The Noetic Monk Retirement Fund (NMRF)

It's good to have great friends. A few months back, I was confiding in my longtime good buddy Pete that I wasn't doing as well as I had expected trading leveraged ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). After all, I've continued to short the market during one of the biggest rallies in history. Silly me, I refused to believe that we were out of our economic crisis. Those Wall Street guys get paid the big bucks because they are sophisticated enough to see beyond the record unemployment, declines in profits, record deficits, and weak dollar. With the return of their multi-million dollar bonuses, I'm sure it seems to them that the worst is over. Silly, naive and broke me for not looking beyond the details. Fortunately, to the rescue comes my friend.

Pete likes to run -- one of the several things he does that makes no sense to me. He offered to turn his morning jaunts into a charitable cause. As he runs, he is scanning sidewalks and curbs for coins that were dropped overnight. He is donating 1/2 of everything he finds to the NMRF. This allows for him to feel that he is supporting the worthiest of causes and allows me to feel like a real monk by retiring on donated money. So far, the pot stands at $9.44. The plan is to take the collected monies to Reno/Lake Tahoe next February when we will meet for the 32nd consecutive year and place strategic bets that will grow the fund exponentially, enabling us both to retire in the manner to which we wish to become accustomed - or at least to something better than the freeway offramp that otherwise awaits. His job is collecting the money -- my job is writing this blog and choosing how to place the bets using my Noetic Monk insight skills.

It sounds like a plan to me, but I wonder if Pete has considered that my Noetic Monk insight skills had me shorting one of the biggest rallies on Wall Street. Those guides like to mess with me sometimes. Still, I'm expecting the guidance will be tuned in and turned up by then.

Should anyone like to contribute to the cause, the easiest way would be to drop your spare change along his running route in Kirkland, WA - we'll sketch out a map for you along the East side of Lake Washington. This will not only provide the needed financial support, but will also serve to motivate our star runner to continue the cause during those dreary winter months in the Seattle area. Alternatively, perhaps you'd like to collect coins while doing something you like to do. We can meet in the High Sierra next February for a few days of skiing, gambling and meditation -- all for a good cause that is dear to my heart.

Sex, Drugs and Lama Chants

"Where are your mushrooms?"

"I don't think I have any, " I told her.

"Are you sure? I can see them. Where are they - the freezer?"

"Oh, those ... how did you know?"

"I know. Would you like to brew a tea with the mushrooms?"

"Tonight?"

"Yes - of course. We have 3 weeks - there is no time to waste."

My friend is a shaman medium - a petite and frail woman of French, Russian and Persian ancestry who is fluent in at least 6 languages. Her accent shifts with her mood, but it is most often a very feminine French. She held her hand to the small bag -- a shamanic test I'd seen her do several times for food. "These are very gentle. They should do nicely."

The brew was made with green tea, raw ginger, lemon and honey. Meanwhile, the house was prepared. Candles were lit, doors closed, and the entire house was smudged with smoke from smoldering sage. A CD of Tibetan Lama chants was selected.

Lili cleared and opened the container. She spoke softly, "Surrender to presence." I returned a puzzled look. "That's what the guides just told me," she explained.

As we sat on the sofa for a short time, her face began to distort as she continued to talk. It became difficult to follow what she was saying. "What's going on? You drank as much as I did." Lili is half my body weight and I had watched her drink the same amount as I. Yet, she continued to talk coherently as her face changed into what appeared to be a succession of tribal faces, followed by a succession of grotesque figures. All seemed benevolent. I had a sense that physical form was unimportant -- that guidance might come in many forms. "Why aren't you affected like I am?"

"This is what I do," she replied.

"You set this up," I mused as if I had been tricked into this.

"Are you sure? I just showed up in a form that is pleasing to you and that you would accept. You set yourself up."

"I have to keep my eyes open or I'll go off in the bright colors."

"That's the healers clearing your spirit."

I heard the name "Elijah" very clearly and I repeated it. But, Lili assured me that she had not spoken it. "He's here," she said. "You heard him. Others are here, too ... St. Michael, St. Francis, the aboriginal healers and Illuminara. Some amazing and powerful guides are here for you."

"I don't see them."

"In time, you will. It's a matter of tuning to the vibrational energies. You are a medium."

"I could be a medium?"

"No. You can't become what you already are. You need to heal and cleanse and you will tune into the vibrations. It's time for you to go upstairs."

I went upstairs to lie down. In time, Lili was kneeling by the side of the bed with her head bowed. "You look like an angel," I said with admiration.

"I am an angel," she replied.

I closed my eyes. When they opened again, Lili had risen to stand above me -- this time, not as an angel, but as a witch doctor in trance with arms stretched over me and hissing like a snake about to strike its prey. "Why don't you lie down," I said. "I don't need all this attention."

"Are you sure?" she asked. "Are you really sure of that? Some incredible guides have come to offer their support." As she bent down to look at me, her face appeared as Joan of Arc, then Mona Lisa, then Mother Mary - there were others I can't remember or didn't recognize - all feminine.

"You're Mother Mary," I said astonished. Her face looked like pure, sweet love.

"Yes, I am."

"Oh man, I must be in real trouble if they sent you."

She chuckled at the suggestion.

I am not Catholic and had only a very light Christian upbringing. I now identify as a secular Buddhist though, in fact, I don't feel committed to any belief system. There is no reason that Mother Mary would be expected to appear as a manifestion from my own mind. However, I saw her clearly and felt her pure, radiant love.

"I channel the energies - it's a matter of tuning to the vibrational energies. They showed up for you. The medicine helps you to receive it."

"I don't really need all this."

"Are you sure? One of your problems is that you feel unworthy. But, it's time to go beyond that. There is work to be done."

"Gawd, I must really be lost if all this is showing up for me. I must really be in trouble," I said, not ceasing to be amused with myself.

"I've never seen so much energy show up so early," Lili said brushing aside my amusement. I wondered why. "You have a disconnect between masculine and feminine -- this manifests in your spine. You are at a point where things could go in either direction. We want to bring you back. You must step up. You must decide to do the work."

There were journeys to past lives -- triumphs and failures -- a collapse and a higher remembering of it all. Lili was the warrior with me in the forest, the mother of my children, my slut, and the Virgin Mary.

Later in the evening, I went outside to sit alone in the hot tub under the moon and stars. My thoughts passed by various women I've known. In particular, I thought of Karen -- my ex-wife who I knew since we were about 10 years old. I have carried a great deal of anger towards her for the way she handled herself. "They're scared and they'll sell you out every time," my attorney had informed me of his experience with women facing divorce. Yet, that night I saw her pain -- the vision of a woman who longed and deserved to be loved but, instead, was discarded and abandoned. I saw a clear vision of her face contorted with grief -- confused as to why she'd been left alone when she had grown up so pretty and popular and worked hard to fit the mold of a good wife, a good person. I felt compassion for her. I remembered a lot of disconnect with other women, too -- betrayals, fear and mistrust. The feminine and masculine are so disconnected in our times -- yin and yang fighting against its one self.

The journey continued 2 nights later. That time, the medicine was a shaman brew from the Brazilian jungles. We were with Santo Diame at a home in Marin, singing hymns with women on one side of the room and men on the other. I experienced a lot of resistance to the fundamental religious foundation but, after the struggle, was able to surrender and appreciate the beauty that is present in all forms of love expression. I'll write more about this later.

The experiences were too many and profound to describe in this simple blog. What seemed most important was the opening to love -- a sweet celestial love that is beyond language. I remember a plaque I had on my desk as a child, "God is Love." I suppose that could have been the better title of this story. -- But, would you have read it??

We Are Not (Yet) 'One'

I worked as a volunteer at Spirit Rock Mediation Center yesterday. I thought that I might be writing today about "Secular Buddhism" as taught very well by Stephen and Martine Batchelor. However, something else disturbed the force -- something appalling and hypocritical. I deeply respect this organization, but I know it can do better than this.

I stood in the small office during lunch break when a woman came up to ask where she might sign up for the day-long event on Sunday. The other volunteer in the office turned quickly and said, "I'm sorry, it's for P-O-C." I don't think she actually spoke the letters -- it was more as if she mouthed them, "P-O-C".

"What's POC?" the woman asked.

"People of Color," was the whispered response. The woman looked perplexed.

"You're kidding," I blurted as I looked to the events coordinator to tell me that this wasn't so.

"It's for people who self-identify as a person of color," she explained in a mildly apologetic tone.

"I'm Jewish," replied the woman, as if it were a credential for such situations.

"You're cheeks are blushed -- maybe you just need a little more sun." My simplistic solution was dismissed without appreciation.

Apparently, in castrated Marin County politically-correct speak, a "self-identified person of color" translates to "a person who has feelings of separateness based upon the level of pigment in their skin." There also seems to be a component of wanting to be with one's own kind, again based on pigment. This sense of skin tone-based separate self is now reinforced as a Dharma gate for some activities at Spirit Rock. What an enlightened society we pretend to be -- or should it be "they"?  Dualism gets confusing.

I watched as a woman was turned away from Spirit Rock because of the color of her skin! The only option given to her was she was pointed to the "Suggestion Box" and told that she might state any objections there (she walked away instead). To add to the irony, this woman was just coming off retreat. There is always that "come back to reality" that hits one in the face when one comes off retreat, but this woman was hit with it before she even left the Spirit Rock grounds.

Separateness doesn't stop there. Regularly, yoga classes are restricted for women only -- a Y chromosome constitutes a hinerance to yoga practice at Spirit Rock.

If "self" is a delusion, are "POC-self" and "XX-self" special cases? We know the answer, of course, but we have to whisper it - it doesn't pass the test of light. The political issues have undercut the underlying social values. You'd think that those who self-identify as Buddhist would find a more enlightened approach to offer those who self-identify as separate. 

I love Spirit Rock and I appreciate the dedication and insight that so many teachers and staff offer to the adaptation of Buddhism to western culture. But, somebody doesn't appear to get the concept of non-duality and an open sangha -- somebody's not minding the store -- somebody's a hypocrite.

This can be fixed easily. Let's not segregate self and community by unskillful attachment to delusion and duality. It's quite simple and might appeal to those who self-identify as enlightened.

Truth Beyond Words

Do not believe in something because it is reported. Do not believe in something because it has been practiced by generations or becomes a tradition or part of a culture. Do not believe in something because a scripture says it is so. Do not believe in something believing a god has inspired it. Do not believe in something a teacher tells you to. Do not believe in something because the authorities say it is so. Do not believe in hearsay, rumor, speculative opinion, public opinion, or mere acceptance to logic and inference alone. Help yourself, accept as completely true only that which you test for yourself and know to be good for yourself and others.  

-- Buddha, The Kalama Sutta
Anguttara Nikaya 3.65
Sutta Pitaka, Pali Canon


You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can‘t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth - inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important. 
- Ajahn Chah


The Suttas need to be studied, reflected on, and practiced in order to realize their true meaning. They are not meant to be sacred scriptures‘ which tell us what to believe. One should read them, listen to them, think about them, contemplate them, and investigate the present reality, the present experience with them. Then, and only then, can one insightfully know the Truth beyond words. 
-Ajahn Sumedho

The Brain Separates Us






Thinking doesn't seem to help very much. The human brain is too high-powered to have many practical uses in this particular universe.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.



One of the things that I've been able to realize with confidence is that we humans -- probably all living organisms -- are more than biological matter. I'm not coming at this from a religious perspective -- religions are corrupted and dogmatic. But, I am convinced that a "spirit", "soul", "energy" -- whatever one chooses to call it -- inhabits this carcass of biological tissue for the time that it remains viable. Whether this energy returns to the ocean of cosmic energy when the physical body dies like a raindrop falling back to earth or whether it continues after death is the probably the question that is most important to our ego that strives for survival. Yet, I'm going to put the ego on hold and simply address the interaction of spirit with body for now. This is going to get murky. As I sift through my thoughts, I hear so many words of ancient wisdom recanted to remind me that this is a sorting out process rather than one of original synthesis. It's difficult to not be influenced by what's already been written.

Consider a "light" body existing in infinite space that enters a material body. The light body would experience some changes in perception. The physical body is far denser and less mobile. The human body is dependent primarily upon five senses that that have evolved to perceive the physical world and a developed brain to convert the continual flow of data input into a rational paradigm of perception. We're a bit like satellites sent into a harsh environment with sensors designed for specific purposes. We can pick up light in a narrow bandwidth that we call the "visible spectrum", distinguish vibrations in the "audible range", detect dissolved and airborne substances with taste and smell, and detect the immediate physical environment with touch senses. It's a shame that we don't have sonar like dolphins or bats, or infrared vision like a rattlesnake, electric field senses like some eels and rays, or magnetic field senses like honey bees and sea turtles. Perhaps, Human 4B.3 will have these features integrated into its nervous system, but for now we are still manufacturing such devices as add-ons. Who knows what else we are not detecting?

The brain compiles the data, screens it, and mashes it into a view of the world. Naturally, it ignores the data that isn't represented and the ego only sees what supports itself. The output from our biocomputer simply says, "This is your world based on the data. Have a nice day." My point here is that we are operating and accepting our world structure based upon very limited data -- and, we haven't even considered all the phenomena for which we don't even have scientific instruments to measure. But, there is more ...

We mangle the data!


PERSONALITY, EMOTION and EGO

The personality is usually seen as that sum of experience which is layered on top of our true nature. It is the sum of pleasures, fears, desires, triumphs, failures, etc. expressed as a package to the outside world. It's not who we are, but it is often seen that way.

(This post is under construction)



Emptiness


Form is emptiness, emptiness is form
-- Heart Sutra

Emptiness is one of the most important and poorly understood concepts of Eastern philosophy. To Westerners, conditioned to prefer things full and rich, empty usually has a negative connotation and often conveys apathetic, worthless, nihilistic or lacking. But, in several Eastern traditions, emptiness is highly valued. It can be used in various ways to state that everything is empty of absolute identity, permanence, or self. This is because everything is inter-related and mutually dependant - never fully self-sufficient or independent. All things are in a state of constant flux where energy and information are relentlessly flowing throughout the natural world giving rise to and themselves undergoing major transformations with the passage of time (ref: Wikipedia “Śūnyatā”). The subtleties that underlie this simple explanation of a complex concept have given rise to various schools and lineages of Eastern philosophy and academic debates.


Thus, "living in emptiness" may describe living with the realization of impermanence or lack of absolute identity. My layperson’s practical understanding of emptiness is concerned more with a state of stillness of mind. During meditation, we notice how active and proliferative the mind can be. Thoughts constantly arise and subside like overlapping wiffs of smoke. As we notice the emptiness of our thoughts, the mind settles and the chatter subsides. There is more available energy, it seems, to see things in their true nature. The mind empties its thoughts and delusions and space is created for clarity, insight and awareness to arise. The reactive mind becomes a mind interactive with the true nature of things around it.

Much of the insight gained during meditation is also empty -- afterall, we're just watching our mind turn as we sit on a cushion. We can investigate and contemplate, but it's only a “practice”. The higher intention is to live in emptiness. This is a quality that most highly sufficient people seem to have to varying extents. The best scientists, musicians, and artists hold a noticable noble stillness that manifests in the skillfullness of their work.

A bucket that is intended to carry water will not perform its function if it is filled with sand or gold.

11

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Tao Te Ching
- Lao-tzu
S. Mitchell Adaptation

“The Noble Path & The Red Road”

I’m mindful today of participating yesterday in an Indian Sweat Lodge ceremony with Fred Wahpepah, a 79-year-old Native American elder, some of his friends, and members of the Spirit Rock community.I won’t pretend to understand the custom, so I won’t try to explain the origin or hundreds of years of history -- as I would undoubtedly mislead you. I’ll just reflect on the events of the day, keeping in mind that it is a sacred ritual and I'm sure that I don't have everything correct.

The day began with the usual sitting and walking meditations. After a light lunch, we reconvened around a blazing campfire. There was some drumming, some prayers were said, chants were sung, and some pipes smoked (tree bark, according to Fred - nothing from Mendocino County). Behind the fire sat a “lodge” framed with willow tree branches and covered with heavy blankets – it was probably not more than 4 feet tall at the center. The floor was earth, covered with blankets. Fred explained that the ceremony was a ritualistic re-entering of the womb to commune with the Spirits Guides.

We were bathed in smoke from burning sage as we crawled into the lodge on our hands and knees – 26 souls. It was cramped and claustrophobic by the time we were all squished in. The blanket that served as our door was closed and we sat in complete darkness. There was more drumming, more chanting and more prayers. The door opened and a red-hot stone from the fire carried on a pitchfork was passed through and placed into a pit dug at the center of the lodge. It was sprinkled with pine shavings that flared when they touched the hot stone, releasing a pungent smell. Then several other stones were passed in and sprinkled before the door was closed again. The stones glowed red in the complete darkness and radiated heat in all directions. We all began to sweat – I can say “we” because, though it was not visible, I could feel the sweat from the people on either side of me mix with my own. Water was poured on the hot rocks and the sweat ran off our bodies like rain drops. Then we began a circle prayer – each person in the lodge was to say their own prayer followed by “Ho!”, to which everyone else chanted “HO!!!”. My prayer was for peace and enlightenment between diverse nations, diverse cultures and diverse people – it seemed appropriate and I felt a deep sense of integrity as I spoke the words. Others prayed about difficult situations, sick loved ones, lost friends or peace.

The door opened again halfway through the circle prayer bringing a few rays of sunlight. More importantly, cool fresh air entered -- it felt incredible. A jug of water was passed around from which we all drank – it tasted incredible. Then, the door was closed and we finished the prayer circle. We completed the ceremony with some singing, chanting and more prayer. I felt complete and silently sighed in relief as the door opened again for the final time. I survived -- I wasn’t absolutely certain that I would.

After rinsing off with a garden hose, we setup a feast in the meadow. Fred prepared the first plate – a small sampling of everything that had been brought to eat. A prayer was said and Fred asked that the plate be placed on the ground in the meadow as an invitation for the Spirit Guides to join us.

Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, I was startled to hear the Spirit Guides speaking in their native tongue. I wish I knew what they said.

Ego

Our material universe is an illusion of mind and sense perception that is contained by ego. The sense of separation portrayed by ego is a quality that creates a dance by giving us moving reference points within an infinite universe. Recognizing that each egoic universe is a very small part of the unlimited universe opens up dimensions beyond our self-imposed limitations. Yet, I suspect that the egoic universe is similar to a holographic representation of the infinite universe -- containing all of the information of the infinite universe no matter how small the egoic universe is.
Ego has a dualistic nature in the material world. It sustains itself here and is useful here. Yet, it is definition from the Void or "Oneness" -- separating us from the higher realms. It is the ignorance and the experience.

The psychic ("personal") membranes described in "Revealed" (below) are a manifestation of the ego, though I didn't recognize a label for them at that time since the experience was non-languaged. Ego tends to have a negative connotation, but it is not 'bad'. It can be sticky -- mindlessly attaching to other egos and objects outside of one's own universe. It's important to free the ego of these attachments and allow the universe within to expand. A healthy ego can contain a much larger universe to experience and allow easier access to the infinite.
The ego is unconscious -- it isn't who you are. Adyashanti said that enlightenment is seeing without ego. Yet, I doubt if it involves the destruction of ego. The collective ego is evolving. The enlightened human experience benefits from a pure and healthy ego until one decides to ulimately release back into the infinite.

The Ultimate Journey


There is no beginning, there is no end,
There is only change.
There is no teacher, there is no student,
There is only remembering.
There is no good, there is no evil,
There is only expression.
There is no union, there is no sharing,
There is only one.
There is no joy, there is no sadness,
There is only love.
There is no greater, there is no lesser,
There is only balance.
There is no stasis, there is no entropy,
There is only motion.
There is no wakefulness, there is no sleep,
There is only being.
There is no limit, there is no chance,
There is only a plan.

-- Robert Monroe

OBE and Meta-science

"Universal Intelligence"
Ingo Swann, 1981

I spent many hours last weekend listening to some fascinating recordings provided by The Monroe Institute (TMI) of "Out-of-body Experience" (OBE) sessions with some of the people they worked with in isolation using their Hemi-Sync technology (the "Explorer Series"). As the subjects reached various "levels", described by Monroe, they often encountered spirits that have lived as humans on earth. In more than one case, the spirits offered details about who they were on earth -- details such as names, city, date of death, where they went to school, where they worked, how they died, etc. Apparently, these were never able to be verified.

I've worked through the entire "Gateway Voyage" series of recordings from TMI that are the basis of a 1-week residential course offered both at the campus in Virgina and at IONS in Petaluma, CA. They utilize the Hemi-Sync binaural beat technology for brainwave entrainment. As the binaural beats slow to the what I presume is the Theta level (it's "patented technology", so we don't really know what they're doing), the mind enters a deep meditative state, from which the moderator, Robert Monroe in most cases, coaches you to experience higher and higher levels of OB awareness. There's definitely some degree of suggestive hypnosis going on. I reached very deep states of meditation, but I don't think I experienced OB -- certainly, not to the extent that subjects recorded in the "Explorer Series" did. It's very eerie, though -- one feels very close to drifting off to another realm. However, what often happens is that you drift off to sleep -- termed "clicking out" in TMI terms. So, one must practice becoming VERY relaxed while staying fully awake. The 1-week course is only intended to be an introduction to the experience.

The hard science approach was done decades ago at
SRI and SAIC. Much of the research was funded by the CIA and some of it was "declassified" in 1995. Much has been written by people close to the projects (see: Superpowers of the Human Biomind).


The default scientific position is skepticism. I suspect that most reported OBE's are actually lucid dreams or other illusions of the mind caused by loss of sensory awareness. Yet, I tend to think that this is possible -- perhaps, not in the way we usually think about it.

True Nature

A day with A. H. Almaas
at Spirit Rock

All spiritual beliefs are interpretation. What we call spiritual is just the next stage of maturity. We can't find what we're looking for because our minds are in the way -- many subtle ways. True Nature is beyond the sensations of the body -- not created by mind or teachings. The practice is to not try to change ourselves or our experience -- also, not to try to keep it the same. Hands off -- just let it be.

Suffering doesn't go to True Nature -- it is superimposed over it. Be fully in contact with your experience, whatever it is, without trying to make it different. Be aware of the experience without trying to judge it or make it better. Our minds are hard-wired to want to keep things "desirable" and get rid of everything "undesirable". We judge what we like as "good" rather than simply experience it. True Nature accepts it all -- with an open heart. It takes practice. We're already there, we just need to get in touch with it.

In pure luminous awareness (Nirvana), one doesn't do anything so as not to change things. It's similar to the Heisenberg Principle of physics. If you grab for it, you change it. If you desire it or avoid it, you change it. Rather feel full and open -- allowing rather than grasping. Recognize each moment without doing anything to it. Understand completely the texture of the moment.

Be where you are and inquire into it -- be interested in it until it reveals itself. The self becomes an organ of perception -- the very nature of self is self-revealing. Don't try to transition -- wherever you are is truth. True Nature has its own intelligence.

Enlightenment is just the beginning of another journey. The human potential is infinite.

Revealed

I spent 36 hours in silent meditation over New Years Eve and Day. The phones and AV systems were off, candles were lit, fireplaces burned upstairs and downstairs – quiet and stillness prevailed. I didn’t have extended sleep, but only napped for short periods. Language is insufficient to describe the experience that ensued.

“The Tao that can be spoken of is not the constant Tao”.

The experiences over the past couple of days have changed my perception of the boundary between the physical and spiritual realms. It's going to take a while to assimilate what I saw, digest it, and apply it to everyday being. What I saw seemed very real, but so different than what I'd imagined. I want to write about it now before my mind begins to rationalize it. I’m sharing this experience of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with you as my friends and you can choose to accept any part of it or ignore this all in its entirety.

Our material world seemed to be constructed of a vast membrane that holds all life in this realm – humans, plants, animals and the even soil from which it grows. I emerged from this physical layer as my spirit emerged from my physical body. It seemed that I was then suspended at a vantage point where I could observe the physical realm in its entirety.

I saw a flurry of spirit beings popping in and out of the membrane. They live in the material world while in the membrane and, for some reason not explained, are not aware of the spirit world until they again pop out of the membrane. Some spirits did not appear to be out for long before they re-entered the membrane -- others seemed to hover for a while in the cloud, but I couldn't track them. The membrane seemed energized by the spirits popping in and out of it.

Entering the physical realm precipitated loss of insight and awareness. I was struck by the dramatic shift to ignorance once inside (or through) the membrane. There was a pathetic quality to this lack of awareness, yet it was not revealed why this occurs. It may simply be a quality that goes with living in the physical world. I could sense beings in the physical realm who know of the truth – the enlightened ones, though they represented an extremely small percentage of the total population.

The laws governing the regions beyond the membrane appeared quite different and amenable to will. Space and time were distorted from what we are accustomed to experiencing in the physical realm. The laws of the physical realm don’t seem to apply. It was lighter and more free. Space and time were easily transversed. Complex concepts could be communicated without language.

Physical laws govern the material world and did not seem to be readily manipulated. Here I felt that one must accept the limitations of physical laws in order to live in the physical realm. Therefore, those residing within the membrane seemed to be best served by working within its restrictions rather than attempting to effect or expect spiritual solutions. Knowledge, understanding and awareness are very important to moving in the material realm freely and they are rare qualities here.

The immediate purpose for entering the physical realm seems to be to create and expand it, but the greater purpose(s) for creating it was not revealed. The material realm is a much newer realm than the spiritual realm(s) and appeared to be under construction -- there is allot of energy being put into creating it. Further, I had the sense that this is one of many realms and that realms exist within realms on a very vast scale.

I saw that we can be creative in this material world and allow what we do to succeed or fail without judgment – essentially, in an evolutionary manner. It’s a living laboratory. We can play here and experiment here, build things and allow them to be torn down – technology, political and social structures. There is no right or wrong – just an evolution of a dynamic spiritual slurry within this environment. Individual accomplishments seemed unimportant -- generations of accomplishment of entire cultures can be wiped out without hardly being noticed. Still, there seemed to be a motivation to create, maintain, expand, and perhaps refine the physical realm. So, while there is no lasting egoic accomplishment to be fulfilled, there was still a perception that our participation contributes to the greater will.

One important theme from both nights was the benefit and necessity in freeing one's self. On the first night, I was aware of a personal membrane that contains me -- each other being also has one. The numerous membranes interact dynamically with and flow past each other. Attachments can form with other membranes like sticky atrophic plaques that inhibit our free movement. I found that I could free myself by letting go and by not clinging to ideas, fears, anger, or material possession. Allowing my own membrane to flow smoothly and without restraint felt far healthier. Relationships could be maintained by dynamic free interaction rather than attachment; unhealthy attachments were simply let go. It was a very freeing experience as if my boat had been cut loose from the weeds it was stuck in.

This theme manifested differently on the second night. I saw that most beings in the material world carry around loads of junk that manifests about their spirit – like dust and mud, it seemed to accumulate with age, weighing the spirit down and preventing it from being healthy and able to move about freely. This was what struck me most about what was revealed – this accumulated junk is so crippling. It creates such an impediment to our progress here – it’s responsible for so much stupidity and unpleasantness. It was simply stunning, pathetic and sad to see how much junk physical beings carry around with them. I could see beings covered in junk trying to instruct others on how to manage in this realm – sincere, but vain attempts to help – the blind attempting to lead the blind. I perceived a great need to be free of this psychic junk and to convey or demonstrate to others ways to do this.

Negativity in the material realm appeared to be mostly due to the ignorance. I noticed many false leaders and teachers, often (but not always) well-intentioned, who were attempting to lead others while lost in their own ignorance.

Finally, I was struck by the sense that I was seeing things as I believe I saw them as a toddler. It took a while for me to understand why this had a very odd but familiar look. It's a very different perception of the world than that of an adult. Perhaps, what we see as adults is a trained illusion painted over truth while the toddler’s mind is undeveloped and unable to see the illusion. It's something I want to try to look at and notice.

This is only my perception of what I saw - it may be looked at and interpreted differently by someone else.