So You Think Your Life Was Wasted (27)

Learning to communicate

When we were babies, learning how to work the body machinery, one of the things we had to learn to do was to speak to the embodied presences around us. First came meaningless sounds, (and, sometimes, howls of frustration), then came baby talk, then came the ability to speak recognizable words and sentences and — in a word — communicate. As adults we rarely remember going through the process, but we all went through it.

What is easily forgotten is that besides learning to talk, we also had to learn to listen. That is, we had to learn to distinguish meaningful from meaningless sounds. We had to learn to recognize and categorize voice, tone, emotional nuance, etc. We learned to fill in the blanks when people used words we didn’t know, and often enough we heard correctly but misunderstood what we heard.

It was a lot to learn, but we learned it. Learning to communicate with the disembodied is much the same process. The major difference, as far as I can see, is that, learning it as adults, we typically don’t have as much confidence, or patience with our learning curve, as babies do.

Here’s an example of learning the process. Four years ago, my friend Hank Wesselman, knowing that I had contacted various historical personages, asked if I could ask Carl Jung about a specific letter from Max Zeller. The results of the experiment are instructive.

Continue reading So You Think Your Life Was Wasted (27)

Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (4)



By Hank Wesselman

(continued from last time)

Values of the Transformationals

When I started leading workshops a decade ago, I perceived that members of my circles tend to express a distinct character profile that I find deeply reassuring – one that the media finds puzzling at best or unworthy of serious news coverage at worst. Our newspapers, magazines, and television news programs inundate us with negative information on a daily basis, creating the impression that violent crime and genocide, economic catastrophes and political mendacity are reaching unprecedented proportions. While this may be true to some extent, it must also be remembered that all the murder and mayhem, political corruption and corporate fiascos are being generated by only about two percent of the world’s population. Despite this, the media seems to believe that this is what makes news, a supposition reinforced by polls and surveys created by the demographers who serve the media. The same could be said of the film industry, of course. There is no question that Hollywood knows the big money is to be made by appealing to the dark side of the human psyche.

Given this understanding, I was surprised to discover that most of the participants in my seminars and workshops lack the blade-runner mentality, as well as the cynicism it tends to generate. Instead, they express a strong sense of social justice and seem to be deeply concerned about the quality of human life at all levels of society. They feel strong support for women’s issues as well as those of minorities. They are concerned for the safety and well being of both children and the elderly, and human relationships are clearly seen as more important than material gain. Social tolerance, personal individualism, and spiritual freedom are highly valued ideals. The reweaving of the social fabric through the rebuilding of families, neighborhoods, and communities are major areas of concern. This is what I mean by deeply reassuring.

Continue reading Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (4)

Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (3)



By Hank Wesselman

(continued from last time)


The New Spiritual Complex

It is not surprising that the ‘new spirituality’ is integral in nature, drawing on all the world’s wisdom traditions, from the East to the West, from Animism to Zen. What is surprising is that right at its core can be found a cluster of principles that were embraced at one time by all the world’s indigenous peoples. (It must be acknowledged here that the religions of the traditional peoples were as diverse and varied as they themselves once were, with each region of the world encompassing hundreds of cultural groups and subgroups, some large, some small, each devoted to their own unique spiritual ways that could differ markedly from those of their neighbors.)

In approaching the idea that principles of indigenous wisdom are involved in the genesis of a new spiritual complex in the West, it is not necessary to compile yet one more academic stockpile of esoteric minutia of interest only to scholars and theologians. Rather, I am broadly concerned with the general mystical insights that were once held in common by virtually all of the traditionals and are thus the birthright of all people everywhere. I should add that modern spiritual seekers do not seem to be retreating into archaic belief systems, nor, with rare exceptions, are they interested in ‘playing Indian’ or becoming born-again Aboriginals. To the contrary, members of the Transformational Community are beginning to reconsider the core beliefs and values once held by the traditionals, and in the process, something entirely new is taking form.

Continue reading Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (3)

Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (2)




By Hank Wesselman

(continued from last time)

The Foundation

It is no news to anyone that a widespread spiritual reawakening is currently taking place—one that has two distinct aspects. On one side, we find a resurgence of religious fundamentalism that embraces an historic view derived from the Middle Ages—a literalist belief system that proclaims this world to be the kingdom of a remote, transcendent authoritarian father-God, alternately wrathful or beneficent—a narrow perspective that has been embraced in our time by misguided religious zealots who have the capacity to ensure that this world will be their God’s kingdom… or nothing. On the other side and in opposition to this view, we have the spiritually awakened and expanded perspective of the secular humanists who perceive an omnipresent, immanent Divine Presence or Creative Force existing within all of creation, one that is benevolent, life enhancing and life sustaining (2).

It is significant that this latter view is quietly, yet definitively, being embraced by increasing numbers of well-educated, well-informed, and well-connected individuals, many of who are in professional and social positions from which they may influence the larger society’s ideas and trends. Their secular yet spiritual perspective is intensely democratic, cutting across socio-economic levels of achievement and status, transcending cultural, political, and ethnic boundaries as well. In response, a broad social movement is taking form, one made up of people who hold a set of beliefs and values that differ considerably from those of the fundamentalists as well as those of the public at large. The number of people who hold the new view is not known with certainty, but fourteen years of sociological research conducted in the United States by demographer Paul H. Ray and his wife Sherry Ruth Anderson, has revealed that more than fifty million Americans fell into this group as of the year 2000, representing more than twenty-six percent of the adult population. This is not a small number, and it appears to be growing (3).

Continue reading Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (2)




By Hank Wesselman

 The Invitation

On a bright autumn day in New Mexico, in October of 2002, I crossed trails with Dr. John Mack at an international conference on altered states of consciousness at which both he and I were offering keynote presentations. John had read several of my unusual books and over dinner one evening, he asked me if I would consider contributing an essay to the Primacy of Consciousness Project that he was co-chairing with Trish Pfeiffer. When I responded with interest, John began to talk about the project’s epicenter – how the world might be transfigured as the public at large becomes increasingly aware that consciousness, not matter, is the ultimate reality and thus the ground of all being.

As I listened, my thoughts turned toward those parts of my life spent working as an anthropologist among the tribal peoples of Africa, for it was out there, among the indigenous traditionals, that I had first stumbled upon this perspective more than thirty-five years before. It was expressed differently, of course, but it was always there, right at the core of their worldview—the perception that the multi-leveled field of the dream is the real world; that we human beings are actually dreaming twenty-fours hours a day; and that the everyday physical world came into being in response to the dream, not visa-versa. These assertions were always accompanied by a conviction, strongly-held, that the dream world is minded, that it is consciousness itself, alive, intelligent, and power-filled, infusing everything that emanates from it with awareness, vitality, and life force.

Continue reading Hank Wesselman: THE TRANSFORMATIONAL PERSPECTIVE (1)