I had read some books by Carlos Castaneda and in one of them, I do not recall which one, perhaps Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos described an interesting experience he had had. The experience involved a certain physical sensation which Carlos said resembled the buzzing of a swarm of bees. I did not think much of this experience when I first read the account. It was just one of many strange things Castaneda spoke of.
Some time later I started reading the books of Paul Brunton. In The Wisdom of the Overself he describes several types of occult meditations, one of which he calls a meditation on the dream state.
The way it works is this. There is a condition of awareness that one passes through when falling asleep and also when waking up. It is a threshold state that is not quite wakefulness and not quite sleep. I discovered many years later that it actually has a name in psychological literature. It is there called the hypnagogic state.
It is not that the hypnagogic state itself is anything particularly extraordinary or esoteric that makes it of interest or utility. Each of us goes through it at least twice a day, when falling asleep and awakening. And when we day dream we are usually in it as well.
The significant thing about the hypnagogic state of awareness is that it is a pliant condition. By that I mean that it is possible to learn how to do things while in the hypnagogic state that would otherwise not be possible, or be very difficult. It opens doors of possibilities.
The meditation described by Paul Brunton makes use of the hypnagogic state and the possibility of programming your unconscious mind to do something while in it. By means of self suggestion, you can cause your subconscious mind to follow some relatively simple and straight forward instructions as it passes into and out of the hypnagogic state. For this particular meditation on the dream state the instructions are simply to relax and breathe in a certain manner at the end of a dream. It seems incredible, but yes you can become aware of a dream coming to an end while you are dreaming it!
When a dream ends we start to wake up. Usually we awaken just enough to enter the hypnagogic state. Then we fall asleep again wherein the next dream and deep sleep cycle begins.
Sometimes we actually do wake up after a dream. Our eyes pop open and we may even look around. We may be very alert for a few seconds. Then we fall asleep again.
With practice you can train your mind to follow the instructions for this particular meditation to relax and breathe in a certain way when a dream comes to an end. I am being purposely vague here because I do not want you to think that I am telling you just how to do this. If you want to learn how to do it read Brunton's book.
By following this procedure correctly you enter immediately into the hypnagogic state of awareness. Your body relaxes, and you breathe out slowly and deeply and you cross another threshold of self awareness. You enter a door. A door to opportunities.
It takes quite a while to learn to do this. You have to give yourself verbal instructions and actually go through the relaxation and breathing a few times before you fall asleep to give your subconscious mind the idea of just what you want it to do. That is the way you train your subconscious mind to do it automatically from the dream state.
When you begin to wake up from a dream you are not going to be able to say to yourself, "All right, it is now time to do this technique." It has to be an automatic, learned response. It can be done. I did it. It took quite a while and lots of practice, but I did it.
The technique can be done from the other direction as well. That is, you can do it while falling asleep as well as while waking up out of a dream. Remember the hypnagogic state opens from both directions.
This second way is easier to learn and to do. But it has a difficulty to overcome that the first method does not. The difficulty is that this is also the precise way to induce out of body experiences.
There is nothing particular about out of body experiences that make them undesirable. Many people would like to have them. And this is a way to do it. I got interested in them for a while and had rather pleasant experiences, for the most part. But I shall describe later an out of body experience that was not very pleasant.
The difficulty is that by having an out of body experience you short circuit the other experience that I am describing here. Out of body experiences are simply experiences. They involve a change of conscious state, nothing more.
Human beings experience several common states of consciousness that we are all well aware of. Even if we do not always think of them in just these terms, we all experience them.
The first is the ordinary waking state. The second is the sleep state which includes several substates such as dreaming, non-dreaming and deep sleep. The third is the hypnagogic state. There is also a fourth which I shall refer to as the meditative state. Most people are not aware of this fourth state simply because in the west we are relatively naive in our knowledge of ourselves. Also, few people know how to meditate and so hardly have any opportunity to experience the meditative state.
Many people mistakenly think that meditation is just relaxing and then having pleasant thoughts. This is not the case. Relaxing and having pleasant thoughts can be day dreaming, which is the hypnagogic state, real dreaming, which is the sleep state, or reverie in the waking state. None of these is meditation.
Meditation is actually maintaining fully conscious, waking awareness in a physiological state that resembles deep sleep. The awareness is actually more acute than the waking state. The senses are more sensitive. The mind is more alert and clear.
Out of body experiences are simply substates of the hypnagogic. As are the various trance states attained during hypnotism. Many of us really spend a great deal of our waking day popping in and out of the various substates of the hypnagogic. This can be very desirable, since it gives us ready access to our intuition and creative imaginations.
It can also be very unproductive in terms of getting on with our daily lives. You can get addicted to the hypnagogic since drifting in and out of it can easily become an analgesic to numb yourself to the responsibilities of living in the here and now. But most of the time you are not even aware that you are going in and out of it.
The states of consciousness that are described in the Apocalypse are something different again. They are types of psychic activity. They are going on all the time, to one degree or another, no matter which of the four states I have just described we happen to be experiencing at any given moment. You may or may not be aware of them. They are going on just the same.
In addition to the various states of consciousness there are several different levels of consciousness. I am not going into details about these different levels now, since I discuss them fully elsewhere. I need simply to mention them briefly.
The experience I had as a result of the meditation on the dreaming state made me aware of another level of consciousness. The levels differ from the states in kind.
The states of consciousness I have mentioned all occur within one level. In fact, human life for the most part is lived almost exclusively within the awareness of only one level of consciousness. The other levels of consciousness are part of human life as well, but we are seldom, if ever, specifically aware of them.
Here is what happened to me. I had spent some months practising the technique described by Brunton. But I had no success with it when my dreams ended. So I was also doing it the other way around.
I would lie still and allow myself to get into an extremely deep state of physical relaxation. I reinforced this with the appropriate breathing. One afternoon, after about an hour and a half of relaxation and proper breathing, and after getting into a very deep state of physical and mental relaxation and alertness, I noted a strange vibrating sensation in my throat. The vibrating started and stopped several times. With each cycle its duration increased a little and the time between decreased. It was sortof working its way towards a steady state of constant vibrating.
This went on for a while and then slowly subsided. While this was happening I became frightened. The reason I became frightened was that I could not move. It was as if I was totally paralysed. I had no control over the vibrating sensation in my throat. It just kept going on and off over and over. I began to think I was having a heart attack.
I suddenly got the notion that if I could move something it would all stop. So I concentrated all of my effort into moving the little finger of my left hand. Eventually I managed to move it just a twitch. But that was enough to bring the experience to an end.
After this experience ended I was immediately reminded of Castaneda's description of his experience of the buzzing sensation. I also realized that my fears had been groundless. I was perfectly healthy and there was no reason to suspect I was having a heart attack. So I determined that the next time this happened I would let it continue to its conclusion.
Soon afterwards I had the strange experience of realizing that I was starting to wake up at the end of a dream. This was very peculiar, since I was still sleeping. The dream was ending and suddenly I just realized in my sleep that the dream was ending and I was starting to wake up.
What happened next was peculiar as well. I did not actually speak to myself in my sleep. Yet I was very much aware that I was reminding myself in some sort of nonverbal way that I had to relax and breathe in a particular manner, now that the dream was over. The subconscious programming had actually worked! But I must say that it was really strange to experience this nonverbal form of self communication.
My body just reacted automatically and without any effort at all. I just did it the way I had practised. As soon as I did this the vibrating sensation began in my throat. I again became totally paralysed. But this time I was not afraid. This time I let it happen. It was like a motor racing!
Instantly, the vibrating sensation became continuous. It went on for a while and then it suddenly stopped.
I want you to realize that what happened next is very difficult to explain clearly in words. There are no words that could describe it adequately. It took me several years to understand it myself.
It was as if a veil fell away from me. It was as if I woke up for the first time in my life. I woke up, not into the ordinary waking state, but into a totally different state of awareness far more real and intense than that of ordinary wakefulness.
The next is the really hard part to describe. My senses became very acute. Much more acute than I could possibly describe. I could see and hear and smell and feel with an intensity beyond imagination. I felt ALIVE and fully AWAKE.
But the really bizarre thing about it was that there was absolutely nothing to be aware of! It was not that it was simply dark and silent. It was as though there was nothing there except me!
There was no dark and no light. No sound and no silence. There was no sensation and no lack of sensation. I could not see or hear myself or even feel myself, other than I was aware of my breathing. Yet I was so vividly and intensely AWARE.
I could have heard a pin drop on the other side of the universe. If there had been a universe and a pin to drop! I could have seen the flame of a candle across darkened galaxies. Had there been galaxies and a candle! I had no sensation. Yet I "felt" so totally ALIVE and AWAKE that I can hardly speak of it. For no word can come even close to describing what I experienced. I can only hint around at it and hope you get an idea.
Try to remember the most vivid experience you have ever had in your life. Try to remember a time when you felt the most sensitive and alert in you entire life. Then multiply that by a thousand. By ten thousand. By a million!
This state of awareness went on. I have no idea just how long it went on, for there was no sense of time. Just NOW. Just HERE. Just me being aware!
At some point during this timeless experience I heard a quiet and soft spoken female voice. Her again? I suppose so. It was always she who spoke to me. Who speaks to me now and always. And she said, "Do not be afraid." Or something to that effect, something very brief.
Do not be afraid? Did I hear her correctly? Afraid of what? I was not afraid! This was the most marvellous experience of my life.
I did not think about all this as it happened, of course, because I was not thinking at all. I was simply experiencing.
After the experience ended and I was in the normal waking state again the words she had spoken confused me. You see, for several years I thought she was trying to reassure me about what I had experienced. But I was wrong! For she was not trying to allay any fears I might have had at the time during the actual events of the experience.
No! About five years after this I suddenly realized that she was trying to tell me not to be afraid to leave the experience! The experience was about to come to an end and she wanted me to know that it was all right for it to end.
She wanted me not to be afraid that the experience was ending. Not to be afraid that I was now entering again into the ordinary world! The world that now feels like I am walking in my sleep.
Yes, indeed. This ordinary state now feels like a sleepwalk world. In comparison to what I experienced that night this is truly the world of the great sleep walk. For I had been AWAKE, ALIVE. For the first time in my life I knew what it meant to be alive. To be fully and truly alive! To be fully aware of the fullness of human consciousness.
I understand why so many people get caught up in such an experience. I understand how someone coming to such a knowledge could think that it represents the ultimate state of life to be attained. It is easy to think that it is so.
I have never been the same person since. I live with a knowledge that burns within me. A knowledge that can hardly be contained within the bonds of flesh that must contain it!
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