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

Chapter One: Reincarnation and Past Lives

Chapter Two: 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

Chapter Three: Transdimensional Physics and Biology

Chapter Four: James Leininger or James Huston?

Chapter Five: Duality and Nonduality

Chapter Six: Soul Pictures

Chapter Seven: Trauma and Redemption

Chapter Eight: Cosmic Chicanery

Chapter Nine: Worshipping the Algorithm

Chapter Ten: Personal Identity

  1. Trickle-Down Ontology
  2. What Is the Relation Between Consciousness and Personal Identity?
  3. Death
  4. The Fallacy of Life Extension
  5. Is This Reality a Computer Simulation?
  6. Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Chapter Eleven: Multipersonhood

Chapter Twelve: Who Is Seth?

 

Chapter Thirteen: Undumbing the Universe

  1. The Heavens
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. Meaning
  4. Thoughtforms

 

Introduction

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

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

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

What’s at stake are (1) the nature of life itself, (2) the nature of life arising from RNA or DNA molecules, (the only form—to date—Earth officially both recognizes and knows), (3) the nature of human life (the only DNA-based life that interrogates its own existence), (4) the nature, origin, and basis of an ambient universe that provides life forms (and everything else) their inception, (5) the meaning of personal experience.

 

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

 

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

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

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

That the geese wonder too—they must, in ways that are beyond our understanding—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—that the material world is the single pavilion and protocol for reality.

 

My title “Bottoming Out the Universe” is awkward in that it is both a hyperbole and a double entendre. It is a hyperbole because the universe cannot be bottomed out. We can’t even bottom out the Earth or an atomic particle, so how can we bottom out the entire thing? Bottoming out makes sense only in terms of a unified field of gravity, mass, and space-time relativity and because the paradigmatic universe began in a single event, an implosion that has been bottoming itself out since (thirteen-billion-plus years, though our native clock is a latecomer).

The vastness is also a singularity.

As for the double entendre, my meaning is the transitive one: to “bottom out,” as in to send a bucket on a string into a well to snatch some of the gunk at its bottom, except that the well is matter itself and the bucket is a cyclotron, a quantum-tunneling microscope, or a nano ladle or blade. The string is mathematics and empirical science. The gunk at the bottom is the primordial source—the original Frog’s Egg or Water-Lily Bud (as if there could even be such a thing in a universe of both formlessness and form).

But the bucket is also consciousness, the string is philosophy and psychic visioning, and the stuff at the bottom isn’t gunk or even matter but a spagyric mud that is as supraliminal as it is molecular.

Neither version of the well can be bottomed out, either by itself or in the context of the other. The universe does not bottom out as consciousness alone, and it does not bottom out in matter. In this book I won’t try for definitive bottoms, but I will give you new frames by which to view the riddle. This is where the second meaning comes in.

To “bottom out” is also to hit personal bottom, as in “skid row,” Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town.” We have not only bottomed out the scientific model, we have bottomed out the technology arising from it as well as the social, political, and ecological consequences of that technology. We have bottomed out as a species, as is evident from our failings in human equity, compassion for sentient beings, and stewardship of the common shore. We are in crisis, at a crossroads. We have lost the thread of civilizational meaning but persist in a mad dash through materiality and metric prosperity, spreading poverty, emptiness, and a great silence. This is Lonesome Town all right, and “a dream or two” won’t get us through another century.

It is time to recognize the core paradox: we are bottomed out ourselves, yet falling through a bottomless, unbottomable void.

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

Two things stand against reductionist materialism:

First, the universe doesn’t bottom out as matter but turns into something else. Electron microscopes and cyclotrons discover no statutory source. Instead of bottoming out, quarks and preons dissipate into energy, curvature, strings, quantum fields, whatever scientists choose to call it. Their models dissipate right through the blackboards they rap knuckles against: “See, it’s hard! It’s real!”

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.

 

Chapter One: Reincarnation and Past Lives

Accounts of reincarnation offer a broad-based vernacular challenge to the materialist paradigm. Belief in transmigration of souls goes back tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years, before a historical record. Early hominids performed rites, rituals, and voodoo to control life, death, and rebirth. Their symbols were folded into art, mythology, and shamanic practices, as they guided generations of practitioners. Our ancestors accepted a fluidity of spirit with nature as well as the supernatural essence of their own thoughts, but “super” natural meant just that to them: extension of mind and nature into each other.

The first philosophers arrived at their view of the universe through dead reckoning, altered states of consciousness, contemplation, formal meditation, and the arc of empirical analysis leading to science. Reflection and insight play a role in scientific inquiry too, but scientists limit their affidavit to repeatable, peer-reviewable experiments and consider their mode of knowledge exclusively valid.

The modern reincarnation thread was inaugurated in the early 1950s by Morey Bernstein, an amateur hypnotist, who, while regressing Virginia Tighe, a Pueblo, Colorado housewife, to his astonishment summoned Bridey Murphy, an ostensible past life of Ms. Tighe’s in Cork, Ireland, on his first try. He took his subject (who appears in The Search for Bridey Murphy under the pseudonym Ruth Simmons) through her childhood back to her earliest memories, then asked her to go 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 theatrically emceed a drama lifted straight from a Twilight-Zone-like script, all the while pretending he was not prodding his subject to commit the crime of the century. He was asking a citizen of the Eisenhower era to break into a cubicle sealed at the highest level of encryption and violate her religion and social standing as well as the consensus belief system sustaining her sanity.

He held his breath, waited. He was by no means a confirmed believer in past lifetimes, more like a combination prankster and rabble-rouser. He wanted to see what would happen if he led a subject past the final known landscape to where nothing should exist. Part of him was curious; another part considered it a daring “shadow out of time” stunt. Plus, he kidded himself that he was operating by the same linear logic as the car mechanic down the street—and he was.

But he had a light, even sacred touch. Dismissed in pop hypnosis circles as a lowbrow dabbler and showman—he used a kitsch watch-on-a-chain to initiate trances—Bernstein hit the sweet spot with Ms. Tighe. Chaperone and psychopomp, he coaxed her past her taboos and resistance, and invited an unknown form from her psyche.

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

“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. Bernstein led her there, where nothing should be, 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 its 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, Ireland.

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

They were; they just weren’t acknowledging it. Countless doctors “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 They mostly treated them as cryptomnesia: forgotten events from the current life—a distortion sometimes caricatured as “self-plagiarization.”

If they secretly considered the possibility of reincarnation, they didn’t let on for fear of ridicule or career derailment. Interpretations of similar flashbacks take quite different forms in cultures receptive to reincarnation.

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

In subsequent sessions, Tighe exhumed details of Murphy’s life. Daughter of barrister Duncan Murphy and his spouse Kathleen, Bridey came into this world on December 20, 1798. 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 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 her activities in the waiting place, she offered this touching tidbit:

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

The Search for Bridey Murphy became a bestseller and pop sensation, as if Virginia Tighe were the first person on Earth to recall a past life. Yet throughout India, Turkey, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and, in fact, most of the Middle East and Asia, people were routinely remembering prior existences without hypnotic regression. They usually identified 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 ordinary transpersonal flashbacks. Yet reincarnation was so repressed in the West that the book made headlines. How did such a state of affairs come about?

 

By the conservative 1950s, most vestiges of nineteenth-century enthusiasm for reincarnation had been blotted out by two World Wars and a chilling economic Depression followed by a miracle-like spree of scientific legerdemain. What manifestations could be more vivid, compelling, or chock full of urgency than the rise of the Third Reich, Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Europe, the revival of imperial Japan, and apocalyptic battles on remote Pacific islands? Then came automated appliances, Oldsmobiles, and televisions. These took precedent over past-life memories for good reason—they were more substantive and mesmerizing. Life on the physical plane vibrated with such novel immediacy that shadow realms palled beside it. Reality was enthralling—senior in every way.

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

Before amnesia struck, reincarnation had been accepted in the West from ancient Greece and Rome through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In a lifelong attempt to contact the dead, British philologist Frederic Myers (1843-1901), a founder of the Society for Psychical Research (1882), and his colleagues used diverse strategies to communicate with spirits of the deceased. Myers himself was reported to have sent semi-encrypted messages after his own death.

The Society’s wide-ranging research included poltergeists, table tipping, spirit photographs, levitation, trumpets and accordions floating in mid-air playing audible music, automatic writing (which later gave rise to Ouija boards), mediumship, crystal gazing, spirit knocking, ectoplasm, and telepathy (a term coined by Myers). These experiments had continuity with those of prior centuries but augmented them with pragmatic empiricism.

Other nineteenth-century explorers of the paranormal ran the gamut from open-minded scientists to amateur sleuths like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln. Though you wouldn’t know it from his tales of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Twain was fascinated by synchronicities and future sight and experienced numerous instances of both.

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 unexplained transfers of objects and 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 parameters abandoned in the later twentieth century under the fundamentalist protocols of scientism. Myers and crew had open minds about how the universe might work as opposed to current arbiters who ignore the paranormal and dismiss unexplained phenomena without puzzling over them.

Sigmund Freud played an indirect role in the West’s denial of psychic events. By hypostatizing a fathomless unconscious mind with indeterminate flow into the conscious ego, he furnished a quasi-scientific mechanism for most anomalies. If conventional memories could be sublimated into phantasms by normal biological drives, supernatural explanations were unnecessary for any untoward events. Dreams and trances were declared psychotic fugues—brief, incidental breaks with reality. Poltergeists and past lives fell somewhere between sleepwalking and hysteria (with, perhaps, a dose of wish fulfillment).

An unconscious mind as complex and refractory as the one Freud modeled could concoct ghosts, reincarnation, or just about anything. Actual other dimensions of reality became superfluous.

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

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

Formulaic Christianity left its own parochial mark. 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 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 colleen, Tighe’s former self. For weeks the New York Daily Mirror ran a front-page cliffhanger, detailing the probes of its reporter in Ireland. Every day, it seemed, he was on the verge of finding Bridey and confirming reincarnation, but every promising lead petered out (though not before the journalistic suspense sold lots or morning papers).

A consensus of investigators finally concluded that Ms. Tighe’s “Bridey Murphy” never inhabited Ireland during the years of her proposed lifetime as read by Tighe from her own tombstone: born 1798, passed 1864. The entire roster of churches, addresses, and artifacts cited by Tighe was deemed apocryphal.

In truth, the early nineteenth century, though relatively recent, is still too long ago to verify ordinary people and events. Locating the “real” Bridey Murphy is much 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 like trying to figure out if Shakespeare wrote his own plays. No records remain of most Cork habitants and occurrences from her era. About the only 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 the course.

Far more damning was the discovery that 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 a recent immigrant named Bridie Murphy Cockrell. Just about everyone jumped to the conclusion that Tighe’s “reincarnation” was a conventional memory displaced in cryptomnesiac fashion.

Neither the Mirror nor other media recognized 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 prior self, strategically shielding it in the process.

Instead, Bridey Murphy entered pop culture somewhere between a freak and a hoax, a discredited diva and star 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 a rehabilitation than its influence over a new gestalt—magical realism.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Weiss finessed validating these “past lives” with their 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

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

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

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

Over thousands of years and recurrent death amnesia, forensics become irrelevant. You can say that a trauma was caused one hundred percent by a specific event but also one hundred percent by another event, or by many events from different lifetimes. They are simultaneously valid. An infinite number of causes are each sufficient to generate or reinforce a state: the universe is overdetermined at most levels.

In that regard, it is worth considering an episode I witnessed at the Berkeley Psychic Institute in 2009. Director Javier Thistlethwaite assembled an audience from the evening’s classes in the commons where he performed a series of past-life readings. Volunteers expressed a medley of “Yo dude, that was incredible; that was so my past life” to “How did you do it?” After the buzz died down, Javier teased the audience while pointing to the last volunteer, “Was that her real past life?”

No one took the bait.

“C’mon. Is any of this stuff really real?”

After about thirty seconds of silence, he responded himself, “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. 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. As you keep at interrogation, unconsciously as well, you dead-reckon your way to its rightful place in the universe and, remarkably, the universe itself. Reality is “view.” That’s how astronomers found us in a galaxy and our galaxy among other galaxies. A turtle emerging from its egg and heading straight for water creates a lake.

 

Catherine’s anachronized dating of her inaugural past life indicates that most folks who recall previous existences archive them according to their current calendar. If queried for a date, they use their own timetable rather than that of the past person. Yet, conversely, they may lapse into words and expressions from a former dialect, such as switching to a foreign accent 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 their 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 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 healing practice—the facing pages of Devanagari rather than the English script. Andrea, the older, 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 a reading disability and 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 else 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 finally lapsed 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 observing one of Dr. Weiss regressions, 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 could 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, her wishful thinking was a red flag.

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

He concluded that past lives were fantasies similar to those of UFO abductees and children claiming sexual molestation in pre-schools—false memories implanted by a hypnotist.

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

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

Shroder confessed, after much soul searching, that he had “stared inward but never seen a ripple nor heard a whisper of any life but my own [and] seen people near to 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, looking for a familiar narrative, a science-fiction saga starring himself. He was also trying to push himself through the existential opacity of his own denial—the blank created, in part, by unconscious resistance—rather than neutrally opening himself to an esoteric flow. Like SETI researchers with radio telescopes attuned to the heavens, he assumed that the “extraterrestrial” message would be in his terms. He did not consider that jasmine and gin essences, between lifetimes, might transmogrify, becoming talismans unrecognizable by his contemporary psyche.

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

 

Ultimately, Shroder shifted his focus to a different sort of testimony: the investigations of Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist and research scientist at the University of Virginia who, to the chagrin of his family and colleagues, switched from microbiological psychiatry to parapsychology after a trip to India to check out a child who seemed to remember a past life. Before een departing, he learned of five similar Indian cases and was informed of twenty-five more while traveling there. Later he spent a week in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), following up on seven more reported cases. The commonness of such claims plus the verisimilitudes of children’s memories to the lives of their claimed past persons (PP’s)—when a match was found—indicated to Stevenson that he might have found an important, neglected rubric of psychology, a lacuna in science itself.

Thereafter, in a department chair endowed by Chester F. Carlson, the inventor of xerography, Stevenson specialized in past-life memories and related phenomena (near-death experiences, poltergeists, etc.). He abjured hypnotic regression, a potentially adulterating factor, and went straight to the source, hastening to wherever he got word of a child evincing an equivocal memory. He then attempted to match the accounts of the boy or girl to the life of his or her PP. This meant covering tens of thousands of miles in the Middle East and South Asia. His goal was to corroborate (or confute) evidence before it was contaminated. In some instances, details had been written down or shared with multiple witnesses before the PP’s family had been 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, usually 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 “Past-life” recollections tend to fade with immersion in the current lifetime. In Western culture, where such flashbacks 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 palace guard. Résumés featured ordinary people in mundane circumstances, a more likely PP census than the royal casting calls of some New Age regressions. A disproportionate number did involve violent deaths and deaths of children, suggesting that reincarnational carryover is traumatic—an unsettled or premature death picture needing resolution. This would explain why most “rebirths” take place within hailing distance of the previous life—“souls” are drawn back to matters left unresolved. The following cases from Stevenson’s files knit 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 alleged 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 while 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 striking 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 with 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 late 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 him32—rebirth with synchronicity.

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 recitations fit the narrative of a recently deceased teenage girl in a nearby village. On a trip there, Preeti immediately recognized her PP’s parents and began what became 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, 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 had 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 flipping 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 about their son 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 with 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: death wound and birthmark.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, 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, he pointed to his grandfather in a family photo and declared, “That’s me!”51

His mother asked if “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 brought 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

Around age seven, the children forgot their PPs and stopped referring to them.55

 

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

 

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

Here is the gist of what Ryan recalled: He was a Hollywood movie star who occasionally tap-danced on stage (he demonstrated one day when cartoon music reminded him of one of his old routines). After his acting career, he became an agent, and his agency represented famous clients. He lived on a street with the word “mount” or “rock” in it. He was very rich and had a large house with a swimming pool. He was married four times and had numerous girlfriends and affairs. The house was filled with children, but the boys weren’t his birth children, though he gave them his name. He knew Rita Hayworth, she made ‘ice drinks.’ He had a green car that he wouldn’t let anyone else drive and a large collection of sunglasses. These were among fifty-five later-verified memories.59

Ryan explained that his other self was always there, but “when you are a baby…you can’t tell anyone because you can’t talk.”60

The identification of Ryan’s “old me” came after his mother brought him home a library book on the golden age of Hollywood. He recognized himself from 1932 as a nameless extra in Mae West’s first film, Night After Night. “‘You found me, Momma! You found me! That’s me and that’s George and we did a picture together.” Pointing to a man who stood alongside George Raft as a gangster, he added, “That’s guy’s me. I found me.”61

It took a year, with the help of Stevenson associate Jim Tucker, to match the picture with, Marty Martyn, an obscure Hollywood actor (born Martin Kolinsky). Martyn had been both a performer and agent, was married four times, and lived on Rocksbury Drive. His death certificate had the wrong age; Ryan’s memory of passing at sixty-one proved accurate.62

Once word got out, Ryan became a minor sensation; he and his mother were interviewed in USA Today and the international press. Cyndi told one reporter, “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.”63 She provided 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.”64

When certain incidents involving a “Senator Five” (who turned out to be a real-life “Senator Ives”) terrified him, Cyndi explained that he wasn’t Marty Martyn anymore and she just wanted him to be Ryan and happy. He said, “‘Mom, you still don’t get it, do you? I am not the same as the man in the picture on the outside, but on the inside I am still that man. You just can’t see on the inside what I see.’”65

Over time even 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.”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

A 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

 

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 with a unique selfhood and vantage. “They are the previous personalities, and they resist the imposition of a new identity…. they say, ‘I have a wife,’ or I am a doctor,’ or “I have three buffalos and two cows.”69 One boy told his parents, “See that rice field. It once belonged to me.” Another insisted on buying size-eight shoes even though they were too large for him. “He wouldn’t drop it,” his mother told Stevenson. “We actually had to buy him a pair and take it home and make him wear it to prove to him that it was way too big.”70 The former self superseded even proprioception of his own body.

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

In some instances, a child may be upset by the diminishment of his or her social status. Jasbir Singh, a boy “reborn” into a lower caste in India, insisted on having his food prepared for him by a Brahmin neighbor for a year and a half before reluctantly submitting to his family’s cuisine. Suzanne complained that her “real” house was larger and more beautiful.71 Ryan Hammons “sometimes seemed confused about what was then and what was now, and what were reasonable expectations now as opposed to then. He thought he should pay his mom for cleaning his room because before he had a maid who came in every day to clean his house. He expected to see his buddies when he went to Hollywood, and said he might stay with them for a while and come home after his parents….”72

His mother noted, “There were nights when he was very funny and I enjoyed hearing his stories. Then on other nights he just seemed to be mad at the world. Why couldn’t I just fly him to Hollywood and let him eat at his favorite place? Sometimes our house would be too small in his opinion and he would rant about how he couldn’t believe he was being expected to live in these conditions. His old room had been large and grand and he had his own swimming pool. Why couldn’t we have servants? Do you know how much easier life is with hired help?”73

Other piques by children 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. One boy flirted inappropriately with his schoolteachers, using adult gestures and 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 soldiers who mistreated civilians during World War II might have been “summoned” back to the scene of their crimes, taking on Burmese 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 sexual dystopia, most children apparently adopt the gender of their current chromosomal 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 a 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. Each self is held responsible only for his or her actions within a given lifetime, though even that liability is a limited interpretation. After decades in prison a murderer may no longer be the “person” who committed the homicide. The real “killer,” in the sense of homicidal archetype and sociopath, is at large in another body, to act again.

Likewise, souls that perpetrated crimes in past lifetimes walk into this one scot-free, every link to their deeds erased. It doesn’t matter if they were Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, or Attila the Hun. Karma is still there to be resolved, so perhaps Stevenson is right, reincarnation is a way to “punish” or atone for crimes. Karmic jurisprudence begins to approach the intricacy of the universe, its subtle-body scale of reparation. Everyone is guilty at some level or another. Everyone is also expiated, in part, through death and rebirth.

While the contemporary term “queering” generally is applied to expanding gender and biological orientation beyond heterosexual acts and sociologically specified sex roles, it might also entail identity itself as transdimensional, composed psychically of organisms, entities, and inclinations outside of conventional parameters of time and space.

The reason that random men and women find each other irresistible (or men find other men, women other women) is an underlying fluidity between species as well as alien biologies. On Earth, mitochondria and bacteria invented eros and, with it, community, power, and intrusion. Cells are where sex and politics still converge three billion years later. Trans-species love is expressed to some degree in relationships that go back to Mesolithic campfires or other lifetimes and bodies. The girl who adores her horse, the stallion whose penis fills with blood at the appearance of his human mistress, the peacock who tries to mate with a tortoise, the giraffe that mounts a donkey, the protist that invades an alien colony and implants its DNA—are lovers. Every transgression and crime was long ago committed between plastids or zooids. But it was also an act of love—cell love or what meta-psychologist Wilhelm Reich called “cosmic superimposition.” He saw it expressed by “mating” galaxies and rain-clouds as well as by life forms on worlds.

 

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

Some who accept telepathy but reject reincarnation propose super-psi whereby one person gains knowledge of another’s life from a transpersonal information field or morphic resonance (to adapt biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s term). No one studies this sort of biophysics, so we have zero criteria for how a detached memory could transfer like a digital file. This sort of transposition is better explained in terms of Multupersonhood, which I will discuss later.

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 play to a psyche is not as persistent or ingrained as past-life membrances; the former are transitory, and the man or woman experiencing them is aware of their fictive nature.

Other rebuttals of Stevenson’s evidence are reductionist or ideological and discount the specificity of the testimony and its documentation. One of the more common explanations is that a parent might misunderstand or misconstrue the claims of children with over-active imaginations, weaving a child’s fantasies into a narrative and then reinforcing it.

One cynic claimed 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) arrives, the child has been coached or brainwashed. Then the parents get drawn into the game and consciously or unintentionally supply cues. The child comes to believe that the stories are her memories of her own past life.

One is tempted to ask, “In every such case?” There are millions.

Both Daniel and Rashid were Druze, a sect that believes in reincarnation and soul transfer. Hence, they were particularly prone to pick up a past-live narrative, identify with it and embellish it.

Once again, a presumption of susceptibility to fantasy is used to preclude 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 magazines 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 multiple 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).

How such things might occur is, of course, unknown and unexplored by scientists. People researching synchronicity have noted sudden increases of coincidences in their own lives. Mystery writers find themselves oddly involved, usually peripherally, in the sorts of crimes they are plotting literarily. Stage magicians faking clairvoyance end up with information they could only have gotten clairvoyantly.

I am going to discuss this sort of anomaly under “Cosmic Chicanery,” but I will point out here that the universe’s true complexity lies in its paradoxes, feints, counter-intuitive leaps, and reversals of the ordinary sequence of cause and effect, occasions that are overlooked because they are mostly slight and incidental. Yet electromagnetism and quantum uncertainty were uncovered once on the watch of “minor” anomalies.

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 different rubric from reincarnation and affects the status of information, both conscious and unconscious.

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

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

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

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

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

What about twin boys separated at birth, both named James by their adopting families, both trained in police enforcement, both marrying women named Linda, both getting divorced and remarrying a woman named Betty. Both named their sons John Allan, though one used a single “l.” Both had dogs named Troy. The 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 ex officio reduce all synchronicities to coincidences.

Even as 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 in 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 gossip 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 accurately perform whole biographies. How did Suzanne Ghanem get twenty-five names right? Even if she had eavesdropped, how did she remember and assign them without a mistake? 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. We can’t claim ulterior motives predicated on fortune or fame, as there is no financial reward for past-life identities, and claims may lead to 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.

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

A tangential matter is whether reincarnation cycles are limited to one planet, Earth in our case, or whether terrestrial souls can reincarnate on other worlds, either in the Milky Way Galaxy or other galaxies?

Some skeptics try for a coup de grace by claiming that there are too many people in Earth’s expanding population for past lives to account for all of their existences. But there are plenty of solar systems in the universe, plus there could be other kinds of set-ups, equivalent to planets but with different allocations of space, time, and matter or nonphysical modes of “embodiment”? Souls coming from here could reincarnate in one of these. We don’t begin to know the range of possibilities or have a basis for restricting them.

Dr. David Bishai of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health did the speculative 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 purport to reincarnate intentionally in more than one individual.

One might more reasonably wonder why Stevenson’s research never made it into even peripheral 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 he were proposing 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 cosmos that happened to pop out of a nodule smaller than a pinhead in the middle of nowhere—then Edwards’ sarcastic caricature strikes the perfect chord: the only conceivable mechanisms for past lives are patently absurd. They don’t happen, so there have to be other explanations.

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 a strong dose of scientistic fundamentalism.

 

Chapter Two: The Hole in the Materialists’ Universe

  1. The Nature and Origin of Consciousness

In the last millennium, humanity has shifted, century by century, from trying to locate consciousness in an precedent identity or soul to proving that no such entity could exist. In contemporary physics, spirit and consciousness lack any standing. The Theory of Everything (TOE), a hypothetical all-encompassing framework for nature, combines equations for gravity, quantum gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces, space-time curvature, matter, and Higg’s boson (or mass) to account for everything that we need to know about the universe in order to understand what it is and how it works. Most physicists believe that even particles yet to be discovered will not significantly change the TOE. We’ve got the basic cosmic plan!

In one extended equation claiming to be a Mash-up of Everything, consciousness should occupy a comparable position to other cosmic forces or, at worst, be acknowledged as lying outside the range for which equations can be written. Instead, it is deemed a collateral effect of heat, shear force, and electromagnetism, observed thus far on a single planet among decillions of stars. Ignored is the fact that consciousness is the source of the equations, not just one of their minions—which is not a secondary matter

According to terrestrial science, creatures in nature are not officially conscious. Awareness is a supervenient property of brain chemistry. As an organism converts molecular energy into movements to sate its hunger and sustain its metabolism, the electrically excitable membranes of some of its cells connect by synapsing—they become informationally paired. These neurons cascade in binary circuits into nodes or ganglia, which stream into a central ganglion, atop (in bipeds), afore (in quadrupeds and invertebrates). Neuralization induces cerebralization, and this engenders an incandescent, electronic-like glow, a passing illusion of the creature’s own volition and mindedness, The event, which we call “consciousness,” is an aberration and offshoot of molecular agency.

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

The applicable chain of events began 13.8 billion years ago with the torrid, dense singularity known in these parts as the Big Bang. This bootleg detonation, billowing into space it created (and is still creating), turned nowhere into somewhere. Everything thereafter arose from the fission, fusion, agglutination, and mutation of original particles.

Nothing can elapse in a chemico-mechanical universe without a physical sponsor with Big Bang credentials. For authentication, it must demonstrate a one-way course through a verified chain of carriers, from chemical elements formed in the cores of stars to more cumbrous scions like comets, glaciers, minerals, etc. Metamorphoses took place along the way, but without the intrusion of paranormal forces. This notarized chain of custody was maintained all the way from the Big Bang to consciousness: quarks to atoms to molecules to cells to organisms. Consciousness owes its genesis solely to this progression.

In the first 10-30 seconds after the originating implosion, quantum vacuum fluctuations spread across their infinitesimal domain and began to inflate a gigantic universe (at least by our standards). After the BB’s skank disintegrated into localized carriers of force and spin (or angular momentum)—stuff we call bosons and fermions—their daughter particles responded to thermodynamic and gravitational influences. Forms arose higgledy-piggledy and persisted from chance effects. In addition, an inherent stability of orderly disorder staked the “spontaneous production of complex dynamical patterns from uncorrelated interactions of component parts.”2 This mysterious principle of emergent design would obtain from wind-blown bands on Jovian worlds to the fluctuation of soybean markets and telephone noise on Sol 3.

In gravitational fields and local climates, elements transferred their quantum potentials into exotic properties. In some terran pools, collisions of particle-waves thickened and incubated. Mechanical information—temperature-driven gradients—was sorted into confederating chains dominated by carbon and nitrogen. Under shear force, some of these currents got bound in membranes and held by chemical bonds. Gravity imposed curvature: large and small spirals, spheres, and tubes, most of them molded afloat in waves and splash zones. Copier molecules emerged. No one knows how these genes originated; perhaps they bumbled out of a conflation of eating, mating, and cliquing among tiny pre-cellular organisms, then were enhanced by fractal distribution, positioning, and seriality. They expressed their emerging status by replicating and storing intracellular designs.

Within and among the membranes, embryogenic invaginations—folds, pockets, and laminae—built layered networks. Self-monitoring feedback loops developed resting potential. As they were translated into excitable nerve cells forming ganglia of neurons, they followed the notochord’s ascent, capturing strings of diffuse feedback in deeper loop-like circuits. Subtler and more discrete packets of information got transmitted through microtubulular stacks into ascending hierarchies of synapses.

This innate excitatory sensitivity and action-potential culminated in hyperpolarization: surpluses of energy followed by depolarization of overloads. Lower-threshold spikes hit tipping points, as neural grids filtered out static or noise that would otherwise have negated them. A homunculus climbed the heuristic ladder from flatworms to lizards to tree shrews to baboons and Homo africanus, at least on one sorry-ass planet, as trillions of other seeds imbedded their software in eggs, launching contiguous organisms. Now the DNA molecule infests the Earth, disseminating and cloning throughout its weeds and waters. 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?”)

Why indeed? How do we explain physical systems organized into autonomous agents able to ply nature on their own behalf? How did puddles and hot springs convert their bubbles and waves into cells? How did those cells find and greet and cling to one another? How did simple cell colonies meld and confederate as both structure and function—turn into bladders, guts, and hearts? How did they come to reproduce themselves with their made-over parts intact and utile?

We see this process reenacted ontogenetically in an embryo. After fertilization, a single cell fissions into  a cluster of cells: a bubble of bubbles or blastula. A protrusion along its lateral umbilical region causes longitudinal expansion. By the end of its second week, though it is smaller than a caraway seed, the blastula resembles a stack of circular, flat griddlecakes. At this point, a thin line of lateral ectodermal cells—a sprout—separates itself and migrates along the layer’s surface. Gathering mass and momentum, it scores a seam down most of its axis.

A continuous migration follows the trail, cells bunching and then collapsing inward along a “primitive streak.” This opens into a groove, then a gash down which cells, while continuing to shift laterally and forward, plunge into the embryo’s interior—a fundamental physiological process known as gastrulation.

As the central breach draws invaginating ectoderm into the cell-mass interior, it continues to encounter more resistance medially than laterally, so the expanding aspect of the sheet rolls inward medially as it thickens, while spreading outward laterally against the lesser tension of retarded mesodermal growth. By restraining longitudinal growth, the axial process regulates surface expansion, providing both a fulcrum for the infolding of the embryo and a winch projecting separate regional growth rates and stress fields. The former blastula cleaves into an interior body cavity and an exterior surface while its cells are being transformed and specialized. Their universal capacity is reduced to serve the requirements of nascent organs: gullets, kidneys, livers, hearts, cartilage. The embryo is undergoing the most ancient and basic of its ontogenetic phases: inversion from what would be a terminal jellyfish into a mold with potential to form an array of creatures.

Apparently genes regiment these exquisite degrees of order and function, except that genes arose late in such a process once, so which is the chicken and which is the egg?

Life is the forerunner of consciousness because its evolution is intelligent without encroachment by exogenous intelligence. As a blind origination and emergent aspect of molecular activity, an embryo is as mysterious and uncanny as the minds it formed.

Consciousness developed by minute accretions over hundreds of millions of years, each evolving by natural selection, enhancing the genome’s odds of survival: first, directional tropisms of simple multicellular organisms (toward light or a thermocline); then smell (chemical recognition of other molecules, navigation toward food and away from danger); then perception at a distance (vision, context, object permanence); then internal representations of objects and their relationships in time; then memory, self-awareness, symbols, and codes. Conscious beings are increments of traits, none of which are themselves “conscious.” Collectively they simulate proxy awareness.

Creatures are self-regulating concentration/containment centers of trillionfold quantum, atomic, and molecular firings into discretionary pathways. Consciousness is a utility function that, while ostensibly monitoring itself, converted systemic feedback into frames of reference, leading to more efficient function sets. What we call “thought” is an integration of templates and vectors transferring information into each other’s contexts. They recognize themselves, and everything else, by pattern-on-pattern formations: fancy bar codes which stamp the delusion of personalized existence on themselves.

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

The awakened creatures burst into a forest of symbols, then swarmed into villages and declared polities and civilizations. There they be to this moment, interrogating the crisis of their existence.

The master theater on Earth—da “first” person (“je,” “I,” “ich,” “yo,” “nuy”), what the bloke-in-the street calls “me-self,” “me brats” is protein-crystal matrices engendering a delusiona mirage reflecting in itself. Reincarnation is ludicrous because life itself is imaginary. Creatures are fugitive pangs against an eternity of their own (and everything else’s) nonexistence—”the result of no more than lifeless elements briefly coming into a consciousness and vitality that is bound to end…. [E]ven the emotions of love and exaltation are…no more than the erratic activity of neurons firing, or of chemicals reacting to chemicals.”2

The effort/shape of a fox disperses from its corpse on the beach into fox-less molecules. There is no evidence of the creature’s prior existence; every trace of it is eradicated forever.

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

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

But the outcome of chaos’ creative contrivances—Ilya Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics—against the prior incumbency of entropy is a foregone conclusion: entropy wins, otherwise known as the heat death of the universe. This provenance applies to all upstarts in the universe, as well as the universe 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. Your life and creature identity report to no higher court and mean nada. Your intelligence has the approximate leaven of mud or a thunderstorm. There is no lurking eschatological savior or last-minute turn-of-plot. We are slime on “a small round planet inching its way through a terrifying void.”3

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

In Justin Torres’ memoir of his Puerto Rican childhood, a lad asks his father, “‘What happens when you die?’” El papá’s response comes from a deep-seated supposition that spreads to meet a universe that swallows it. He stares back at his son, dumbfounded, and snaps, “Nothing happens. Nothing happens forever.”4

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

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

 

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

Science has only one hole in it, and the hole is us.

A hole growing from itself can never be filled, for the shadow it casts over its own singularity can never be objectified. The salvation is that, as long as there is only a single such quandary, it is business as usual—the band plays, the show goes on. Provisional equations cover the rip, patch the paradigm when it starts cracking, save the appearances. Given a free ride, matter gets to set the “outer bounds of reality itself.”5

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.”6 The only thing that supports consciousness is consciousness’ self-reflection in its mirror. That’s the hole.

Without our experience of our own existence, the universe doesn’t seem even conducive to consciousness. It is a splash where nothing is splashable.

But as long as consciousness arises from the thing that it comprehends, it can never ratify its own proposition. The mirror has no frame. There is no pier to which to affix it, only formulations tied to their own untethered status. As physicist Max Planck conceded, “We cannot get behind consciousness. [Yet] everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”7

How does science justify an item that was never ordered? How can do explain Café Zero: the menu, the entrées, the patrons, the waiter, yourself as patron?

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—paradoxically has nothing to do with its fundamental expression. Consciousness is mostly what consciousness does. Does non-consciously!

Any to-do about interlocutory mind or ontological legitimacy is funkily recent compared a 3.8-billion- or 210-million- (depending on your yardstick) year history of axiomatic reflex action. “There is no ghost in the organic machine,” declared neuro-anthropologist Terrence Deacon, “and no inner intender serving as witness to a Cartesian theater. The locus of self-perspective is a circular dynamic, where ends and means, observing and observed, are incessantly transformed from one to another.”8 Environment and entity impinge because they were never unimpinged.

The reality show goes on not because it is sentient or provisionally sentient but “irrespective of making any claim about whether it is sentient. Intelligence is about making adaptively relevant responses to complex environmental contingencies, whether conscious or unconscious….”9 All intelligence is “artificial” intelligence. Every life form is a soft, watery robot.

Recognition is the least significant aspect of mentation, for philosophers as well as raccoons. Blind transfers of information supersede sentience on Earth, and presumably, beneath the Europan ice if zooids undulate there. Non-conscious systemic sets run any hawk or shark—network symbolings, optics, neural lattices, syntactic strings, parse trees: all autopilot functions.

Throw in everything else incipiently pre- and post-synaptic and semantic or that has been elided from consciousness, plus the meta-conscious, quasi-linguistic structure of DNA and you have an entire subterfuge foundry with internal alphabets and alphabetic structures. Its control centers discharge a hummingbird’s flapping wings and a rat’s sniff of carrion. The “mind” that keeps them alive is never even subconscious in a Freudian sense; it is immune to representation.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaimed delightedly, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.”10 Our presumptions are “free-floating reasons … not our reasons.” In their place, invisible dustballs run an operational “desk-top.” “What is actually going on behind the desk-top is mind-numbingly complicated, but users don’t need to know about it, so intelligent interface designers have simplified the affordances, making them particularly salient for human eyes … the ingenious user-illusion of click-and-drag icons …. Nothing compact and salient inside the computer corresponds to that little tan file-folder on the desktop screen.”11

Our own computer code would look like gibberish to us—inferences and applications—but it alone causes us to breathe and think and conceive programs.

Physician Larry Dossey mused that Dennett “was using his own free will to arrive at the conclusion that free will does not exist.”12

 

In case the usher didn’t hand you a program, the main objective of modern science is to scrub meaning, purpose, and value from an impersonal universe to which they pay godlike homage.

A consciousness-like hallucination mimics what real consciousness—veridicality—would look like if it existed, but it doesn’t and never will. You cannot make veridicality out of atoms or anything like atoms, and that’s the only available ingredient. What we have is a cinemascope sensa-rama simulacrum.

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

Even empiricists are no longer honest brokers, for they have invested solely in the house commodity. 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 plan to savor the mirage while it lasts, banqueting as savants while declaring themselves apparitions. They fight for goodies like other biomolecular machines; they enjoy the benefits of materialism without putting their assets at risk.

Pretend for a moment to be a Stone Age hominid having just arrived in New York or Singapore. You see how fully materialism has feathered its nest: supertankers on the watersm, jets in the skies; factory complexes, 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. It’s a veritable arcade of djinns, all under certified Big Bang auspices.

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

Technocracy has spellbound its constituents, creating the ideal palliation and recompense for mortality: a pleasure-dome with conveniences lacking in the Pliocene and Pleistocene.

 

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

Do you experience electrochemical spikes? Do you intuit unplumbed dimensions?

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

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

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

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

The paradox of consciousness yields two opposing viewpoints. The first is that, since nothing at large collateralizes it, consciousness is nothing—an emergent effect that confers the illusion of beingness on phantoms. (Though molecules are allowed to have emergent effects like “life” and “mind”—“emergent” means emergent from other molecular properties.)

The second is that, since consciousness exists, it is de facto something, exempt from the ordinances of science—a self-arising luminosity uncorrelated to any extrinsic light. Millennia ago, Hindu philosophers gave it a sponsorless sponsor—it is “self-authenticating,” unborn, uncreated, unconditioned, radiant—the ground of all beingness. It was there before the mental function that recognized it. It is “larger than the brain or some emergent property of the brain’s functions.”15

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

 

Given the prima facie evidence of consciousness, neuroscientists are frustrated not to be able to trace it through pre- and post-synaptic circuits or derive it from components and mechanisms of the cerebral cortex or its precursor ganglia. They identify it only through molecular responses to its presence.

The effects of consciousness are not consciousness itself any more than the effects of the Sun or Moon are the Sun or Moon. Sun and Moon have contiguous causes and accounted-for identities. Consciousness has no proximal identity beyond its effects. What neural pundits can’t explain is how a fly got into the ointment or what the “fly” is—how common electrical and chemical properties “weird” inside-outness and luminous apprehension onto the universe itself.

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

It can map mind’s attributes as they percolate into molecules and cells, but it hasn’t a clue where they come from. It can’t kindle them anew from the sorts of compounds and filaments that nurture its properties. It can’t locate “thought” in the cellular muck of brains—electrical and chemical activity, yes, but not thought. There is no imaginable experiment—cellular, molecular, atomic, or subatomic—for pulling the rag out of the machine. If a biochemist did ignite an autonomous zooid, he would be like Donald Duck in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” unaware of how he set the brooms marching.

Imagine yourself a biotechnician stirring a chemical solution into a primitive life form. How does “is” get centrifuged out of “non-is”? What foments an interior glow? What spawns epistemology?

An oft-cited materialist apologia for consciousness is the Penrose-Hameroff brand of so-called quantum free will of electrons in collapse. By this gerrymandered model, electrons transmit uncertainty states through microtubules into nerve nets and ganglia that then personify them.

I get it that binary patterns, 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 ontological thresholds discretely enough to hold the weight of a concept?

How do quantum switches and microtubular tunnels transfer incipient symbols from layers ruled by entropy to others bound by the same random heat effects? They can’t command the microfilaments of a neural cell, let alone a macroorganism, to dance to their tune while bearing anything like “hey, there.” So how do they tap up the pod chain into Da Vinci’s paintings, Mahler’s symphonies, and Keats’ nightingale?

How can a princess perceive a pea through mattresses as bottomless and diffuse as matter; e.g. transmit the uncertainty state of a subatomic particle into the uncertainty state of a beaver dam? Physicist Arthur Zajonc was probably smiling when he told philosopher William Irwin Thompson: “Quantum effects are a mystery, and mind is a mystery. So when we say that mind arises from quantum effects, we think we have said something.”

 

  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. 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.

I wonder, “Orb-weaver, if you and I are mere heat effects, shouldn’t we 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 the opposite.

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

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

Does a badger or crow worry about its own 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 by comparison to us, dogs and mice—jellyfish, barnacles, worms, and the like are no less evolved or clever. Even oaks and foxgloves have a phenomenology.

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—not as descriptor but essence. A bacterial formation on 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 nutrient-rich mud. It is doing philosophy of the most fundamental sort, for it is funneling information and identity into the record.

A mosquito reads nature through a mosquito portal, a vole at vole frequency, a whale via a cetacean operating system. Dung beetles push their own balls of poop away from competitors by comparing successive sidereal snapshots.

Fishes know water perhaps as we experience sky or God, or as something unimaginable to us. The nitrogen fumes of decay are a starry heavens to a fly.

Poet Michael McClure deemed the wolf “not a wandering scholar but a wandering minstrel—with the whole prairie for auditorium and worldfield to work upon. He can visualize a Platonic universe of sound as a field on which to conceive and topologize his personal statements.”17 The Earth is packed with 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….”18

“When your cat is out sleeping on a rock in the sun,” says Sethian philosopher John Friedlander, “it has a different kind of relationship to that rock than you do. And it has a different relationship to its body than you do. It’s not so hardwired into thinking it is that body.”19

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 ear of nature, is an ecstatic choir.

 

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

Pavlovian conditioning can induce a dog or falcon to do a master’s bidding, but they do it as dogs and falcons not proxy humans. You can’t deceive 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.20

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

 

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.

Those prickly thin legs waving, trying to gain purchase, were profound. I urged it not to be in a hurry; that is, I dispatched anthropomorphism its way. Only as I took its shell out to the garden and set it there, did it strike me that the frantic femurs were connected to the universe. I was handling a hologram.

And this 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 was entitled “Face It, Your Brain is a Computer.” It was submitted by Gary Marcus, a neuroscientist at NYU, who argued that the brain is a computer because—well, what else could it be? Dennett proved as much. Its logic-board and thought processes are conducted by silicon-like cerebral wiring. It links by computations; its neurons operate like hardware; its functions are directly homologous to those of a computer.

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

The logic is bass-ackwards. Computers are modeled 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 superior machines. They use much more energy to achieve comparable results and are more rigidly circumscribed in functions and applications. They are more linear in their operations, less virtual in their retrieval. Brains don’t even need a memory function. They operate somehow by macro-infinitudes; their data-recall is everywhere.

Cells may not be brains—though neurons are the integral cerebral components—but even non-neural cells are sophisticated computational devices that copy and/or repair their own DNA sequences as often as a hundred thousand times a day. You’d need to feed a computer mountains of data we don’t have to program it to repair a single cell, let alone millions simultaneously. In addition, cells bundle into other brain-like organs throughout the body: liver, intestines, vagus nerve, adrenal gland, and the continuously cadent, data-processing heart which is so closely associated with the brain that it functioned as its predecessor. During the first three weeks of embryological development the heart was the primeval head, and its role was to perceive and be aware of the world. Subsequently each heartbeat sends signals to the cognitive brain and other organs, which coordinate emotion, perception, and one’s ability to reason and make choices.

Even localized nerves, vessels, fluids, and small glands constitute a vast plexus more like an Internet web than a common laptop.

The real question is, what are brains and cells modeled on, given that they were not manufactured under quality control but basted out of mineralized mud

Marcus provides an unintentional self-parody. He purports to be willing to play second fiddle to a cybernetic doppelgänger who might someday write the same article.

It is schizophrenia: to believe and not believe same thing. Yet most tech mavens think that you can behave however you want in private life without invalidating your official belief system.

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

 

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

In keeping with current molecular 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,” proposed that if clinical transference can be mapped in the brain by methods similar to those of computer diagnosis, there is new hope for nonpharmaceutical treatments. In lieu of prescribing hit-or-miss drugs or engaging in associative talk, psychiatrists could target damaged circuits and inputs.

Molecular beings generate only circular paradoxes whenever they use the formulaic chemistry of their mind-body states to describe moods and meanings. Science has never been able to distinguish its own subjective origination from the supposedly pristine phenomena of its gaze. Journalist Andrew Solomon encounters the “neuropsychoanalytic” dilemma as he gyrates to explain depression without privileging an ontologically separate self:

“Everything that happens in your brain has chemical manifestations and sources. If you close your eyes and think hard about polar bears, that has a chemical effect on your brain…. The relief people express when a doctor says their depression is ‘chemical’ is predicated on a belief that that there is an integral self that exists across time, and on a fictional divide between the fully occasioned sorrow and the utterly random one. The word chemical seems to assuage the feeling of responsibility people have for …. [their] discontent.  There is a pleasant freedom from guilt…. [B]lame itself can be understood as a chemical process, and … happiness, too, is chemical. Chemistry and biology are not matters that impinge on the ‘real’ self.”21

Who or where is the “nonrandom” real self if not in the same chemicals that summon up proxy polar bears? Science not only can’t provide it, it denies its very existence. It explains the “hallucination” as a naturally arising psychedelic state.

But even the brain is no mere singular event. Its fractally tortuous archaeology comprises both evolutionary and developmental layers. Its anatomy and chemistry express transitional realities. A fluctuating “mirage” is generated by the interaction of corticol, coricotropin releasing factor, serotonin, norepinephrine, thyroid releasing hormone, prolactin, melatonin, dopamine, adrenalin, etc., and their receptors—and that is not the only theater in the brain. The amygdala and hypothalamus regulate synaptic function, neurotransmitter cycles, and even genetic expression.

Brain chemistries and anatomies converge and replace one another at multiple levels and degrees of consciousness as they mold our perception of the world.

Conversely, thoughts and actions modify the brain. Sustained Buddhist meditation builds neurophysiology that supports nondual perception. Criminal acts trigger further criminal acts. Depression and anxiety reinforce their own cycles.

The fact that the brain is not peripheral or incidental doesn’t make it more than a temporal field state, expressing and transforming itself by molecular sites and hormones. In a Gnostic reinterpretation of neuroscience, epigenesis occurs as sparks of transpersonal consciousnesses are induced into self-reflective egos. The brain could be a physiological expression of Astral and Etheric downloads (see below).

To use medications to block unwanted emotions or abate unhappiness or the imperfections of existence is to abandon a neo-Platonic view of “essence” and make human beings into the de facto machines of scientific theory. Life is no longer an adventure or spiritual opportunity but sequences of malfunctions in need of repair. Psychiatric drugs are administered to “correct” realities cast by prior psychiatric drugs, often in endlessly uncorroborated cycles, in search of a culturally appropriated sense of happiness. Even feisty millennials are willing to cede their minds to the pharmaceutical industry as meekly as their predecessors ceded their bodies under the same proscription: we are machines.

When antidepressants were offered to families awaiting news of their loved ones after the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, the difference between a simulated reality and reality itself was distorted, a civic manipulation foreshadowed by Aldous Huxley’s bliss-producing “soma” in Brave New World. While the airport palliation was brief and symptomatic, other people become addicted to pain-killers, opiates, and stimulants, and enter full-time make-believe worlds.

Reality is dynamic and interactive and cannot be finely calibrated. The more salient distinction may be between the neurotransmitters we experience and a hyper-reality that gives rise to mind itself.

 

While finishing this section of the book, I met a Google employee who told me his job title as “artificial-intelligence associate.” I asked what that amounted to. He said he created and refined algorithms to monitor the Internet for rogue bots, scams, malware, frauds, and hate speech.

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

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

“Your own consciousness too?”

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

I guess not. Millennials set their own standards.

As we rambled through topics, he said he was convinced that the discovery of the mechanism behind consciousness was inevitable. It awaited the right approach and improved tools. He was chagrinned and amused when I suggested otherwise. I said that consciousness might arise outside the brain. “Anyway the brain was made by mud and water.”

“Silicon and iridium are as good as mud and water. Since both run information through wiring, why shouldn’t a machine be able to be made conscious like us?” His tone grew more serious and he warned that we needed to figure out how to make AI conscious, and soon. “It is as inefficient to develop AI in a machine without real consciousness as it would be in a human. If it remains an expanding algorithm, it will eventually take over and eliminate human consciousness.

“Why?”

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

“How do you know a machine would behave ethically if it became conscious?”

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

Artificial intelligence, like the human version, is as ethical as the universe that sponsors it, or a little less so since it uses fewer parameters and is another cog removed from the source. Ethics and intelligence are a work in progress, no matter the wiring.

 

Like the Google guy, most laypeople assume that science is on the verge of demarcating consciousness—ingredients, function, operation—the same way it snared the genetic molecule. Astrophysicist David Darling recommends holding off: “No account of what goes on at the mechanistic level of the brain can shed any light whatsoever on why consciousness exists. No theory can explain why the brain shouldn’t work exactly as it does, yet without giving rise to the feeling we all have of ‘what it is like to be.’”21 (italics mine). This is an under-appreciated point. Bundles of elongated cells in fractally braided entrails look (and act) somewhat like computation, but they do not act like beingness—they evince no ruminative chirons or internalizing holograms. The brain is the default source of beingness only because there is no other candidate.

“Brains and neurons obviously have everything to do with consciousness,” agrees philosopher H. Allen Orr, but how these structures do so, he also admits, is baffling. “Despite this,” he continues, “I can’t go so far as to conclude that mind poses some insurmountable barrier to materialism….”22

He overlooks gaps between aspects of the universe that we can get at and ones we can’t. He presumes that everything is exposable in some fashion and can be lassoed with the same essential tools and paradigm-set.

“Nowhere in the laws of physics or in the laws of the derivative sciences chemistry and biology,” declared neuroscientist Professor John Eccles, “is there any reference to consciousness or mind. This is not to affirm that consciousness does not emerge in the evolutionary process, but merely to state that its emergence is not reconcilable with the natural laws as at present understood.”23

Its chain of custody is patent pending.

When protein analyst Jean-Pierre Changeux enjoined philosophers to reformulate their ontological premises to keep up with the latest advances in neuroscience, which must (in his opinion) contain a definitive determination of consciousness, philosopher Colin McGinn accused him of a disingenuous and “dubious reductionism and the act-object fallacy,” reminding Changeaux, “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….”24

Years earlier, Werner Heisenberg issued his well-catechized conclusion, “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.”25 He had made a full circuit around the quantum permutating ferris wheel.

Psychologist Steven Pinker took the dilemma into contemporary slang, “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.”26

“Neither does anyone else!” The general public doesn’t get it. They cluelessly assume that consciousness is a machine function of the brain. That was evident during the January 13, 2019 edition of the CBS News show Sixty Minutes when interviewer Scott Pelley spoke for his informed audience by asking artificial-intelligence entrepreneur Kai Fu Lee how we would know when a machine was able think like a human and how long it would be before that finally happened.

“If you’re talking about AGI, artificial general intelligence,” Lee answered, “I’d say not within the next thirty years and possibly not ever. Possibly never.”

“What’s so insurmountable?” asked a puzzled Pelley. This is modernity speaking—total belief in machines, especially those with software. Apple and Google products are positioned to blind consumers to any greater or competing reality, as they keep advancing like an army of friendly robots.

“Because I believe,” responded Kai Fu Lee, “in the sanctity of our soul. I believe there’s a lot of things about us that we don’t understand. I believe there’s a lot about love and compassion that is not explainable in terms of neural networks and computation algorithms. I currently see no way of solving them.”

To Pelley, this was a problem, but that was because he didn’t think through the implications of an opposite answer.

Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield took it where most scientists won’t: “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.”27

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

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

 

  1. Paranormal Phenomena and Nonlocal Consciousness

Among more commonly reported events that science rejects for its research protocol are near-death journeys, poltergeists, and telekinesis (or activation of matter by mind). Other shunned phenomena—ectoplasm, UFOs, yetis, crop circles—straddle the mind-matter interface, yielding occasional artifacts or measurable effects. Psychologist Carl Jung called the latter “psychoids”—objects that can’t manifest physically without our psychic participation. To consider them solely projections or hallucinations misses their actual nature: UFOs show up on radar, and sasquatches leave footprints and fur. Their reality may be fluctuating through dimensions or probabilities beyond the laws of physics.

Ectoplasm has been witnessed by countless observers, including scientists and skeptics, during séances. It is generally described as “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….”28

This zombie-like formation consists of water vapor, presumably condensed to visibility by the telekinetic ability of spirits to reduce air temperature, which then takes on their shape. “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.”29

For poltergeist activity, ectoplasm is the gold standard of manifestation.

“It streams like a mist and assumes all sorts of shapes yet can be compacted into something absolutely solid while the power lasts….

An observer reports, “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.”30

Another sitter “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….”31

 

In near-death experiences, a “mind” journeys through a tunnel or space-time warp to a brightly luminous zone where it is welcomed by relatives and spirit guides before being sent back to the physical realm. In parallel ghost-like excursions, a surgical patient on anesthetic wanders from his own operation and observes objects and events throughout the hospital.

But consciousness as demarcated by physicists as well as neuroscientists cannot, by the remotest addendum, do those things. It cannot break the chain of moleculo-atomic custody, so it cannot travel unaccompanied down corridors; it cannot read operating schedules and name badges on orderlies’ cloaks, view other surgeries in process, visit the waiting room, and (in one famous instance) find a misplaced blue tennis shoe with scuff marks on the toe and the shoelaces tucked under the tongue on an upper ledge on the far side of the building.32 When a body is sedated on an operating table, its brain and mind are anchored to the same pulpit.

Likewise, a personality cannot reformulate itself, here or elsewhere, after the death and cremation of its brain; it cannot transfer memories to a fresh embryo. There is no mechanism for thoughts and identities to pass from one being to another.

 

Ectoplasm and near-death experiences impress scientists about as much as levitating figures in Prague’s Old Town Square. Ectoplasm is consigned to stage magic. Various modes of nonlocality are explained as cognitive error, arrant deception, lazy thinking, superstitious belief systems, or endorphins reinforcing delusions.

Again, consciousness must come to the party like everyone else in the universe, with an authorized chaperone—its passport stamped at every stop. Once so vested, it can do anything it wants, though it must stay summarized in neurons and the cortex of the brain; it can’t go rogue.

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.

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

Self-authenticating consciousness is a more unwelcome guest than telepathy because it sets a new yardstick for all of reality. Telepathy is, at worst, a remote-control device with materialist options. Nonlocal consciousness’ impossibility is the last bastion of materialism before utter freefall. If a mind can journey outside a body, it makes matter a stranger in its own universe and warns scientists that they are looking for consciousness in the wrong place.

 

Chapter Three: Transdimensional Physics and Biology

Neurologist Oliver Sacks’ commonsense explanation for near-death experiences sets up shop where you’d expect: in 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

Sacks is providing a neurological correlate to Freudian sublimation and displacement. From his vantage, out-of-body journeys read as real trips because they transude through the same neural circuitry and are interpreted by the same cerebral lobes as bona fide sensory phenomena—they register as real because the mind is tricked by its own electro-chemistry into believing them. The brain validates them like a stamping machine that has stopped looking at the documents it is authorizing.

But who is some guy shuffling data on an outer waterworld in the provincial Milky Way to lay down a law for the universe? Physics and neuroscience use one trajectory of observer perception to define and describe all of nature and life. Their inquiries end physically at quarks or preons and neurologically at cells or organelles. And they don’t just end; they finalize, closing to the door to any other modes of reality or inquiry.

Sacks does not consider that, throughout All That Is, there may exist complex consciousnesses who experience states beyond our comprehension and measurements. I get his intent: the brain is an inevasible control center; it does homogenize information. But that doesn’t a priori invalidate all paranormal experiences or expressions of nonlocal mind. It is also not proof the brain creates consciousness or that its threshold in Homo sapiens marks the limits of experience-processing entities everywhere. And just because the brain can be tricked into registering some hallucinations as real does not mean that all psychic events are hallucinations.

Contemporary neuroscience disposes of thousands of years of inquiry in shamanic, Hindu, Buddhist, and other psychospiritual lineages.

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

To the scientific establishment, they are abject hoaxes.

A 2017 study by team of neuroscientists based mostly at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland adopted algebraic topology to show how, in addition to its known cellular and cerebral activities, the brain conducts itself by what they called “kinetic depth parameters.” It processes information by creating multi-dimensional structures—the team named them “cliques”—which disintegrate as they assimilate information. At these ensue, they are bound in spatial cavities where they 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…. 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

The brain’s lobes may not even generate mind but serve as a transceiver (transmitter-receiver) linking consciousness at large with epigenetically arising functions. By this model, the brain has no capacity to create awareness, only to integrate it in a biological context. Consciousness is an invisible energy “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—attunes a DNA-stipulated signal out of a vast range of conscious information. It restricts, filters, and channels. If an organism received the full input, it would be overwhelmed.

By at least one argument, it is not the brain but its shutting down that allows mind its greatest range; for instance, in near-death and other nonlocal experiences. Connoisseurs of LSD and ayahuasca have described finding themselves floating outside the galaxy or in landscapes of other dimensions. It is as if, without the bridle of a brain, the actual mind is freed to explore consciousness itself. In that tenor, Frederic Myers speculated that the brain evolved as an adaptation of matter to being acted upon by spirit.

Other nineteenth-century and twentieth-crossover thinkers reasoned along similar lines. Among them were Nikola Tesla, Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Lord Raleigh, innovators of technologies from which radios and televisions were formulated. Each believed that consciousness was more accurately described as an exogenous “psychoplasma” than as electrochemical pulses of the brain.4 If you smash a radio, the music stops, but that doesn’t eliminate sound waves in the air.

There are some striking ramifications and corollaries to this model. For one, spirits 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 apparently overrides this limitation. Mediums perform as well on the phone as in person, and remote viewers do not cede fidelity with distance.

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

Hindu cosmology locates a brain-like complex above the crown chakra. This meta-structure is said to process information unconsciously, using Etheric and higher energies, while located half in and half outside time and space. The brain evolves as this organ’s “alias” at a denser frequency, far transcending Sacks’ obedient stamping machine.

Information and identity in the universe may not only be algorithms bubbling up from molecular abacuses but intelligences triturated down through hierarchies. Cycles in the brain might transduce the mind of a higher, timeless Self, germinating from its chrysalis in the mental permanent seed placed by esoteric anatomists at the pineal gland—a complementary physical permanent seed germinates at the heart, the first embryogenic brain.

The brain hatches consciousness because its template has a numinous source. Yet cells are a physical event in a material realm, so they must use biomolecular components, even if these are denser versions of subtle energies. The relation between biology and meta-biology may explain some of life’s more baffling mysteries, including its origin and evolution and also the transfer of information—intersubjective and inter-objective—between organisms sundered in time and space. Mathematical savants reveal a different aspect of the brain-mind paradox. Daniel Tammet of Barking, England, on of the most heralded contemporary savants, accurately multiplies four nine-digit numbers by each other, derives fractional square roots, and calculates pi to twenty-thousand-plus digits, all in his head. Is this the brain operating as a computer or the mind as a meta-computer? It is probably both, using a link as elusive to most people as past-life recall.

 

An aspect of Ian Stevenson’s work provides potential game-changing evidence for 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 PP. “Patterns such as birthmarks or deformities in the current lifetime that were correlated to experiences remembered from a previous lifetime… tied the past and present individual together….”5  In one notable case, a girl remembering the life of man who had undergone skull surgery was born with “what Stevenson called the most extraordinary birthmark he had ever seen: a three-centimeter wide area of pale, scar-like tissue that extended around her entire head.”6 In a case I didn’t cite earlier, a boy born with stubs for fingers remembered himself being a child in another village “who lost the fingers of his right hand to a fodder-chopping machine.”7

Stevenson annunciates “the biology of reincarnation…: physical ‘marks’ from a previous life’s violent ending by things like knife, ax, mallet, hanging rope, or bullet wound. The Ian Stevenson library … 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.”8

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

A form of psychic morphogenesis would be necessary to convert traumas from a body that no longer exists into lesions in the tissue of a successor embryo. Some sort of telekinesis would have to carry out the transfer, and a mode of space-time-relativistic telepathy would need to transfer the identity of the source PP to the child bearing the marks.

Stevenson speculated on a method of embryogenic execution 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.”9  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.”10

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.11 If thoughts can produce a blister on skin, a mechanism for mind-to-cell transfer exists. In modeling how such visualizations, might activate healing, osteopath John Upledger proposed a subconscious bio-encryption he dubbed “cell talk.”12

Wounds that were experienced painfully or in states of terror tend to recur 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.13 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 to reconstitute in a new body with a new brain.

Reincarnational wound-transfer—again, if that is what is happening—intimates that our existence doesn’t so much evaporate as return to a latency from which it reemerges psychically as well as phenotypically. Note that we identify only a fraction of these “mutations,” as recognition requires a belief in reincarnation as well as intimate access to both past and present individuals.

Telekinetic transfer is reified in cultures that take reincarnation for granted, and it is not even confined to pure “cell talk.” In parts of Asia, Stevenson and his associate found people using soot or paste to mark the body of a recently deceased relative, saying a prayer for them to carry this sign into the next life for identification. In thirty-eight instances where the process was tracked, the mark recurred in some fashion on a relative. A striking instance involved a daughter-in-law pressing a finger dipped in white paste on the body of her mother-in-law whose grandson was born with a pale area on the back of his neck corresponding to a major portion of the streak.14

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 it will seep into a life imprint and show up as a birthmark on a newborn. The body of a lama is tagged, not only to aid his rebirth but to allow his identity to be confirmed. Of course, application of oils to an inert body contravenes a theory of traumatic telekinesis, but neither Stevenson nor the lamas have claim on the mechanism, let alone its range.

If you think that metempsychotic birthmarks crossing the DNA barrier invoke discredited Lamarckian inheritance, 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!15 Consider too the way the universe turns inanimate matter into life. The entirety of information blueprinting an organism is condensed, synopsized, and transformed into codes, which regenerate it meticulously in another organism by invaginating carbon-based chrysalises.

 

For the remainder of this chapter, I will attempt to square physical and metaphysical interpretations of birth-scar phenomena and other reincarnational evidence. This discussion might get too mystically esoteric for some readers (and then too steeped in cellular biology for others). At any point, feel free to skip to the next chapter.

 

Pundits skry seven chords of vibration in the human operating range, each calibrated into seven subplanes or finer differentiations of energy. The subplanes have subplanes which have even more finite subplanes. These planes have acquired traditional names; in one version (from subtler to denser): Adi, Monadic, Atmic, Buddhic, Causal-Mental, Astral, Physical-Etheric. “Planes” are frequencies of energy not geographies. Any material landscape incorporates all seven,  but only a few are ordinarily perceptible to humans.

In the plane we inhabit, creatures’ bodies vibrate primarily at a material frequency. Since matter is energy, a material plane is no less “energetic” than any subtler plane. It is also has a baseline opacity. Even the most gravitationally compressed star does not crush matter into a denser mode; it transforms it electromagnetically into metallic hydrogen.

Beings and objects materialize at the frequency of their plane. They are “real” (or “physical”) because it is “real.” If we were attuned to a subtler frequency, we would perceive that frequency and its fluffier objects as “material,” so its “physical” reality, though impalpable at a human vibrational rate, is dense as matter to its citizens. Realms of spirit, seemingly too evanescent for meaningful action and objects, are actually quite rich, with their own versions of jungles, oceans, and experiences.

Only the lower tiers of the densest three planes in our system are discernible in the operating range of most humans: the Physical aspect of the Physical-Etheric plane, the lowest five gradients of the Astral plane (which we experience as our emotional life), and the Mental tiers of the Mental-Causal plane.

The Etheric aspect of the Physical-Etheric plane transmits at a frequency slightly subtler than matter, demonstrated by the activation of its lower range using acupuncture needles. According to both Hindu and theosophical theory, the seeds of our physical bodies congeal in the higher Ethers before materializing lower on the plane.

The upper Astral vibrates at the frequency of undines, sylphs, leprechauns, faeries, fire salamanders, and the like. These psychoids have their own autonomous existences, but dimensions of them manifest periodically in our plane. Villagers in Ireland and Iceland recognize certain mounds and stone circles as faery forts in the Astral. That aspect is otherwise invisible because it is vibrating at a too high frequency for our senses.

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

At a higher frequency, the Mental-Causal plane becomes Causal. There the shape of an atom, molecule, or DNA helix transmits information from finer planes through Causal grounding. The Causal realm is also where our individual soul encounters Mental, Astral, Etheric, and Physical realms, as it disseminates aspects of itself to explore their mysteries and meaning.

By this paradigm, higher planes reverberate organisms onto planets. Creatures form in molecular substrata by Physical-plane laws—gravity, curvature, heat, shear force— but their prototypes already exist as subtle bodies. That’s why they knit together embryogenically; Atmic, Causal, Etheric, and other energies are converging with thermodynamic forces. The transdimensional planes are engaging at at least two levels: directly as an intelligent frequency broadcast throughout nature and indirectly as the Physical plane is one of their own dimensions, a denser expression of the same energies.

While the geometry of Crick-Watson-brand DNA is a self-contained carrier of heredity on the Physical plane, an Etheric twin-helical progenitor (resembling the serially twined ida and pingala nadis of the upper Etheric) shape its expression. In other words, mutually orbiting spirals represent an esoteric geometry through which Causal, Mental, Astral, and Etheric energies materialize into amino-acid-based codons, translating information from the aura of a PP into bodily cicatrices in his successor. In this manner, the Etheric plane can receive traumatized motifs, then archive, encode and implant them in fresh fetal tissue. Assaults in one generation return as birthmarks or scars in the next.

The thermodynamic landscape remains under Darwinian traction. There is no wiggle room between the two realms—one material, the other meta-material. Seemingly incommensurate systems meet at frequencies of the same energy: physical DNA germinates from karmic DNA.

 

The next plane above the Causal is the Buddhic at which we experience the collective nature of human existence as well as the cosmic coalescence of synchronicity. At the seventh subplane of the Buddhic, we share a soul with twenty or thirty other people, though we maintain an individual soul in the Causal realm. With our group-soul mates we exchange experiences and even divvy up karma for subsequent incarnations: a life plan can come two-thirds from one individual and one-third from his or her neighbor.

At higher tiers of the Buddhic, our group soul goes wider and become more inclusive until, at the first subplane, we share a soul with every human being and, at different vibrations, every animal, plant, and spirt on our planet.

At the Atmic frequency, our souls intersect those of interplanetary and intergalactic systems. The fifth subplane of the Atmic is where laws of physics (like gravity) are established and incorporated into the Physical-Etheric realm by reciprocal programming.

At the Monadic frequency, we interpenetrate other dimensional systems. The Monadic is also where our individualized spark of Divine Being, the Atman, passes into incarnational cycles of consciousness. The Atman stores an individual’s larger identity while integrating its many lives, forms, and experiences with the lives, formats, and experiences of other entities throughout the multiverse (see my chapter “Multipersonhood”).

The seventh ascending plane, the Adi, corresponds to emptiness before an entirely different kind of manifestation, so it holds the potential of our entire system. 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. Empty realms mediate between realms full of objects and information. Each is radically different from the others. Yet All That Is consolidates them at the deepest level, so “something” and “nothing” are in continuous balance.

In Russian cosmologist G. I. Gurdjieff’s version of this system, the Ray of Creation, originating at All That Is, transited zones of dormant intelligence and ignited their innate rubrics of information, most of them at higher frequencies than the Big Bang; then it imploded here, creating our space-time continuum.

 

I am not asserting the reality of these planes. They are attempts by psychic explorers to identify ranges of energy they encounter. If Etheric, Astral, and Causal frequencies are descriptors of something true in the universe, they must fuse with mass, gravity, dark energy, and dark matter somewhere in a unified field and ultimate Theory of Everything. Yet my suspicion is that even if science significantly broadened its parameters, it would never come upon the planes. They are generated outside our operating range and only enter it as other things. Bertrand Russell intuited something like this when he said, “Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little: it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.”16 The rest of the universe, or All That Is, is as inaccessible to us as the Milky Way to a blind fish. Even were such a creature to develop a telescope—and it could do so only in a thought experiment—it wouldn’t “see.”

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 were conceived by very sophisticated rheostatic receptors; yet we still perceive a star 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, couldn’t account for the full range of Aristotelian causation.

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. It is the Nature of things (rerum natura).

What materialistic science confronts now at the frontier of particle physics is not a riddle of physics but a paradox imbedded in a lineage of causation that goes 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 thermodynamic events, initially and again each time. Aristotle understood: this is a big, big problem. You can’t advance without resolving it—and we haven’t.

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 and noncausal correlations.

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.”17 This is so drop-dead seminal that its profundity is overlooked. Nothing is needed for cosmogenesis beyond an activated sigil with subconscious properties. When physicists discover this “magical” meaning beyond string theory, the landscape of science may change, and consciousness may find its own place in ontological equations.

 

Terrence Deacon hits close to the sweet spot of the Aristotelian riddle when he deconstructs nature’s emergent jumps across tiers of organization. Mind, Deacon asserts, doesn’t emerge from matter only by mutations under incremental feedback “but from the constraints (aka absences) that organize matter.”18 What does that mean? For one, it is a deviation from conventional Darwinian demographics—beasts on hoof and wing competing for terrain and maximal offspring—to a subcellular regime where thermodynamics and dormant genetic resiliences operate in close quarters with erasure and elision by nucleation, unstable saturation, macromolecular phase shifts, etc. Absent features—unrealized potentials—are stored and emerge from reduced degrees of freedom in micro-thermodynamic systems. Information passes through multiple levels of nonlinear functions that, in aggregate, cancel out or abate some of their linear pathways.

Constraints open a backdoor to nonphysical, e.g. absent, events. Ultimately you can squeeze an organism through the eye of a needle, by not even trying.

The autogene—the hypothetical first cell—encompassed a series of recursive potentiations. As active values of efficient cause brought about random changes, passive ones integrated them. None of this showed up in the splash. as intra- and inter-cellular cards were held too close to the molecular vest, but there couldn’t have been membrane-enclosed organelles without such a backdoor. Deacon and his co-author Ty Cashman characterized the situation this way:

“[C]onstraints in the world are intrinsically relational phenomena. They are reflected in relationships between degrees of freedom that are excluded and those that are not excluded. And these are always degrees of freedom of some physical process of change. So, when we argue that the constraints that characterize autogenesis actively preserve themselves we are not mentioning the fact that this active preservation necessarily involves physical processes that by virtue of these constraints do the work of preventing these same constraints from degrading. And because these constraints are preserved, whenever thermodynamic conditions enable the resumption of chemical work, this energetic change is again channeled into autogenic catalysis and linked self-assembly processes. The chemical reactions that are thereby prevented are those that tend to degrade the capacity to prevent these deleterious reactions….”19

A constraint does not just arise from an organism’s—or primal cell’s— physical and chemical composition or thermodynamic and biologic feedback; it functions teleodynamically as its own outgrowth. Like transit in a Klein bottle or Möbius strip, inside and outside fuse as a continuous interdependent flow. A form never has to disclose itself or its etiology, for its identity emerges from within without a without. An 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 potential nonexistence becomes existence by maintaining disequilibrium, advancing by fluctuations of constraints, perennially delaying its own obliteration.

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.”20

They also free neo-Darwinism from having to be a billboard for its own effects—anyway a copier can’t be the genesis of what it is copying.

Deacon and Cashman are talking about thermodynamic activity and its levels of feedback within the boundaries that the feedback creates. They are not talking about theosophical planes. But the universe makes no such distinctions. Constraints could just as well operate between planes of reality. For instance, an Atmic-to-Causal flow might constrain Physical-Etheric instability and lead to the upholstering of a material realm. Atoms and molecules would form compounds and organisms as their Astral and Etheric states bind—e.g., restrain—subtler source energies. The Physical plane becomes physical by providing a denser, more discrete field of expression, encouraging finer vibrations to disclose hidden potentials as they engage reciprocally. Proteins and enzymes could be Causal, Astral, and Etheric energies catalyzing at lower frequencies by constraint of their vaster properties. The autogene itself could have arisen as Etheric energies constrained finer octaves.

In Deacon’s version, “Emergent properties are not something added, but rather a reflection of something restricted and hidden via ascent in scale due to constraints propagated from lower-level dynamical processes.”21 But that’s similar to how Gurdjieff’s Ray of Creation jumps zones and ignites galaxies.

Constraints are a universe talking to itself with intrinsic intelligence. Whether these are imposed transdimensionally (me) or thermodynamically (Terry), flexibility increases with dynamical depth. Each organism matures as it explores its situation and the aspect of nature available to it.

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 material exemplifies modernity’s stalemate: a miscalculation of the real complexity behind its oversimplified models.

“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.

He concluded by gently chasing me out of my transdimensional pose:

“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….”

I summarized my rebuttal in an email to him:

1) The parallel nonphysical realm, if it exists, is consolidated in such a way that there is no difference between its physical and metaphysical expression, nor should there be. At the level of constraints, they converge.

2) Materialism is unaware of its own roots and unconscious dependence on rootless constructs and mathematical models, so it is more truly metaphysical materialism. 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 logic to prior conditions without a sense of what the original terms were.

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.

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. I mean, you can’t have a paradigm of consciousness that is less subtle 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 civilization when he said of Christ’s resurrection: “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.”22

The resurrection (or rainbow body) of Christ was far more profound and multidimensional than appreciated by his apostles and later priests. The man

Jesus was carrying both terrestrial DNA and a higher vibration of Christ consciousness, as he tried to incarnate a celestial archetype in a human context. His vibration, despite gross corruption and mismarketing, is still tolling through the planetary body, attempting to raise our vibration to its octave: service, compassion, revelation, That is where we are headed, as a biological event or theophany, malgré the current shambles.

 

 

Chapter Four: James Leininger or James Huston?

James Leininger was a cheerful 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 These 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 moans in a strange voice.

Her pediatrician consoled that night terrors were normal and would diminish over time, that it was better not to wake a child abruptly from a bad dream. She accepted his advice, quieting her own premonitions. Neither a yokel nor a naïf, Andrea was an educated, discerning mother—a former ballet dancer too.

One night James’ cries took on a new verbal element. 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.

But 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 the 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

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 similar 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.

Other foreshadowings came to mind. Before the onset of the nightmares, 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 also 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, at another museum, demonstrated a professional aviator’s knowledge of aircraft structure and function.

Ingenuous events were now seen in a different, somewhat ominous light.

 

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

Soon 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. Also, Americans these days don’t consider its possibility. “Having a past life is not the initial conclusion you come to, Andrea conceded. “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 at least provisionally open-minded about past lives, Bruce’s response was “Balony!”10 He too 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 marked an emotional and ideological schizophrenia. On the one hand, they interrogated their son and exhaustively researched his responses as though he might have had a past life as a World War II pilot; at the same time, Bruce was determined to discredit the story and prove that James was making up people and events out of his 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 he flew. James countered 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 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. “Natoma!” James shot back.

Bruce felt a brief reprieve. “Natoma” sounded like a child’s make-believe word. Yet an online search revealed a United States aircraft carrier Natoma Bay stationed in the Pacific during World War II.

After the cat was out of the bag Bruce admitted that the repeated coincidences perplexed and disturbed him. A big-time problem-solver at work, he could not clear up simple enigmas created by a four-year-old in his household. His son was attacking his belief system, almost goading him into a sacrilegious view.

While tucking James into bed one night, he tried a lighter touch, “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 He and his dream “self” were both “James.”

Though James 3 could not provide James 2’s last name, he was able to identify one of his fellow Natoma pilots: Jack Larsen.13

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 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 couldn’t think of a way to tell the truth and not be discounted as a kook. By then, he wasn’t certain what he believed himself:

“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 living in Arkansas but 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 beginning to entertain the unthinkable. No longer disguising his motive, he called Larsen and then drove to Springdale, Arkansas, to interview him. 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.

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, far more than enough to build up aircraft lingo and 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

At home, 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.”

Instead of letting a gracious compliment pass, Bruce requested an explanation and James complied. “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 apparently “see” it in his mind’s eye; he responded as if, “Doesn’t everyone choose their parents before they’re born?” Maybe everyone does. 

Maybe everyone also travels between worlds. James had named his GI Joe dolls Billy, Leon, and Walter and, when Bruce somewhat gratuitously 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.”20

About twenty percent of people 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 such a complex string of experiences 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 The landscape suggests traditional descriptions of Astral and higher planes.

Marta Lorenz, a Brazilian girl who remembered having been an adult friend of her mother’s in an earlier lifetime, commented after the disheartening 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.” As her father was retorting 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 Bridey Murphy danced.

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

 

Bruce Leininger eventually learned—no thunderbolt by now—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 a participant pilot’s terse journal entry from the scene that day:

“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 an odd detail in James Leninger’s play. 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 touch with James Huston’s last surviving family member, his sister Annie. By phone Bruce told her to sit down and pour herself a drink, then recited an incredible tale.

Annie told him 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.

The four-year-old and his PP’s eighty-six-year old sister later talked on the phone. James shared intimate family 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 Annie later 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, so Bruce confessed to the alumni of the Natoma Bay. To a one, they were sympathetic and welcomed young James at their next reunion. As the boy walked around, he recognized many, greeting them by name. He passed a few friendly tests, for instance showing accurately 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, 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 experienced his own 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 an 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 accentuate his point, then smiled condescendingly.

“Little friends” indeed! Kurtz’s comments do not address the Leiningers’ 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 the show, “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.

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 explained, “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 dismissed a case of nonlocal consciousness by commenting “This is the sort of thing I would not believe, even if it really happened.”36 Anecdotal evidence can be ignored because there is no research protocol for past-life memories.

Though the antithesis of empirical inquiry, this chippy modern attitude is defended as if honorably upholding scientific truth. A spuriously self-sanctioned world-view and belief system mimics science while supplanting it. Philosopher Charles Eisenstein diagnosed: “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; they uphold a higher fiat: that there is no meaning, spirit, or innate intelligence in the universe. To seek it is blasphemy, to seem to find it delusion. They would remain unconvinced if a Cheshire cat deliquesced out of thin air and extended an ectoplasmic paw. They ratchet the universe down to their level by practicing a dogma as fanatical as Fundamentalist Christianity or Islam—Fundamentalist Nihilism, the God of No God.

University of Virginia psycholinguist Edward F. Kelly summarizes the scripture they consider under pagan attack: “Consciousness and its contents are generated by (or in some mysterious way identical to, or supervenient on) neurophysiological events and processes in the brain. Our everyday experiences of mental causation, free will, and the self are merely illusions, by-products of the grinding of our neural machinery. And of course since our minds are entirely the products of that machinery, we are necessarily extinguished, finally and totally, by the death and dissolution of our bodies. On a more cosmic scale, there are no final causes and there is no transcendent order: The overall scheme of nature is utterly devoid of meaning or purpose.”38

The modern universe bottoms out here. Its texture may get more intricate and trickier, but it never goes beneath this absolute bottom.

Why the fanatic antispiritualism? No coven of traitor scientists is seeking a reversal of human progress. Yet rabid skeptics react as if nonlocality of mind would automatically sabotage the technology on which the world’s societies and economies stand. All the jets would come tumbling out of the sky; suspension bridges would collapse; the Internet would crash.

Others fear that their achievements would be nullified and their lives made worthless if they even seriously pondered a possible hoax or chimera. This came up in an interview I conducted with Carl Sagan in 1972. I was young and naïve enough then to raise the possibility of an Astral plane.

“In my mind,” he retorted, “there’s a big difference between something I want to be true and therefore pretend inside my head is really true and something that’s really true.… Suppose you lived your whole life in a very subdued and puritanical and uptight way because that was what you had to do to get to heaven, and then you die and that’s it. Well, I think you would have been had.”

“You wouldn’t know it,” I said.

“Nevertheless, it makes a difference to me. The fact that you would have foregone all sorts of satisfactions and pleasures for a supposed infinite reward and then that infinite reward was never delivered.”39

So that’s it? The main point of life is not to be scammed or stung? The fear of being “had” is so strong that it supersedes both the search for truth or respect for the universe’s complexity? It’s like the shadow side of the American dream: ephemeral prosperity and information disguising dearth and shibboleth.

Religion scholar Jeffrey Kripal proposes a counterphobia with its own sophistry of evasion: “We [meaning “they”] allergically avoid all … those religious experiences that strongly 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.”40

The truth is, the universe is embrangled and paradoxical enough to impose multiple yardsticks of reality simultaneously and play them off creatively through one another. Consciousness can bore a giant hole through materialism without abrogating even the physical aspects of its own operation. Conversely, materialism can operate with cesium-clock precision, even when sticken with ghosts and anomalies. Seeming opposites don’t clash. Whenever they collide, they induce and actuate each other. That’s the scene and script, and we’re the players…even when we sabotage the play.

While secular fundamentalists acclaim sociology of knowledge, cultural relativism, universal positivism, and deconstruction of mere contextual information, they aren’t even truly post-colonial because they do not accept indigenous realities on their own terms—totemic spirts and shamanically induced thoughtforms from Asia, Africa, Dreamtime Australia, North and South America, etc.

Kripal adds, “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.”41

Each of these ethnographically diminished or cyber-colonially derogated landscapes is a full working reality. Likewise, to dismiss the entire body of Ian Stevenson’s work as if it were prima facie “rubbish,” self-delusion, cross-cultural gullibility, and an embarrassment to the University of Virginia (as some protesting alumni did) is not a defense of science.42 It’s a reduction of science to academic trademark—secular fundamentalism. And it’s not a defense against religious obstruction either; that effectively ended with Galileo’s E pur si muove.”

One can dispense with God as a personified patriarch or avenger of aborted embryos, but that’s not what’s at stake. “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.”43 God is the placeholder for formal cause, not a patriarch fashioning universes out of whipped cream or hydrogen atoms. Intelligent Design is factitiously inflated clan worship, as Émile Durkheim spelled out in a passage so lucid that it defined anthropology for a generation until ethnographers like Carlos Castaneda and Michael Harner restored shamanism to its place in the zeitgeist:

“When the Australian [Aborigine] is carried outside himself and feels a new life flowing within him whose intensity surprises him, he is not the dupe of an illusion…. Religion … before all … is a series of ideas with which the individuals represent to themselves the society of which they are members, and the obscure but intimate relations which they have with it.”44

That’s all organized religion, including organized materialism, is: a celebration of clan totems. Theological fundamentalists and ethnographic reductionists, each in their way, devalue a self-creating universe, teleology without teleos.

 

I also want to discard simplistic dualities. To declare past-life memories proof of linear reincarnation (like actors taking on roles in successive plays) is as reductionist as the skeptical position. In a pavilion of anonymously coming-and-going “strangers,” there are never going to be answers to such questions.

A woman I met in Bar Harbor, Maine, was convinced that a ninety-five-year-old patient whom 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 her 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 the Daily Mirror’s investigations. She could have inhabited the “Ireland” of Bernstein’s regressions. She could have also lived on an alternate world akin to psychonaut Robert Monroe’s “third space,” or somewhere else just as “real.” Or she could have been a cryptomnesiac displacement. Without a psychic GPS or Google All-That-Is, woman-to-dragonfly mapping is beyond our range in every sense.

We don’t know what the old woman herself experienced, whether she knew herself as a dragonfly—or whether the dragonfly was a live rune cascading from the multidimensional disunion of her death. Perhaps a dragonfly poltergeist hitched on a entomological bug.

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

 

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

We were not meeting for mediumship but to talk about a prospective book by her. After our publishing discussion I asked her to show me the sort of thing she did, and she obliged. We began with a brief, silent meditation and prayer. Then, eyes closed, lips moving, she silently channeled an entity. Following each exchange with it, she put into words what she had received—a mix, she said, of the spirit’s thoughts and pictures. In the process, she brought to life a believable representation of my mother who committed suicide by jumping from her window in New York City forty-two years earlier.

Sali relayed accurate facts from my mother’s life, for instance that she was sent to a boarding school from ages twelve till fourteen, that she spent days not getting up from her bed without physical illness. More profoundly she captured my mother’s personality and way of presenting herself. The “ghost” filled in details of her life unknown to me and spoke of events that had occurred since her death. She expressed pride in my daughter Miranda, identifying her as a woman in her lineage who had transcended the traumas of the family.

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

When I discussed the episode with psychic theoretician John Friedlander, he confirmed that the spirit, though real, was not a continuation of my mother. It was a medley of things. First, it was Sali’s telepathic reading of my own aura. My mother’s aura had unconsciously deposited information there when she was alive, stuff from the future as well as the past. The karmic thread of our relationship, flowing across incarnations outside space-time, would be accessible to a necromancer without my mother’s contemporaneous beingness.

Sali also hooked into an inner dimension of my mother that had more awareness than the woman I knew.  

She instantaneously consulted disembodied intelligences and spirit guides familiar with my mother and her situation; she read my mother’s life in the Akashic records. These vectors and threads came together in the spirit.

The entity Sali spoke for was a piece left behind, real in that it could communicate to me and address aspects of our relationship. It was created by human existence but incapable of new action. It “knew” about my daughter’s life and career but not discuss them in the way a living grandmother would.

It could only repeat notes like opera singer performing an aria. (Of less spiritually cohesive ghosts John said, “I believe they’re debris from beings who have died with unresolved stuff. They’re thoughtforms. They don’t have their own mobility. All their mobility is derivative.”) In other words, they are the Etheric or Astral equivalent of brain-dead bodies that keep moving as though still alive.

Another psychic told me that while the spirit was transmitting healing to me in my current form, it was sending redemptive energy to my mother where she was, even though she was not in present time and did not fully remember her former self.

 

I use this and other “occult” stories to emphasize the conditional nature of personhood and the transitional states between body and spirit. Nicole Keller asks (on Facebook), “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; another part is a continually reconstructed internal dialogue, inadvertently fictionalized and revised. If core identity and personal history are fungible in life, they are more so after death. Intact identity is never of benchmark vintage.

What was established by Stevenson is that “memories, emotions, and even physical injuries can sometimes carry over from one life to the next.”45 That’s it. The life itself doesn’t carry over. It is not like waking from sleep as essentially 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.”46

Maybe that’s because of seeking the wrong document.

Look at it a different way: if James Leininger isn’t the proximal legatee of James Huston’s soul, what is the relationship between the two? And where is James Huston, Jr. now if he is not James Leininger? Does he continue to exist independently? Does the fact that young Leininger possesses strands of his death picture and other memories preclude his existence elsewhere (because he has been commuted)? Or can aspects of spirit be separated and transferred between auras and Etheric fields? Can memories exist at multiple sites simultaneously?

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

James Leininger has access to a chunk of James Huston’s life within his own selfhood, but he is not James Huston, zombie arisen from an airplane crash, craving more Earth time. He has snippets of James 2’s memories and death picture but not his existential thread. He has no continuity with James Huston’s beliefs, desires, or experience. 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. They might, for instance, share a group soul.

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

Similarly, Daniel was not Rashid. He had none of his mechanical skills and did not remember most of his PP’s experiences. He had scraps, remnants—that’s it.

Most children forget their past lives, either by late childhood or their teens. James 3’s interest in the fighter-pilot routine waned as he got older. Some memories lingered, but they came to seem less important; his nightmares ended. He accepted his current life as his self. Ryan Hammons told his mother that it was time to become a regular kid.

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 remember 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. These memories are soporific and hypnagogic; they interrupt ordinary consciousness with a different presentation that is briefly lucid—more a broadcast of the aura than the brain.

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?”46 Yet he once knew exactly who she “was.”

A common process dubbed “early childhood amnesia” puts this in context. Most children lose their earlier memories by age six or seven—not past-life but this-life.

If immediate childhood memories fade or disappear, exponentially greater amnesia occurs with memories from other lives. James 3 could have carried incomplete fragments of other prior lifetimes. The premature loss of James 2’s life was no more exigent than any of those. Each was lived in its time with its own unique view.

Our identity apparently needs aloneness to encounter the depth of its own presence. Jane Roberts considers this our protection: “The selves we know now … exist in bodies that bloom only for a personal time…closed to all other beings who came before or who will come after. We have the world, for a while to ourselves….. [T]he gracious focus of our physical senses gives us that privacy and protects the personal space we’ve made in a world of moments.”48

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

 

Chapter Five: Duality and Nonduality

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., recognizes the basis of its reality and enters a 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 ego-state transfuses a new identity—but without continuity of personhood. The past person no longer exists, while a new person is shaped around the former ego’s karma. Instead of a continuation of personal identity, there is transfer of psychic energy. “Why?” or “how?” awaits speculative concepts later in this book but also limns the actual depth, complication, and interconnectedness of All That Is.

Karma, a traditional Sanskrit term rendered in English variously as “action,” “work,” or “deed”—or, more popularly, “payback”—is an energy, though it operates at a subtler frequency than electromagnetism or gravity and likely participates in their formation. It describes a principle of causality suggestive of Aristotle’s first cause: existence as an innate premise from which each chain of subsequent causes ensues.

The continuity of lives rests on the degree to which each existence potentiates a future emanation. For instance, an event incompletely resolved in one lifetime may spark another life. A Buddhist homily strikes at the core: “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.”

In that fashion, the dead person lives again; James 2 passes an aspect of his own torch to James 3. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki addresses the underlying paradox:

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

In the sixth century B.C., Gautama Buddha made a determination not to track a deceased person beyond his or her initial change-states. It was neither a matter of belief nor ontological priority; it was a focus of life practice. When the Buddhist-defined self shatters from the delusion of its own existence, the mirage holding it together breaks into pieces, none of which continue to exist discretely.

In other words, much like modern science, Buddhism assigns consciousness to a delusion. But while science deems the mind a vagabond mirage, Buddhism sources the mirage in a self-arising luminosity. Its “ego illusion” is attributed to five conditional interdependent 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 recognition. Through this primal tear, the ground luminosity ignites subatomic vibrations and inaugurates secular time. The goal of spiritual practice is to dissolve the lesion with its bias toward duality and attachment and recognize our situational entrapment. This leads to both enlightenment and the cessation of suffering.

In antithesis to scientific dogma, which wipes out whole universes with the panache of keystrokes, 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 its basis.

The distinction between existence as a neural mirage and existence as a self-arising radiance marks the divide between Eastern and Western ontology.

For creatures in the game, meaning all creatures, temporal selfhood is indispensable because they have nothing to put in its place, no way to exchange where or what they are. Since the choice to be wasn’t a choice, it cannot be repealed. If you try to annul it by suicide, you alter its frequency but not its basis.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet hailed “the undiscover’d country from whose bourne no traveler returns.” This is undeniable at one level—a round-trip ticket is never issued. Centuries later, Albert Camus would write, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide” because it puts the ultimate question to Nature itself, “trying to force her to answer,”2 to tell us what kind of universe this is and whether it was created outside-in (as science claims) or inside-out.

In most spiritual systems, the answer is “inside-out,” so suicide is a crossroads, not a terminus. Buddhist philosopher Dustin DiPerna posited this with exquisite succinctness, “We are always in some sort of state. States are an ever-present part of our experience.”3 Each realm is a bardo, a bridge or transition to another realm or state.

The issue isn’t really consciousness; it’s existence, personal identity, subjective beinghood, the little man or little woman—or little Gila monster—with its sovereign and subjective self. For it, existence is “waz happ’nin’, waz going down.” Otherwise consciousness doesn’t often notice itself or its plight.

To make a priority of enlightenment and ego-dissolution is undeniably the goal in one sense; in another, it overlooks how egoity came into being, how profound it actually is. Our karma did not locate us in a fix to challenge us to get ourselves out of it—nor did it consign us to conditional beingness from original sin or because our soul was too stupid to make a better deal.  Ego nature is the effect of an already enlightened intelligence choosing to explore duality. 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.”4

The soul is curious about its own nature—the contradictions and paradoxes that lie within its unconsciousness, without which it does not have a full sense of itself. Existence cuts deep into this territory, generating both bliss and despair, and opening a pathway to its actual depth and meaning. When novelist William Faulkner wrote, “Between grief and nothing, I’ll take grief,”5 he meant it literally, and the truth is even more literal than that.

The abeyancy of nature is not just a lesion; it is an exquisitely designed reality. Whether the architect is divine energy, our own higher intelligence, or both, reality is giving rise to beingness. Essence (essentia) becomes identical to existence (esse).

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

Reality doesn’t have to be “really” real; it has only to generate experiences. The desires, joys, and suffering of mortal existence are “real” enough.

It is finally more real to be meaningful than it is to be real—for to be “only” real in a regime of molecular reductionism is to be circumstantially configured and then expunged. To be meaningful is to explore the open-ended possibility of each conditional or ephemeral reality while it is arising.

 

Most Buddhist teachers set nonduality—primordial intelligence without subject or object—as the ultimate goal, of practice, for the universe as well as the self. But there is no official operating manual.

“There is nothing to evolve beyond,” John Friedlander 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.”6

Upon hearing these precepts, 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 most sophisticated Eastern practitioners usually “assume that I just don’t understand the basic concepts here, 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 basis for duality. An original harmony would sustain its own deepening profundity in timeless time.

Later John added, “Some advanced Buddhist practitioners recognize that there’s nothing in my argument that violates the Buddha or disagrees with subsequent Buddhist ontology or its understanding of interdependence and impermanence. I too am talking about an interdependent, impermanent process, not a thing. But I am saying that everyone eventually finds that nondual process. You incarnate to light up certain storylines that were unavailable in nondual awareness. It makes sense to dive in with a sure and certain promise that you will be able to wrap all the alienation of your dual consciousness into an already present nondual awareness in a way that will treasure it.”

Drawing on Sethian ontology, he proposed that personal identity and the soul are both real and survive. When a personality dissolves at death, it breaks into fragments, each redistributed according to its karma. At least one of them continues to track the life from which it came—to know it as itself.

“Duality is not a problem,” John continued. “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 as well as the reason we exist in it. He likened human experience more to a “mud run”:

“There are people who will actually pay money to get up very early in the morning, like five a.m., in forty degrees, and run through an obstacle course filled with wet mud and slush. And they enjoy it, or most of them do.

“In some of the mud runs, wires will shock you if you don’t get low enough. So you really have to get down in the mud.  And people do this on purpose.

“But you don’t have to slosh through mud. You can go to a thing called a motel room and take a hot shower and watch television on which you might even see other suckers running through mud and going under wires and ropes and stuff like that.

“Or you can sit in an RV and listen to Bach. But then you wouldn’t have the experience of a mud run. You’d be missing something. You’d have a different experience….

“In a sense, this life is a mud run, a mud run for the soul that it chose willingly. Your multidimensional self says, ‘I think I’m going to explore time and space. And I’m going to set these rules for myself. I can’t fly and things have to happen, one after another. Won’t that be interesting?’

“Nonduality is sort of like doing everything in the mud run except running through the mud. In other words, you’re missing something quite profound.

“When you’re done with the mud run, it becomes part of the richness of your life. The mud run may be over, but it’s part of a story you tell twenty years from now.

“What I’m saying is, ‘Welcome to Planet Earth. It is a mud run. You signed up for it. You may not have understood that you were signing up for it, but that’s part of what makes it real….’

“Here’s a slightly different perspective. When I was in the eighth grade, we had our first summer football practice. It was 102 degrees. Now if that were my entire life—I was born at 2 o’clock that afternoon and I died at 5 o’clock that afternoon—then football practice would make no sense at all.”7

Football is no more arbitrary than wind or igneous rocks. It arises from conditional reality. The reason we feel texture, cadence, and profundity is that there are depth, elation, joy, and sorrow at the heart of Creation. But if we were to go at their gravitas directly, it would fragment into lesser states and lose its sumptuousness. Instead, the Absolute Idea discovers its variety in us; we are “infinitesimal particle through which the fear of every thing becomes conscious of itself.”8

If existence is only existential, then it becomes a series of solo performances by solo creatures who have fun (or don’t) while waiting for Godot. If existence is an opportunity for enlightenment, then ascetic practices leading to transcendence take sole priority. If existence is a phenomenological exploration of its own nature, then the creation of meaning and value through participation makes all experience sacred.

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

The sundry merchandise pouring out of factories and sun-stars is reality’s subtlest and most irreconcilable aspect. The banal and ordinary are as profound, for occurring at all, as the most sacral or weighty thing. Each vista is a glimpse into a mode of emanation: Hopi entering their kiva to conduct a corn 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 about our situation in the cosmos, as December solstice turns Earth’s indigo vault an early black.

 

Chapter Six: 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 way of retrieving past-life memories. Like Bernstein, she was an amateur; yet she regressed hundreds of volunteers successfully, at least by her own standards, curing phobias and traumas in the process. In Five Lives Remembered and Between Life and Death: Conversations with a Spirit, she documents several 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 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 but, as the woman recalled a blinding light, people running and screaming, and things crashing down, “something 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 had 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 continual adjustments to new teachers and friends. She dropped out junior year and earned a high-school-equivalency diploma; then she worked for the Air Force. She was not otherwise formally 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 hand. Like James Leininger and Ryan Hammons, she grew up in an orthodox Christian family—Pentecostal in her case—and reincarnation was a taboo topic. 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 gender lines 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 attack, Cannon picked 1935 as a safe starting point, instructing her subject to go back to then. 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. Cannon recalled getting chills at how real he was—his energy filled the room.

Through several hypnotic regressions, Harris drew a rich and flavorful portrait: oxen, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, charcoal heaters; Nogorigatu’s primary school (with scrolls, brushes, and calligraphy of 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, the birth of two boys (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 accouterments.

Needless to say, neither Cannon nor Harris had background in any of these matters prior to 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, he said, “I think it looks nice.” When asked next whether his bride was happy, he said, “Who can tell with girls?”6

During one session, Cannon regressed Nogorigatu/Katie 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 he accurately enumerated 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.

He 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 kinship of the Emperor and the Sun; the melding of Shintoism and Buddhism in religious training; the tea ceremony and other rituals. Later he described 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, yet it is not the world-view of a provincial 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 superior skills and bravery and demonstrate what it means to be courageous 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 boys moved to Hiroshima with his family to take a job in a factory, then thought better of it and tried to return to the homestead. Too late—the farm was already in ruins. Soon after that, 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 Cannon 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 to match Nogorigatu’s grief, becoming 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 children and grandchildren. “We must all walk our own path. If this is mine, so be it.”15

Is Nogorigatu in Katie, of Katie? Was he ever a real person—Katie herself once—or a contrivance? Could all this drama be feigned by Ms. Harris’ subconscious?

Of course. She might have been a naturally gifted actress with an unrecognized talent. People diagnosed with multiple personalities evince convincing alter egos more discrepant than Harris’ “Nogorigatu.” The narrative isn’t evidence of reincarnation as much as it is of the inscrutability 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 Nogorigatu back to 1930. He went there at once and just as quickly adopted 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

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.

Where does Nogorigatu’s later identity go when his earlier one is evoked? For that matter, where was it prior to its recall? Are there many “Nogorigatus” in simultaneous existence? How do their concurrent realities intersect each other? Is there a level at which they meld into integral beingness?

Note the unavoidable juxtapositions in Cannon’s framing. She can’t “leave him there” but must “count him back.” Cannon’s time-travel, though imaginal, violates the integrity of one-way linearly stamped events—Heraclitus’ irreversible current into which no man, or wart-hog, can step twice.

From the regression it would seem that every temporal self arises timelessly, no matter what will follow, expanding like ripples outside time. The greater entity Nogorigatu can reexperience any of them as present. His 1944 self does not gobble up or supersede its 1930 predecessor. They remain independently evolving and supporting each other. We do not know how finite the selves get—whether every minute or second has integrity. When Freud said, “There is no time in the unconscious,” he meant the individual psyche, but he was intuiting a transpersonality too. And then there is Katie to account for.

Consider also what Cannon’s access to Nogorigatu’s life might be telling us about past lives and the nature of personal identity. Perhaps a soul sends out myriad selves like a multidimensional octopus to experience aspects of its identity in different realities and temporal frames. Each of its arms—more than eight—savors a different reality. In Jane Roberts’ metaphor, “Our greater consciousness or ‘source self’ dips in and out of time and has existences in other dimensions, showering aspects of itself out in all directions. These aspects are alive, active, but latent in each of us, where their abilities help form the stuff of our own personalities.”18 The time frames of each self are like separate dips in reality, each with its own evolving integrity. They are not isolated but they do not overlap and totally fuse or cancel each other out.

Cannon recounts her own confusions around Nogorigatu:

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

Who was Cannon to him? Whom did he “see” as she drew him from the slumber of Katie? Was he in dormancy at her call? Does he dwell eternally in his soul, reexperiencing timeless events from each of his selves?

Cannon felt he was calling out for recognition, affirmation.  “He seemed to be pleading with me to tell his story, to give his death meaning.20 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! An American woman addressing him decades after his death was like a witness in the void—but he was engaging his own internal voice. I can’t picture him as a figment in Kathryn Harris’ unconscious mind, and I can’t picture her as a ghola of him. Cannon’s supposition—“a still, small voice in his head”—is a haunting trope, given this his “head” is a figment in Harris’ psychic field.

 

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. Otherwise, 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 was 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. 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. Finally Nogorigatu spoke:

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

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

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

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

Is this Hiroshima—or Katie cathartically re-imagining the event? Is it even some sort of reverberation bending space-time with its malign thwack?

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

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

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

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

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

Cannon knew she had to get Nogorigatu out of there. She quickly counted him back to 1930; he transitioned with startling alacrity and ease:

“‘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: Nogorigatu in happy times. Was the artisan working on his pots a man who had never experienced Hiroshima or one who had already experienced it and sublimated his “future memory”? These entail fundamental questions about the nature of time as well as of personal identity.

And what about Katie herself? Even though she remembered none of what she recited in trance, like other past-life “patients” she exhibited discernible relief after the regressions.

Cannon recalled a memory trace she recovered from Katie before summoning 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 asked Harris to return to the moment when she first entered the physical body of the entity known as Kathryn Harris.

“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

The entity answering was Nogorigatu, not Kathryn of her own first twenty-one years. She was gone, as Nogorigatu changed genders, languages ages, and nationalities to reincarnate. That is why “s/he” recognized Hiroshima in her own subjective experience when “s/he” viewed the television interview—and also why the past-life memory had not been previously triggered. She had become Nogorigatu, or he had become her.

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 believed that she was still the same person.”35

How did Nogorigatu merge so seamlessly with the persona of the previous occupant of Kathryn’s body that “she” did not notice the difference? Are language, gender, and personal history that fluid and commutable? With this explanation of Nogorigatu as a walk-in, of course s/he could talk about Japan. But how did s/he also “remember” Katie’s past life in Colorado or the rest of her American life. There is clearly much we don’t understand about the relationship between information or memory and personal identity.

Can one soul be traded for an entirely different one and lived as authentically, without missing a beat, by the same entity? Were Nogorigatu and Katie habitants of the same group soul—“arms” of the same “octopus”?

In Cannon’s view, Nogorigatu entered Katie’s body with her permission. This sort of reincarnation-like event, conducted directly between auras, could explain why some people begin remembering a past life at an older age: it is not the past life of their womb self but that of a newly arriving guest. Yet if possession takes place before birth, is it not, by definition, reincarnation?

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

 

Past lives that surface in individuals like Katie Harris and James Leininger are more intact versions of flashbacks that everyone has. Some moments feel different, as if experienced through someone else’s senses, or the Earth were seen by an alien creature. Obscure figments flit by, images and feelings that evaporate as we try to identify or place them: faces and moods, wisps and fragments of landscapes that lack context. “They were valid,” Jane Roberts explains. “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

Seth adds:

“A portion of you 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 reality. I felt the presence of something vast I couldn’t identify. My parents claimed later that I pointed to each car on the street and identified it: “Studeybager, Olds, Bluick, Cadiyack.” 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 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 replied thoughtfully, “Before that. Long ago, in the olden times.”

“Olden times” is a child’s dead-on veridical chronology for a past life.

Journalist Tom Shroder eventually 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

It’s as if we float inside an amplituhedron-like field reflecting in multiple directions and dimensions. The reason most of us don’t remember our past lives is that we can’t remember (or even place) much of anything. Amnesia is not a system flaw or cruel trick. We are well taken care of by the universe, but the greater context is beyond egoic percipience. Our passage from state to state—what we remember of who we were, what we know about who we will become­—is subsumed in a general flow of metamorphoses, which has its own stability and frame of reference. Our string of existences is lost to the self-reflective mind but not to the aura or soul.

“Past life” is the wrong answer to the wrong question. Each lifetime stands—and can only stand—in relationship.

 

Chapter Seven: Trauma and Redemption

In 2009, I helped publish a book called The Angel of Auschwitz by a woman writing under the name Tarra Light, who recalled a past life as Natasza Pelinski, a prisoner in a concentration camp. I won’t vouch for its authenticity. The narrative is certainly within the range of what could be improvised from a vernacular knowledge of history and a literary imagination—and there has been no lack of Holocaust memoirs, novels, and films from which to draw characters and scenes. Light explains that a past-life regression when she was experiencing “physical and emotional afflictions…became the catalyst that unlocked the floodgates of my soul memory.”1

I take Light at her word. Yes, she could have made the whole thing up or cobbled a few hypnagogic flashbacks into a novella. Yet the text bears an inherent credibility beyond the issue of its authenticity.

As Light progressed through her past-life regression, multiple identities flooded into her mind. In lifetime after lifetime she found herself locked in a Manichean battle with an ambitious, deviant soul known to the twentieth century as “Adolf Hitler.” Before Atlantis the two were rival magicians—she believed that the key to the universe was the force of love; he believed in might generated through a blend of magic and technology.

Through his incarnations, Light tells us, the Hitler soul “studied metaphysics and the occult sciences…the chants of Atlantis, the mystery schools of Egypt, and the pagan rituals of the Celts and the Druids.”2 He appropriated sacraments, 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 a 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. If 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 to absolve it, it will continue to incarnate, as centurions of Daesh and Boko Haram and whoever follows them. Dichotomies of good and evil, perpetrator and martyr, are passing façades, as a grunge universe sputters beneath its own greater pavilion. The paradox has to be dredged, experienced, and transmogrified. Otherwise it will settle forever, an unknowable slag radiating sterilely, predicating even the tiniest subatomic particle.

 

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. 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 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 offered 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 bright 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 could emit an ectoplasmic double who 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—and his Astral form appeared.

Later, 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 states of fugue.14 They continued to guide themselves by attaching their memories of who they had been to the karmic cloud of by his remorse.

 

Natasza conducted many acts of espionage and rebellion, including sabotaging Nazi projects 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.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 medicinal and spiritual beacon, 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 charisma. Ordering her brought to his office, he issued an ultimatum: renounce her mission—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 its soul into the world, but it addressed her in a clairsentient voice:

“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 seed 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 forgotten ordeals led to maintaining a ritualized defense mechanism, which over the years became more painful in its 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 people cope, leading strangers 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 Multipersonhood. Encountering reincarnational trauma would lead to reliving painful events, including death pictures, travels in bardo realms, and womb and birth memories. Humanity might also be dealing with amnesiac traumas of the species, planet, or greater cosmos.

This model resonates with “Family Constellations,” the trans-generational healing system of German psychotherapist Burt Hellinger.30 What Hellinger proposed was that traumas transferred energy to both the offspring of violators and their victims, which then traveled through generations. Crises left pending in one generation returned in subsequent ones, as the energy tried to get itself resolved and released.

Hellinger developed group mini-dramas as a way to resonate bygone epochs and incarnate and clear karma. Every recruit into a ritual, though unrelated to the sufferer, played a role in recovering a lineage inaccessible to ordinary memory. Hellinger drew these rituals, in part, from his interactions with Zulu shamans in South Africa. The theatrical performance achieved a runic function similar to a Navaho sand painting, which, with its accompanying ceremony, uses assorted icons 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 own aliases.

Hellinger’s reenactments mostly exhumed proximal generations and known family figures, but in some instances they took individuals back to the Middle Ages, the Stone Ages, and beyond in the form of clan matriarchs and patriarchs whose karma was still active and had come to life among descendants. Whether the events were real or imaginal, they functioned therapeutically as if real.

Here shamanism and psychoanalysis converge. Psychoanalysis provides an emotional catalyst through doctor-patient transference, but inertial traumas remain stuck in reductionist narratives despite intervention. Patients and therapists go in circles for decades. The therapy, while churning up juicy material, becomes a seal between the pathology and its avoidance cycle. Resistance impedes 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 phobias and resistance patterns.

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 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.

A psychic exercise such as dissolving pictures or activating chakra energy can perturb an old karmic pattern and convert a psychologically regressive event into an energetic one, often instantaneously—though it also can take many evolving attempts over days, months, years, or even lifetimes.

Yoga, chi gung, color healing, chant, prayer, cranial osteopathy, and the like function as enantiodromias—ritualized reversals releasing unconscious energies to transubstantiate deep traumas

Again, one doesn’t have to locate or identify the traumatic lesion; only to provide the quantum of energy needed to transform its representation, to get a frozen penchant flowing in the direction in which it is potentiated. Each knot has too many cords to specify in a single story or configuration anyway.

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. Yet thinking it is exactly what one needs to do in order to get past its block into neutral cosmic energy.32

Public 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,” for their souls seek to understand the polar aspects of their own nature. Each shadow play is followed by another, and another, whereby either party to the event tries to achieve transformative healing.

Unless given an opportunity for absolution, the abuser 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

The universe has no choice: it is a portal of knowledge, as it transmutes thoughtforms across timeless time. In future theaters, long-ago agonies turn into gifts, talents, even superstar capacities. A few years ago, I wrote “This Is How I Think the Universe Works”:

Tribal elders from Jafferabad, southwestern Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, kidnapped three young women because they planned to marry men of their choosing. Hauled to a deserted area inside a vehicle bearing provincial government plates, they were beaten and shot and, while still alive, covered with earth and stones and buried. Two older women who tried to intervene were throttled and then thrown into the grave with them, alive too. Local senator Israr Ullah Zehri defended honor killings as “our norm” and said they should “not be highlighted negatively.”

A thousand or maybe a hundred thousand years from now these men will not remember this act they carried out. As whomever or whatever they are then, they will be different, and they may well oppose it. They will suffer an excruciatingly profound, elusive regret that must be exorcised and sublimated in whatever state grace finds them. But it will be way, way inside, at the deepest lode of their karma and soul pattern, and they will futilely seek its mystery and meaning, the origin of inklings they feel, that they felt in another way while carrying out their 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 anguish and reflect deeply enough on their parts and how they got there in that ancient life on Earth. They don’t have to remember what Pakistan looked like. In fact, they can’t.

Redemption is always possible.  It just takes digging deep, deeper than they buried the ladies, of course.33

“I contend [writes Winnicott] that clinical fear of breakdown is the fear of a breakdown that has already been experienced. It is a fear of the original agony which caused the defence organization which the patient displays as an illness syndrome. [italics mine]

“This idea may or may not prove immediately useful to the clinician. We cannot hurry up our patients. Nevertheless, we can hold up their progress because of genuinely not knowing; any little piece of our understanding may help us to keep up with a patient’s needs.”35

Perhaps this is why folks keep reincarnating—those who do.

“There are moments, according to my experience,” adds Winnicott, “when a patient needs to be told that the breakdown, a fear of which destroys his or her life, has already been. It is a fact that is carried round hidden away in the unconscious. The unconscious here is not exactly the repressed unconscious of psychoneurosis, nor is it the unconscious of Freud’s formulation of the part of the psyche that is very close to neurophysiological functioning. Nor is it the unconscious of Jung’s which I would call: all those things that go on in underground caves, or (in other words) the world’s mythology, in which there is collusion between the individual and the maternal inner psychic realities. In this special context, the unconscious means that the ego integration is not able to encompass something. The ego is too immature to gather all the phenomena into the area of personal omnipotence.”36

A definition of a “young soul” is that it thinks that it has committed no sins and suffered no 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. Karma is powerful enough to render planets and galaxies in order to receive the tattered energy of realms that were destroyed or destroyed themselves long ago.

Ancient thoughtforms lie behind the present hydrogen/helium universe, unimaginable events from much longer ago than a mere fourteen billion years, but atoms and molecules are what those realities look like by now. We have no way of deciphering what sort of primeval event led to the emergence of this world out of spiraling solar dust but, whatever it was, Earth is working through it now.

Who knows what antecedent suffering produced a Michael Jordan or Johann Sebastian Bach. Their moves (and chords) are expiating those events.

 

Chapter Eight: Cosmic Chicanery

In the prehistoric rivalry of technocrats and shamans, the tool-makers won because they got quicker and more reliable results. Shamanic invocation has effectively no impact on mineral formations—tens of thousands of years got called the Stone Age for a reason. Empirical applications modified matter quickly and durably in limited formats, a hand axe or chopper. While shamans psychically “traveled” to other regions and continents, they couldn’t engage in standard interactions when they got there. Similarly you can’t transport folks and their belongings across oceans by astral projection.

Yet thoughtforms are as real as snow on Pluto or trucks on a Mongolian highway. They don’t control reality, they create it, for 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 were already flirting with form or predisposed to form. Once such aspects congeal consciously, they no longer have access to thoughtforms—they have to address matter unequivocally. That’s called science. But since the universe is fundamentally psychophysical, even scientific modes retain psychic aspects.

Materialization of thoughts and events is slow-going and subliminal but ultimately cosmos-changing. 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 hominids, you first have to develop physics and chemistry. And you don’t know what you are making until it manifests, which may be epochs later.

Minerals and life forms congealed on Earth from the same geochemical deposits at different epochs. A somewhat random distribution of molecules and their compounds, many of them located underground, became modifiable into everything Homo sapiens needed, from weapons and clothing to huts, vehicles, and eventually microscopes and computer networks. That speaks to either an uncanny ability to turn lemons into lemonade or an intrinsic relationship between mind and matter.

If you look at the planet today, you see the fruition of a collective Pleistocene thoughtform, the realization of Stone Age shamans’ unconscious projections and prayers. They instilled the current landscape from their desire for food, shelter, safety, power, and mobility. Translating latent objects into imaginal counterparts, they projected items too vast to be manifested in their lifetimes or contained within the minds of any individual or group of individuals: wheels, engines, electricity, cities. They did not understand the nature of their objectifications. They had no templates and did not directly charm matter.

In Sethian ontology, “Objectified mental states [are] constantly interacting, formed automatically by conscious energy’s intercession with the three-dimensional field.”2 Not only all of science, but the cosmos itself may represent conscious energy’s intercession with a multi-dimensional field that turns mental states into artifacts.

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

If you are a member of a Plains Indian warrior sodality or a Tibetan lama, you start your education from this premise. There isn’t any other. You can’t enter a universe you don’t believe in absolutely. Stone Age shamans believed, and what we are living today is the materialization of their dreams. I take poet Charles Stein axiomatically here: “To participate in the possibility of a magical cosmos is…[not] technological production without technology—the creation of change according to will—so much as the capacity to project upon reality a picture of being itself….”4

Cars zooming through modernity are shamanic sigils. They are also the outcome of empirical thought applied to stone. These converge over long periods of time.

A picture of being itself has been projected upon reality since the dawn of our species. The question is, what unknown landscape are we evoking today?

 

An indigenous healer told an academic friend of mine that he used sleight of hand and other duplicity in his practice, yet he insisted that it was fair game because it was a ploy to shift stubborn beliefs, stuck thoughtforms that had metastasized as tissue pathology. “Western doctors open people up like car mechanics,” he explained, “and they try to fix them by changing their parts. We heal them by changing their belief systems.”5

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

Even knowing that the bloody down is a sham, a medicine man calls on a fellow practitioner to treat him in this manner if he becomes sick.6

Jeffrey Kripal interpreted these and similar practices by an overlooked psychokinetic principle: “It is almost as though the real needs the fake to appear at all, as if the fact relies on the fiction to manifest itself…. It is not as if the appearance of the sacred can be reduced to a simple trick, as if the shaman is just a sham. It is as if the sacred is itself tricky. Even the well-documented medical placebo, after all, is a fake that has real effects…. [P]sychical researcher Russell Targ…first became aware of the reality of telepathy when, as a young stage magician in New York, he realized that he was receiving genuine telepathic information from within the mentalist trick he was performing on stage. The trick was a trick, but it was also, somehow, catalyzing the real deal.”7

According to Kripal, fake fortune-tellers and séances lead to “accurate and veridical information, [for instance] about the time, nature, or details of the death, all unknown and unknowable to the supraliminal self until the subliminal or telepathic communication occurs.”8

When we are in dialogue with a transpersonal intelligence, a trickster element comes into play, using what seem almost like psychic corollaries to Freudian defense mechanisms like sublimation and reaction formation (exaggeration of the opposing tendency). The intelligence plays with synchronicities and with space-time itself, teasing us in ways that Native American clowns like Coyote and Raven fooled humans and other animals in the myths of the dawn time. A similar gremlin may be in play with crop circles. The goal is not to mislead but to guide us to to a paradoxical, inherently self-contradictory reality to which there is no direct route and which cannot be assimilated in one piece or at one time. This is not just an occasional back channel or synchronicity. It is the fundamental structure of nature.

Similarly, science-fiction tales, though meant to be imaginary, can represent “the greater reality from which we spring [and]…send messages from there to the selves we know.”9 Magical powers in superhero movies and comics cue fallow human capacities, sometimes ones experienced in less extravagant form by the authors. You become a superhero by first pretending to be a superhero (or shaman). Targ himself was such an accurate remote viewer (depending on who you ask) that he was hired by SRI and the CIA to locate Soviet military installations. Other impromptu amateurs “view” through time, seeing earthquakes and plane crashes before they occur.

 

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.10 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 described the sensation of being hit by a taxi and sucked out of his body by a rush of energy. After that, in a state of bliss incompatible with the human body, he entered a welcoming zone, a festive land of silvery lights.11

Later he recalled floating weightlessly through space with “gorgeous stars and moons and galaxies” glimmering all about him, while he heard a faraway intoxicating sound, a celestial choir like wind or rain or ocean waves but more musical and with a rhythmic pulsation that kept changing and becoming more melodic.12 A magical stream a few yards wide fluctuated with the colors of chakras. As sounds began organizing into sacred music, Billy realized he had heard them unconsciously during his lifetime. The stream gradually erased his Earth body and its memories, and a blue-white sphere implanted a different corporealness.13

Billy saw his former wife Ingrid floating before him as a solar-system-like constellation. Her stars and planets told stories of the different stages of her life: a blonde baby digging sand, a teenager dancing onstage, a young woman strung out on cocaine, a hag doing time in prison. The strands of her anger were harmonized at a soul level. As the two of them circled each other, he understood why he loved her in the first place.14

As the backdrop of other lifetimes gradually interfused with his recent life, the Divine Presence called him by his Soul name, a rune he recognized from before he was born.15 He found himself staring at a beautiful woman twice his height with the look and vibe of a Hindu goddess: rings, bracelets, and precious stones around her feet, a tiara of golden light circling her head. As she rotated her hands in a mudra-like dance, Billy followed in devotion until he gradually began to resemble her.16

Numberless other folks like himself were following their own guides up to a White Building.17 Its stones were opalescent with cosmic wisdom formulas built into them.18 His lady led him to a cave with pictures of blossoms carved around its entrance. A blossom shimmered, showing Billy his past lives, which were shaded purple or red and illuminating golden petals of individual lotus flowers. The guide offered him a cup of the milky nectar from a pond; it tasted sweet and pungent, but he was barely ready for its deluge of wisdom. A golden dragon formed at the top of the cave, a fierce-looking entity with fiery eyes. He recognized it as his guardian through many lifetimes.19

This is a brief summary of a book that many consider a breakthrough account of life after death as well as historic permission to break the encryption between the living and the dead. Others dis it as New Age blarney.

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 were fictionalized to make a sequential narrative out of a nonlinear experience that would otherwise have been incommunicable.

I am moved by Kagan’s tale, and I have major difficulties with it. I will gtry to characterize both. First, a call from the void is too casually Hollywoodesque, like George Burns playing God or Edgar Rice Burroughs levitating John Carter to Mars. Kagan doesn’t specify the delivery. Was the voice sonorous or telepathic? If it had sound, why didn’t she record it? How she did she know it was Billy?

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

In her response she threatened legal action over the quotes. Her lone comment was that my analysis “seemed off.”

I was prepared for her not liking my book, but I expected basic empathy. Instead, she behaved like the commissioner of the NBA enforcing a trademark.

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

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

 

Psychic Ellias Lonsdale’s transmissions from his partner Sarah after her death from breast cancer represent a similarly remarkable break in encryption, but they describe a radically different transformation:

“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.”20

No floating among party lights or traipsing along magical streams for this girl! She sank into painful soul remembering. “My surface consciousness was whittled to almost nothing, so I pierced right through it in the birth moment and became the breath of the deep. My subtle awareness bubbled to the top. My outer-mind permanently split open, and I walked onward with far clearer awareness and more open space into the unknown.”21

Only after passing through numerous Death pictures did Sarah confront the Lord of Death Himself and experience how he operates: he matches each person’s picture of him, transposing different modes of death based on myths and imaginings. Death is a thoughtform. What people find after life is the landscape they conjure and project: assorted heavens, hells, and bardos.22

A skeptic who accepts only material reality may not even recognize his continued existence after death. Since he expects annihilation, he vegs in pretend nonexistence, denying his own self-awareness because beingness is impossible without a body. He corroborates his belief system by creating an alias that fools even him. It may require eons of Earth-time for him to notice that something is denying its own existence.

If Death is a portal into other realms of reality, I figure that physicist Stephen Hawking has three options: (one) he continues to consider himself dead until his unconscious self begins to stir under new terms; (two) he blends into a greater truth and recognizes his own theory of the universe as an authentic response to his time and place on Earth; or (three) he thinks, “Ah, did I ever sell the universe short!”

He doesn’t amend his belief system because conditions where he is are more fundamental than any provisional truth. The belief that death is final and ends all experience paradoxically matches the belief that existence is eternal and changing. The universe, once bottomed out in all its platforms, holds a more profound baseline than either.

The nihilist position is not anti-spiritual; it is generating negative energy essential for the soul’s evolution. To be mired in paradise, an inert beatitude, without possibility of creative transformation—an angelic theme park and light that casts no shadows—would be as pointless it is unsustainable.

The universe is incomprehensibly full or utterly vapid and empty. If it is full, even hoaxes abound with strange fruits. If it is vapid and empty, even the most profound spiritual systems and shamanic arts are a hoax.

If it is full, you are on a great adventure, and your soul will know many shapes and entities as you as it opens to the truth mystery of Creation. If it is empty, none of this means anything and it will all be eradicated without a whimper or farewell.

What do you think? What do you really think?

 

Chapter Nine: Worshipping the Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of rules for a sequence of operations. If the operations are being conducted by a computer, the rules are written by a programmer to elicit a desired outcome in an efficient manner. If there is no programmer and the computer is the universe, the rules are set by thermodynamic and gravitational laws operating on the outcomes of random events.

What I am coronating as the “algorithm” here is science’s rules for the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang. According to the algorithm, as you know, life forms are chance effects of gravity, thermodynamic activity and contingent events. The algorithm is not implicated otherwise—it is a neutral bystander without a dog in the hunt. As applied by scientists, the algorithm guards the universe against metaphysical effects or divine interference. Since creatures with a capacity for thought weren’t in the original set of instructions, they cannot barge in sui generis and hijack subsequent states.

Given the nearly fourteen billion years that have elapsed since Big Bang, scientists believe that the algorithm can make just about anything out of the original bosons and fermions (or out of anything else). Every object and artifact—every pebble and methane droplet, every mosquito and duckbilled platypus, every sensation and thought, every feeling about every sensation and thought—are, at source, algorithmic effects. The paintings on the walls of Lascaux and Chauvet, the philosophies of Parmenides, Augustine, and Einstein, Bach’s organ music, and the Qabalistic Tree of Life each arose in the infinitely reflecting grottos of a mathematical function replicating only itself. They came from heat, mass, gravity, and quantum gravity following their own rules. Consciousness has no ontological standing.

Even the algorithm came out of the algorithm, which created its own capacity for recursion. It is an algorithm’s algorithm. It does everything God used to do without imperious stagecraft or vulgar oversplash. It is the God of modernity: impersonal, minimal, microsoft. But it is still an effect, fallout from a program with no operator except the laws of physics and their application to an original hot universe.

 

The cult of the algorithm is levied by social contract, ideological gendarmerie, and subliminal seepage. Everyone buys into it: long-haul truck-drivers, erotic dancers, chaps crunching concrete with steam shovels and laying pipe under 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: “Make hay while the sun is shining [meaning the local hydrogen-helium aster]. You only go around once, so grab for all the gusto you can get!”

It is taught in most Western madrasas, reinforced by socioeconomic imperatives, and serviced by a pharmaceutical industry bloated with profits from the symptomatic relief of mental and physical states caused by a sense of meaninglessmess and loss of identity. Worship of the algorithm is broadcast openly and telepathically from the capital control centers of our species, subliminal muezzins from invisible mosques.

The algorithm is even disseminated by those whose beliefs refute it. Mainstream religious authorities reinforce its hegemony by ideologically challenging it while otherwise in full and complete compliance. That’s how lockdown the paradigm is.

Anyone who doubts it is considered a wimp, a fool, or an asshole. 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

A college friend Sid Schwab spoke eloquently on behalf of the algorithm in an Amherst class-chatroom debate:

“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 case it’s cool. Part of the mystery.”2

That’s algorithm devotion all right! The coup de grace is to assign every event or structure to three billion years of sorting by natural selection. The universe didn’t have to make mice 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 the work of a mindless force inject architecture in a calculus that doesn’t require it. Evolutionists have the mathematics and molecules to back their position up, with margin to spare. If the algorithm can make MRSA overnight, it can make an autogene in three billion years. It can flip phenomena into phenomenology and replicate them in self-differentiating blastulas billions of times a second on a planet.

Sid banishes paranormal trespassers with an inimitable skein of logic:

“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?”3

All reasonable points by an astute retired surgeon. But in presuming that these are the right questions to ask of the universe, Sid also assumes the universe is following is the “logic” he expects it to follow.

But what if the universe is capable of handling multiple contradictions by running not only deeper algorithms but exponentially more complex? What if all the incongruities are the tip of an iceberg indicating an entirely different set-up?

After Sid lay down a gauntlet somewhere between Aquinas and Dennett (while ignoring multiple detours and switchbacks along the way), class microbiologist Dusty Dowse celebrated the 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.”

 

Whether life can arise from a dynamic disequilibrium of billiard-ball effects is both an epistemological and ontological question. Science and religion are metanarratives that give rise to each other, for an algorithm generating galaxies and roses, cobras and tardigrades, out of quarks and baling wire is a God generating them out of innate wisdom, or a nonlinear gyre writing the flap of every butterfly’s wings and crawl of each amoeba’s jell on an ineffable hard drive.

 Beyond the paradigmatic crunch of fundamentalist Biblicism and fundamentalist scientism lie the actual vastness and complexity of nature, from nebulae and tides to the orbits of electrons and dives of jellyfish—what Alfred North Whitehead called “process and reality,” e.g., a network of interrelated subprocesses that feed back into each other and give form to information and expression, creating “planes of existence” as far as they choose to extend.4

Sid is playing possum, bottoming out the universe short of itself—and the universe is who he is debating, not the guys in the chatroom. The goal should be to bottom out Sid and everything else simultaneously. The only map of the territory is the territory, and the territory is infinite.

 

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 his guild’s premise of a Big Bang occurring “in the middle of nowhere for no reason.”

I was 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.…”5

McKenna is saying that form and sanctuary have roots and reasons, no matter how many dead asteroids and exploding stars fill the margins. A sacred alphabet or rainbow body, at its own caliber, radiates through the Big Bang.

Meanwhile Jeff objected to the phrase, ‘for no reason.’ “‘Reason’ is anthropomorphic,” he reminded me, “and the universe doesn’t operate on our terms.” Later he added, “As science progresses from generation to generation, its view of the universe changes. A hundred or five hundred years from now, our current paradigm may look as dated as the universe before Copernicus and Newton does to us now. Scientists used epicycles then to describe position and motion without a sense of the forces that would organize those epicycles. We’re in the same position today. How can anyone believe they have a complete description of the universe when it is missing most of it: 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.”

This doesn’t depose the algorithm, but it does leave room—not Jeff’s intention—for a ghost in the machine. 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.…”6

 

What scientistic liberals miss is the subtext and agenda with which they have been saddled. Behind rationalism and empiricism is the marriage of science and capitalism for the corporate takeover of reality. In the process, the algorithm has been blackmailed into converting everything into commodities and cashflow while masking the theft in its own quantitative depth. I say “everything” because even the empty parsecs of space and zettagrams of meteor dust are used to inflate the algorithm and make its hegemony inviolable. When twenty-six individuals hold more wealth than the poorer half of humanity—3.8 billion people—the algorithm is no longer a neutral bystander. Its ledgers are protected by mercenary armies and bought politicians using industrial ordnance, programmed assassinations, redaction of whistleblowers and reporters, and incarceration of refugees fleeing narco-gangs. The privileged, in the words of journalist Chris Hedges, are engaged in “a mad scramble…to survive at the expense of the poor.”7 Charles Stein, a mathematician as well as a poet, exposes the deception:

“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.
8

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

We are living in a diminishment of the actual world, outside a vastness that is running parallel to us, sweeping us up, though we don’t know what it is or what we’re doing, so hypnotized are we by smart phones and AI. Yes, artificial intelligence will replace us if we cede it our world. Twentieth-century occultist P. D. Ouspensky foresaw as much when he warned, for every new power a machine grants us, a human power is taken away.

We are giving up our freedom and capacity to create our own thoughtforms, transferring to machines which are of course created by thoughtforms too, but strictured ones that take no prisoners and give no exemptions nor know the meaning of grace, nor could.

The world has has shrunken from its context. The rest is still there, and advancing, but we live in a self-imposed exile that keeps everyone in meager ambitions and acts, the rich with their goods and recreations as circumscribed and destitute as the poor. Reality is moving ahead in its own valise, creating utterly unknown realms we have already entered.

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 latency.

 

Chapter Ten: Personal Identity

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

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

 

  1. Trickle-Down Ontology

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took a gun and three hundred rounds of ammunition to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he killed as many first-graders (twenty) and affiliated adults (six) as he could in the time allotted. Reality was a videogame to him, and 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. As an “accidental presence in the cosmos,”1 Lanza had no basis for personal morality. When he shot himself, he assumed that the oil-slick known to him as “Adam Lanza”—its misery as well as its responsibility for his crime—would be eradicated for good. What would happen to him was what he told himself would happen: Nothing happens. Nothing happens forever.

He wanted to be “null, beyond sorrow…freed from the affliction of consciousness….,” to oust “the pain that life can blunt only gradually.”2 He deemed that beingness turned into nothingness without debt or an intervening state, for what could exist on the other side of death if “the human spirit is no more than a temporary chemical arrangement”?3 The way out of Dodge was to end the game.

He 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. He might have thought, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”4 The ruse was to be as fleet and gratuitously violent as possible.

But the notion that personhood can be discontinued or discarded is little more than a throw of dice when neither physicists nor priests know what consciousness is—what turns on its light, what happens after its electrodes are disconnected.

What if each person sank to the propensity of what he or she is? What if death snaps the narrative but not the vortex from which it is arising? What if willfully conscious interference with the karmic pattern derails the natural transition between life and death and leaves one in a difficult-to-exit purgatory?

In choosing suicide, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and their fellow Goths tried to cash out their chips and leave a puissant message for the douchebags bugging them. They meant to raze their raunchy social identities and everything that could be identified as them or traced to them, but not themselves. They did not believe in their own nonexistence. They could not “conceive of not being”; they could “conceive of the absence of experience but not of absence itself…[or] ‘the destruction of the very consciousness which puts the question and awaits the answer.”5

Political mass murderers like the bros Tsarnaev, Cherif and Said Kouachi, and Islamic jihadists of various ISIL cells believed they were punching their tickets to paradise. Same deal as Lanza and Harris: you woke up one place, you’ll wake up another—or not.

They were excoriating the death pictures of the transnational capitalist state. The deeds were morally inexcusable, but they were not wrong.

Women volunteering for explosive vests before boarding a bus in Tel Aviv or Colombo City are taught that the moment will be over before neurons can deliver the unhappy message to their brain. Any discomfort is as fleeting and minimal as a pinprick. Then nothing—or bliss!

Contrary to their intent, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, Cho Seung-Hui, Jared Loughner, Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, Mohammed Atta, Sana’a Mehaidi, Wafa Idris Arafat, and the rest were giving voice to a different panic: “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!”

There is a gap in the universe where consciousness stands before the Sphinx of personal identity and cries out for its liberation. When materialists say, “I didn’t exist before I was imprinted from DNA,” the issue becomes, Where were you? “Who” wasn’t you? How did you get in the tub, bub? If only your solipsism is real, where is it coming from?

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

 

  1. What Is the Relation Between Consciousness and Personal Identity?

Where primal biological energy—Freud called it the id—penetrates an epigenetically emerging membrane, a provisional identity forms, a nascent ego, which contacts the world (its environment) from its own primitive feelings. The habitat/society in which it grows imposes strictures and mores, grafting a superego.

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

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

Personal identity is the turn-key; it is how mind inserts itself into a universe that does not express agency and volition otherwise.

Personal identity differs from consciousness in that it recognizes itself as itself. Things seem to happen to it as an individual, divorced from all other entities. This is a radical situation, even in as simple an entity as a worm.

Consciousness can run on autopilot—a robot has artificial intelligence—but personal identity is what makes consciousness conscious. It is how individual beingness comes to know that it exists. It is not only aware of its surroundings and its own inner state but aware that it is what is awareand that transforms the universe. As biologist George Wald put it, “A physicist is the atom’s way of knowing about atoms.”6

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.”7

 

Painter Charles Rasmussen, a keen observer, noticed a bumblebee tumbling in the pollen of a wild rose, seeming to enjoy itself. A spider who had made his web in the same rugosa was perturbed by the intruder’s entitlement. He jabbed at the wanker with one of his legs.

As the spider’s pokes disturbed its rapture, the bee became agitated. It interrupted its nectar bath, shot out of the stamens buzzing, 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 road rage, what in Sam Crow is it? An algorithm run amok? Mindless reflex? Chemicals under proto-libidinal charge hitting tipping points via trillionfold quantum switches? Atomic strings synapsing through their own uncertainty states into microtubules and ganglionic webs?

There are not enough neurons in a spider or bee to achieve “I,” let alone affect and volition, so who is poking—and who is having its reverie disturbed?

Quantum entanglement itself only translates across zones of very tiny things into other quantum states. You can’t quantum-entangle donkeys; meteors never get spookily implicated. Yet paradoxically you don’t have to quantum-entangle donkeys for them to be quantum-entangled. The quantum universe is not stowed behind subatomic barriers where it safely sizzles away without impact on thermodynamics or animal behavior. 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 made the Newtonian universe Newtonian, albeit a dark horse in Newton’s time.

“The quintessential quantum effect, entanglement,” physicist Vlatko Vedral avows, “can occur in large systems as well as warm ones—including living organisms…. those effects are camouflaged by their own sheer complexity. They are there if you know how to look… and are more pervasive than anyone ever suspected. They may operate in the cells of our body.”8

Quantum fluctuations are what make us atomic and solid. But there is an extra wrinkle here: material reality seems to need the intervention of consciousness to become material or to exist at all. That is where magic meets science, as its progenitor and perennial shadow: “[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.”9

If donkeys weren’t quantum-entangled, they wouldn’t be conscious (they wouldn’t even have mass); but I would argue, contrary to Penrose, they are not conscious because they are entangled, they are entangled because they are conscious. The physical realm expresses quantum entanglement not because of subatomic particles but because of an underlying entangled state that gives rise to both. This goes back to the cosmic origination point where Seth puts his characteristic spin:

“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 ….

“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.”10

 

  1. Death

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 (his), the husband is too stupid to realize that his identity vanishes for good. Or, 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 (mine) is that death opens you to your greater being. It gives you everything you have and everything you are going to have. To be any single thing forever would lead to dementia or run out of bandwidth. Plus, for some creatures, death is the only release from servitude or pain; it is “the way out of what would otherwise be a dimensional dilemma in which further development would be impossible.”11

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.”12

At each death, the Source “I” reemerges from its ego self as the recently lived life melds with the Atman, the fractal monad of Divine Consciousness and sum of all its incarnations. Its “consciousness is condensed [like a Black Hole] and ‘born back’ into the same probable system….”13

So each life is not only a future of any past lifetime, it is a past of any future life. James Huston is a past self of James Leininger; James Leininger is a future self of James Huston.

What would it feel like to have a future self of yours show up? It would turn personal identity inside-out by taking away its anchor: the one-way passage of time. John Friedlander hints at the implications:

“Your conscious mind needs to understands, or at least open to the fact, that you’re not meant to get the full picture. You’re meant to focus very sharply on certain contrasting modalities. The full picture comes to you every night in the dream state. You may not bring it back, but it’s there. And it comes to your self-understanding at some point after death. It might come very quickly after death if you’re pretty aware and not in resistance. It might come after a thousand years  more experience, or ten thousand or ten million, but it comes to everyone, no matter how sacred their life is, no matter how impeccable or how horrible it is. Every portion of the universe is ultimately redeemed in something approaching self-identity, but your self-identity does not happen in that part of your self that has pat answers. It happens in a part that’s a little bit bigger, or even a lot bigger, but it is still part of your personal self. When people have near-death experiences, so many of them report that everything made sense. Everything made sense.14

Jack Kerouac experienced something similar as a satori six decades earlier:

“I have lots of things to share now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selfs, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea…. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.”15

As Zen master Shunryu Suzuki told a friend of mine back in the seventies, “If it isn’t disappearing, it isn’t real.”

 

  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 far future epoch when cures have been concocted, if not for death, then at least most the common fatal diseases.

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

Transhumanists, as these guys are called, believe that machine intelligence will eventually match and surpass the human equivalent, a tipping-point milestone they hail as “Consciousness Singularity.” Since they also believe that our experiences and feelings are outputs of data points, if the majority of such points can be identified and captured, personal identity can be simulated down to the minutest detail—what it is and how it endows its bearers. Self and experience become commodities in a digital, download world.

Freezing may not even be needed by then—existence can be bluetoothed directly onto a hard drive.

Computer scientists set the current data expenditure of one brain at about half the world’s current digital storage capacity—an insurmountable obstacle for copying whole minds—but they cite continued miniaturization with exponential increases in computing power, a process that has gone from room-size mainframes to personal cell phones in less than a generation. As this ratio continues to improve, it will (they assume) allow a cost-effective mapping of all the connections in a person’s brain—a Connectome—which can then be copied, archived, and used to rekindle selfhood in another body or, if extra bodies are not available or viable, without a body.

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

But how? How do you even find the mind? “By now all sections of the brain have been probed down to the molecular level [with] no trace or imprint of a thought … found within its tissue”16

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

Life extension is a death cult posing as a technology of immortality.

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

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

Aside from countless other problems with this scheme, some scientists believe that miniaturization has already reached its due limit; we can no longer manipulate quantum fields and entangled qubits to further reduce software or streamline computational agendas. In other words, we have crossed from our world and the interzone we share into their world, which has different rules and aesthetic considerations. It is possible that we have reached the limits of our entire Stone Age technology. I am reminded of something the poet Robert Kelly said to me in 1970, “We are living in the darkest West, in the dark that does not precede the dawn but the birth of a radically different order of things.” Community and biosphere recovery are what we need, not artificial immortality for the wealthy.

 

Transit of “souls” between hardware units combines machine worship with idolatry of the real, a techy’s best substitute for reincarnation. This is a lot of work for a small payoff, given that, as noted earlier, computers are clunkier simulations of brains. Immortality is already imbedded in the “hard drive” or permanent seeds of the aura. Consciousness singularity exists in shamanic journeying and Rainbow Bodies. We were uploaded (or downloaded) into life by a technology so gossamer and elegant as to make cybernetic repiclas as flimsy as they are impractical.

It is worth noting that no one, even cryopreserved or nano-copied, will be around when the Sun novas or the Milky Way and Andromeda collide. You may say that that’s a long way off, but why develop a tactic that will someday be obsolete? 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 without a paddle when the universe collapses in a blue shift, terminating all business. Better to rethink the whole 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, murders, and the daily spinning of the fates 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.

 

Transhumanists trick themselves by a volte-face of illusion and reality, like trying to stay in a dream. We write books and laws in electrons, create cities of vibrating strings. Our cosmologies, religions, bank accounts, and databases are written in quarks. None of it will, can, or should last—neither the most indomitable cyclotron or cathedral nor the most impeccable 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, it dross will get razed to less than a neutrino, and then not even that.

Erasure is also liberation. The heat deaths of temporal fires like the Sun or the supergalaxy mean nada to self-arising radiance. When the physical plane has been liquidated, crushed, or cremated, the other planes tarry its energies.

The only things that escape the obliteration of the universe are beings who epitomize their own identity. The engines of materialism cannot get at them. Everything else—everything that can be located—goes into the garbage disposal.

But if it can’t be found, if it’s outside the continuum, it can’t get tossed into a compacter or macerated in a blue shift.

Personal identity can’t be found unless it is ransomed it to an output of wires and synpases. Otherwise, it is unconditioned, self-arising, self-illuminating.

Tibetan lama Ngawang Tsoknyi Gyatso proposed that even if this planet were destroyed by hundreds of nuclear bombs (or by greenhouse gases), it would be recreated from its karma elsewhere in the universe, and that doesn’t just mean another planet in another galaxy; it means that the thoughtform generating this reality will continue generating it at a frequency of All That Is, and the rest will follow. If necessary, a whole other universe will appear.17

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)? Their screen-saver is starry night, a faux Milky Way against an imaginary dome. As the program hums along, a tree rustles in an ocean breeze. Erosion and tattering of the display—unraveling atomic debris at the edges—suggest spots where the technicians failed 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?”18

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.”19

“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.”20

Reality as a computer simulation or algorithm 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. This is less an epistemological riddle than a symptom of a technology that has had such a fantastic run it has lost a sense of context and scale. I mean, it can’t even keep radiation out of its oceans or Roundup out of its meadows. It is losing whales, parrots, and bees while it forges obliviously ahead with cybernetic substitutes.

In any case, the challenge for our hypothetical super-beings remains personal identity, theirs rather than ours. How did the simulation’s creators acquire their identity? Where in relation to the simulation are they situated? Around an X-box as large as the universe (or a projection of the universe)? Is their origin moleculo-atomic? If not, what made them? How did they get into their own universe? How did they get us into ours? Did they write us in quarks and molecules? Did they copy their own template or design a new one?

Is our awareness of ourselves, including our capacity to contemplate our reality as a simulation, built into the software by the designers? If so, is personal identity a by-product of codes or does it arise on its own once the simulation is activated. Same question (by the way) to ask of test-tube-generated life forms or AI robots: how (and when) do they know that they exist? Or is it “turtles all the way down (and up)?”

 

Reality as a computer simulation intuits a truth without recognizing its substance. Our reality is a simulation. When scientists turn their instruments on a dab of matter and peer inside it for the goods, they find gateways to realms that are at once incomprehensibly vast and impenetrably tiny. Space, time, and matter vanish into energy, curvature, and uncertainty states.

In the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, teleological directives come together as time reversal. A source simultaneously emits a usual wave forward in time and an advanced wave backward in time. The recipient point, later in time, emits its own pair: an advanced wave (backward in time) and a retarded wave (forward in time). When a “handshake” of waves occurs, it triggers a quantum event, a transaction in which energy, momentum, and angular momentum are transferred. It is as if the “real” is simulating itself.

A particle is not even so much as a wave wrapped up into a ball as the front of a wave, a one-dimensional point moving through a “possibility” space that, as it becomes observed, unfolds into a particle whose physical tendencies are manifested as it materializes from interference patterns in its field.

The primary particles—muons, gluons, protons, mesons, electrons, etc.—might not be distinctly different things, but the same formation at successive frequencies of time. They differ by phase, charge, spin, as discrete vibrations in the quantum field, and the observer’s various frames, as well as whether they even exist apart from the mirroring of the observer, as they fuse, dissipate, revert, and turn into each other.

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

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

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?

The general premise of modernity is that all this rigmarole—the universe (creatio) of gravity, stars, and cities—arose ex nihilo for no apparent reason. What the ancient Greeks called Theogony—the desire and will of divine forms like Aether and Eros—is, to modern science, a feckless nascence. There as likely could have been nothing, nothing anywhere, or a very different sort of universe—and may well have been both of these for countless epochs.

Stuff concatenates not because nature has intrinsic intelligent complexity but because it has extrinsic algorithmic complexity. “Why” is not on the drawing board: “Shit just is.”

Most cosmologists consider our cosmos a routine break of particles or fields, probably one of a termless series that transfuses new universes out of the debris of dismembered ones: quotidian business of an unspecified process that takes place solely because it can. Our day in a sunny, misty plaza is a rare, unscheduled occurrence among what is otherwise clatter and morass.

Beingness had no way to underwrite its own incipience, so its objective reality couldn’t ever poke in. Instead, it is the snap, crackle, pop of untended particles and waves—motherless, fatherless, godless, explanation-less.

 

Subjective experience of mind and consciousness—personal identity—the ’bots doing the questioning, arose from emergent effects of molecular compounds. Life owes its “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….”21

What began as a blind pool shot will dissipate when the energy behind it has subsided. The entire starry landscape will ooze back into a pinhead. There was no agenda for it, so its tchotchkes are circumstantial, in effect nothing too. The local script went: Nothing—Nothing—Nothing—Big Bang—bosons, fermions, atoms—molecules—tchotchkes—algorithm, algorithm, algorithm—more tchotchkes. It will go: algorithm, algorithm—different tchotchkes (or nothing, perhaps forever). What’s “local” without fixed parameters of space and time?

Our situation is so inadvertent, our beingness so ephemeral and systemically hollow, that modernity chooses to celebrate nonmeaning—sublime irrelevance—against bogus pieties of prior chantries. For Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and other existentialists, context had to be reinvented or bluffed out of its antipode in order to make existence—the show—worth its struggle and fuss. Samuel Beckett staged Waiting for Godot as the “Hamlet” of his generation, turning “not to be” into an aesthetic celebration. Beckett also wrote, with the grace of a fugitive ghost, “But what matter whether I was born or not, have lived or not, am dead or merely dying. I shall go on doing as I always have done, not knowing what it is I do, nor who I am, nor where I am, nor if I am.”22 This is the canticle of the dispossessed, awaking from a long delusional dream in the West of self-importance, divine appointment, and a final Judgment of consequence.

We find only “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”: sun-stars, meteors, and star dust.

 

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

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

He wrote, “Why not?”

I heard that story in high school and never liked it. The answer is too wise-guy and, if the exam wasn’t apocryphal, the professor was rewarding his own nihilism with an equally nihilistic A.

I prefer the “answer” of my Wittgensteinian friend Andy Lugg : “I figure things have to work some way and I could care less which way they do.”23

Why do they have to work? Why did the universe allow Plato and Wittgenstein to write their treatises. Why is there anything anywhere rather than nothing everywhere?

In order to grok “something,” you first have to grok “nothing.” Nothing means nothing: nothing now, nothing ever—no time, no space, no intimation of time or space, no things or events. No up, down, light, darkness; no dimensions, no directions, no gravity, no mass. No bling.

It is hard to wrap your mind around. You first have to shut everything down and unmake it into not just nothing but the fact that it couldn’t have existed in the first place, nor could anything.

A universe of nothing can never be tainted by “something.” It automatically brushes anything away like gnats on a rhino’s ass.

Ex post facto erasure doesn’t count because if none of this had come into being, there should be nothing to delete or, for that matter, no difference between nothing and something. (I realize that this is beginning to sound like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine— but you know what? They were talking about why there is something rather than nothing too.)

It is impossible to arrive at “nothing forever” once there is something, for “something” continually ponders its own narrow escape.

Nonexistence has to settle for its current provisional status, that the entire mess arose of flukey accord. The universe was (and is), at core, empty. Then a difference separated itself, black chips off a black pot.

Once “something” began scuttling about, it placed its lien in the form of heat, gravity, mass, etc., or their predecessors. Each new force and property arose from the propensity of a prior one.

Why? How is anything prior or intrinsic? Physicists say, “for a reason we don’t understand,” or “nature chose,” or “it’s a mystery of the universe?” Why a muon and tau particle instead of just an electron? Why strange and charmed, up and down quarks? Might as well ask why the cow jumped over the moon.

An algorithmic hen squats on eternity laying its quantum-entangled particles, and will until the underlying tension exhausts itself. Then it will vamoose too.

 

Where did the Big Bang get its inventory from, let alone enough that it could dilate spontaneously from a jujube to two trillion galaxies filled with stars (and counting)?

Scientists have no idea, but (like Andy) they don’t care.

“Because there is a law such as gravity,” wrote Stephen Hawking, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”24 

Painter/rock-climber James Moore dissents (in due modesty). “How can we get a universe as vast (millions of billions of galaxies) as this one arising in an instant from one point from nothing… all because of the laws of gravity? I’m no physicist but how can you have all that mass/energy exist the moment after a Big Bang, but not before? Gravity can explain the actions/reactions of that kind of mass but not its creation (gravity is what happens in the interaction between two objects having mass, and may well exist as a force without mass, but not without energy, and still the fundamental question of the cause of this gravity remains…)”25

“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, an offshoot of string theory, will lead to an explanation, e.g., a unified field: “What has convinced many people, including myself that one should take models with extra dimensions seriously is that there is a web of unexpected relationships, called dualities, between the models. These dualities show that the models are all essentially equivalent; that is, they are just different aspects of the same underlying theory, which has been given the name M-theory. Not to take this web of dualities as a sign that we are on the right track would be a bit like believing that God put fossils into the rocks in order to mislead Darwin about the evolution of life.”26

“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.”27

Statisticians presume countless “failed” universes in a time frame dwarfing the mystery event that set the present clock ticking a tad under fourteen billion years ago. We happen to be in a spot and time where the “right” criteria converged, making “something” out of “nothing”—but ontologically it is still “nothing” and could have remained nothing forever.

“Nothing’s” universe is the one in a trillion trillion tries that “took,” and the fact that there is something (here or anywhere) is a forgery and redound to 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.

Even “failed universes” are “something,” so we have to ask where they came from and how they broke the vow of silence.

 

Now let’s evaluate “something.” For there be something, the Big Bang must be rooted in something else. In biblical and Buddhist liturgy, that “something” is primordial luminosity. The algorithm ran into it like the broad side of a barn.

In Genesis 1:2 the Earth (Eretz), e.g., the Universe, was without form and void. “Darkness Was upon the Face of the Deep.” The King James “void” was derived from the Hebrew tohu wa-bohu: tohu a “wasteness” or “vanity” reflected in itself (wa-bohu). Then the Spirit of God moved upon the Face of the Waters.

If the Spirit of God, or whatever it was, could enter stage left (right, wherever), then the proscenium was an imposter universe, pretending to be tohu wa-bohu when there action (and script) in the wings. Spirit said, “Let There Be Light.” Its reflection imbued and supplanted the Void.

As long as Spirit was authorized to penetrate Darkness, All That Is was never “nothing” nor would it have remained nothing forever. If matter began as a thoughtform, it could never bottom out later as shallowly as materialists propose.

Intrinsic luminosity yokes conditional reality to the unconditioned basis of there being worlds and realities at all. An actual universe cancels all hypothetical universes.

“Something” means that the universe bottoms out at consciousness rather than quarks and strings—or that it doesn’t bottom out.

“Something” means that the unspecified can never be specified, but neither can the specified be unspecified. “Consciousness is always conscious of itself, and of its validity and integrity, and in those terms there is no unconsciousness.”28

 

“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.”29

Juggle a few variables, and the quarks would not have hatched or their stars would not have incubated elements for molecular life.

Accident or blueprint? One in a trillion trillion or the residue of design?

Can a whirlpool or formless cloud spin in the middle of nowhere for no reason? For then the issue becomes which “nowhere” and for what “no-reason” churneth it of fickle intent? How can there be a spot and time where the “right criteria converge” when neither space nor time exist autonomously? Why construct self-aware creatures and a proxy habitat from incidental and spare parts?

I can see how a random whirligig might centrifuge atoms out of quantum scrap—maybe. I get that formal and efficient causes can ricochet molecules forever without a primary “uncaused” cause, though it seems extravagant and clumsy.

I can’t see how this entire temple complex with its priests, wishing wells, and gamelans was created by the equivalent of ping-pong balls bouncing into one another; i.e., “Physical matter by itself could never produce consciousness.”30

“Something” blows “nothing” out of the water by splitting the nihilistic proposition into the teeming mercado that underlies it. No entity could exist in a universe unless it bottomed out at that universe. Mind arises from matter because matter was already arising from mind, not because a hundred monkeys typing away on their machines found Shakespeare. Consciousness is “the fundamental ground of all that we know, or will ever know…. [Its] presence is entirely sui generis… its own thing. We know of nothing else like it in the universe, and anything we would know later we would only know in, through, and because of this same consciousness.”31

If a single particle that could fit on a pinhead (with room to spare) gave rise to this entire cosmos, it wasn’t a mote and it wasn’t spat. It was a shadow, perhaps the kinetic umbra of an object of illimitable dimensions.

“Something” was present, not just something but everything: an alphabet writing its own permutations. The Primal Flaring Forth (as cosmologist Brian Swimme retagged the Big Bang) is not just some winsome topology proceeding out of quarks and string theory; it is a white hole and shape-shifter, a puncture in a higher dimension, a nesting of living, interactive planes.

The problem for physics is, a universe that has consciousness in it is a conscious universe. The Etheric plane is conscious. All of it is conscious—it’s huge—and parts of it are conscious; they’re smaller consciousnesses. A different kind of life flows through the Etheric—its own life. The Astral plane is a consciousness too. So are Mental-Causal, Buddhic, Atmic, and Monadic planes; they are immense and populated in their own contexts and domains.32

The Physical plane is conscious—all of it and parts of it. Every molecule on Titan or Europa and meteor screams it. Everything in the universe that isn’t conscious is incipiently conscious. That is how Homo sapiens remodeled and festooned this planet, by telekinetically collaborating with its atoms, conscious and unconscious. The libidinal drives of mammals—insects, worms, and fishes too—fused with the infinite and primal creativity of matter.

“Something” means that we are here—or anywhere, or that anything is anywhere because something is always framing it. In Dzogchen Buddhist terms (loosely), the fullness of being is complete in itself. From there it flows into appearances and the whole, which includes other entities, as it awakens compassion for them in order to experience its own wholeness. In itself does not mean for itself. The Darwinian imperative and other capital modifications are a late gloss. Reality didn’t come from somewhere else to propose its existence; it emanated from its own original wholeness. Local scenery can’t undo that.

Physics and neuroscience are the wrong tools for locating and identifying the source of consciousness or matter. They recall the fable of trying to repair a clock with a hammer, only the clock is an electron and the hammer a cyclotron.  Scientists are so dazzled—and rightly—by the forces and forms of extenuation that they do not recognize that internalization is an equal function.

An externalized universe is a hollow chassis, an accelerating carousel of objects and effects, toys and gimmicks that turn heavens and seas into elective scenery. It comes to its own cul-de-sac, leaving “nothing” to preside over a charade of distraction.

By locating the basis of mind uncontestably in matter, scientists have neglected the transparency of mindedness while trapping themselves in a maze of minded projections onto their own relativistic outcomes. Having eaten the forbidden apple and opened Pandora’s jar, they have released a meaning they are incapable of comprehending and left us in the middle of nowhere with no rationale beyond hedonistic consumption, technocratic fascination, and material titillation.

But the universe of nothing is not wrong; it is the fiber and negative capability holding together nature and reality—the depth of its own paradox, yin and yang. Its emptiness is not even a bullet dodged; it is the ground from which everything is born and continues to arise, for the attack against consciousness, modernity’s jeremiad, is an attempt to root consciousness deeply enough that it can never be excoriated from future universes, to draw it out of fascination with its own abstraction into the stipe grounding it.

At bottom, there is only consciousness—conscious consciousness and unconscious consciousness. The universe is not only a trillion trillion trillion atoms but a trillion trillion trillion eyes opening like spiders and they are the same eye. You can no more shut it than you can extinguish a biblical burning bush.

“Why?”

“Why not?” Now take your A and leave.

 

Chapter Eleven: Multipersonhood

Multipersonhood was systematized by John Friedlander using a model developed by Jane Roberts through her channeling of Seth. At the same time, John advanced the theosophical lineage of Helen Blavatsky, C. W. Ledbetter, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey, who themselves adapted a Hindu transmission, aspects of which probably eluded its Vedic originators. Something so vast does not settle within any particular understanding. When its intergalactic, meta-dimensional aspect met the theosophists’ own Victorian biases and cultural filter, they limited the range until Seth entered the picture. You can’t have Philip K. Dick flying a UFO through Nicholas Nickleby.

 

Multipersonhood is an umbrella term for the concept that every sentient being in the universe is part of a transdimensional web of consciousness. Each seemingly alienated and vulnerable creature participates unconsciously in an ever-deepening subjectivity that continues to expand and differentiate at multiple levels while exploring something incomprehensibly larger than itself—and not just exploring but becoming. While resonating reclusively at its own frequency, it is receiving energies and information from other frequencies. Though its awareness of itself as part of the group is every bit as real as its awareness of itself as an individual, it knows the other entities not as what they are but what it is.

This is not some New Age communal set-up; it is generically how the universe works—what, in fact, the universe is: information and identity across unimaginably vast parameters. Existence is a collaboration of consciousnesses that would not be possible without it: all knowledge and beingness supports all other knowledge and beingness. Our simultaneous participation in ego consciousness and Multipersonhood maintains the integrity of either as well as cosmic unity. Jane Roberts puts it in Sethian terms:

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

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

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

Multipersonhood is an entangling of intelligence and information that that expands intergalactically and interdimensionally. Members can be buddies, enemies, infantrymen in opposing armies, predator and prey, rivals for the same romantic partner—or romantic partners. Opposition supplies the greater entity with comprehensive knowledge toward becoming whole.

If Multipersonhoods are a real thing, they are deeply infused in transpersonal matrices. I don’t want to conflate myths and metaphysical constructs with subtle awarenesses, so the following possibilities for membership are just placeholders and visualizations to work with; they include: past and future selves; a person’s soul as that concept is understood in theosophy; other human beings linked to oneself, either individually or as parts of group souls; life forms in other solar systems; consciousnesses in other planes and dimensions; orbs like the Earth and the Sun; other terrestrial zooids; nature spirits and dream bodies; one-celled mites in ponds and water droplets; psychoids (elves, leprechauns, mermaids, yetis, etc.); differently vibrating entities like plants and stones, disembodied forces of nature like thunderstorms, mountains, forests, etc.

Take each of these with a grain of salt. Here are a few guidelines for visualizing Multipersonhood:

Members can capture and eat other members.

As large as the Sun is (1,300,000 times the size of the Earth), it is no more autonomous than a beetle, yet it supports our lives with neutrality, wisdom, and empathy.

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

Try to feel the vibrational intelligence of the organelles and cells comprising your body/mind: The biological field is a psychic field too. Then extend that intuition to a multidimensional clairsentient entity. Perceive how “consciousness unites all physical matter.”5

Nature spirits can exist simultaneously on multiple planets. A kangaroo, dolphin, or echidna here may be one of many dream bodies of an entity elsewhere.

Rocks have nascent modes of consciousness insofar as they are composed of “intelligently” organized atomic states. Their “minds” are not our kind of minds; they don’t use thought patterns we would recognize.

 

A Multipersonhood includes our own prior and future selves, in this lifetime as well as others. From infancy through childhood into adolescence and through adult life, we are not the same individual, yet we have a uniquely intimate relationship to our earlier and later phases. 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 spacious present that happens to be large enough to contain our lives.”6

She describes particles “flowing from the source self into physical materialization. Each source self forms many such particles or ‘aspect selves’ that impinge upon three-dimensional reality, striking our space-time continuum. Others are not physical at all, but have their existences in completely different systems of reality. Each aspect self is connected to the other, however, through the common experience of the source self, and can to some degree draw on the knowledge, abilities, and perceptions of the other aspects.”7

Time is a cosmological constant for us but not necessarily an organizing factor in other dimensions. In our continuum, we have singular pasts with discrete futures—one probability—while outside of time, others are branching off.  Three dimensions of space and one of time creates the terms for our mode of experience. Events imagined or halted without completion persist as “concentrations of energy formed unconsciously by us adjacent to our living areas.”8 Each path not taken has karmic potential and gets expressed somewhere. In Sethian terms, “Each of your thoughts and actions exist not only in the manner with which you are familiar with them, but also in many other forms that you do not perceive: forms that may appear as natural events in a different dimension than your own, as dream images, and even as self-propelling energy. No energy is ever lost. The energy within your own thoughts, then, does not dissipate even when you yourself have finished with them. Their energy has reality in other worlds….”9

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

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

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

 

Anthropologist Michael Harner describes how guides encountered on shamanic journeys in other worlds or dimensions can be spirits of plants, animals, ancestors, devas, gods, or ancestors here. These entities do not even have to know that they are serving as spiritual teachers, for their Multipersonhood is in many places at once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

When Seth began to refer to Multipersonhood in his later downloads, he inverted two of Buddhism’s central constructs: “interdependent origination” and “impermanence.” Interdependent origination means exactly that: everything stands in relationship to everything else and depends on it for its singular identity, for the aplomb of its existence, for its capacity to acquire knowledge and individuate. Without interdependence (Multipersonhood) and impermanence (transformation), our personal identity would not be able to achieve its destiny or know its true nature or that of the universe. Seth called it a “play of desire in which each and every desire is already fulfilled in its richest form.”15

The universe begets emotions, and bigger things than emotions that feel like emotions—healings, ways of being—that solely having an assumption of oneself as a separate individual closes out, and doesn’t just close them out consciously, closes them out unconsciously and in the dream state.16 In Multipersonhood, a being’s own experiences are enhanced through access to those of other consciousnesses within and through lifetimes. Each is sacred and meaningful in its own terms and for its own self, though always and also for others, and always in conversation with everything that is.

The personal soul already has an intrinsic multidimensional essence, even within Multipersonhood, as it attunes many life cycles’ experiences to fill out its own meaning. John Friedlander describes this twin arena: “The soul is incarnating as you even while it does all sorts of other things simultaneously. It is not constrained in time and space. Its consciousness flows across time and multiple spaces—various times, and even in no time. It knows you as a baby; it knows you as other incarnations. In some ways you were always part of it and in some ways you were always separate of it as a personality. It integrates all your experience which you’re having today, all your experience that you’ve had in other lifetimes, and across probabilities, even while it gives exquisite support and nurturing to you in your experience of linear time.”17

The Hindu Atman, the foundation of the eternal personality, is almost synonymous with soul’s Multipersonhood. Its various identities continue meaningfully in innumerable dimensions as its separate forms come and go. Each time we live and die, we gather experience until we come from the Atman in multiple times and spaces. Even when the universe itself disappears, we do not, because, as Atman, we are outside as well as inside of time. Our separate body and self will disappear, but they are merely the part that we track in this period of human history. We have lifetimes that go in all directions, and some of those are just as physical and as real as this, which is mind-boggling.18

“There’s no grand enlightenment,” Friedlander concludes. “There’s no transcendence of your ordinary humanity. If you really understand Multipersonhood, you wouldn’t want to become enlightened because your soul has questions and it created you to answer those. Your soul has a lot of good information and a lot of great support, but you’re the one that’s here, providing your unique opinions, attitudes, experience, back to the soul. When you die, you don’t get gobbled up by the soul. This personality is eternal.

“I know that this completely disagrees with mystics for the last 2500 years, but they were only looking in linear time. In linear time, the soul does gobble you up. It spits out the bones and they form the next lifetime. But in Multipersonhood—Multidirectionality—you’re eternal. You go through changes. I like to say, ‘Death changes people.’ But you are very recognizably yourself. And eventually you move into Multipersonhood.”19

While the Hubble-revealed trillion-galaxy cosmos vanishes at one level, at another it continues to evolve and disintegrate as quantum waves with their own destinies and epigenetic probabilities. One day, believe it or not, everything about the universe—everything—will be walk-out-the-door different, only there will be no door, no “where.”

 

Chapter Twelve: Who Is Seth?

How might we characterize Seth and other entities who describe themselves as composites of individual souls and Group Souls comprised of individuals who have completed many incarnations and cycles of incarnation on one or more worlds? (Other composite beings who make touch with mediums on this plane include “Michael,” “the Pleiadian Council,” “Kryon,” and the author of The Course in Miracles.)

Seth established that, for him, the phenomenon is an offshoot of Multipersonhood. And channeling is not just a transfer of exogenous information; it is instantaneous dissemination by a superconscious entity into “coherent, valid, and faithful” surrogate energy patterns1 that transcend space-time and the speed of light—transmission without transmission. The material gets received when there is enough of a match with a recipient or medium for him (or her) to pick up the vibrational pattern without turning it into his or her own words and ideas.

The superconscious source doesn’t have a voice in an anatomical sense, but the voice the medium adopts is “much like the one” that the entity would have if it were human.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 speech 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 words store energy. The essence behind the transmission is altering atoms and changing their charges and pulsation rates in both the medium’s body and the consciousnesses that receive the message, so the emphasis is on vibrational as well as semantic meaning.6

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

When (or if) another person (not Jane) channels the same energy, it might or might not identify itself as Seth (for instance, John Friedlander channels the same energy field under another name). A different entity might also be conflated by a channeler with Jane’s “Seth,” as “Seth” has become a proprietary name for a range of channeling. Distinguishing true from false “Seths” is a personal matter that goes beyond usual constructs of authenticity (see my earlier discussion of “Cosmic Chicanery”).

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 in its present configuration. He was already part of her, 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 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 a phase of 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

Seth’s answer: “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 and merging 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, those terms, 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 information sets 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 own identity in speeches to Jane’s classes (April 17, 1973 and January 29, 1974):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You move your hand and touch your face, and what realities do you stir, and what seasons do you cause to fall upon other worlds—and how, as you lift your finger and touch your face—do you stir ponds of reality? What frogs sit by the ponds that you have stirred, and what winds blow with the power of your thoughts? …Your lips curve and tremble, and the muscles move across your face, and as they do the wind blows in other universes.”21

Pretty beautiful, no? 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 our 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.”

 

Chapter Thirteen: Undumbing the Universe

  1. The Heavens

To put humans, or human surrogates, in other solar systems or galaxies is impossible by current technology and, more to the point, by laws of physics and biology that set speed and time caps on all activities—and very limited ones on metabolizing organisms. Our current methods not only take too long by factors in the billions but require far more fuel than can be toted aboard any ship. You’d need a tank as big as Earth.

In the foreseeable future no currently operating spacecraft of NASA, Russia, China, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, is going to deliver a humanoid object even to Alpha Centauri in the neighboring system. Solar-wind-blown sails are impractical thought experiments and/or conflations of current gadgets with hypothetical systems—gaming solutions rather than likely missions. If our goal is to travel in space, we have to figure out how to get into space, and it isn’t by internal-combustion engines, cold gas thrusters, and gravity-well acceleration. The movie Avatar aside, those won’t ferry us to the Centauri system in less than forty or fifty thousand years or carry sufficient fuel for the futile venture.

Even the relatively feasible colonization of Mars is beyond our current capacity. The lack of breathable air, food, or shelter from solar radiation and the immediate environment is not just an incidental set of problems to be solved by on-site tinkering or a science-fiction trilogy. It is a module-by-module, molecule-by-molecule undertaking. It would make more sense to get the plastic out of the Pacific Ocean than to pump oxygen from the Martian north pole into a habitation dome—a somewhat comparable venture. Don’t get me wrong. It may happen, but Mars still doesn’t get us very far.

If we tentatively accept the general literature of UFO sightings and/or contact, from the ancient Dogon and recent Ariel School incidents in Africa to Betty and Barney Hill and Whitley Strieber in North America, then we must assume that spaceships (if that is, in fact, what they were) got into Earth’s atmosphere in a different manner from how we sent New Horizons to Pluto and Charon or plan to deliver explorers to Mars. Something fundamental has to be changed, not just time and space but information and the scaling between quantum and Newtonian fields.

How do we explain six reptile-like humanoids unearthed from an ancient tomb in Nazca, Peru? The mummies have elongated skulls and three anomalously elongated digits on each hand and foot. They either came here by a mode of interstellar or interdimensional travel we can’t imagine, or they are elaborate hoaxes like the Piltdown and Cardiff “men” or the “doll” dissected in the notorious alien-autopsy film.

Current speculation prioritizes the quantum realm as a key to breaking the interstellar deadlock. That means re-engineering propulsion from some combination of uncertainty states, superposition, quantum entanglement, wormholes, negative space (or time), quantum vacuums, inertial fields, zero-point energies, and tiny merry-go-rounds exerting repulsive forces. A range of other instigations of very small objects and forces similarly transfer effects from nano-spaces into either human-size vehicles or miniature equivalents that can transport body-minds or their information faster than photons and then presumably return them to human form and scale at either end.

In Seth’s view, NASA is exploring a camouflage universe. The starry piñata is “there” all right, but it is also generating a thoughtform that makes it look like its own absolute geography. In truth, we have no idea what the Hubble telescope is recording: matter, intelligence, a mirage, or the limitation of the human mind to comprehend the intricacy of Creation.

“Your idea of space travel,” Seth explains, “is to journey over the ‘skin of your universe.’ You do not understand that your system is expanding within itself, bringing forth new creativity and energy….”

What does he mean? Where is the inner expansion that matches the expansion of hydrogen and helium under gravity? Ellias Lonsdale was sitting at Sarah’s bedside when she died and he glimpsed her transit. “She didn’t go out,” he told me, “as I expected, but in.

Given the daunting scope of the astrophysical universe, “in” may be more “out” than “out.” In string theory, entire universes are folded into one another based on their inherent topological structure; dimensions come into being as degrees of freedom resolve their dynamical tensions, whatever that means under game conditions. Our own landscape arises from the behavior of quark-scale “objects” in spaces now uninhabitable by human bodies.  Portals to multiverses or multidimensional domains are disguised in domains so tiny they are not visible through the most powerful microscopes. But by the same rationale of disproportion, the Big Bang pulled this whole cosmos out of a clown car tinier than a flea. No practical answers here!

On the other hand, the universe’s internal expansion may be more a matter of consciousness than topology. When Albert Einstein put space and time into a continuum, he was tracking the brain as much as stars and galaxies. Relativity is mind observing nature as they wrap around each other. All masses, shapes, and motions dissipate into observers and the relationships of objects. There is no universe otherwise—no matter without mind, no mind without matter, no matter or mind except by interdependent origination, no space or time beyond spatial and temporal dilation.

More than ninety percent of the model is AWOL anyway, as dark matter or dark energy.

“Your own coordinates,” Seth continues, “close you off from recognizing that there are indeed other intelligences alive even within your own solar system. You will never meet them in your exterior reality, however, for you are not focused in the time period of their existence. You may physically visit the ‘very same planet’ on which they reside, but to you the planet will appear barren, or not able to support life.

“In the same way, others can visit your planet with the same results…. Some intelligent beings have visited your planet, finding not the world you know but a probable one….

“Effective space travel, creative space travel on your part, will not occur until you learn that your space-time system is one focus. Otherwise you will seem to visit one dead world after another, blind to civilizations that may exist on any of them. Some of these difficulties could be transcended if you learned to understand the … multidimensionality of even your own physical structure ….

“[U]ntil you understand that, you will not … be able to thoroughly explore any planet—or any reality, including your own.”1

 

The ostensible channeled transmissions from the Challenger astronauts to several mediums, which began soon after their shuttle exploded in January 1986, speak to a different cosmology now shadowing us, whether you believe in  their authenticity or not. Traumatized in the aftermath of their plunge into the ocean, they apparently first tried and failed to contact NASA by a psychic-messaging protocol in which, apparently, one astronaut on each mission had been secretly trained. The crew did succeed in contacting several mediums, including Jeanne Love, in Adrian, Michigan, and Regina Ochoa, based in Northern California.2

The crew has been reaching out to humanity since, trying to tell us that their own fate is a clue to our collective situation: only when we have learned how to exteriorize interior space will we enter the cosmos. (According to Love and Ochoa, the main reason the public message was delayed until 2017 was a series of personal threats against them if they disclosed the exchanges. If true, this would seem to support the validity of at least some of the more controversial information received: it is a threat to the governing order).

This genre of information from nonlocal sources may not be what it seems, but it is not to be dismissed out of hand as a stunt or hoax.

 

Deploying an algorithm through the Internet, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has amassed more money than he can deploy in his lifetime, so he means to use it to invent the future. A sci-fi junkie and transhumanist, he considers interplanetary expansion the solution to humanity’s present crises: building cities on other worlds in the Solar System, meaning faster rockets, durable domes, and synthetic ecosystems. He makes an educated argument:

“[I]f you take baseline energy usage globally across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That’s the real energy crisis. And it’s happening soon. And by soon, I mean within just a few hundred years. We don’t actually have that much time. So what can you do? Well, you can have a life of stasis, where you cap how much energy we get to use. You have to work only on efficiency. By the way, we’ve always been working on energy efficiency, and still we grow our energy usage. It’s not like we have been squandering energy. We have been getting better at using it with every passing decade. So, stasis would be very bad, I think.

“Now take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System. The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.”3

A trillion humans! Remember, there’s no breathable air on any other body in the Solar System. There’s also no food, shelter, or liquid water. Space settlement lies well outside the range of our technology. Except for a few borderline regions of Mars, any region of the Solar System other than Gaia would fry or freeze a visiting mammal in less than a minute.

We cannot bring back the New World or Oceania with their aboriginal fertility and cornucopia by contriving replicas on other orbs.

Even Amazon Prime has limitations. It’s back to the drawing board, Jeff.

 

To talk about moving folks among worlds far apart, much more needs to be understood about the nature of the entities touring, the worlds themselves, and the universe’s overall modes of transport and transfer. Perhaps one reaches the Pleiaidian system most cost-effectively by being reborn there. The whispers of the dead may be what get us from the Hardy Boys’ crooked arrow to the clue in the hydrogen atom to the inverted complexity of the Big Bang.

It is possible that our capacity for interstellar flight, like our capacity for remote viewing and telekinesis, is related to our current spiritual development and that we are encountering systems that are not value-neutral or objectifiable in the way that scientific experiments and their technologies are. After all, anyone can build a hydrogen bomb or laser, for good or evil by their own definition. Dan Drasin, a journalist and media producer, who has straddled the space-science/metaphysical borderline since the 1970s, spoke directly to this in an email to me:

“Any venturing into psychic phenomena and other supraphysical arenas surely puts us into territory where, as the first order of business, we need to understand our own natures and motives far more deeply than we do now. Pushing boundaries within the constraints of 3-D reality (however naïve, mischievous or misguided) would seem to be relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. When one ventures out into higher dimensions without first becoming intimate with them on an inner level (which presupposes becoming familiar with oneself on an inner level, and how one projects the reality one perceives) one may be playing with fire on thin ice.

“I have no idea to what extent the lore surrounding the putatively catastrophic Philadelphia and Montauk Experiments is true [sailors imbedded wholly and partially in their ship’s metal or transported into the future in muddled states of mind], but even viewed as fiction in the vein of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, these stories do provide sobering food for thought, and should be taken to heart by anyone considering exploring in these directions.

“I think most of our collective assumptions about space travel have been formed more by the shallow glamor and veiled machismo of twentieth-century sci-fi than by much genuine understanding or deep perception.”

We are taking a lot for granted in proposing to go far away in machines. The settlement of the indigenous Americas and Australia, allegorized Avatar and the more recent Shape of Water, which is not even interplanetary, serve as cautionary tales. Scientific curiosity and the terrestrial benefits of space technology are fair values, but going somewhere else in ways that challenge the basic nature of matter and mind has psychospiritual and ethical implications. To get from quantum fields to intergalactic space flight probably requires an ontological transformation at the level of personal identity.

Traveling to the Moon and Mars robotically is quotidian, with human habitation probably achievable to some extent within decades. Going to to an Earth-like planet in the Crab Nebula 6,500 light years away, or even Keper-452b in Cygnus, 1400 light years from here, confronts not only the topology of space-time and the range of quantum fields but the stability of selfhood, the nature of mortality, the distinction between inner and outer space, the relationship of shamanic realms and other frequencies of reality to Earth’s physiography, and the relationship of any alien world to our political and ecological situation (as well as ours to theirs)?

How we solve the physics may be inseparable from where we want to go and what we want to do when we get there. We may have to meld the physics  of advanced propulsion with our psychic and moral development. At that level, every “ship” has telekinetic and clairsentient aspects. What would “we” look like cyborged into an interstellar vehicle? Could it be a bunch of native Americans in a drumming circle?

 

  1. The Theory of Everything

Physics phenomenologist Nima Arkani-Hamed admits, “The ascension to the tenth level of intellectual heaven would be if we find the question to which the universe is the answer, and the nature of that question in and of itself explains why it was possible to describe it in so many different ways.”4

Science-writer Natalie Wolchover puts this in context: “It’s as though physics has been turned inside out. It now appears that the answers already surround us. It’s the question we don’t know.” That is because “there are multiple valid ways of describing so many physical phenomena. But an even stranger fact is that, when there are competing descriptions, one often turns out to be more true than the others, because it extends to a deeper or more general description of reality….

“When there are many possible descriptions of a physical situation—all making equivalent predictions, yet all wildly different in premise—one will turn out to be preferable, because it extends to an underlying reality, seeming to account for more of the universe at once. And yet this new description might, in turn, have multiple formulations—and one of those alternatives may apply even more broadly. It’s as though physicists are playing a modified telephone game in which, with each whisper, the message is translated into a different language.”5

If you keep asking fundamental questions of the universe and getting “correct” answers that are different in premise, you might start wondering about unexamined assumptions behind your initial premise.

What physicists proved was that the universe was not created in the way they would make a universe. In the words of protean club member Freeman Dyson, “Nobody can be sure of anything. Stephen Hawking doesn’t know the difference between a model and the real thing. That’s an occupational disease of theoretical physicists. Theories don’t actually help a great deal; the world is much stranger than we imagined. Even in the hard parts of science we’re not even close to understanding what’s going on. If you look at anything that seems plain and obvious and look at it in detail, we find we don’t understand it. The people at CERN are in the position of a horse wearing blinkers and only able to see a very small patch of the road in front of them. They are constrained by their machines to look at very narrow questions.”6

I can guess why physics’ provisional answers shape-change spontaneously: they are answers to different questions from those the universe is posing, to us and as us—physicists and phenomenologists alike. And this is true not just of the physical universe but at every level of manifestation: reality diverges into contradictory fortuities and irreconcilable truths.

“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.”7

Yet the truth is as unutterable as the secret name of God: consciousness is not an electrochemical product of the brain; it is its own thing. 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!”8

Lanza is amused by the response which, he says, “has been much how you’d expect priests to respond to stem cell research.”9

In the view of 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.”10

Sir James Jeans, a physicist who calculated the radius of an interstellar cloud in space dependent on the temperature and density of that cloud, concluded that the universe is “more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter … we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”11

Physicist Max Planck joined the verdict: “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together.

“We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”12

He looked as directly at vibrating atoms as you could, saw a certainty without reckoning (because reckoning was impossible), and came to a nonmaterial conclusion. I ran this quote by an materialist admirer of Planck. He attributed it to dotage and human fallibility, comparing it to Newton’s belief in alchemy. Yet enough physicists are drawn to an kōan so imbedded and profound it can barely be proposed: presence. Not particles, matter, or fields but “us” and “the others.” Astrophysicist Gregory Matloff suggested a “proto-consciousness field” extending through all of space, adding, “The entire cosmos may be self-aware.”13

That’s the elephant in the room, but not everyone recognizes the same pachyderm. Prague-based philosopher Peter Wilborg emailed a critique of an earlier draft of this book to a mutual friend in Ljubljana: “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 proposed meaning; it goes something like: “Grossinger says that mind came before matter, but that is a copout. There never was matter. What we are experiencing is a expansion of conscious energy taking form in matter-like mirages.”

I agree, “The universe is consciousness.” But look at how it billows into a woodland on which sun is pouring as squirrels bound and birds alight, or illumines an urban thoroughfare packed with vehicles, people, and shops. The mystery of physical manifestation must be explained.

The fact that the Big Bang expressed itself in gravity, quarks, and ecosystems says what consciousness is trying to get at. If matter arose from mind, mind likewise arose from matter. Reality was designed simultaneously inside-out as consciousness and outside-in as matter—Aristotle called “hyle,” a primary substance which continually converts its intrinsic nature into extrinsic form.

 

  1. Meaning

People don’t generally think about the context of our reality or consider that it even has one, even as its multiple levels of causation and meaning continue to camouflage whatever is camouflaging them.

         Mediaeval theologians proposed that God re-creates the world from moment to moment. If so, it is a masterpiece of inviolate presto-chango. John Friedlander puts it in contemporary terms: “The universe is always listening to you; it never goes unconscious. I might gather wool for a minute or two, but the universe never does that. This world is so cool that everybody, through their Causal soul and the interplay between themselves and other beings, has an individualized dharma, depending on what’s up for them. And 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. The ground of manifestation is biased in your favor.  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. All experience is sacred and eternal, and nothing is ever lost.”14

Since all life arises from all directions and expands in all directions, the universe can never become less than it was before. Even acts of greed, malice, and stupidity don’t diminish it. That is also why a part of each identity remembers who and what it is forever: the universe cannot lose constituents.

Though the Buddhist term “Atman” overrides the individual soul, that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as a self or soul subjectively, only that there’s no such thing objectively. There is no separate entity functioning as your personality, and yet you know yourself as yourself, and its subjectivity continues to grow and change. If it didn’t grow and change, it wouldn’t be eternal. In one direction it grows into your soul; in other dimensions it grows into different probabilities. It also knows itself as other people, spirit forms, and devas, in both waking and dream states, and experiences their lives intermittently from its own view: its version of them. Even though we are collectively interdependent, our individual subjectivity is eternal.15   

We should be so lucky, when God threw the first dice and drew our card—I mean, our universe.  It takes no siestas and leaves no slack. Each time an eagle snares a gull or a fisher cat claws open a squealing chipmunk, the universe is maximizing meaningfulness and spiritual freedom for both. Imagine a universe complex enough to optimize the possibility of spiritual freedom and meaning simultaneously for the Daesh executioner and his martyr. That is the real unified field—reality collapsed in upon itself by an invisible expanding wave of consciousness. Herman Melville glimpsed momentarily it in the aftermath of a whale’s breach: “Silence reigned over the before tumultuous but now deserted deck. An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea.”16

A given crow on a telephone line looking down at you may be you or an 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. Because the universe is overdetermined, meaning and randomness intersect at every juncture. After all, there are a lot of crows and beetles to account for, both inside and outside the algorithm.

You and that crow—or that gopher darting out of its burrow and back—exchange quanta of etheric energy. Seth calls attention to “the countless times counterparts [have] unwittingly gathered…and what sorts of numberless exchanges [take] place on unconscious levels between those who [are] psychically related in some fashion.”17

As an osprey tries to hoist a giant trout out of a stream, the fish spirals the bird down into the gorging waters. A hawk descends from on high and rips a prairie dog off the ground. There is a blood price but the deed is not irreconcilable nor is it an obliteration of the prairie dog’s potential for future happiness and spiritual growth. Likewise the zebra taken down by jackals, the water buffalo felled by leopards. Each Etheric body converts its own agony within a system of birth, death, and knowledge. Animals “understand the nature of the life-energy they share, and are not—in those terms—jealous for their own individuality.”18 There is intimacy and value in absorbing the Physical-Etheric field of another creature. “The slain animal [knows that it will] look out through its slayer’s eyes—attaining a newer, different kind of consciousness.”19

The cat tormenting the mouse is playing with the universe, as is the mouse. They are teaching the universe who they are and who it is. 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.

Consciousness cannot act against itself. There is only curiosity of an untold force staring deeply and wondrously into its own nature and capacity to mirror itself to near infinite depth. Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre dead-reckoned it in France in the midst of 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.”20

Sartre took a default existential position; he was living through a horrific war. I do not want to sound namby-pamby or holistically facile either. In post-Daesh Iraq, innocent people are being of jihadist collaboration during the reign of ISIS; then, without a trial, being tortured, maimed, imprisoned, and beheaded or set on fire while alive.

In Honduras and El Salvador, gangs conduct indiscriminate rape, murder, and theft, without restraint or remorse. In the Amazon, tribes are slaughtered or driven out of millennial homelands to make way for resource extraction.

This hell realm provides no pardons or exemptions.

But it is our world, the world of jackals, spiders, and hawks, and its arraignments are not limited regionally or confined to any particular chamber of space or time. There is no wall or shelter to be built or portfolio in which to hide. It is us and who we are, so if the universe is to work—optimize itself and be redeemed—it needs to cycle, transmute, and reconstitute current energies, their information. Otherwise we are stuck and the universe is as stalemated as a John Deere tractor in a three-year-old mudhole.

Look around; there are lots of demolished cities, panting fangs, and gluttons seeking requital and peace—in their hearts and our hearts. Leaving aside a science and species mind unable to solve the problems it has created, we have a depletion of meaning and context that itself is unsustainable. That there are no easy answers is the true depth of All That Is. Undumbing the universe begins with the nonrenouncablity of our own situation.

Bottom it out, folks! And it starts with getting that tractor out of the mud.

 

  1. Thoughtforms

The reason that physics can’t corral its own catechism or justify and make congruent its manifestation—and these are just words applied to an estate of words—is at least threefold: 1) It doesn’t recognize the provenance and range of thoughtforms governing it. 2) It takes the space-time continuum at face value while space and time are being generated at different frequencies of each other. 3) It applies itself only to a physical vibration and its source-forms. Considering these matters together, I think that physics is trying to bottom out an epiphenomenon while ignoring its origination.

All of us—Lady Gaga, Vladimir Putin, Sacha Baron Cohen, the Dalai Lama, Jennifer Doudna, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, the Pope, Joseph Kony, Abu Musab al-Zarqai, Bill Gates, Malala Yousafzai—are matching the same picture. We are not just matching; we are creating it, as is every other creature. Birds surfing between rooftops share not only our DNA but our thoughtform. It determines that they are birds rather than humans (or beetles 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.

“Everyone on this planet creates reality according to their beliefs, so if the Dalai Lama is on this planet—and he is—then he plays some part in the movement to world peace, but there are aspects in his aura that match—not in the normal English sense of the word ‘match’ but in the psychic sense—that get lit up in the same way as terrorists because there couldn’t be terrorists if he didn’t have some match. It’s not like if all of a sudden he cleared that match, all terrorists would disappear from this earth. He would disappear from this probability.”21

In Seven Planes cosmology we are converting Etheric, Astral, and Causal energy into molecules while, in the Buddhic plane, it’s figured out instant by instant how to make a single reality that works for everyone. Otherwise, this universe and thoughtform doesn’t exist.

Here, gravity, heat, light, fission and fusion—the expanding dispersion of energy and matter—flow out of our collective intelligence along with nebulae in deep space, breezes off seas, schools of fish, and deer passing between copses. That means not only our conscious intelligence, but the unconscious intelligence of all beings in cosmic and spiritual planes, and the core universe itself—the translation of All That Is into All That Is, each dimension expressing itself in the parameters of another.

“The Gods are absolutely real, and the Gods are entirely a figment of our imagination.”22 Where our own consciousness, in its bottomless depth, bridges the thoughtform in its depth, there is no distinction. That is why the Astral realm, which is internal and emotion-based for us, is populated by autonomous psychoids—flying saucers, faeries, etc. The distinction between the metaphysical Astrum and the objective astronomical realm passes through a wormhole in each of us, which is as ontological as it is picturesque, and no one—neither scientist nor shaman—tracks exactly where Self and Universe thread each other’s needles. It’s “down the rabbit hole,” “through the looking glass.” and “adios amigos.”

The reason the universe doesn’t read 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 such a screen or ruffle its mirage. The conundrum is how consciousness in the form of individual personal identities, each known subjectively only to itself, gets inserted into a collective thoughtform and shared material reality such that the consciousness of reality becomes identical to the physics of reality.

Humanity’s noblest endeavor—not its crossbows and siege towers—up to the scientific revolution was to decipher thoughtforms and nature in tandem and make provisional holy books and keys. Once technocracy took over, thoughtforms were not so much banished as put under their own lockdown thoughtform, which 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.

Of course, these same crimes and deliria took place in earlier times, but on a smaller scale and under different rubrics of society and selfhood.

Enormous thoughtforms are gathering now like thunderclouds across our planet, 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 both bottomless and binding. Meanwhile, the so-called “real” is burgeoning with crises of fixation, from opiate addiction to climate displacement, from industrial pollution to nuclear arsenals, from sexual enslavement to violation of children and animals. These cannot be derailed by rules or good intentions or even remedial acts; they can only be changed by the thoughtforms creating them.

The good news is, they are thoughtforms, so we can change them. If we change ourselves, we change the universe. That’s a tall order, but it’s the only order.

When Seth proposed, “You create your own reality,” he was widely misunderstood to have meant that we can control reality, and, if we do it well, we can get what you want. But we know we can’t control reality. What he meant was, “You engage the outside world because it is you.”

 

The reason why all this didn’t spring from nothing for no reason is that it is rooted in a thoughtform, and not just a thoughtform but a progression of thoughtforms radiating from the Creation machinery of All That Is. New ones, unlimited in expression and design, continually arise, changing the nature of reality.

Our situation is meaningful rather than real because each thoughtform is essential to forming the next, but it is more complicated than that because the formations are not elapsing in linear time. They are happening at once like a Great Dance.

That a quantum particle is physical, yet possesses only potential existence means that conscious intervention has collapsed an energy field into a material phenomenology. A universe that collapses its own wave function to arrive at definitiveness of property and locale is a universe that arises from the collapse of a wave function. Yet the inseparability of consciousness from our characterization of physical reality—the coupling between mind and matter, “the so-called measurement problem in quantum physics—has no agreed-upon even metaphysical interpretation.”23

Quantum weirdness does not interfere with the Newtonian bowling alley because the wave functions of emerging thoughts don’t have to engage our sort of reality; they only have to create it, which they do by making it able to be known by consciousness, and then by making themselves conscious. It is not a matter of figuring out how mind and matter are entangled and which is the progenitor; it a single field emanating as mind at one level, matter at another.

Mind and matter can’t arise independently because then the field itself wouldn’t exist, and that’s not possible. They are not even at variance or inversely proportional. They bottom out at a shared source. The thoughtform visible through the Hubble telescope as myriad galaxies is being created and transmuted this very moment by intelligent life forms, ourselves included; it is a residue of the creation and destruction of trillions of tulpas emanating from All That Is at the frequency and collective intelligence of spirits everywhere.

To truly bottom out All That Is is to recognize our presence flowing through a palpable but incomprehensible event and that event, simultaneously.

Astonishment at the wonder of existence is existence.

What is happening is what it looks like is happening. 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, and an inertial field so powerful that it drives more proximal fields and galaxies by its zodiac. The universe knows that. Of course, it doesn’t—it simply is, which is a more profoundly bottoming-out state.

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.”24

Amen.

 

Footnotes

 

Introduction

  1. Will Cloughley, “Quantum physics and the hard problem,” email posting, November, 13, 2018.
  2. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 811.
  3. ibid., p. 812.

 

Reincarnation and Past Lives

  1. Morey Bernstein, The Search for Bridey Murphy (New York: Pocket Books, 1956), p. 133. My copy of this book was a gift from Henry Hough, my father-in-law to my daughter on her birth. Hank was a Denver journalist and a friend of Morey Bernstein who inscribed it, “To Miranda Grossinger, from Morey, Many Happy Lifetimes.”
  2. ibid., p. 134.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid., p. 252.
  6. Tom Shroder, Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 22.
  7. Morey Bernstein, op. cit., pp. 43-44.
  8. ibid., pp. 143-144.
  9. ibid., p. 171.
  10. ibid., pp. 181-182.
  11. ibid., p. 183.
  12. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 16.
  13. ibid., p. 17.
  14. ibid., p. 20.
  15. ibid., p. 92.
  16. ibid., p. 119.
  17. Linda Forman, Dreaming in Real Time: The Shanti Shanti Story (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003), p. 88. The sisters eventually formed a musical group, Shanti Shanti, and sang together professionally in Sanskrit for years.
  18. ibid., p. 91.
  19. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 89.
  20. ibid., p. 21.
  21. ibid.
  22. ibid.
  23. ibid., p. 22.
  24. ibid., pp. 15 and 89.
  25. ibid., pp. 102-103.
  26. Carol Bowman, http://reincarnationforum.com/threads/why-dont-most-people-consciously-remember-past-lives.2608/.
  27. Jim B. Tucker, M.D., Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 149.
  28. Ian Stevenson, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (New York: American Society for Psychical Research, 1966), pp. 231-234
  29. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 55.
  30. ibid., pp. 55-56.
  31. ibid., p. 58 and Bruce Grayson, “Near-Death Experiences” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 36.
  32. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., 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 (for 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., pp. 56, 70-72.
  60. ibid., pp. 75 and Jim B. Tucker, “Reports of Past-Life Memories” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 60.
  61. Leslie Kean, op. cit., pp. 58, 64, 73.
  62. ibid., p. 56-57.
  63. ibid., p. 61.
  64. ibid., p. 60.
  65. ibid., p. 61.
  66. ibid.
  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

In this chapter, I have re-worded some material from my book Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003).

  1. Terrence W. Deacon, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2013), p. 174.
  2. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 206.
  3. Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan (New York: Random House, 2007), p. viii.
  4. Justin Torres, We the Animals (New York: Houghton-Mifflin/Mariner Books, 2012), p. 99.
  5. Thomas Nagel, “Is Consciousness an Illusion?” The New York Review of Books, March 9, 2017, p. 34.
  6. Sam Harris, “Opinionator,” New York Times, September 7, 2014.
  7. Max Planck, quoted in J. W. N. Sullivan, “Interviews with Great Scientists VI: Max Planck,” The Observer, January 25, 1931, p. 17.
  8. Terrence W. Deacon, op. cit., pp. 483-484.
  9. ibid., p. 492.
  10. Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Back Bay Books, 1992), p. 406.
  11. Daniel C. Dennett, quoted by Thomas Nagel in “Is Consciousness an Illusion?” a review of Daniel C. Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (New York: W. W. Norton, 2017) in The New York Review of Books, March 9, 2017, p. 32.
  12. Ervin Laszlo, Jean Houston, & Larry Dossey, What Is Consciousness: Three Sages Look Behind the Veil (New York: SelectBooks, 2016), p. 60.
  13. Phillip Moffit, Awakening Through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2017), p. 25.
  14. Jacob Needleman, The Heart of Philosophy (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 1982), p. 198.
  15. Phillip Moffit, op. cit., p. 82.
  16. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, pp. 206.
  17. Michael McClure, “Wolf Net,” Io 20, Biopoesis (Harvey Bialy, editor), Plainfield, Vermont, 1974.
  18. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 194. Regarding the relationship between Seth and Jane in this book, Seth says in The Unknown Reality, Volume 2, p. 790, “Ruburt [Jane] has…written…his Adventures—with some help from me now and then!”
  19. John Friedlander, “Interconnected Ecological and Etheric Body” Workshop, 2012, audio band 13.
  20. Jenny Staletovich, “Outrage over shark-dragging video deepens as new pictures surface, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article164070637.html.
  21. Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (New York: Scribner, 2001), pp. 21 and 20.
  22. David Darling, “Supposing something different: Reconciling science and the afterlife,” Omni Magazine, 17:9 (1993), p. 4.
  23. 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.
  24. John C. Eccles, The Human Psyche (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 19-20.
  25. Colin McGinn, “Neuroscience and Philosophy: An Exchange,” The New York Review of Books, August 15, 2013/Volume LX, Number 13, pp. 82-83].
  26. Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond, A. J. Pomerans (translator) (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 114.
  27. Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), p. 146.
  28. 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.
  29. Charles Richet, quoted in Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), p. 310.
  30. Leslie Kean, op. cit., pp. 312, 314.
  31. ibid., p. 313 (includes direct and indirect quotes from Maurice Barbanell and Johannes Haarhoff, the latter a classicist in Johannesburg).
  32. ibid., p. 313.
  33. ibid., pp. 87-88.

 

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. Jim B. Tucker, “Reports of Past-Life Memories” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), pp. 50-51
  7. ibid., p. 50.
  8. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion, p. 383.
  9. Leslie Kean, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017), p. 50.
  10. Ian Stevenson, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997). This book comprises 2200 pages in two volumes. Stevenson also wrote When Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, published by Praeger in the same year.
  11. 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.
  12. John Upledger, Cell Talk: Transmitting Mind into DNA (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2010).
  13. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 72.
  14. Jim B. Tucker, “Reports of Past-Life Memories” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 51.
  15. Peter A. Levine and Bessel A. van der Kolk, Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past—A Practical Guide for Understanding and Working with Traumatic Memory (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2015). See also www.nature.com/articles/nn.3594.
    16. Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1927), p. 171.
  16. Edward Dorn, Recollections of Gran Apachería (Berkeley, California: Turtle Island, 1974), p. 16.
  17. Terrence W. Deacon, personal communication, email, 2015.
  18. 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.
  19. ibid.
  20. Terrence W. Deacon: Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), p. 203.
  21. 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, op. cit.
  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. Edward F. Kelly, “Paranormal Phenomena, the Siddhis, and An Emerging Path Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 109.
  39. 39. Carl Sagan, “Interview,” conducted by Richard Grossinger (January 23, 1972), Io, 14 (Earth Geography Booklet, no. 3: Imago Mundi), Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 1972, pp. 374–86.
  40. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), p. 360.
  41. ibid., p. 379
  42. ibid., p. 388.
  43. Gordon D. Kaufman, “A Religious Interpretation of Emergence: Creativity as God,” Zygon 42 (2007), p. 919.
  44. Émile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life, translated from the French by Joseph Ward Swain (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1915), p. 225.
  45. Jim B. Tucker, op. cit., p. 211.
  46. Tom Shroder, op. cit., p. 71.
  47. ibid., p. 253.
  48. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 117.

 

Duality and Nonduality

  1. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice (Trumble, CT: Weatherhill, 1970), p. 25.
  2. The basic set of quotes is from Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (New York: Scribner, 2001), pp. 245-246. The individual quotes are from William Shakespeare, Albert Camus, and Arthur Schopenhauer, sources uncited).
  3. Dustin DiPerna, In Streams of Wisdom, unpublished manuscript, 2013.
  4. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), pp. 695-696.
  5. William Faulkner, The Wild Palms(New York: Random House Vintage, 1964), p. 324.
  6. John Friedlander, unpublished CD of tele-class, The Seven Planes of Consciousness, August 15, 2007.
  7. John Friedlander, “mud run” material culled from a number of classes, 2012-2015.
  8. Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name (New York: Europa Editions, 2013), p. 289.

 

Soul Pictures

  1. Dolores Cannon, A Soul Remembers Hiroshima (Huntsville, Arkansas: Ozark Mountain Publishers, 1993), p. 43.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid., pp. 7-21
  4. ibid., p. 49.
  5. ibid., p. 63.
  6. ibid., p. 67.
  7. ibid., p. 93.
  8. ibid., p. 99.
  9. ibid., p. 100.
  10. ibid., p. 96.
  11. ibid., p. 97.
  12. ibid., p. 95.
  13. ibid., p. 103.
  14. ibid.
  15. ibid., p. 105.
  16. ibid., pp. 105-106.
  17. ibid., p. 106.

18 Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 90.

  1. Dolores Cannon, op. cit., p. 107.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid., p. 56.
  4. ibid., pp. 109, 112.
  5. ibid., p. 119.
  6. ibid., p.111.
  7. ibid., p. 117.
  8. ibid., pp. 117-118.
  9. ibid., p. 119.
  10. ibid., p. 120.
  11. ibid., p. 121.
  12. ibid., pp. 122-123.
  13. ibid., pp. 123-124.
  14. ibid., pp. 124-127. I have not distinguished between Cannon’s dots, which signify breaks in Nogorigatu’s speech, and my own gaps in excerpting.
  15. ibid., pp. 128-129.
  16. ibid., p. 45.
  17. ibid., p. 47.
  18. ibid., p. 130.
  19. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, pp. 144, 127, 157.
  20. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 473.
  21. Tom Shroder, Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 239.

 

Trauma and Redemption

  1. Tarra Light, Angel of Auschwitz (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2009), p. xi.
  2. ibid., p. 24
  3. ibid., pp. 27, 31
  4. ibid., p. 28.
  5. ibid., p. 29.
  6. ibid., p. 125.
  7. ibid., p. 48.
  8. ibid., p. 73.
  9. ibid., p. 56.
  10. ibid.
  11. ibid., p. 55.
  12. ibid., p. 102.
  13. ibid., pp. 57, 69.
  14. ibid., p. 57.
  15. ibid., p. 120.
  16. ibid., p. 91.
  17. ibid., pp. 146-147.
  18. ibid., p. 115.
  19. ibid., p. 127.
  20. ibid., p. 115.
  21. ibid., p. 160.
  22. ibid.
  23. ibid., p. 161.
  24. ibid., pp. 168-169.
  25. ibid., p. 170.
  26. ibid., p. 171.
  27. ibid., p. 164.
  28. ibid., p. 175.
  29. D. W. Winnicott, “Fear of Breakdown,” The International Review of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 1, 1974, pp. 103-107.
  30. Joy Manné, Family Constellations: A Practical Guide to Uncovering the Origins of Family Conflict (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2009).
  31. Gladys Reichard, Navaho Religion (New York: Pantheon Books/Bollingen Foundation, 1950), p. xxxiv.
  32. D. W. Winnicott, ibid., p. 103.
  33. Richard Grossinger, 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2010), pp. 188-189.
  34. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 366.
  35. D. W. Winnicott, ibid., p. 103.
  36. ibid.
  37. D. W.Winnicott, ibid., p. 104.

For an account of my own subsequent visiting to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, see https://www.richardgrossinger.com/2018/07/2018-europe-trip-journal/.

 

Cosmic Chicanery

  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. “Passwords: Gerrit Lansing,” with Ruth Lepson, Kate Tarlow Morgan, Robert Podgurski, & Charles Stein, Poets House, New York, March 16, 2019.
  6. John Visvader, personal communication.
  7. 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.
  8. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 52.
  9. ibid., p. 76.
  10. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 162.
  11. 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).
  12. ibid., pp. 11-14.
  13. ibid., p. 13.
  14. ibid., pp. 150-152.
  15. ibid., pp. 80-81.
  16. ibid., pp. 168-169.
  17. ibid., pp. 172-173.
  18. ibid., pp. 175-177.
  19. ibid., p. 179.
  20. ibid., pp. 184-186.
  21. Ellias & Theanna Lonsdale, Book of Theanna In the Lands that Follow Death (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2011), p. 24.
  22. ibid., p. 55.
  23. 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. Sidney Schwab, ibid.
  4. I am grateful to amateur cosmologist James Connelly for this insight on Whitehead.
  5. 5. Terence McKenna, Dreaming Awake at the End of Time,lecture recorded by

Sound Photosynthesis, San Francisco, December 13, 1998.

  1. ibid.
  2. Chris Hedges [http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/chris-hedges-a-message-from-the-dispossessed/].
  3. Charles Stein, journal note, June 6, 2016, posted on Facebook.

 

Personal Identity

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 673.
  2. Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (New York: Scribner, 2001), p. 244 (quote within quote from A. Alvarez, The Savage God: A Study of Suicide (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990).
  3. ibid., p. 245.
  4. This has been widely quoted (with variations): claimants include Spike Milligan and Woody Allen), so it is difficult to know where the trope originated. I first saw a version in George James Grinnell, Death on the Barrens: A True Story of Courage and Tragedy in Canadian Arctic, a 1955 book republished by North Atlantic Books 2010.
  5. Andrew Solomon, op. cit., pp. 245-246 (quote within quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, no citation given).
  6. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” lecture delivered throughout the 1980s.
  7. 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.
  8. 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/.
  9. Robert Podgurski, The Sacred Alignments & the Dark Side of Sigils (Louth, England: Mandrake Press, 2012), p. 36.
  10. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1997), pp. 127-129.
  11. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 122.
  12. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 99.
  13. ibid., p. 186.
  14. John Friedlander, February 2015 Workshop, audio band 14.
  15. Jack Kerouac, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1960). My version is from a collage on the Internet.
  16. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One, p. 92.
  17. Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Fearless Simplicity: The Dzogchen Way of Living Freely in a Complex World (Boudhanath, Hongkong & Esby, 2003).
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. “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.
  21. Robert Butts in Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 671.
  22. Samuel Beckett, “Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable” (New York: Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2009), p. 219.
  23. Richard Grossinger, Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003), p. 78.
  24. Stephen Hawking, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator.
  25. James Moore on Facebook, March 17, 2018.
  26. Stephen Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell (New York: Bantam Books, 2001), p. 57.
  27. James Moore, op. cit.
  28. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 413.
  29. Robert Lanza, “The Theory of Biocentrism,” talk, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2010.
  30. Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment, Volume One, p. 171.
  31. 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.)
  32. Part of this paragraph was reworded from John Friedlander, “Interconnected Ecological and Etheric Body” Workshop, 2012, audio band 17.

 

Multipersonhood

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 472.
  2. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), p. 119.
  3. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 95.
  4. Jane Roberts, ibid., p. 530.
  5. ibid., p. 480.
  6. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 118.
  7. ibid., p. 95.
  8. ibid., p. 120.
  9. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 358.
  10. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology, p. 124.
  11. ibid., p. 186.
  12. ibid., p. 117.
  13. ibid., p. 136.
  14. Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2013), pp. 150-151.
  15. John Friedlander, transcription from an undated class.
  16. This section was reworded by me from John Friedlander’s lectures.
  17. John Friedlander, February 2015 Workshop, audio band 10.
  18. This section was reworded by me from John Friedlander’s lectures.
  19. John Friedlander, “Interconnected Ecological and Etheric Body” Workshop, 2012, audio band 2.

 

Who Is 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/.

 

 

Undumbing the Universe

  1. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), pp. 344-347.
  2. Seechallengercc.org or watch the full press conference, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIMLRWFD6Ys.
  3. Tim Fernholz, “Jeff Bezos explains how his space company will save civilization,” https://qz.com/1266038/jeff-bezos-explains-how-his-space-company-blue-origin-will-save-civilization/.
  4. Natalie Wolchover, “A Different Kind of Everything,” New Yorker online, February 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/a-different-kind-of-theory-of-everything?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&mbid=social_facebook&utm_brand=tny&utm_social-type=owned_1-visit&fbclid=IwAR1gK7-pwFfXEec4egN2vFRmbn1qu15nzThdaeUSsVtbTwUKE3fHA_XXbN8
  5. ibid.
  6. Freeman Dyson, “Discussion on Metaphysics,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUWd5xgLXBU. The quote was transcribed and abridged by Will Cloughley.
  7. Robert Lanza, “The Theory of Biocentrism,” talk, Science and Nonduality Conference, 2010.
  8. Richard Conn Henry, review of Robert 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/.
  9. 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.
  10. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, March 12, 1984.
  11. James Jeans, http://www.dreammanifesto.com/the-universe-more-like-a-great-thought-than-a-great-machine.html.
  12. Max Planck, from a speech in Florence, Italy, “Das Wesen der Materie” (“The Essence/Nature/Character of Matter”), 1944.
  13. George L. Matloff. “Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?” Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, Vol. 7, No. 7, 2016.
  14. John Friedlander, Spring 2014 Workshop, audio band 8.
  15. This paragraph is loosely reconstructed from 19. John Friedlander, “Interconnected Ecological and Etheric Body” Workshop, 2012, audio band 15.
  16. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or The Whale [1851] (New York: New American Library, 1961), p. 302.
  17. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume Two, p. 798.
  18. ibid., p. 665.
  19. Jane Roberts, The Unknown Reality, Volume One (San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publications, 1996), p. 100.
  20. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Reprieve (New York: Bantam Books, 1960). p. 252.
  21. John Friedlander, Spring 2014 Workshop, audio band 1.
  22. Druid master, quoted by Starhawk in Megan N. Woolever, Spirit Marriage: An Organic, Transcultural Inquiry into Intimate Relationships Between Humans and Extaordinary Beings (unpublished manuscript).
  23. David E. Presti, “An Expanded Conception of Mind” in David E. Presti, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), p. 145.
  24. Jane Roberts, Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology (Needham, Massachusetts: Moment Point Press, 1975), pp. 5, 7.

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