The Mind’s Eye

January 15, 2016 § 13 Comments

By Tai Woodville

cosmos in skull, pineal gland, third eye

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” ~ Matthew 6:22

“This life’s dim windows of the soul / distorts the heavens from pole to pole / and leads you to believe a lie / when you see with, not through, the eye.” ~ William Blake

Something interesting is happening. Currently, and for the past several months, the number one most searched out post on Parallax is “The Art of Seeing: Third Eye Perception & The Mystical Gaze.”

www.weheartit.com

Everyday someone finds Parallax through typing “Why do I see a spinning tunnel when I shut my eyes” (or some similar variant) into their search engine. According to WordPress’ statistical analysis, these are trending key words.

Given the fact that third eye “awakenings”—as these activations are known—are traditionally associated with deepened or expanded consciousness, I’d say this bodes well for the trajectory of humanity. And let’s face it: we could all use a little good news in that department.

the road within, third eye vision art

The ever-expanding comments section of this popular post has become a veritable reference guide for everyday descriptions of a subject often obscured by abstract esoteric language. I’m thrilled to report it has become an active forum of discussion.

Four years ago, when I wrote “The Art of Seeing,” the subject seemed hazardously “woo”—it felt like going out on a limb. Now it seems more relevant than abstract. Because apparently a lot of people are having these experiences….and looking to the internet for answers.

third eye, how to open your third eye, http://www.jonathontwiz.com/2012/12/22/a-brief-guide-to-expanding-your-mind/[From “A Brief Guide To Expanding Your Mind.”]

So I thought it might be an apt time for a follow-up. I’ve had my eye on this subject—haha—for a while now, and definitely harbor a few more insights to offer in terms of practical application.

But first, what do I mean by a “third eye experience?” For me, it meant that during meditations (and I’m no yogi; I’m more of a ‘5 minutes in the bath’ type,) I began to see a subtle but definite spinning sphere in the darkness of my closed eyes. Sometimes it seemed to approach, yet in a teasing way, never “arriving.” Then one day I realized it looked more like a tunnel, or wormhole, than a sphere. This was a common thread in reader comments.

wormhole660x400

The idea of a chakra, or energy center, in the midpoint of the skull that acts as a channel for higher consciousness dates back to ancient Eastern literature, from Hinduism to Buddhism. It also figures prominently into ancient Egyptian iconography.

Though there are slight cultural variations in description (and of course mythology), the essential idea remains the same: the third eye is a conduit for extrasensory perception, a receptor for subtle visioning that each human possess. It is a recurring spiritual motif of the ancient world, which has continued in various occult societies, and through the direct experiences of meditation practitioners & clairvoyants, into the modern age.

[Personal Tao.]

In modern times the third eye has been linked with the pineal gland, as a physical counterpart to this energetic center (though many speculate the link has been made as far back as ancient Egypt.)

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The pineal gland is responsible for producing melatonin, for light detection, and for regulating sleep patterns, as well as circadian rhythms. It is located exactly between the two brain hemispheres. Interestingly, the pineal gland of modern humans is often calcified, mostly from flouride & cell phone exposure. (Click here to see how to help decalcify it.)

Being that the pineal gland is associated with connecting to higher consciousness, the fact that the number one dulling agent is added, by government decree, to our drinking water begins to take on a sinister, dystopian quality, not missed by the conspiracy theorists of the world.

http://consciouslifenews.com/how-to-open-third-eye-pineal/1138045/

What is happening on a scientific level? Well, we don’t know for sure. But “scientists believe [that] the same way that fireflies and deep-sea creatures can glow, cells within our eyes emit biophotons, or biologically produced light particles.” [“Why Do We See Colors With Our Eyes Closed.”]

In other words, the lights we see when we shut our eyes (called phosphenes) are coming from our brain. Which does not seem at all incompatible with metaphysical interpretations of third eye activity, particularly when you bring the physical pineal gland into the whole operation.

bioluminescent deep sea creature, bioluminescent animal

“Is it possible to really ‘see’ energy? Not directly,” explains Taoist Casey Kochmer. “While our eyes can see the end results of energy in action [they] only ‘see’ what they are designed to see, light. What our third eye does is process information and then overlay that information over our other senses in such a way we can then interpret and interact with energy…

“Auras are such an information overlay. Your brain has the ability to process visual information, but the image it creates for you is not limited to what comes from your eyes. Consider what you see on this page as you read it. You aren’t seeing black lines. You are seeing words and then concepts and ideas overlaid on top of them.” (“What Is The Third Eye?”, Personal Tao.)

[Manzel Bowman]

Part Two … coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Tending The Inner Fire ~ Reflections On The Eve of The New Year

December 31, 2015 § 29 Comments

Happy New Years magical gif

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Basho

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

“Do not conform to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ Romans 12:2

Greetings, fellow questers! I’m thrilled to be writing to you today, on the eve of 2016, because it means we have survived another year, and find ourselves poised on the cusp of a fresh opportunity to thrive.

Transformation, art, Taylor James, human metamorphosis, site credit: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/human-metamorphosis-15-pics

The year in global news has not been pretty, to put it lightly. In fact, it has been chilling. Senseless violence (which is perhaps a redundant term) seems to be spreading across the globe.

We argue about the causes & debate the solutions, while political pundits & other power hungry puppeteers exploit our fears to further self-serving agendas.

But we must not lose heart: the more dark the world, the more important our light.

Glow in the dark, art

Of course, “darkness” & “light” are placeholder terms, representing far more complex, elusive ideas. In this context, I’m using the metaphor of darkness as a stand-in for violence, cruelty, abuse; and “light” as a stand-in for what affirms life, is constructive & lifts us up.

They are insufficient metaphors, but they’ll do for now. All words are but placeholders, signifying ideas whose scope language can not contain, but only nod towards—yet we must not confuse the finger pointing at the moon with the moon itself.

image

The metaphor of darkness & light is a useful one in this context.

For darkness itself is not a presence, but an absence of light (reminding us that cruelty only thrives where empathy & awareness are not cultivated). It also extends to our own inner essence: like a fire we can either ignore it while it dims to an ember, or tend it, feed it tinder & blow on the flame. Even the most neglected fire, when fed, can again rise to its former glory & beyond.

And all it takes is a single struck match to illuminate a dark room.

sparkler gif

And so it becomes more important than ever, in this climate of fear & anxiety that dominates the world at this time, to tend the inner fire.

Only by turning inward can we increase the strength of our own luminosity (awareness, personal power, realization of our potential), which we can then turn outward to better light the world.

from Stellar Series by Ignacio Torres, www.ignacio-torres.com/projects/stellar/#

Yet where there is pain, there is the urge to numb, and society is right there with a bevy of opportunities to do so: from social media to comfort “fast” food. Smart phones may increase communication, but they also literally put a world of distraction at our fingertips, and so isolation—from our inner selves, from other people—is also increased.

The turning toward distraction, interrupted by soundbites of traumatizing world & local news, becomes a self-feeding cycle of despair. And the further we feel from ourselves, the more we seek solace in escape.

We must interrupt this cycle in whatever way makes the most sense to us, in context of our lives. The eve of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on what form this might take for us.

nature and human, woman ocean, you are somebody

I have more to say on these subjects & I look forward to exploring them in future posts— offering up my own struck match in the forthcoming months of 2016. But for now I’ll just wish you an illuminating new year….And leave you with the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Happy 2016, fellow travelers!  Here’s to feeding the inner fire; to lighting up the night!

"Stellarscapes" by Oriol Angrill Jordà

 

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

January 1, 2015 § 15 Comments

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“The journey itself is home.” ~ Basho

“The only journey is the one within.” ~ Rilke

January 1st 2015

As we move from one year to the next, we can not help but reflect upon where we’ve been & where we are going. Who we have been & who we wish to become.

on-the-road-again-susanne-van-hulst“On The Road Again,” by Susanne Van Hulst

The Uranus/Pluto square which began in 2012 comes to a close in 2015.

“Lives have been turned upside down,” notes astrologist Sarah Varcos, “perspectives forever shifted, circumstances reshaped beyond recognition. We have lost the things, people and places we thought we could never live without and discovered new ways of being we thought were never possible.

“Some people have been touched more deeply than others. Some in resoundingly positive ways. Others have faced what has looked and felt like devastation.

“In very basic terms Uranus is sudden, unavoidable change and Pluto is destructive and/or creative power. When these two work together shocks and surprises are guaranteed, as is rebirth from the rubble of destruction and the possibility of a new life if we rise to the challenge and steel ourselves to ride the waves and see where we finally come to rest..”

Phoenix_detail_from_Aberdeen_BestiaryAberdeen Bestiary detail (12th C.)

Pluto—named after the Greek god of the underworld—associated with intense growth at any cost, barreled through our lives, ripping up all false truths and shallow roots, often painfully.

“Nothing and no one has been protected from the destructively creative grace conjured by the cosmos these past few years,” notes Varcos.  “The challenge for so many has been to let go and trust, to embrace the changes brought about no matter how devastating they may have felt at the time. To look into the darkness, of self, of other, of life and to recognize that within it lays the deepest wisdom, the most enduring truths.”

shadow, shell, golden ratio, golden mean

On a collective level, the conversation surrounding rankism & the struggle of the marginalized has deepened & broadened, rising in visibility. (“Spectors of Oppression: Human Dignity & The Meaning of Difference.)  In the spirit of Pluto, it has been intense, uncomfortable & necessary.

“This past year has been about acknowledging and owning the personal and collective shadow in order to recognize that it is not some dreadful realm to be feared, rejected and denied but simply another part of ourselves to be embraced, accepted and, in doing so, brought into the wholeness of all that we are.”

Pluto & Proserpine“Pluto & Proserpine”

Varcas notes that the theme for 2015 could be summed up as “show up, own up & step up; no holds barred!” (Read it here.)

This year we are asked to live the truths we’ve discovered over the past few years of struggle, not just when we feel motivated, but as a constant ongoing statement of who we are.

Taylor James, human metaphors is, site credit: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/human-metamorphosis-15-pics“Human Metaphmorphosis” series by Taylor James

For me, these past few years have entailed tremendous personal loss as well as profound self-discovery & growth. I’ve found my ability to survive (and even thrive amid) these times has depended greatly on my perspective of each trial as an initiation into deepened levels of awareness. Transformation is an essential touchstone of my journey. (Self Renewal & The Art of Transformation.)

Learning to know myself, accept who I am & act as much as possible in accordance with my own authenticity has been essential (Authenticity & The False Self.) 

This focus on self-reclaimation lead me to make contact with the singing center of my own being, which I came to recognize as Soul, the inner Wisdom Keeper. (Soul-Retrival.)

soul, angelic being

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? 

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking

so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone

and as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marian Williamson, “A Return To Love.”

sparkler gif

Happy New Year.

On on, brave travelers!

Activating A State Of Flow

October 25, 2014 § 1 Comment

wave art“In flow, concentration becomes so laser-focused that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self-consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates.” ~Steven Kotler

“When a person invests all her psychic energy into an interaction—whether it is with another person, a boat, a mountain, or a piece of music—she in effect becomes part of a system of action greater than what the individual self had been before. “ ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow is that feeling of being in “the zone,” when every choice you make lands perfectly, gaining momentum & feeding itself. The musician in the groove, the surfer united with the wave. The great conversation in which you lose track of time.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—who first pioneered the concept of “flow” as a study—has observed the commonality between all these states of optimal performance. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman,” summarizes flow as a state of “near-perfect decision-making.”

Harold Eugene EdgertonHarold Eugene Edgerton

Csikszentmihalyi performed the largest global happiness survey to date. “He talked to everybody that he could possibly imagine,” relays Kotler.

“From Detroit assembly line workers to Japanese teenage motorcycle gang members, elderly Korean women, Navajo sheep herders, expert dancers, expert neurosurgeons. Everybody agreed that when they felt their best and were at their best, they felt flowy. Every decision, every action led perfectly, seamlessly, fluidly to the next. That’s where the term comes from.”

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Neurobiolgically, it is possible to pinpoint exactly what is happening during flow states: the prefrontal cortex temporarily deactivates. This is the area responsible for executive functioning or self-monitering. Management of cognitive processes like the judgement of good & bad/better & best, as well a social control—like the ability to regulate urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes. We become less self-critical & more courageous.

The brain—taking up just 2% of our body weight & using 20% of our energy—is required to be extremely energy efficient. When resources are needed for concentration & attention, it performs an efficiency exchange & switches to subconscious processes, which bypass the inner critic & draws on a larger reservoir of knowledge.

neil craverNeil Craver, from the “OmniPhantasmic” series

During flow the brain releases a cascade of pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing neurochemistry. Large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide & serotonin flood our system. These chemicals—the most addictive cocktail the brain can produce—have considerable impact on creativity.

“Both norepinephrine and dopamine amp up focus, boosting imaginative possibilities by helping us gather more information,” details Kotler. “They also lower signal-to-noise ratios, increasing pattern recognition or our ability to link ideas together in new ways. Anandamide, meanwhile, increases lateral thinking—meaning it expands the size of the database searched by the pattern recognition system.”

Lena Smirnova | mountains, sky and geometric northern lightsLena Smirnova 

When the brain encounters the overwhelming complexity of a starry sky or a grand canyon, “reality seems to pause, if only for a second,” relates Kotler. “The conscious mind—what’s technically called the ‘explicit system’—can only hold about seven bits of information at once. This is why phone numbers are only seven digits long.

“But the subconscious mind—the ‘implicit system’—has no such limit. Thus, when we encounter overwhelming complexity, we trade conscious processing for subconscious processing.” (“The Rise of Superman.”)

e017198caa8422362b0fe3f3e7f188dc ‘Man Juggling His Own Head. Saint Thomas D’Aquin. 1880 

Flow state can be broken down into a four stage cycle.

The first is struggle. Though it feels like the opposite of flow, this is the brainstorming stage, the period of pushing, reaching, training. Overloading the brain with information or taxing the body with new challenges.

“Most people never push this first stage far enough,” notes Kotler, “which is why they constantly miss the doorway to the flow experience.”

Relaxation is the second stage.

“This is when you take your mind off the problem entirely, taking a break, going for a walk or doing something physical,” remarks Kotler. He notes that it’s not the same as watching television or some other distraction that keeps your brain busy. “It’s about relaxing the brain so the conscious mind lets the subconscious mind take over. Many people miss this break and as a result are constantly in overload and burnout, missing flow altogether.”

1082079850Neil Craver, from the “OmniPhantasmic” series

The third stage is Flow—that blissful, much-sought state of being. This is the experience of optimal performance. Self & time disappear. The inner critic takes a break. Action & awareness become one. Preparation meets relaxation & expresses itself almost magically. Inspiration takes over.

Consolidation concludes the cycle. Learning & memory are amplified, synthesizing the experience of flow & folding it back into your subconscious in preparation for returning to stage one. As the feel-good neurochemicals of flow recede, it can be easy to “go on a down,” Kotler notes, which leads to an emotional reaction—& often self-sabatoge—in an attempt to regain the flow state.

“The key here is not to let this stress block the learning or reverse the results of being in flow, but to move smoothly back to the next phase of struggle and repeat the cycle.”

Bohumil KröhnBohumil Kröhn

Part Two Coming Soon!

*I’d like to thank my dear friend & fellow blogger Alisha Westerman (check out her blog!) for brining my attention to Steven Kotler’s very interesting podcast: Steven Kotler & The Rise of Superman. 


Beyond Division: Studies in Bliss

August 13, 2014 § 14 Comments

il_570xN.197907530“Nepenthe, Goddess of Bliss” by: Emily Balivet

“I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sight and sound around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once, like an atmosphere, sustaining me […] Every little pine-needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me again.’

~ Henry David Thoreau

As Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell returned from the moon, he beheld Earth from the spacecraft window. In that moment he had a life-changing experience for which his scientific background had not prepared him.

“I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft had been manufactured in an ancient generation of stars. It wasn’t just intellectual knowledge—it was a subjective visceral experience accompanied by ecstasy—a transformational experience.”

earth-from-space-1

The experience was so powerful that when he got back to Earth, Mitchell started digging into various literatures to try to understand his experience.

“I found nothing in science literature but eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi, Savikalpa samadhi, were exactly what I felt: it is described as seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy.” (“Samadhi In Space.”)

Mitchell went on to found “The Institute for Noetic Sciences” to study consciousness-related experiences, such as his, through a scientific lens.

earth reflected in eye

While terms like “bliss” & “ecstasy” sound vague & faraway to most of us, these states are actually quite natural, glimpses of which need not follow years of dedicated medication.

In a study, 3000 people who claimed to have had spontaneous mystical experiences were asked what had triggered them. The four major triggers were:

1. Depression/despair 2. Prayer/meditation, 3. Natural beauty 4. Participation in religious worship. (I would imagine psychedelics are also high on the list! Though perhaps not in the demographic sampled.)

cosmos in brain

Metaphysical author Eckhart Tolle famously described an experience of intense despair proceeding a monumental shift in consciousness, which would become, for him, an awakening.

During a sleepless night of “almost unbearable” depression, a thought came to Tolle: “I can not live with myself.” The answering thought became like a kōan: “Who is the “I” who can not live with the “self?”

In Zen, the koan—a seemingly answerless riddle with profound implications, designed to break down ordinary ways of thinking & stun the analytic mind into awakening—is a traditional technique to induce satori.

zen koan

Savikalpa samadhi is a Hindu term for the temporary, exalted state of consciousness wherein the subject retains his or her sense of self, but at the same time, awareness expands into an experience of divine cosmic consciousness, or universal oneness. The Hindu tradition calls this Brahman: “the ineffable unchanging reality amidst & beyond the world,” translating directly as “being-consciousness-bliss.”

East Indian poet & mystic Sri Chinmoy observes: “Nature’s dance stops. There is no movement. Everything is tranquil. The Knower and the Known have become totally One. The lover and the Beloved have become One. The Yogi enjoys a supremely divine, all-pervading, self-amorous ecstasy.”

In Zen Buddhism, this euphoric state of peace is known as satori, which literally means “to understand.” It is the goal of meditation practice. A brief but clear glimpse into the awakened state of satori is known as kenshō, which translates as “seeing into one’s true nature or essence.”

Freeing-the-Bird-1

20th century Zen master Keido Fukushima describes his first kensho experience, a glimpse into satori:

“At Nanzenji there is a small hill. I used to walk near there, look at it, and often smile at the high school students who walked by there as well. One day as I walked by, I looked at the hill and it was truly amazing. I was totally lost as if there was no ‘me’. I stood gazing at the hill. Some students walked by and one of them said something like ‘look at that crazy monk’. Finally I came out of it. Life was never the same for me. I was free.”

friendly hill

British novelist Forrest Reid describes a beautiful experience of classic Kensho:

“It was as if I had never realized before how lovely the world was. I lay down on my back in the warm, dry moss and listened to the skylark singing as it mounted up from the fields near the sea into the dark clear sky. No other music ever gave me the same pleasure as that passionately joyous singing. It was a kind of leaping, exultant ecstasy, a bright, flame-like sound, rejoicing in itself. And then a curious experience befell me.

“It was as if everything that had seemed to be external and around me were suddenly within me. The whole world seemed to be within me. It was within me that the trees waved their green branches, it was within me that the skylark was singing, it was within me that the hot sun shone, and that the shade was cool.

“A cloud rose in the sky, and passed in a light shower that pattered on the leaves, and I felt its freshness dropping into my soul, and I felt in all my being the delicious fragrance of the earth and the grass and the plants and the rich brown soil. I could have sobbed with joy.”

man and nature, one with natureChristoffer Relander

In the West, a typical kensho experience is more likely to be called a “mystical experience.” Pioneering American psychologist William James identified four key characteristics common to the mystical experience:

1) Ineffability (elusive to capture in language; hard or impossible to describe the subtle nuances to another in all their import & grandeur.)

2) Noetic quality (a sense of timelessness & unity with all things, illumination or knowing beyond the grasp of intellect.)

3) Transiency (It is rare to sustain a transcendent mystical experience for more than half an hour; though time appears to stand still, in linear time the mystical experience usually lasts for only a few minutes…a few hours at best. Though longer periods have been reported.)

4) Passivity (the individual feels swept up & buoyed by a force greater than themselves.)

Cosmic Man, site credit: www.tsgarp-mysticlight.blogspot.com/2012_02_05_archive.html

I came across the word “kensho” in my internet search to find a term that described my own experiences of euphoric, peaceful interconnectivity. Mine came about as a result of intentional vision questing, with the help of some earthly substances. Psychedelic mushrooms are probably the fastest rout to experiencing kensho…and once you’ve experienced it, it becomes easier to access during regular meditative moments. These experiences are deeply meaningful touchstones of my path.  I will do my best to share what it felt like to inhabit this beautiful state:

For one, there was a sense of timelessness. And completion. Nothing needed doing. There was nothing I wanted, nowhere to go, nothing more to be or say…I was just perfectly content & blissfully peaceful. Yet the experience was not static or dull; it was intensely alive.

I was in nature, as one always should be for these things….

one-with-nature- -allison-blickle“One With Nature” by Allison Bickle 

The moment was all; my awareness expanded outward to include every tree branch, bird & hill. Everything felt deliciously divine & I wondered how it was that I did not always feel this way. A sense of tremendous kinship towards everything surged through me & in return the environment itself replied in silent, sentient, visceral, ecstatic kinship.

The very air around me felt loving, a supportive, nourishing substance. Reality itself felt feathery, forgiving. All of nature felt conspiring, intimate, friendly. I recall looking at some lovely pine trees, their tops dancing in a light breeze, and feeling that their branches were as intimate-feeling to me as a strand of my own hair.

What folly to think ourselves so separate & divided from our environment! We were of course like living threads in a living tapestry, which made up a whole picture, each crossing over the other, each contributing to a whole picture of the world; absolutely intertwined.

rl131_2Fracois Boucher

I describe my experiences now from memory, because I remember the metaphors that came to mind at the time, yet during these kensho moments, my intrinsic connectivity with all living things & my surrounding environment was entirely visceral, entirely known beyond intellectual questioning.

I felt entirely safe; buoyed by a tangible presence within myself & everything; it flowed within me & those dancing pine tree tops, as well as between us, connecting us; it was in the wind & the grass & my own hands, breath, hair….

A blissful sense of remembrance & reunion flooded through me…I had forgotten this state, the true state—the way we are naturally, minus mental over-activity, compartmentalization & contractive doubt. The feeling was hyper-real; a revelation of truth. As if illusion had fallen away to reveal our natural state; one that some part of me remembered. My whole being rejoiced.

one with nature, Christoffer RelanderChristoffer Relander

One of my most profound experiences of kensho was with three other women, good friends of mine. First, I saw their beauty, radiant, as if before I had seen them only through a fog—so distracted by my own thoughts. I perceived them unmediated by the analytic mind, beautifully pure, and for the first time I understood why the new agey phrase “goddess” has come into circulation as a superlative. It was simply accurate: they were divine beings & it was as clear as the sky is blue.

From this perception, I moved on to a deep & beautiful sense of empathy. I could feel my own spirit, somehow, my own awareness, within them. It wasn’t that I was not me & they were not them—but I viscerally knew that the same spirit lived in them that lived in me. As if a telepathic link had been activated, which allowed me to be sensitive to their spirit, presence & feelings, in a way to which I was usually closed off, drowned in the workings of my own mind.

It was as if we had been fingers on the same hand all along, thinking ourselves isolated digits floating through space…we were still our own unique fingers (one a thumb, another a pinky) but there was a broader connection at the root level that made us at once unique, yet unified.

dan-mountford- handsDan Mountford 

As the classic Beatles line goes: “I am she and she is me as you are me & we are all together.”

“Of all the boundaries we construct,” notes American philosopher & author Ken Wilber, “the one between self and not-self is the most fundamental. It is the boundary we are most reluctant to surrender. It was after all the first boundary we ever drew. It is our most cherished boundary.

“In unity consciousness, in no-boundary consciousness, the sense of self expands to totally include everything once thought to be not-self…And obviously this cannot occur as long as the primary boundary, which seperates the self from the universe, is mistaken as real. But once the primary boundary is understood to be illusory, one’s sense of self envelops the All.” (“No Boundary.”)

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I am so grateful I had the kensho experience I did with my three friends, because otherwise this talk of non-boundary consciousness would seem dangerous to me, as I’m sure it does to many; and perhaps, misunderstood, it is.

After all, boundaries in the traditional sense of the word, are important. The question naturally arises: couldn’t someone use this philosophy as an excuse for self-indulgent force, projecting one’s own desires onto another? In it’s most extreme form, one could imagine a rapist excusing his crime to himself with the rationale: “Well, there is no difference between us, so what does it matter?”

This could not be further from the meaning of unity consciousness. For one, unity does not mean we don’t possess individual consciousness; it simply means we are connected at a deep level, the way mushrooms are individual yet share the same root system.

Also, once you have experienced the kind of non-divisive awareness Wilber is describing, which I experienced, the concept of harming another, whether physically or emotionally, becomes inconceivable. Because what ever you did to another, however you made them feel, you would instantly feel yourself.

Diane Arbus April 1964-2Diane Arbus

For this reason, it is no stretch to say that world peace & the hope of humanity lies in the ability for more people to tap into the “being-consciousness-bliss” of Kensho.

We are already connected in this way, we simply need to unwind the intense mental constructs of division in which we have, as a society, become ensnared. You can start simply enough, by just connecting with nature & the energies around you…extending your awareness to include the surrounding life forms & environment. We are born with this inherent sense of connectivity, conditioned into a divisive worldview that inflicts separateness & isolation onto what in fact is a continuum.

After all, as the great British Zen writer & philosopher Alan Watts beautifully said: “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.'”

one with nature, anamak “Sunshine On My Mind by Amamak Photography

In his fascinating book, “Wholeness and the Implicate Order,” theoretical physicist David Bohm asserts:

“The process of division is a way of thinking about things that is convenient and useful mainly in the domain of practical, technical and functional activities (e.g., to divide up an area of land into different fields where various crops are to be grown). However, when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man’s notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives (i.e. to his self-world view), then man ceases to regard the resulting divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and his world as actually constituted of separately existent fragments.

“Being guided by a fragmentary self-world view, man then acts in such a way as to try to break himself and the world up, so that all seems to correspond to his way of thinking. Man thus obtains an apparent proof of the correctness of his fragmentary self-world view, though, of course, he overlooks the fact that it is he himself, acting according to his mode of thought, who has brought about the fragmentation that now seems to have an autonomous existence, independent of his will and of his desire.”

world inside, inner space, inner selfDan Mountford

I would love to hear about your mystical/kensho/samadhi experiences in the comments section (located above, under the post title). Though of course, any and all feedback & sharing is welcome & encouraged. Please join the conversation….!

*For more on KENSHO check out this awesome page!

*Edgar Mitchell’s exploration of his samadhi experience in space lead to the development of a new theory called “The Over-View Effect;” many astronauts had experienced similar reactions upon beholding the Earth. The subject was made into a fantastic short film of the same name, which you can view by clicking here

Inward Bound: Exploring The Fractal Matrix

June 17, 2014 § 12 Comments

By: Tai Carmen

spiral-7684-1280x800[Fractal Spirals]

“So alienated from ourselves are we that when we encounter our own souls in the psychedelic dimension, we mistake it for a UFO. This is serious alienation folks, I think we have to get back into the inner jeweled realm and make ourselves at home there.” ~ Terence McKenna

“In some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.” ~ David Bohm

In “The Art Of Seeing: Third Eye Perception & The Mystical Gaze,” I explored the phenomenon of inner visions experienced in meditation, such as mandalas and other “third eye” phenomena. The “third” or “inner” eye has been called a gateway to other dimensions, a personal portal leading into esoteric visionary realms.

vortext, portal

“The Art of Seeing” received one of our largest, most in-depth reader responses. The comments section is filled with shared accounts from readers of their adventures in inner space.

There were a lot of fascinating similarities. The most common reports were of geometric patterns, and of perceiving blue, purple or magenta swirls—often taking the form of tunnels, passageways, vortexes or, as one reader described it, a golden hallway. There was a common theme of sensing it to be some kind of inner portal.

fractal_universe_by_csuk_1t-d5done0-1[Fractal Universe by CSuck-1T]

While Eastern mystical traditions have described the existence of the third eye, the energy body & chakra system for ages, the direct perception of these fields is a pioneering study. At this point, anecdotal sharing affirms that ours are not isolated experiences, but contact with a genuine dimension of reality.

Which raises the question: what is the nature of that reality?

M.C. Escher, unraveling faces[M.C. Escher]

 Quantum physicists, philosophers, cosmologists & psychonauts alike have all observed a holographic potential to the nature of reality.

A hologram contains the whole within the part. Not only is this true of our bodies—one cell, of course, contains our whole genetic blueprint—but the natural world is made up of recurring patterns, which repeat on every scale, from micro to macro, known as fractals. We observe the same formations, such as the Fibonacci Spiral, shown below, in both the macro universe & on the micro (sub-atomic) level.

recurring fibonacci spiral

Below, a microscopic image of a bacterial colony structure demonstrates fractal qualities:

fractal_bacteria_colony

In one experiment, or “chaos game,” numbers are randomly generated & then placed on a grid.

Within a few dozen repetitions, the shape we would recognize as a perfect fern will emerge from the abstract math. This is because Nature, in Her elegance, follows the simplest & most efficient possible path.

fractal ferns

“Many things previously called chaos are now known to follow subtle fractal laws of behavior.

“So many things turned out to be fractal, that the word “chaos” itself (in operational science) has been redefined as ‘following inherently unpredictable yet generally deterministic rules, based on nonlinear iterative equations.’ Fractals are unpredictable in specific details, yet deterministic when viewed as a total pattern…” (Fractal Patterns in Nature)

Fractal-like formations are often reported during both mediative visions and psychedelic journeying.

Fractal-Mobius-Dragon-IFS-10[Fractal Kit]

In an interview for “New Realities,” Alan Steinfeld asks visionary artist Alex Grey about his use of grids in his inter-dimensional, metaphysically themed paintings. “It comes from seeing the grid work in meditation and on psychedelic voyages,” replies Grey, “and it seems to be related to one’s perceptions and projections. ‘Theologue’ [shown below] is a recounting, an experience of witnessing a grid work that was emanating from my own awareness.

AlexGreySolarPlexus[“Theologue” by Alex Grey]

Continues Grey: “I was a node in the sourcing of the web and felt so expansive I was beyond my sourcing it. I could see it projecting from my awareness. Since we are all projecting it, it is a part of all of us. It is an aspect of our being.

“The grid is not a manifestation of the conceptual mind, but of transcendental wisdom mind.”

Alex-Grey-Fractal-Self-Similar

The ancient Avatamsaka Sutra describes the universe as a giant web, known as “Indra’s Net”:

“Far away in the heavenly abode of the great God there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.

“There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of the these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in it’s polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.”

The jeweled net is an excellent description of a hologram, as each jewel contains an image of all the others.

indra's net, dewey spiderweb

In 1982, a team of researchers lead by Alain Aspect, discovered that subatomic particles, such as electrons, are able to instantaneously communicate with one another, regardless of how much space separated them.

This discovery, known as quantum entanglement, violates Einstein’s long-held tenant that no communication can travel faster than the speed of life, and is tantamount to breaking the time barrier.

Physicist David Bohm suggested this discovery implied an inherently illusory, interconnected & holographic nature to reality (detailed in his book, “Wholeness & The Implicate Order.”)

ThirteenthFloor[Poster for “Thirteenth Floor”]

The fact that grid work, geometric forms & fractal imagery is regularly experienced by psychonauts from varying backgrounds suggests a Matrix-like possibility to the nature of reality.

After all, nothing is solid, the micro contains the macro & mathematics makes up the fundamental expressions of our world.

482399_591446300920026_49992293_n

“We live in a fractal world of extraordinary beauty, full of information” notes metaphysical author & clairvoyant Stuarte Wilde. “But the sight of it is denied to us, at first anyway. To see is to be able to perceive the geometric reality that makes up your body and all of nature, and to see the angelic and the celestial heavens, as well as be more aware of the dangers of the hell worlds and the dark fractals people fire.

“We are inside complex geometric formula that describe our health, abundance, moods, creativity, our psychology…but mostly they describe our energy and vitality, or a lack of it. This sea of energy around us dictates what happens to us in 3-D; it shapes our fate, just as fractals dictate the shape of a fern leaf.”

fractal_eye_01[The Doors of Perception, Stuart Wilde]

What are your pieces to the puzzle?

Adventures in Aboriginal Dreamtime

April 27, 2014 § 5 Comments

colleen_wallace_nungari_"dreamtime sisters", site credit: http://blogs.archives.gov/aotus/?p=4366[Colleen Wallace Nungari, “Dreamtime Sisters”]

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. ” ~ Aboriginal Proverb

“‘The Dreaming’ or ‘the Dreamtime’ indicates a psychic state in which or during which contact is made with the ancestral spirits, or the Law, or that special period of the beginning.” ~ Mudrooroo

“Those who lose Dreaming are lost.” ~ Aboriginal Proverb

Dreamtime, or “The Dreaming,” is a spiritual concept of the Australian Aboriginal tribal peoples. To define Dreamtime is a bit tricky, as there are several ways in which the word is used. Meanings vary from tribe to tribe, but the basic concepts appear consistent.

pics-5762[Artist unknown, see site]

The Dreamtime refers to a source dimension beyond time & space, which exists alongside the linear world of humans, where the ancestors & creator spirits dwell. The Aborigines call it the “all-at-once” time—referring to the mundane world as the “one-thing-after-another” time. People emerge from the Dreaming into physical reality when they are born, visit in dreams & visionary states, & return after physical death. An essential part of each person exists eternally in Dreamtime. Aboriginal cosmology includes transmigration of the soul, otherwise known as reincarnation. site credit: http://www.crystalinks.com/dreamtime.html, dreamtime A human might return again into the family of man, or as an animal. “The Eora/Dharawal Aborigines believed in transmigration…For example during the 1830s Quaker James Backhouse toured the Illawarra district and recorded that some Aboriginal men were mortified when some Europeans shot and killed some dolphins. The Aborigines of the area believed that after death, their warriors became dolphins. This belief was bolstered by the habit of dolphins to herd fish and to protect people from shark attacks.” (Australian Aboriginals.)

Peggy_Quinlan_Dolphins_Jellyfish, site credit: http://dnaag.com.au/the-gallery/paintings/dolphins-with-jellyfish-blue-2/[Dolphins with Jellyfish by Peggy Quinlan]

According to Aboriginal mythology, our world (physical life on earth) was “dreamed” by the ancestor spirits who dwell in Dreamtime. The Dreaming or Dreamtime also refers to a sacred era of creation. “Ancestor beings rose and roamed the initially barren land, fought and loved, and created the land’s features as we see them today. After creating the ‘sacred world’ the spiritual beings turned into rocks or trees or a part of the landscape. These became sacred places, to be seen only by initiated men.” (Aboriginal Art.) Kakadu sunset “The landscape is almost an externalisation of the individual’s inner world. Each tribe had a traditional area of the land which was theirs alone,” notes dream scholar Tony Crisp in his article “Australian Aboriginal Dream Beliefs.” Additionally, an individual’s Dreaming can refer to their cultural identity & spiritual allegiance. “Each Aboriginal person identifies with a specific Dreaming,” relates Aboriginal artist Paddy Japaljarri Stewart. “It gives them identity, dictates how they express their spirituality and tells them which other Aboriginal people are related to them in a close family, because those share the same Dreaming. One person can have multiple Dreamings.” (What Is the Dreamtime? For example, an Aboriginal person might identify as having “Wallaby Dreaming.” As I understand it, this concept is similar to the Native American relationship to spirit animals or totemic allies in that it may have been received in a vision, although it also may have been inherited as a family totem. One having Wallaby Dreaming will draw upon the Wallaby’s spirit for guidance.

Artist: danny-eastwood, aboriginal art, site credit: http://mikaidt.dk/2004/imc2abor.html[Danny Eastwood]

“Studies have shown that ancient people experienced what is called an undifferentiated state of mind,” relates Tony Crisp. “Their sense of being a separate and independent person was much less than is commonly experienced in modern life. They did not separate their religious life, their social life, their economic life, their artistic life and their sexual life from each other.”

This oneness-oriented or pantheistic worldview is held by most ancient peoples—it is only the Western world & modern man who has increasingly cut himself off from his surroundings, other creatures & his fellow man, feeling so separate as to breed an epidemic of disconnection. Yet, we strain against this isolation, reaching for what we sense we once knew in what psychonaut-writer Terence McKenna has called “The Archaic Revival“….Modern man’s resurrected interest in the wisdom of ancient cultures.

aboriginal_art_by_fruehlingswind, site credit: http://fruehlingswind.deviantart.com/art/aboriginal-art-239278581[Fruehlings Wind]

As highly respected Dhungutti Elder Rueben Kelly states, “Centuries ago you white people chose the path of science and technology. That path will destroy the planet. Our role is to protect the planet. We are hoping you will discover that before it’s too late.” “The experience of Dreamtime, whether through ritual or from dreams, flowed through [into life] in practical ways,” adds Tony Crisp.  “The individual who enters the Dreamtime feels no separation between themselves and their ancestors. The strengths and resources of the timeless enter into what is needed in the life of the present. The future is less uncertain because the individual feels their life as a continuum linking past and future in unbroken connection. “Through Dreamtime the limitations of time and space are overcome. It is a much observed feature of aboriginal life that knowledge of distant relatives and their condition is frequently displayed. Therefore if a relative is ill, a distant family member knows this and hurries to them. Often the intuitive knowledge of herbal medicine is gained also.” australia-aborigines, site credit: http://theburtonwire.com/2013/02/15/politics/australia-passes-bill-to-officially-recognize-indigenous-population/attachment/australia-aborigines-460/ “For the aborigine tribes,” notes Crisp, “there is no ending of life at ‘death’. Dead relatives are very much a part of continuing life. It is believed that in dreams dead relatives communicate their presence. At times they may bring healing if the dreamer is in pain. Death is seen as part of a cycle of life in which one emerges from Dreamtime through birth, and eventually returns to the timeless, only to emerge again. It is also a common belief that a person leaves their body during sleep, and temporarily enters the Dreamtime. (Australian Aboriginal Dream Beliefs.)  A person is also thought to enter the Dreamtime during ceremonies & while listening to or playing ancestral music. “The melodies, tunes, harmonies and rhythms of Aboriginal music included traditional ceremonial songs that were handed down from generation to generation,” notes researcher & author Ellie Crystal. “It was very important in Aboriginal thinking, to replicate the songs that had been first played and sung by the ancestors in the Dreamtime. When the traditional music and songs were used, living men considered themselves to be in the Dreamtime. Particularly during initiation ceremonies.” aboriginal music, site credit: http://www.crystalinks.com/aboriginals.html The idea of this world as a dream is an ancient & fascinating concept, echoed by the Hindu idea of Maya, or “world as illusion,” and the Buddhist concept of Samsara. But unlike these Eastern perspectives, for the Aborigines, there appears no negative connotation to this world being a dream. It is no delusion to be escaped, but rather a sacred experience to be honored & celebrated. It’s simply not the ultimate reality…and everything is connected & related beyond visible boundaries & lines, being all within the same dream.

inapaku_dreaming, site credit: http://2013edstudents.marryatvilleps.wikispaces.net/CharlotteArt[Inapaku Dreaming]

 I’ve had experiences during sacred vision questing where the serendipity & related connectivity of people, animals & events struck me as mind-bendingly improbable when set against the yardstick of our rational materialist worldview; beyond coincidence. If this world is dreamed into existence by timeless primal beings, as the Aborigines—most ancient of peoples—believe, then all our laws of science can still co-exist alongside a larger mystical fluidity. Within the dream, there are laws. Gravity, for instance. Cause & effect. Yet if all exists within the same dream, reality is like a tapestry; there may be an image here of a horse, there of a man, beside him a tree—but their threads interconnect. They are all part of the same living tapestry.

devonshire_hunting_tapestry-deer_hunt_detail, site credit: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/d/devonshire-hunting-tapestries/[‘Deer Hunt’ (detail), Netherlands, Circa 1440]

This is scientifically more accurate than our concept of rigid separation & division, as the molecules composing my hand touching a tree are no different than the molecules that make up its rough bark. Though they appear vastly so to the perceiving eye. And the brain categorizes them as worlds apart: tree, man.

But if we are all Dream Beings interacting in the same evolving dream, all players portraying separate roles that yet exist in the same interwoven living tapestry, with common threads, it stands to reason that things are not so fixed as they may feel. While the laws of science remain within the dream, there is no reason why a greater coherence can not express itself at the same time, manifesting as serendipity, connectivity; mystery. 

by: Peter Muraay Djeripi Mulcahy, Wayamba_the_Turtle, site credit: http://www.aboriginalaustralianart.com/dreamtime_art.php[Peter Muraay Djeripi Mulcahy, Wayamba the Turtle]

The great Sufi Mystic poet, Rumi, wrote a timeless piece on the world-as-dream theme:

The Dream That Must By Interpreted 

This place is a dream.

Only a sleeper considers it real.

Then death comes like dawn,

and you wake up laughing

at what you thought was your grief.

But there’s a difference with this dream.

Everything cruel & unconscious

done in the illusion of the present world,

all that does not fade away at the death-waking.

It stays,

and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing,

all the quick, sexual wanting,

those torn coats of Joseph,

they change into powerful wolves

that you must face…

And this groggy time we live,

this is what it’s like:

A man goes to sleep in the town

where he has always lived, and he dreams he’s living

in another town.

In the dream, he doesn’t remember

the town he’s sleeping in his bed in. He believes

the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities

settles over us like a forgetful doze,

but we are older than those cities.

We began

as a mineral. We emerged into plant life

and into the animal state, and then into being human,

and always we have forgotten our former states,

except in early spring when we slightly recall

being green again.

That’s how a young person turns

toward a teacher. That’s how a baby leans

toward the breast, without knowing the secret

of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,

through this migration of intelligences,

and though we seem to be sleeping,

there is an inner wakefulness

that directs the dream,

and will eventually startle us back

to the truth of who we are.

 ~Rumi

  Quotation-Jorge-Luis-Borges-mind-dream-world-Meetville-Quotes, site credit: http://meetville.com/quotes/author/jorge-luis-borges/page6

 

  “Traveler, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking.”

~ Aboriginal Proverb

  *It would be irresponsible to offer these beautiful cultural gems without acknowledging that, despite this rich & sacred heritage, the conditions of modern urban Aborigines are despairingly dystopian—their stigmatization & mistreatment, at the hands of first the British invaders & then the Australian government, echoe the tragic dynamic so often seen when the new world meets the old. Visit Survival International to see how you can help. 

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