One of my closely held beliefs is that human consciousness is a collective fabric of shared assumptions. I use this term – assumptions, broadly to cover the range of objects that reside in our collective psyches. These can be commercial images that are ties to an association e.g. the golden arches and the Pepsi logo, they can be shared expectations such as “able bodied adults should work”, they can be laws such as “thou shalt not kill” and they can be fundamental archetypes such as are contained in myths and fairy tales – the evil stepmother, the wise old man etc. Most of us operate in our daily lives as reflexive responses to these images, rules, expectations and archetypes. Is our reality merely a function of stimulus-response or is there a consciousness beyond this small domainhttp://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/
I believe that a person can operate outside of this reflexive Stimulus-Response consciousness and there are a number of techniques that I have tried that seem to induce a state where the normal consciousness is disrupted and what remains it quite strange by our common standards of beingness. Years ago, I read an interesting anecdote, told by Georges Gurdjieff about the death of his grandmother in the book “Beezelbubs tales to his grandson”. Gurdjieff was called to the death bed of his grandmother and she lurched out of her death rattle to grab his 9 year old arm. She looked him in the eye and said, “Never do what everybody else does, if people go left, go right, if they stand on their feet, stand on your head”. Then she died. (I am paraphrasing this, I don’t remember what her exact words were). Gurdjieff then worked hard on being an accomplished contrarian and later this story seemed to have a profound effect on his work. Ouspensky relates a story of an exercise that Gurdjieff had him do in Petersburg, where he would periodically ask himself if he was awake or if he was dreaming and to answer it in the contrary, ie if you knew you were awake say to yourself: “I am Dreaming” and if you were dreaming say “I am awake”. In this exercise he was walking around Petersburg saying “I am Dreaming” and he somehow tricked his consciousness into a new inexplicable place. I decided to try to replicate this experience.http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/
I had already been experimenting with Laberge’s dream technique which creates the Dream half of the equation, ie you notify yourself during dreaming that you are dreaming, but I do not want to deal with those exercises here because I have numerous internal questions about the nature of dream reality, rather I would like to focus on altered states attained from within normal waking consciousness since I can assume this to be the starting point of all my assumptions.
I have a story and like most of my stories it occurs in a time of my greatest frustrations, a time when my finances are failing, my marriage is rocky and I can no longer think of anything that has meaning to me. I decided to try the “I am Dreaming” technique while I was hiking on the Appalachian trail. This would provide me with an environment that was secure, open and conducive to reflective activity. I would hike the trail around Stratton Mountain and I would periodically prompt my self with the question “Am I awake or am I dreaming”, to which I would reply “I am dreaming”.
I drove up to the trailhead near Stratton mountain from Chelmsford MA where I was staying in a motel after a week of Sales calls in the Boston area. The job was the most dreary, “Death of a Salesman like” job imaginable, an overpriced unsaleable product for a company http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/that was a subsidized tax dodge for a privately owned utility company. I had no compunction taking their money without any hope of a sale. As I drove up to Vermont past the big hills of Southern New Hampshire with Mt Monadnock in the distance, I started the prompting and I found myself drifting into a quiet reverie, where the miles slipped by as if in a dream (surprise). I used my watch with multiple alarms to remind me every 10 minutes in case I should mentally drift out of the exercise. By the time I got to the trailhead, I was already in a place where I was watching myself get out of the car, I seemed disembodied, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was also using Gurjief’s self-observaton terminology, “It is getting out of the car”, ” it is putting on the backpack”, “it is walking up the trail”.
This psychological exercise was to have three parts. The first part was the periodic prompting “Am I awake or AM I dreaming” with the answer “I am Dreaming”. This part of the exercise was designed to confuse the mental state. We have some expectation of what CAN occur while awake, but we do NOT have the same limitations on the dream state. The second part of the exercise, the self observation, tended to dissociate the self from the body. We generally closely identify with the body, breaking this association also removes many limitations about what we expect to be possible. Finally there was an “Ace in the Hole” http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/ the exercise, that is, if I ever felt completely disoriented, I was to ask the question “Who am I”?
There is something that resists continual questioning of the little self, it is the little self itself! But the use of the watch timer and the ritual of asking questions can overcome this resistance. Walking onto the trailhead, around bend after bend, suddenly the watch timer. Am I dreaming or awake – I am dreaming. Switchback, after switchback, now going up the mountain, suddenly the watch timer, Am I awake or am I dreaming – I am Dreaming. The trees are covered with new leaves of a brightness that seems unreal, the trail seems like a mosaic of two dimensional popups overlaid on each other. There’s a buzzing in my ears that seems to want to pull me out of my own skin. The timer again – “am I awake or am I dreaming? – I am dreaming. As I come to the top of the mountain, I am completely in dream, there is no longer any need to remind myself of the fact, in fact, the little self seems to have taken hiatus. There is a little stone hut and I begin to poke around, and a little person pops out, a graying gnome of a woman that seems a little off her rocker. She admonishes me not to poke around in other people’s places. I pointed out that this hut was right on the appalachian trail and could easily be confused for a shelter or a ranger station. She said that she was a trail steward and that this was her hut for the time being. I said OK and I shuffled on.http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/ She told me as an after thought that there was going to be very bad weather and that the mountain was not the place to be. It was cool and misty but the weather did not seem unsettled, so I dismissed her notion with a pleasant “Thank you”.
I walked a few hundred paces further up the trail and I came to the tower, I climbed it and found myself in a new world completely enveloped in mist. Above all trees, the cold mist was being driven by a steady 15 mile an hour breeze from the west. The visibility was zero and the white-grey totality consumed all sense of visual perception. After a minute, or so, of staring into the mist, I lost all sense of perception, no gray, no white, no anything, nothingness. Suddenly, with a rushing dizzyness in my head, I remembered myself and the grayness returned. My mind wandered to the experiments performed in psychology labs where subjects had half a ping pong ball taped over each eye – after awhile with loss of any differentiated perception, the entire sense of perception disappears. I continued to stare into the mist and the sense of perception disappeared again and so did the sense of time. Suddenly, damn I’m really cold. How long have i been standing here!
I climbed down the tower and tried to decide whether I would take the eleven mile long loop out or whether I should back track the five miles I had hiked in. The weather hadn’t changed so I just continued to hike the long way. The trail began a slow descent, mile after mile and the sun began to emerge. I entered into a maze of ravines and glades which gave way to ponds and marshes. By now it was a truly beautiful afternoon and I began to observe myself, as a third party object, walking steadily on the trail. It is walking, it is looking, it is thinking about lunch, it is eating peanuts. Again the sense of time disappeared and the distance of the trail became visible to me in a way that seemed to transcend the visible horizon. I could see-feel all the miles of this trek in a big http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/ winding loop. I even felt as though I was like ball rolling around on this trail like the little steel balls you move around in those old plastic games where you try to get all the balls into the dimples of the surface.
Suddenly, it isn’t sunny anymore, it’s starting to rain! How far do I still have to go? I think it can’t be far. I look at my watch and do a quick calculation, maybe two miles back to the logging road and a mile from there to my car. But the rain is coming faster, so I put on my poncho. Ah there, no problem, I pick up my pace and feel dry under my protective plastic, Now I hear the thunder, wow this is like midwestern thunder! I’d never heard it like this in the northeast! The sky is darkening and even the periodic lightening doesn’t seem to pierce the growing blackness. Man it is really raining now, driving rain, not just falling, but seemingly pushed down from the sky. I am jogging with a purpose, I am a little afraid of being this high up with storm clouds trying to push over the mountain. I’m thinking, I am in the storm cloud, not under it. There’s the logging road, thank the lord. I turn left and start heading up the muddy road.
The logging road starts climbing elevation heading up to the saddle of the pass that leads to the small dirt turn-around that I used as parking. The road then continues on to the other side of the ridge. I was glad to have turned my back to the storm, but I was concerned that I was going up the hill. Great!! , the last thing I need right now is more elevation! The force of the wind to my back was incredible, I was running at full stride now uphill but it felt effortless with the wind and the adrenaline. I was concerned about my footing, the surface was very rough, it was black as night and the water was running down the logging road like a small river. There was fully 3 inches of water across the middle of the road and maybe a foot on the side. A silence came over me, no sound, quiet, pause, followed by a roaring crescendo, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, holy shit! Is that the storm, can it be this loud?
A giant hand swept me out of the road and into the deep water of the gully wash on the side of the road. I was completely submerged for a moment but quickly lifted my head out of the water and looked ahead. Blackness, and grayness and the speckled trunks of birch trees were merged into one giant receding vortex. Water was horizontal, trees were snapping and flying in succession and I could see that it was all part of a hundred foot wide tornado, moving as fast as a car – right up the logging road, as if it were following the same directions as me but with ten times the speed. It had passed directly over me and had brushed me aside like a professional running back might throw small children out of his way.
I’m going to make a big break here in the story. I could tell you how I finally got back to the car and that I spent nearly an hour, pulling trees out of the road so I could drive back but I’m going to jump ahead to getting back to my motel room in Massachusetts. I walked into the room in a daze, as if I had been abducted by aliens. I flicked on the TV and flopped on the bed. I was watching the local evening news. When the weather report came on they showed a radar image of a freak weather system that had passed over southern Vermont. The weather man said “look at this violent storm that went over Vermont, we see a tornado in the curl. It was a very violent storm but fortunately it passed over a location with no people”. I snapped back into the world of the living, the world of people watching reality spun by a News-team. Holy Mackerel, I was run over by a Tornado, I wasn’t dreaming. Or is it possible that my dream has spawned a reality?
I pulled out my dream journal from my suitcase and quickly leafed through the pages to last night’s entry. I had dreamed of tornadoes, not one but hundreds moving through a midwestern vista as far as the eye could see. Not just last night but many nights in the past few months. Lot’s of Tornadoes, one might even say that the Tornado was my consistent totem. When one “Ah-ha” after another crashes in on your brain and each of the Ah-ha experiences is de-integrating, there comes a huge fragmentation of your conditioned mind. My mind-body assumptions about the order of cause and effect, my assumptions about space and time, just peeled away and I saw that something else was fundamental. This thing inside of me, the Tornado was more than just a wind pattern over Stratton mountain. It was a universal eddy of which I was a part; I was not separate from the Tornado, some awareness of which I was a part of was the root cause.
When I read Nisagadatta or Balsekar or Gurdjieff or Ouspensky and they claim that everything is consciousness or when I contemplate the teachings of the Buddha, life is an illusion – it has no real meaning to me. But when I was run over by a Tornado of my own dreaming, while in an unusual mental state of my own manufacture, later confirmed by the local weather man, I have a new understanding. I folded the fabric of consciousness and saw something completely original from the crease.http://www.wholesalenfljerseyscheap.com/
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