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A Small Medium @ Large

The process of composing the last episode got me to thinking about the writers’ conceit, which is to sustain a mild tension – let’s call it some sort of ironic resonance – that bounces around between seemingly independent variables. The secret is to stare at a blank sheet of paper until the brain finally realizes that more coffee will not help, and it must, like the stubborn mule that it is, surrender its fate to the hand that feeds it.

Then it settles down to create a flow of relevant meanings out of an infinite number of ideas and impressions that circle around in linguistic and mental space. The fact of universal comprehension is assumed. It’s the unnoticed “glue” that lurks in the background for all who share a particular language, a kind of invisible screen upon which these little squiggly lines of print can project. 

Things are constructed to flow smoothly along in the readers’ mind right up to the moment that a word, concept or image triggers an emotional reaction that is expressed with a substitute word (label) of their own: “Highly entertaining; Moron; Taunt and exciting; Heretic; Bug-like predictability; Desperate cry for attention; A major tour de force; Dangerously clueless;” etc. and so forth.   

These reactive interruptions are what the author counts on, be they positively or negatively charged, to carry his audience through the beginning, middle and end of the story.  Mere words are used to direct, and then collapse, the readers’ complete body of knowledge about life to a single moving point in present time. At its best, writing causes all other concerns in our world to be temporarily forgotten.  In deep concentration, even the breathing becomes shallow and we may not hear someone calling our name even if they’re standing right next to us.

Less obvious, perhaps, is the way the sense of personal identity is also collapsed to a fixed point that moves along with the trance of fixed attention.  The “I am me” point of identity might be likened to a shadow that follows the dynamical system of subject-object relationships at any given instant.  At the next moment, though, the system will have changed ever so slightly with new information, and so the point moves.

Nothing new about this so far, I’d guess. To those following TV’s The Big Bang Theory, “It’s the essential stuff of chaos thweory and the low-dimwensional and nonperwiodic motion of a stwange attwractor” as Kripke might say to Sheldon.   

But what would happen if there was an altogether different way to read something, a different way to direct the power of sight itself?  Would this change the felt sense of identity and meaning, or is it the other way around? Does it take a shift of identity to develop another aspect in the assumed powers of sight? The following exercise hints of communication across a revolutionary divide.  

Note to readers:  This line of experimental work involves only a highly unmathematical and tiny leap of faith, a leapino, and requires only the applicability of one’s own fingers. Still, a healthy sense of caution suggests we leave the applicability of strange attractors and chaos in nature to the TV experts.

Blindsight Exercise: Russian studies indicate that it takes 45 hours of practice to “read” seven colors by feel with a high degree of accuracy (90%). It takes far less than that to get a fair degree of certainty where one color begins and another one ends – sometimes within minutes. People with a talent for this were found to be able to read actual words through their fingers if the letters were about 4 inches in height.

Objective:  To develop blindsight sensitivity that is akin to telepathic receptivity.

Expected results: Opening unconscious capabilities 

Instructions:  Pair off and go to separate work tables covered with a bright white cloth or covering.  One person will go through the steps while the other guides him or her; then reverse. The eyes are kept closed or use a blindfold except for brief “reality checks” on steps 3 and 5. Some people feel color through the palms, some better through the fingertips, and some through the wrists.

1)  Hold your hands right in front of the eyes, but keep them closed. Get some impression of the space you occupy, then feel into the space your hands occupy. Now move your writing hand, wrist and forearm slowing around in front of you and track the movement. Get some sense or internal “glimpses” of the space your hand occupies.

2) Lower the hand to just above a sheet of red or black construction paper lying on the table – about a half an inch or so from the surface.  A little trial and error is needed to move the hand around without bumping the table. Keep a diffuse focus and alert the mind to any changes in sensations. 

3) Notice any faint impression of texture, roughness, smoothness, breeze, heat and or color.  Impressions such as “Plaid,” “butterscotch,” “grainy,” “grey-ish,” are not uncommon.  

4) Move the hand gently back and forth from the red paper to the white sheet.  Your guide can give verbal cues. Notice any impressions in the mind. What you are looking for are extremely subtle and fleeting shifts of sensation.  Briefly open the eyes every once in a while to confirm a suspicion that you sense an edge. 

5) Once you begin to “pick up something” have your partner shift the paper a bit.  “Call” the edges when you feel them.  Your partner can confirm whether or not you are right.  “Yes!” “Close” or “No way, dude” etc.

6) When your hits are significant, add a blue sheet, say, and repeat steps 1-4. Tune in the same way and note any differences in the way you apperceive it. Then have your partner to put the blue and red side by side and once again “see” where the edges are for red, white and blue. Your partner can then move the arrangement around more creatively.

Part Two: Introduce other colors one at a time:  Yellow, green, black, purple, and gray. Each raises a subliminally different interpretation by the mind. Change partners and work with everybody in your group over time. Try feeling the colors under a sheet of glass. Those with strong native PSI talents can work for those who progress comes slower.

In parapsychology, PSI is the unknown factor in extrasensory perception and psychokinesis experience that is not explained by know physical or biological mechanisms. The term is derived from the Greek ψ psi, 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and the initial letter of the Greek ψυχή psyche, “mind, soul”.

In the Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development Ken Wilber presented a hierarchical description of psychospiritual development that is largely based on classic Vedantic and Theravedic texts. In the classification scheme of his map, experiences such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and all other closely related phenomena, belong to the low subtle, or astral-physic state of consciousness.

In what he calls the high subtle realm, consciousness completely transcends the identification with the ordinary human mind.  This too has levels, the ultimate of which is called nirbija (seedless) samadhi by Pantajali in The Yoga Sutras.  This book gives a gradient approach to the process of detaching the mind from the material level, proceeding through finer states of cognition, then culminating with the complete transcendence of body and mind and realizing ultimate Unity.

Useful elements of both Grof’s and Wilber’s cartographies are worth knowing and their books are foundational to an understanding of transpersonal field consciousness.  On the other hand, they both present transcendence largely as an individual affair and, while acknowledging a universal telepathic capability, they say little about a society in which the low subtle realities are culturally formative.  

In Transpersonal Knowledge Jorge N. Ferrer, a leading critic of Wilber and Grof, makes a powerful case for the way a subtle Cartesianism “perpetuates the modern restrictive understanding of spirituality as an individual inner experience,” a pitfall which has become “unnecessary and counterproductive.” 

Cartesianism is the philosophical and scientific system of René Descartes, “I think therefore I am.”  To Cartesians the mind is wholly separate from the body.  Ferrer adds:  “In contrast to the individual focus of the experiential approach, the participatory approach recognizes that transpersonal phenomena are multilocal in that they can occur not only in an individual but also in relationships, a community, or a place.”  To be continued . . .