At this point, I feel it is important to stress
that I am proposing much more than that the physical world is a source
of metaphors or analogies for expressing psychic and spiritual truths.
If this were all there were to it, I would be saying nothing more than
that our perceptions of reality are a good poetic source, which is rather
close to asserting nothing at all.
How in autumn, even before the leaves
When they're all at their height of color,
Next year's leaves are already there, tiny,
on either side of the stem of each leaf
where it meets the branch,
Already there, waiting,
Before the leaf that is still there
is dead and falls,
Tiny folded leafbudsheath
Resembling two hands in prayer
Palm to palm with fingers extended.
Life after death exists
even before you're dead.
Or how when a redwood tree is cut down or blown
It doesn't die because the roots
Curl up out of the earth and become
Each of which can grow to be
Just as tall just as old
as the tree which was there before.
It'd be as if you were cut off at the ankles
And your top taken away to make The Milwaukee
And your toes curled into the ground and came
as ten new "you's — looking exactly like you
and being exactly like you.
And so a redwood you see now that's 2000 years
may've come from the root of a redwood
2000 years old
that may've come from the
root of a redwood that was
2000 years old
so far back that it's literally one
million years old!
And that's why they're called Sequoia
Proving . . . what?
Even before you're dead
life after death exists. (Antler, 1991, p. 61)
From the preceding chapters, it should be clear
that what I am saying is that the physical world is our indirect perception
(for direct perception, look within) of spiritual and psychic realities.
Hence, the physical world can not help but express the spiritual and psychic.
What I am saying is: Look around yourself; the world is rife with
messages, both personal and universal, relating to your place in the Universe,
the meaning of our existence, the meaning of existence itself, and, most
importantly, of guidance for getting us back hOMe. If one is open
to this possibility, the messages/truths are everywhere to be found.
And the Universe and one's experience of Reality becomes the grandest,
wisest, truest, and most beneficent of teachers.
Hesse (1951) gives us a charming story of just
such teaching by Nature, by That Which Is. In Siddhartha he
relates how the main character left the sensory world of business and marriage
and became a river ferryman. His inner voice draws him to such a
life and guides him to listen to the river:
In his heart he heard the newly awakened
voice speak, and it said to him: "Love this river, stay by it, learn
from it." Yes, he wanted to learn from it, he wanted to listen to
it. It seemed to him that whoever understood this river and its secrets,
would understand much more, many secrets, all secrets.
Further guidance about the river is provided by
Siddhartha's friend, the elder ferryman, Vasudeva. Concerning his
remarkable ability to listen, Vasudeva tells his protégé:
But today he only saw one of the river's secrets,
one that gripped his soul. He saw that the water continually flowed
and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet
every moment it was new. Who could understand, conceive this?
"You will learn it," said Vasudeva,
"but not from me. The river has taught me to listen; you will learn
from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn everything
from it. You have already learned from the river that it is good
to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths. The rich and distinguished
Siddhartha will become a rower; Siddhartha the learned Brahmin will become
a ferryman. You have also learned this from the river. You
will learn the other thing, too. (pp. 107-108)
Later, Siddhartha's education progresses:
He once asked him, "Have you also
learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?"
And further on:
A bright smile spread over Vasudeva's face.
"Yes, Siddhartha," he said. "Is this
what you mean? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at
the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current,
in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only
exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future?"
"That is it," said Siddhartha, "and when I
learned that, I reviewed my life and it was also a river, and Siddhartha
the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man, were only
separated by shadow, not through reality. Siddhartha's previous lives
were also not in the past, and his death and his return to Brahma are not
in the future. Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality
and presence." (pp. 109-110)
Often they sat together in the evening
on the tree trunk by the river. They both listened silently to the
water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice
of Being, of perpetual Becoming. And it sometimes happened that while
listening to the river, they both thought the same thoughts, perhaps of
a conversation of the previous day, or about one of the travelers whose
fate and circumstances occupied their minds, or death, or their childhood;
and when the river told them something good at the same moment, they looked
at each other, both thinking the same thought, both happy at the same answer
to the same question. (p. 111)
Such teaching, in contemplation of the river,
continued for a long time. Until one day, Siddhartha was to learn
a teaching surpassing all others. Once again, it is his mentor Vasudeva
who directs him to look more deeply and listen more intently to the message
of the World:
"You have heard it laugh," he said,
"but you have not heard everything. Let us listen; you will hear
This is, of course, an elaborate illustration
and expresses the heights of learning and transformation that are possible
in such wide-angled contemplation of the World. An example of how
this teaching is to be found in even the most trivial of details of the
physical world is discovered by reflecting on the shape of the "lowly"
mushroom. While the explanation to follow came to me on my own, I
was to find confirmation of it much afterwards in the thoughts of another
writer as such:
They listened. The many-voiced song of
the river echoed softly. Siddhartha looked into the river and saw
many pictures in the flowing water. He saw his father, lonely, mourning
for his son; he saw himself, lonely, also with the bonds of longing for
his faraway son; he saw his son, also lonely, the boy eagerly advancing
along the burning path of life's desires, each one concentrating on his
goal, each one obsessed by his goal, each one suffering. The river's
voice was sorrowful. It sang with yearning and sadness, flowing towards
"Do you hear?" asked Vasudeva's mute glance.
"Listen better!" whispered Vasudeva.
Siddhartha tried to listen better. The
picture of his father, his own picture, and the picture of his son all
flowed into each other. Kamala's picture also appeared and flowed
on, and the picture of Govinda and others emerged and passed on.
They all became part of the river. It was the goal of all of them,
yearning, desiring, suffering; and the river's voice was full of longing,
full of smarting woe, full of insatiable desire. The river flowed
on towards its goal. Siddhartha saw the river hasten, made up of
himself and his relatives and all the people he has ever seen. All
the waves and water hastened, suffering, towards goals, many goals, to
the waterfall, to the sea, to the current, to the ocean and all goals were
reached and each one was succeeded by another. The water changed
to vapor and rose, became rain and came down again, became spring, brook
and river, changed anew, flowed anew. But the yearning voice had
altered. It still echoed sorrowfully, searchingly, but other voices
accompanied it, voices of pleasure and sorrow, good and evil voices, laughing
and lamenting voices, hundreds of voices, thousands of voices.
Siddhartha listened. He was now listening
intently, completely absorbed, quite empty, taking in everything.
He felt that he had now completely learned the art of listening.
He had often heard all this before, all these numerous voices in the river,
but today they sounded different. He could no longer distinguish
the different voices — the merry voice from the weeping voice, the childish
voice from the manly voice. They all belonged to each other: the
lament of those who yearn, the laughter of the wise, the cry of indignation
and groan of the dying. They were all interwoven and interlocked,
entwined in a thousand ways. And all the voices, all the goals, all
the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil,
all of them together was the world. All of them together was the
stream of events, the music of life. When Siddhartha listened attentively
to this river, to this song of a thousand voices; when he did not listen
to the sorrow or laughter, when he did not bind his soul to any one particular
voice and absorb it in his Self, but heard them all, the whole, the unity;
then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om — perfection.
"Do you hear?" asked Vasudeva's glance once
Vasudeva's smile was radiant; it hovered brightly
in all the wrinkles of his old face, as the Om hovered over all the voices
of the river. His smile was radiant as he looked at his friend, and
now the same smile appeared on Siddhartha's face. His wound was healing,
his pain was dispersing; his Self had merged into unity.
From that hour Siddhartha ceased to fight against
his destiny. There shone in his face the serenity of knowledge, of
one who is no longer confronted with conflict of desires, who has found
salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream
of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream,
belonging to the unity of all things. (pp. 136-139)
Everyone knows that a caterpillar
turns into a butterfly, and for ages the chrysalis process has been a charming
metaphor for transformation. But what does a mushroom turn into,
except for the ground?
Thus, mushrooms, in their umbrella shape, are
symbolic of the U-turn that is necessary in our spiritual evolution in
returning to the ground of existence; they are 'road signs' for the way
hOMe. This is interesting, more so, because mushrooms do in fact
have psychedelic properties and they do, indeed, return us to the "ground,"
as McKenna (1991), among others, so poetically explains.
A mushroom, as Alice discovered, can turn us
into all kinds of new forms. But whether we shrink or expand, grow
as tall as the sky, or become as short as a blade of grass, isn't as important
as the process of turning inward — the spiritual conversion of turning
toward and into the inner life. What really matters is this inner
change, a changing of attitudes, spirit, perception. In this light
whole worldviews can be transformed in an instant.
The mystical experience has been described
as "becoming one with the ground." (Schiff, 1991, p. 9)
The point is that not only is this necessary
in spiritual evolution but that physical reality teaches us this, that
physical reality, if we notice it, is constantly teaching us and guiding
us . . . physical reality is metaphor and is as symbolic as the images
in dreams. Indeed, one's physical reality can be interpreted as readily
as dream images in understanding oneself and seeking guidance on one's
Another example is that of fire. Fire
is a changing of matter into energy. It is no coincidence that it
has become a universal symbol for the process of transformation wherein
one goes from one's personal, ego-based, desires and programs to transpersonal
concerns and rootedness. For, indeed, is this not also a kind of
going from matter (consciousness) and ego (body focusing) to spirit (consciousness)
or energy (feeling awareness)?
This perspective also brings a whole new interpretation
to many of the current unexplainables on the world stage: Crop circles
and UFOs are two I would like to deal with briefly.
But first I want to point out that it should
not be surprising, considering the foregoing, that when there are changes
in psychic structures, there will often be noticeable physical changes
which correspond to the psychic ones.
In a way, this is the implication of Sheldrake's
morphogenetic field theory. On the simplest level of this, scientists
tell us that when learning takes place, evidence can be found of corresponding
changes in the physical brain. Not surprising. Scientists are
not able to reduce learning to physical changes in the brain: They
cannot locate specific memories in the brain, and will never be able to
completely do that, if we are not completely mistaken here. For the
physical changes observable in the brain are merely the tip of the iceberg
of the phenomenon of learning/memory. The real stuff is going on
"below" (more correctly, "inside" or "within" — which is, actually, even
more correctly, the true "outside," the true "without" or "objective"
On grosser levels this is true, according to
Sheldrake's theory of morphogenetic fields. For every physical form
(in the "explicate order," borrowing from Bohm) has its morphogenetic field
or pattern in the "implicate order" (ditto). And since this implicate
order is identical with what we normally call "consciousness" (as we have
been establishing), a subset of which is thought or psyche or
the mental, then what occurs in the realm of the psychic will often
manifest (to us) in physical reality.
A good example of how this occurs can be seen
in the example of UFOs. There is a famous explanation of UFOs by
Jung (1978), in which he stated that UFOs were a representation of our
modern need for wholeness. In Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of
Things Seen in the Skies, Jung attributes this perception of glowing
circular images to a psychic need.
It is interesting that Jung never, in that
book, clearly states whether he thinks UFOs are real or hallucinated, and,
considering the inconclusiveness of our understanding of these sightings,
one can see why. But there may be another reason.
As pointed out earlier, Jung's perception of
reality was very much in line with the premises of this book — that is,
that psychic reality (experience) is the fundamental reality. Thus,
it may be that Jung could not help but foresee the implications of that
viewpoint, as I will set forth here: That is, that UFOs might actually
be a "physical" manifestation (a collective perceptual reality) of that
collective psychic need.
To make this clearer, let me say that I am
thus putting UFOs in the same category of physical reality as the phenomenon,
even more recently emerged, of crop circles. Crop circles are indisputably
physical: They stick around for a while, and there are many photos
of them. And while some crop circles are acknowledged hoaxes, perpetrated
by all too human agents, many others are not to be explained away so easily.
In these instances, circles (once again) are
found written large in fields of cultivated plants. Often, these
circles have elements of mandalas included on them. These mandala qualities
only underscore the interpretation I am making that they also, like the
glowing circular "saucers," are manifestations (symbolically) of a pressing
modern-day need for psychic integration and spiritual-emotional wholeness.
Considering the fact of their placement in
agricultural settings along with my interpretation of the control of nature
— viz., the agrarian revolution — BEING the first fall from grace,
the first split from Nature, first duality, and the beginnings of radical
mistrust and fear; together these considerations lend themselves to a fantastic
conclusion about crop circles' possible meanings for humanity: Is
it possible that these agricultural circles are the way our innermost psyche,
our inner higher unconscious reality is trying to tell us to "get back
to where you once belonged" by placing a sign back at the exact place of
our original detour?! Is it possible it is saying, "O.K., here is
where you screwed up. Go back to GO, go back to wholeness and integration
— the circles, see? Uh, do not collect any two hundred dollars though."
Regardless of one's interpretation of crop
circles, the point is that an opening to the possible understanding of
phenomena such as crop circles arises with the acceptance of the new-paradigm
primacy-of-the-psychic-world postulate — that is, if one simply considers
psychic reality as the true reality and physical reality as only an "epiphenomenon"
of it (instead of the other way around).
More recent understandings of the phenomenon
of UFOs also bring us to conclusions such as these. Psychiatrist
and UFO abduction researcher, John Mack, is insistent about the radically
new view of reality that comes out of our encounter with UFO abduction
phenomena. In his work with treating the trauma caused in abductees
by such "alien abductors," he discovers consistent affronts to our common-sense
views of reality.
As he put it,
One man, for example, says, "When
we witness their coming it is like scrim [a piece of fabric used in a theater
to create the illusion of a solid wall or backdrop], or a movie screen.
When they arrive you are looking at ordinary reality as a movie screen
in the optic nerve. When they come it is like someone shines a bright
light behind the movie screen and obliterates the scene. What we
perceive as the movie screen, what we call reality, they burn through,
proving it's only a construct, a version of reality." (Mack, 1992,
Terry (1992) explains further concerning Mack's
findings and viewpoint:
Mack argues that abductees' reports
point . . . to a world that exists not somewhere out there in the physical
universe, but in an entirely different dimension.
Therefore the physical world cannot be anything
but a manifestation of the psychic in its basic rootedness and concurrence
with the psychic. It follows that the messages that one discovers
in contemplating the phenomena, as "given," of the physical world are endless.
And they are messages both universal and personal, corresponding (exactly,
one might guess) to the fact of there being shared physical realities as
well as individual physical realities (that is, spaces which one sees in
one's unique way, or in which one has sole or near-sole dominion).
"In the experience of the abductees," he says,
"the aliens seem to come from another dimension. They seem to break
through our sense of the reality of this space-time physicalist world,
to come from some other place. Abductees will describe the sense
of space and time collapsing, or of coexistent multiple time dimensions.
"They have the feeling that they have been
introduced to another universe which is just as real as this one, but which
is other-dimensional," he says. "It's as if it's a dimension that
seems to enter our physical world but is not necessarily of our
Although he admits that such possibilities
have yet to be proven by the physical sciences, Mack laments what he calls
"the unwillingness of the official intellectual community to be open-minded
about a reality that doesn't fit their world view." As he sees it,
the abduction phenomenon could ultimately present mankind with a "fourth
blow" to its collective ego. The first, he says, was the Copernican
blow, which proved that man and Earth were not the center of the universe;
the second blow was administered by Darwin, whose findings on evolution
proved that man did not spring from "some higher level of spiritual biology";
and the third blow was delivered by Freud, whose explorations of the unconscious
revealed that man's conscious mind was not all that was in control of his
. . . . Mack sees a more transformational element
to the abductions: an attempt to alert humans to the need for change in
Abductees frequently report that during their
time on alien spacecraft, they are shown powerful visual images of environmental
destruction on Earth. Many return with a passionate commitment to
protect the planet. Mack interprets the warnings, and the increased
awareness among individual abductees, as an attempt to reconnect humans
with a heightened sense of spirituality. It's a quest, he says, best
summed up by the poet Rainer Maia Rilke, who wrote:
"That is at bottom the only courage
is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular
and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has
in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences
that are called "visions," the whole so-called "spirit world," death and
all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying
been so crowded out of life that the senses by which we could have grasped
them are atrophied. To say nothing of God."
Other civilizations, including Eastern and native
cultures, have been far more fluent than the West in communing with experiences
that defy understanding in terms of physical reality, says Mack.
He argues that the Western world of the past few hundred years may have
reached a dead end of sorts — and that the abductee experience may be part
of a move away from the strict confines of materialism.
"It may be that we're on the brink of some
kind of major opening to our proper place in the universe," muses Mack.
"I think, in this society, we're involved in a major epochal shift.
I don't know what the purpose of all this is, but it certainly is some
kind of profound connecting of us beyond ourselves." (Terry, 1992,
WE ARE STARS/ STARS ARE US
Now, as shown by Lawlor especially, this sort
of perception of Reality is the common view of those peoples who we indicate
with pejoratives such as "primitive," "savage," and "uncivilized."
Displaying our fear of our own primal roots in this way, we cut ourselves
off from a perception which has been our birthright for possibly 99 percent
of our existence as a species. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier,
it is a viewpoint our science is beginning to give back to us.
As similarly pointed out, this is the common
perspective of mystics — who we also commonly denigrate and even persecute,
thereby displaying those same things about ourselves in relation to them.
We do these things on the basis of an extremely
recent (in the grand scheme of things) Western hubris and anthropocentrism
which began to reach a peak at the time of the Renaissance in Europe in
the late middle ages. Placing ourselves on pedestals comprised of
our ethnocentric beliefs in an overweening ego and of an all-powerful —
a supreme and superior but unfortunately anthropocentric — "rationalism,"
we presumed ourselves unto gods.
The symbol of this Renaissance "humanism" —
from da Vinci's sketch originally — is that of man, arms and legs wide,
in the center of a circle. And while it is widely acknowledged that
this symbol depicts humanism, it is totally unacknowledged that this is
a perfect representation of anthropocentrism as well. For, in da
Vinci's symbol, "man" is placed in the center of the circle, thus, in the
center of the Universe . . . the world revolves around "him." This
depiction is so much a part of our experience, so much a part of our pedagogy
and culture, that it is only by looking to other cultures, with other perspectives,
that we might by contrast see its significance.
In many parts of the world, the center of the
cosmos, as depicted in a rendering of the center of a circle, would no
doubt be a figure or symbol of Nature, or of the Divine. It might,
for example, be a tree in the center of a circle — e.g., the "tree of life"
— in a great many other, less-dissociated cultures, for example, the vast
majority of the indigenous ones. For those cultures see Nature and
the interconnectedness of Nature as the center of the Universe and themselves
as a part of that larger whole.
Lawlor (1992) says of the Australian Aborigine,
The subjugation and domestication
of plants and animals and all other manipulation and exploitation of the
natural world — the basis of Western civilization and "progress" — were
antithetical to the sense of a common consciousness and origin shared by
every creature and equally with the creators. To exploit this integrated
world was to do the same to oneself. (p. 22)
By contrast, our Western symbol of humanism —
and we see now, anthropocentrism — coincided with vast advances in technology
and science . . . but also — we are only now finally acknowledging — it
coincided with extermination of indigenous peoples (by these same,
so-called, "renaissance" peoples) and with the beginnings of the rape of
nature, which we are now seeing the fruits of in the global environmental
Nevertheless — no doubt because of the impending
ecological crises — this is changing; and more and more this anthropocentrism/"humanism"
is on the wane. The deep ecology movement is the perfect example
of this, but the renewal of interest in primal, indigenous cultures and
in their perspectives is also evidence of this change.
With this change, "man" is no longer the center
of the circle, the center of the Universe. Instead, the Cosmos, or
Nature, is returning to the center of the focus. God is once again
becoming the focus of consciousness and "man's" ego is taking a powder,
so to speak, or, at the least, is stepping aside a bit.
Furthermore, it is interesting that the evolution
of this symbol — viz., from man in the center of the circle to the
Universe in the center of the circle (or life force or consciousness in
the center of the circle) — appears to have gone through the stage of "birthing
into the Universe." This is exemplified, for example, by the symbol
at the conclusion of "2001" wherein the fetus is seen as suspended in the
Cosmos, like a star.
Thus, at this stage — before we actually become
one with the Universe . . . and become just foci of light in the vast universe
of consciousness, i.e., become stars — we go through a process of focusing
on our perinatal origins. In other words, we go through our personal,
pain-driven reality constructions — a product of our earliest experiences
in the womb and at birth — we place them in the center of the universe,
the center of consciousness, and we clear them out. We do this so
we might truly see the Universe as it is, not distorted by our personal
Later, in the stages of evolution of our consciousness,
we no longer are even "babes" (or fetuses) in the universe, but instead
have transcended even that. In this stage the personal disappears
. . . we disappear (in the symbol) . . . and then the Universe alone
This is the stage described in Buddhism as
the waterdrop becoming one with the ocean ("the dewdrop slips into the
shining sea"). It is expressed by Sathya Sai Baba as a stage when
the individual disappears into God, or becomes one with God. And
it is exemplified everywhere in Zen Buddhism, especially in Zen art, which
likewise depicts naked Nature — i.e., a consciousness truly reflecting,
in an undistorted way, that which is, or, one might say, the still lake
that perfectly reflects the sky and moon. It is also wonderfully
depicted in the final frame of the eight ox-herding symbols, where neither
ox nor herder is visible, and all that is, is Nature Unsullied.
So it is in this sense, at this stage, that
we see ourselves not as the center of the Universe, and not even as babes
(our "inner child"-ren) in the Universe. But we have physically disappeared
from the center of the circle (the center of consciousness). We are
then simple awareness, simple foci of consciousness in the vast expanse
of the Universe.
We are much like the stars in the vastness
of the sky . . . points of light, or awareness, with the awareness from
each of us in this gigantic hologram of What Is traveling everywhere else
in the Universe, to everyone else of us and interconnecting us all and
participating us all in the reality of the whole; just as the light from
the stars travels everywhere in the Universe, to all the other stars in
the Universe, interconnecting, through every-traveling and infinite light,
each and every one of them.
So it is, once again, in the example of the
stars and our individual points of awareness, that the physical universe
again reflects the spiritual/metaphysical reality of us . . . ever teaching,
as it were, ever showing, and demonstrating to us . . . ever hoping, so
to speak, that we will just look up and see . . . and in so doing come
to realize our true nature, our true place in the universe of awareness,
free, once again, from the limitations (and suffering) of attachment to
form (of attachment to reflection, of attachment to delusion).
Or, as Lawlor (1992) phrased it, in describing
the worldview of the indigenous Australian Aborigines:
While the Aborigines refer to the
forces and powers that created the world as their Creative Ancestors, they
believe all creatures — from stars to humans to insects — share in the
consciousness of the primary creative force, and each, in its own way,
mirrors a form of that consciousness. In this sense the Dreamtime
stories perpetuate a unified world view. This unity compelled the
Aborigines to respect and adore the earth as if it were a book imprinted
with the mystery of the original creation. (p. 20)
The Dreamtime stories extended a universal
and psychic consciousness not only to every living creature, but also to
the earth and the primary elements, forces and principles. Each component
of creation acts out of dreams, desires, attractions and repulsions, just
as we humans do. Therefore, the entrance into the larger world of
space, time and universal energies and fields was the same as the entrance
into the inner world of consciousness and dreaming. Exploration of
the vast universe and a knowledge of the meaning of creation was experienced
through an internal and external knowledge of self. (p. 20)
The Dreamtime creation myths of the Aborigines
guided them to see the physical world as a language, as a metamorphosis
of invisible spirit, psychological and ethical realms. In this way,
the Aboriginal involvement with the physical world includes and resonates
with all other aspects of human experience. (p. 22)
AND PLEIADIENS ARE STARS TOO!
A fascinating extrapolation of this we-are-stars
idea is the fact that much of the channeling/UFO stuff that is emerging
concerns those "aliens" coming from "the Pleiades." That is, that
these "beings," who are able to come to us by mechanical means or psychically,
depending upon our ability to accept the inner world, might be considered
other foci of consciousness within the "inner" psychic universe that are
reflected in the outside universe as the star system Pleiades.
In other words, rather than being humanoids
like us who happen to have flown in spaceships from other planets in that
part of outer space (a very anthropocentric view), they may actually be
the star system itself, or more correctly, they may be the psychic foci
in the That Which Truly Is of consciousness that gets reflected as a "star
system" which we label Pleiades, in the way we create all the rest of the
physical world out of the pure "mind-stuff" of the universe.
An interesting sidelight on this has to do
with how this interpretation helps explain the UFO abduction phenomenon.
If these are, indeed, psychic forces that are attempting to aid us and
will come to us in any way that makes any sense to us, then it is understandable
that they can come as spaceship jockeys for the technologically and materialistically
minded Westerner, but they can also appear as the Mother Mary to the devout
Catholic (these sightings are also on the upsurge), can appear as
any of a number of gods or sages to the Hindu; or can appear as a grandfather
figure or as some sort of supernatural being in an indigenous culture,
and so on.
Herein we have a parallel to what Castaneda
expressed in his descriptions of the allies who in reality are just forces
or "lights" but can be seen as everything from monsters to "leering men."
We also see parallels to John Lilly's descriptions of the allies that came
to him in his experiences.
An important aspect of this, again using the
example of Castaneda, is how we manage to distort these encounters.
It follows from our fallenness from grace into physical form that whatever
we experience will be framed within the parameters of limitations imposed
by our separation from the All That Is in this particular set of delusions
which we call the biological body of the species human. But we know
that our encounter with these foci of consciousness will be further distorted
by our cultural apparatus (representing the second separation . . . second
fall from spiritual grace) and thus, not only will they come in some way
physical or humanoid or form-like to us, representing that first instance
of the fall as depicted in the creation of a physical species constitution,
but they will also come colored with our cultural paintbrush (and therefore
appear as Mother Mary, space pilots, or Trickster, depending).
But finally, and extremely importantly, they
will be further distorted and clothed by our personal experience in this
separated state and, thus, very profoundly by our traumatic experiences
here, especially our earliest ones. What I am saying is that these
spiritual foci of consciousness will be further colored by our individual
pain. It is in this sense that Castaneda talks about the allies appearing
like monsters to one person (in this case, himself) and to another person
(la Gorda) as lecherous men who want her as a woman. In other words
one's personal fears, borne of one's experiences of pain and trauma pervade
our perceptions of these helping "psychic spots"; we see them through the
"fog" of our individual vapors of pain.
This understanding is important because it
explains how these encounters — in the form they are taking in our culture
currently, that is, as UFO "abductions" — contain so many reflections of
birth trauma (see Lawson, 1985, 1987).
Yet, as John Mack (1992) makes clear, there
is a tendency for a kind of evolution in the understandings of some abductees
concerning what is happening to them as they go about therapeutically processing
their feelings about the experiences. What was initially traumatic
becomes transformative; what was frightening turns into an intensely meaningful
experience of powerful bonding. Therefore, while these entities might
be seen at first as frightening assailants, they are later seen as guides
toward a greater role and an expanded identity, often centered around an
This has interesting correlations with Campbell's
well-known portrayal of the "refusal of the call" during the "hero's journey."
Thompson (1989) saw this connection to the
abductees as well. As he put it,
"Refusing the call," writes Campbell,
"represents the hero's hope that his or her present system of ideals, virtues,
goals, and advantages might be fixed and made secure through the act of
denial." But no such luck is to be had: "One is harassed, both
night and day, by the divine being that is the image of the living self
within the locked labyrinth of one's own disordered psyche. The ways
to the gates have all been locked: there is no exit." (p. 127)
This idea that aliens — whether "channeled" or
encountered — are somehow connected with our higher or our "future selves"
is common currency in UFO circles into which I've stumbled. The important
point, however, is that we do not see them that way at first. Initially,
these forces are imbued with all the pain and "garbage" from our polluted
inner worlds, especially with that emanating from our particularly severe
birth trauma. Or, as Jung phrased it, one at first sees a god as
a demon until one is "wholly" enough to recognize him.
Thus, abductees may color their experiences
with elements of being poked and prodded, of having things inserted into
them, of being surrounded by alien medical-type beings in a laboratory
setting, of having "samples" removed from them for testing, and of being
swooped from one place to another without any control or say on their part.
Compare this with what might be an infant's interpretation of their experience
upon coming out of the ordeal of birth into a brightly lit room of masked
medical personnel and weighed on cold scales, having thermometers stuck
up them, having suctions and fingers inserted into their mouth with their
jaws stretched wide, having medical samples taken from them for testing
for various indicators of health and possible disease, being roughly scrubbed,
and then moved to strange places where they are left for periods before
being moved around again. And then there are all the other aspects
of the perinatal which color the experience as described by Lawson.
This is not, however, to say, as Lawson
does, that these experiences are not in some sense real, or that they are
entirely derivative of birth trauma. I can say this emphatically
for I myself have had at least the one experience described earlier — the "Sure It's Hard!" experience
— which contained many of the elements of a UFO abduction. But it
had none of the usually reported painful, perinatal-reminiscent elements
at all. It was the most unusual experience of my life, and was incredibly
profound. But I called it "vision," and "grace," not an abduction.
I am not claiming to be special; my experience
was not completely without apprehension and fearfulness. Furthermore,
from Mother Mary in the Bible to John Lilly and Terence McKenna currently,
people have frequently reported encounters with higher entities — whether
termed visitations from angels or experiences of "the Other," "Logos,"
or "allies." It is also possible that the fact that I had been processing
my birth, in a deep experiential way, for several years before my "abduction"
may have had something to do with the relative lack of perinatal overlay
in my experience.
Reversing that possibility reveals another
dimension: The fact that Western culture is the only known culture
to have so perverted the natural birthing process — with high-tech and
sterile gadgetry, drugs, and machine-like efficiency — may account for
the cuttingly stark medical tuxedos in which we outfit our modern angels.
It may also help explain why the encounter would initially seem extra-threatening
and painful in modern times — and in that particular perinatal-reflecting
way. After all, it is said of Jesus's disciples that they "fell on
their face, and were sore afraid" at the time of the Transfiguration and
the appearance of Moses and Elijah. But nowhere do we see anything
like being medically examined and probed in these earlier visitations.
Compare also the past-life experiences that
people report. In one sense, this explanation supports Janov in his
pointing out the personal trauma elements of so-called past-life memories.
Yet, in the same manner that one's pain, and especially perinatal pain,
colors and "constitutes" one's encounter with these other foci of consciousness,
might it not also color and imbue one's past-life memories? That
is, is it possible that, contrary to Janov, there actually are memories
from other times trying to come through, but that unintegrated pain elements
from this life are mixed with them. That is, not that the past-life
part is not there or is not coming through, but that one's remembering
of it and one's interpretation of it is not going to be correct until one
clears away the competing and interfering this-life elements.
Look at it this way. It is like when
you are picking up a channel on your radio but there is too much static
obscuring it, or, maybe a better analogy, when that particular band is
picking up from two channels at once, so that you — and I am sure we have
all had this experience at one time or other — are hearing parts of both
broadcasts intermingled. Thus, you hear, say, a Beatles tune on one
channel at the same time as a fundamentalist preacher on the "religious"
channel — an irritating combination, no doubt, from either end of the cultural
At times you hear the music clearly, with only
some faint rhetorical rhythms in the background; at other times, you hear
the heavy pounding of fundamentalist verbiage, with only a sweet yearning
harmonious tinge to it.
In this example, if you do not know otherwise,
how do you interpret your experience? If you are hearing the pounding
rhetoric foremost, let us say, do you not interpret this experience in
the cataclysmic, assaultive, and brimstone terms of the punishing preacher
talk? Of course you do. Yet does this mean that the Beatles
song does not exist? Of course it does not.
Similarly, and this is the way we have observed
this process to work, as you clear out and recognize the personal-pain
aspects of the bombastic preacher overlay, you are more able to tune-in
to and clearly take in and appreciate the harmonious and loving Beatles
At first all you did was get access to something
beyond yourself — i.e., you turned on the radio. Your interpretation
of your radio experience is obviously going to be colored by all aspects
of what you pick up at this time. It may be a while before — in looking
within, or in gaining access, or in having transpersonal encounters — you
are able to discriminate the personal from the transpersonal and to hear
the underlying heavenly rhythm.
In sum, it is not that the encounters with
alien entities or the emergence of past-life memories are either exactly
false and derivative of underlying pain (as Lawson and Janov would have
it) or that they are entirely accurate (as Mack and past-life therapists
would have it). It is possible instead that the truth lies in a "both
- and" — a paradox (as is so often the case on these borderlines of the
ordinary). It may just be that these realities and memories are real,
that these experiences do really happen . . . but that our interpretations
and perceptions of them are highly distorted by our individual pain.
In the same way Jacob, in the movie "Jacob's Ladder," could only see demons
hounding him until he had relinquished attachment to his former self and
finally saw what they truly were — angels attempting to midwife him into
the next higher stage of his ascension to hOMe.
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Copyright © 1999 by Michael Derzak Adzema
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