In March 1993, three months after doing Gateway, I did another TMI residential course called Guidelines, designed to get participants into closer touch with guidance. Although I didn’t realize it until later, I entered the program not only expanded, but wildly ungrounded. This must have been hard on the other participants, but it made it easy for me to take another giant step. Doubt inhibits. Trying to define in advance of experience inhibits. Worrying too much about fooling yourself, or about making a fool of yourself in front of others, inhibits. Being ungrounded is not generally helpful, but in this instance it did allow me to move, as I was not in the mood to inhibit anything!
Guidelines has a chapter in Muddy Tracks too; all I want to say here about the program is that on the final day, I got to have a session in the isolation chamber that I call the black box, and for the first time I was able to allow the guys to come through using my voice rather than my pen. Just as in automatic writing, the words welled up within me, only this time instead of writing the words, I spoke them. All sessions in the black box are taped, and the participant is given a copy of the tape, so I was able to walk away with an hour or so of conversation from the other side, lest I should later doubt that I had done it.
The words came to me. Sometimes they came haltingly, sometimes a few at a time, sometimes fluently. I spoke them as they came, and thus came my first conscious spoken communication with The Gentlemen Upstairs. I went from haltingly translating a sense of what they meant to, at the very end, finding how to let them flow through smoothly.
And of course, having done it once, I knew how, and could do it again, more or less at will. This I proceeded to do for the next few years. However, there was an unlooked-for development. Whereas writing with the guys had always been a solitary occupation, talking to them involved others in the process. I found that with someone else there to ask the guys questions and respond to their answers, I could stay in a quiet meditative state rather than having to move between active (asking) and receptive (receiving) and back again. I developed a technique, not knowing how much of it was needed and how much was superstition, which worked for me. Throughout a session, I would sit and talk with eyes closed. At first this was to eliminate any mental distractions that might arise from my looking at something that might start some stray chain of associations. With time I realized that mental-association distractions were less of an issue than the distracting effect of light itself, which had an effect much like that of a persistent noise. With time, gradually developing experience and confidence allowed me to simplify things. For one thing, I learned to talk while keeping my eyes open. For another, I came to realize how much of what I had assumed to be “my” thoughts in ordinary life were actually suggestions continually planted by my Upstairs contingent.
For several years after that I made up the rules as I went along, comparing my experiences with systems I had read about, trying to see what agreed and what didn’t agree – but keeping as the touchstone not the various systems, but my own experiences, and those of my friends. The Internet came along just at the right time, enabling the creation of the TMI Explorers list, which was created for those who had done TMI programs. Thus was created a virtual community, allowing us to share our explorations, experiences, puzzlements and suggestions. I posted there regularly – perhaps too regularly for some!
After half a dozen years of exploration, I took time out to write a book making sense of what I had come to, concluding with a chapter I called “Interim Report.” I called the book Muddy Tracks, to indicate that it was less a roadmap than an indicator that at least someone had preceded the reader in what otherwise might seem a trackless wilderness. I subtitled it Exploring an Unsuspected Reality to show that (in my opinion) what I was doing my best to portray were aspects of life that are all around us, but not all that obvious.
But even before that book was published, I had begun a new series of explorations that led me far beyond what I thought I had figured out. Then, in 2001 my friend Rita Warren, a Ph.D. psychologist with decades of experience in the academic world and in the world of psychic investigation, conducted a series of sessions with the guys upstairs. Her years of working with people in altered states had given her a list of unanswered questions about life on the other side. In 22 weekly sessions over five months, she asked these questions of the guys upstairs, and they talked, and explained, and answered more questions, and drew analogies, and answered her supplementary questions based on their answers in prior sessions. And as Rita and I began to absorb the answers, we gradually realized that this new way of viewing things was changing the way we lived our lives. We came to be living in a new world, with much greater assurance that it is true (as the guys continually told us) that “all is well; all is always well.” At the end of 2005, it seemed a good time to pause again, and again lay out what I had learned, as a sort of trail-marker. I arranged a six month leave of absence, planning to write a book on what we had learned.
As usual, life had other plans.