Telepathy and Eye Contact.

“When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.”
— Will Johnson, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi: Radical Techniques for Beholding the Divine.

“Portal sits deep within the eye.
The eye of yin’s severity
rewards understanding.”
— Mudvayne, Mercy, Severity.

In addition to my personal experiences, parapsychological research suggests that not only is eye gazing unnecessary for telepathy to occur, but distance between the subjects in question ultimately makes no difference, either. Despite this, eyes certainly hold a particular and peculiar power for me and I continue my struggle to understand why. It doesn’t help matters that aside from the alien abduction literature in general and my own experiences in particular I have only heard of experiences of “ocular telepathy” through two other sources.

Years ago, when I found Koda on the net, he had yet to write his 2004 book Instant Enlightenment: Metaphysical Fast Food, which I have since purchased. His interest in metaphysics was first sparked as a teenager in the early 1970s after experimenting with psychedelics. Since then he has explored the paranormal through conversation and tested out various techniques on his own.

His first attempt at telepathy occurred when he and a friend were alone, smoking hashish, and the technique was a rather basic one: Koda tried to focus on and “send” a letter as his friend tried to “receive” it. After visualizing a letter for about five minutes, his frustration grew and he screamed to himself mentally, at which time his friend screamed it quite verbally. They tried to repeat it several times that day and failed, but now that he had confirmed telepathy to his satisfaction he decided to see what other questions in this area he could lay to rest.

After attempting and accomplishing two other paranormal feats while alone in his bedroom that evening, as he explained it, “My ego was glowing profusely.” Upon going to the local coffee shop and telling some of his friends and classmates, however, he was met with only disbelief and ridicule. Frustrated, he was immediately set on revenge, and he stumbled upon the means some weeks later at that very coffee shop.

They often held staring contests and one girl always seemed to be better than the rest. Whenever he challenged her he would be doing fine for a short while before he cracked a grin and lost the game. He finally thought he would try thinking of a joke during their staring and telepathically “send” it to her to see if he could get her to laugh. It worked, even during the rematch she demanded. When she asked how he had done it and he told her, she confessed to using the same technique.

He then began practicing telepathy far more blatantly — and with a certain vengeance. He would begin the process using cold reading, approaching a friend, looking in their eyes and saying,”Let me see if I can read your mind.” Judging from their facial expressions he could easily determine that they thought he was full of shit, so he told them just that. They would confess it was so but maintained that it proved nothing. Then he would declare that they were now trying to think of something more specific and less obvious. Then he would tell them that they were beginning to wonder if he really could read their mind after all given his accuracy this far. At this point he began to generate fear in them, which as a consequence made them focus all the more intensely on whatever they were thinking about.

Up to this point, it was all cold reading, but it became, in this way, effective foreplay for telepathy. He slowly and systematically built up fear in them that he could read their minds and once that emotional component achieved sufficient intensity — typically when he went one step further and accused them of being terrified that he might be capable of knowing their deepest, darkest secrets — their focus became so locked on their specific, sustained thoughts that, as he put it, they essentially broadcasted their thoughts to him. He would then tell them what they were thinking, which by this point was something very specific, and they would confess that he could do it after all.

He did this daily for two weeks and got quite proficient at it before deciding he had had enough. Not only did he finally feel that he gotten even with them, he could no longer deal with the feelings of absolute terror he generated in them in the process. To make matters worse, even after making it known that he had stopped, people still avoided him for roughly two months.

It was two years before he started investigating telepathy again, this time with the intent of teaching others how to do it. In time he developed what he came to call the “Psychic Window Technique” in which two people engage in prolonged staring or mutual gazing at a short distance. According to Koda, this technique has a few effects.

In the midst of prolonged eye-gazing he would perceive strange illusions in his partner’s face: areas would often appear blurry, darker, or become more pronounced. Sometimes these distortions gave way to full-blown hallucinatory shape-shifting into the faces of strangers, animals, and even stranger things. His partner, it turned out, would see the same illusions, simultaneously and with equal intensity on his own face. He came to call this effect “visual telepathy,” and it is essentially this that first brought him to my attention. It helped explain an incident I’d had on December 15, 2001.

For some time I had been working at a particular fast food restaurant where I also often spent a considerable and embarrassing amount of my time off. A few hours before work I would come in, get my free and essentially bottomless cup of coffee, sit in my booth in the smoking section and spend my free time writing, reading, thinking and, in my idle time, people-watching. It was one of the few unofficial benefits of the job.

On the day in question a guy I had briefly worked with at another fast food job saw me, took a seat at the opposite end of my booth and we engaged in a short conversation. He was there with some guy, perhaps a brother, who had a young kid with him. After we concluded our conversation, he got up and left. I went back to my writing, lost in my own personal trance, having assumed that was the end of it. I could not have been more mistaken. As I have previously written:

“I was jolted… by the sound of something hitting the far end of my booth. Startled and curious, I looked up to find a dome of blond hair poking out from just beyond the end of the table. It was the upper hemisphere of a toddler’s head. One hand of his was grabbing a hold of the end of the table; in the other, he held his cup with the sippy-top. He was looking dead at me, and instead of meeting his eyes I just sort of laughed under my breath, turned my head back down, placed the pen to the page and continued my writing. My eyes didn’t even reach my notebook before I heard it again. Looking back up, I immediately locked eyes with the kid and found myself imprisoned there. The gateways to my mind were being held hostage.

My peripheral vision was suddenly enshrouded in this dark, blurry overcast. While the eyes at the end of the tunnel shared the shadowy opaqueness, it was also possessed with a hyper-vivid quality. This sense of pressure built in my head, as if energy from his eyes were literally pushing into my mind, as if breaking and entering the mind and scanning and downloading personal files. A virtual form of search and seizure or, in this case, a telepathic analogue.

After a moment, he seemed satisfied and strangely amused, looking at me in a creepy way, as if he knew a “dark secret,” as I had later phrased it, that somehow connected him and I. The edges of his lips then curled slowly upward to an unnatural height, almost as if this surreal Cheshire Cat grin belonged somewhere in the twilight betwixt reality and cartoon.

Soon he walked away slowly with who I presume to be my ex-coworker’s friend holding his hand, but my line of sight was still ensnared by his eyes. He held me in his ocular tractor beam until he was out of my line of sight, at which time I felt him release my mind from his psychic grip.

Sinking down into the booth, I was cold and trembling, heart pumping wildly beneath gooseflesh. My eyes felt a strange, widened sort of pain, and it felt as if I could still feel the residual feeling of him being inside my head. I tried to look intensely out into nowhere, to “stare” the feeling out of me as if I were trying to flush out the psychic lines or something.”

According to Koda, this mutuality of experience does not end with visual illusions and hallucinations of the face, either, but extends to emotional states and physical sensations. One can even play a game, he suggests, in which one takes on the role of the blind receiver as the other intentionally generates and attempts to communicate a specific emotion or sensation.

This brings us to the 1998 book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, by Kary Mullis, a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1983. Despite his accomplishments and credentials he is, to put it mildly, a controversial figure and an interesting character with even more interesting personal anecdotes to relate. In a chapter entitled, “Intervention on the Astral Plane,” he recounts his experience with a woman he introduces as Katherine O’Keefe who had astounding abilities — though I will focus on a single instance he cited which occurred on the day he met her “in the flesh,” in December of 1978. They met first at a Bakery and she then followed him home:

“We talked briefly about nothing much in kitchen and then made love before I knew anything more than her name. She looked deep into my eyes and did something to me with her mind that was ecstatic. It seemed to me as if a little tentacle had reached into my mid-brain and tickled my hypothalamus” (p 93).

In 2002, while I still worked at the fast food restaurant previously mentioned, I had met Angela, a beautiful girl that had some strange experiences of her own. When we worked nights together she used to get up real close to my face and stare at me in the eyes, which I always enjoyed. At one point, while staring at me in that way, she did something akin to what Mullis described. I received this intense, joyous, almost orgasmic high that reached a fever pitch, overwhelming me and causing my field of perception to ripple like the surface of a disturbed body of water.

I had experienced such perceptual distortions before, to be certain, though the emotional component had never before achieved such intensity. One of the first occasions this happened, I was attending a dance with my girlfriend at the time at her school. In passing, as I was walking behind her through a crowded room, I happened to lock eyes with a random girl and the same thing occurred: a rising high with rippling vision. And she had done it at some distance, too.

Koda also writes about telepathically transmitting and receiving emotionally-charged imagery. Having read it for the first time in the process of writing this, it made me think of two experiences of mine.

The first happened during high school sometime after the flashbacks. I was in English class and we were all in our seats working on our papers independently and the teacher was walking up and down the isles, observing us as we worked. Occasionally she would stop and talk to a student in whispered tones. She walked up to my desk, leaned down to talk to me and as I looked up I happened to look her directly in the eyes. It was as if I was sucked into the vortex of her pupils. Inside, I saw things rotting, dripping with a venomous, sewage-like substance, absolutely grotesque, ill and deprived of life. And in an instant I broke the link, looking away from her, totally confused as to what had just happened.

Years later, the same sort of thing happened to me with a kid on April 8, 2002 as I was in a booth at work talking with a Tess, a co-worker and passing romantic interest:

“As her and I spoke, I found myself a bit distracted when this family of four came in. There was a curly-haired brunette lady who I presumed to be the mother; a tall, dark-haired man who’s face I never saw, and two kids. There was a younger one who had blond hair and blue eyes and looked rather frail-looking. His head was kind of big, too. The other was older with dark hair. The mother sat down in the booth behind my friend – booth number five – with the frail boy between her and the wall. Across from her and back-to-back with my friend was the tall man. Across from the blond haired kid and tall man sat the dark-haired boy.

It was the blond that first caught my attention. He was a cute little kid with bright blue eyes, but something about him made me uneasy. Though I was quick to attribute it to paranoia, for a few moments I watched him closely just to be sure. As I was scrutinizing, both kids stood up at once, leaned towards one another from across their table and placed themselves forehead to forehead, like playful bucks locked in a duel, staring dead into one another’s eyes. The mother lightly backhanded the blond kid and told them both to stop.

My attention slipped back to Tess, who was still talking. I had absolutely no fucking clue what the hell she had been saying, and even what she was saying at present seemed to be empty words lost in a jumble. I was getting really, really uncomfortable, and I had no idea why. It all seemed very odd. Somehow, something just didn’t feel right.

Then I looked back up over her shoulder. The dark-haired kid seemed to sense my eyes on him, and he suddenly turned around and looked dead at me and have me a Cheshire Cat grin. When I meet his eyes his pupils grow large, darker-than-dark, and it suddenly it feels as if I’m violently dragged forward and right into them. It’s like we’re in this foggy bubble where we’re only eyes and mind, and only him and I exist, and the rest of the world grows blurred and distorted. It was definitely visual — he looked magnified, abstract and surreal, and I could still see that Cheshire grin, wide and cartoon-like. It certainly wasn’t limited to image, though. It was as if our eye contact had merged us mentally, fused us. I felt as though I was in his mind, or that he was in mine, or that we now shared a mind.

I looked away. It took me a few seconds or so of staring at the table in front of me to realize just what the hell had happened. I knew I wasn’t sleeping, so I couldn’t be dreaming. I wasn’t on drugs. Tess was still talking, but when she looked up at me she did a double-take and then stopped dead in her tracks. I imagine the look on my face must have been about as fucked up as I was feeling. She studied me another moment before asking what was wrong.

Looking at her, staring deep into her eyes, I found that nothing happened. If this was in my head, I wondered, wouldn’t looking into her eyes do the same thing? I looked back at the kid, thinking this might have been something I’d imagined — half hoping, as a matter of fact, that it had truly been something that I’d imagined. Then it all happened again. He goes into my head, grinning again, almost as if he’s a fucking cartoon. If I focused at all, I feared I might be locked there forever; that I might be trapped there and the rest of reality might fade away.

He looks away. While I’m sitting there pale as a ghost and freaking out, he’s sitting there amused. It’s almost as if he thought it was funny that he could do this. He leaned over the table again and whispered to the blond haired kid. Then he turns back to me and does it again, grinning that wide and freaky Cheshire cat grin, eyes as big and black as universes.”

Koda ultimately experienced something far more extreme than me in this respect, however. In the summer of 1984 he writes how he was practicing the technique with a friend of his in a coffee shop when, for roughly six seconds, they both suddenly saw the same detailed scene from the same perspective:

“I was looking directly at a very pretty blond girl about nineteen-years-old. She was perhaps six feet away, facing slightly toward my left as she sat in front of an old-fashion chest of drawers topped with a large, ornate mirror. Her dress was bright yellow, laced up the front and had a white, ruffled collar. She was brushing her long blond hair with very slow strokes, looking rather absent minded, as if she were daydreaming about some hoped-for future. To the left of the dresser was the closed bedroom door. Without knowing why, I was certain there was a hallway on the other side of the door. I knew that toward the right the hall lead to the back door and the barn area, while on the left the hall opened into the living room. On the other side of the hall from the bedroom was the kitchen. I knew where all the pots and pans and lanterns were hung, that the road came in from west in front of the house and most of the fields were in that direction. I knew everything about the place as quickly as my mind could scan the area, including the ‘fact’ that I was in a farmhouse in Southern California in the late 1800s” (p 18).

In rare instances, he says, even thoughts can be communicated — as exemplified to some degree in his initial experience with his friend on hashish and his subsequent mind-reading of his friends and classmates. It also brings us back to Mullis. In a chapter of the aforementioned book entitled, “My Evening With Harry,” Mullis recounts an experience he had in 1978 in San Francisco.

He was sitting at his kitchen table with his friend, Harry, a fellow chemist, who he had not seen in some time. They both drank some beer and Harry smoked a joint. After explaining that he wanted to show him something, he turned to Mullis with wide eyes and asked him to stare into his eyes and do his best not to blink or react if his face happened to change. As Mullis goes on to explain:

“His face did change. It was still Harry, but varieties of Harry I had not seen. Different faces appeared out of the familiar flesh, which now wasn’t so familiar. Some of them were humans I didn’t know, some were not human at all. They were animal. They were all Harry in some way I couldn’t explain. I was seeing things in him that were him but not a part of the life we had shared. It was a little scary, but Harry was somehow underneath it smiling that confident smile” (p 86).

(p 86)

They both admitted to being inside each other’s minds (“the front room — the reception area,” Mullis explained) and then Mullis broke it off for a moment, grabbed two pens and some index cards.

“We were being scientists. We both wrote down a word and then showed each other our cards. It was the same word. Just a word, nothing cosmic, but it was the same, and we knew it would be. We did it again and again, and we knew every time it would be the same. We were watching something — always present but usually dormany — from a privileged position that we had created by putting ourselves together in some way. It was absolutely normal and yet it wasn’t” (p 87).

Recently I came upon some articles regarding eye-gazing experiments that inspired me to try researching the subject again, hoping to find something. While I found no further personal anecdotes, I did happen upon some interesting and relevant studies. In a video by The Liberators International they invited strangers to publicly engage in eye contact for one, whole, psychologically-juicy minute. After the predictable awkwardness produced at the onset, participants reported the very heights of elation. This predominantly emotional experience may have been overshadowed by some haunting hallucinatory phenomena if ocular engagement had continued for ten minutes, however, at least according to experiments conducted by Giovanni B. Caputo, a psychologist at the University of Urbino in Italy.

I was first introduced to Caputo’s work through an article regarding his studies on mirror-gazing in which he found that after perhaps no more than a minute of staring at one’s reflection subjects experienced what he called the Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion. Features would darken or become more pronounced; people would see, instead of their own faces, those of strangers, animals, or monstrous beings. In further experiments in which he explored the effects of what has been variously referred to as interpersonal, intersubjective or mutual eye-gazing, he found that the same basic manifestations emerged.

In a paper entitled, “Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing,” Caputo described an experiment in which he paired off 20 people (15 women, 5 men) and had them sit facing each other at a distance of roughly three feet in a dimly-lit room where they were instructed to gaze into one another’s eyes for ten minutes. There was also a control group of 20 placed in more or less the same conditions, though in this case they were instructed to gaze at a blank wall. Each group then completed three questionnaires relating to their experience. The initial dealt with dissociative states, the remaining two focused on their experience of the point of focus — the control group’s wall or the face of your partner. The results were astonishing:

“The participants in the eye-staring group said they’d had a compelling experience unlike anything they’d felt before. They also scored higher on all three questionnaires than the control group. On the dissociative states test, they gave the strongest ratings to items related to reduced colour intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, becoming spaced out, and time seeming to drag on. On the strange-face questionnaire, 90 per cent of the eye-staring group agreed that they’d seen some deformed facial traits, 75 per cent said they’d seen a monster, 50 per cent said they saw aspects of their own face in their partner’s face, and 15 per cent said they’d seen a relative’s face.”

As explained elsewhere, a cocktail of neural adaptation, psychological projection and facial recognition would explain the surreal effects that can manifest during mirror-gazing; the same would appear to be true for mutual gazing. This would not, at least so obviously, explain why interpersonal gazing would constitute the more intense experience of the two — nor would it begin to explain the seemingly telepathic effects. There are, however, at least two separate studies that may offer some insight. One was conducted by psychologists from the University of Stirling involving 20 five-year-old children. It concluded that those who averted eye contact in order to consider how they would answer questions were more apt to answer correctly than those who maintained their gaze. In another study conducted at Kyoto University in Japan (the results of which were published as “When we cannot speak: Eye contact disrupts resources available to cognitive control processes during verb generation”) participants played word association games of varying complexity while looking at a variety of faces that were either staring or looking away. During eye contact, they did more poorly during the most complex questions.

In both cases, then, it was suggested that cognitive effort and eye contact interfered with one another. While neither study so much as references hypnosis, the conclusions of both appear to resonate well with hypnotist Scott Jansen’s allegation, which is that sustained eye contact generates “psychological pressure” that diminishes conscious thinking. Subliminal or unconscious thought then rushes in to compensate, heightening one’s suggestibility. In other words, eye contact could be seen as the most basic form of the most typical of induction techniques used by hypnotists both on and off the stage: what is variously known as the direct gaze, fixed gaze or fixation method of hypnotic induction. Though this can be used to refer to the subject’s fixation on nearly anything — a candle’s flame, a finger, a swinging watch — among the objects of potential focus are the hypnotist’s eyes. The issue here is that inducing hypnosis does not alone explain the seemingly telepathic effect, as there are no clearly no overt, hypnotic suggestions to follow in the midst of silent, mutual gazing — and they would prove difficult to deliver, too, perhaps, given the interference it evidently has with respect to cognition.

There may very well be nonverbal hypnotic suggestions at play here, however. Consider that eyes are essentially extensions of the brain that not only receive external signals as sense organs but can also transmit the brain’s own signals to other pairs of eyes. When you engage in eye contact with another person you pick up on the expressions on their face and, of course, the movements of their own eyes. While you can consciously perceive the eye movements known as saccades, such as when the person looks back and forth, there are various forms of subtler, involuntary movements that occur even when those eyes remain fixed on your own, and they may also communicate nonverbal information regarding their inner state. By picking up on these external, nonverbal reactions to their own minds we may instinctively decode those signals and replicate the other person’s inner state within ourselves. Hypnotic trance through silent, prolonged mutual gaze would only amplify such effects.

Those effects are certainly there, too, whatever the cause. In a 2015 study published in the journal Neuroimage, 96 volunteers were split into pairs and proceeded to engage in mutual gazing under the watchful eye of fMRIs. It was found that not only did the pairs begin blinking in unison, their brain activity synchronized in the area of the right inferior frontal gyrus. The remaining question is whether these mundane processes are enough to explain the effects of what I, perhaps lamely, have referred to for some time as ocular telepathy. To put it more plainly: if through prolonged mutual gazing you are capable of sharing or exchanging hallucinations, emotions, mental images and even thoughts with your partner, does it remain a viable hypothesis that the aforementioned normal — as opposed to paranormal — processes are the culprit?

Taken as a whole, it seems a stretch. To break it down in specific bits: being capable, in the midst of locked gaze, of reading emotional states through nonverbals and experiencing them as your own — or experiencing them as emotions from an external source, namely that of your partner — is a hypothesis that would be relatively easy for me to accept, especially given what we know regarding our inherent capacity to subliminally and automatically translate body language. When it comes to sharing hallucinations and subjective imagery, however, I am far more skeptical, and when it comes to communicating thoughts — say in the fashion of Mullis and Harry at the kitchen table exchanging those index cards — it seems absolutely absurd.

So how might one explain this?

We know that ordinary sense perception exists. Our mundane senses do not operate in isolation, however, but are in constant concert, influencing one another with the aim of delivering a seemingly seamless sensory experience to consciousness. Smell, for instance, affects taste, as anyone who has had nasal congestion can attest to. Wine tasters swirl the fluid in the glass, take a hearty whiff, and then sip, utilizing all relevant senses as they contribute to a more holistic, mindful experience of the taste.

There is sufficient data in parapsychological studies to suggest that extrasensory perception exists. While we accept the community or senses as a factor for clear reception with respect to the clarity of reception provided by any singular, ordinary sense, we are for whatever reason suddenly prone to amnesia when it comes to exploring the extra-sensorium. Here, frustration and discouragement overwhelm us when we learn that, for instance, telepathy is difficult to isolate with any certainty from other senses — or potential extrasenses — in the laboratory setting. When we do manage to fashion experiments that isolate specific psi, we are frustrated and discouraged when the effect, though exceeding chance, is relatively weak. We fail to consider the fact that in their natural environment, so-to-speak, they may complement and be similarly influenced by a community of extrasenses just as ordinary senses are.

Not only that, but we should expect these two distinct sensory systems to influence one another as well, which would certainly serve to complicate matters. Assuming this is the case, it could go some way to explain what many interpret as a failure in parapsychology, which is to say that any detectable effects are prone to being relatively weak in nature. After all, when we take average individuals and subject them to parapsychological studies with rigid controls meant to remove any evidence of sensory (if not other extrasensory) influence, we are in effect removing their given extrasense (telepathy, in this case) from its natural context and placing it in an isolated, alien environment in which it is not only virgin but necessarily abandoned by its typical support system. We should be astounded that parapsychological experiments reveal any psi influence at all.

Perhaps the coupling of mutual eye-gazing, subliminal cold-reading and telepathy could better explain the phenomena experienced as ocular telepathy. It works so well, its effects are so predictable, immediate and intense in comparison to telepathy as it is ordinarily explored, simply because it utilizes the parapsychological in tandem with the psychological and biological.

No doubt a relevant form of training might help discipline our natural ability to conjure such capacities through the Psychic Window Technique, and the literature which I have referenced in quotes in this article already provide some clues as to what training might be optimal. Consider, for instance, the conversation between Mullis and O’Keefe following the incident in which she seemed, according to him, to have tickled his hypothalamus:

“I asked her what the hell she had done to me.

She replied, ‘You’ve been playing with your mind, but you don’t know anything yet. No one has ever properly taught you.’

I was excited. ‘Will you show me how to do that? What you did?’

‘You already know. You just need to practice'” (p 93).

Though Mullis reported that she did indeed teach him to practice, he gave few details, in the end only offering the reader her diagnosis of his condition. “She told me that I had abilities that I hadn’t tapped into and that I had to learn to quiet myself inside,” he wrote. “I had to learn not to think so much.” Though she never said it outright so far has Mullis himself has conveyed, it seems clear to me that she was talking about meditation — something akin to the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist practices of samatha and vipassana, which cultivate the power of attention.

There was also a detailed practice offered by Koda, however: the aforementioned “The Psychic Window Technique.” He suggests that you and your partner sit down and face one another at a distance of perhaps two to three feet, sure to maintain “open” body language devoid of defensive barriers like crossed arms or legs in the process. Both of you then decide which mutual “side” will hold your attentions when you stare at one another: either you focus your eyes on your partner’s right eye as they focus on your left or vice versa. It is of vital importance, I think, to focus mutual attention on a mutual “side,” as it makes certain you are both focusing on the eye of the other that is focusing on you. This would also make it indistinguishable from samatha meditation.

Once the “side” is established, you both stare into one another’s eyes unwaveringly, without blinking, all the while trying to expand your field of clear perception to encapsulate the entirety of the face: then the weirdness begins…

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Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, mirror upon the wall,
I’m asking you, who is the most confused of them all?
Mirror, mirror, subservient twin,
screams back at me “You! You sick flawless mime,
I want to break you!”
— Mudvayne, Shadow of a Man.

As is the case with many of the memories that came to me around 1995, I can’t be certain how old I was, but the flashback was brief and vivid enough that despite the fact that no written records of it exist from the time of recall I am confident enough in how it played out. One could always argue that it was some vivid dream and nothing more, of course, but it certainly seemed to be a real occurrence to me.

I was in the bathroom at the house we lived in from my birth until 1988, and so no older than ten, standing on a small stool we had in the bathroom so that us kids could reach the sink and see ourselves in the mirror. I don’t know if I was brushing my teeth or combing my hair or if I was about to get in or just exiting the shower. In any case, I suddenly noticed, in the process, that something was wrong, peculiar, noticeably “off” about my reflection in the mirror. Unable to put my finger on it at first, it soon became obvious that my eyes were changing. They were slowly but with increasing speed growing at once larger and more slanted. I remember watching as I simultaneously felt my mouth falling open in shock, my growing, unblinking eyes unable to avert their gaze for a mere second. Uncertain if it was my actual face or merely my reflection undergoing this localized shapeshifting, I lifted up my hand to touch one of my eyes, sliding my fingers upon its smooth, slippery, rubbery surface.

Still later in 1995, after a night of what could perhaps be best described as a meditative exploration of my apparent past-life memories, I had gazed into the mirror in the upstairs bathroom with the lights off and had a strange visual experience. My reflected face was rapidly shapeshifting into what I presumed to be the faces of my former incarnations, many of which I had not formerly recalled episodically. It seemed as if my mirror image was trying to coagulate into a singular form that embraced the qualities of all previous corporeal containers. Unlike the earlier episode there was no question that this was an illusion, and one specific to my reflection as opposed to my actual face.

Many years later I came upon those who had experienced similar distortions of their reflections in Dr. Marlene Steinberg’s book, The Stranger in the Mirror: The Hidden Epidemic. For some time that has been my only lead for an explanation of the experience — assuming it was not some vivid, sensory-enriched dream. Until recently, that is, when I came upon the “Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion,” a 2010 publication in the journal Perception, by psychologist Giovanni B. Caputo of the University of Urbino in Italy. He ran an experiment in which some fifty volunteers sat in a dimly-lit room with a 25-watt lamp placed behind them. They were instructed to stare into a mirror for ten minutes and take note of the effects. After about a minute, strange shit began to happen. Caputo writes:

“The descriptions differed greatly across individuals and included: (a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%).”

Their emotional responses were also interesting:

“The participants reported that apparition of new faces in the mirror caused sensations of otherness when the new face appeared to be that of another, unknown person or strange `other’ looking at him/her from within or beyond the mirror. All fifty participants experienced some form of this dissociative identity effect, at least for some apparition of strange faces and often reported strong emotional responses in these instances. For example, some observers felt that the `other’ watched them with an enigmatic expression – [a] situation that they found astonishing. Some participants saw a malign expression on the ‘other’ face and became anxious. Other participants felt that the `other’ was smiling or cheerful, and experienced positive emotions in response. The apparition of deceased parents or of archetypal portraits produced feelings of silent query. Apparition of monstrous beings produced fear or disturbance. Dynamic deformations of new faces (like pulsations or shrinking, smiling or grinding) produced an overall sense of inquietude for things out of control.”

In a follow-up publication the same year (2010), “Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self-identity during mirror gazing,” Caputo added that subjects reported that while they maintained self-consciousness of their own face they felt as if “a strange person was watching them from within or beyond the mirror”. He also concluded that the degree of lighting seemed to play a role in the illusion, which is to say that the lower the illumination the less time it took for one to experience the SFMI. More interesting are the effects of mirror-gazing on subjects suffering from depression and schizophrenia, two other studies of Caputo’s which he summarized in the abstract of his March, 2014 publication, “Archetypal-imaging and mirror-gazing,” in which he gives an overview of the studies on the matter:

“Recently, empirical research found that gazing at one’s own face in the mirror for a few minutes, at a low illumination level, produces the perception of bodily dysmorphic illusions of strange-faces. Healthy observers usually describe huge distortions of their own faces, monstrous beings, prototypical faces, faces of relatives and deceased, and faces of animals. In the psychiatric population, some schizophrenics show a dramatic increase of strange-face illusions. They can also describe the perception of multiple-others that fill the mirror surface surrounding their strange-face. Schizophrenics are usually convinced that strange-face illusions are truly real and identify themselves with strange-face illusions, diversely from healthy individuals who never identify with them. On the contrary, most patients with major depression do not perceive strange-face illusions, or they perceive very faint changes of their immobile faces in the mirror, like death statues.”

Why does this illusion happen? There are some pretty reasonable hypotheses. As Kaylee Brown put it in her December, 2016 article, “Eye Gazing: Science Reveals How it Affects Our Communication”:

“Our neurons can slow down and even completely stop their response to stimulation that is constant. This happens when you stare at anything — your perception changes until you blink or something within the scene changes.”

One way to put it, then, is that steady, prolonged mirror-gazing results in sensory ambiguity, and we have known for some time that the greater the ambiguity in a perceived stimulus the more fertile it becomes for psychological projection. Our brains naturally compensate for absent data and impose structure on chaotic information based on cues in the given context associated with data already stored in memory. Well, in the case of mirror-gazing, the cues are aspects of our face that remain detectable, and so another influential force here may be our capacity for facial recognition. This leads us to seek out the patterns of a face in our projections: as your face distorts due to neural adaptation, your brain conjures up faces stored in memory that fit the available — which is to say fluctuating — data, which result in illusions of faces that are not your own.

The weakest and mildest projections manifest as pareidolia, such as when we look at a spill on a counter, a stain on the concrete or clouds in the sky and “see” figures and even scenes. This can increase to illusions, as when someone is approaching you from a distance and you’re certain it’s a friend, only to find as proximity increases that it is a total stranger. In some cases projection can even produce full-blown hallucinations, as in cases of sensory deprivation.

My experience in the darkened bathroom after my exploration of my alleged reincarnational world-line would perhaps reside on the cusp betwixt illusion and hallucination, but my memory of my reflection of a child in a bathroom of full lighting would clearly have to constitute a hallucination — not merely in the visual sphere, either, but in a tactile sense, as I distinctly remember touching my eye to ensure it was merely my reflection that was changing, only to find that it was, despite my hopes, my actual face as well. Nothing that Caputo has published to my knowledge could explain that aspect of the memory, given it was not a vivid dream — not even the experiences of schizophrenics.

I must confess: that is not the least bit comforting.

***

For more information regarding the aforementioned studies conducted by Caputo (et al.), please consult the following links (or use the titles as search queries):

Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion,” 2010.
“Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self-identity during mirror gazing,” 2010.
“Visual perception during mirror gazing at one’s own face in schizophrenia,” 2012.
Visual perception during mirror-gazing at one’s own face in patients with depression,” 2014.
Archetypal-imaging and mirror-gazing,” 2014.

No Cosmic Justice.

Many people find it hard enough to empathize with those in positions they were formerly in themselves, let alone empathize with someone in a position that they entirely alien to. Even when they can manage to see from their former positions they can only see themselves there in the other person’s shoes, you could say, but not looking through the eyes of the other person. This is why the notion if retributive karma has come to irritate me as much as the heaven/hell belief: do something bad to someone now and later, somewhere down the line, tables will surely turn. Even when we remember our former positions we all too often fail to empathize, as formerly mentioned, so what good is a cosmic system of justice aiming for balance throughout countless incarnations shrouded by amnesia?

Ex Caput Mortuum.

Sixteen,
slipping headfirst into the black.

Alone at last, embracing introversion,
stumbling through the jungle, to the tender lips
of the abyss within, listening
to ancient whispers, denied memories,
buried aspects of my personality:

truths of a type
that nightmares are made of.

Ink in pen, pastel, pencil, various media
in hand, fingers to keyboard,
hungry for bloodletting,
expel the poison,
work the dirt out from the sore
that I become in this prison
of ignorance,
hunt and peck
until they blister and spill my essence…

I try to bleed it dry, swallow it whole,
deep certainty that this is the only way to let go
of that which I have been entirely blinded to,

not least of which the fact
that I hold and have held
for so long, though this hole is deeper
than I could ever have guessed, could have known,
a surreal vortex that threatens
any sense of self or sanity
with ruthless, violent, unmerciful
disintegration.

Crows peck meat from bones,
ghosts torment the mind drifting free
from body, now at war with the chaos,
eyes as black as my head is dead,
flies encircles my eyes, halo of crows spinning
like satellites around my charred
and wasted mind…

Cannot believe the weight I hold.
(Arrogance.)
Cannot believe the age of soul.
(Age is not synonymous with wisdom.)
Fight against the accusation
that I am a part of this, participant
in this mess,

my freedom, my responsibility.
Belonging nowhere, gather the lost, fight
for a better home. Feel like I need
to do something, use all that I have got,
though I’m lost,
fuck,
what am I supposed to do
with all of this?

No one could
(not even sure that I completely)
believe it.

No faith in self.
No hope is scientifically
discerning anything else.

How can I know what side
is right to fight
on if I know enough to know
that I don’t know myself?

(Nimi, where are you?
My guide, my confidant…)

Need to gain
a sense of direction
to find the off-ramp,
escape my personal hell,
embrace my work,
be myself.

Who I Have Always Been.

If one fancies me insane I would hope, at the very least, that they give me this: my fantasies are not ones consciously manufactured, nor are they ones that serve to uphold the ego. Take the apparent past life memories, for instance: first an alien on a dying world, then an orphan priest “unhappy” with his “work” and who seemed to have ended his life by means of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to head at what he considered a great age, then a man born in the fifties that died in poverty inside a mall in Florida.

Not exactly a high ranking official of Atlantis or a highly-evolved member of Ashtar Command or whatever, not in any incarnation.

Being an alien might be considered exotic, but given the apparent circumstances it was a species with issues exceeding that of present-day humanity, so not exactly a steroid injection into the ego inspiring some sense of relative superiority. I am no fucking god incarnate or a famous and successful person working out his karmic debt in a shit life and cesspool fast food employment. This is just a manifestation of the same old underling shit. I am who I have always been, for better or worse. Context only changes the particular manifestation, not the underlying patterns of dismal habituation. I am my cause, I am my effect, I am my freedom and responsibility, drawn to relations and circumstances with whom and in which I bear affinity.

Monism, Dualism & Eating of the Tree of Life.

Given a long enough timeline, given we survive and dodge another dark age, our immortality seems secured.

Monism holds that consciousness is merely the brain in verb form, that the mind is just the brain in action. Michio Kaku detailed his monistic perspective in several YouTube videos* in promotion for his book, The Future of the Mind. He equates consciousness with the feedback loops accessible to an organism. Each feedback loop constitutes a single unit of consciousness and the more units an organism has, the clearer and more detailed the model it has of itself in the context of its spatial, temporal and social relationships and the more complex the corresponding behavior.

Life on earth evolved beyond units into what he calls Level One consciousness with the development of the reptilian brain, which provides feedback on one’s position in space. Level Two consciousness emerged with the limbic system or mammalian brain, which provides emotion and feedback loops through social relations. Humans are at Level 3 consciousness, which we also call intelligence. With the prefrontal cortex we not only have the capacity to remember yesterday but also have imagination, which allows us to both simulate the present and predict the future.

Though I suspect he scoffs at parapsychology, perhaps instances of human precognition suggest that a greater predictive capacity is at least occasionally active in some of us and may even be a potentiality latent in us all. It may also be a consistent and common capacity in ETI if, as it is generally imagined, they are more intelligent than the average human. If one denies the existence of psi abilities, we may nonetheless have mutations in one gene pool that provide the closest conceivable approximation within materialistic limitations. What we call precognition is perhaps merely a consequence of the capacity to produce superior simulations of now and projections for tomorrow that bear more detail and are based upon more educated guesswork. In either case, such ETI would see much more clearly much farther down the road.

There may be another reason for their broad perspective, however: their immortality. This is something we can suspect they have achieved, yet again, regardless as to whether the monism or dualism perspective holds.

In the case of monism, we have the connectome — the thorough and detailed map of all neural connections in the nervous system of an organism. It would constitute the computer backup for consciousness. Upon death this could be downloaded onto a computer and hooked up to a network, where it could exist within any number of virtual realities. By a similar process, it could be downloaded into a robot.

Alternatively, the connectome could be used along with a DNA sample to achieve technological resurrection through a clone. Not just any clone, however. Twins are just nature’s clones, after all, and twins do not share a consciousness. This clone would either have a brain somehow reverse-engineered from the connectome or the connectome is somehow capable of inhabiting the body through some form of interface with a machine, such as perhaps a device implanted into the brain. In any case, this clone would be a connectoclone.

If an implant is sufficient, then someone could potentially have a wardrobe of diverse, custom-made bodies produced through cloning and genetic engineering which the connectome could easily attach to and detach from by means of a machine, permitting immortality through a technologically-assisted continuity of consciousness. It sounds nice. Here, however, is the monist rub: if consciousness is just a downloadable program, however complex it might be, then it should be possible to copy connectomes just as we clone bodies. In that case, a single person could have an army of clones, all based on the same genome-connectome package deal. If the monist perspective holds, then, not only would each of me be certain they were me, each of me would be correct. Identity theft would rise to a whole new level. High-tech copy protection would be a must.

Consider, however, that dualism holds. Dualism naturally emerges out of the comparisons between the our brains and the real world and computers and the internet. The more complex the computer hardware, the better the software and the clearer the internet connection, the more liberty the wetware — the organism operating it; the user — is afforded. Wetware is a term that encompasses our analogues to the hardware and software of a computer. The brain, nervous system, perhaps the entire body would serve as the hardware, which we could call our meatware.

The software may be a more difficult subject to grapple with, but let’s just call it our mindware. It seems fairly clear that the system software (instincts, archetypes and autonomic functions) comes along with the meatware. Its a corporeal package deal. Some application software may also come along with the meaty hardware, though many are subsequently downloaded from meatspace (the world beyond the world wide web) in the form of habits, body language, talents, tendencies.

Where is the “user” that exploits the wetware? It could be the wetware itself, and many would insist that it is, but in this context, in the very least, it seems inconsistent with the comparison.

Might consciousness be a transient resident in the body, the brain merely a transceiver providing a recurrent feedback loop between the body and the mind? Am I the ghost in this meat machine, the spook commanding this flesh vessel, the mind taking cover in this skin-shell?

Experientially, in the very least, our body and mind seem to be distinct entities. Through producing pleasure and pain the body seems to coerce consciousness to execute programmed behaviors that serve the needs of the body. It seems strange to consider the mind as a product of the brain in that light — after all, what machine must coerce itself to follow its own programs? Our meat machines appear to be puppeteers, our squatting soul or occupying mind is the marionette. We are pulled this way and that by the strings of instinct, sometimes all too easily. We are equally liable to put up a fight, to engage in a little tug-o-war, to risk being ripped apart rather than be enslaved. In a more creative spirit, we might sublimate — scratch the same itch from another direction.

In any case, we treat the body as if it were a separate force, a foreign body we must contend with. We wear these meat suits and identify mind as residing within, though in saying so we must confess we do not mean literally inside our body in the same sense that the heart, liver and intestines are. Instead, we mean to suggest a direction we cannot point to that lies beyond the boundary of the body. We aren’t pointing to the door of wetware but the individual you cannot see, standing just behind it. This makes sense given the comparison, too. After all, if wetware is to meatspace as a computer is to the internet, perhaps we merely use wetware as a medium for navigation through meatspace — we are, in other words, nonlocal and truly distinct from it. We would never really die, though our wetware would eventually succomb to built-in obsolescence, forcing us offline until we could score another moist medium.

It may even be the case that the mind cannot perceive itself save for through the feedback provided by the body. Perhaps life developed with chemical reactions that gave rise to organisms that provided that feedback. We would have to follow the course of evolution to have any hopes of being a multicellular organism capable of advanced self-reflection. Body and mind may have codependently evolved through a symbiotic relationship first spawned when chemical reactions within the primordial stew gave rise to simple machines providing interface with a candidate consciousness. The wetware would impose limitations on the user, but throughout evolution paths diverged, boundaries receded in different ways.

One one breed of wetware developed organisms with reptilian brains, and then mammalian brains atop that, and finally human brains. With opposable thumbs, humans began exploiting their intelligence through the development of artificial technology. They also developed language and, through itself and technology, generated culture. Human beings became increasingly capable of using their artificial technology — genetic engineering, specifically — to manipulate the natural technology of their flesh vessels, brought to them through a process of evolution by means of natural selection.

Now they could impose artificial selection. Craft their own meat suits.

Given that there must be some point of interface between mind and wetware, if dualism holds, science will inevitably find that point of interface. It will do what it always does, which is understand it through science and exploit that understanding in technology. This technology will provide all the benefits of the connectome technology — and more. In addition to the ability to house consciousness in both a variety of hardware and potential wardrobes of wetware, there is the fact that consciousness is not dependent on technology of any form, as in the monist analogues to immortality, resurrection and reincarnation. We merely gain control over natural processes.

*
BigThink video, “Michio Kaku on the Evolution of Intelligence.”
BigThink video, “Michio Kaku on Alien Brains.”
BigThink video, “Michio Kaku: Consciousness Can be Quantified”
BigThink video, “Michio Kaku: Could We Transport Our Consciousness Into Robots?”
Michio Kaku (2014) “The Future of the Mind”

Cold & Haunted.

Every winter, more or less, it happens again — I feel flashes of what it was like living in that skin, living that life where I died at a Florida mall while living out of my car in the parking lot. I understand that I’m thinking about how horrible it would be during this season to be out in the streets, but I have no specific recollection of being in the cold in that life.

In that life I appeared to be born in Little Rock, Arkansas. I remember a trip to New York and maybe a short period in Vietnam, but then it was just Florida — Miami Beach and Palm Beach. Florida, I feel certain, is where I died running in that mall — that recurring dream as a kid.

Why the reaction to the cold, the Ohio snow, in the state I’ve lived in since I was last spat out 36 years ago? Just hating the weather would be one thing, but always the associations with that life, the fear of homelessness and the guilt for having a warm place to sleep at night jab at my insides.

It would be so nice to simply recall it all, to face that life as a whole, to know what unseen memories are influencing me — to get a full name, to be able to search for who I was and confirm or falsify it all. To move forward.

To not be haunted by myself.

Integrity.

It bothers me that I care so much about what other people think of me and how they feel towards me. A catchy suggestion I came across some time ago — that one should aim for “expression, not impression” — defines the nature of my anger towards myself and my frustration with this situation. Too much energy seems invested in (unconsciously; semiconsciously) attempting to manipulate the perceptions of others with respect to me and honest, sincere self-expression suffers as a result.

So what if they might think me insane, picking up on the fact that I have strange memories and experiences? So what if they think I am unscientific and irrational, even hypocritical in my support for the extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs and my view that sufficient evidence exists for reincarnation and parapsychology?

Fuck them. I’ve done the research. I’ve struggled with these questions since I was sixteen, trying to make sense out of my experiences and the eerily similar ones of others. It is not inconsistent to announce that I side with science and reason — faith plays no role in the worldview that is emerging in me; I have been wracked with often terrifying degrees of doubt since the very beginning. I check and recheck; regurgitate and rearrange, take it all from as many different angles as I can, and yet I am made to feel like the crazy one, not those who come to conclusions and engage in ridicule without the feeblest attempt to explore the subjects in question.

I believe in science and reason as methods — what we have collectively determined to be true through use of those methods at the present time are always open to revision or expansion, however, and to dismiss ideas without consideration is foolish.

Are we incorrect in our presumptions of what is possible and what “is”? Almost certainly. Historically we have felt secure in notions we later found to be utter hogwash, no matter how supported by observation, experiment and reason. Ideas evolve with more information, they adapt or suffer extinction, as they should.

I considered monotheism and found it to be bullshit. I considered the ETH and reincarnation and found that both have merit. Have I been led astray? Perhaps — I feel confident time will tell in any case.

If I’m insane or just plain wrong, it won’t be for lack of trying. I hope that’s good enough for me in the end, whichever way it falls.

For the Sake of a Better Big Sleep.

Descriptions of the “intermission” periods during incarnations (cases which Stevenson and Tucker refer to as CORT-I cases) resonate well with descriptions of near death experiences. In both cases individuals describe two realms: the familiar world we call physical and another, otherworldly realm. Both realms are also described by those who have exosomatic or “out of body” (OBE) experiences. Sometimes they are referred to as the gross or physical plane and the subtle or astral plane.

Religion has set up expectations of what the afterlife will be like based on the kind of person you are through the eyes of that religion. That explains the clear cultural influence and cross-cultural inconsistencies found among and between CORT-I, NDE and OBE cases — revealing them to be dreams. The lucidity that characterizes them and seems to set them apart from common dreams may be a natural result of a disembodied mind dreaming lucidly during an exosomatic state.

Whereas the embodied state of dreaming always anchors you to some degree to the gross world because of bodily sensations and processes, the “collapsing inward” of the disembodied mind, devoid of such requirements, may involve a far more complete state of absorption into the dream material. It may come on abruptly, making the transition from the disembodied state to the dream state seamless in some cases, which may be quite confusing as it would likely take on the form of a false awakening: it would, in other words, provide a dream environment modeled almost entirely by memories of the gross environment you just seamlessly phased out of.

Another possibility is that the transition from the waking disembodied state to the dreaming disembodied state may have a hallucinatory segue where you traverse from the “extra-sensorimotor” system to the “inner-sensorimotor” system in degrees spanning the spectrum. This is sleep paralysis without the paralysis to serve as a telltale sign. These may be the cases in which people find themselves up on the ceiling of their hospital rooms looking down on their dying body and suddenly see a portal or tunnel opening up in the nearby them. These transitions — tunnels, vortexes, doorways, bridges — are what lucid dreamers often use to ease from one dream environment to another.

These may very well be personal dreamscapes, but this need not necessarily be the case. Many cases of telepathic dreams (correspondence, mutual, synchronized) have been reported, as is the case, it would seem, in the dreams shared between the living and the dead (departure, arrival, visitation). There seems to be little reason there would not be such dreams between members of the deceased, and given their are tales of telepathic dreams shared by more than two people, the implications begin to get rather interesting.

To begin with, if the person believes this dream to be his unavoidable afterlife, it would confirm his religion to him and in so doing reinforce the illusions that seemingly confirmed it. This self-reinforcing feedback loop could ensnare a person. They may remain locked in a dream of this type for an untold amount of time.

When you factor in telepathy, the implications get broader and considerably weirder. The telepathic element in dreams of and between either or both the living and the dead suggest that such dreams may not only be dreams populated by one, but many. That kind of self-perpetuating, full-scale, collective delusion might have enslaved entire cultures, be it with a hellish realm or a more heavenly one (to stain my words with Christian influence). In the East, shared beliefs turned into a mutual telepathic dreamscape would serve not so much as an afterlife as it would an existential intermission, as they embrace a belief in reincarnation. Though it certainly shares the deceptive nature of the West, it seems far less threatening in its status as a realm one merely passes through on one’s way to the next fleshy receptacle.

While it seems to devalue the otherworldly aspects of these experiences in a way, it is only because we take dreaming to be something opposed to otherworldliness. Consider that the telepathic element of dreams and our capacity to utilize that ability in dreams regardless as to whether we or our partners are dead or alive seems to render the dreamscape indistinguishable from a parallel world or alternate reality.

Its association with notions of illusion are based upon both its strictly personal nature and its transience, as evidenced upon our awakening and ultimately at death revealed to be, like our consciousness, a mere epiphenomenon. Yet ample evidence (though by necessity anecdotal) suggests that the dreamscape is neither personal nor is it (or consciousness) such an epiphenomenon. Even it’s supposed transience upon awakening may be open to question, for even if a dream is reliant on a dreamer, mutual dreams suggest that you may not be the only one. So long as there is the consistent presence of at least one dreamer in the dream, the dream endures. If there is a great dream population, many could come and go at once and over time and the dreamworld would be as stable as the gross reality.

An element exists in both the personal and telepathic forms of these dreamworlds that makes them seem even less of an illusion. It stems from a notion I first came across when reading William Buhlman’s Adventures Out of Body, and it deals with regarding these environments being sensitive, responsive or reactive to both conscious and unconscious content, which makes it sound indistinguishable from a dream. In that way, it fits snug into what I have already written here, but it adds the important element of habit into the equation. He distinguished between different environments which he believed to be characterized by nothing more than their degree of sensitivity to consciousness. Some were empty voids, others came fully furnished with structures that were easily malleable given deliberate conscious intent, others seemed more resistant to consciousness and so on.

Upon the dreamscape, mind makes reality. With telepathy, minds share the realities they have made. Given reinforcement, these realities stabilize.

If the otherworldly aspects of the aforementioned categories of exosomatic experiences can be explained by personal or mutual disembodied dreams, then conscious lucid dreaming would be an invaluable art to master. Through repeated visualization procedures, one could create a customized afterlife — if serving as nothing more than a personal place to pass time away in the Big Sleep rather than be caged by conditioned cultural expectations. One could also execute more disciplined navigation through dreamscapes in general.

Driving Me Blindly.

Womb to tomb
descending through spacetime
direction fixed, weaving a wordline
in the free fall of causality
on my way

down from heights of order
to the tangled depths of entropy

to add to the mesh of roots
prepackaged,
vacuum-sealed in opaque plastic,
nonetheless clearly
well-woven in me,
driving me blindly.

Always falling,
eyes hypnotized
straight ahead, drifting up
now and again, just,
please,
never look down,
half fearing, half hoping
for ground that you might eventually
think you found in an impact
approximately six feet down

though you find the grave is bottomless
forever falling through all of this
in a style naively echoing every preceding
dead again, back to skin
round of shit.