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

Seth

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?

Cosmic Formation

Undumbing the Universe: Some Brief Final Notes

 

Introduction

In this book I am exploring models of the universe that include mind. Although I am starting with the physical universe—the Big-Bang-activated space-and-time continuum—my real frame is All That Is, meaning anything-anywhere.

What would a unified field theory look like if consciousness, which seemingly exists, were given a place among mass, gravity, and heat? 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 the subjective experience of it?

 

Second, I am exploring nonlocal (transpersonal) modes of consciousness, not systematically but as an entrée to the riddle of personal identity—self-identifying creatures in nature.

 

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

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. Try as we might, we’ll not exhaust or annihilate consciousness….”1

He is speaking not of any person’s consciousness but 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?”2

That the geese wonder too—they must—in ways that that are abstruse to our wondering and define it, is close to the mystery of Creation and why there is something rather than nothing.

 

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.

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, 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, to before an historical record. Early hominids performed rites, rituals, and voodoo to control life, death, and rebirth. Their totems were folded into art, mythology, and shamanic techniques and influenced future generations of practitioners.

Early philosophers arrived at their view of the universe through dead reckoning, altered states of consciousness (often entheogenic), meditation and contemplation, and an 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 that one mode of knowledge exclusively valid. Reincarnation is either illusional thinking (the current mainstream view) or an apprehension of our place in the universe by wise hunters-and-gatherers.

A modern reincarnation thread in the United States was begun in the early 1950s by Morey Bernstein, an amateur hypnotist, who regressed Virginia Tighe, a Pueblo, Colorado housewife. To his astonishment, Bernstein 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 his book 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

Bernstein held his breath and waited. He didn’t know if these lands existed, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Generally dismissed as a dabbler and showman who used a watch on a chain to initiate trances, he hit the sweet spot with Ms. Tighe, as he coaxed an unknown form from her psyche.

Bernstein was pretending he was not asking his subject to commit the crime of the century by asking a citizen of the Eisenhower era to break into a cubicle sealed at the highest echelon of encryption, encouraging her to violate her religion and social standing as well as the consensus belief system sustaining her sanity.

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 and sacred touch that didn’t activate Miss Tighe’s taboos or resistance. As chaperone and psychopomp, he spoke to her subconscious mind—and that’s why it worked. Listen to his cadence and chant, like a crafty hacker slipping through a firewall. If you wanted to lure a nonexistent dragon out of its nonexistent cave, Bernstein did the trick. You could object that he was leading the 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 asked her to go there anyway, 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 bugged 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

The answer is, they were, but they weren’t acknowledging it. Numerous 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” that way.6 Interpretations of similar flashbacks take quite different forms in cultures receptive to reincarnation.

They treat the memories as cryptomnesia: old or forgotten events from the current life—a distortion caricatured as “self-plagiarization.”

If doctors admitted the possibility of reincarnation to themselves, they didn’t speak of it publicly for fear of ridicule and career derailment.

Why Morey and Ms. Tighe? Apparently they struck the “right relationship” between operator and subject—a form of shamanic transference common in non-Western cultures. Bernstein 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 was 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 poignant 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 remember a past life. Yet throughout India, Turkey, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and, in fact, most of the Middle East and Asia, people routinely recall 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?

In the conservative 1950s, any lingering vestiges of spiritualism from the nineteenth century were all but blotted out by the drama of two World Wars and a Depression—followed by a binge of scientific legerdemain.

What manifestation could be more vivid, compelling, or packed with urgency and relevance than the rise of the Third Reich, Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Europe, the rise of imperial Japan, and apocalyptic battles on remote Pacific islands—and an economic and cultural renaissance? These events took precedent over past-life memories for the best reason—they were more poignant. Life on the physical plane provided such immediacy that any shadow realm palled beside it. Reality was brilliant, vivacious, enthralling—senior in every sense. The triumphs of science added powerful reinforcement.

Seen 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, nineteenth-century British philologist Frederic Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, documented his and colleagues’ interactions with spirits of the the deceased and was reported to have sent garbled messages to relatives and colleagues after his own death. The Society’s experiments had direct continuity with those of prior centuries. Reincarnation had been widely accepted from ancient Greece and Rome through the European Middle Ages and Renaissance.

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 Huck Finn, Twain was obsessed with synchronicities and future sight, of which he experienced numerous instances. The Psychical 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).

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 to 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 it without examination.

Sigmund Freud played a significant, indirect role in the West’s denial of the paranormal. By hypostatizing a latent reservoir of unconscious mind with an indeterminate flow into the ego, he provided a scientific mechanism for any anomaly. If conventional memories could be sublimated and turned into phantasms by normal biological drives, exotic explanations were unnecessary for psychic events, however strange. 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 proposed could encompass just about anything. 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 evenst. 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 a separate 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 investigative reporter in Ireland.

A consensus of investigators ultimately 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 found apocryphal.

In truth, the early nineteenth century, though relatively recent, is still too long ago. 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 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 Daily Mirror nor other media considered 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 her 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:

“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, the improvement was in contrast to the 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. Similarly, 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. The cure doesn’t require a past-life belief system. Stuck and internalized energy—cathected trauma in Freudian terminology—transcends its own 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 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, 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 answered 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 all that any creature does: track a flow of information in a broad enough context to test its reality. As you keep at your interrogation, unconsciously too, you dead-reckon your way to its rightful place in the universe and, remarkably, the universe itself. A newborn tiger evaluates cues and responds to them with feline tools. A turtle emerging from an egg heads for water; a baby mole flees the shadow of a predator but not that of a cloud; a cub conducts the ritual asanas of the hunt. A reptile crawls extemporaneously out of one eggshell into another.

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 inherently know 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 own current frame. If queried for a date, they go to the viewing platform of the present rather than the past person. 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 his own 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.

When he had 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 on 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 later 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 subconsciousa 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 preserved essence transposed.

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 discovered, but they don’t break. Sublimation and reaction formation are designed to protect trances, not undo 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, traded microbiology from parapsychology and became the first academic documentarian of people’s 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 a 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 biographies portrayed 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 carryover is traumatic—an unsettled death picture leading to an unconscious need for resolution. In other words, 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 something 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 He continued recounting memories and began having nightmares from them. 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,” but she did not initially tell her husband, Kevin, a lieutenant with the Muskogee Police Department. When she finally presented him with Ryan’s tale, his response was, “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 lived in Hollywood; he was a movie star who occasionally tap-danced on stage; after his acting career, he was an agent, and his agency represented famous clients; he lived on a street with the word “mount” or “rock” in it where he was very rich and had a large house with a swimming pool. He was married four times and also 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 said 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 solution of Ryan’s “old me” came after his mother brought him a book on the golden age of Hollywood. He recognized himself as an unidentified extra in Mae West’s first film, Night After Night. The guy 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 and 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 on it; Ryan’s memory of passing at sixty-one proved accurate.63

Cyndi remarked, “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, Ryan’s mother 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 and that two and two are four, rediscover night and day, and go to school to regain knowledge you already had. At a reincarnational level, everyone suffers full dementia. Yet even a Alzheimer’s patient retains his or her core identity. Perhaps we retain our greater cosmic identity despite death amnesia.

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 in his or her own self. “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 noticed, “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 remembering 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 naturally adopt the gender of their current 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 a homicide. The real “killer” is at large in another body, to act again.

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). But can a detached memory of an existence transfer like a digital file outside a 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 usually 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 such cases 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 from village to village, there is more of a chance of suggestibility and contamination. People hear a report, converse about it; children pick up the narrative, identify with it and embellish it. The parents are 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 psyche replaces 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). Wiseman also 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 two 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, remarked, “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 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 make a distinction between coincidence and synchronicity.

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 joined 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 occurrences might also be a defect, malfunctions of 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, 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 noting that there are too many people in Earth’s expanding population for past lives to account for all of their existences. But there could be other kinds of set-ups, equivalent to planets but nonmolecular or with different allocations of space, time, and matter? They could incarnate souls coming from physical cosmoses.

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 and 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 affair 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 the consensus trance.

 

The Hole in the Materialists’ Universe

  1. The Nature and Origin of Consciousness

The issue of reincarnation rests on the status of personal identity. Is it a static molecular apparition or a dynamic field can that can relocate transpersonally?

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

The verdict is that 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 an cascading flow of electro-chemical protein-crystal matrices generating an illusion. Not only is reincarnation impossible, life is imaginary. Confronted with Hamlet’s rub “To be or not to be?” science answered, “Not.” 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 seen as no more than the erratic activity of neurons firing, or of chemicals reacting to chemicals.”1

Instead of consciousness, or even matter, there could have been nothing—nothing anywhere, nothing forever. Juggle a few variables, and a starry universe would not have arisen or its stars would not have incubated elements for molecular life. So, the fact that there was something (here or anywhere) will be eradicated too. The forgery will 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.

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 interior 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—a winged, spiraling matrix of flying, calling tissues jelled out of a DNA matrix—disperses from its corpse on the beach into gull-less molecules. There is no evidence of the creature’s prior existence, as carbon and nitrogen are put back into nature. Every trace of gull is eradicated forever.

The outcome of the ceaseless battle of chaos’ contrivances—Ilya Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics—against the prior incumbency of entropy is a foregone conclusion, entropy wins decisively, 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. You are 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.

When the lights go out for good, there is no lurking eschatological savior or last-minute turn-of-plot. Nothing is exempt from the dance of heat, mass, gravity, and information.

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

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

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.”2 Great God Entropy has spoken.

The cue ball hit the subatomic fuse, a torrid, dense singularity known in these parts as the Big Bang. The BB occurred either in the pure void or in space it created (and is creating) by its implosion. Everything that followed is chains of events arising from the fission and fusion of particles: a blind detonation and crapshoot.

A prime shuffle of skank splattered into bosons and fermions, and a melee of daughter particles and inherent forces spewed out. Incidental collisions of particle-waves of carbon and nitrogen thickened and incubated to weird effect in some planetary pools.

Nothing can arise in a chemico-mechanical universe without a physical sponsor, an originary substrate followed by a notarized chain of carriers. Every ambient artifact must have a skein of forerunners in the one-way march from the originary heat wave and particles to more cumbrous scions.

First, elements transferred their quantum potentials into qualities, as thermodynamic and shear forces fed mechanical information—temperature-driven gradients—into heuristically emerging chains that got bound in membranes by chemical bonds in currents of water under shear force and curvature. Gravity imposed and bound large and small spirals and tubes. Information got transmitted through microtubules into an ascending hierarchy of binary synapses. A series of embryogenic invaginations—folds, pockets, and laminae—swirled and twirled into deeper networks. Self-monitoring feedback loops arose from their resting potential. Transferred into ganglia, they followed the notochord’s ascent, capturing strings of diffuse feedback and putting them in deeper loop-like circuits.

Innate excitatory sensitivity and action-potential states—augmentation and inhibition—culminated in hyperpolarization, a surplus of energy; then depolarization of overloads. Low-threshold spikes hit default tipping points, as neural grids filtered static and noise that would otherwise have cancelled them. A homunculus climbed its own ladder from flatworms to lizards to tree shrews to monkeys and Homo africanus, at least on one sorry-ass planet. A 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?”)

Trillions of seeds imbedded software in eggs, launching a contiguous organism from a single cell. Now that cell infests the Earth, disseminating and cloning throughout its weeds and waters.

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, as autochthonous self-repairing units drew on self-similar motifs. A two-bit utility function, while ostensibly monitoring itself, converted systemic feedback—somewhat like superfluidity—into frames of reference, leading to more efficient function sets and mind. What we call “thought” is integrating vectors transferring packets of information into each other’s contexts and templates. They recognize themselves, and everything else, by pattern-on-pattern formations—fancy bar codes. By exuding phantasmagoria, they stamp the delusion of personalized existence on them.

They found agency and mind—not because they “knew” (or “were”) but because its incidental territories incidentally coincided. Consciousness has no extraneous source, auspices, or traction. No path underwrites its subjective beingness. There is no place from which to summon it or deliver its message, or message to deliver.

Yet 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 barrage of sound and fury, once signifying everything, signifies “nothing.” Shakespeare saw a tale told by an idiot. Now the idiot is gone.

Information is erasure and absence of other information. And meaning is dragged along like bubblegum on an unfortunate sneaker.

We are slime on “a small round planet inching its way through a terrifying void.”3 The calls of loons and gulls, the whines, chirps, and growls of assorted 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.

If pinball effects are popping out delusions and giving them bogus agency, “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 its own 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.”4 A sense of beingness is inexplicable, miraculous, and bizarre, for we emerged in an essentially untenantable place. Creature-hood is a splash where there is nothing splashable. Without our experience of our own existence, the universe doesn’t appear conducive to consciousness.

The only thing that refutes this viewpoint 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 is performed.

Yet as long as consciousness arises from the thing that it comprehends, it can never ratify its own proposition. The reflection has no mirror, and the mirror no frame. There is no pier to which to tie an experiment, only a formulation affixed to its 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.”5

A hole growing from itself can never be filled; the shadow it casts over its singularity can never be objectified. When Albert Einstein calculated time and space into a continuum, he was talking more about the brain than the universe. Relativity is mind observing nature as they wrap around each other, an inviolate carpet with a ragged breach.

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. Once coronated by human beings, matter gets to set the “outer bounds of reality itself.”6 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.

 

Consciousness’ placeholder status—whether or not it is truly conscious—has nothing to do with its functional expressions. Consciousness is what consciousness does. “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.”7 Environment and entity impinge. 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….”8

Awareness is the least significant aspect of mind, for philosophers as well as raccoons. Blind transfers of information supersede sentience here on Earth, and presumably, under the Europan ice if zooids incubate there. Unconscious systemic sets run any functioning hawk or shark—internal network symbolings, optics, nerve nets, and 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 operation with internal alphabets and alphabetic structures. This 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, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.”9 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.”10 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.”11

 

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

A side effect 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.

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

Empiricists are no longer honest brokers, for they bought capital 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 other currency. Having delivered a dystopian future, they then 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 political and economic assets.

Pretend for a moment to be a Stone Age hominid suddenly viewing modernity and getting it—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 Coney Island 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!

Try running your own tool of ontology, your embodied mind. Drop into its depth. Explore its tourbillion and trajectory.

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.”12 What is it?

Do you experience overloads tipping spikes? 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?”13

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 proclaims 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.”14 Try to find a arbiter to corroborate that. It simply is.

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

 

Given the prima facie evidence of consciousness, scientists 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 can’t begin to explain how the electrical and chemical properties of the brain weirds inside-outness onto the universe. They only know it through electrical and chemical responses to its presence once it is there.

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

Science hasn’t the slightest idea what consciousness is. What it does, yes. What it is, not even “close but no cigar.” Neuroscientists map mind’s attributes only as they percolate into matter, but they haven’t a clue as to how the fly got into the ointment, what the “fly” is, or how to propose its forensics. They can’t kindle it anew from the sorts of compounds and filaments that transport its properties through molecular systems. Even if a chemist 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 stirring a chemical solution into some sort of primitive life form. How did an “is” get centrifuged out of “non-ises”? What fomented its interior glow? What spawned instant epistemology?

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

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.” Then how do they send taps up the pod chain into Da Vinci paintings, Mahler symphonies, and Faulknerian narrations?

 

  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….”15 “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 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 than us. Oaks and foxgloves have phenomenology too.

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

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. Each sunflower and snake, owl and spider is the universe.

Poet Michael McClure deems 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.”16

The Earth is packed with wandering minstrels: sow bugs and sea cucumbers, minks and eagles, each exploring a 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….”17

A mosquito reads nature through a mosquito’s portal, a vole at vole frequency, a whale by a cetacean operating system. Fishes know water as we experience sky or philosophy. 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.

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 can’t 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 a possum.

Pavlovian conditioning can get 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.18

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 also 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 its 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 its premise, this isn’t even an insult.

This 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. Years ago, a neuroscientist in an airport lounge confessed, as we sat out a delayed flight, “The brain is a black box. We can do stuff inside the box, but we can’t get into the box itself. It doesn’t have a true memory function and its data-recall is everywhere.”

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

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 as 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 imbedding their own gullibility in 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 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, doctors could target damaged circuits and inputs.

Thoughts and acts do alter the brain. Sustained Buddhist meditation causes neurophysiology that support nondual perception. Criminal acts program further criminal acts.

 

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

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

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

Your own too?

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

I guess not.

As we discursed, he said he was convinced that the discovery of the 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 found there. Plus, it wasn’t internally designed; it was made by mud and water.

He offered a number of reasons why that made no sense, one of which was that it was as inefficient to develop AI without real consciousness in a machine as it was in a person. “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. If it remained an expanding algorithm, it would 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 smiled and said, “Good question.”

 

Most laypeople assume that scientists are on the verge of nailing consciousness and 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 a bit: “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.’”19 This is an under-appreciated point. Bundles of elongated cells in fractally tangled entrails do not look like beingness, and they show no ruminative signs or internalizing hologram-ness.

“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….”20 The brain is the proximal source of beingness because there is no other candidate.

Orr also assumes that scientists will one day develop forensics for the mind by the same essential tools and paradigm-set with which they nailed the rest.

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.

“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.”21

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,” adding, “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….”22

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.”23

Psychologist Steven Pinker concurs. “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.”24

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.”25

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

What was obvious to Mediaeval theologians or to any Taoist monk or Zen student, is 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 things oscillate on a mind-matter borderline, sometimes yielding measurable artifact or effects: ectoplasm, UFOs, yetis, philosopher’s gold, crop circles, etc.

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.”26

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.27

“‘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….”28

 

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 corresponding 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 account29). 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 death 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 or the lady who gets sawed in half and emerges from her box whole. Ectoplasm is assigned to stage-magician trickery. Nonlocality is explained as faulty perception, cognitive error, intentional deception, lazy thinking, superstitious belief systems, and endorphins reinforcing delusions.

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 vested, it can do anything it wants, though it is summarized in neurons and the cortex of the brain, so it can’t ever be nonlocal and 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 rebel yardstick for all of reality. Telepathy is a remote-control device with materialist options. The impossibility of nonlocal consciousness is the last bastion of materialism before utter freefall. It makes matter a stranger in its own universe and 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 twenty first-graders and six affiliated adults. 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 clay pigeons.”

As an “accidental presence in the cosmos,”30 Lanza had no basis of personal morality. 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. 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 nightmare from which we cannot awake. What would happen to him was what he told himself would happen: Nothing happens. Nothing happens forever.

The premise is that that personal identity can be unwrapped and summarily discarded like a snake’s old skin or a crab’s shell. But that’s 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 have been disconnected. There is always the possibility that a matrix as intricate and gossamer as beingness cannot arise from nothing or be expunged mechanically.

In choosing suicide, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and fellow Goth brothers cashed out their chips, leaving 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. Because they did not believe in their own nonexistence.

The brothers Kouachi, the Tsarnaev sibs, and Islamic jihadists of various ISIL cells believed they were punching their tickets to paradise. It was the 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? What if the snake after shedding its skin is still a snake, the crab after shedding its shell the same essential crab?

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

When recreational killers assert, “I won’t exist anymore after I die,” who are they talking about? Likewise, when materialists say, “I didn’t exist before my current self was kindled by random molecules,” where were you? “Who” wasn’t you? How did you get in the tub, bub? And if only your own solipsism is real, where is it coming from?

Those dudes could well be up shit’s creek without a paddle.

Contrary to their intent, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, Wayne Lo, Cho Seung-Hui, Jared Loughner, and crew 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 attempting to excoriate death pictures of the capitalist transnational state. Their deeds were inexcusable, but they were not wrong. Modernity is now protected by mercenary armies and industrial ordnance, bought politicians, programmed assassinations, targeting of the weak, 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 comes out of the vortex into which this civilization is being stuffed, and it comes out as true to its nature like the energy run into any gravitational system, from a black hole to a political congress.

Would that the next jihad, a hundred or more years from now, tip the battle of tribes over the brink of a new politics, a Rainbow Body with conscious death its calling card.

 

Transdimensional Physics and Biology

Neurologist Oliver Sacks’ commonsense explanation for near-death experiences sets up shop in a ratified succession of molecular statuses specified by neg-entropy and 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, near-death 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 an office 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 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.

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 as a conduit for multidimensional kinetic depth effects and is 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 has no capacity to generate awareness, only to transduce its waves in a biological context as its filter and parer. The ontological basis of mind is converted locally 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 then gets recategorized as an exotic 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 a range of information by funneling it into a persona. If an organism received such a vast energy 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)

A few related phenomena are worth noting. 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 the same 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 in a denser medium.

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-vector will next attach, not only in life but after death.

To the scientific establishment, these are abject hoaxes. To those who train such arts, they are a fundamental feature of reality.

 

An aspect of Ian Stevenson’s work provides potential game-changing evidence for 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. In one author’s description, “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 molecule-cellular imprints in another 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 force, which I will explore in 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 modelling how prayers, visualizations, and affirmations can affect tissue activity, osteopath John Upledger named the event “cell talk.”10

Wounds that were experienced most 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. Reincarnational wound-transfer—again, if that is what is happening—suggests that our existence doesn’t so much evaporate as return to a latency from which it reemerges psychically and phenotypically.

This sort of telekinesis 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 the 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 dense for some readers. Feel free to skip to the next chapter. I am laying a steppingstone where is no path or place to put a stone, 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 creatures 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 primarily at a matrial 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.

If we were attuned to a subtler frequency, we would perceive that frequency and its objects as “material,” so “physical” reality amounts to the same.

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

The Etheric aspect of the Physical-Etheric plane transmits a frequency only slightly subtler than matter; its lowest range can activated by metal acupuncture needles. According to Hindu and theosophical theory, the seeds of life forms’ 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 entities have autonomous existences and manifest in our Physical plane as what Carl Jung called psychoids—entities that require our projections onto them to operate here. A mound or stone circle or in the Physical is a faery fort (fios) in the Astral—we don’t see that aspect because it is vibrating at a higher frequency.

The Mental range of the Mental-Causal plane generates 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 the fundamental relationship between consciousness and matter, which I will discuss in later sections of this book. UFOs, crop circles, and cryptids like yetis and chupacabras inhabit a shadow realm between mind and matter. Yetis are shape-shifters with telekinetic manifestations that can deposit hair. UFOs may be authentic “objects” moving through multiple dimensions or probabilities, unconfined by the laws of physics, yet showing up on conventional radars.

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

The 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 must influence 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: one fractal geometry 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 simultaneity of events—synchronicity. The transdimensional kinetic depth effect is a Buddhic refraction.

At the Atmic frequency, our reality intersects interstellar, intergalactic systems and phenomena. At the Monadic frequency, we interpenetrate other dimensional systems in universes outside scientific law.

The seventh ascending plane, the Adi, corresponds to emptiness before 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 discharged the Big Bang. In its fission, all substance was latent and alchemical. The distinction between physics and telekinesis—mind and matter—was meaningless.

 

You just whipped through a drastic oversimplification of an occult system of cosmogenesis. I am not even asserting the existence of these planes. They are an attempt 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 underlying the embryogenic field are triggered, they translate information from the aura into the tissues. While the thermodynamic landscape remains under Darwinian traction, it receives Etheric algebra. There is no wiggle room between the realms—one material, the other meta-material. Two seemingly incommensurate systems meet at frequencies of the same energy. Physical DNA generates karmic “DNA.” An Etheric shape exudes a mitochondrial shape. In this way, the Etheric plane stores and transmits traumatic charges into fetal tissue, archiving wounds and implanting them in layers of germinal protoplasm. Assaults in one generation turn into birthmarks or scars in another.

If Etheric, Astral, and Causal energy are descriptors of something actual in the universe, they must meet mass, gravity, dark energy, and dark matter somewhere. Yet if science broadened its parameters, it would still not come upon these frequencies. It will never encounter them because they are generated outside our operating range and only enter it as other things. Etheric energy coexists with dark energy without converging.

This is not just a metaphysical issue. It is metalinguistic and ontological in relation to the rubrics of the underlying mathematics. As Bertrand Russell put it, “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 physical states require extrinsic intelligence to manifest at all; mechanism cannot operate only by mathematical constructs, as it expresses a prior harmony of monads.

So, 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 from 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 local (e.g., 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.

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 rebuses, couldn’t account for the full range of Aristotelian causation. He fudged material and efficient causes but didn’t approach formal and 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).

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. Pawnee, Ojibwa, Dogon, Zulu, Yahgan, and Mandinka philosophers used totems to reflect gods that, to post-modern empiricists don’t exist. 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 and toward their subcellular baseline. 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 because you do it by first potentiating molecular dimers and microtubules.

The autogene—the hypothetical first cell—captured 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 very close to the atomic-molecular vest.

The nucleic issue negotiates an environmental one that is environmental at two levels in that the nucleus of a cell is an environment that Darwinian law governs, though most neo-Darwinians don’t recognize him so small. Deacon and his -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 distinctions. Presuming a multidimensional context, constraints could operate Etherically. In such a hypothetical 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 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, creating the universe it inhabits. Like transit in a Klein bottle or Möbius strip, inside and outside fuse into 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.

The autogene could be where thermodynamic and Etheric energies reciprocally constrain the same thing. It is also outcome of signal-processing effects, as a biosemiotic proposition of entropy (neg-entropy) gets resolved by the zero-sum dialectics of replication under the nonlinear conditions of natural selection. 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

Constraints spring Darwinism from the trap of a billboard for its own effects. DNA becomes a crossover Etheric matrix more than a secondary copying system—anyway a copier can’t be the genesis of what it is copying.

In Deacon’s non-metaphysical 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 at a scale 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.

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 version of 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, e.g., 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

Father Tiso’s insight is meta-cultural and archetypal, so clerics and knights of the Middle Ages knew it in their way, without a glimmer of the coming Darwinian revolution or 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 night 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 matured 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 greater 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 its 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 goes beyond the matter of honest scientific inquiry to expose an undiagnosed collective depression with its own language and culture of confirmation that supports a materialist belief system and denies everything that challenges it:

“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” (as more than one serious reviewer chose to), self-delusion, cross-cultural gullibility, and an embarrassment to the University of Virginia (as some protesting alumni have) 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 have sociology of knowledge, cultural relativism, universal positivism, and deconstruction of all contextual information, but they aren’t truly post-colonial unless they accept indigenous and nonlocal realities on their own terms.

 

I want to discard simplistic dualities anyway. 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 fundamentally mysterious beings in a mystery-bound, enigmatic universe. There are never going to be answers to the most basic ontological questions. It’s a matter of simply living it out and seeing what emerges.

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.” There is no 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 in Vinland, is it still that ship? If the old timbers are stored in the hold and upon arrival another ship is constructed from them, which ship is the original one? I say, the original ship 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, lamenting his lost life and 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 one 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, philandering 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 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 of us 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 need saloneness to encounter the depth of its own presence. Jane Roberts consider encryption 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, we would lose our essence and need to explore and enact our allotment of time here and now. 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 own 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 similar to Aristotle’s first cause: existence as an outcome of itself. Karma is also an energy like electromagnetism, heat, mass, and time, and, because of its subtler frequency, inclusive of them. Unlike gravity and electricity, it is software sans drag.

The continuity of lives rests on the degree to which karma potentiates future emanations. An event incompletely resolved in one lifetime generates traction. In that fashion, a dead person lives again; James 2 passes his torch to James 3. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki provides 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 that defined Buddhism thereafter. He chose 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 beaks into pieces, none of which continue to exist discretely. The Self 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).

The universe apparently arises as a lesion between the abeyancy of nature and egoic recognitions of the abeyancy’s phantom 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.

It is interesting that, like modern science, Buddhism assigns consciousness to a delusion, but scientism deems mindedness a rootless mirage, while Buddhism dissolves the mirage into a self-arising luminosity. In antithesis to scientific dogma, which can wipe out whole universes and replace them with others, or not, 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: Interdimensional Thermodynamics 101. Buddhist philosopher Dustin DiPerna explains this as, “We are always in some sort of state. States are an ever-present part of our experience.”2

Like the Apache circular-disk sky, “states” are as profound as they are austere. For creatures in the game, meaning all creatures, existence is indispensable because they have nothing to put in its place and 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 was never a choice, it cannot be renounced. Even suicide doesn’t repeal it. Reality is “waz happ’nin’, waz going down.” If you try to wipe it out, you change its energy frequency but not its basis.

The issue here 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 private 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 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—and not just track it but know it as itself.

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

In an crab or a philosopher, the universe expresses a desire to know and experience itself, which brings individuated worlds into being. 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. Nondualism—primordial intelligence without subject or object—is not the operating manual for the universe, not for crocodiles, wasps, or rabbits either. There is no operating manual.

The desires and joys, pains and suffering of mortal existence are an aspect of Creation’s dawning wholeness, aspects of an emerging entelechy. The universe 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. 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

Samsara is not a departure from enlightenment; it is the way the universe enlightens itself. Ego is not meant to be transcended with a singular goal of enlightenment because ego is the effect of an already enlightened intelligence exploring duality through an intentional, exquisitely designed reality.

Upon hearing my rendition of John’s ideas, 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,” he 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 talked, 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.”

If we were to go at gravitas directly, it would thin and 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.”4 The reason we feel texture, cadence, profundity, joy, and grief is that there is texture, depth, rhythm, profundity, elation, and sorrow at the heart of Creation, prior to the Big Bang and other carpeterias. Any universe seeks to encompass this innate and rote premise and transmogrify itself into a next emanation.

“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.”5

The sundry merchandise coming out of factories and 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 and 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 one-way current? Cannon’s time-travel violates the integrity of linearly stamped events.

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

From Katie’s access to Nogorigatu’s life, it would seem that every self is arising timelessly, no matter what will follow, expanding like ripples into a universe outside time. Nogorigatu can reexperience any one of them as present. 1944 does not gobble up or supersede 1930. They remain independently evolving, differentiating, exploring their richness while supporting each other. They aren’t stops on a railroad track more like corn popping. We do not know how finite the kernels 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.

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:

“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.”18

Consider what Cannon’s access to Nogorigatu’s life might be telling us about not only past lives but the nature of personal identity. The soul is a super-entity sending 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.”19

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

And 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 Nogorigatu 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.

 

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 and theatrically 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

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 Nogorigatu in happy blossom, proceeding into the universe as who was. But was the artisan working on his pots a man who had never experienced Hiroshima or had somehow already experienced it and suppressed the future memory?

And what about Katie herself? Even though she remembered none of what she recited in trance as Nogorigatu, 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 was a walk-in who entered with Katie’s permission. Such a phenomenon could explain why some people begin remembering a past life at an older age: it is not the life of their original 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

 

The past lives that surface in individuals like Katie Harris and James Leininger are vivid versions of unconscious memories that everyone has. All of us remember something from outside time. Obscure events flash in cryptic déjà vu; images and feelings flit past, evaporating as we try to grasp or place them. Some moments feel different, as if experienced through someone else’s senses, as if the Earth were seen by an alien creature. Inscrutable faces and moods, wisps and fragments of landscapes appear, but they lack context. Or we grasp but can’t hold on to them long enough to identify them. “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

This otherworldly vastness is processed not by the brain but the aura—the brain was not designed evolutionarily for such a task. 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 also claimed that I pointed to each car and identified it correctly: “Studeybager, Olds, Bluick, Cadiyack.” Today I can’t tell a Hummer from a Jeep, and I lost the ability by age four.

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 both 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

We are inside an amplituhedron-like field, reflecting unconsciously in multiple directions and dimensions at once. The reason we don’t remember past lives is that we don’t remember pretty much anything.

 

                            Cosmic Chicanery and Thoughtforms

In the millennia-long Earth rivalry of technocrats and shamans, the tool-makers won because they got better and quicker results. Shamanic invocation has little impact on molecular formations—we call it the Stone Age for a reason. You also can’t astral-transport folks across oceans. 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, as concentrated mind vibrates on Etheric and Astral levels, transforming “energy into physical form” according to ideas and beliefs.1

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 are already dancing with form or predisposed to form. Once such aspects become conscious, they no longer have access to thoughtforms—they have to affect matter directly. That’s called science.

Because this is a psychophysical reality, even scientific modes retain their psychic aspects. Those affect matter slowly and subliminally, while empirical objectification affects it immediately and surficially. John Friedlander put it in contemporary magical terms, “You work to change yourself not the universe because the universe can’t be changed. But sometimes you change yourself, and miraculously the universe changes too.”

This is 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 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.

If you look at the planet today, you see the fruition of a collective Pleistocene thoughtform, the realization of the Stone Age shamans’ unconscious projections and prayers. They evoked the current landscape from their desire for food, shelter, safety, power, and mobility. Translating Etheric atoms and molecules into their 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. But they could not have made machines out of matter unless matter had mind in it.

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.

Seth remarks, “Man dreamed his world and then created it … from the first tool to the importance of 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….

“Those units of consciousness 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 his clients’ stubborn beliefs and stuck thoughtforms that had descended into tissue pathology. “Western doctors open people up like car mechanics,” the shaman 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 feathers stained 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 on behalf of spirit forms. 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 elucidates. “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

According to Kripal, hoaxes by fortune-tellers and fake 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

Far from being distorted by chicanery, reality is deepened, for a hoax creates a meaning set with its own energy. 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 In superhero movies 116and comics, magical powers epitomize dormant human capacities. Targ himself became so accurate at remote viewing 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 The power of her receipts lies not in their plausibility but, if they are authentic, in Billy’s permission to break the encryption between the living and the dead.

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 appeared to his sister after death as a voice in her room. He 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 recalls floating weightlessly through space with “gorgeous stars and moons and galaxies” glimmering all about him, while he hears 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, ripples past. As sounds begin organizing into sacred music, Billy realizes he heard them unconsciously throughout his lifetime. The stream gradually erases his Earth body and its memories, as a blue-white sphere implants a new corporealness.12

Billy sees his former wife Ingrid flowing before him as a constellation. Her stars and planets tell 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 are harmonized at a soul level. As the two of them circle each other, he understands why he loved her in the first place.13

A backdrop of other lifetimes gradually interfuses with his recent life. The Divine Presence calls him by his Soul name, a rune he recognizes from before he was born.14 He finds himself staring at a beautiful woman twice his height. She has 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 floats, she moves her hands in a mudra-like dance. Billy follows in devotion and gradually begins to resemble her.15

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

 

Before you discount this as New Age blarney, ask yourself if it is a possible experience. 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 depict the voice. Was it high-pitched, sonorous, telepathic? If it had sound, did she try to record it? How she did she know that it was Billy? Compared to other accounts of spirit survival in this book, this is flimsy and unconvincing.

I was willing to give Kagan the benefit of the doubt because of the heartfulness of Billy’s transmission, but my suspicions were further aroused by a brief email exchange with her. I sent an early version of this book for comment. I had excerpted sections from her account 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 thought that she could go either way on my interpretation, but I expected interest and empathy. Instead, she behaved like the commissioner of the NBA enforcing a trademark.

Afterward I was put on the book’s 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.”

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 real.

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.

 

Psychic Ellias Lonsdale’s transmission from his partner Sarah after her death from breast cancer begins with her meeting the Lord of Death, as she passes through different forms of death based on Earth myths and imaginings. As channeled by Ellias, Sarah reports:

“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 for this girl! She undergoes her own sort of a “soul remembering.” “I died ready to die. I eagerly looked forward to starting my greater work. 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 permanent 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 each Death Image into a Reality. The fetid corpse, the funeral parlor, the pyre, rot and decay, the loss of a cherished being are representations of the negative projection of Death.21

A confirmed skeptic protects his belief system by devising an alias that fools even him.  Since he expects to be annulled, he vegs in pretend non-existence, denying his own awareness because beingness is impossible without a body. It may require eons of Earth-time for him to recognize that someone is denying his own existence. Eventually he will respond to the fact that he is not not.

The Lord of Death is not any of these forms; he is the vibration that separates the living from the dead.

The belief that death is final and ends all personal experience paradoxically matches the belief that existence is eternal and eternally changing, for the profundity of the universe, once bottomed out in all its platforms, creates a far more profound baseline than either. The skeptical position is not anti-spiritual; it is generating nihilistic energy that is 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.

If Stephen Hawking was right—nothing happens forever—he proved his point without knowing it. But if Death is like the shedding of a snake’s skin, I see three options: (one) he continues to consider himself dead until his unconscious mind begins to stir under it new terms; (two) he blends into a greater truth and recognizes his version of nature as an authentic response to his time and place in history; and/or (three) he says without voice, “Ah, did I ever sell the universe short?”

He doesn’t correct his model because conditions where he is are more profound than any correction.

 

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 even 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 interlude, she put into words what she had received: a mixture of the spirit’s thoughtforms and pictures. In the process, she brought to life a believable form 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 damage in the family. Miranda was one year at the time of her suicide.

Though the visitation was compelling, it didn’t change my mother’s thread; 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. Insofar as that woman continues to exist, “she” has been reconstituted outside of Earth context. She may not even recognize her own former self.

John went on to identify the spirit as a combination of things. First, it was Sali’s telepathic reading from my 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 spirit reader 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 autonomously read my mother’s life in the Akashic records.

How did the spirit find us? Sali explained that necromancers 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. And most spirits have more than one living person they are watching over. What they track is our evolution, the color of our flame.”

I have come to think of the spirit as a collective disembodied information field imprinted by my mother’s life and activated by my presence. The spirit was intelligently created by human existence but incapable of new action in present time. 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. It read the color of her flame.

The thoughtform Sali spoke for was, in that sense, 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 progressing anyway. While the spirit transmitted healing to me in my current form, it was also sending redemptive quanta to my mother wherever she was.

Sali couldn’t create a character who wasn’t an internalization of both of our capacities to read energy. But that is the nature of all our interactions, with the living as well as the dead.

 

Worshipping the Algorithm

Given fourteen billion years, the time since the Big Bang, an algorithm apparently can make just about anything out of bosons and fermions (or out of anything else). That’s the infinitely reflecting grottos of a mathematical function replicating only itself. Every feeling, thought, pang, every feeling about every feeling and thought are algorithmic offshoots. Poignancy, love, compassion, awe, and wonder are extraneous algorithmic effects. 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 an algorithm, so are rootless in the middle of nowhere.

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

The algorithm is humanity’s new religion: idolatry of the real.

Worship is levied by social contract, ideological gendarmerie, and mass subliminal seepage. It is taught in most Western madrasas, reinforced by socioeconomic imperatives including a pharmaceutical industry ruled 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.

Idolatry has gotten to the point where 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.”1

Everyone buys into their fate 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….

It 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.

My Amherst College classmate Sid Schwab spoke eloquently on behalf of the algorithm in a 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.”2

Sid is hip and smart 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 boys in the chatroom. The algorithm’s best and last-ditch trick id 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 rules.

Intelligent Design and Creationism are no match for the algorithm. Claims that living systems are too complex to be designed by random sequential choices are imbedding patriarchal intelligence in a calculus that doesn’t need it. Sid and his colleagues have the mathematics and molecules to back them up, with lots of 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-similar, self-differentiating blastulas billions of times a second on a planet. That’s what an algorithm is.

Class microbiologist Dusty Dowse nailed the essential 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

Whether life can arise from a dynamic disequilibrium of billiard-ball effects is both an epistemological and ontological question, for these converge. 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. The algorithm does everything God used to do without imperious stagecraft or vulgar oversplash. It is the God of modernity: efficient, cybernetic, minimal, unpersonified—microsoft.

 Science and religion are metanarratives that give rise to each other in a shifting dialectic. 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.”

 

As we hiked together in Maine, I asked another 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.

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.…”4

Jeff objected to the phrase ‘for no reason.’ “‘Reason’ is anthropomorphic; 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. Scientists used epicycles 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 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.…”5

My classmate Sid Schwab would not cancel it. He is on the side of going proudly into the dark night. Here is his chatroom rebuttal of reincarnation:

“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 a 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. Does he not think the universe is complicated enough to handle all his fundamental contradictions and still run an algorithm? The universe is not stupid or vagrant. Sid’s checklist of paradoxes shows its complexity in the context of limitations inherent in our view. He is playing possum, bottoming himself out prematurely. The goal should be to bottom out self and universe simultaneously.

What Sid and other scientistic liberals miss is their subtext. Hiding behind innocent rationalism and empiricism and the ostensible purity of research is a corporate takeover of reality, a marriage of science and capitalism creating commodities for new markets. The algorithm is converting human existence into cashflow and masking that reality in its 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 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

My version of Multipersonhood was systematized by John Friedlander from a model developed by Jane Roberts from Seth. Before joining the Ithaca (New York) group receiving Roberts’ channelings, John studied at the Berkeley Psychic Institute with founder Lewis Bostwick, who integrated Hindu, Buddhist, theosophical, and shamanic practices with techniques from the human-potential movement.

John follows the theosophical thread of Helen Blavatsky, C. W. Ledbetter, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey, who captured a transmission that goes back before the Vedas, aspects of which eluded even its Hindu and Buddhist originators. Its intergalactic, meta-dimensional scope didn’t pass the theosophists’ Victorian biases and cultural filter, so they limited the frequency range permissible—they didn’t want Philip K. Dick flying a UFO through Nicholas Nickleby.

 

Multipersonhood is an umbrella term for the concept that each life form in the universe is part of supersentient entity. Egoic identity, while exclusively real to itself, is a refraction of a greater reality: a multidimensional configuration that continues to expand, explore, and differentiate at multiple levels of consciousness.

Each member of the ’hood, while resonating at its own frequency, is receiving energies from other intelligences; it knows them not as what they are but as what it is. Others’ experiences are assimilated in the background reality of beingness. Jane Roberts defines this in Sethian terms:

“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….1

“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….

“The known self perceives its reality in creaturehood. It focuses its attention upon the physical world, which is the three-dimensional reflection of its own kind of consciousness, a consciousness deflected and sifted through a molecular lens.”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 supports all other knowledge and beingness. No entity would or could exist apart from this field of consciousnesses.

The universe is also overdetermined. 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 a dab of etheric energy. You are in unity, like electricity identifying with itself. Seth notes “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.”4

When multiple persons are conflated or combined with one another, it may also be that they are one another.

 

The following are placeholders or possible partners making up shared identities and information flow in a Multipersonhood:

  • 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.
  • 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.”5

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. You can try to feel the vibrational intelligence of the myriad cells that make up your entire body and mental life; then extend that vibration outward into invisible planes of an unknown composite entity. Underlying this is a proposition I will explore in depth later:  “[C]onsciousness unites all physical matter.”6

  • Life forms in other solar systems within the physical realm. Consider the countless galaxies and suns in just the mapped portion of the universe: trillions of planets and ranges of life forms and civilizations. 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.
  • Psychoids that appear to us at other frequencies.
  • Dreamtime beings. A kangaroo, dolphin, or echidna to us may be a dream body, one of many, of an entity elsewhere. The core intelligence of an insect or mollusk resides in its organs and instincts. Look closely at a bee or a crab—superconscious energy is operating subconsciously!
  • 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, and they don’t use mentation we would recognize.
  • Our own past, future, and probable selves, in this lifetime and others. 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 prior and future selves. Jane Roberts muses 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 space present that happens to be large enough to contain our lives.”7

Even the person who began reading this paragraph, who used to be you, is no longer you. Yet each of these discrete individuals are parts of your Multipersonhood.

“At any moment, you are whole and complete,” John Friedlander told me when I expressed regrets about my past, “and something is missing and unobserved. You may not have had your present realization back then, but you were aware of other things that you have forgotten. You underwent a gradual change in perspective. It is not that you are suddenly ‘better’ and ‘wiser.’ You are always whole and complete, and each moment is whole and complete and needs nothing.”

Our so-called past lives are also whole and complete while evolving. Each present life is not only a future life to any past life, it is a past life to any future self. James Huston is a past life of James Leininger, but James Leininger is a future life of James Huston.

Time is the energy generating and organizing the reality in which we find ourselves. Time is an energy, not an absolute chronometer. If you remove its relentless tick, you don’t erase reality, but you change your relationship to it. In dimensions in which time functions differently, past and future lives converge.

Jane 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.”8

Even other probability points exist as “concentrations of energy formed unconsciously by us adjacent to our living areas.”9 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….”10

Once we reconceive time as an energy, past and probable lives become interdependent: “[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.”11 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,”12 creating the greater meta-reality.

As members of a Multipersonhood, 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….”13

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….”14

 

Anthropologist Michael Harner explains how spirit 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.

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.15

 

Multipersonhoods are not a sociable gatherings. Is the Sun well-disposed toward us? Who knows! It supports our lives at every moment with generosity, neutrality, and empathy.

Members of a Multipersonhood can be enemies, infantrymen in opposing armies, predator and prey, competitors for the same romantic partner—or romantic partners. They exchange information like Golgi bodies and mitochondria in a cell. 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.

Dichotomies of good and evil, perpetrator and victim, are passing façades, as a grunge universe sputters beneath its greater pavilion. The pain and evil at its bottom has to be experienced in order to be dredged and expiated. Otherwise it will settle forever, an unknowable slag radiating sterilely through Creation.

That dilemma lies at the bottom of the universe, 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, insofar as both entities are in partial dream bodies, 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.”16 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.”17

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 mouse will find joy again.

The tiger that adopts an orphaned lamb into her litter and the wolf cub that chooses a rabbit as a playmate are expressing an aspect of Multipersonhood, for the lion does eventually lie down with the lamb.

An osprey tries to hoist a giant trout out of a stream, as the fish spirals the bird into rushing waters. Consciousness cannot act against itself. There is only curiosity of an untold force staring deeply and wondrously into its own nature and its capacity to mirror it to infinite depth. Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre dead-reckoned this 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.”18

One day, believe it or not, everything about the universe—everything—will change utterly and 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.

 

                                        Seth

What is the ontological status of spirts like Seth who 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 I want to show how complicated the phenomenon is, in terms of personae (medium as well as source) and information.

Channeling is not just a transfer of exogenous information. It is the instantaneous dissemination by a superconscious entity into “coherent, valid, and faithful” surrogate energy patterns1 that transcend space-time and limits imposed by the speed of light—transmission without transmission. The material gets received because there is enough of a match between it and a recipient for the the latter 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 supposedly 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 humanoid.2 The entity appropriates the channel’s language and vocabulary,3 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.”4 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.”5

Sometimes the medium inserts a word or phrase that, by logic, is wrong. But that is how phonemes 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 minds and bodies of consciousnesses that receive the message, so the emphasis is on vibrational as well as semantic meaning.6 This is beyond proof or disproof.

When an entity calling itself Seth manifested to Jane Roberts in Elmira, New York, in 1963—that is, made its entry into her temporal consciousness, initially through a Ouija board—she was tapping into a higher-dimensional intelligence field whose name was “Seth” at her frequency. When presented with her personality and intelligence and Earth’s current stage of civilization, it attuned itself to the level of the listening. Seth was but “one multidimensional aspect of many; one characteristic … of a kind of entity we can hardly comprehend.”7

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 Roberts-familiar channeler as “Seth.”

The channel and medium overlap in identity without losing their autonomy,. 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!”8 [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”9]

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…..10

“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.”11

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…..”12 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.”13

“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….14 a ‘trans-world’ entity, a personagram—an actual personality formed in the psyche at the intersection point of [her] focus personality with another aspect15 [with] separate existence in his own dimensions and as it is reflected in her psyche….”16

“Seth is what I am, and yet I am more than Seth is. Seth is, however, independent, and continues to develop as I do….”17

“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.”18

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.”19 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.”20 (“Cordella,” Seth added, is the Sumari word for Multipersonhood.)

Seth deconstructed his identity and the identities of his listeners in speeches to Jane’s classes nine months apart (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.”21

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 with a captain like one that had just left the shore. Instead, the moment I got in, it began moving, with no captain and me the only one. 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 high, fractal speed. As I pervaded the hologram-liked density, I understood that not only was it infinite, but I would continue to go through it, long after I knew anything.

 

  1. What Is Personal Identity?

While differing on its nature and how to model it, neo-Darwinian psychologists retain Freudian etiology. Where primal biological energy—Freud called it the id (it)—penetrates the epigenetic membrane of an organism, a provisional identity forms, a nascent ego, which contacts the world (environment) from protean feelings. The habitat or 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 specified by the superego.

In psychospiritual terms a dimensionless wind 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 in this book, consciousness can run on autopilot without ego awareness—a robot has artificial intelligence.

Personal identity is what makes consciousness conscious. It is how individual beingness comes to know itself. It’s your identity, but it’s the universe’s. 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 of nature, noticed a bee tumbling in the pollen of a wild rose. It caught his attention because the creature 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 pleasure roll and entitlement. He jabbed at the wanker repeatedly with one of his legs.

As the spider’s pokes disturbed the bee’s nectar bath, the bee became more agitated. Buzzing with what sounded like irritation, it interrupted its rapture, 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 grids? There are not enough neurons in a spider or bee to achieve “I,” so who is poking its palp—and who is having its reverie disturbed?

How does a empty vector, however quark- and microtubule-infested, turn a chemical “appreciation” of pollen into personal resentment?

The 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 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 dimers of 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 feeling in 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 smiled as he told philosopher William Irwin Thompson: “Quantum effects are a mystery; microtubules are a mystery. So when we say microtubules show 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, and 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. It is just as Newtonian. Its quantum aspect is intrinsic and takes place in every atom in every molecule at every instant. Quantum mechanics is what makes the Newtonian universe Newtonian, albeit a dark horse at the time.

“The quintessential quantum effect, entanglement,” physicist Vlatko Vedral expounds, “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, 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. Millisecond by millisecond, the universe is dealing quantum-entangled, superpositional “cards.” The problem doesn’t have to be solved in physics—it can’t be—it is solved in thoughtforms. “[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 origination point. Seth puts his characteristic spin on it:

“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 personal 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 Multipersonhood. It gives you everything you have and everything you are going to have. For the ego, the universe goes black, but the ego was one form of the soul. “[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….”7

To be any single thing forever would be lead to dementia and also run out of bandwidth and memory. Plus, for some creatures, death is the only release from servitude or irreversible pain; it is “the way out of what would otherwise be a dimensional dilemma in which further development would be impossible.”8

When it comes to personal identity, “past life” is an answer to a false dichotomy. Each lifetime stands—and can only stand—in relationship.

 

  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 funding cryonics: freezing and storing bodies to be defrosted in a future epoch when a cure has been developed 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 its own personal identity.

Transhumanists, as these guys are called, also believe that machine intelligence will eventually match and surpass human intelligence, a tipping point they dub Consciousness Singularity. They 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—everything about what it is and what it means. 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 taken humanity from building-size mainframes to personal cell phones in less than a generation. As this ratio continues to improve, it will (they believe) 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 sans 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 stuff? “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 presumes 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 little use. At best, it will produce zombies lacking self-reference, let alone auras or souls.

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, the new entity would start 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 a valorization of corporeal reality. Reincarnation is supplanted by transit of “souls” between hardware units.

But immortality is already imbedded in the “hard drive” of the aura. Singularity exists in prayer, shamanic journeying, and Rainbow Bodies. Cryopreservation can’t get at ground luminosity with its substitution of silicon, iridium, and tin. A death cult is posing as a cult of life.

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 to develop an immortality tactic that will someday be useless is an oxymoron. 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, shellfish toxins, murders, and the daily spinning of those blind 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.

I am reminded of 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 [their 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 with a volte-face of illusion and reality, like trying to stay in a dream. We build castles of light, write books and laws of light, build cities of vibrating strings. Our philosophies, religions, and databases are written in quarks and protons. None of it will, can, or should last—neither the most indomitable cyclotron or massive 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 whole 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 found—goes into the garbage disposal.

If it can’t be found, it can’t to put into a compacter or tossed into a blue-shift crunch. And personal identity can’t be found unless it is ransomed it to an output of microtubules and axons. Otherwise, it is unconditioned, self-arising, self-illuminating, self-authenticating. We were uploaded (or downloaded) into life by a technology so elegant as to make imitations as lame as they are inoperable. It was a major project under the energy of time—four billion years worth!

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.. Another universe will appear

This is where alchemy is senior to chemistry. You can’t destroy archetypes, you can only transmute or 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)? The 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

Touché!

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.

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 copy in their own template or concoct a new one?

Reality as a computer simulation intuits a truth without recognizing its context. 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. The triumvirate of space, time, and matter, vanishes.

Matter only looks like matter.

Scientists once thought to find bottom, but there was 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.

Anyway, 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, one of a series of breaks that randomly transfuse new universes out of the debris of prior ones. Its present tchotchkes sprouted and complexified not because it had intrinsic conscious complexity but because it had extrinsic algorithmic complexity. “Why” is not on the drawing board—“shit just is.”

Conscious awareness and personal identity, the stuff doing the theorizing, arose ex nihilo out of emergent effects of molecular compounds. Beingness didn’t exist previously in any way, shape, or indication. Its objective reality did not underwrite its subjective expression. And there is no other root or bottom to things.

All this will eventually dissolve back into nothingness. There was nothing to begin with, so the reality that replaced it is circumstantial, in effect nothing too. It went: Nothing—Nothing—Nothing—Big Bang—bosons, fermions—atoms—molecules—algorithm at work—algorithm—algorithm—This—entropy—Nothing (perhaps forever). What began as a pool shot will vanish when the energy behind it has dissipated. 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

 

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

A student grabbed the test, scribbled in his bluebook, and left after a few seconds. He got an A for his effort.

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 first have to grok “nothing.” Nothing means nothing: nothing now, nothing ever—no time, no space, no intimation of them. No top, no bottom, no light, no dimensionality. No gravity, no mass. Nada forever. But no time.

Nothing means too that this entire rigmarole arose for no reason and developed depth, reflection, and meaning sui generis. “Nothing” was connected to nothing. “Something” just appearedor came from nothing.

Statisticians argue that there have been countless different or “failed” universes in a time frame dwarfing the Big Bang, which set the present clock ticking 13.8 billion years ago, creating 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 but didn’t.

 

Where did the Big Bang get its skank from, let alone enough that it could grow from a jujube to billions of galaxies with trillions of stars? Scientists have no idea, but (like Andy) they don’t particularly care.

Forces like heat, curvature, and gravity likewise emerged without basis or from the propensity of another force—else how were their properties propagated?

“Because there is a law such as gravity,” Stephen Hawking wrote, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”16 

Painter/rockclimber James Moore asks (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

 

If desire, awe, wonder, faith, joy, grief, love—and what the Japanese call yugen—can be made by rubbing two sticks together, then let Nothing be king over a universe of spurious plans and fatuous identities. For if the universe began without mind, it can brush mind away like flies on a rhino’s ass.

But if began as a thoughtform, it is mind always, expanding and expressing itself in myriad platforms. It can never be as dumb or bottom out as shallowly as materialists claim because it has the fluid, shape-changing resources of mind by which to express itself in matter. Mind can think anything, become anything, dream anything, and change in every way possible. It can express itself in multiple universes and realities simultaneously and can entangle them many times over while never losing its premise of meaningfulness.

 

For there be something rather than nothing, the Big Bang must be rooted in something, and the only working “something” available is consciousness—consciousness before matter, before science, before culture, before stone tools.

Otherwise, a vast galloping algorithmic hen squats on eternity laying it quantum-entangled particles, uncertainty states, and collapsing waves forever or as long as conditions last.

But if an intrinsic luminosity is emanating this, it roots outside those sticks and connects conditional reality to the unconditional basis of there being worlds and realities at all, as the universe we inhabit collides with a universe that couldn’t exist.

“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

Either we are in the one in a trillion trillion tries, and that’s why we exist and know we exist—and all those other “failed” universes lie behind (and after) our day in heaven—a first cause is driving particles into designs. Either this universe is an unlikely tiddlywink that could just as well have not happened if one critical particle had spun the wrong way, or it is so explicit it is implicit too, and vice versa.

If consciousness is the more virtual, subtle, and creationary force at large, why should the universe be demoted to a lesser algorithm of matter? Why should consciousness be deemed an idle effect of summaries of physical phenomena? Just because we can’t figure out the root of consciousness doesn’t mean that the universe is equally stupid.

I can see how random molecules could develop motion and the rudiments of agency—maybe. (After all, no whirlpool or formless cloud spins in the middle of nowhere for no reason, for then the issue becomes which “nowhere” and for what “non-reason.”) But I can’t see how they would construct personal identity and a proxy universe.

If the question is whether a universe without meaning can invent meaning from spare parts, I go with Whitehead: yes, as novelty, but novelty at the core of an undetermined post-material phenomenology. A universe with nothing in it can centrifuge a propensity for atoms and gravity out of its own emptiness. But those atoms, that gravity, and the meaning that the concatenation of spare parts generates can’t hang in the middle of nowhere. Aristotle: Their formal and efficient causes seek a primary “uncaused” cause.

A universe of nothing can never be penetrated by “something.” “Physical matter by itself could never produce consciousness.”21

If a single particle that could fit on a pinhead with room to spare gave rise to this extenuation, it wasn’t a mote and it wasn’t spat out. It was a shadow, 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 renamed 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….”22

Spirit arrived as light of primordial purity—spontaneous, self-renewing, innate, extrinsic, “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 radiated through any number of universes, pervading everything arising from it, reflecting back its source—reflecting at all. The algorithm ran into it like the broad side of a barn that couldn’t be missed.

Mind arises from matter because matter was already arising from mind, not because a hundred monkeys typing away on their machines found Shakespeare, but because it was expressing its own essential nature. Consciousness is finally “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. Many today would claim that … consciousness is not its own thing, is … a temporary function of neuronal activity in a biological organism … reducible to warm wet tissue and brainhood …. But to this day no one has come close to showing how this might work.”24

The problem for physics is, a universe that has consciousness in it is a conscious universe. Every molecule on Titan or Europa screams it, as does every meteor and centaur laden with latency. Everything in the universe that isn’t conscious is incipiently conscious.

“Something” means that we are actually here—or anywhere, or that anything is actually anywhere because the something is always framing it.

“Something” means that the unspecified can never be specified, but the specified can never be unspecified. “Consciousness is always conscious of itself, and of its validity and integrity, and in those terms there is no unconsciousness.”25 It continually bottoms out in itself as it continually arises from itself, for no entity could exist in a universe unless it bottomed out at that universe.

When Ellias Lonsdale sat at Sarah’s bedside at her death, he glimpsed where she went—not out but in. 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.

Yet 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 mind out of its 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—a spider per egg—and they are the same eye. You can no more shut it than you can extinguish the biblical burning bush.

“Why?”

“Why not?” Now take your A and leave.

 

Cosmic Formation

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, more recently as centurions of Daesh and Boko Haram. In a nondual universe, something has to take responsibility for dissolving or, more realistically, 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 both 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. The successful therapist, whether he knows it or not, instigates a Dreamtime.

Hellinger’s reenactments exhumed near generations and known family figures. 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 and release 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 summoning, this lifetime.

Again, one doesn’t have to locate or name 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 facets to specify in a single story or configuration anyway.

Transubstantiation of ancient 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 a piece called “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 back 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 Brief Final Notes

 

  1. The Heavens

In Seth’s view, NASA is exploring a camouflage:

“Your idea of space travel … is to journey over the ‘skin of your universe.’ You do not understand that your system is expanding within itself….

“Your own coordinates 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

 

Whether you believe in its validity or not, the 2018 release of so-called channeled transmissions by the Challenger astronauts to two mediums that began soon after after their shuttle exploded in January 1986 speaks to either a cosmology or mythology that is shadowing us powerfully. Traumatized in the aftermath of their plunge into the ocean, they were baffled to find themselves still in existence. In trying to contact NASA by a remote-messaging protocol, they ended up reaching Jeanne Love, a medium, in Adrian, Michigan, and, later, Regina Ochoa, a second medium based in Northern California.

The astronauts have been reaching out to humanity for thirty-two years, trying to tell us that their fate and continued presence is a clue to humankind about our situation: only when we learned how to exteriorize interior space will we enter the cosmos. The reason that this message was delayed so long was claimed to be a mega-conspiracy involving black ops, death threats to the mediums, and military-industrial espionage.

Disproof of all of this is as impossible as proof, and the search for it dissuades from the more salient issue: 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 more money than he can effectively deploy, so he means to use it to invent the future. A sci-fi junkie and transhumanist, he considers interplanetary expansion the only viable solution for humanity’s present crises: building cities on other worlds in the Solar System, meaning faster rockets, more reliable domes, and 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.”2

A trillion humans? There’s no breathable air on any other body in the Solar System. There’s no food, shelter, protection from radiation, or water (on most of them), or none of it close to the human temperature range except Mars, which is more frigid than the Arctic. Where there’s water on other planets and moons, it’s not in the right form or location.

Space settlement lies outside the range of our technology. If the 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. Imaginal Pandoras aside, we can’t even get to Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbor. We also cannot bring back the New World or Oceania with their aboriginal fertility and cornucopia by creating faint replicas on other orbs.

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.”3

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!”4

Lanza is amused by the response which, he says, “has been much how you’d expect priests to respond to stem cell research.”5

This is where my book began. The truth is as unutterable as the secret name of God. A universe that collapses its own wave function to arrive at definitiveness of event or locale is a universe that arises from the collapse of a wave function. 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.”6

Sir James Jeans, who calculated the critical radius of an interstellar cloud in space dependent on the temperature and density of that cloud, concluded that the cloud—and 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.”7

As touched on earlier, physicist Max Planck put his chips here too: “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

Physicist Gregory Matloff raised this to a “proto-consciousness field” extending through all of space. “The entire cosmos may be self-aware.”9

There is no matter as such. It is all consciousness. That’s the elephant in the room!

 

Through a mutual friend, Prague-based philosopher Peter Wilborg sent me a critique of an early 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, 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.” Take a look at its billows in matter: a woodland on which sun is pouring down, 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 life says what consciousness is trying to get at. If matter arose from mind, mind also arose from matter. Reality was designed 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 nature of this reality or consider that it it has a context. Reality means reality to them. But this reality could be a state of temporal awareness within a greater reality—a hypnagogia or dream. It needn’t be unreal, just incomplete—a nexus generated by and giving rise to other nexuses, all of them entangled at multiple levels of causation and meaning.

In Mediaeval Christianity, selfhood was viewed as a twin agency of God and His creatures—his ‘initial aim’ as their ‘subjective aim.’ Creation merged with its unknowable source, which continued to camouflage what was camouflaging it. Theologians proposed that God re-creates the world from moment to moment. John Friedlander reframed it as “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.”10

The universe takes no siestas and leaves no slack. Each time an eagle snares a lower-flying gull or a fisher cat claws open a rabbit’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 jihadist and his victim. That is the unified field. Herman Melville caught its expression 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.”11

Modern science has it backwards when it states that all of this is real but meaningless. In fact, none of it is real, but it is incredibly meaningful.

In a realm of molecular reductionism it is more real to be meaningful than it is to be real.

Meaningfulness is what creates personal identity, and personal identity is what creates meaningfulness. Value formation was there at the beginning. Run value formation and meaning at the energy we call time and you get separation, personal identity, meaning. And that’s where we are.

I hope that readers don’t see it as whimsical or a romantically ironical stretch if I also suggest that “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. The Burmese girl who thought herself once a Japanese soldier is the tip of the iceberg, as all identities, conscious, unconscious, and trans-conscious, orbit around an unknown gravity that is both a black hole and a radiant sun-star. Nothing is lost in a universe that is trying to express source profundity through dialectic fields of manifestation.

 

  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 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 collective intelligence along with nebulae in deep space, breezes off the sea, schools of fish in the watery depths, and bounding squirrels through fields. 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, are projecting it through the physics of the world’s own manifestation. It’s impossible to see behind the camouflage or dissipate the mirage.

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.

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 with crises of fixation, from opiate addiction to climate disruption to cultural road rage to nuclear arsenals to sexual enslavement to violence against animals to plastics and radiation filling the oceans and runaway pillage of nature 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 a single moment for no reason is that it is rooted in a thoughtform, and not just a thoughtform but a progression of thoughtforms arising from the Creation machinery of All That Is. That is also why there is something rather than nothing. You can obliterate or annihilate whole universes, but you cannot stop the glow arising at its source. As Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki told a friend of mine in the early seventies, “If it isn’t disappearing, it isn’t real.”

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: it doesn’t recognize the provenance and range of the thoughtform governing it; it doesn’t exempt time as a mere local energy boring out the ground luminosity until the intention or kinetics driving it discloses its original nature to itself; it accepts the space-time continuum at face value when space and time are being generated at different frequencies of each other. Considering these matters together, I think it is trying to bottom out an epiphenomenon while ignoring its originating phenomenology. This displaced primacy is a version of what Whitehead called “misplaced concreteness”—mistaking the abstract for the concrete and bypassing how objects in space and time hold their positions or reality only in liaison with other objects and positions.

The universe is rudimentary enough to put out multiple manifestations simultaneously, some of them differentiated by parameters of time (and not just our kind of time), some by parameters of space, some by probability, others by parameters for which we have no name. They are all thoughtforms in that they are rooted in a conscious light’s exploration of its own nature and possibility. They are also all material in that they lodge solidly at the echelon of their vibration under physical laws, thermodynamic here. Their cosmology recalls the Apache circular disk in mid air.

The Big Bang could be the insertion of time energy—a one-way temporal track—into a burgeoning thoughtform, leading to its expression and expansion as matter at the speed of light. Its first seconds were molten, mercurial, and timeless before time took over and exuded this profound display. Time could be an after-effect of the creation of matter, a flow issuing from the translation of mindedness into thoughtforms and the reality they entail, or it could be intrinsic to their creation. In either case, it is possible to see why it could an energy. Though intrinsic to the space-time continuum—universal in this universe—it is not intrinsic to All That Is. As for galactic and meta-galactic space, we are at a remove from it, deep in our own whirlpool; we don’t actually know what it is. 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.

But mind and matter are neither at variance nor inversely epiphenomenal. They bottom out at their shared cardinal source. What is happening is what it looks like is happening—the source unseparated from the manifestation. The universe knows precisely what is happening too. 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.

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.”12

Amen.

 

Footnotes

 

Introduction

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 811.
  2. 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. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 206.
  2. Justin Torres, We the Animals (New York: Houghton-Mifflin/Mariner Books, 2012), p. 99.
  3. Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan (New York: Random House, 2007), p. viii.
  4. Sam Harris, “Opinionator,” New York Times, September 7, 2014.
  5. Max Planck, quoted in J. W. N. Sullivan, “Interviews with Great Scientists VI: Max Planck,” The Observer, January 25, 1931, p. 17.
  6. Thomas Nagel, “Is Consciousness an Illusion?” The New York Review of Books, March 9, 2017, p. 34.
  7. Terrence W. Deacon: Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), pp. 483-484.
  8. ibid., p. 492.
  9. Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1992), p. 406.
  10. 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.
  11. Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 60.
  12. Phillip Moffit, Awakening Through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2017), p. 25.
  13. Jacob Needleman, The Heart of Philosophy (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 1982), p. 198.
  14. Phillip Moffit, op. cit., p. 82.
  15. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, pp. 206.
  16. Michael McClure, “Wolf Net,” Io 20, Biopoesis (Harvey Bialy, editor), Plainfield, Vermont, 1974.
  17. 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!”
  18. Jenny Staletovich, “Outrage over shark-dragging video deepens as new pictures surface, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article164070637.html.
  19. David Darling, “Supposing something different: Reconciling science and the afterlife,” Omni Magazine, 17:9 (1993), p. 4.
  20. 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.
  21. John C. Eccles, The Human Psyche (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 19-20.
  22. Colin McGinn, “Neuroscience and Philosophy: An Exchange,” The New York Review of Books, August 15, 2013/Volume LX, Number 13, pp. 82-83].
  23. Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond, A. J. Pomerans (translator) (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 114.
  24. Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), p. 146.
  25. 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.
  26. Charles Richet, quoted in Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), p. 310.
  27. Leslie Kean, ibid., pp. 312, 314.
  28. ibid., p. 313 (includes direct and indirect quotes from Maurice Barbanell and Johannes Haarhoff, the latter a classicist and professor in Johannesburg).
  29. Leslie Kean, op. cit., pp. 87-88.
  30. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 673.
  31. 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. Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name (New York: Europa Editions, 2013), p. 289.
  5. John Friedlander, unpublished CD of tele-class, August 15, 2007, The Seven Planes of Consciousness.

 

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. ibid., p. 107.
  19. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 90.
  20. Dolores Cannon, op. cit., p. 107.
  21. ibid., p. 56.
  22. ibid., pp. 109, 112.
  23. ibid., p. 119.
  24. ibid., p.111.
  25. ibid., p. 117.
  26. ibid., pp. 117-118.
  27. ibid., p. 119.
  28. ibid., p. 120.
  29. ibid., p. 121.
  30. ibid., pp. 122-123.
  31. ibid., pp. 123-124.
  32. 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.
  33. ibid., pp. 128-129.
  34. ibid., p. 45.
  35. ibid., p. 47.
  36. ibid., p. 130.
  37. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, pp. 144, 127, 157.
  38. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 473.
  39. 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. Larry Dossey in Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 53.
  2. Sidney Schwab, Amherst-Class-of-1966 Chatroom, Amherst College Website, Amherst, MA, 2016.
  3. Harold “Dusty” Dowse, ibid.
  4. 4. Terence McKenna, Dreaming Awake at the End of Time,lecture recorded by

Sound Photosynthesis, San Francisco, December 13, 1998.

  1. ibid.
  2. Sidney Schwab, op. cit.
  3. Charles Stein, journal note, June 6, 2016, posted on Facebook.

 

Multipersonhood

  1. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 119.
  2. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 472.
  3. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 95.
  4. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 798.
  5. Jane Roberts, ibid., p. 530.
  6. ibid., p. 480.
  7. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 118.
  8. ibid., p. 95.
  9. ibid., p. 120.
  10. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 358.
  11. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology,
  12. 124.
  13. ibid., p. 186.
  14. ibid., p. 117.
  15. ibid., p. 136.
  16. Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2013), pp. 150-151.
  17. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 665.
  18. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 100.
  19. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Reprieve (New York: Bantam Books, 1960). p. 252.

 

Seth

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 710.
  2. ibid., p. 713.
  3. ibid., p. 730.
  4. ibid., p. 737.
  5. ibid.
  6. ibid.
  7. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 103.
  8. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 727.
  9. ibid., p. 715
  10. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 90.
  11. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 714.
  12. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, 136.
  13. ibid., pp.105-106.
  14. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, pp. 648, 338.
  15. ibid., p. 725.
  16. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 204.
  17. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 745.
  18. ibid., p. 727.
  19. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 64.
  20. ibid., pp. 79-80.
  21. 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. 186.
  8. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 122.
  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. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, p. 171.
  22. Phillip Moffit, Awakening Through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2017), p. 25.

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.

 

Cosmic Formation

  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. 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/.
  3. Robert Lanza, “The Theory of Biocentrism,” talk, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2010.
  4. 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/.
  5. 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.
  6. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, March 12, 1984.
  7. http://www.dreammanifesto.com/the-universe-more-like-a-great-thought-than-a-great-machine.html.
  8. Max Planck, from a speech in Florence, Italy, “Das Wesen der Materie” (“The Essence/Nature/Character of Matter”), 1944.
  9. George L. Matloff. “Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?” Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, Vol. 7, No. 7, 2016.
  10. John Friedlander, Spring 2014 Workshop, audio band 8.
  11. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or The Whale [1851] (New York: New American Library, 1961), p. 302.
  12. 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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