This was to be part two of the introduction to the book that would explain what Rita and I had learned in extensive conversations with The Guys Upstairs. Rita’s training as academic comes through quite clearly here, I think.
As Frank has reported, Bob Monroe turned his Explorer program over to my husband Martin and me shortly after his new lab was opened in early l984. Here is how that came about.
In 1979 Bob and his family had sold their home (“Whistlefield”) near Charlottesville, Virginia, and re-located about 30 miles south, in rural Nelson County, to build The Monroe Institute (TMI). He opened the first Gateway Voyage program in July, l979.
A friend and I had read about Bob’s work in his first book, Journeys out of the Body, and were eager to visit the Institute and participate in a Gateway. Fortunately, we were able to attend the second program given in Virginia, in August, 1979. My world changed in that week as it did for many who have experienced Gateway. [Those who have written about that life-changing event include Joseph McMoneagle (Mind Trek); Bruce Moen (Voyages into the Unknown), Ronald Russell (The Vast Enquiring Soul); F. Holmes Atwater (Captain of my Ship, Master of my Soul), and Frank himself (Muddy Tracks).]
I had thought of myself as a rather stodgy University professor during the l970s and early 1980s, although I had had some periods showing promise earlier. During Gateway, my life was full of color and amazing adventures, experiences beyond ego. I hadn’t planned to retire from teaching for another ten years or so, but when Bob offered lots near TMI for sale in 1980, I couldn’t resist. Martin, having already retired, came down to the New Land to build a large house so that we would have room for us and for Nan Wilson (the friend with whom I had done Gateway) and, shortly thereafter, Darlene Miller. Bob offered another Gateway for New Landers (as we were now being called) and although I was concerned that a second Gateway could offer nothing so incredible a second time, Nan and I attended, and I did indeed have more heart-warming and soul-stirring experiences.
At the time we moved to the New Land, in 1983, Bob was building his new lab. He soon was ready to use the help of early residents of the New Land, including Dave and Jean Wallis, Bob Felix and his wife, and ourselves. By February of l984, the lab was usable for “black box” sessions, although the new isolation chamber wasn’t yet ready. Instead, we placed subjects in an old bed with electrodes on their fingers (and sometimes toes). The room had wires hanging about and being fed through the walls to a space on the outside that we called the control room. In the control room were a couple of little machines that were supposed to measure physiological reactions in the subjects.
When the lab was finally set up to begin experimental sessions, Martin and I were asked to attend a meeting that included Bob, Joe McMoneagle, Bob and Lindy Felix, and a few others who had participated in getting the lab set up. Lindy was asked to play the role of subject in the bed. Bob started to ask her questions through the mike and ear phones arrangements. Then he motioned to me to take over the monitor’s chair. I was almost dumb-struck, never having visualized myself in such a role. (That was Bob’s role!) I stumbled around, hemming and hawing. Finally, Joe took pity on me and suggested several questions that I might ask. (Bless you, Joe.) At the end of this painful exercise, I returned to my original seat at the meeting and Bob, who loved making grand gestures, walked across the room and dropped the lab keys in my lap. He said he would like to have me run the Explorer program.
Two main roles were identified in the control room, monitor and technician. The monitor was in continual contact with the subject via ear phones, while microphones carried the dialogue. The technician listened in and kept track of the physiological readings and briefly reported content of each session on a minute-by-minute chart, noting important events in the subject’s experience. The sessions were, of course, tape recorded.
In getting the lab ready and in our early experimentation, the tone was playful. After all, this was Bob’s hobby we were playing with. However, once we were really ready to go, our level of seriousness changed completely. Bob identified our goal as “asking questions that would result in information that would be of value to all mankind.” Thus, our questions included such topics as: consciousness, health and healing, environment and earth changes, nature of the universe, and various spiritual and philosophical questions. Beyond that, we asked many questions concerning the process in which we were engaged. What was the source of information we were being given and how was the information transmitted?
Volunteers to become subjects in the new lab were numerous from the start. The volunteers were primarily people who had been able to make good use of TMI programs, people for whom listening to the Hemi-Sync sounds in a protected setting had led to altered states of consciousness and experiences of considerable value to themselves and others. As we all knew, Bob in his earlier lab at Whistlefield had run explorer sessions, using some subjects in many sessions, including Rosie McKnight (author of Cosmic Journeys), Shea St. John and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. During the four years that Martin and I ran the Explorer program, hundreds of subjects participated in sessions. Most subjects had only one session, though one had more than 100.
When, after four years, Martin and I decided that we wanted to try retirement again, TMI found that they could not find volunteers to continue in our roles. I drew up a proposal for a follow-on program, focusing on booth sessions as personal explorations for individuals willing to pay a fee for the experience, to be run by a psychologist on TMI staff. This proposal was accepted and PREP (Personal Resources Exploration Program) has been operating since 1988.
Our retirement did not mean that we ceased our interaction with TMI. I took most of the advanced workshops that developed over the years; Martin participated in some. We worked as monitors in the lab now and then during crowded times such as the annual meetings of the Professional Division. I also conducted some evaluation research on a new advanced program, and I served and still serve on the Board of Advisors.
During the 1990s we withdrew into the quiet but friendly atmosphere of the New Land, but for a number of years I fell into a spiritual depression. By this, I don’t mean that I was without spiritual beliefs. But I had grown spiritually in very active ways during many periods of my life, including the early days at TMI. Now, I felt dissatisfied – nothing growth-stimulating was happening. Martin had been a committed student of A Course in Miracles since before the manuscripts became books. I was a student also but did not find all my questions answered there.
One day in 1998, after Frank had been visiting our mutual friend Dave Wallis in the hospital, he exited the elevator as I waited to go up. Someone introduced us and Frank said, spontaneously, “Well, it’s about time.” Meaning, I guess, that although we had not met, we had heard about each other, as we were both living on the New Land.
Soon after, Frank came to visit my husband Martin and me to ask some questions about Bob Monroe and the early days at TMI. He knew that Martin and I had run the Explorer program and had spent many, many hours with Bob and his wife Nancy, and thus were familiar with “the early days.” A couple of conversations, and that was about it.
Martin made his transition in April, 2000, so clear in his spiritual understandings of the process of dropping the physical body, and relieved that his transition-time had come. As Frank has said, Martin came to him that day and suggested that Frank and I stay in touch.
In July, with the help of a gifted psychic, Elizabeth Fitzhugh, I had a verbal interchange with Martin. He explained several events that occurred before and during his transition that I had not understood previously. Even though we believe that the human spirit continues beyond the body, it was reassuring to hear a particular well-known spirit speak of events that I recognized.
Then, over the next year and a half, The Plan led Frank and me through the whole thing, the whole series of meetings and conversations, the e-mails and the phone calls, the laughing and the sharing, becoming comfortable with each other and building trust. But, of course, we weren’t told what was coming next. It “just happened” after I was moved to suggest that we try a session in my house.
All but two of the sessions between Frank/TGU and myself took place in the guest room of my home. (The other two sessions were held in the black box in TMI laboratory, with its advantage of isolating Frank from environmental distractions.) In my home, Frank lay comfortably on a bed. Quiet normally prevailed, although twice during the sessions, a phone rang in another room and had to be dealt with. Light was minimal but still could be somewhat distracting. In early sessions, Frank relaxed by listening via earphones to Monroe’s Hemi-Sync sounds and joined the tape in “resonant tuning,” a form of humming that helps the process. Gradually, both of these relaxation processes were dropped because they were not needed. Frank was able on his own to drop into an altered state where TGU was easily available.
In each session, for 45 minutes to an hour, I asked questions of TGU using a common interview style of asking broad questions first and follow-on questions to expand the topic. For most sessions I prepared several topics that I hoped we could cover. (According to TGU, the topics were suggested by their guidance or guidance of my own. As we will see, TGU indicates that, in general, we “capture” more of our thoughts than we create.)
I was interested in the structure of Frank’s process with TGU. My prior experience suggested that two possible processes took place in this type of communication. In the first, the individual in the booth received questions from the monitor, proceeded to search for this information from whatever source they contacted, then reported it back to the monitor. In the second, following the questions from the monitor, the explorer in the booth simply allowed the information to flow though their vocal cords directly, without the two-step process. Fairly frequently the person using the first process later began to let the information flow in directly, cutting out the middle man, so to speak. This process is often called “channeling.”
In the early days at TMI, channeling had a bad name. Bob Monroe insisted that neither he nor explorers in the booth channeled. This attitude seemed to be based on Bob’s belief that there was something nonveridical about channeling. I asked Leslie France, who worked with Bob during this period, to describe Bob’s attitude toward channeling. Her response was:
“Bob’s aim was to demystify the process of interdimensional communication in part by refusing to use any of the currently ‘charged’ words associated with the various phenomena, even including the word ‘spiritual’ which is why he made up so much of the language in his books. ‘Channeling’ fell into this charged word category. Bob felt that if he described the explorer’s work as channeling, his audience (readers and participants) would automatically filter the material according to their beliefs and biases about the word, and miss the real meaning of the material.”
Frank assured me early on that he did not “channel,” meaning that he remained conscious the entire time in a session. His definition of “channeling” and perhaps his attitudes toward it were based on the Edgar Cayce material.
At any rate the issue of awareness during the process of reporting information from contacts with non-embodied energies is not as simple as whether the recipient was or was not conscious. The degree of awareness varies, not only between recipients, but also over a session, and between the sessions of one person. The person reporting the experience may feel as though the words are coming unbidden through his or her vocal cords, or they may be hearing the words as though they are sitting in a lecture hall. In either case, the words may be fully recorded in their memory, totally forgotten, or vaguely or partially remembered.
In Frank’s case, he continues over many sessions to feel that he (i.e., the physical Frank) is present but that he is not the source of the information nor the director of the flow. At the end of a session, he may remember very little but will recognize the material when it is called to his attention.
During a session, TGU hears the question or comment from me, often before I have completed it. Frank senses TGU’s response – sometimes with a visual, sometimes not. If there is a visual, Frank’s job is to describe what it means. If he experiences a “knowing,” he attempts to express the ideas in words with frequent use of analogies and metaphors. The language that comes seems to be fed to Frank a phrase or a sentence a time without his conscious mind knowing what is coming.
This process has communalities with others who bring in information from nonphysical energies, but also has unique features. In my experience, the unique feature here is the close working relationship between TGU and Frank’s conscious mind. Frank isn’t just reporting TGU’s responses. He isn’t just interpreting what they have to say. The collaboration continually involves both parties as though they are one.
Relevant to the questions of awareness and memory, the issues of other bodily processes intrigue us. Frank feels extremely cold during sessions. Blankets are called for. Even more intriguing, Frank often arrived for a session wheezing, coughing, and having great breathing difficulties. But the minute he was in touch with TGU, all signs of asthma were gone. I did not realize this until a later session, but this phenomenon had become apparent to Frank in 1996 in the course of a session conducted by his friend and business partner Ed Carter. Frank had had Carter ask TGU why, when he was talking to them, he was not coughing, and as soon as communication ceased, he was coughing again. TGU told him that our physical health is actually “a relationship between our various bodies (physical, emotional, mental, astral) and our innumerable mental states,” and that health may be affected by changing either end of the body-mind polarity. Changes to the bodies tend to persist but are harder to bring about. Changes in mental state are evanescent but are, therefore, quite easy to bring about.
Frank says that when he was `where’ he goes mentally when he talks to TGU, the specific mind-body combination that had resulted in coughing was in abeyance. One end of the polarity had moved. When he returned to normal consciousness, he moved back where he had been, and the coughing resumed. The guys said this explains why people with multiple personality disorder may have one personality who is diabetic and another who is not. In each case, the body is the same, obviously; but the mind-body equation, so to speak, is not.
Knowing this, why can’t Frank prevent asthma symptoms when he is not in conscious contact with TGU? As we shall learn, symptoms as well as many other personal issues are there for a purpose.
Working with guidance ought to simplify all our work. TGU recommends just looking to see what’s next at hand and doing it. No planning necessary, no designing nor organizing questions, nor figuring out the clearest way to phrase them, no evaluation to determine whether the content of the response was sufficient to complete the information. Don’t worry about writing up the experiences and findings; just have fun. Write irresponsibly, they said. Let the intuitions roll.
Interesting that F/TGU asked me to work with them. Scholars like me use all of the processes mentioned above to do the job, hopefully not in a rigid way but in a thoughtful and reflective way. It is amazing that it has worked as well as it has. In reading the transcripts, it is possible to find times when there was a disconnect between questions and answers and questions. But, by and large, the interview sessions went very well. And the writing occurred – easy for Frank, harder for me.
Coming into Session 1 with Frank and TGU, I was aware that it had been more than ten years since I had interviewed non-embodied energies. True, I had done this many times while working in the Explorer program. And I had talked with Frank about TGU and had read their quoted material in Muddy Tracks. I felt a great deal of respect and appreciation for this energy source. I very much wanted to do a satisfactory job of bringing forth their perspective on our lives and their situation. I was highly motivated to find out as much as I could about TGU energy and their role and function in Frank’s life and in the lives of us all.
A further question arose for me in trying to understand the process going on between Frank and other explorers and the non-embodied energies speaking through them. Was the source of the information external energies or the “higher selves” of the person reporting? (Some explorers felt that, if the source was internal, they might be making it up. The issue of doubt is pervasive among explorers, including Frank. As a fear, these doubts can only interfere with the whole process. )
While working at TMI, I had decided that the inside/outside issue was irrelevant. Inside/outside is a physical dimension, and we are not dealing with a physical process here. Others have argued that this is theoretically a crucial question. (See Hastings, Arthur. With the Tongues of Angels) Most explorers seemed to feel that the source was external, as did Bob Monroe in early days. In the later part of his career, Monroe clearly felt that he was dealing with other “grander” parts of himself. Transmissions from TGU indicate that they and Frank are one, and that we are always dealing with two points of view: One focuses on our separation as individuals and one focuses on our Oneness. In other words, Frank is both an individual and a part of the Oneness that includes, of course, TGU.
The early interviews felt like training sessions for me. In addition to learning how to see and interpret our world, I was being charged with learning a perspective and a process that was directly relevant to my questioning of TGU. I focused on trying to find out who “the guys upstairs” are. (In fact, I returned to the subject during the whole series of sessions.) The first few sessions were filled with TGU rejection of my questions because the questions were loaded with inaccurate assumptions. They especially rejected questions that suggested that we are separate as individuals and separate from them. They also rejected definitions of themselves as a group, a council or a cluster because those terms imply a collection of individuals. When I asked whether I was speaking with an individual or a group, TGU insisted that it was a meaningless question because it is a matter of viewpoints. They agreed that we could think of them as a task force working with Frank and others. They rejected at first the idea that they had been assigned to Frank, but presented themselves as an affinity group. When I finally asked them if I could call them you-all, they agreed that the term you didn’t imply singular or plural and was thus acceptable. When I tried to find out how many were in the task force, they began to tease me with suggesting 30 ½ or 29 ¼. The teasing has never stopped.
They also challenged my use of all language that implies space and time. (I had experienced this issue before in our work in the Monroe lab.) The difficulty in avoiding this language is immense and probably not worth working toward. However, it is very useful to hear from TGU the problem it imposes for them. They see us living in “time slices” whereas they view the whole of time at once. Spacially, we see things in geographical units or perceive phenomena in movement (for example, we see ourselves as moving from our Here to their There as we leave our physical bodies) while they see the whole.
In the early sessions, many areas that required follow-up did not get follow-up at that time, because I didn’t understand sufficiently the implications of what they were saying. Fortunately, the big issues did arise again in later sessions so that questions could be further explored. When I confessed my lack of understanding to the guys, they were very reassuring. After all, the whole idea of Frank and I doing these sessions, as well as the timing of them, and the specific questions asked were the result of guidance – either TGU or mine (so far, nameless).
In the past I have known individuals who channeled for a fairly lengthy period of time and eventually seemed to become one with their source. That is, they could no longer separate themselves from their source and could no longer speak for their “Downstairs” self alone. Frank increasingly moved toward this position as the sessions progressed. Some individuals find this a difficult spot to be in since others often assume that material from a channeled source will be superior to that coming from “downstairs.” My sense is that when Frank gets into a completely relaxed state, even when he is not in a reclining position or specifically asking for TGU’s input, he can easily speak from an “Upstairs” position.
TGU reported that Frank and I have an affinity relationship that allows for our working together comfortably. Frank’s role is that of a journalistic reporter and my role is “professional thinker” who asks good questions. There are enough differences between us to set up a polarity so that questions and answers are needed. And, of course, Frank and I are both willing.
The early sessions with Frank were focused on learning what I could about TGU. Although Frank had worked with them for a number of years, his interest was in receiving information in response to his specific questions. I wanted to know more about how they described themselves as an energy source and how their interaction with Frank and others worked. One of the first things I found out is that they communicate information behaviorally. That is, the nature of the response makes their point.
Time and time again in our sessions, TGU reminded us that we were always dealing with two points of view – one that focused on our separation as individuals or groups and one that focused on our Oneness. They do not see themselves as a group of cooperating individuals, but rather as parts of a unified organism. Even so, when they respond to our questions, there is a specific energy involved, an energy which is most appropriate in responding to that question. So, are they individuals? Yes. Are they a unified organism? Yes.
In further trying to understand the nature of the interaction between TGU and Frank, I asked how they proceeded in answering one of Frank’s questions or one of my questions. They said they don’t act as a discussion group, deciding how to respond. Instead, they represent a pooling of information and a question to them focuses the information, brings relevant information together for a response. I wondered whether they ever advised Frank to proceed in a certain way or recommended an alternate way. There are rare occasions where they might step in with advice but, there is nothing more respected than free will. Their advice may also remain at an unconscious level. Inevitably, their perspective – since it is larger – is always different from his and they will always make their perspective known to him if he is interested or doesn’t block it out. Their information comes in the form of hunches, intuitions, feelings or emotions.
TGU’s view of the world comes through Frank’s eyes and the eyes of others. Because they have several sources of information, depth is added to their field and clarity of focus as well. Our perception is based on our choices and our essence or flavor is created by what we choose. We perceive in relative isolation and transmit our understandings to each other in the crude ways. They have a million ways of perceiving from millions of sources, and they can focus on any time or place. So, perceptually, the advantage is on their side. Action potential is on our side. Our “doing” is in creating ourselves and that is TGU.
I asked them about their emotional reactions. We might find their realm relatively chilly emotionally, they report, because for them an emotional response will be spread over a wider area. Would they have a negative emotional response to a catastrophe like Hitler? They would tend to see that more as an interesting natural phenomenon like an electrical storm than as a life and death battle between good and evil. Do they experience something like love? Yes, without the warm fuzziness. Love to them is the interpenetration of being, the fundamental oneness of everything, a binding energy. Then they reminded us that just as everything primarily looks separate until we remind ourselves that it is not, to them everything primarily looks as one until they remind themselves that it can be seen otherwise.
As the sessions progressed and our relationship became more like conversation, the content became more complex. One content area to which we returned a number of times was the discussion of reincarnation. Frank did not agree with TGU’s description of the reincarnation process. The problem agitated him and made him crabby. At first, I also wasn’t sure I understood the guy’s description of the process, but then I had a vivid dream that cleared the picture for me. And Frank finally (after the sessions were over) understood and accepted TGU’s interpretation. I think.
In connection with the process of moving in and out of a series (?) of lifetimes, TGU reminds us that Earth is not the only playground and that lifetimes don’t have to follow a set of rules re number or schedule or dimension or kinds of experiences. There are millions of paths and all are valid. What it boils down to, finally:
“You are us. It’s just that you’re over there right now. Again, of course, most of you isn’t over there right now! [they laugh] You’re still over here! But the part of you that we’re talking to experiences yourself as over there.”
The impact of the TGU Material
What has changed for Frank and for me as a result of these experiences? I would prefer that Frank answer this question for himself, but he doesn’t seem to enjoy being self-reflective. I have observed in him greater stretches of calmness. He seems more centered and relaxed, and he agrees with this description. TGU has joined him consciously more of the time (TGU would argue that Frank has joined them rather than vice versa).
My self-reflection tells me that I have made some mental, emotional and psychological changes during our adventures. There have been a number of ways in which the statements of TGU have been particularly powerful for me.
1. Choosing. Our assignment in this life is to choose and choose and choose again. Being exposed to all of the contacts with TGU led to greater awareness that we are continually choosing minute by minute in our lives. After all, if that is our main purpose in life, it is much better to bring it totally into consciousness. It is our way of continually creating ourselves.
Intellectually, I can almost understand the idea of an unlimited number of paths that our choices send us on – choices of specific realities that we make at every moment. I don’t operationally comprehend that or it would incapacitate me.
2. Stretching our consciousness. Our current step developmentally is to bring all parts of ourselves to awareness. “Filling our crystal with awareness” is the way TGU phrases it. Looking at everything from an upstairs (Oneness) and a downstairs (individual) perspective is a TGU recommendation; I am trying to do that as a way of redefining myself, remembering that the greater part of myself remains in the nonphysical.
3. Losing the dualities of here and there, now and then, us and them. In the timeless and spaceless world of TGU, we are in no way separate from them, and only here and now exist. We can bring our conscious focus on to the here and now, as is often recommended, and it is a useful thing to do since this is really what we have to work with. And knowing that we are One with our guidance is reassuring indeed.
4. Communication with guidance. This whole book is a reflection of how easy it is for Frank to dialogue with his guidance. It has not been so easy for me. In the past my conscious use of guidance has been to ask my guardian or angel to help me in a delicate situation; i.e., to speak through me when I felt unsure of my ability to speak appropriately on my own. And, of course, I have often ask for protection for my children. But making requests is a long way from a dialogue.
Recently, I have been surprised to find guidance speaking to me. First thing in the morning before I am completely awake but continuing for a bit after I am awake. Not a dream. The content usually has to do with suggestions for the day, especially in relation to the book. Is this TGU? Is it some form of guidance of my own? I don’t know. The voice seems separate from me but I know it isn’t. I will continue to give it my attention and hope that it turns in to an on-going communication.
5. The body. I have spent a lot of time grumbling about the body – its needs and deficiencies. I try to feel grateful to it as well; it has kept me functioning for a long time. TGU says that the body gives us a point of view, a set of abilities and a locus in time and space. That sounds pretty good. The body is holding together all the various bundles of energy that we brought into this life – a life that we had some part in planning. I am feeling more appreciative.
6. Other lives. TGU’s recommendation for stretching our consciousness includes identifying and integrating our other lifetimes into our present life. Frank is able to do this with a number of other lifetimes. When he speaks or behaves in certain fashions, he often says: Oh, that’s the David Poynter part of me, the Katrina part of me, the Egyptian part and so on. I have been able to identify one other lifetime in great detail and four others in short flashbacks, but I have no experience with seeing those lifetimes integrated with the present. There is still work for me to do in this regard, another part of redefining ourselves.
7. All is well. All is always well. This is a frequent comment by TGU and one we most enjoy hearing. Stress is released and inner peace supported. Human beings need to remember, for example, that dropping the body is not a tragedy. Just part of the plan the person participated in developing for that lifetime. Remember that we are all volunteers in whatever events occur, says TGU. All is well. All is always well.
8. End of spiritual depression. As mentioned earlier, I came to this project following a period of feeling stuck on a path of spiritual development. A period of waiting may have been important, as TGU suggested. However, I was delighted to move on with the help of F/TGU. The sessions allowed me to move my attention to the process and the content of different ways of thinking about our interconnection with the other side. It allowed me, as well, to ask the kinds of questions that had been accumulating for me in the past decade and a half. As Frank talks about more sessions and another book, I overcome my feelings of being old and tired and rejoice in the opportunity to continue growing with the help of these friends.
My part of the Introduction is over except to say how much joy and laughter Frank has brought into my life. And I want to express my gratitude to TGU for ending my spiritual depression.