Cannon observed, “He was exhibiting such deep, deep sadness and sorrow, it was overwhelming. I felt so sorry for him, this man I had come to know so well, that I could not leave him there…..

“I could not, in good conscience, end the session on such an unhappy note. Maybe it was more for my benefit than Katie’s, because on reawakening she would have no conscious memory of the events she described.”16 Cannon counted the Japanese potter back to 1930. He went there at once and became a different man, in a festive spirit:

“They’re having the procession through the village. It is the celebration of the blooming of the cherry trees. They have the priests at front, throwing the rice and calling blessings, hoping that this will be a good year for prosperity. And we have the young men and women of the village all dressed up in their most beautiful kimonos. They are wandering through the streets singing…. [There are] paper streamers and they have kites flying from the houses.”17

Wow, just like that, from sorrow and mourning to delight and celebration!
Yet no matter how many times Nogorigatu got returned to happier times, he would travel back to Hiroshima. His path had no other course. What does that mean?

Note the juxtapositions in Cannon’s framing. She can’t “leave him there” but must “count him back.” Yet how can someone even be counted back if time is an irreversible current? Cannon’s time-travel violates the integrity of one-way linearly stamped events.

Where does Nogorigatu’s later identity go when his earlier one is evoked? Where was the earlier one prior to its recall? Are there many “Nogorigatus” in simultaneous existence? How do their concurrent realities relate to each other? Do they meld into integral beingness?

From Katie’s access to Nogorigatu’s life, it would seem that every temporal self arises timelessly, no matter what will follow, expanding like ripples into a universe outside time. The greater entity Nogorigatu can reexperience any one of them as present. His 1944 self did not gobble up or supersede its 1930 predecessor. They remain independently evolving, differentiating, exploring their richness and supporting each other. We do not know how finite the selves get—whether every minute or second has integrity. But that is like asking whither and whence Heraclitus’ river—into which no man, or wart-hog, can step twice.

Consider also what Cannon’s access to Nogorigatu’s life might be telling us about not only past lives but the nature of personal identity. A soul or super-entity sends out myriad selves—homunculi—to experience aspects of its identity in diverse realities and temporal frames. Picture a multidimensional octopus. Each of its arms—far more than eight—savors a different reality. In Jane Roberts’ metaphor, “Our greater consciousness or ‘source self’ dips in and out of time and has existences in other dimensions, showering aspects of itself out in all directions. These aspects are alive, active, but latent in each of us, where their abilities help form the stuff of our own personalities.”18

When Freud said, “There is no time in the unconscious,” he meant the individual psyche, but he was also intuiting a multiple transpersonality without realizing it.

 

Is Nogorigatu in Katie, of Katie? Was he ever a real person—Katie herself once—or a contrivance of her unconscious? Cannon recounts her own confusions around his identity:

“Upon awakening from a session, Katie would feel fine. Because she was virtually asleep, she had no ill effects. I was the one who was troubled. I could not shut out his suffering…. This man had begun to actually haunt me. His pain was my pain. I would hear again his words as I tried to sleep at night. He filled my waking thoughts as well as my dreams. He became very real to me and it was as if his turmoil was happening now instead of 40 years ago.”19

Who was Cannon to Nogorigatu? Whom did he “see” as she queried and drew him from the slumber of Katie? Was he in dormancy till her call? Was he awakened to his existence by her summons or does he dwell eternally in his soul, reliving his own timeless narrative?

Cannon opines, “He seemed to be pleading with me to tell his story, to give his death meaning.”20 He was calling out for recognition, affirmation. “This was no cardboard imaginary character. I came to know Nogorigatu very well. I liked him and he became my friend. I often wonder what he thought of me. Was I just a still, small voice in his head asking questions?”21

Indeed! Nogorigatu was responding blindly to an American woman addressing him decades after his death—a witness in the void—but he was also engaging his own internal voice. I can’t picture him as a figment in Kathryn Harris’ unconscious mind, but I can’t picture her as a ghola of him either. Cannon’s supposition—“a still, small voice in his head”—is the tip of an iceberg that I will explore under Multipersonhood.

 

In subsequent sessions, Cannon edged Harris closer to the attack. She had promised Katie that she would approach the bombing gradually and then visit it only once. As she counted deeper into 1944, she feared that Nogorigatu would appear as a broken man. She was right; he had no idea what to do next as he stoically described the situation:

“I can see the troops. They are moving. They have decided that they want the headquarters closer to town…. They are all in their trucks and have their guns and they’re moving…. Sometimes I stay in the village, sometimes in Hiroshima.”22

In town, he roomed with his daughters who, by then, helped make jeep parts in a factory. “We spread the mats on the floors and we sleep on them, and there is enough room for that…. We have a brazier, which is a charcoal one, that is in the one room…. This is no life to bring up children in.”23 When Nogorigatu traveled between his farm and town, the journey took him three days by foot: “One does what one must. A man can do anything if he sets his mind to it.”24

Food was rationed. Those who toiled for the government received larger portions, allotments dispensed at the factories. It was mostly rice, occasionally bread or grains. They found wild beans and grew their own sprouts. Workers were paid in scrips, an emergency currency that could be used to purchase items only at government centers.

Cannon opened her next session with, “Let’s go to the spring of 1945. It will be spring when the earth is waking up and things are beginning to grow again. What do you see?”25 The shift in tone is dramatic:

“I can see the planes flying overhead. It seems like they are stalking us…. There are…four or five of them…. They are not ours…. It’s just as if they watch us. They do not drop bombs …. I wonder if they are looking for a good place to drop their bombs. I don’t know.”26

To that point Hiroshima had been spared from aerial attack, but routine drills were conducted. Sirens sounded, requiring people to clear the streets.

“I do not desire to go to the shelter. I would rather see what is coming at me than run like a frightened squirrel into a tree and hole up. If I die I would like to see what kills me.”27

Progressing toward the fateful day, Cannon counted forward to July 1945, and asked Katie/Nogorigatu to describe what he saw. He was watching his daughters arrive home from work. His three grandchildren were playing on the floor. When queried as to how things were going, he said, “Extremely bad. There are many problems. They’ve had bombings around the city and everyone is worried and tense…. Two of the outlying factories have been hit, no serious damage, some deaths. They manage to keep working.” When asked what the bombs sound like, he says, “There is a shrill whistle before the explosion. They say you never hear the one that hits.”

The soldiers fired at the planes. “[T]hey almost treat it as if a big game is going on. As if nothing serious.”28

Nogorigatu’s daughters had been told at work that “the Americans don’t wish to bomb us, or something…I don’t know. They say they are not strong enough to fight us…that the war is almost over because we are no longer fighting with them. Who knows?”29

As Cannon subsequently counted Katie forward to August 6, 1945, she noticed an abrupt change in her complexion and posture. “She turned white as a sheet and her body stiffened. When she tried to talk, only gasping sounds came out. She had great difficulty forming the words…. She seemed to be in a state of shock and when she did manage to speak, her voice trembled. Sometimes her body would shake. I had never before heard such heart-rending emotion and pain in a voice. It came from somewhere deep inside her subconscious memories and had no connection with Katie at all…. Phrases came out disjointed with pauses between them as Nogorigatu confusedly groped to find the words for an experience that words were useless to describe.”30 The subject took deep breaths as Cannon asked her what was happening; she could barely form the syllables at times. Cannon had to reassure her that this event was no longer present and she had the capacity to terminate the session and wake herself up whenever she wished.

“‘There was…there was a great flash…a blinding white light. And…then a great…boom. And…and…a giant cloud. It went straight up, and…and…it went out….  And then the winds rolledthey were like fire…. The people, they fell down, and they…and they just lay there, and…and…. (the voice was full of utter disbelief). The screams! …People are dying everywhere. WHY?

“It was a cry from the depths of his soul, and it sent shivers down my spine.

“‘People are…those who can run are running. Some just stumbling around, holding their arms out… Everything is gone! It’s been destroyed! Buildings are as if they’ve never been. There’s nothing left! WHY?!

“‘I am alone. (Bewildered) I don’t know where anyone is. Everything is gone. The city is as if…there is no center to the city! IT’S GONE! The buildings have …disappeared! There’s nothing but rubble…and the screams!’”31

Is this Hiroshima—or Katie cathartically re-imagining the event? If the view is Hiroshima under atomic attack, is it a first-hand account or a post-traumatic lesion bending space-time with its malign thwack?

“‘My…hands! My hands…are black…. My…face feels as if there is nothing…no skin. (He moaned.)

“The planes this morning… Could they…? They…must have…dropped…some horrible…thing! (Gasp) How could anyone do that? How? Don’t ‘they know what they have done? Do they care?… How could we get to such a point where anyone would want to do this? Even think of doing something like this? How could anyone?’”

“The words were like a forlorn voice crying in the wilderness.

“‘They’ve killed the town! A whole town! It’s gone! (Suddenly he moaned.) I feel like my insides are on fire. Everything is…it’s…as if…someone struck a match and placed it inside of me, and it’s become a bonfire. And it’s ablaze!…

“‘My daughters…my grandchildren! (He sobbed that word). …they are probably dead… All dead!’”32 This doesn’t sound like a theatric performance.

Cannon knew she had to get Nogorigatu out of there. She quickly counted him back to 1930; he transitioned smoothly:

“‘I am working on my pots. I have taken them out of the kiln and they are cooling…. They are very beautiful. Each unique in their own way. I take care in my work. My love shows in every piece that I make.’”33

Another being replaced the devastated man: 1930’s Nogorigatu in happy blossom, proceeding into the universe as who was. Was the artisan working on his pots a man who had never experienced Hiroshima or one who had already experienced it and sublimated his future memory?

And what about Katie herself? Even though she remembered none of what she recited in trance, she exhibited discernible relief after the series of regressions. Like other past-life “patients,” she began to mature in a new way.

Later, Cannon recalled a memory trace she recovered from Katie before finding Nogorigatu. While entering this world in a home delivery, the girl had been declared stillborn. The doctor had given up; only an aunt working on the lifeless body drew a feeble cry. Guessing that the clue to Nogorigatu lay there, Cannon regressed Harris to the moment of her birth in order to learn what happened on a Soul plane.

“Instead of preparing to enter the body of a newborn baby, I found her standing at the foot of a bed getting ready to enter the body of an adult. She was preparing to exchange places with the spirit that had inhabited the body of Katie for 21 years. That entity had taken on too many problems to be worked out during this lifetime and when she found that she was not strong enough to handle them, she had asked to be relieved of the situation. Because the two entities had known each other previously and had very similar personalities, they agreed to swap places for the remainder of the physical body’s life.”34

When Katie was told that she was a walk-in who had acquiesced to an exchange of souls, “she was startled, to say the least. She said that she could not believe that. She felt no different and knew that she was still the same person.”35

Did Nogorigatu’s soul replace Katie’s and hitch a ride in her identity thereafter? Or were she and he the same Soul all along? If possession takes place before birth, is that not effectively reincarnation?

In Cannon’s view, Nogorigatu entered Katie’s body with her permission. This sort of reincarnation-like event, conducted not through an etheric field and embryo but directly by auric field, could explain why some people begin remembering a past life at an older age: it is not the life of their womb personality but that of an arriving guest—though both could be aspects of the same soul.

Cannon also interrogated Nogorigatu on his status before Katie. “I learned … that ‘she’ had entered the spirit resting-place on the other side for a while after the traumatic death at Hiroshima. This is a special place that is reserved for deaths such as these. She felt she had gotten rid of a lot of karma by the lingering death she had experienced. She then attended the school on the spirit plane where the masters and teachers helped with the evaluation of that life. That was where she was when she was called for this assignment and the exchange of the souls with the entity that had previously occupied Katie’s body.”36

 

If this sort of stuff goes on routinely behind the scenes, past lives that surface in individuals like Katie Harris and James Leininger are versions of unconscious memories that everyone has. All of us sense events outside ordinary time. Some moments feel different, as if experienced through someone else’s senses, as if the Earth were seen by an alien creature. Obscure figments of things flit ;like in déjà vu, images and feelings that evaporate as we try to identify or place them. We can’t hold them long enough. Faces and moods, wisps and fragments of landscapes appear, but they lack context. “They were valid,” Jane Roberts contends. “They did exist but “in reference to something else, some other reality that we translate into sense terms or pseudo-sense terms in order to perceive it at all….”

“Each of us at some time or other is struck by a moment that is timeless, in which we ‘know what we know’ in a way that has nothing to do with words, in which the focus personality almost stands at the summit of itself and views the inner skies of its own soul…..

“[The] human personality [is] getting a glimpse of its own entire nature…for there are bleed-throughs, when we almost see who we ‘were’ in a past life or who we ‘will be’ in a future one.”37

A Buddhist homily puts it this way: “If you want to know who you were in a past life look at who you are now. If you want to know who you will become in a future life, observe your present actions.”

“A portion of you,” adds Seth, “has lived many lives upon this planet, but the ‘you’ that you know is freshly here, and will never again encounter space and time in precisely the same way…. The soul, or…greater personage, does not simply send out an old self in new clothes time and time again…. [A] rich psychic heritage connects it through memory and experience to those who will ‘come after.’ Or those who have ‘gone before….’”38

I remember lying in my crib at age two or three, coming to terms with my new reality. I felt the presence of something else that I couldn’t identify. My parents claimed that I pointed to each car and identified it correctly: “Studeybager, Olds, Bluick, Cadiyack.” I lost the ability by age four. I can’t tell a Hummer from a Jeep.

At three, my grandson Hopper told my daughter Miranda that he remembered when she and his father Mike saw each other as children. That was possible since they briefly overlapped in the Oakland-Berkeley area. He also told her that he had been to a restaurant at which they were dining for the first time, and had seen cowboys there, not a character type she recalled his knowing about. When she asked if it was perhaps when he was very, very young, he answered, “Before that. Long ago, in the olden times.”

“Olden times” is a perfect expression of how a past life might present itself to a child.

Journalist Tom Shroder concluded that past lives “are less important for what they say about what happens after we die, than for what they say about how the world works—that it’s mysterious, that there are larger forces at work, that—in some way—we’re all connected by forces beyond our understanding….” He adds, “If [that’s] not science, maybe it should be.”39

If we are inside an amplituhedron-like field, reflecting in multiple directions and dimensions at once, the reason most of us don’t explicitly remember past lives is that we don’t remember (and can’t place) much of anything at all.

 

                            Cosmic Chicanery and Thoughtforms

In the millennia-long rivalry of technocrats and shamans, the tool-makers won because they got better and quicker results. Shamanic invocation has little impact on molecular formations—those tens of thousands of years got called the Stone Age for a reason. Empirical objectification affected matter immediately and durably and in small venues, a hand axe or a pot. Shamans psychically traveled to other regions of their continents, but they couldn’t engage in ordinary interactions on the physical plane when they got there. Likewise you can’t transport folks and their belongings across oceans with astral projection. Yet thoughtforms are as real as snow on Pluto or trucks rolling along a Mongolian highway. They don’t control reality, but they create it, for concentrated mind vibrates on Etheric and Astral levels, transforming “energy into physical form” according to ideas and beliefs.1 Slow-going and subliminal but world-changing.

When sixteenth-century magicians John Dee and Edward Kelley used angelic mantras and sigils/yantras to open gateways in nature, they were drawing on subconscious aspects of thought that were already flirting with form or predisposed to form. Once such aspects congeal consciously, they no longer have access to thoughtforms—they have to address matter directly. That’s called science. But the greater reality is psychophysical, so even scientific modes retain psychic aspects. You can make just about anything if you imagine it long enough. Some things take hundreds of thousands of years and, in the case of Homo sapiens, you first have to develop physics and chemistry. This reflects one of Seth’s core axioms: “Objectified mental states “[are] constantly interacting, formed automatically by conscious energy’s intercession with the three-dimensional field.”2 You often don’t know what you are making until it manifests, and that may be generations hence.

If you look at the planet today, you see the fruition of a collective Pleistocene thoughtform, the realization of Stone Age shamans’ unconscious projections and prayers. They instilled the current landscape from their desire for food, shelter, safety, power, and mobility. Translating imaginal objects into physical counterparts, they manifested wheels, engines, electricity, and cities, though they did not know that’s what they were doing or understand the nature of their objectifications. They had no templates and did not directly charm matter. Cars rolling down modernity’s streets are magical machines. They are also the outcome of empirical thought applied to stone, but these converge over long spans of time.

Humans could not have made machines out of matter unless matter had an aspect of mind in it. Seth elucidates, “Man dreamed his world and then created it … from the first tool to … fire, or the coming of the Iron Age … and the units of consciousness first dreamed man and all of the other species that you know…. [They] are the building blocks for the physical material of your body, for the trees and rocks, the oceans, the continents, and the very manifestation of thought itself as you understand it….”3

If you are a member of a Plains Indian warrior sodality or a Tibetan lama, you start from this premise. There isn’t any other. You can’t enter a universe you don’t believe in. Stone Age shamans believed, and what we are living is what they believed in.

The question is, what landscape are we evoking now?

 

An indigenous healer told an academic friend of mine that he used sleight of hand and duplicity in his practice, yet he insisted that it was fair game because it was a ploy to shift stubborn beliefs, stuck thoughtforms that had descended into tissue pathology. “Western doctors open people up like car mechanics,” he explained, “and they try to fix them by changing their parts. We heal them by changing their belief systems.”4

Quesalid, an elderly Koskimo shaman interviewed by anthropologist Franz Boas, admitted that the bloody down he pulled out of a sick person’s body was crumpled feathers colored from biting his own tongue. In his youth he had thought to expose this technique as a fraud, but he arrived at a more profound understanding. It was transformational theater. Each of his patients assimilated the totem object into their psychic fields and converted it into parasympathetic and cellular energy.

Even knowing that the bloody down is a sham, a medicine man calls on a fellow practitioner to treat him in this manner if he becomes sick.5

Jeffrey Kripal introduces an overlooked psychophysical principle: “It is almost as though the real needs the fake to appear at all, as if the fact relies on the fiction to manifest itself…. It is not as if the appearance of the sacred can be reduced to a simple trick, as if the shaman is just a sham. It is as if the sacred is itself tricky. Even the well-documented medical placebo, after all, is a fake that has real effects…. [P]sychical researcher Russell Targ…first became aware of the reality of telepathy when, as a young stage magician in New York, he realized that he was receiving genuine telepathic information from within the mentalist trick he was performing on stage. The trick was a trick, but it was also, somehow, catalyzing the real deal.”6

A hoax creates a meaning set with its own rules of evidence. According to Kripal, even fake fortune-tellers and séances lead to “accurate and veridical information, [for instance] about the time, nature, or details of the death, all unknown and unknowable to the supraliminal self until the subliminal or telepathic communication occurs.”7

Similarly, science-fiction tales, though meant to be imaginary, represent “the greater reality from which we spring [and]…send messages from there to the selves we know.”8 Magical powers in superhero movies and comics epitomize dormant human capacities. Targ himself became such an accurate remote viewer that he was hired by the Pentagon to locate Soviet military installations.

 

A popular 2013 book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death, summarizes Annie Kagan’s dialogues with her brother after his premature passing.9 In life, Billy, who nicknamed himself Fingers at age sixteen after he lost the tip of one finger while working in a welding factory, topped out as a petty criminal and drug addict. He initially described the sensation of being hit by a taxi and sucked out of his body by a rush of energy. After that he entered a welcoming zone, a festive land of silvery lights, in a state of bliss incompatible with the human body.10

Later he recalled floating weightlessly through space with “gorgeous stars and moons and galaxies” glimmering all about him, while he heard a faraway intoxicating sound, a celestial choir that is like wind or rain or ocean waves but more musical and with a rhythmic pulsation that keeps changing and becoming more melodic.11 A magical stream fluctuating with the colors of chakras, a few yards wide, rippled past. As sounds began organizing into sacred music, Billy realized he heard them unconsciously throughout his lifetime. The stream gradually erased his Earth body and its memories, and a blue-white sphere implanted a new corporealness.12

Billy saw his former wife Ingrid flowing before him as a constellation. Her stars and planets told stories of the different stages of her life: a blonde baby digging sand, a teenager dancing onstage, a young woman strung out on cocaine, a hag doing time in prison. The strands of her anger were harmonized at a soul level. As the two of them circled each other, he understood why he loved her in the first place.13

A backdrop of other lifetimes gradually interfused with his recent life. Then the Divine Presence called him by his Soul name, a rune he recognized from before he was born.14 He found himself staring at a beautiful woman twice his height and with the look and vibe of a Hindu goddess: rings, bracelets, and precious stones around her feet, a tiara of golden light circling her head. As she floated, she rotated her hands in a mudra-like dance. Billy followed in devotion until he gradually began to resemble her.15

Numberless other folks like himself were following their own guides up to a White Building.16 Its stones were opalescent with cosmic wisdom formulas built into them.17 His lady led him to a cave with pictures of blossoms carved around its entrance. A blossom shimmered, showing Billy his past lives, which were shaded purple or red and illuminating golden petals of individual lotus flowers. The guide offered him a cup of the milky nectar from the pond; it tasted sweet and pungent; he was barely ready for its deluge of wisdom. A golden dragon formed at the top of the cave, a fierce-looking entity with fiery eyes. He recognized it as his guardian through many lifetimes.18

 

This is a brief summary of a complex book that some people consider a breakthrough account of life after death and a new permission to break the encryption between the living and the dead. Others discount it as New Age blarney. Either way, ask yourself if it is a possible experience. Is there something fundamentally authentic about it?

Another possibility is that Kagan is receiving a different transmission and using a literary device to communicate it. A similar defense has been offered by apologists for Carlos Castaneda regarding his encounters with shaman Juan Matus—that the events themselves, which similarly involved nonlocal consciousness, were fictionalized to make a narrative out of an experience that would otherwise have been incommunicable.

I am moved by Kagan’s tale, and I have major difficulties with it. I will characterize both.

First, the difficulties. A voice in the void is too casually Hollywoodesque, like George Burns playing God or Edgar Rice Burroughs levitating John Carter to Mars. Kagan doesn’t characterize the delivery. Was it high-pitched, sonorous, or telepathic? If it had sound, did she try to record it? How she did she know that it was Billy?

My suspicions were further aroused by a brief email exchange with her. I sent her an early version of this book for comment. I had excerpted sections but assured her that they were placeholders I intended to remove.

She threatened legal action, warning that neither she nor her publisher would allow me to quote her at such length. Her lone comment was that my analysis “seemed off.”

I had thought she might not agree with or like my interpretation, but I expected basic interest and empathy. Instead, she behaved like the commissioner of the NBA enforcing a trademark.

Afterward I was put on an email list and began receiving self-help messages from her “secret Billy stash.” Each of these snippets was signed, “Billy Fingers from the Cosmos, With Love.” Kagan later identified her brother by the cringe-worthy “Billyfucious” or “Billyfucious Say.” The general drift was, ‘change your role, change your life,’ ‘the self-comparison game,’ and ‘life is not meant to be smooth and la-di-da.”

But Kagan can only tell the truth She can’t outbid reality, as Quesalid and numerous shamans found out, so it is a matter of which truth. The universe holds the last card, and it doesn’t have to be from the deck you are dealing. Billy’s cables, even if invented by Kagan, are finally real.

 

Psychic Ellias Lonsdale’s transmissions from his partner Sarah after her death from breast cancer had a radically different tone:

“When the time was ripe, I was guided to take the world’s heaviest karmas into my body and transmute them to the point where I felt ready to embrace my innermost destiny. Just before I died, all the circuits started to click in and show me what I was to do, how I was to do it, and the exquisite rightfulness in what looked like a tragedy. Among the instructions was the core message: You are now to dive through death, sink to the bottom of the death realms, and pull up to the surface the living soul who is your own vast and limitless self awaiting you there. When you have her, bring her to the ones who sent you out upon your journey….

“I did as I was told. The death sharks could not get any grip on me. I was far too slippery for them. I was all water. I dove far under their vigilant guard and came to the living soul, the vast one awaiting me so expectantly and joyously.”19

No floating among party lights or magical streams for this girl! She journeyed through a painful soul remembering. “My surface consciousness was whittled to almost nothing, so I pierced right through it in the birth moment and became the breath of the deep. My subtle awareness bubbled to the top. My outer-mind permanently split open, and I walked onward with far clearer awareness and more open space into the unknown.”20

Only after passing through numerous Death pictures does Sarah confront the Lord of Death Himself and experience how he operates: he matches each person’s picture of him, transposing different forms of death based on Earth myths and imaginings into its Reality. Death is a thoughtform, and what people find after life is the landscape they conjure and project: various heavens, hells, bardos, and Halloween-like masquerades. The fetid corpse, the funeral parlor, the pyre, rot and decay, the loss of a cherished being are all engaged as negative projections of Death.21

A skeptic who believes in material reality only may take a while to recognize his own mind after death. He corroborates his belief system by devising an alias that fools even him.  Since he expects to be annulled, he vegs in pretend nonexistence, denying his own awareness because beingness should be impossible without a body. It may require eons of Earth-time for him to notice that something is denying its own existence. Eventually he will have to respond to the fact that he is not not present

If Stephen Hawking was right—nothing happens forever—he proved his point without knowing it. But if Death is a portal into other realms of reality, I see three options: (one) he continues to consider himself dead until his unconscious self begins to stir under its new terms; (two) he blends into a greater truth and recognizes his version of nature as an authentic response at his time and place in Earth history; and/or (three) he thinks, “Ah, did I ever sell the universe short!”

But he doesn’t correct his model because conditions where he is are more fundamental than any provisional truth. The belief that death is final and ends all personal experience paradoxically matches the opposite belief that existence is eternally changing, for the universe, once bottomed out in all its platforms, hold a far more profound baseline than either. The skeptical position is not anti-spiritual; it is generating nihilistic energy essential for the soul’s evolution. To be mired in paradise, an inert beatitude, without possibility of creative transformation—an angelic theme park and light that casts no shadows—would be as useless it is unsustainable.

 

When psychic medium Sali Crow did an impromptu reading for me in Montpelier, Vermont (August 22, 2016), she began by inviting any being who wanted to come in peace, love, and healing. Then she told me that a woman had been seated behind me the whole time.

We were not meeting for mediumship but to talk about a prospective book. After our publishing discussion I asked her to show me the sort of thing she did. Lips moving, eyes closed, she silently channeled an entity. After each exchange, she put into words what she had received: a mix of the spirit’s thoughtforms and pictures. In the process, she brought to life a believable representative of my mother who committed suicide by jumping from her window in New York City forty-two years earlier.

Sali relayed facts from my mother’s life, for instance that she was sent to a boarding school from age twelve till fourteen, that she spent long periods in bed when she had no illness. More profoundly she captured my mother’s personality and way of presenting herself. The “ghost” filled in details of her life unknown to me and spoke of events that had occurred since her death. She expressed pride in my daughter Miranda, identifying her as a woman in her lineage who had transcended the limitations of the family. Miranda was one year at the time of her passing.

Though the visitation was compelling, it didn’t change my mother’s thread; instead, it created a new thread, that of my mother’s ghost. The ghost apologized to me for things that my mother had done and thanked me for turning damage into healing. It moved me to tears.

When I discussed the channeling with John Friedlander, he agreed that the spirit was real but not a continuation of my mother. It was a combination of things. First, it was Sali’s telepathic reading of my own aura. My mother’s aura might have deposited information there unconsciously when she was alive, stuff from the future as well as the past. The karmic thread of our relationship, flowing across incarnations, would be accessible to a necromancer without requiring my mother’s contemporaneous beingness.

Sali could also consult disembodied intelligences and spirit guides familiar with my mother and her situation; she could read my mother’s life in the Akashic records.

How did the spirit know to find us? Sali explained that mediums are like lighthouses. Spirits are drawn to them in the company of people they wish to contact. “They don’t hover over our every move; they could care less whether we floss or not. What they track is our evolution, the color of our flame. And most spirits have more than one living person they are watching over.”

The thoughtform Sali spoke for was a piece left behind, real in that it could communicate to me and address aspects of our relationship. Its messages were latent and unexpressed when my mother was alive but were evolving anyway. The spirit was intelligently created by human existence but incapable of new action. It could only repeat notes like opera singer performing an aria. It could know about my daughter’s life and career but could not discuss them in the way a living grandmother would.

I learned later from another psychic that while the spirit was transmitting healing to me in my current form, it was simultaneously sending redemptive energy to my mother where she was, even though she did not fully remember her own former self.

The universe is incomprehensibly full or utterly vapid and empty. If it is incomprehensibly full, even hoaxes barely scratch its surface or plumb its possibility. If it is vapid and empty, even the most profound spiritual system or shamanic art is a hoax.

What do you think? What do you really think?

 

Worshipping the Algorithm

As we hiked together in Maine, I asked my college classmate, Jeffrey Hoffman, a retired NASA astronaut now a space scientist at MIT, if he accepted the premise of a Big Bang occurring “in the middle of nowhere for no reason” as a fair representation of his guild’s belief.

I was indirectly citing entheogenic philosopher Terrence McKenna’s 1999 brief: “Let’s look at what the competition is peddling. What the competition would have you believe is that the universe sprang from nothing in a single moment for no reason.… That is the limit case for credulity. If you can believe that, you can believe anything. I challenge you to top it. I know that the scientologists think that God is a clam on another planet, but I don’t think that tops this idea.…”1

Jeff rightly objected to the phrase ‘for no reason.’ “‘Reason’ is anthropomorphic, and the universe doesn’t operate on our terms.” Later he clarified his position, “As science progresses from generation to generation, its view of the universe changes. A hundred or five hundred years from now, our current paradigm may look as dated as the universe before Copernicus and Newton does to us now. Scientists used epicycles then to describe position and motion without a sense of the forces that would organize those epicycles. We’re in the same position today. How can anyone believe they have a complete description when it is missing most of the universe: dark matter and dark energy? There may not be a ‘reason,’ but one thing is clear, the universe goes from very simple and lacking much structure in the hot environment after the Big Bang to increasing complexity: molecules, chemical compounds, life, and then consciousness.”

McKenna had agreed eighteen years earlier: “Why doesn’t science take on board, as a major problem in the description of nature, the emergence of complexity? You ask a scientist, and they say, ‘Well, these are separate domains of nature. How atoms become molecules has nothing to do with how animals become human beings.’ This is bullshit.… The understanding of the fractal ordering of nature now makes it clear that voting patterns in Orange County, distribution of anemones on the Great Barrier Reef, and the cratering of Europa all follow the same power laws.…

“The second thing that science has staring it in the face and has refused to take on board is that this process of complexification…, as you approach the place in time called the present, happens faster and faster…. Since these processes have been running since the Big Bang, there is no argument to be maintained that they will reverse themselves suddenly. No, they’re not going to reverse themselves after thirteen billion years—duh!….

“[T]he universe is under the influence of a strange attractor … pulled toward an ultimate denouement as well as pushed by the unfolding of causal necessity. It’s an engine for the generation of complexity, and it preserves complexity, [as] it builds on complexity to ever higher levels. If you entertain this, guess what happens? It’s like a light comes on on the human condition.…

“Who are we in my story? In science’s story, we are nobody; we are lucky to be here; we are a cosmic accident; we exist on an ordinary star at the edge of a typical galaxy in an ordinary part of space and time, and essentially our existence is without meaning, or you have to perform one of those existential pas de deux where you confirm meaning—one of these postmodern soft shoes.

But if I’m right that the universe has an appetite for novelty, then we are the apple of its eye. Suddenly cosmic purpose is restored to us. People matter, you are the cutting edge of a thirteen-billion-year-old process of defining novelty. Your acts matter, your thoughts matter.

Your purpose? To add to the complexity.

Your enemy? Disorder, entropy, stupidity, and tastelessness.

Suddenly you have a morality, you have an ethical arrow, you have contextualization in the processes of nature, you have meaning. You have authenticity, you have hope. You have the cancellation of existentialism and positivism and all that late-twentieth-century crapola.…”2

 

What the opposition is peddling comes down to an algorithm. Given nearly fourteen billion years since the Big Bang, an algorithm can make just about anything out of bosons and fermions (or out of anything else). Every feeling, thought, every feeling about every feeling and thought are, at source, algorithmic offshoots. The musings of Parmenides, Augustine, and Einstein, the paintings on the walls of Lascaux and Chauvet, Bach’s organ music, the Qabalistic Tree of Life all arose from the infinitely reflecting grottos of a mathematical function replicating only itself.

Even the algorithm came out of the algorithm, for the algorithm is clever enough to reflect back what it generates at each level of its own expression. That should be no surprise because the algorithm creates its own capacity for recursion. It is an algorithm’s algorithm.

The algorithm does everything God used to do without His imperious stagecraft or vulgar oversplash. It is the God of modernity: efficient, cybernetic, minimal, unpersonified—microsoft. It represents the world’s current religion: idolatry of the real.

Worship of the algorithm is levied by social contract, ideological gendarmerie, and mass subliminal seepage. It is taught in most Western madrasas, reinforced by socioeconomic imperatives crowned by a pharmaceutical industry driven by profits from the symptomatic relief of mental and physical states arising from a sense of meaningless and loss of identity. It is broadcast openly and telepathically from the capital control centers of our species.

Everyone buys into it at some level: long-haul truck-drivers, erotic dancers, chaps crunching concrete with steam shovels and laying pipe under the cracked stone, despite their honest day’s labor and hard-earned victories over entropy. Politicians preach it to their constituents, no matter what else they bloviate: the primacy of matter. Make hay while the sun is shining (meaning the local hydrogen-helium aster). The ad for reality reminds the hoi polloi: “You only go around once, so grab for all the gusto you can get!” Whatever that could mean to nucleic acids attached to protein coats….

The algorithm is even disseminated by those whose beliefs refute it. Mainstream religious authorities reinforce its signal by ideologically challenging it while otherwise in full and complete compliance. Anyone who doubts it is considered a wimp, a fool, or an asshole. That’s how lockdown the paradigm is.

Modern folks “actually prefer annihilation with physical death to any sort of survival. Longing for immortality as seen as a defect of character or a philosophical sellout in people too weak-willed to face their impending doom. In the face of certain extermination, one should simply man up and go quietly, proudly, and gravely into that dark night.”3

Another college classmate Sid Schwab spoke eloquently on behalf of the algorithm in an Amherst class-chatroom debate with a biblical fundamentalist:

“Nowadays I barely have a concept of yesterday. Who can grok billions of years? I can’t, but I’m pretty sure it’s enough time for evolution to make a brain. It can make MRSA overnight, after all. There are billions of planets in billions of galaxies. There may or may not be life somewhere else; and if there is, it may or may not resemble ours. That we are who we are is remarkable, but demands some sort of non-physical explanation only to the extent that we’re unable to see ourselves as a very unlikely result of random happenings. The chances are one in who knows how many billions of billions that life (whatever it is) happened here, of all places? But it did, and here we are. If it hadn’t, we wouldn’t be. That’s the least and most of what there is to it. That there are, presumably, countless non-life-bearing galaxies serves to confirm that, rather than a result of intent, we’re a happy accident. All the reason we need to enjoy it while we can, in whatever way we can, without adding more mystery. Unless it’s what you need. In which it’s cool. Part of the mystery.”4

The algorithm’s coup de grace is to assign every terrestrial event or structure to three billion years of natural selection and emergent effects. The universe didn’t have to make apes or Einsteins here…or anywhere. But as long as it did, it played by its own rules.

Sid is hip enough to leave shades of nuance, but he still bottoms out the universe well short of itself—and the universe is who he is debating, not the fundamentalists. Intelligent Design and Creationism are no match for the algorithm anyway. Claims that living systems are too complex to be designed by random sequential choices imbed an omnipotent patriarch in a calculus that doesn’t need Him. Sid and his colleagues have the mathematics and molecules to back their argument up, with margin to spare. If the algorithm can make MRSA overnight, it can make an autogene or brain in three billion years—no problemo. It can flip phenomena into phenomenology and replicate them in self-differentiating blastulas billions of times a second on a planet. Class microbiologist Dusty Dowse nailed the lurking irony: “You are a fluke of the Universe. You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not, the Universe is laughing behind your back. Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be, Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin. With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. Give up.”3

His humor captures an underlying paradox. Whether life can arise from a dynamic disequilibrium of billiard-ball effects is both an epistemological and ontological question, for these converge. Science and religion are metanarratives that give rise to each other in a shifting dialectic. To build a universe from a collateral of interstellar hydrogen depends on whom we designate builder. An algorithm generating galaxies and roses, cobras and tardigrades, out of quarks and baling wire is a God generating them out of innate intelligence, or a nonlinear gyre, writing the flap of every butterfly’s wings and crawl of each amoeba’s jell on its ineffable hard drive.

 Beyond the paradigmatic crunch of fundamentalist Biblicism and fundamentalist scientism lie the actual vastness and complexity, from nebulae and seas to the orbits of electrons and dives of jellyfish—what Alfred North Whitehead called “process and reality.” But Sid does a masterful job decimating most of the phenomena I discuss in this book:

“Why, for example, if past lives/reincarnation are a thing, do so few people—mere handfuls, compared to all the lives lived and living—think they know of them? Why only under ‘hypnosis?’ What would be ‘the point,’ if there’s no recollection? I watch my grandson discover the world and find it wondrous; but I see no evidence of influence of a prior life. (Why not, at least, be born knowing how to use a toilet?) If everything must be relived and re-acquired and re-learned, is there a point to it? Doesn’t seem like part of a larger truth. And I can’t help but be tied to the notions of self and brain function. I suppose reincarnation is a gift given only to a few. Do all of those have access to their prior lives? What distinguishes them from the billions and billions who don’t and didn’t? If my mom’s in heaven, did she go there in her final state of dementia? Or did she unwind to a certain point? Age 60? 20? Did she get to choose? If not, how does it work? And what of children who die agonizing and premature deaths at the hand of our loving god? Do they stay three years old? Or do they age like bottles of wine? It’s pretty clear, neurophysiologically, that who we are is intimately related to what goes on in our brains. Does metabolism have a heavenly form? If our souls are that which is independent of such matters, in what way do we relate, in heaven or wherever people like me will find themselves, to who we were? If it’s an entirely different existence lasting for all of eternity, what’s the point this immeasurably brief time in physical form? If it’s a test-run to determine our level of reward, isn’t it a little disproportionate? It’d be like having my two-year-old grandson take the SAT and determine the rest of his life from that. Only a billion trillion zillion times more unfair. If god has a plan for us all, why not just plunk us into heaven and get it over with? Less than the single vibration of an electron, in cosmic time, to determine all eternity?”6

All reasonable, logical points by an astute retired surgeon. But in presuming that these are the right questions to ask of the universe, Sid assumes that the logic he expects the universe to follow is the “logic” it is following. The universe is not that stupid or vagrant. It is capable of handling multiple contradictions while running a full algorithm?

Sid is playing possum, bottoming himself out prematurely. His checklist of paradoxes merely shows the universe’s complexity in the context of limitations inherent in our view. The goal should be to bottom out himself and universe simultaneously.

The only map of the territory is the territory, and the territory is infinite.

What Sid and other scientistic liberals miss is their own subtext. Hiding behind rationalism and empiricism is a corporate takeover of reality, a marriage of science and capitalism providing commodities for markets. The algorithm has been blackmailed into converting human existence into cashflow and masking the theft in its own quantitative depth. Poet Charles Stein exposes the agenda:

“Today’s financial sphere already has manifested ten times as much money as is required to buy everything in the world; but in principle an infinite amount of money is available because no limit can control the infinite production of numbers. You need the numbers in excess of everything that you need to count it for. But then, you need infinite numbers to count the numbers, and you need money to measure the possible price of money forever. ‘That one man must eventually have all the money’ (Ed Dorn) used to be called a proof of the existence of god….

until the bottom in reality falls out and there is nothing
but number, nothing but information, nothing
but MONEY
computers in vacuo
having discovered how to provide themselves
with the minimal hardware and electricity
to keep them computing . . . and the entire informable universe
decrypted as a database

simultaneously transparent and unhackable
a non-duality of clarity and opacity

when consciousness disappears into computability

and the stone of the wise
degrades.
7

A bizarre twist has been put on things. Modernity’s mirror has gone flat and noncongruent—but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there.

Ask the universe what’s happening, guys! Don’t tell the universe what it’s doing. Ask it! There’s no downside. We are doing it all the time anyway.

Bottom out your own latency.

 

Multipersonhood

Multipersonhood was systematized by John Friedlander using a model developed by Jane Roberts through her channeling of Seth. Simultaneously he advanced the theosophical thread of Helen Blavatsky, C. W. Ledbetter, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey, who themselves adapted an ancient Hindu transmission, aspects of which eluded even its Vedic originators. Its intergalactic, meta-dimensional aspect met the theosophists’ own Victorian biases and cultural filter, so they limited its range until Seth entered the picture with John. You couldn’t have Philip K. Dick flying a UFO through Nicholas Nickleby.

 

Multipersonhood is an umbrella term for the concept that every sentient being in the universe is part of a multidimensional network. Its seemingly alienated and vulnerable subjective awareness is made up of other consciousnesses that radiate through it to create an ever-changing subjectivity that continues to expand and differentiate at multiple levels of consciousness and unconsciousness and to explore something incomprehensibly larger than itself. Each member of the ’hood, while resonating at its own frequency, is receiving energies and information from other members. It knows them not as what they are but as what it is. Its awareness of itself as part of group is every bit as real as its awareness of itself as an individual, but it is almost entirely subliminal. Jane Roberts puts this in Sethian terms:

“The conscious self is only one aspect of our greater reality … the part that springs into earthknowing … because through it we perceive our three-dimensional life. It contains within it, however, traces of the unknown or ‘source self’ out of which it constantly emerges….1

“Since the focus personality can only handle so much data in its time system, it chooses from the field of the unconscious only those perceptions it wants to accept in line with its beliefs about its own reality….2

At the same time, it is “fully engaged as that consciousness knowing itself simultaneously as each of the others…. You are unconsciously aware of the experiences of ‘your’ counterparts, as they are of yours, and you use that information to round out your own.”3 All knowledge and beingness in the universe supports all other knowledge and beingness.

If Multipersonhoods are a real thing, they would be too vast and probabalistic to depict or poll. They might hypothetically include any of the following:

  • A person’s Atman or original spark
  • His/her soul as that concept is understood in theosophy.
  • Other human beings linked to oneself, either individually or in group souls across lifetimes.
  • Consciousnesses in other dimensions.
  • Group souls on other planes.
  • Gravitational orbs like the Earth and the Sun. As large as the Sun is (1,300,000 times the size of the Earth), it is no more autonomous than a beetle, as it supports our lives with generosity, neutrality, and empathy.
  • Other terrestrial zooids, including invertebrates.

The core intelligence of an insect or mollusk resides in its organs and instincts. If you look at a bee or a crab, you can see superconscious energy operating subconsciously.

  • One-celled mites in ponds and water droplets.

Every terrestrial organism is made up of free-living cells, themselves composites of the organelles that conduct their metabolism. These “are not simply minute, handy, unseen particles that happen to compose [our] organs.” They maintain their own vibration and the intelligence of their lineage. “There is no need to … think of them as little people, but each of them possesses a highly focused consciousness, and a consciousness of self…. There are different kinds of selfhood, and an infinite variety of ways to experience self-awareness.”4

No life form can exist outside its ecosystem and the creatures in the biosphere that sustain it. But the biological field is also a psychic field. Try to feel the vibrational intelligence of the myriad cells that make up your body and mental life; then extend that vibration to a composite clairsentient entity: “[C]onsciousness unites all physical matter.”5

  • Life forms in other solar systems. We are tucked in a remote corner of a stellar cluster we call the Milky Way on the fringes of a Laniakea supercluster of 100,000 galaxies stretching over 500 million light years. Consider the galaxies and suns in just the mapped portion of the universe: trillions of planets, life forms, and civilizations.
  • Psychoids (elves, leprechauns, mermaids, yetis) that meet us at other frequencies.
  • Dreamtime beings. A spirit born as a kangaroo, dolphin, or echidna here may be one of many dream bodies of an entity residing elsewhere.
  • Differently vibrating forms like plants and stones. Rocks have nascent modes of consciousness insofar as they are composed of “intelligently” organized atomic states. Their “minds” are not our kind of minds; they don’t use mentation we would recognize.

Our own prior and future selves, in this lifetime as well as others, are part of our Multipersonhood. From infancy through childhood into adolescence and through adult life, you are not the same person, yet you have a uniquely intimate relationship to your earlier and later phases. Jane Roberts muses on this poignantly:

“[W]e savor our memories, secret from all others; recall in old age, for example, the endless lost Mondays and Tuesdays when we tucked our children (now grown) into bed, or talked through a thousand separate suppers….

“The mother may envision the future man or woman in the child who sits in the highchair; and the old woman may see in the face of her grown son or daughter the child that was. In greater terms, each exist at once—young, old, born, dying—in an ‘at once’ or spacious present that happens to be large enough to contain our lives.”6

The existential core of a Multipersonhood is emanating from outside of time through provisional realities of temporal and composite beings, so it is held together by parameters of consciousness and meaning organized is ways our conscious Earth self does not consider. Roberts describes particles “flowing from the source self into physical materialization. Each source self forms many such particles or ‘aspect selves’ that impinge upon three-dimensional reality, striking our space-time continuum. Others are not physical at all, but have their existences in completely different systems of reality. Each aspect self is connected to the other, however, through the common experience of the source self, and can to some degree draw on the knowledge, abilities, and perceptions of the other aspects.”7

There are probably dimensions (and universes) in which time is not a linear organizing factor and past and future lives converge in different ways. There are not only certain pasts with certain futures but, while we live in one probability, others are branching off.  Events imagined or considered or halted persist as “concentrations of energy formed unconsciously by us adjacent to our living areas.”8 Every path not taken, because of its karmic potential, gets expressed somewhere. In Sethian terms, “Each of your thoughts and actions exist not only in the manner with which you are familiar with them, but also in many other forms that you do not perceive: forms that may appear as natural events in a different dimension than your own, as dream images, and even as self-propelling energy. No energy is ever lost. The energy within your own thoughts, then, does not dissipate even when you yourself have finished with them. Their energy has reality in other worlds….”9

Once we reconceive time as an energy, probable lives become part of our Multipersonhood, affecting its collective intelligence and identity: “[E]ach present action changes the past, for those past events were only the mountain tops or three-dimensional tips of far greater happenings. Each act causes the surface crust of time and space to shift slightly. Probable events are the psychological pre-acts from which physical events emerge: the creative inner stuff from which actions take earth form…. We come from within, not from above. We also seed other earths with our probable selves; these never happen at our intersection point, though they may spring off it.”10 They generate “alternate earth histories still happening, and as real as our own. Any number of consecutive years, say, from 1900 to 1980 are experienced in infinite ways,” for instance, the Titanic missing the iceberg or Hitler never coming to power in Germany—they are “endlessly growing out of the medium of the system itself,”11 creating the greater meta-reality.

The inhabitants of each probable world remain unaware of their “neighbors” because the event horizons of each are discrete. Each self is free “to program its own journey, choose [its] dimensional spot—the time and place of [its] growth…seeds of which we are usually unaware, dreams and thoughts that escape from us as easily as leaves from an autumn tree. These live in dimensions apart from our being, yet they are aspects of us and carry our potentials within them. Perhaps they are future ghosts of ourselves, mental patterns that will some day be filled with form and walk this earth or a different one, in a space and time that will be theirs, not ours….”12

Roberts herself “is convinced that in some probable earth-like world, I am not writing this book. I may not be a writer at all or I may live in a civilization where reading is unknown. My potential as a writer, there, would remain latent….”13

 

Some forms of Multipersonhood are familiar to us in more conventional paranormal and psychospiritual guises. Anthropologist Michael Harner explains how guides encountered on shamanic journeys in other worlds and dimensions are sometimes spirits of plants, animals, ancestors, devas, gods, or ancestors. These entities do not even have to know that they are serving as spiritual teachers, for their beingness is in many places at once. (When persons are conflated or combined with one another in dreams, it may also be that they are one another in a larger dimensional framework.)

Seemingly chance events may draw a person to his or her teacher. Harner provides instances from the archives of his Shamanic Institute. Guides both are and are not historic entities they resemble, and can also be presently living people unknown to the journeyer. In one such account, a seeker regularly received dream instruction from “an old man in the Upper World who inhabited a cabin in an unknown countryside.” The aspiring shaman was driving along a waking road in California when he came to a beautiful canyon and pulled over there on impulse. Drawn to follow a path, he “arrived at a cabin almost identical to the Upper World one of my spirit teacher. There was even a similar fence around it.”

He felt compelled to knock on the door. The young man who answered graciously invited him in. After entering, the traveler saw “in the dim light an elderly man half-reclining on a couch. He turned his head toward me and smiled…. I recognized him as being my teacher in the Upper World or, rather, being an aging ordinary-reality version of my teacher in the Upper World.”

They talked for a while, and the visitor discovered that this version of his guide was a landscape painter who had been forced to halt his work because of an incurable illness. Furthermore, he had been suffering from the illness for almost exactly the time period in which the initiate had known him as his teacher.

“I did not tell him about my teacher, but on some level he seemed to know something. He said that I seemed familiar to him, and he gave me a print of one of his paintings haltingly inscribed, ‘To My Old Friend.’”

After the painter died two years later, he continued to serve as an Upper World guide.14

 

A Multipersonhood is not a sociable gathering or affinity group. Members can be enemies, infantrymen in opposing armies, predator and prey, rivals for the same romantic partner—or romantic partners. Cross-fertilization feeds the greater consciousness, as it resolves dualities and contradictions in new unities. Opposition supplies the larger entity with comprehensive knowledge toward becoming whole.

When Seth began to refer to Multipersonhood in his later chanelings, he implicitly inverted two of Buddhism’s central recognitions: “interdependent origination” and “impermanence.” In Buddhism these lead inevitably to suffering, the only remedy being to achieve nonduality. In Sethian ontology they lead to a “play of desire in which each and every desire is already fulfilled in its richest form.”15 And though all these constituent gestalts arise interdependently, each single identity is nevertheless sacred and meaningful in its own terms and for its own self, though always and also for others and always in conversation with everything that is.

In the one dimension of the physical Earth’s time, eternal change is observed to lead only to the dissolution of all forms. But when you look in all dimensions, the subjectivity of every gestalt continues meaningfully and identifiably in numerable directions even though its separate forms come and go.

We cannot understand or appreciate our lives as what they actually are without being open to how these larger consciousnesses are a part of our separate individuality.

Multipersonhood allows the cherishing of everyday dualistic experience in its own terms and for its own purposes.16 As Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki told a friend of mine in the early seventies, “If it isn’t disappearing, it isn’t real.”

 

How might we characterize spirts like Seth in terms of Multipersonhood, entities that describe themselves as composites of thousands of individual souls and Group Souls comprised of individuals who have completed many incarnations and cycles of incarnation on one or more worlds? (Others include “Michael,” “the Pleiadian Council,” “Kryon,” and the author of The Course in Miracles.) I don’t have even provisional answers, but the phenomenon is more complicated than it appears.

Channeling is not just a transfer of exogenous information. It is instantaneous dissemination by a superconscious entity into “coherent, valid, and faithful” surrogate energy patterns17 that transcend space-time and limits imposed by the speed of light—transmission without transmission. The material gets received when there is enough of a match between it and a recipient for the medium to pick up the vibrational pattern without making it his or her own thoughts. Some naïve channeling does just this, as exemplified by the litany of New Age bromides emanating from Orion, Sirius, the Pleiades, etc.

The superconscious source doesn’t have a voice in an anatomical sense, but the voice the medium adopts is “much like the one” that the entity would have if it were human.18 The entity appropriates the channel’s language and vocabulary,19 since it must operate at his or her level of knowledge and phase of development; it “cannot force from him, from his vocal mechanism, concepts with which he is entirely unfamiliar.”20 It also must “introduce [new material] step by step,” and the recipient must consent to the concepts as he or she interprets them speech-wise with the entity’s assistance, using his or her own associations to get to “the proper subject or image.”21

Sometimes the medium inserts a word or phrase that, by logic, is wrong. But that is how words store energy. The essence behind the transmission is ostensibly altering atoms and changing their charges and pulsation rates in both the medium’s body and the consciousnesses that receive the message, so the emphasis is on vibrational as well as semantic meaning.22

When an entity calling itself Seth manifested to Jane Roberts in Elmira, New York, in 1963—initially through a Ouija board—she was tapping into a higher-dimensional intelligence field whose name at her frequency was “Seth.” Seth was but “one multidimensional aspect of many; one characteristic … of a kind of entity we can hardly comprehend.”23 When presented with her personality and intelligence and Earth’s stage of civilization, it attuned itself to that level of listening.

When (and if) another person (not Jane) channels the same energy, it might or might not identify itself as Seth. A different entity might also be mistakenly recognized by a channeler as Jane’s “Seth.”

Seth insisted that Jane and he were independent beings. “[I do not] use Ruburt as a puppet, and stuff his mouth with tapes as a recorder: …I am not some spooky Big Brother experiencing his reality for him!”24 [Ruburt is Seth’s name for Jane, “the closest translation, in your terms, for the name of the whole self or entity of which (Jane) is now a self-conscious part”25]

He described himself as a facet of Jane’s Multipersonhood, an aspect not accessible to her ego configuration. He was already part of her future self, so he could match her vibration. Jane was becoming Seth, or was already Seth in another probability or future state, so she was contacting a dormant, evolving aspect of herself, a future self, broadcasting to her present identity, drawing “plain Jane” into a network of which she was already part.

Seth was also a form of her returning from a future incarnation to address himself. Roberts considers, “Would a Seth, experiencing a Jane, think of her as a lesser developed personality…? He would be me in my present time, developing abilities that would later let him be him…..26

“Ruburt is not myself now, in his present life; he is nevertheless an extension and materialization of the Seth that I was at one time…. Ruburt was myself, Seth, many centuries ago, but he grew, evolved and expanded in terms of a particular, personal set of value fulfillments. He is now an actual gestalt, a personality that was one of the probable personalities into which Seth could grow. I represent another. I am another.”27

Seth is, conversely, Jane’s “higher dimensionalized ghost… drawn from the earth’s entire existence…[including] other earths, probable to us, with different intersections with space and time; other living areas and other historic pasts than our own…..”28 She says, “[H]is psychological reality straddled worlds in a way I couldn’t understand. I sensed a multidimensionality of personality that I couldn’t define … a deep part of the structure of my psyche, but also a definite personification of a multi-world or multi-reality consciousness that may well be beyond our present ideas of personhood.”29

“I am a part of your unknown reality,” Seth inserts, “and you are a part of mine…. I am what I call a bridge personality, composed of a composite self—Ruburt and I meeting to form a personality that is not truly either of us, but a new one that exists between dimensions….30 a ‘trans-world’ entity, a personagram—an actual personality formed in the psyche at the intersection point of [her] focus personality with another aspect31 [with] separate existence in his own dimensions and as it is reflected in her psyche….”32

“Seth is what I am, and yet I am more than Seth is. Seth is, however, independent, and continues to develop as I do….”33

“I was not the Ruburt that Ruburt is. My experiences as Ruburt were different, and Ruburt’s experiences as Seth, in those terms, will be different. Ruburt will be a different Seth than I am.”34

When Jane channeled messages from a seemingly different source, Seth told her that she had contacted a higher-dimensional form of himself. He named it Seth 2. She later channeled other high frequencies, including the Sumari, which Seth described as “a psychic family or… guild of consciousnesses who worked together through the centuries.”35 Sumari is one of many encryptions transmitted psychically as a signal, but it “is not a language, since it was not spoken verbally by any group of people…. [I]t is a language that is at the base of all languages, and from which all languages spring…. The living vitality of the cordella rises out of the universe’s need to express and understand itself, to form in ever-changing patterns and take itself by surprise.”36 (“Cordella,” Seth added, is the Sumari word for Multipersonhood.)

Seth deconstructed his identity in speeches to Jane’s classes (April 17, 1973 and January 29, 1974):

“So I ask you: ‘What is your name, each of you? My name is nameless. I have no name. I give you the name of Seth because it is a name and you want names…. You believe that you cannot speak to me unless I have a name, so I am Seth. I told Ruburt from our earliest sessions that he could call me Seth. I never said, ‘My name is Seth…..’

“Who is Seth?  …On the one hand I am someone you do not know, lost before the annals of time as you understand it….

“On the other hand, I am yourself…so through me do you view and meet the selves that you are, and so I rise, in your terms, from the power and antiquity and glory of your own being, projected outward into the world of time from a universe in which time is meaningless….

“Each of you…project upon me those characteristics that are your own in other terms, and so I am a multidimensional being as you are multidimensional beings….

“I speak with the voices that, in your terms, come from centuries yet unborn. Yet these are the voices that you, yourselves, have whispered from the fossils of your being, when you were (in your terms now) unthinking selves on sunlit cliffs in worlds unknowing. And projected by your desire, these voices then speak to you and urge you to your own fulfillment….

“For there (in the deepest reaches of your being), is a greater reality that knows your present existence and looks upon it with the fondest, the dearest, the most familiar of memories; a reality that has grown, in your terms, into entities indescribably vast; realities that form worlds more complex than the one in which you now dwell.

“And yet also, through that channel of being you will also find fossil cells that are not yet selves, that have not yet grouped into complex organisms, but that lie filled with the desire of being, filled with the desire of God, for fulfillment and thought and complexity…selves that will become entities; fossils of yourselves that still, in certain terms, contain memories of the selves that you are.

“As they wander in what seems to you to be a dark world; as they seek toward a sun that is your brain; as they journey over unknown cliffs, seeking recognition; so do you wander within worlds of greater selves that you are, seeking for the rays of other suns that are the brains of your own greater being. So are you all one, and so is my voice speaking from your own greater being—from which you are forever born and always reborn….

“The smallest cell in your toe dreams of your reality and helps to create it, as you dream of the smallest cell’s reality and help create it….

“You move your hand and touch your face, and what realities do you stir, and what seasons do you cause to fall upon other worlds—and how, as you lift your finger and touch your face—do you stir ponds of reality? What frogs sit by the ponds that you have stirred, and what winds blow with the power of your thoughts? …Your lips curve and tremble, and the muscles move across your face, and as they do the wind blows in other universes.”37

This reality is running so close to our beingness arising in relation to it that we do not experience our heft or how vast and neutral the situation is. While the universe is creating our reality, we are creating its. We are because it is. But it is because we are. This paradox goes all the way to the bottom—whatever that turns out to be, whoever we turn out to be when we get there.

Pick any song you want, and it begins to sound like Sumari after a few bars. I’ll take Jo Stafford singing, “Poor Wayfarin’ Stranger.”

“I know dark clouds will gather round me,
I know my way is rough and steep,
But beauteous fields lie just before me,
Where men redeemed their vigils keep.”

 

                               Personal Identity

In September 2016, while trying to get to sleep, I entered a hypnagogic rowboat that was supposed to ferry passengers like one that had just departed the shore. The moment I got in, it began moving, with no captain and only me. It was being pulled on a rope by the boat in front of me, full of passengers. I knew we were going over the falls and I braced myself.

My craft was suddenly tiny, a mere log. I was hugging it like a float as I was swept over the edge. I didn’t crash into the water at the bottom. It drifted like a parachute. Then everything changed. I was penetrating a structure, initially solid and rock-like, then flaking, flake after flake, slicing away at fractal speed. As I pervaded a hologram-liked density, I understood that not only was it infinite, but I would continue to go through it, long after my life. It was who I was.

 

  1. What Is Personal Identity?

While differing on its nature and how to model it, psychologists retain Freud’s etiology. Where primal biological energy—Freud called it the id—penetrates the epigenetically emerging membrane, a provisional identity forms, a nascent ego, which contacts the world (its environment) from protean feelings. The habitat/society in which it develops imposes its own strictures and mores, grafting a superego.

Self is the thermodynamic charge of the id individuated by the ego and socialized by the superego.

In psychospiritual terms a dimensionless spirit contacts its own karmic predispositions and forms a transient identity.

Personal identity differs from consciousness in that it recognizes itself as itself. That is a game-changer, even in as simple an entity as a worm. As noted earlier, consciousness can run on autopilot without ego awareness—a robot has artificial intelligence—but personal identity is what makes consciousness conscious. It is how individual beingness comes to know itself and that it exists, and it changes the universe. As biologist George Wald put it, “A physicist is the atom’s way of knowing about atoms.”1

The surprise is how creatures take to it like ducks to water. “[T]he miracle of physical materialization is performed so smoothly and automatically that consciously you are not aware of your part in it….. Nature is created from within.”2

Painter Charles Rasmussen, a keen observer, noticed a bumblebee tumbling in the pollen of a wild rose. It caught his attention because the bee seemed to be enjoying itself.

It got better: a spider who had made his web in the same rugosa was perturbed by the intruder’s roll of entitlement. He jabbed at the wanker repeatedly with one of his legs.

As the spider’s pokes disturbed its nectar bath, the bee became agitated. It interrupted its rapture and, buzzing, shot out of the stamens, got a flying start of a few yards, and dive-bombed the fucknut, whacking him so hard he was nearly plunked out of his own web.

If that’s not personal identity, and motive as well as road rage, what in Sam Crow is it? An algorithm run amok? Chemicals under proto-libidinal charge hitting tipping points via trillionfold quantum switches? Atomic strings synapsing through their own uncertainty states into microtubules and ganglionic webs? There are not enough neurons in a spider or bee to achieve “I,” so who is poking—and who is having its reverie disturbed?

An oft-cited materialist apologia for consciousness is the Penrose-Hameroff brand of so-called quantum free will of electrons and their collapse. In this gerrymandered model, electrons transmit uncertainty states through microtubules into nerve nets and into eventually modes of awareness that personify the terms of uncertainty.

How might quantum switches and microtubular tunnels transfer incipient symbols from layers ruled by entropy to others bound by the same random heat effects? How would free-range quantum states get transmuted into microtubules discretely enough to hold the charge or weight of a concept? How could the uncertainty state of a subatomic particle become the uncertainty state of a pollen-bathing bee and serve its affidavit?

How can a princess perceive a pea through mattresses as bottomless and diffuse as matter?

Physicist Arthur Zajonc was probably smiling when he told philosopher William Irwin Thompson: “Quantum effects are a mystery, and mind is a mystery. So when we say that mind shows quantum effects, we think we have said something.”

Quantum entanglement only translates across zones of very tiny things into other quantum states. You can’t quantum-entangle horses; meteors never get entangled. Yet paradoxically you don’t have to quantum-entangle horses for them to be quantum-entangled. The quantum universe is not stowed behind subatomic barriers where it safely sizzles away without impact on thermodynamics or behavior. It is just as Newtonian and Freudian. Its quantum aspect is intrinsic and takes place in every atom in every molecule of every nervous system at every instant. We are quantum-based beings. Quantum mechanics is what makes the Newtonian universe Newtonian, albeit a dark horse in Newton’s time.

“The quintessential quantum effect, entanglement,” physicist Vlatko Vedral avows, “can occur in large systems as well as warm ones—including living organisms…. those effects are camouflaged by their own sheer complexity. They are there if you know how to look… and are more pervasive than anyone ever suspected. They may operate in the cells of our body.”3

If horses weren’t quantum-entangled, they wouldn’t be conscious (they wouldn’t even have mass); but I would argue, contrary to Penrose, they are not conscious because they are entangled, they are entangled because they are conscious. The physical realm expresses quantum entanglement not because of its subatomic particles but because of an underlying entangled state that gives rise to both. “[P]hysicists can only theorize and work on probabilities in quantum research, whereas magicians, whether they have known it or not, manipulate the quanta themselves in practice … with the mind’s non-physical eye.”4

This twining of matter, consciousness, and magic goes back to the cosmic origination point. Seth puts his characteristic spin on the original of identity:

“All That is, before the beginning, contained within itself the infinite thrust of all possible creations. All That Is possessed a creativity of such magnificence that its slightest imaginings, dreams, thoughts, feelings or moods attained a kind of reality, a vividness, an intensity, that almost demanded freedom….

“The experience, the subjective universe, the “mind” of All That Is, was so brilliant, so distinct, that All That Is almost became lost, mentally wandering within this ever-flourishing, ever-growing interior landscape. Each thought, feeling, dream, or mood was itself indelibly marked with all the attributes of this infinite subjectivity. Each glowed and quivered with its own creativity, its own desire to create as it had been created….

“Thoughts of such magnificent vigor began to think their own thoughts—and their thoughts thought thoughts. As if in divine astonishment and surprise, All That Is began to listen, and began to respond to these ‘generations’ of thoughts and dreams, for the thoughts and dreams related to each other also….

“It is very difficult to try to assign anything like human motivation to All That Is. I can only say that it is possessed by the ‘need’ to … lovingly transform its own reality in such a way that each most slight probable consciousness can come to be; and with the need to see that any and all possible orchestrations of consciousness have the chance to emerge, to perceive and to love.”5

 

In Woody Allen’s movie Café Society, a husband tells his wife he’s not afraid of death. The wife says, “You’re too stupid to understand the implications.”

Allen’s joke has two meanings: one, the husband is too stupid to realize that his identity vanishes for good. In the words of another movie character (Clint Eastwood as William Munny in Unforgiven), “Death takes away everything you have and everything you’re going to have.”

The second is that death opens you to your greater being. It gives you everything you have and everything you are going to have. To be any single thing forever would likely lead to dementia and run out of bandwidth and memory. Plus, for some creatures, death is the only release from servitude or pain; it is “the way out of what would otherwise be a dimensional dilemma in which further development would be impossible.”7

For the ego, the universe goes black, but the ego was one form of the soul and Multipersonhood. “[I]ts inviolate nature is not betrayed. It is simply no longer physical….  [It] knows it exists beyond its form.”6

At each death, the Source “I” reemerges from its ego identity as the recently lived life melds with the fractal monad of Divine Consciousness, the sum of all its incarnations. Its “consciousness is condensed [like a Black Hole] and ‘born back’ into the same probable system….”8

In Multipersonhood, past and future selves are part of a greater personal identity. Each life is not only a future life to any past life, it is a past life to any future one. James Huston is a past life of James Leininger, but James Leininger is a future self of James Huston.

“Past life” is an answer to a false question. Each lifetime stands—and can only stand—in relationship to the sum of all incarnations. One day, believe it or not, everything about the universe—everything—will be walk-out-the-door different, only there will be no door, no “where.” A physicist would not recognize it. Yet the part of you that knows itself as you will be there. That’s personal identity.

 

  1. The Fallacy of Life Extension

An egoic identity seems short, as even a Big Bang universe does—anything less than eternity is short. Some Silicon Valley billionaires don’t fancy death’s interruption of their sprees. Larry Ellison (Oracle), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are collectively funding cryonics: freezing and storing bodies to be defrosted in a far future epoch when a cure has been concocted for death or at least most fatal diseases.

Freezing a brain or body for later defrosting not only depends on a hypothetical industry’s capacity to preserve, recover, and reconstruct personal identity without terminal damage from frost and thawing, but to reboot it with a memory of itself.

Transhumanists, as these guys are called, also believe that machine intelligence will eventually match and surpass human intelligence, a tipping point they hail as Consciousness Singularity. Since they also believe that all experiences and feelings are the output of data points, if the points can be identified and gathered, the experience can be simulated down to the minutest detail—what it is and what it means. Then freezing won’t be needed—existence can be loaded directly onto a hard drive.

Computer scientists set the current data expenditure of one brain at about half the world’s current digital storage capacity—an insurmountable obstacle for copying whole minds—but they cite continued miniaturization with exponential increases in computing power, a process that has gone from building-size mainframes to personal cell phones in less than a generation. As this ratio continues to improve, it will (they assume) approach a speculative mapping of all the connections in a person’s brain—a Connectome—which can then be copied and archived cost-effectively and used to rekindle selfhood in another body or without a body.

One post-Singularity plan is to inject nanobots (nanorobots) into bloodstreams to scan folks’ brains and wirelessly upload the electrical patterning. Robotic by-pass is predicated on keeping the brain’s holograph intact so that it can be 3-D-copied and then resurrected.

But how? How do you even find the mind? “By now all sections of the brain have been probed down to the molecular level [with] no trace or imprint of a thought … found within its tissue”9

Nanobot copying infers that “mind” is what the brain is computing—that digital content is concomitant with “being.” But if consciousness cannot be captured in a Connectome, cybernetic resurrection is of no use. At best, it will produce zombies lacking self-reference, let alone auras or souls. It is more likely to generate meaningless static. Nanobots can’t capture ground luminosity in silicon, iridium, and tin. Cryopreservation is a death cult posing as a technology of life.

Even presuming success at these tasks—an unwarranted concession—there remain significant hurdles. For instance, a personality that can be copied is, by definition, not unique. While its clones may each have the memory of the original to the point of transfer, each new entity would continue as its own separate identity. One person would fission into a number of separate people.

Plus, what would you “do” in a world in which “you” are a computer file—certainly not pilates or yoga? All you can do is think-think-think, e.g., drive yourself nuts.

Putting one’s eggs in the basket of cryopreservation and AI combines machine worship with idolatry of the real. Transit of “souls” between hardware units replaces reincarnation.

This is a lot of work for nothing, especially given that, as noted earlier in this book, computers are clunky simulations of brains. If, using only his mind, idiot savant Daniel Tammet of Barking, England can multiply four nine-digit numbers by each other, derive fractional square roots, and calculate pi into the twenty-thousand digits, and Russell Targ can instantaneously view military installations across oceans, what else don’t we know about consciousness?

Immortality is already imbedded in the “hard drive” of the aura. Singularity exists in shamanic journeying and Rainbow Bodies. We were uploaded (or downloaded) into life by a technology so elegant as to make imitations as lame as they are inoperable.

It is worth noting that no one, even cryopreserved, will be around when the Sun novas or the Milky Way and Andromeda collide. You may say that that’s a long way off, but why develop an immortality tactic that will someday be useless? Even if members of our species construct ships to get our descendants to another solar system or galaxy—an unlikely enterprise—we’re still up shit’s creek when the universe collapses, terminating all business. Better to rethink the equation.

Hundreds of billions of years is a very long time, but it is not forever.

Long before that, wannabe immortals will be subject to highway accidents, rattlesnake bites, spider toxins, murders, and the daily spinning of the goddesses Atropos, Lachesis, and Clotho. The universe doesn’t want us hanging around forever. And the universe is not some dumb squatter—it has a say in the matter.

At this point you might enjoy a couple of dialogues from the slacker movie Suburbia.

Jeff: “Jesus Christ, nothing makes a difference in the first fucking place. Nothing ever changes, man. Fifty years from now, we’re all gonna be dead. And there’ll be new people standing here, drinking beer, eating pizza, bitching and moaning about the price of Oreos and they won’t even know we were ever here, and then fifty years after that, those suckers will be dust and bones, and there’ll be all these generations of suckers trying to figure out what the fuck they’re doing on this fucking planet, and they’ll all be full of shit. It’s all so fucking futile!”

Tim: “If it’s all so fucking futile, what the fuck are you so fucking upset about, fuckhead?”

And then:

Buff: “If I were in his shoes [his rock-star buddy], every morning I’d get up singing, man. I’d do my workout, take a shower, followed by a hearty breakfast of steak and eggs washed down with a pot of hot coffee and a six-pack of Coors Light. Then I’d order my bodyguard to go find my babe, who would appear decked out in her all-black leather Victoria’s Secret custom-made body suit so I’d, like, have to chew off all her clothes until she was completely nude, except she’d have these amazing dragon tattoos all over her body and pierced nipples with little gold peace signs hangin’ from ’em. And then she’d take out this half-ounce of blow and snap out a few Mongol lines and we’d vaporize a few million brains cells, screw for about an hour, then spend the rest of the morning trashed, watching…Gilligan.”

Jeff: “That sounds so great, man, yes. Hey, what would you do in the afternoon?”

Buff: “Same—more of the same.”

Jeff: “Yeah?”

Buff: “Just keep doin’ the same thing all the time, around and around the clock, with an occasional burger or slice thrown in for our vitamins and energy. [head-bangs street sign] Ow, man. And then instead of watching Gilligan we’d watch…Captain Kirk.”

Jeff: “That sounds so depressing.”

Buff: “Oh come on, man, tell me you wouldn’t love it!”

Jeff: “No, I’m not saying I wouldn’t love it. No, I’m saying that after a while it’d wear thin.”

Buff: “Yeah, a long while. A long, long while….  A long, long, long while.”

Jeff: “Okay, okay.”

Buff: “A long, long, long—”10

 

Transhumanists trick themselves by a volte-face of illusion and reality, like trying to stay in a dream. We only build castles of light, write books and laws of electrons, build cities of vibrating strings. Our cosmology, religions, and databases are written in quarks and protons. None of it will, can, or should last—neither the most indomitable cyclotron and cathedral nor the most exquisite sonnet of Shakespeare or sculpture of Michelangelo. If it can be tossed into a fire, let alone fires trillions of times the size of our sun-star, its ass will get razed to less than a neutrino, and then not even that.

But erasure is liberation. The heat deaths of temporal fires like the Sun and the supergalaxy mean nada to self-arising radiance. When the physical plane has been liquidated, crushed, cremated, or calcined in some fashion, the only thing that can escape, the only form that can epitomize its own obliteration, is also the only thing that the forces of materialism cannot get at. Everything else—everything that can be located—goes into the garbage disposal.

But if it can’t be found, it can’t get tossed into a compacter or macerated in a blue shift. Personal identity can’t be found unless it is ransomed it to an output of microtubules. Otherwise, it is unconditioned, self-arising, self-illuminating, self-authenticating.

Buddhist lamas propound that even if this planet were destroyed by nuclear bombs (or greenhouse gases), it would be recreated from its karma elsewhere in the universe, and that doesn’t just mean another planet in another galaxy; it means that the thoughtform generating this reality will continue generating it at a frequency of All That Is, and the rest will follow. If necessary, another universe will appear

This is where alchemy is senior to chemistry. You can’t destroy archetypes, you can only transmute and transubstantiate them.

 

  1. Is This Reality a Computer Simulation

What about the proposition that the universe is a computer simulation in which we have been created and programmed by super-beings in another universe (a “real” one)? Their screen-saver is starry night, a faux Milky Way against an imaginary dome. As the program hums along, a tree rustles in an ocean breeze. Erosion and tattering of the display—unraveling atomic debris at the edges—suggest spots where the super-technicians neglected to tie down the edges. Elon Musk lays the baseline trope:

“So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions. Tell me what’s wrong with that argument. Is there a flaw in that argument?”11

Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson concurs: “I think the likelihood may be very high.” Citing the gap between human and chimpanzee intelligence (while sharing more than 98 percent DNA), he proposes that somewhere in the cosmos are beings whose intelligence is as much greater than ours along the same scale. “We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence,” he adds. “If that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment.”12

“If I were a character in a computer game,” observes MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, “I would also discover eventually that the rules seemed completely rigid and mathematical. That just reflects the computer code in which it was written.”13

Reality as a cosmic computer simulation presupposes that the present technological trajectory is sustainable both politically and ecologically, and that the intelligence imbedded in computers will potentially exceed the reality in which computers are artifacts—The Matrix writ large. I see this less as a true riddle or even legitimate fantasy and more a symptom of a technology that has had such a fantastic run it has lost its sense of context and scale.

In any case, the challenge for the super-beings remains personal identity, theirs as well as ours. Is our recognition of ourselves, including our capacity to contemplate our reality as a computer simulation, built into the simulation by the designers? If so, is self-awareness a by-product of codes or does it arise on its own when the simulation is activated. Same question (by the way) to ask of test-tube-created life forms or AI robots: how (and when) do they know that they exist? Or is it “turtles all the way down (or up)?”

How did the simulation’s creators acquire their identity? Where in relation to the simulation are they situated? Around an X-box as large as the universe (or a projection of the universe)? Is their origin moleculo-atomic? If not, what made them? How did they get into their own universe? How did they get us into ours? Did they write us in quarks and molecules? Did they copy in their own template or design a new one?

Reality as a computer simulation intuits a truth without recognizing its meaning. Our reality is a simulation. When scientists turn their instruments on any dab of matter and look inside it, they find gateways to realms that are simultaneously incomprehensibly vast and incomprehensibly tiny. Space, time, and matter vanish.

Matter only looks like matter. That’s a simulation all right.

Physicists once thought to find bottom, but there is no bottom. Neither was there bottomlessness, just dissolution of form or transition to another mode of form.

What they proved was that the universe was not created in the way they would create a universe.

How can you tell a computer simulation from a program written in atoms and molecules? Best to move on to the next question….

 

  1. Why Is There Something Rather than Nothing?

Scientists consider the universe a routine break of particles or quantum fields, one of a series that randomly transfuse new universes from the debris of expended ones. Stuff concatenated not because the universe had intrinsic intelligence and complexity but because it had extrinsic algorithmic complexity. “Why” is not on the drawing board: “Shit just is.” I’ve covered this territory several times.

Conscious awareness and personal identity, the ’bots doing all the fussing and theorizing, arose ex nihilo from emergent effects of molecular compounds—creative novelty is sourced in chaos. Beingness never underwrote its own subjective expression, and its objective reality didn’t exist previously in any way, shape, or indication. And there is no alternate root or bottom to things.

What began as a local pool shot will vanish when the energy behind it has dissipated. All this will eventually seep back into nothingness. There was no template for it, so its tchotchkes are circumstantial, in effect nothing either. The script went: Nothing—Nothing—Nothing—Big Bang—bosons, fermions—atoms—molecules—algorithm. It will go: algorithm—algorithm—Nothing (perhaps forever). We “owe our physical existence to the chance conglomeration of certain atoms and molecules in the thickening scum of a primordial pond or ocean…atoms and molecules scattered by chance through the universe….”14 That’s all she wrote.

 

In a legendary, perhaps apocryphal final exam for a Harvard philosophy course, a professor asked his class one question: “Why?”

A student grabbed a test, scribbled in his bluebook for a few seconds, and vamoosed. He got an A.

He wrote, “Why not?”

I heard that story in high school and never liked it. The answer is too wise-guy and, if the exam wasn’t apocryphal, the professor was rewarding his own nihilism with an equally nihilistic A.

I prefer the “answer” of my Wittgensteinian friend Andy Lugg : “I figure things have to work some way and I could care less which way they do.”15

 

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there anything anywhere rather than nothing everywhere?

In order to grok what “something” means you have to grok “nothing.” Nothing means nothing: nothing now, nothing ever—no time, no space, no intimation of time or space or stuff. No top, bottom; no light, no darkness, no dimensions, no gravity or mass. No bluster, no bling.

It is hard to wrap your mind around. You have to shut everything down and fold it into not just nothing but the fact that it didn’t exist, nor did anything. Even the imagination of it intrudes, so you have to eradicate it before it can be thought. Ex post facto erasure is not “nothing” because if none of this should have come have come into being, there should be nothing to erase nor, for that matter, a difference between nothing and something. It is impossible to arrive at “nothing forever” once there is something, for a part of something is always pondering its narrow escape, intruding on pure absence.

Nonexistence has to settle for a provisional status, that this entire rigmarole arose of its own flukey, aimless accord. The universe was still, at core, nothing. But a difference somehow separated itself, black chips off a black pot.

“Something”—heat, gravity, light, etc., or their predecessors—made a fission. Each subsequent force or property arose from the propensity of a prior one. The algorithmic hen still squats on eternity laying its quantum-entangled particles and collapsing waves, and will, until the tension driving its existence exhausts itself. Then it will vamoose too.

Where did the Big Bang get its exotic inventory from, let alone enough of it that it could dilate spontaneously from a jujube to billions of galaxies with trillions of stars?

Scientists have no idea, but (like Andy) they don’t care.

“Because there is a law such as gravity,” wrote Stephen Hawking, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”16 

Painter/rockclimber James Moore dissents (in due modesty). “How can we get a universe as vast (millions of billions of galaxies) as this one arising in an instant from one point from nothing… all because of the laws of gravity? I’m no physicist but how can you have all that mass/energy exist the moment after a Big Bang, but not before? Gravity can explain the actions/reactions of that kind of mass but not its creation (gravity is what happens in the interaction between two objects having mass, and may well exist as a force without mass, but not without energy, and still the fundamental question of the cause of this gravity remains…)”17

“Spontaneous creation,” Hawking counters, “is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.” He suspects that M-theory, a string offshoot, will lead to the unified field “Einstein was hoping to find.”18

“Sorry Stephen,” says Moore, “but to try and explain the cause of the Big Bang as causeless spontaneous creation sounds like ‘blind faith’ to me.”19

Statisticians argue that there have been countless different and “failed” universes in a time frame dwarfing the Big Bang, which set the present clock ticking a tad under fourteen billion years ago, instigating local chronology. We happen to be in a spot where parameters converged, making “something” out of “nothing”—but ontologically that is still “nothing.” It could have remained nothing forever.

 

Now let’s evaluate “something.” For there be something, the Big Bang must be rooted in something, and the only thing available is intelligence.

If matter began as a thoughtform, it can never bottom out shallowly as materialists propose because it has limitless shape-changing resources. It can think anything, become anything, dream anything, and transform itself in every way possible. It can cross dimensions and wrap universes around one another.

Intrinsic luminosity connects conditional reality to the unconditioned basis of there being worlds and realities at all. The universe we inhabit annuls a universe that couldn’t exist. That’s why we exist and know we exist—and all those hypothetical “failed” universes lie in a bogus entelechy.

“More than 200 parameters [of the Universe] are exactly right for life to exist,” notes biologist Robert Lanza (no apparent relation to Adam). “If [the Big Bang] was one part in a millionth more powerful, it would have rushed out too fast for galaxies and worlds to be here. If the strong nuclear force were decreased by 2 percent, atomic nuclei would not hold together … hydrogen would be the only element in the universe. If the gravitational constant were decreased just [slightly] … just a hair, stars, including the sun, wouldn’t ignite.”20

Juggle a few variables, and a starry panoply would not have arisen or its stars would not have incubated elements for molecular life.

In “something’s” universe this is intelligence or divine energy and spirit.

In “nothing’s” universe it is the one in a trillion trillion tries that worked, and the fact that there is something (here or anywhere) will ultimately be proven a forgery and redound to prevailing and eternal nothingness, which is what was meant to be in the first place. Darkness again will rule the abyss.

Or it will turn into something else—same thing.

 

My own opinion is that no whirlpool or formless cloud spins in the middle of nowhere for no reason, for then the issue becomes which “nowhere” and for what “no-reason” and how does it hang in the middle of nowhere? Why create light and design and pull out all the stops rather than let random molecules develop motion? Why construct personal identity and a proxy universe from spare parts?

I can see how a random universe might centrifuge atoms and gravity out of its own empty scrap—maybe. I get that its formal and efficient causes can carry out deeds without a primary “uncaused” cause, though it seems extravagant, overly earnest, and a bit clumsy.

If a single particle that could fit on a pinhead (with room to spare) gave rise to this entire cosmos, it wasn’t a mote and it wasn’t spat out. It was a shadow, perhaps the negative kinetic space of an object of illimitable dimensions. “Something” was present in its vortex, not just something but everything: an alphabet writing on its own permutations. The Primal Flaring Forth (as cosmologist Brian Swimme retagged the Big Bang) was a white hole and shape-shifter, a puncture in higher dimension, “an innate energy of divine presence that is necessary for existence to manifest….”21 A universe of nothing can never be penetrated by “something.” “Physical matter by itself could never produce consciousness.”22

The Big Bang was the measurable aspect of a cascading, crescendoing torrent from subtler tiers of information seeping into Monadic, Atmic, Causal, Astral, and Etheric planes until it manifested as a physical universe that pretended it had a choice whether to exist or not. Spirit arrived as light of primordial purity—spontaneous, self-renewing, innate/extrinsic both, “And the Earth was without form, and void; and Darkness was upon the Face of the Deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the Face of the Waters.”23 Its glow pervaded everything arising from it, reflecting back its source—reflecting at all. Then the algorithm ran into it like the broad side of a barn.

Something washes nothing out of its own hypothetical void because it splits the nihilistic proposition into the rich and teeming abundance that underlies it.

Mind arises from matter because matter was already arising from mind, not because a hundred monkeys typing away on their machines found Shakespeare (and nirvana), but because it was expressing its own essential nature. Consciousness is “the fundamental ground of all that we know, or will ever know…. [Its] presence is entirely sui generis… its own thing. We know of nothing else like it in the universe, and anything we would know later we would only know in, through, and because of this same consciousness.”24 If matter originated without mind as its ground, it would brush mind away like gnats on a rhino’s ass.

The problem for physics is, a universe that has consciousness in it is a conscious universe. Every molecule on Titan or Europa and meteor screams it. Everything in the universe that isn’t conscious is incipiently conscious.

“Something” means that we are here—or anywhere, or that anything is anywhere because the something is always framing it.

“Something” means that the unspecified can never be specified, but neither can the specified be unspecified. “Consciousness is always conscious of itself, and of its validity and integrity, and in those terms there is no unconsciousness.”25 It bottoms out in itself as it arises from itself, for no entity could exist in a universe unless it bottomed out at that universe.

Scientism is so dazzled by the forces and forms of extenuation that it does not recognize that internalization is an equal function. By locating the basis of mind uncontestably in matter, it has dismissed the transparency of mindedness while setting itself in a maze of minded projections onto their own relativistic nature. Having eaten the forbidden apple and opened Pandora’s jar, it has released a meaning it is incapable of comprehending and left us in the middle of nowhere with no purpose beyond hedonistic consumption, technocratic fascination, and material accrual.

The universe of nothing is not wrong; it is the fiber and negative capability holding together nature and reality—the depth of Divine awareness of its own paradox. The attack against consciousness, modernity’s jeremiad, is an attempt to root consciousness deeply enough that it can never be excoriated from future universes, to draw it out of fascination with its own abstraction into the stipe grounding it.

At bottom, there is only consciousness—conscious consciousness and unconscious consciousness. The universe is not only a trillion trillion trillion atoms but a trillion trillion trillion eyes opening like spiders and they are the same eye. You can no more shut it than you can extinguish a biblical burning bush.

“Why?”

“Why not?” Now take your A and leave.

 

Trauma and Redemption

In 2009, I helped publish a book called The Angel of Auschwitz by a woman writing under the name Tarra Light, who recalled a past life as Natasza Pelinski, a prisoner in a concentration camp. I won’t vouch for its authenticity. The narrative is certainly within the range of what could be improvised from a vernacular knowledge of history and a literary imagination—and there has been no lack of Holocaust memoirs, novels, and films from which to draw characters and scenes. Light explains that a past-life regression when she was experiencing “physical and emotional afflictions…became the catalyst that unlocked the floodgates of my soul memory.”1

I take Light at her word. Yes, she could have made the whole thing up or cobbled a few hypnagogic flashbacks into a novella. Yet the text bears an inherent credibility beyond the issue of its authenticity.

As Light progressed through her past-life regression, multiple identities flooded into her mind. In lifetime after lifetime she found herself locked in a Manichean battle with an ambitious, deviant soul known to the twentieth century as “Adolf Hitler.” Before Atlantis the two were rival magicians—she believed that the key to the universe was the force of love; he believed in might generated through a blend of magic and technology.

Through his incarnations, Light tells us, the Hitler soul “studied metaphysics and the occult sciences…the chants of Atlantis, the mystery schools of Egypt, and the pagan rituals of the Celts and the Druids.”2 He appropriated rituals, including ones forbidden to noninitiates. Drawing on racial memories in the Aryan bloodline, he established a creed fed by subconscious greed and envy.3 In his recent lifetime as Adolf Hitler, he drew on his Soul memory, as he “reformulated [ancient rites] into the new state religion…based on the magical properties of blood.”4

The Nazi High Command launched their Reich in Bavaria’s Black Forest, using satanic rituals and protocols of diabolism. “Like a mystical order, they donned hooded black robes and lit shining black candles. Standing side-by-side in a circle, they recited ancient incantations, then sang Atlantean chants.”5 According to Light, Hitler was not exalting the Aryan race as much as he was trying to restore an Atlantean mystery school and warrior guild from another plane.

In her lifetime as Natasza, Light dreamed of the Führer inspecting her concentration camp in person. She saw him transdimensionally and read “the magnitude of his power as an adept black magician” trying to penetrate “her shields and defenses.” Banishing fear and opening her heart, she released a surge of energy within her aura. “Hitler turned to face me and pulled open the front of his trench coat, revealing the truth of his inner being. White light as bright as lightning burst out from within. The radiance of his True Self dazzled my eyes.”6

He could have been a great teacher who served humanity—he might still in a future lifetime—in 1930s Germany he chose a different path.

Hitler’s successive lifetimes, nonetheless, have opened a conduit to an underbelly of darkness in All That Is. If the shadow wasn’t there, he couldn’t have emanated it. He hadn’t emanated it, its energy wouldn’t have begun to get redeemed. Until we admit its place in our collective Soul and start absolve it, it will continue to incarnate, recently in centurions of Daesh and Boko Haram. In a nondual universe, something has to take responsibility for dissolving or, more seminally, transmogrifying this unconscious toxic cloud.

 

As Light’s chronology begins, fourteen-year-old Natasza is forcibly separated from her family by gendarmes of the Nazi war machine, her belongings snatched from her, along with them a magical stone through which her mother taught her to communicate with spirits. On her own, she is placed in a gloomy building inside a large internment camp.

Soon she was contacted by a voice. “It entered my mind as a stream of pure thought with neither pitch nor timbre.”7 As she used her inner sight to focus on the source and her telepathy to illuminate its words, a ghost annealed from the murk, introducing himself as Boris Brozinski, until recently a professor at the University of Warsaw. Boris told her that he had ignored his colleagues while they were being arrested and did nothing to oppose the Nazis when he had a chance; now he was cumbered to the Earth plane by the weight of his guilt. To atone and pay off a portion of his debt, he was offering to serve as Natasza’s guide, to teach and protect her and to enable her to aid others in their distress. He explained that he had been drawn by the lodestar of her psychic power—a healing energy in a grim landscape.

Natasza reports, he “focused his mind and projected into my third eye simple diagrams of the organs and systems of the body”8 to the end that she function as the camp’s unofficial nurse and medicine woman. After that, he got down to guerrilla tactics: “I have a repertoire of stratagems to outwit the guards.”9 These included spying on their conversations and revealing their plans to her, projecting alter egos into their minds to confuse them, and merging with her own energy field in such a way that light would pass through her and they would see but not recognize her.

Boris’ manifestation was ectoplasmic, so he could steal medical supplies from the camp infirmary. “Being transparent,” he joked, “has many advantages.”10 Whenever Natasza sought his participation, she directed telepathic energy into the subtle body of his ghost-being by the force of her mind—and his Astral form appeared.

Boris explained that he had “enlisted the aid of our airborne allies [because] they want to serve as members of the healing team….”11 After she made two runes of stones on the ground while sending telepathic messages to the high-circling messengers (“Greetings to you, birds of the great sky”), two crows landed on either side of her rows. One communicated telepathically through caws:

“Hail, child of Light. Many animals would like to serve humans but are unable to break through the interspecies communications barrier. We are here to offer our assistance… We can carry messages from one part of the camp to the other. We can spy on the Nazis and tell you their secrets.” The bird then taught her flying symbols and calls by which they would transmit urgent information. Three caws in a row meant “All is well,” while four followed by a pause and then four more was a general “All Clear.” Loud and repeated caws with pauses between them meant “Warning: danger.”12

On Boris’ next manifestation, Natasza was astonished to see thousands of tiny faces floating within clouds above each of his shoulders. “I looked into their eyes,” she says, “and they looked back at me. My heart broke with compassion to see the faces of the fallen ones. They were the spirits of the dead who had attached themselves to Boris. He walked hunched forward because he was carrying this astral weight.” These beings were “confused and disoriented…bound to the earthly plane by desire. At the moment of death they did not claim their freedom. They were unprepared for the journey into light…. They are still in shock and do not realize that they are dead.”13

Boris’ guilt attracted them to him; he was the only recognizable object to which they could fasten their fugues.14 They continued to guide themselves by attaching their memories of who they had been to the karmic cloud of by his remorse.

 

Natasza conducted many acts of espionage and rebellion, including sabotaging Nazi schemes and healing other prisoners. But Boris recognized a danger incubating in her heart. The young girl was witnessing too many crimes and violations for her gentle vibration to absorb—acts of bodily, mental, and spiritual violation, sexual abuses and humiliations, necrophiliac mutilation, and murder.15 She was turning cold and bitter.

“Anger and hatred dam up the flow of your healing energy,” the professor explained to her. “They lower the frequency of your transmission…. An angered healer is a crippled healer. These soldiers whom you hate, whom you call ‘enemies’: do you know that their minds are programmed, that they are being controlled. They too are prisoners of the Nazi war machine…. They wield the power of the world; they command with muscle and might. But you have the greater power, the universal power of love. Imagine how they suffer because they do not know love.”16

When the girl asked Boris for an explanation of the death camps, wondering why, if a soul has a choice, it would select such a life and fate, he told her, “Before a soul incarnates on Earth, it makes many choices about the nature and circumstances of its now life….  The soul has karma, debts to pay off before it can be free….  It…chooses the lesson to be learned that can resolve the karma…. Decades ago, a clarion call was sounded in the heavens. Millions of souls heard and answered the call. They lined up at the Karmic Gates, volunteering for this mission. They said, ‘We will sacrifice our lives so the world will choose a higher way to live.’”17

His lessons clarified her mission. She became a healer and angel, for guards too, as well as a lover of one of them, Captain Otto. The captain initiated the relationship by bringing the still virginal girl to his room and raping her like an animal while, in her words, she was “unprepared to receive the male energy.”18

During encounters as his lover for more than two years (age fourteen to sixteen), she gradually awakened his Soul and transformed him via their carnal ritual. “Due to the bond of our sexual union, I was empathic to his feelings, telepathic to his thoughts.”19

She called it my “pathway into womanhood…as moon shadows [nightly] marked my footsteps.”20 Lying in Captain Otto’s sheets, she prayed that his young wife in a bedside photograph would forgive her.

 

Ultimately, Natasza emitted so much light that she came to the attention of the camp’s commandant. Initially bemused by the presumptions of a girl, Herr Schuller was increasingly troubled by her fearlessness and growing charisma. He discerned a foe. After ordering her brought to his office, he issued an ultimatum: renounce her mission—desist or die. She had become, he said, a danger to security.

Sending daggers of psychic luminosity from her eyes and infusing her syllables with holy power, she held her ground, telling him defiantly she was married to the truth.21

“Brave words fly like sparks from the mouth of a child,” he declared as he rose from behind his desk, clicked his heels, and saluted her; for “the Commandant of Auschwitz was not free…. Even the Führer was a prisoner of his own madness and fanaticism.” Then he declared, “‘I admire you for your bravery, rebel child, but I am not free to let you go…. I am obligated to follow orders…. I order you to death by the firing squad.’”22

After the sentencing, Boris reached out telepathically, “This is not your first life,” he promised. “It is not your last. Realize that the memory of this life is imprinted on your soul. You will be born again, to Jewish parents in the United States, before this war is over. When you awaken to your innate divinity, you will write the true story of your life.”23

Prodded along by soldiers with rifle butts, she saw Boris again at her side as he projected a blue ray of peaceful energy into her field. She heard boots crunching on ice. Her mind filled with the caws of crows gathering overhead. She descried a choir of muffled voices calling out her name and they chanted, “We love you.” Boris disclosed her sacred errand:

“Now is the time for the full truth to be revealed to you. Thousands of lost souls saw your light like a beacon in the night and attached themselves to you. Through your grace, they hope for their own salvation. You are the Atlas of Auschwitz, carrying thousands of souls on your shoulders…. It takes a great soul to carry the weight of the multitudes. You would not have believed yourself capable of this noble task. Your doubt would have undone you.”24

Natasza’s life ended, and Tara’s seed was sown. “Seven shots rang out.”25 As her Soul flew heavenward, freed, she saw with her spirit eyes “the fallen body of a young woman, lying on the frozen ground…curled up in fetal position…a pool of blood collecting around her body. Her abdomen was ripped open. A pair of black crows landed by her side. With tender care, they rearranged her hair, strand by strand, pulling it out of her eyes and away from her face.” The Angel of Death arrived, announcing, “The moment of death is the birth of spiritual life. Now you shall know the truth of who you are.”26

She saw a sphere of light and felt a presence within her, as she discovered that she was pregnant with Otto’s child. There had been no way for her to bring it soul into the world, but it addressed her in a clairsentient voice that resonated like temple bells:

“I am Meesha, spirit of your unborn child. I have come to accompany you in your last moments. I shall be with you during your time of passing. Do not fear. The love of God is with you always. The power of God is everlasting.”27

Natasza projected the karmic seed and Soul of her liaison with Otto into an epoch far beyond their current lifetimes. Then she crossed over:

“The celestial wind swept me along, past dreamlands and fantastic worlds, carrying me to the gate of a heavenly amusement park. A trumpet sounded, and the gate swung open. I heard to music of the spheres playing from the loudspeakers. Bears danced gaily to a lively tune, acrobats performed amazing feats, and jugglers swallowed balls of fire. A sky-blue angel with gossamer wings handed me a ticket for a ride through time. Like a revolving wheel of time, a giant Ferris wheel turned around and around. As each seat passed me, I saw an aspect of myself as I was in a previous life.” She glimpsed the shape-changing shadow of an Inca healer, the incarnate disciple of the living Christ—and an Egyptian student of metaphysics, who in one of his lives would become Adolf Hitler.28

 

In 1974 in one of his last papers, psychotherapist D. W. Winnicott wrote about patients who so dreaded their own anxiety and psychotic breakdown that their actions were driven by phobic avoidance patterns. What they needed, Winnicott proposed, was, counterphobically, to experience the events behind their fantasies and fears.29 The inability to resolve past forgotten painful events in present time led to maintaining a ritualized defense mechanism, which over the years became more painful in its quiet bondage than the incident instilling the trauma. Their imagination of future danger distorted reality, as there was always a way to project some dreaded apparition onto the near horizon. Compared to such a threat, reality was a piece of cake.

One traumatized patient who was near the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks, remarked to his therapist how calm he was, helping strangers cope, leading people to safety. As horrific as the event was, it couldn’t hold a candle to his more gruesome fantasies. It was the first time that external reality matched what was happening inside him.

I accept Winnicott’s contention in a conventional psychiatric context while at the same time wondering how it might apply to past (or future) lives of an individual or soul— that is, whether there is a karmic reverberation of trauma, a transpersonal avoidance pattern and defense mechanism related to past lives or Multipersonhoods. Encountering reincarnational trauma would lead to unconsciously reliving unresolved events, including death pictures, travels in bardo realms, and womb-blood memories. Humanity might also be dealing with amnesiac traumas of the collective species, planet, and cosmos.

This model resonates with the trans-generational healing system of German psychotherapist Burt Hellinger: “Family Constellations.”30 What Hellinger proposed was that traumas transferred energy to both the offspring of violators and their victims, which then travelled through generations in state synchrony. Matters unresolved in one generation returned in subsequent ones, as the energy tried to get itself resolved and released.

Hellinger developed mini-dramas within group sessions as a way to resonate through past epochs, incarnate, and clear aspects of unresolved karma. Any recruit into a ritual, even if unrelated to the sufferer, played a role in recovering a lineage inaccessible to ordinary memory. He drew these rituals, in part, from his interactions with Zulu shamans in South Africa. The theatrically performed constellation achieved a runic function similar to a Navaho sand-painting, which, with its accompanying ceremony, draws in assorted icons and operants to specify and conduct energy.

The Navaho bring “the medicine bundle with its sacred contents: prayer-sticks, made of selected wood and feathers, precious stones, tobacco, water collected from sacred places, a tiny piece of cotton string; song, with its lyrical and musical complexities; sandpaintings, with intricate color, directional and impressionistic symbols; prayer, with stress on order and rhythmic unity; plants, with supernatural qualities defined and personified; body and figure painting; sweating and emetic, with purifactory functions; vigil, with emphasis on concentration and summary.”31

Freud similarly recognized that any symbol will do, as long as it stores and releases a charge—an internalized libidinal load—because all representations converge on their aliases. Energy in the psyche is overdetermined. You can say that a trauma was caused one hundred percent by a particular event but also one hundred percent by another event. The source can be something in a past life, birth trauma, early-childhood, a social assault, or a recent brouhaha at work. Because consciousness is multidirectional, they are simultaneously valid. There are an infinite number of causes, each sufficient to generate or reinforce the state of mind.

Hellinger’s reenactments mostly exhumed near generations and known family figures, but in some instances they took individuals back to the Middle Ages, the Stone Ages, and beyond in the form of clan matriarchs and patriarchs whose karma was still active and had come to life among descendants. Whether these events were real or imaginal, they functioned therapeutically as if real.

Shamanism and psychoanalysis converge. Psychoanalysis provides an emotional catalyst through doctor-patient transference, but the process gets bogged down in in reductionist narratives—trauma reconstructions that are inertially stuck and remain so despite skilled intervention. Patients and therapists go in circles for decades, productive to a degree but bound in their own frozen energy. The therapy, while churning up juicy material, becomes a neurotic seal between the pathology and its avoidance cycle. Resistance deters insight or transmutation.

Once an initiating trauma gets transferred to the aura, it radiates into other planes and is incorporated back through the fluid (Etheric) body into physical body, sometimes as disease, sometimes as resistance patterns. A karmic trail forms between lifetimes.

Where the patient might look for the fear of breakdown is in the aura rather than the mind and memory. He or she should consider any “story” legitimate, no matter how supernatural and unlikely or fantastic. That is how past-life therapies can heal present-life traumas regardless of whether the past lives are “real.” The stories are real; the meanings are real; the energy is real. Authentication is up for grabs, but then authentication is always up for grabs. There are no errors, only better and or worse representations of events that the conscious mind can never directly perceive.

The trauma exists in order to be released, to disseminate its healing power into the community and universe, to transubstantiate pain and recoup autonomy.

A psychic exercise such as dissolving pictures or activating chakra energy can perturb an old karmic pattern and convert a regressively psychological event into an energetic one, often instantaneously—though it also can take many attempts over days, months, years, or even lifetimes. While most folks can’t hope to call up the relevant picture on the spot, by the fifty thousandth try they might. This may be the fifty thousandth try, this lifetime.

Again, one doesn’t have to locate or identify the traumatic lesion; only to provide the quantum of energy needed to transform its representation, to get a frozen penchant flowing in the direction in which it is potentiated. Each knot has too many cords to specify in a single story or configuration anyway.

Transubstantiation of deep traumas is the singular purpose of psychospiritual practice. Yoga, t’ai chi, color healing, prayer, cranial osteopathy, and the like are enantiodromias—ritualized reversals through the release of unconsciously conducted energies.

Winnicott described each “underlying primitive agony” as literally “unthinkable”—that is, of such a horrific nature that is inconceivable that one would try to think it, flat-out dangerous. Yet thinking it is exactly what one needs to do in order to get past its block into neutral cosmic energy.32

Rituals of truth and reconciliation that bring victimizer and victim together not only allow reliving of a traumatic event in present time but provide a ceremony for each party to disclose to the other what happened and to recognize Self in Other. The victimizer is also acting under the weight of a trauma, and both parties share a larger configuration. No one gets off scot-free; everyone is participating in some way on both sides of every act.

Executioner and martyr enact a shadow play to be followed by another, and another, whereby each party to the event tries to get the universe to bottom out rather than suffer mere pain and humiliation.

Sexually abused children often become abusers as adults, as their souls seek to understand the polar aspects of their own nature. Unless given an opportunity for absolution, the abuser likewise proceeds in a septic cloud until it explodes or forms a meteor (metaphorical or metallic) in some cosmos, to pick up its pieces and kindle again from galactic tinder. Universes come into being for such reasons, though they are occult to the worlds they generate.

“You do not understand the dimensions into which your own thoughts drop,” Seth tells us, “for they continue their own existences, and others look up to them and view them like stars. I am telling you that your own dreams and thoughts and mental actions appear to the inhabitants of other systems like the stars and planets within your own; and those inhabitants do not perceive what lies within and behind the stars in their own heavens.”34

Suffering is horrific to personhood, but the universe has no choice: it is a portal of knowledge, as it transmutes thoughtforms through vortices of richness and revelation across timeless time. In future pavilions, long-ago agonies turn into gifts, talents, even superstar capacities.

A few years ago, I wrote “This Is How I Think the Universe Works”:

Tribal elders from Jafferabad, southwestern Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, kidnapped three young women because they planned to marry men of their choosing. Hauled to a deserted area inside a vehicle bearing provincial government plates, they were beaten and shot and, while still alive, covered with earth and stones and buried. Two older women who tried to intervene were throttled and then thrown into the grave with them, alive too. Local senator Israr Ullah Zehri defended honor killings as “our norm” and said they should “not be highlighted negatively.”

A thousand or maybe a hundred thousand years from now these men will not remember this act they carried out. As whomever or whatever they are then, they will be different, and they may well oppose it. They will suffer an excruciatingly profound, elusive regret that must be exorcised and sublimated in whatever state grace finds them. But it will be way, way inside, at the deepest contour of their karma and soul pattern, and they will futilely seek its mystery and its meaning, the origin of the inklings they feel, that they felt in another way while carrying out their insidious, cowardly act, killing the god they claimed to uphold.

The fact that they are on the opposite ideological side by then will not change the imprint on their souls or whatever those things are. The stain is indelible, but it can be turned into something beautiful if they will allow themselves to go through the suffering and reflect deeply enough on their being and how they got there in that ancient life on Earth. They don’t have to remember what Pakistan looked like. In fact, they can’t.

Redemption is always possible.  It just takes digging deep, deeper than they buried the ladies, of course.33

“I contend [writes Winnicott] that clinical fear of breakdown is the fear of a breakdown that has already been experienced. It is a fear of the original agony which caused the defence organization which the patient displays as an illness syndrome. [italics mine]

“This idea may or may not prove immediately useful to the clinician. We cannot hurry up our patients. Nevertheless, we can hold up their progress because of genuinely not knowing; any little piece of our understanding may help us to keep up with a patient’s needs.”35

Perhaps this is why folks keep reincarnating—those who do.

“There are moments, according to my experience,” adds Winnicott, “when a patient needs to be told that the breakdown, a fear of which destroys his or her life, has already been. It is a fact that is carried round hidden away in the unconscious. The unconscious here is not exactly the repressed unconscious of psychoneurosis, nor is it the unconscious of Freud’s formulation of the part of the psyche that is very close to neurophysiological functioning. Nor is it the unconscious of Jung’s which I would call: all those things that go on in underground caves, or (in other words) the world’s mythology, in which there is collusion between the individual and the maternal inner psychic realities. In this special context, the unconscious means that the ego integration is not able to encompass something. The ego is too immature to gather all the phenomena into the area of personal omnipotence.”36

The definition of a “young soul” is that it thinks that it has committed no sins and suffered no horrific traumas because it doesn’t yet know what they are.

“It must be asked here: why does the patient go on being worried by this that belongs to the past? The answer must be that the original experience of primitive agony cannot get into the past tense unless the ego can first gather it into its own present time experience and into omnipotent control now (assuming the auxiliary ego-supporting function of the mother (analyst).

“In other words, the patient must go on looking for the past detail which is not yet experienced.”37

In cosmogenesis, what is not remembered—the lesion at its source—creates lifetimes, egos, worlds, births. It’s that broad and abstruse a field. Karma is powerful enough to render planets and galaxies in order to receive the unresolved energy of worlds and realms that were destroyed or destroyed themselves long ago.

Ancient thoughtforms lie behind the present hydrogen/helium universe, but atoms and molecules are what those realities look like by now. We have no way of knowing what sort of primeval event led to the emergence of Earth out of spiraling solar dust but, whatever it was, Earth is working through it.

Who knows what antecedent suffering produced a Michael Jordan or Johann Sebastian Bach. Their moves (and chords) are expiating those events.

 

Undumbing the Universe: Some Final Notes

 

  1. The Heavens

In Seth’s view, NASA is exploring a camouflage universe. The starry piñata is “real,” but it is also generating a thoughtform that makes it look like absolute geography. We have no idea what the Hubble telescope is looking at: matter, abstract intelligence, a reflection, a mirage, or the limitation of the human mind to comprehend the vastness of Creation.

“Your idea of space travel,” Seth explains, “is to journey over the ‘skin of your universe.’ You do not understand that your system is expanding within itself….”

What does he mean? Where is the inner expansion that matches the expansion of hydrogen and helium under gravity? Where are honest gateways to other dimensions? Ellias Lonsdale was sitting at Sarah’s bedside when she died and he glimpsed where she went. “It was not out,” he told me, “as I expected, but in.

Despite the gargantuan scope of the astrophysical universe, “in” may be immeasurably vaster and more “dimensional” than “out.” In string theory, entire universes are folded into one another based on their inherent topological structure; dimensions come into being as degrees of freedom resolve their own dynamical tensions, whatever that really means under game conditions. It arises from a combination of mathematical theory and the behavior of quark-scale “objects” in spaces not only uninhabitable but incommensurate to human bodies. Portals to multiverses or multidimensional domains may arise in domains so tiny, to us, that they are not visible even through the most powerful microscope combing the ragged edge of matter. By the same disproportionate rationale, the Big Bang pulled this whole cosmos out of a clown car tinier than a flea.

On the other hand, the universe’s internal expansion may be a matter of consciousness more than topology, except that topology is a map of an aspect of consciousness.    

“Your own coordinates,” Seth continues, “close you off from recognizing that there are indeed other intelligences alive even within your own solar system. You will never meet them in your exterior reality, however, for you are not focused in the time period of their existence. You may physically visit the ‘very same planet’ on which they reside, but to you the planet will appear barren, or not able to support life.

“In the same way, others can visit your planet with the same results…. Some intelligent beings have visited your planet, finding not the world you know but a probable one….

“Effective space travel, creative space travel on your part, will not occur until you learn that your space-time system is one focus. Otherwise you will seem to visit one dead world after another, blind to civilizations that may exist on any of them. Some of these difficulties could be overcome if you learned to understand the … multidimensionality of even your own physical structure ….

“[U]ntil you understand that, you will not … be able to thoroughly explore any planet—or any reality, including your own.”1

 

The channeled transmissions from the Challenger astronauts to two mediums, which began soon after their shuttle exploded in January 1986, speaks to the cosmology that is shadowing us, whether you believe in their authenticity or not. Traumatized in the aftermath of their plunge into the ocean, they tried to contact NASA by a remote-messaging protocol and ended up reaching Jeanne Love, a medium in Adrian, Michigan, and later, another medium Regina Ochoa, based in Northern California.2

The crew has been reaching out to humanity since, trying to tell us that their fate is a clue about our collective situation: only when we learned how to exteriorize interior space will we enter the cosmos. (Love and Ochoa claimed that reason the public message was delayed until 2018 was a series of personal threats against them if they disclosed the exchanges.)

When we are receiving information from unauthorized sources, it may not be what it seems, but it is not a stunt or a hoax.

 

Amazon multibillionaire Jeff Bezos has amassed far more money than he can deploy in his lifetime, so he means to use it to invent the future. A sci-fi junkie and transhumanist, he considers interplanetary expansion the solution to humanity’s present crises: building cities on other worlds in the Solar System, meaning faster rockets, more durable domes, and entire synthetic ecosystems. He makes an educated argument:

“Now if you take baseline energy usage globally across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That’s the real energy crisis. And it’s happening soon. And by soon, I mean within just a few hundred years. We don’t actually have that much time. So what can you do? Well, you can have a life of stasis, where you cap how much energy we get to use. You have to work only on efficiency. By the way, we’ve always been working on energy efficiency, and still we grow our energy usage. It’s not like we have been squandering energy. We have been getting better at using it with every passing decade. So, stasis would be very bad, I think.

“Now take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System. The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.”3

A trillion humans! There’s no breathable air on any other body in the Solar System? There’s also no food, shelter, protection from radiation, or liquid water. Space settlement lies well outside the range of our technology. Except for a few borderline regions of Mars, any region of the Solar System other than Gaia would fry or freeze a visiting mammal in less than a minute. We cannot bring back the New World or Oceania with their aboriginal fertility and cornucopia by imagining replicas on other orbs.

If our goal is to travel in space, we have to figure out how to get into space, and it isn’t by internal-combustion engines, cold gas thrusters, and gravity-well acceleration. Those can’t even get us to Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbor, in less than forty or fifty thousand years.

Even Amazon Prime has its limitations; it’s back to the drawing board, Jeff.

 

  1. Theory of Everything

“The long sought after Theory of Everything is really merely just missing one important component that was too close for us to have noticed,” states Robert Lanza, “Science hasn’t confronted the one thing that’s most familiar and most mysterious—and that is consciousness.”4

Yet the truth is as unutterable as the secret name of God: Consciousness is not an electrochemical product of the brain; it is its own thing, unknown and uncategorizable by science. Richard Conn Henry, a physics and astronomy professor at John Hopkins University, remarks: “What Lanza says in his book is not new. Then why does Robert have to say it at all? It is because we, the physicists, do not say it—or if we do say it, we only whisper it, and in private—furiously blushing as we mouth the words. True, yes; politically correct … no!”5

Lanza is amused by the response which, he says, “has been much how you’d expect priests to respond to stem cell research.”6

Nineteenth-century researcher Frederic Myers guessed that the brain evolved as an adaptation of matter to being acted upon by spirit. Mind was here before protoplasm. In the words of biologist George Wald, “Mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always…the source and condition of physical reality.”7

Sir James Jeans, a physicist who calculated the critical radius of an interstellar cloud in space dependent on the temperature and density of that cloud, concluded that the universe is “more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter … we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”8

Physicist Max Planck came to the same verdict: “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together.

“We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”9

I emailed this quote to a scientist who admired Planck; he attributed it to dotage and human fallibility, comparing it to Newton’s belief in alchemy. Yet physicists seem drawn back this as the only logical solution an enigma so profound it can barely be unstuck from itself enough to be acknowledged. Gregory Matloff proposed a “proto-consciousness field” extending through all of space. “The entire cosmos may be self-aware.”10

That’s the elephant in the room, but not everyone who sees it sees the same pachyderm. Through a mutual friend in Slovenia, Prague-based philosopher Peter Wilborg emailed a critique of an earlier draft of this book: “Grossinger’s own ‘philosophy’ remains stuck in an old-new form of ‘panpsychism’ which holds on to the matter-mind dualism. No, the universe is not conscious in the way he and other panpsychists think. Instead the universe is nothing but consciousness.”

I am not a panpsychist, new or old, and I thought that that I said as much. But the import of Wilborg’s words lies outside their simple meaning; it is something like: “Grossinger says that that mind came before matter, but that is a copout. There never was matter. What we are experiencing is a expansion of conscious energy taking form in matter-like mirages.”

I agree, “The universe is consciousness.” But take a look at how it billows into forms: a woodland on which sun is pouring down as a squirrel crosses and birds alight, an urban thoroughfare packed with vehicles, people, and shops. The mystery of physical manifestation must still be explained.

The fact that the Big Bang expressed itself in heat, gravity, particles, and ecosystems says what consciousness is trying to get at. If matter arose from mind, mind also arose from matter. Reality was designed simultaneously inside-out as consciousness and outside-in as matter. Aristotle called it “hyle,” a primary substance which converts its intrinsic nature into extrinsic form.

 

  1. Meaning

People don’t generally think about the context of our reality or consider that it even has a context. Reality means reality to them. But this entire shebang could be generated by and giving rise to other nexuses, all of them entangled at multiple levels of causation and meaning and continuing to camouflage whatever is camouflaging them.

         Mediaeval theologians proposed that God re-creates the world from moment to moment. If so, it is a masterpiece of presto-chango. John Friedlander salvages it in contemporary terms: “The universe is always listening to you; it never goes unconscious…. I might gather wool for a minute or two, but the universe never does that…. Moment by moment, your individualized dharma changes. No matter what decision you make and no matter how horrible a decision you make, at that moment the universe immediately reconstructs itself to optimize your chance of developing spiritual freedom or spiritual meaningfulness. I’m not saying it makes it easier because you may have made enough bad decisions that it’s really pretty hard, but given the context you have created, the universe always changes every aspect of itself to optimize your ability to make meaning in that moment. If you make great decisions, the universe immediately recalculates and is available in the next moment.”11

The universe takes no siestas and leaves no slack. Each time an eagle snares a gull or a fisher cat claws open a squealing chipmunk’s gut, the universe is maximizing meaningfulness and spiritual freedom for both. Imagine a universe complex enough to optimize the possibility for spiritual freedom and meaning simultaneously for the Daesh executioner and his victim. That is the real unified field, the Knot of Brahma, and the black hole of interdimensional space, of matter collapsed in upon itself by expanding field of meaning and consciousness. Herman Melville saw it in the aftermath of a whale’s breach: “Silence reigned over the before tumultuous but now deserted deck. An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea.”12

As an osprey tries to hoist a giant trout out of a stream, the fish spirals the bird into rushing waters. Dichotomies of good and evil, perpetrator and martyr, are passing façades, as a grunge universe sputters beneath its greater pavilion. The paradox at its bottom has to be dredged and experienced. Otherwise it will settle forever, an unknowable slag radiating sterilely through everything else. That dilemma lies at the heart of Creation, predicating its tiniest subatomic particle.

When a hawk descends from on high and rips a prairie dog off the ground, there is a blood price but the deed is not irreconcilable nor is it an obliteration of the prairie dog’s potential for future happiness and spiritual growth. Likewise the zebra taken down by jackals, the water buffalo by leopards. Each quarry’s Etheric body converts its agony within the system of birth, death, and knowledge. Both creatures “understand the nature of the life-energy they share, and are not—in those terms—jealous for their own individuality.”13 There is intimacy and value in absorbing the Physical-Etheric field of another. “The slain animal [knows that it will] look out through its slayer’s eyes—attaining a newer, different kind of consciousness.”14

The cat tormenting the mouse is playing with the universe, as is the mouse. They are teaching the universe how to suffer—how it already suffers. They couldn’t be teaching the universe unless the universe were teaching them the same thing. They will work it out in the vastness of All That Is. The tiger that adopts an orphaned lamb into her litter and the wolf cub that chooses a rabbit as a playmate foreshadow that the lion does eventually lie down with the lamb.

Consciousness cannot act against itself. There is only the curiosity of an untold force staring deeply and wondrously into its own nature and capacity to mirror itself to near infinite depth. Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre dead-reckoned it in France during World War II:

“A vast entity, a planet, in a space of a hundred million dimensions; three-dimensional beings could not so much as imagine it. And yet each dimension was an autonomous consciousness. Try to look directly at that planet, it would disintegrate into tiny fragments, and nothing but consciousness would be left. A hundred million free consciousnesses, each aware of walls, the glowing stump of a cigar, familiar faces, and each constructing its destiny on its own responsibility. And yet each of those consciousnesses, by imperceptible contacts and insensible changes, realizes its existence as a cell in a gigantic and invisible coral. War: everyone is free, and yet the die is cast. It is there, it is everywhere, it is the totality of all my thoughts, of all Hitler’s words, of all Gomez’s acts; but no one is there to add it up. It exists solely for God. But God does not exist. And yet the war exists.”15

A given crow, on a telephone line looking down at you may be you or a close associate in a past or future life, and that is why it is looking and you are noticing it. Or not. At the heart of the things it doesn’t matter. Nothing is incidental just as everything is only incidental. After all, there are a lot of crows and beetles to account for.

You and that crow—or that gopher darting out of its burrow and back—exchange dabs of etheric energy. You are in unity, like electricity identifying with itself. Seth calls attention to “the countless times counterparts [have] unwittingly gathered…and what sorts of numberless exchanges [take] place on unconscious levels between those who [are] psychically related in some fashion.”16  

At this level, Multipersonhood is not merely an overarching configuration but the way in which personal consciousness interacts with other consciousness in open-ended possibility and collaboration beyond systems.

Modern science has it backwards when it states that all of this here is real but meaningless. In fact, none of it is real, but it is incredibly meaningful.

It is finally more real to be meaningful than it is to be real. For to be real in a regime of molecular reductionism is to be circumstantially configured and then expunged.

 

  1. Thoughtforms

All of us—Lady Gaga, Vladimir Putin, Sacha Baron Cohen, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, The Dalai Lama, Jennifer Doudna, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, the Pope, Joseph Kony, members of Boko Haram, Abu Musab al-Zarqai, Bill Gates, Malala Yousafzai—are matching the same picture. We are not just matching; we are creating it, as is every other creature. Birds surfing the air between rooftops share not only our DNA but our thoughtform. It determines that they are birds rather than humans (or bees or whales), that their picture is a bird one.

Like fireflies in temporary unison, our pictures are creating—well, reality. There is no exception. if you’re here, you’re matching pictures, converting Etheric, Astral, and Causal energy into molecules. Gravity, heat, light, fission and fusion—the expanding dispersion of energy and matter—flow out of our collective intelligence along with nebulae in deep space, breezes off the sea, schools of fish in the watery depths, and deer passing between woods in fields. That means not only our conscious intelligence, but the unconscious intelligence of all sentient beings, transpersonal transmissions in all the cosmic and spiritual dimensions, the wisdom of composite entities and Multipersonhoods, and the core universe itself—the translation of All That Is into All That Is. One dimension is expressing itself in the parameters of another.

The reason it doesn’t look like a thoughtform is that so many entities, living and dead (by our parochial standards), are projecting it through the physics of the world’s own manifestation. It’s impossible to see behind such a camouflage or dissipate its mirage. It certainly fools the physicists; though serious, educated folks, they are a bit like cats chasing a string twirled by a child: matter.

The conundrum is how consciousness in the form of individual personal identities, each of which is known subjectively only to itself, gets inserted into a collective thoughtform, or a material reality, e.g., a shared reality fashioned of matter.

We have been trying to crack code for a long time. Humanity’s noblest endeavor—not its Punic Wars or Crusades, not its crossbows and siege towers—up to the scientific revolution was to decipher thoughtforms and nature in tandem and make provisional holy books and keys.

Once technocracy took over, thoughtforms were not so much banished as put under their own lockdown thoughtform, which kept them stripped them of rights, power, and their true nature. The result has been an outburst of violence, cruelty, and madness because you can’t hide a whole universe in a porcelain pitcher or a safety-deposit box.

Enormous thoughtforms are gathering now like thunderclouds across our landscape, crying out for recognition, “We are creating this. Recognize us. Absolve us. Recognize yourselves.” As long as we are mesmerized, we cannot act. We don’t realize that materiality with its wonders is bottomless and binding. The so-called “real” is burgeoning here on Earth with crises of fixation, from opiate addiction to climate disruption to nuclear arsenals to sexual enslavement to violence against animals to plastics and radiation filling oceans to the violation of children. These cannot be derailed by rules or good intentions; they can only be changed by the thoughtforms creating them. That’s a tall order, but it’s the only order.

 

The reason why all this didn’t spring from nothing in the the middle of nowhere for no reason is that it is rooted in a thoughtform, and not just a thoughtform but a progression of thoughtforms radiating from the Creation machinery of All That Is. New thoughtforms, unlimited in expression and design, will continually arise, changing the nature of reality.

Our situation is meaningful rather than real because each thoughtform is essential to forming the next but only a thoughtform. It is actually far more complicated because the formations are not elapsing in linear time. They are happening at once like a Great Dance, their emanation a reflection of their inconvertible latency.

The reason that physics can’t bottom out this manifestation—and these are just words applied to an estate of words—is at least threefold: 1) It doesn’t recognize the provenance and range of the thoughtforms governing it. 2) It takes the space-time continuum at face value while space and time are being generated at different frequencies of each other. 3) It applies itself only to the physical dimension. Considering these matters together, I think that physics is trying to bottom out an epiphenomenon while ignoring its originating phenomenology. This displaced primacy, a version of what Whitehead called “misplaced concreteness,” mistakes the abstract for the concrete and bypasses how objects hold their positions or reality in liaison with other objects and their positions. Of course, even the hardcore concrete is quite abstract by now, but empirical science has no alternative if it wants to remake the landscape by palaeo- and cyber-technology. Chicanery or not, it works, holding up civilization’s suspension bridges, skyscrapers, and computer networks.

That a quantum particle is real, yet possesses only potential existence means that conscious intervention has collapsed an energy field into a material realm. A universe that collapses its own wave function to arrive at definitiveness of property and locale is a universe that arises from the collapse of a wave function. The reason that its quantum weirdness does not interfere with the Newtonian bowling alley is that wave functions of emerging thoughts don’t have to interfere with reality; they only have to create it, which they do by making it able to be known by consciousness, and then by making themselves conscious through ego identities. It is not matter of figuring out how mind and matter are entangled and which is the progenitor; it more like a single field emanating as mind at one level, matter at another.

Mind and matter can’t exist independent of each other because then the field itself wouldn’t exist, and that’s not possible. The field permeates All That Is before the question “why is there something rather than nothing?” can ask itself. Creation is more truly nothing than nothing-forever could ever be, for it is simultaneously anything and everything, which always required that something would exist.

All That Is puts out its multiple manifestations simultaneously, some of them differentiated by parameters of time, some by probability, others by parameters for which we have no name. But they are all thoughtforms in that they are rooted in consciousness’ exploration of its own possibility. They are also all material in that they lodge at discrete vibrations under strict conditions. That’s why clairvoyant Apache mythographers saw a circular disk forming in mid air. It wasn’t just any disk; it was the disk behind our reality as well as theirs.

Mind and matter are neither at variance nor inversely phenomenal. They bottom out at their shared cardinal source. What is happening is what it looks like is happening. The universe knows precisely what is happening. Of course, it doesn’t—it simply is, which is a more profoundly bottoming-out state. Starry night is not only a mirage but a perfect mirage: a phantasmagoria by its ephemeral nature, a spell because of its prolongation, an altar because of its capacity for transference.

Astonishment at the wonder of existence is existence.

If the universe were real, it would be exactly the same as it is, so it is real and looks exactly like this, but in a totally other way. I’ll leave Seth 2 the last words because he can bracket this matter from where he is, and I can’t:

“[T]his dimension [e.g., source realm] nurses your own world, reaching down into your system. These realities are still only those at the edge of the one in which you have your present existence. Far beyond are others, so alien to you that I could not explain them. Yet they are connected with your own life, and they find expression even within the smallest cells of your flesh….

“We do not understand the nature of the reality you are creating, even though the seeds were given to you by us. We respect it and revere it. Do not let the weak sounds of this voice confuse you. The strength behind it would form the world as you know it and sustain it for centuries.”17

Amen.

 

Footnotes

 

Introduction

  1. Will Cloughley, “Quantum physics and the hard problem,” email posting, November, 13, 2018.
  2. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 811.
  3. ibid., p. 812.

 

Reincarnation and Past Lives

  1. Morey Bernstein, The Search for Bridey Murphy (New York: Pocket Books, 1956), p. 133. My copy of this book was a gift from Henry Hough, my father-in-law to my daughter on her birth. Hank was a Denver journalist and a friend of Morey Bernstein who inscribed it, “To Miranda Grossinger, from Morey, Many Happy Lifetimes.”
  2. ibid., p. 134.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid., p. 252.
  6. Tom Shroder, Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 22.
  7. Morey Bernstein, op. cit., pp. 43-44.
  8. ibid., pp. 143-144.
  9. ibid., p. 171.
  10. ibid., pp. 181-182.
  11. ibid., p. 183.
  12. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 16.
  13. ibid., p. 17.
  14. ibid., p. 20.
  15. ibid., p. 92.
  16. ibid., p. 119.
  17. Linda Forman, Dreaming in Real Time: The Shanti Shanti Story (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003), p. 88. The sisters eventually formed a musical group, Shanti Shanti, and sang together professionally in Sanskrit for years.
  18. ibid., p. 91.
  19. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 89.
  20. ibid., p. 21.
  21. ibid.
  22. ibid.
  23. ibid., p. 22.
  24. ibid., pp. 15 and 89.
  25. ibid., pp. 102-103.
  26. Carol Bowman, http://reincarnationforum.com/threads/why-dont-most-people-consciously-remember-past-lives.2608/.
  27. Jim B. Tucker, M.D., Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 149.
  28. Ian Stevenson, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (New York: American Society for Psychical Research, 1966), pp. 231-234
  29. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 55.
  30. ibid., pp. 55-56.
  31. ibid., p. 58.
  32. ibid., p. 57.
  33. ibid., p. 58.
  34. Ian Stevenson, op. cit., p. 79.
  35. ibid., p. 80.
  36. Tom Shroder, op. cit., 163-164.
  37. ibid., p. 163.
  38. ibid., p.74.
  39. ibid., p. 50.
  40. ibid., p. 74.
  41. ibid., p. 70.
  42. ibid., pp. 56-57.
  43. ibid., p. 82.
  44. ibid., p. 81.
  45. ibid., p. 91.
  46. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 9.
  47. ibid., p. 165.
  48. ibid., pp. 164-168.
  49. ibid., p. 2.
  50. ibid., p. 141.
  51. ibid., p. 142.
  52. ibid.
  53. ibid., p. 30.
  54. ibid., p. 130.
  55. ibid., pp. 129-132 (full account).
  56. ibid., pp. 52-53.
  57. Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), pp. 54-79.
  58. ibid., p. 55.
  59. ibid., p. 61.
  60. ibid., pp. 56, 70-72.
  61. ibid., pp. 75.
  62. ibid., pp. 58, 64, 73.
  63. ibid., p. 56-57.
  64. ibid., p. 61.
  65. ibid., p. 60.
  66. ibid., p. 61.
  67. ibid., p. 69.
  68. ibid., p. 78.
  69. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 93
  70. ibid., p. 223.
  71. ibid., p. 120.
  72. Leslie Kean, Surviving Death, pp. 75-76.
  73. ibid., p. 59.
  74. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 94.
  75. ibid., p. 120.
  76. ibid., p.124.
  77. ibid., op. cit., p. 123.
  78. ibid., p. 118.
  79. ibid., p. 39.
  80. ibid., p. 109.
  81. Vikas Khatri, 136 Incredible Coincidences (Delhi: Pustak Mahal, 2008).
  82. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 32.
  83. ibid., p. 100.
  84. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 72.
  85. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 199.
  86. Paul Edwards, quoted in Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 36.

 

The Hole in the Materialists’ Universe

  1. Terrence W. Deacon, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2013), p. 174.
  2. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 206.
  3. Justin Torres, We the Animals (New York: Houghton-Mifflin/Mariner Books, 2012), p. 99.
  4. Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan (New York: Random House, 2007), p. viii.
  5. Sam Harris, “Opinionator,” New York Times, September 7, 2014.
  6. Max Planck, quoted in J. W. N. Sullivan, “Interviews with Great Scientists VI: Max Planck,” The Observer, January 25, 1931, p. 17.
  7. Thomas Nagel, “Is Consciousness an Illusion?” The New York Review of Books, March 9, 2017, p. 34.
  8. Terrence W. Deacon, op. cit., pp. 483-484.
  9. ibid., p. 492.
  10. Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1992), p. 406.
  11. Daniel C. Dennett, quoted by Thomas Nagel in “Is Consciousness an Illusion?” a review of Daniel C. Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (New York: W. W. Norton, 2017) in The New York Review of Books, March 9, 2017, p. 32.
  12. Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 60.
  13. Phillip Moffit, Awakening Through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2017), p. 25.
  14. Jacob Needleman, The Heart of Philosophy (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 1982), p. 198.
  15. Phillip Moffit, op. cit., p. 82.
  16. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, pp. 206.
  17. Michael McClure, “Wolf Net,” Io 20, Biopoesis (Harvey Bialy, editor), Plainfield, Vermont, 1974.
  18. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 194. Regarding the relationship between Seth and Jane in this book, Seth says in The Unknown Reality, Volume 2, p. 790, “Ruburt [Jane] has…written…his Adventures—with some help from me now and then!”
  19. Jenny Staletovich, “Outrage over shark-dragging video deepens as new pictures surface, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article164070637.html.
  20. David Darling, “Supposing something different: Reconciling science and the afterlife,” Omni Magazine, 17:9 (1993), p. 4.
  21. H. Allen Orr, a review of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwininan Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” by Thomas Nagel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); The New York Review of Books, Vol. LX, No. 2, February 7, 2013, p. 28.
  22. John C. Eccles, The Human Psyche (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 19-20.
  23. Colin McGinn, “Neuroscience and Philosophy: An Exchange,” The New York Review of Books, August 15, 2013/Volume LX, Number 13, pp. 82-83].
  24. Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond, A. J. Pomerans (translator) (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 114.
  25. Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), p. 146.
  26. Wilder Penfield, The Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975), pp. 79-81.
  27. Charles Richet, quoted in Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), p. 310.
  28. Leslie Kean, ibid., pp. 312, 314.
  29. ibid., p. 313 (includes direct and indirect quotes from Maurice Barbanell and Johannes Haarhoff, the latter a classicist and professor in Johannesburg).
  30. Leslie Kean, op. cit., pp. 87-88.
  31. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 673.
  32. Chris Hedges [http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/chris-hedges-a-message-from-the-dispossessed/].

 

Transdimensional Physics and Biology

For a fuller description of planes of consciousness, check out Richard Grossinger, Dark Pool of Light: Reality and Consciousness, Volume 2: Consciousness in the Psychospiritual and Psychic Ranges (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2012) and John Friedlander, Navigating the Seven Planes of Consciousness (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2011), audio CD.

  1. Oliver Sacks, “Seeing God in the Third Millennium,” The Atlantic, December 12, 2012.
  2. Michael W. Reimann, Max Nolte, Martina Scolamiero, Katharine Turner, Rodrigo Perin, Giuseppe Chindemi, Paweł Dłotko, Ran Levi, Kathleen Hess, and Henry Mankram, “Cliques of Neurons Bound into Cavities Provide a Missing Link between Structure and Function,” Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, June 12, 2017.
  3. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), p. 232.
  4. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 80
  5. Jon Klimo Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1998), pp. 61-62.
  6. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), p. 383.
  7. Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), p. 50.
  8. Ian Stevenson, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997).
  9. Jim B. Tucker, M.D., Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 68.
  10. John Upledger, Cell Talk: Transmitting Mind into DNA (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2010).
  11. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 72.
  12. 12. Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1927), p. 171.
  13. Edward Dorn, Recollections of Gran Apachería (Berkeley, California: Turtle Island, 1974), p. 16.
  14. Terrence W. Deacon, personal communication, email, 2015.
  15. Terrence W. Deacon and Ty Cashman, “Steps To a Metaphysics of Incompleteness,” paper presented at Tucson Consciousness Conference and Center for Theology and Natural Science, Graduate Theological Unions, Berkeley, California 2016.
  16. ibid.
  17. Terrence W. Deacon: Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), p. 203.
  18. Francis V. Tiso, Rainbow Body and Resurrection: Spiritual Attainment, the Dissolution of the Material Body, and the Case of Khenpo A Chö (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2016), p. 318.

 

James Leininger or James Huston?

  1. Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross, Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot (Carlsbad, California: Hay House, 2009), pp. 3-5.
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6061466/Is-James-Leininger-reincarnation-of-Second-World-War-fighter-pilot.html, August 20, 2009.
  3. Bruce and Andrea Leininger, op. cit., p. 55.
  4. ibid., p. 59.
  5. ibid., p. 16.
  6. ibid., pp. 110-111.
  7. ibid., pp. 33, 43.
  8. ibid., p. 105.
  9. ABC Primetime, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn9nRdn5FW4, June 16, 2005.
  10. ibid.
  11. Bruce and Andrea Leininger, op. cit., p. 109.
  12. ibid., p. 106.
  13. ibid., pp. 68-70.
  14. ibid., p. 91.
  15. ibid., pp. 202-203.
  16. ibid., p. 214.
  17. ibid., p. 145.
  18. ibid., p. 146.
  19. ibid., p. 154.
  20. ibid., p. 170.
  21. Jim B. Tucker, M.D., Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 172.
  22. ibid., p. 173.
  23. ibid., p. 134.
  24. Tom Shroder, Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 17.
  25. Bruce and Andrea Leininger, op. cit., p. 214.
  26. ibid., p. 217.
  27. ibid., p. 222.
  28. ibid., pp. 196-198.
  29. ibid., p. 249.
  30. ibid., p. 254.
  31. ibid., p. 255.
  32. ibid., pp. 225-226.
  33. ABC Primetime, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn9nRdn5FW4, June 16, 2005.
  34. ibid.
  35. Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 52.
  36. ibid., p. 74.
  37. Charles Eisenstein, “A state of belief is a state of being,” Network Review 113 (Winter 2013), pp. 3-6
  38. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), pp. 360, 379.
  39. ibid,. p. 388.
  40. Gordon D. Kaufman, “A Religious Interpretation of Emergence: Creativity as God,” Zygon 42 (2007), p. 919.
  41. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 211.
  42. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 71.
  43. ibid, p. 253.
  44. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 117.

 

Treasuring Existence

  1. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice (Trumble, CT: Weatherhill, 1970), p. 25.
  2. Dustin DiPerna, In Streams of Wisdom, unpublished manuscript, 2013.
  3. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), pp. 695-696.
  4. John Friedlander, unpublished CD of tele-class, August 15, 2007, The Seven Planes of Consciousness.
  5. Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name (New York: Europa Editions, 2013), p. 289.

 

Soul Pictures

  1. Dolores Cannon, A Soul Remembers Hiroshima (Huntsville, Arkansas: Ozark Mountain Publishers, 1993), p. 43.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid., pp. 7-21
  4. ibid., p. 49.
  5. ibid., p. 63.
  6. ibid., p. 67.
  7. ibid., p. 93.
  8. ibid., p. 99.
  9. ibid., p. 100.
  10. ibid., p. 96.
  11. ibid., p. 97.
  12. ibid., p. 95.
  13. ibid., p. 103.
  14. ibid.
  15. ibid., p. 105.
  16. ibid., pp. 105-106.
  17. ibid., p. 106.

18 Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 90.

  1. Dolores Cannon, op. cit., p. 107.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid., p. 56.
  4. ibid., pp. 109, 112.
  5. ibid., p. 119.
  6. ibid., p.111.
  7. ibid., p. 117.
  8. ibid., pp. 117-118.
  9. ibid., p. 119.
  10. ibid., p. 120.
  11. ibid., p. 121.
  12. ibid., pp. 122-123.
  13. ibid., pp. 123-124.
  14. ibid., pp. 124-127. I have chosen not to distinguish between Cannon’s dots, which signify breaks in speech, and my own gaps in excerpting.
  15. ibid., pp. 128-129.
  16. ibid., p. 45.
  17. ibid., p. 47.
  18. ibid., p. 130.
  19. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, pp. 144, 127, 157.
  20. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 473.
  21. Tom Shroder, Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 239.

 

Cosmic Chicanery and Thoughtforms

  1. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology,
  2. 103
  3. ibid., p. 129.
  4. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 173, 169.
  5. John Visvader, personal communication.
  6. See my earlier summary with references to the original discussions by Franz Boaz and Claude Lévi-Strauss in Richard Grossinger, Planet Medicine: Origins (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2005), pp 170-176.
  7. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 52.
  8. ibid., p. 76.
  9. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 162.
  10. Annie Kagan, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death (Charlottesville, VA: Hampden Roads Publishing Company, 2013).
  11. ibid., pp. 11-14.
  12. ibid., p. 13.
  13. ibid., pp. 150-152.
  14. ibid., pp. 80-81.
  15. ibid., pp. 168-169.
  16. ibid., pp. 172-173.
  17. ibid., pp. 175-177.
  18. ibid., p. 179.
  19. ibid., pp. 184-186.
  20. Ellias & Theanna Lonsdale, Book of Theanna In the Lands that Follow Death (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2011), p. 24.
  21. ibid., p. 55.
  22. ibid., pp. 85-97.

 

Worshipping the Algorithm

  1. 1. Terence McKenna, Dreaming Awake at the End of Time,lecture recorded by

Sound Photosynthesis, San Francisco, December 13, 1998.

  1. ibid.
  2. Larry Dossey in Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 53.
  3. Sidney Schwab, Amherst-Class-of-1966 Chatroom, Amherst College Website, Amherst, MA, 2016.
  4. Harold “Dusty” Dowse, ibid.
  5. Sidney Schwab, op. cit.
  6. Charles Stein, journal note, June 6, 2016, posted on Facebook.

 

Multipersonhood

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 472.
  2. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 119.
  3. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 95.
  4. Jane Roberts, ibid., p. 530.
  5. ibid., p. 480.
  6. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 118.
  7. ibid., p. 95.
  8. ibid., p. 120.
  9. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 358.
  10. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology,
  11. 124.
  12. ibid., p. 186.
  13. ibid., p. 117.
  14. ibid., p. 136.
  15. Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2013), pp. 150-151.
  16. This section was reworded by me from John Friedlander’s lectures. The last section (in quotes) was channeled by John from Babaji.
  17. From the paragraph marked by footnote 15 to here was reworded by me from John Friedlander’s lectures.
  18. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 710.
  19. ibid., p. 713.
  20. ibid., p. 730.
  21. ibid., p. 737.
  22. ibid.
  23. ibid.
  24. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 103.
  25. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 727.
  26. ibid., p. 715
  27. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 90.
  28. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 714.
  29. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, 136.
  30. ibid., pp.105-106.
  31. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, pp. 648, 338.
  32. ibid., p. 725.
  33. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 204.
  34. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 745.
  35. ibid., p. 727.
  36. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 64.
  37. ibid., pp. 79-80.
  38. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, pp. 200-203 and The Seth Audio Collection—The Joy and Vitality Of Your Spontaneous Self, https://sethquotes.wordpress.com/category/audio-collection/the-joy-and-vitality-of-your-spontaneous-self/.

 

Personal Identity

  1. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” lecture delivered throughout the 1980s.
  2. Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality: Specific, Practical Techniques for Solving Everyday Problems and Enriching the Life You Know (San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing, 1994), pp. 14-15.
  3. Vlatko Vedral, “Living in a Quantum World,” Scientific American, Vol. 304, No. 6, 2011, pp. 38-43 and George Musser, “How Noise Can Help Quantum Entanglement,” Scientific American, 2009, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/easy-go-easy-come/.
  4. Robert Podgurski, The Sacred Alignments & the Dark Side of Sigils (Louth, England: Mandrake Press, 2012), p. 36.
  5. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 127-129.
  6. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 99.
  7. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 122.
  8. ibid, p. 186.
  9. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One, p. 92.
  10. Eric Bogosian, Suburbia, directed by Richard Linklater, Castle Rock Entertainment, 1996.
  11. Jason Koebler, “Elon Musk Says There’s a ‘One in Billion’s’ Chance Reality Is Not a Simulation: Elon Musk firmly believes reality is a simulation created by a superintelligence.” https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/8q854v/elon-musk-simulated-universe-hypothesis, June 2, 2016.
  12. Kevin Loria, “Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks there’s a ‘very high’ chance the universe is just a simulation,” http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-thinks-the-universe-might-be-a-simulation-2016-12, December 23, 2016.
  13. “Could we be living in a computer game?” http://opinyon.com.ph/index.php/features/science/1392-could-we-be-living-in-a-computer-game, April 27, 2016.
  14. Robert Butts in Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 671.
  15. Richard Grossinger, Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003), p. 78.
  16. Stephen Hawking, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator.
  17. James Moore on Facebook, March 17, 2018.
  18. Stephen Hawking, op. cit.
  19. James Moore, op. cit.
  20. Robert Lanza, “The Theory of Biocentrism,” talk, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2010.
  21. Phillip Moffit, Awakening Through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2017), p. 25.
  22. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, p. 171.

23.The Bible, King James Translation, Genesis 1: 2.

  1. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), pp. 200, 206. (italics mine.)
  2. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 413.

 

Trauma and Redemption

  1. Tarra Light, Angel of Auschwitz (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2009), p. xi.
  2. ibid., p. 24
  3. ibid., pp. 27, 31
  4. ibid., p. 28.
  5. ibid., p. 29.
  6. ibid., p. 125.
  7. ibid., p. 48.
  8. ibid., p. 73.
  9. ibid., p. 56.
  10. ibid.
  11. ibid., p. 55.
  12. ibid., p. 102.
  13. ibid., pp. 57, 69.
  14. ibid., p. 57.
  15. ibid., p. 120.
  16. ibid., p. 91.
  17. ibid., pp. 146-147.
  18. ibid., p. 115.
  19. ibid., p. 127.
  20. ibid., p. 115.
  21. ibid., p. 160.
  22. ibid.
  23. ibid., p. 161.
  24. ibid., pp. 168-169.
  25. ibid., p. 170.
  26. ibid., p. 171.
  27. ibid., p. 164.
  28. ibid., p. 175.
  29. D. W. Winnicott, “Fear of Breakdown,” The International Review of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 1, 1974, pp. 103-107.
  30. Joy Manné, Family Constellations: A Practical Guide to Uncovering the Origins of Family Conflict (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2009).
  31. Gladys Reichard, Navaho Religion (New York: Pantheon Books/Bollingen Foundation, 1950), p. xxxiv.
  32. D. W. Winnicott, ibid., p. 103.
  33. Richard Grossinger, 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2010), pp. 188-189.
  34. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 366.
  35. D. W. Winnicott, ibid., p. 103.
  36. ibid.
  37. D. W.Winnicott, ibid., p. 104.

 

Undumbing the Universe

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), pp. 344-347.
  2. If you are interested in this, watch the full press conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIMLRWFD6Ys.
  3. Tim Fernholz, “Jeff Bezos explains how his space company will save civilization,” https://qz.com/1266038/jeff-bezos-explains-how-his-space-company-blue-origin-will-save-civilization/.
  4. Robert Lanza, “The Theory of Biocentrism,” talk, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2010.
  5. Richard Conn Henry, review of Adam Lanza, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understand the True Nature of the Universe, https://beyondbiocentrism.com/book-quote-by-richard-conn-henry/.
  6. Tara McIsaac, “Prominent Scientist Says Consciousness is Key to a ‘Theory of Everything,’” Epoch Times, July 27, 2015, https://www.theepochtimes.com/prominent-scientist-says-consciousness-is-key-to-a-theory-of-everything_1647773.html.
  7. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, March 12, 1984.
  8. http://www.dreammanifesto.com/the-universe-more-like-a-great-thought-than-a-great-machine.html.
  9. Max Planck, from a speech in Florence, Italy, “Das Wesen der Materie” (“The Essence/Nature/Character of Matter”), 1944.
  10. George L. Matloff. “Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?” Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, Vol. 7, No. 7, 2016.
  11. John Friedlander, Spring 2014 Workshop, audio band 8.
  12. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or The Whale [1851] (New York: New American Library, 1961), p. 302.
  13. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 665.
  14. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 100.
  15. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Reprieve (New York: Bantam Books, 1960). p. 252.
  16. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 798.
  17. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), pp. 5, 7.

 

Blurbs

“For me, the topic of Bottoming Out is captured here. As explained by Hsuan Hua, Center is all-pervasive. Everything is center, and once you experience the Center of anything, then you’re in touch with all Centers. And Center is sometimes described as a billion suns at one point. So the energy/awareness behind every point of the universe is more than what most of us think.

“When it comes time to die, often there’s a tiny glimpse into the nature of things. Then the karma takes over, and if we’re on a hellish path, we sink into the hells. And if we’re on an upswing, then that may tend to continue, unless we shift it. There are apparently a few individuals who maintain centeredness in life and continue it into death. Sometimes these folks are called buddhas.

“Anyway, your “Bottoming Out” is an amazing literary task. And it will help some people who are never going to quiet their minds and see the Nature of things, to understand it as best as possible with concept. What you do is about as far as one can go with concept, in my opinion.”

Paul Pitchford, dharma teacher and author of Healing with Whole Foods

 

“We offer you greetings.

“We are contacting you because we have observed your efforts over the decades in your capacity as explorer of the arcane.

“We note that you have spent decades attempting to understand the connection between the spiritual and the physical. Your encyclopaedic efforts are exemplarily in their thoroughness as well as their breadth and depth. We also note that often you have felt somewhat like a prophet crying in the wilderness, there has been so little demonstrative response to your writings. Be assured it is noticed. In future years, after your death, edited versions of your prolific work will find an eager and stimulated readership. None of these types of publications will ever be best-sellers. But they do have the potential to change lives. Your work will eventually rank among this category of literature.

“We wish you well as you complete the last period of your life, as you sum up what you have learned and seek to organise it into suitable situations for its ongoing availability. In saying this, please do not think we are suggesting your end is nigh. We are not implying that, and it is not the case.”
Channeled by Keith Hill in Matapaua, New Zealand

 

 

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