“Only surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.”
– Oprah Winfrey
We’ve been following the first-hand accounts of Dr.’s Rajiv Parti and Fred J. Hanna’s experiences where, in near death and in life, they felt out of their bodies. Normally, the mind is in union with the world; here they describe events that hint more of the mind in union with its Source. You can google scientificameri-can.com/article/the-phantom-hand-2008-05/ for more on the rubber hand experiment that I’ve introduced.
Consider what takes place when you are “experiencing each object or entity as fully as possible,” in the way that Hanna describes it. As, for example, when you “experience” your tongue by accidentally biting down on it hard. For a moment there’s no you that “has” a tongue – you are the tongue – and everything else recedes. It’s a total reversion to the state of infancy. You have no name, no address, no relationship, no job-related concerns. Not only do you not have any race, religion or gender orientation, you do not even remember where you are. The moon and stars and entire universe are all in orbit around a singularity, whom in this case, happens to occupy a white-hot point of self-contained pain.
Then comes the interesting part. There is a cross-over point, which usually coincides with the automatic impulse to touch the tongue, when you become the subject (put your name here) experiencing a body part as an object. It may be throbbing, yes, but it’s still an object. You have returned, once again, to the world of your astonished dinner mates. “Oy biitthh mai tung-guh-uh” you say, still holding the offended member.
There is a cross-over point of subject-object differentiation for every sensation and perception we experience in life, for every word we speak, for every perception of “other.” The cross-over from “am so” to “am too” is just usually not as dramatic. Each cognitive event occupies a space unique to itself in our mind. Each event is assigned a location and a structure that represents – and perpetuates itself – as a memory in the space in which an action first occurred in the brain.
This cross-over from “I am pain” to “I have pain,” as a mental process we can observe and control, works in the same way for other feelings, emotions and memories as well, such as love, anger, confusion, resistance, doubt etc. My columns of last April 5th (Dat Dat Dat); the 12th (Aspect Shifting); and 19th (Collective Intelligence) – began the exploration of this topic with a simple mind exercise or two.
“Personality” could be mapped from a quanta perspective, a turning constellation of innumerable such impressions held within the flow of our vital energy, or life force. Depending on the degree of one’s awareness into the mechanics of consciousness, these impressions can be altered, augmented or eliminated entirely. Like snowflakes, there is a distinctive shape for each one of us, as personalities, but the incorporeal sense of “I am” remains exactly the same.
It’s like a single kind of thread can be woven into an infinite number of garments, which we then give all kinds of names and labels. But pull them apart and it all just “thread.” The mind is just like that – a collection of thoughts, woven into various and colorful shapes.
Try, as an experiment, to hold a mental image of a flower in your mind. Notice the moment when your mind is distracted, “What was that sound” “Did my kid just try to flush a grapefruit down the toilet?” Or, maybe when the mind drifts into an association, “Oh, this reminds me of the beautiful flower I wore on my prom night.” You have just crossed a threshold into another “bubble” of thought.
Return again and again to the original image and notice how long you can hold it without interruption. Keep at it a while; the ability will grow. In Western rationalism, a strong mind is considered one that draws from all kinds of associations, memories, and connections. A “Renaissance Man,” we say, has many talents or areas of knowledge, but it’s a slippery slope to “scatterbrain.”
Here, however, we can define strength as the ability to hold onto a thought-form as long as we want, until a decision is made to let it go. It’s the internal qualities of self-awareness and willpower combined with repetition and myelination.
If we are very observant, we begin to notice that each belief, feeling or memory seems to be spatially and directionally oriented within us – just as the tongue is distinct from the teeth, and the teeth are distinct to each other. All of these spaces are cached in ways that form a structure of identity that is uniquely human, independent of the particulars of the contents.
The fact that these beliefs, feelings and memories occupy fixed locations is particularly noticeable when you alternate between a pleasant memory and a painful memory. Try this, and notice that each time you make the shift between the two the mind feels into a different place – not just within the head – but often into other parts of the body. This is perfectly reflected in language – “Oh, she’s a sweet heart,” “He’s a fat head,” and so on.
We may experience this crossover in different ways, and probably not as a sharp edge that divides one perception from another. There may be a sense of “fade-in, fade-out” as you go from one thought form to another. Perhaps there is an impression of a “fuzzy zone,” a “blank space,” or a “change in frequency.” Our thoughts and perceptions seem to be assembled in associative clusters, and you can begin to recognize them as fixed constellations in your inner space.
However we experience it, our thoughts and feelings do not just exist “somewhere” in a non-dimensional location. They are tied to specific neural fields with definite “addresses,” and learning how to open and close these fields, i.e., “how to think,” takes on a whole new meaning when the object is to resonate with other minds – much less transmit – through the universal mind link.
Did you redo (digeridoo?) the aspect exercises from April? I like to think that every act of healing involves changing the music – or our story – of the past, that the more we practice the more present we become. This exploration of interior space follows from the well-known methods of dismantling our hurting or dis-eased inner spaces, beginning with writings of Julian Jaynes, Husserl’s phenomenology, and Wollinsky’s dismantling of trance states.
The philosophies I present are intended as an exercise in cultural therapy and not offered as a diagnosis, or remedy, or a prescription for any particular individual. When instructed to experience something in any of these exercises, I encourage you take time to read the source materials or books that are quoted. For now, just notice that there is a limit that surrounds each mental event, that it has spatial boundaries, and that we have the option to dis-create any creation in consciousness should we so choose to do the work required.
I return to Dr. Hanna’s words: “The structure of my thinking had been re-organized at deep levels and included a deep appreciation for global meanings and realities. I recognized and perceived that ‘source of all things’ everywhere I looked, and everything I saw with my eyes sparkled with intrinsic beauty.”
In a trans state there is a collapse in the way we make a distinction between things. It is a state of harmony, union, a sense of the overwhelming presence of Now, and is accompanied by a complete absence of intellectual judgment.
Researchers Walsh and Vaughan looked at scores of definitions of “transpersonal” before settling upon this one: “Experience in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche, or cosmos.”
Stanislav Grof, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, writes “Transpersonal experience can be defined as experiential expansion or expansion of consciousness beyond the usual boundaries of time and space.” Grof coined the term holotropic from the Greek holos, meaning whole, and trepein, which is to move towards something, to cover a large range of states that includes the kind of profound spiritual experience described by Hanna.
Try it. It’s fun.