Many believe that in our normal state of existence, we see only a limited, tiny fraction of reality. The philosopher Bergson(1859 – 1941) wrote that the brain and nervous system serve as an eliminative function, designed to keep overloads of information out of our consciousness in order to help us survive. This reduced consciousness provides an edited version of reality, keeping us in the solid, stable three dimensional world. Automatic reducing of awareness limits us to being aware of only the surface of reality. When someone has an expansion of consciousness or mystical experience, it means they have temporarily burst through these protective boundaries.
In her autobiography Melodies and Memories, Dame Nellie Melba spoke of being lifted up into the spiritual spheres while listening to Wagner's Parsifal at Hammerstein's Opera House in New York. She said the theatre ceased to exist and everything seemed to vanish: "I was a disembodied spirit, floating in realms of pure music." She could not determine "to what strange sphere" the music transported her. She did remember however, that the return was "infinitely painful".
Well known psychiatrist Dr Stanislav Grof supports Bergson's theory that the brain and nervous system reduces what normal consciousness receives. A fascinating example of this was illustrated by a friend of mine. My friend, now retired, was a senior detective sergeant in the NSW police force. He was trained as a hypnotherapist and used hypnotherapy with witnesses and victims to aid in recalling details of a crime. It was proven, over and over again, that the subconscious/unconscious mind absorbed and noted much more than the conscious mind.
The initial interview would often produce few or no results. For example, the make and colour of a car could not be remembered. Interviewed again, this time with the aid of hypnosis, the subconscious released the required information to the conscious mind, very often accompanied with extraordinary detail such as the numberplate of the car - probably something the conscious mind would not have been able to produce under the most perfect conditions.
In one case, a woman could not remember anything about her assailant except for his voice. He had attacked her from behind and used his hand to cover her mouth. But with the aid of hypnosis, she remembered a ring on one of his fingers. It was a distinctive ring and through her description of it, the attacker was eventually tracked down. Before hypnosis, she hadn't even remembered the existence of the ring. Any information gained under hypnosis of a witness was inadmissible in court but that didn't matter. The information given under hypnosis was used by the police to help in vital 'leads' that finally secured an arrest.
It is obvious that our subconscious/unconscious minds witness and absorb so much more than is released into the 'coping world' of the conscious. I had this unusual experience in the late 1980s:
It was a hot day in Rozelle, an inner suburb of Sydney, and I was driving along Balmain Road after visiting my son in hospital. Suddenly, I became aware of a commotion on the road ahead and noticed a young Asian man sitting on the street, dressed in clothes no better than rags. I became aware of a foul stench and saw chooks, goats and dogs in the gutter. Every person on the road and footpath was of Indonesian appearance. It didn't occur to me that this was impossible. As I drove closer, I saw a huge bundle of dirty clothes and other materials tied with thick grass piled upside down on the road. Then I noticed a large, rickety cart with wooden wheels. It was piled high and appeared to have carried the load now scattered around the youth. The contents of the cart included dirty, hand woven blankets, two goats that looked half dead and bamboo crates housing a scrawny cat, several chooks and even a small baby. I couldn't believe my eyes. There were bamboo cupboards, wooden boxes, an assortment of primitive tools, flaps of raw meat covered in flies and two small children tied to the side of the cart with twine. An older man dressed in the same unusual clothing as the youth sitting on the road, was scurrying backwards and forwards from a broken down shanty, throwing even more rubbish on to the heavily laden cart. The shack itself was engulfed in mist and stood in brown murky water.
I was as clearly aware of the parallel world I had become a part of as of the slowing down of cars around me, honking their horns. Then, just as suddenly, the primitive scene disappeared and traffic ran smoothly as normal in Balmain Road.
Back at my apartment, I felt bewildered. The only explanation I could come up with was that I'd been spontaneously catapulted into a parallel existence. But a few weeks later, after a similar experience, again while driving the car, I visited my doctor and accepted his verdict of "disassociation due to extreme, ongoing stress".
In the 1980s, I read Robert Monroe's book Journeys out of the Body, about his own out of body experiences and was fascinated by his scientifically documented style of presentation. As a result of Monroe's experimentation in this field, the Monroe Institute was formed for research and residential programs in consciousness expansion. For two decades I had been longing to attend a program at the Institute and in 1997 I enrolled for three courses.
It was explained to us that with the aid of Hemi-Sync (hemispheric synchronisation), the EEG brain wave patterns are altered, which generates expanded states of consciousness that researchers call dissociative and transcendent states. While experiencing these states, an individual may perceive non-physical phenomena. The first course was called Gateway Voyage, a six day intensive pre-requisite course for all other residential programs. We were informed that the Gateway Voyage program would assist us in reaching various levels of consciousness known as Focus Levels. Focus 10 was a level at which the physical body was asleep but the mind was awake and alert. Focus 15 was a state of No-Time, where the time factor was no longer important and Focus 16-21 opened doorways to other realities and energy systems beyond time - space - physical matter.
During the second course, Lifeline, we would reach Focus 22, a state where humans still in the physical, have partial consciousness remembered as dreams and deliria. Focus 23 was a state inhabited by humans who had recently exited physical existence and had not adapted to the change. Focus 25 was the Belief System Territory where those who had exited physical existence were residing in a particular belief system. And Focus 27 was The Park, or Reception Centre, designed to ease the trauma and shock of the transition from physical reality.
The third course, Exploration 27, would provide the opportunity to obtain information, data and direct experiences from Focus 27.
On our first night, after being shown around the facilities and fed a large, home cooked vegetarian meal, a staff member walked around with a cardboard box, stopping before each participant (all 26 of us) and waited as those who wore watches unsnapped them and dropped them into the box. We were informed that from this point, there would be 'no time'. Just a series of 'nows'. We were also told there would be no TV, radio, newspapers or telephone calls to the outside world.
For approximately eight hours a day, we lay prone on our single beds inside a CHEC unit. We would also sleep in this unit at night. CHEC stands for Controlled Holistic Environmental Chamber. It reminded me of a small bunk in a cabin on board a ship, enclosed by a thick, black curtain. Although the unit was isolated from light and sound, fresh air was constantly being pumped into the chamber. From a central control room, an audio network fed sound patterns and special exercises to each unit under the direction of a team of trainers. We received these through headphones.
By the end of the three weeks, I only had to lie down inside my CHEC unit and I was immediately rocking subtly above my physical body, usually unable to travel further, but quite content to hang around above the prone lump of matter on the bed. It seemed everybody else was enjoying incredible experiences except for me. Then, one day, my turn arrived. One minute I was in my CHEC unit, the next I was inside a cell with a female inmate on Death Row, awaiting execution. I was not just inside her cell, I was tangled in her energy field. I wasn't aware of her physical appearance but sensed she was young. Her thoughts and feelings had become my own. My feelings fluctuated from accepting the penalty of death and making my peace with God, to sheer terror associated with leather straps which were to bind my arms, and a lethal injection. I remained trapped in this reality for a short while and struggled frantically to get out.
As I burst back into normal consciousness, I felt as if my CHEC unit had become a prison cell and I clawed at the heavy, black curtain. Slithering on the carpet, I wept and continued to do so, off and on, for hours. Despite the raw intensity of the experience, I judged myself harshly and decided it could have been my imagination because I worked with women in prison and belonged to a support group for women on Death Row in Florida. My left brain judgment decided that these factors had prompted my imagined OBE.
Nonetheless, I was glad I shared my experience with the group during our de-briefing session, because at the end of the week, on our release from the 'No Time Zone', one of our group members picked up a copy of the USA Today newspaper and gasped aloud. It was filled with the announcement earlier in the week, of the proposed execution on February 3 of a young woman, Carla Faye Tucker, by lethal injection in Texas.
I had always believed we were much more than our physical bodies, but the three weeks at the Monroe Institute released my former concept of chronologically structured past lives. I now believe we are occupying parallel universes, experiencing parallel lives and are capable of tuning into the multi-dimensions of which we are a part, simply by fine tuning our personal energy vibrations. It's all out there, just like the radio station frequencies. It depends on which station we tune into, as to which reality we choose to experience.
Joseph McMoneagle, a retired military officer who practised remote viewing for the United States government for 20 years, quotes in his book MIND TREK, "We know only a limited reality, which is characterised by the passage of time. But the ultimate cause and origin of all things is not a million years ago. It is outside time. Now."
Jo Buchanan is a writer and great friend of Egypt