Hitching a Ride to Other Worlds
Each of us lives inside the sphere of our own experience. Our perceptions, memories and beliefs make up our world. In time we acquire assumptions about what is real and possible, which is fine for getting around in our familiar world. But sometimes (sooner or later, I would say) things happen that trigger something totally unexpected.
One example are close encounters with death. What looks terribly, horribly bad suddenly opens to a greater reality. The person is radically changed in ways that seem altogether positive—emotional, paranormal and mystical. A human being can suddenly undergo a complete transformation. The evidence points to something normally hidden but potentially capable of sudden manifestation.
And that raises a question. How do we tap into these transformative powers that lie latent within us? We don’t have to be near-death for the gates of inspiration to open for us. The inspiration sometimes likes to initiate contact and orchestrate our transformation. It may happen to persons into spiritual practice or to random bystanders.
Levitation, bilocation, apports and teleportation are very dramatic displays of supernormal hijinks. But our psychic powers are more subtle in the way they insert their suggestions and intrusions. So-called “false feedback” is one way. Arrange it so that someone thinks they have done something paranormal; they will then suddenly produce real paranormal effects.
There is also a contagion effect. Paranormally well-endowed folk are known to temporarily impart their strange abilities to others. Lots of stories about imparting immunity to fire. Come to think of it, this would seem the right evolutionary response to the current heating up of our planet.
I had a student once with a curious talent. Give him a ring or lock of hair or any token of some person and he would casually rattle off true facts about the object or that person. He insisted I could do as he did and tested me. He was right, but it worked only when I was around him.
There are stories of people who while witnessing the near-death of somebody are drawn into the visionary experience themselves. An interesting way to hitch a ride into the next world. What I want to suggest is that traffic in and out of our normal experience is much greater than we suppose. The reason is that the two worlds are adjacent to one another and separated by barriers that are not impassible.
Suppose there really is a hidden dimension of reality where we can travel about in space and time in ways that are normally impossible. The point about this “other” world that seems so remote is how “close” to us it really is. Closeness in spirit is based on feeling. Closeness in physical space has nothing to do with feeling but is measured numerically.
To see just how close we are to a larger mental world, we can observe ourselves. Watching a movie, say, hovering on the edge of sleep (it’s been a long day), suddenly you slip into a hypnagogic state and are surrounded by strange people, all with vividly real and unique facial expressions. Some are looking straight at you and some right through you.
In one instant you went from your waking physical world into a totally different world. The example I just gave was my experience, just one among countless possibilities.
We live close to the edge of another dimension of reality. We underrate the mystery of our dream life, our private vestibule into the greater mind. Our waking world we know through reason and sense experience; the dream world that we periodically visit is totally different. Nevertheless, it is a doorway to a greater mental life.
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer underscores the otherness of dream reality, and writes that the dream “stands out as something wholly foreign and extraneous which, like the outside world, forces itself on us without our intervention and even against our will. . . . All its objects appear to be definite and distinct, like reality itself.” He quotes Aristotle, “a dream is sensation (aisthema), in a certain way.” Another philosopher, H. H. Price, has argued that the dream may well be our best model for an afterlife world. Price and C.D. Broad also argue that our dream life is still active when we are awake, busy dealing with the external world.
The main point here. Our actual minds extend more widely and deeply than they might normally appear. We need a concept of mind that reveals—not conceals—the full reality of our inner potential. We’ve been bullied by reductive science into a one-dimensional view of ourselves. But the facts imply a multiverse of mind & consciousness. All the facts point to the reality of a greater mind,. But for most of us this means nothing. It might be compared to living a hardscrabble life, oblivious to the wealth one has scattered in many banks.
Again, I want to stress: the greater mind overflows into the psyches of certain people. A Canadian psychiatrist, Richard Bucke (1837-1902) had spent time with friends reading and discussing the Romantic poets; on his way home, driven inside a hansom, he was in a relaxed state. Then, suddenly, he had an experience, like no other, that changed his life and issued in a book about people who had the same kind of experience he had. He called the book Cosmic Consciousness.
Here’s what Bucke wrote (about himself in the third person): “All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped round as it were by a flame-colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next he knew the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exaltation, of immense joyousness accompanied or followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary-lightning flash of Brahmic splendor, leaving thenceforward for always an after-taste of Heaven . . ..”
It’s hard to read this and countless similar reports and not acknowledge the perennial intuition: the mind and consciousness that I am is an inlet to a greater mind and consciousness that I may become. How that may happen is for each of us to discover in our own way.