In ancient Egypt (so says Joan Grant, in Winged Pharaoh), the priests used this formula in their teaching: “I of my own knowledge tell you that this is the truth.”
Not, “This is what I have been taught,” but, “I of my own knowledge…”
Where, today, would we find equivalent knowledge? Equivalent institutions?
Our universities and churches cannot produce such teachers. They teach what is said to be true, or might be true, or ought to be true, or what we wish were true. But knowledge cannot be transmitted by those who do not know.
Who has first-hand knowledge of the true nature of physical-matter reality? Of the worlds beyond physical life? Of what we as individuals and as groups can achieve?
In this, religion and science both have failed us.
Religion fails us in attempting to teach from faith rather than from personal knowledge. This leads naturally to a demand for faith and obedience as substitutes for study and knowledge.
Science fails us in refusing to investigate certain categories of experience or thought (such as what people call the supernatural, whether labeled as religion or parapsychology) because it believes, before investigation, that these categories of experience are nonsense.
In both cases, this failure is not necessarily the result of hierarchies scheming to obtain and retain power. Just as often, it is the result of people not realizing that first-hand knowledge is there to be obtained.
Obviously, there is no sense in denying that religion and science have worth, that they are at least partly based on truth, that at best they are based on a desire to find truth. But each is more valuable when it grounds its view of the nature of the universe less on inherited beliefs (no matter how widespread) and more on first-hand knowledge.
We are starving for that knowledge. In fact, we often kill, and may kill ourselves, substituting arbitrary certainty for knowledge that we do not have. Uncertainty – and the fear that uncertainty brings – leads individuals and societies to do desperate things. If you don’t know, you must rely on faith. But faith implies doubt. Doubt – and the resulting repression of doubt – breed fanaticism and intolerance. Worse, they breed ignorance pretending to infallibility, which breeds charlatans and blind followers.
The good news is that first-hand knowledge is available.
From work at The Monroe Institute and elsewhere, I learned how to obtain first-hand knowledge of life beyond what our society considers normal. I learned how to extend my abilities in ways that our society considers to be impossible. My experience shed light on the reality that has been described (and repeatedly misunderstood) in scripture the world over.
I am not an Egyptian priest, and I cannot transfer my first-hand knowledge. But I can tell how you may obtain your own first-hand knowledge, and I can offer my own preliminary report of my own findings.
That’s what this site is all about. Among other things, I will share with you true stories that give a sense of what first-hand experience makes possible, hoping to describe my journey of self-discovery (self-creation?) in such a way as to encourage you on your own journey.
I of my own knowledge tell you what follows.
Do you know how sometimes a book will sit on your shelf, unread, for years perhaps, and then something — the revolving universe’s timing mechanism, perhaps — draws your attention to it, and you sit down with it, and until you have finished it you are unable to leave it? Whenever that happens to me, I pay close attention. I can take a hint.
Last week it was John Anthony West’s Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, which I have owned probably a dozen years, and had been unable to read.
About halfway through it, I sent him an enthusiastic e-mail, and began recommending the book to certain of my friends. It is good for a book to be informed, literate and important. It is better for it to be wise, and better yet to be witty as well. When a book has all those qualities and in addition demonstrates that the author knows something, and he is giving you pointers, the book is beyond price.
I met John at a conference in 1995 called Return to the Source. At the time, I had no idea who he was or what he had written. It’s funny, actually. His work was key to the entire conference, but I was only there (so I thought) to see my new friend Colin Wilson, whom I had met a few months earlier after more than 20 years of admiring his work from a distance.
Colin’s introductory talk discussed the work and importance of a man named R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz. I had no idea — though I imagine that everyone else in the auditorium knew — that we knew of Schwaller de Lubicz primarily, if not entirely, because of John Anthony West’s work. John was able to comprehend and interpret what Schwaller de Lubicz had learned over the course of many years about the mentality of ancient Egypt.
So what is this to you or me?
Just this. That civilization, which lasted 4,000 years, was integral, conscious, spiritually connected, wholesome, and life affirming in ways that we can scarcely imagine. Our post-Renaissance civilization, scarcely 500 years old, is none of those things, and is necessarily degenerating. (John says: “Today to believe in `progress’ a man must be insane. A hundred years ago insensitivity sufficed.”)
I realize that this is not the impression given by what John calls members of the Church of Progress, and not the impression you will have gotten of the nature of Egyptian civilization. That is because the lower cannot comprehend the higher. We as a society could not re-create Egyptian civilization if we wanted to. We could not even recapture past aspects of Western civilization that were in closer contact with the wellsprings of human existence and creativity.
(“The cathedrals `work’, as do the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal, because whoever designed them had precise and profound knowledge of universal harmonic, rhythmic and proportional laws, and equally precise and profound knowledge of the manner in which to employ these laws in order to create the desired effect.”)
It is up to each of us as individuals to do the work on ourselves. It is of inestimable value for each of us to have pointers, fingers pointing at the moon. Serpent in the Sky is one such pointer.
I append without further comment a few quotes that may pique your interest. Bear in mind, something that is really new is not necessarily easily comprehended at first glance. It may seem nonsense, it may seem irritatingly opaque. For those who can go through it, it is a doorway.
“In a world of hydrogen bombs, bacteriological warfare and other progressive horrors, it is self-evident that knowledge is dangerous. It is also self-evident that the ancients possessed no technology capable of unleashing such brutal power. However, if we look more closely at the manner in which we are emotionally and psychologically influenced — which in turn makes predictable the manner in which we will react to given situations — we will see that dangerous knowledge lies behind this curious Pythagorean number symbolism.”
“In the cathedrals and sacred art and architecture of the past, we see the knowledge of harmony and proportion employed rightly, provoking in all men who have not had their emotions to permanently crippled or destroyed by modern education a sense of the sacred. It therefore takes no great leap in imagination to conceive of the same knowledge but to an opposite use by the unscrupulous…. This is but one valid reason for keeping certain types of mathematical knowledge secret.”
“But logic and reason will not account for everyday experience: even logicians fall in love.”
“From time immemorial, scholars, philosophers and thinkers have stubbed their brains against the problem of time and space, seldom realizing that the language in which they hoped to solve the problem was itself ordered in such a way as to support the evidence of the senses.”
“When men were less dependent upon their intellects, and in all likelihood had more highly developed intuitional and emotional faculties, they were more susceptible to experiences that transcend time and space, and were able to accept the provisional evidence of the senses at its true value.”
My life now seems magical to me. It didn’t always seem that way.
I started as a solitary, lonely individual, struggling along, afraid of others, afraid to open my heart, afraid to trust myself. I lived (as I would now say) only Downstairs, without day-to-day connection with my higher self or with other levels of being. I did try to believe in God. Many times I believed quite strongly, and learned that I could safely rely on invisible support. At my best, I said, “Dear God, show me the way,” and trusted. At my best, I loved. But it was all so intermittent! So hit or miss!
I was a member of the last generation to grow up in what I call the Medieval Catholic Church. By nature, I was a mystic. The Latin Mass, the sense of the all-pervading infinite world behind this one, the firm belief in an unchanging order of things, including a black-and-white code of behavior, appealed to me at my deepest levels. When, as a teenager, I found myself unable to remain a believing Catholic, I didn’t realize that Catholicism was only one specific religion expressing humanity’s supernatural connections. I thought it was all or nothing, and I had seen — I thought — that it was nothing.
Atheism didn’t suit me. I couldn’t see worshipping The Big Nothing, and couldn’t see how anyone could say absolutely that There Is No God. I could imagine saying either “I have experienced God” or “I haven’t experienced God.” But how could anyone say “I have experienced No-God”? It didn’t make sense. Atheism seemed a bigger act of faith than believing.
So, what was left?
I had an affinity for Buddhism, but it isn’t my path this time. George Bernard Shaw’s brand of spiritual evolution appealed to me, until I came to see it as the expedient of a religious man who was looking for an intellectually respectable way out of the contemporary belief only in material reality. Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul came as a godsend, if that’s not too bad a play on words. Here was a mind-scientist who could investigate deeper realities–even those involving church doctrine–without giving up his right to inquire and make independent judgments.
Colin Wilson’s works bred in me a sense of untapped human potential. Those of Laurens van der Post reinforced my belief in the underlying spiritual, rather than physical, nature of life. So did those of Yeats, and Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, and Schumacher. So too, Richard Bach.
All of this, though, was only reading, and reading is a most solitary enterprise. I have done way too much reading in this lifetime. It tended to take me ever farther away from the world I was supposed to be living in. Not that a life of much reading is not as worthwhile as any other. But too much reading may lead you to think you understand what in fact you merely recognize. Without active life as a corrective, you misinterpret what you have read. This is the value of a teacher.
I well remember a day in my early twenties, standing on a city street reading that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I asked, and I wanted desperately to believe it, and didn’t know whether in fact I could. But he showed up, in person, within months.
He did not appear with a sign around his neck saying “Teacher!” He was not a perfect being without problems and neuroses. But the point is, I asked and he was there.
Besides human teachers, I was blessed with other sources of inspiration and assistance. The divinatory arts, for instance: The I Ching, astrology, tarot. Various forms of inner guidance. In time came dream analysis, a very powerful tool indeed. And attempts at self-discipline were always available: prayer, fasting and meditation. All of this is as readily available to you as to me.
I sought “psychic powers,” if only as a proof that there is much more to life than the material world that the senses report. I sought them, and obtained them, and found that they are not things divorced from ordinary life, but things that one culture has refused to admit into its own arbitrarily limited view of ordinary life. To regard them either with New Agers’ awe or with religious fundamentalists’ fear leads equally to superstition. In fact, if any single thing discredits accounts of extraordinary experience — metaphysical, religious, or spiritual — it is this tendency to treat such experience as somehow disconnected from ordinary life. It isn’t. Life is filled with all sorts of things, regardless how hard we try to make it consistent, logical, or “safe.”
[Adapted from my book Muddy Tracks]
You can learn how to obtain first-hand knowledge of life beyond what our society considers normal. You can learn how to extend your abilities in ways that our society considers to be impossible. Most important, you can experience the world in ways that shed new light on the reality that has been set forth (and then repeatedly misunderstood) in all the world’s scriptures.
My own experience convinces me that this life is not our only life. We are immortal spirits temporarily inhabiting bodies. And we are not separate “individuals” but are all connected one to another because we are part of a larger being. This larger being cares about us and can be trusted, and is a source of foresight and wisdom except when we lose communication with it by failing to remember that we are more than we appear to be.
It should be obvious that this sketch of the way I now see the world passes for a good description of God as God is understood in the Christian, Jewish and Moslem traditions. In fact, it corresponds with descriptions handed down by mystics and other wanderers in realms beyond what I call 3D Theater. But it also encompasses Bob Monroe’s description of earth-bound individuals as probes sent into what he calls the Time-Space Illusion in order to experience earth life. The probes live as if they were separate beings, and at physical death they reunite not only with the part of the larger being that stayed outside of 3D Theater, but also with the others who were in the physical.
The fact that many different religions and philosophies and first-hand accounts may be describing the same reality ought to open up many a line of fruitful inquiry, retrieving various babies from the bushes where they landed with the bathwater. The implications of these few statements are immense, literally changing from birth to death and beyond. If you once see us as all connected through a larger being, many otherwise puzzling reports become matters of common sense. They become, in fact, only what is to be expected.
Communication with the dead? Telepathy? Distant healing? Ghosts?
Our society has opinions on all of them; all over the landscape, but it has no knowledge, only opinion.
And this goes double for the ultimate questions. Is there an afterlife? Does God exist? Do spirits exist? If so, do God and the angels concern themselves with human lives?
Of these things, our society teaches nothing because it knows nothing. Indeed, silently, by implication, it teaches that we can know nothing. Our society not only lacks a common body of accepted knowledge, it lacks a commonly accepted method of acquiring knowledge on these subjects. Instead, various elements in society dismiss the questions with contempt, or maintain a benevolent neutrality, or invite us (silently) to form opinions based on the opinions of others, or on blind faith.
But when we find that certain classes of phenomena continue to be reported throughout history, we ought to take that as a sign that we need to find or construct a better picture of the world we live in. Only an inadequate world-view forces us continually to ignore inconvenient data or put it into separate boxes that don’t communicate with the rest of our mental world or with each other.
Among those inconvenient reports: Ghosts. Out-of-body experiences. Possession and witchcraft. Telepathy. UFOs. Afterlife experiences, including heaven and hell. The power of prayer. The ability to heal by touch, and at a distance. Plenty more.
Every way of seeing the world that has been believed over time by large numbers of people has at least some grain of truth. The trick is to distinguish between reality and the logical structure that was constructed atop it. The way to do that is to see which parts can be reconciled with other parts, because truth, ultimately, is one.
A way of seeing things that offers a continuing path for us to explore and refine, that makes our world whole without chopping out large bits that we can’t find room for, and does so without requiring watertight mental compartments, that doesn’t require us to believe incompatible things and think in mutually incompatible ways, that reconciles and affirms the beliefs of many seemingly incompatible belief-systems – do you think that might have some value to us?
[Adapted From my book Muddy Tracks]
A science-fiction book by someone named Colin Wilson
It was February, 1970, and I was 23 years old. I was in a drugstore checkout line when a strong impulse led me to pick up a paperback book off the rack, a science-fiction novel called The Mind Parasites, by an author I’d never heard of named Colin Wilson. I bought it, and that moment turned my life.
The plot was simple enough. Two scientists at the end of the twentieth century discover that humans are unsuspecting hosts to — well, to mind parasites, creatures that sap our vitality and our sense of purpose. After sundry adventures, they learn to defeat the parasites, and for the first time begin to take possession of humanity’s unsuspected abilities, including a host of powers then usually called occult.
When I read that book, something within me went “click!” I was seized with the conviction that the author was telling the truth. We do have such powers, and they are inexplicably beyond our grasp. What is more, it was clear to me that the author believed it too. The strength of his conviction ran like a strong current beneath the surface of the story, and was spelled out clearly in his preface. And when I began looking for his other books, beginning with The Outsider, I found that in whatever form he uses — and he has written novels, volumes of criticism, biography, history, essays, plays — the same underlying message comes through.
I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I needed that book, and needed it then, at that exact moment. It was the right book for the right person at the right time. (Chance? Co-incidence? I would have thought so then. I don’t now. Today, I would call it guidance, but what do and don’t mean by that took most of a book to explain.)
At the time, my mental world did not extend beyond what I now call a Downstairs level. I was living without conscious access to other levels of my being. I didn’t know that other levels existed. What’s worse, I had backed myself into a corner.
It is a terrible thing to live in exile. I had left the Catholic Church because its structure left me no room to breathe. No one was going to tell me what books I could not read! Besides, something told me that reality was greater than the church’s view of it, even though the medieval view of reality was certainly larger than almost anything else to be found in materialist 20th-century America.
The fact of the matter is that I had no home. The materialist worldview had no appeal, and so I was left looking for a way out of the logical prison that said, “religion doesn’t give me what I need, but still I know that we are more than accidental collections of chemicals.”
This was more than just an intellectual dilemma. My conscious beliefs were causing me tremendous problems. I didn’t fear death (or if I did I wasn’t aware of it), and therefore (I thought) it followed that there was no reason to mourn it in others. I convinced myself that it shouldn’t hurt when loved ones died, and that therefore it didn’t hurt. Unable to acknowledge my feelings, I was unable to process them, and they remained violently alive within me. Obviously, this situation got worse, death upon death. The very public deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, both of whom I loved, took a terrible toll.
Repressing awareness of feelings takes enormous amounts of energy, even when much of the emotion becomes locked into the physical structure. The violent unacknowledged feelings sloshing around inside made me prone to violent, unpredictable, uncontrolled mood swings, and the situation had divorced me increasingly from the world around me, as I tried to cope with the world — with other people — strictly from unacknowledged, therefore unknown, feelings.
My good friend David died, just a few days after I bought Colin’s book, and I had to deal with it exclusively from my Downstairs resources, – just as I had had to deal with other deaths previously. My helplessness in the face of David’s death appalled me — though I scarcely realized it. And my dissatisfaction with my own life was so acute, my belief in the reality of any realistic path so non-existent, that I was feeling trapped. I was stranded, purposeless. (All this, of course, strictly as experienced at the Downstairs level.) Colin’s book, purchased on impulse less than a week before, gave me something to believe in.
The development of mental powers! The achievement of supernatural abilities!
Colin’s work came into my life at just the time to provide a bridge across despair. The Outsider and the succeeding books in his “Outsider cycle” were crammed with references to others who seemed to see the world this way. I was still alone, but at least now I knew that there were others out there, and perhaps they could be found.
It was only many years later that I thought to look at how it happened, that I just happened to be in a store that just happened to have the book that just happened to give the exact message that I needed, at exactly the time that I needed it. It’s the kind of thing that tends to shake your belief in Chance.