“It is not that I have accomplished too few of my plans, for I am not ambitious. But when I think of all the books I have read, and of the wise words I have heard spoken, and of the anxiety I have given to parents and grandparents, and of the hopes that I have had, all life weighed in the scales of my own life seems to me a preparation for something that never happens.”
—W.B. Yeats, Autobiographies, page 106.
Life seems to take a long time while it is passing, but at a certain age you look back and realize that you’ve already had most of the time you’re likely to have on this earth. You think: What did I accomplish? What was it all about? Where is the meaning in any of it? When I was young, I’d look at famous people who had achieved things, and I’d wonder how they felt when they knew they were dying. Even more than that, I’d think of how we all—famous or unknown—spend our lives learning things, accumulating skills and experiences, constructing inner worlds that could never be translated to anyone else. I’d think, “all that work, all those connections made, all those books read and associated one with another, all that time invested in people—in anything the person loved—all gone, the moment they die.” I was all but paralyzed by the pointlessness of achieving or learning or even experiencing anything. If it all crumbles as soon as we do—what’s the use?
Obviously this doesn’t strike everyone the same way. Some people don’t seem to notice, or they don’t think about it. Others, having abandoned hope of physical immortality, work to “leave the world a better place,” or seek to leave an immortal name through achievement. Others concentrate on actively enjoying every moment. Still others hope for eternal life in paradise—and even this makes anything we do or strive to do on earth, other than being “good” in order to be “saved,” irrelevant.
None of these ways of experiencing life gave any indication that our lives were meaningful. None of them seemed to connect with how we actually live our lives. The afterlife in scriptures remained a vague idea, at best nothing one could grasp, at worst perhaps merely a threat and a promise designed to keep people in line. But life without an afterlife, as postulated by materialists, made even less sense of life.
But if neither the believers nor the materialists provide us with a credible picture of the meaning and nature of life, the nonphysical side. Direct communication would be as close to firsthand information as we could get until we ourselves drop the body and cross over. Interestingly, some people insisted that this is possible.
So the question became, is it possible? And if possible, is it safe? And if both possible and safe, could we trust anyone and everyone we might contact on the other side? These questions aren’t new. They have been asked and answered for as long as people have been aware that material life is only half the picture. The answers have come in different forms, shaped to the needs of different peoples, different civilizations. Any culture’s scriptures deal with interaction between the physical and the non-physical aspects of the world. The problems, the techniques, the models are, after all, just so many varieties of packaging. Old words go dead on new generations,and so old truths have to be restated to be heard. The reality is the same.
Over the past five years, communicating with certain minds in the non-physical world, I have gotten information that amounts to an intellectually respectable model that makes sense of our lives in the physical and non-physical world. I’ve gotten it over time, in bits and pieces, but they’ve left it up to me to put together the pieces as best I could (no doubt, with their behind-the-scenes prodding). This book is my attempt to do just that.
The way I communicate is shaped by who I am and how I came to the work. I offer you my experience because, as a modern version of the ancient quest, it may seem less strange to you than previous offerings. But of course, I am aware that with every tick of the clock, my experience recedes and becomes less current. That doesn’t matter. The future will have its own testimonies. The important thing is not that the message be chiseled in stone, but that it be delivered.
It’s a good message, and hopeful. When we realize that we do not cease to exist when we drop the body, that the mind that we shape continues to function and may be used more surely and accurately and accessibly than ever, then not only was nothing lost, much was gained. And in the meantime, while we are still living in the physical world, on-physical beings are here for us. It is merely a matter of learning how to communicate with them.
The family and the religious tradition I was born into had nothing to do with talking to spirits. I was born in 1946, less than a year after the end of World War II, into a family of Catholic Italian-Americans. My father was easy-going and skeptical, my mother orthodox and devout. I began devout, became skeptical, and left the church in my teens, unable and unwilling to live within its rules and restrictions. But I had been shaped more than I knew by growing up in a tradition that took for granted that this physical world was underpinned by an invisible reality that was primary, rather than secondary. My spiritually formative years had been spent in the Catholic Church as it existed
in postwar America. So, I grew up with one foot in bustling, confident postwar America and the other in almost a medieval worldview.
In my college years, I read Jess Stearn’s The Sleeping Prophet and Thomas Sugrue’s There is a River, which told of Edgar Cayce’s trance channeling sessions from the 1920s through the mid-1940s, captured in shorthand, typed up, and filed in the archives of his Association for Research and Enlightenment. Those sessions contained remarkable and well-attested prescriptions that led to the healing of many whom conventional medicine could not help. They talked of past-life connections, paths to spiritual development, and dire prophecies of our future if we did not change our ways. I believed what I read, but it didn’t occur to me that others could learn to do what he did. It would be a good long time before it occurred to me that Jesus had said that others would do what he had done, and would in fact do even greater things. As a boy I assumed that this referred to “special” people like his disciples. It didn’t occur to me that he might mean me, and you.
Cayce served as an entry point into the strange world of the occult, as it was then called. But what a labyrinth that proved to be! I spent years searching through books filled with assertions, looking for something clear and authoritative. Instead I found chaos—often pretentious chaos. I was never tempted to follow gurus, and was unable to bring myself to join any of the societies I learned of. So many sects, each proclaiming that it, and presumably only it, had the truth. Where was the key? Where were the undisputed facts?
Having left the spiritual tradition I had grown up in, the only tool I had to work with was my intuition. This put me in the position of having to decide, before examination, whether something was worth examining, which is absurd. Nonetheless, this is the fix I was in, and am in still. I still don’t know any other way for us to proceed but to keep discarding what we cannot use, and keep looking for what is food and drink to us. You can’t necessarily depend on the judgment and experience of others, for “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Your soul, like your body, will react to poison when it experiences it, and it is up to you to recognize the reaction and reject the poison. But you’d better hope that you recognize it as poison before you’ve eaten too much of it!
The more first-hand experience I got of dealing with what I call “the other side,” the more I could see that it harmonized with a certain way of looking at Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, the conclusions I drew from it didn’t necessarily agree with the church’s conclusions. So I was left relying on the inner knowing that is our birthright, that intuitive sense that “this is the way for me, regardless whether it is the way for others.” In short, I was still on my own.
At first, when I explored reincarnation and past lives, naturally I was thinking of those subjects the way most people seem to do. But with time and experience it became clear that our explorations are hampered by careless assumptions and bad definitions. We assume that reincarnation is a matter of one person moving from one life to another. We assume that we in this life are separate from those other lives. We assume that even if they influence us, we do not influence them. My experience argues that none of these assumptions are correct.
“But”—you ought to be objecting—”these are old, old subjects. What makes you an expert on the basis of a few years’ experience?” If I were relying on my own personal resources, I wouldn’t have much worthwhile to say. But much of the information and most of the concepts contained here came via altered-state experiences, alone or with others. That gives access to a tremendous amount of knowledge, wisdom and experience.
When the breakthrough came, it didn’t take place out of thin air. I had been preparing myself for it—unknowingly—for years, as I described in my 2001 book Muddy Tracks. Then I and my friend Rita Warren began a long series of weekly sessions with the guys upstairs. Rita was a Ph.D. psychologist with decades of experience both in the academic world and in the world of psychic investigation. (She had run Bob Monroe’s consciousness lab at The Monroe Institute for four years before re-retiring.) Her years of working with people in altered states had given her a list of unanswered questions about life on the other side. In 22 sessions over five months, she asked these questions of the guys upstairs, and they talked, and explained, and answered more questions, and drew analogies, and answered her supplementary questions based on their answers in prior sessions. As Rita and I began to absorb the answers, we gradually realized that this new way of viewing things was changing the way we lived our lives. We came to be living in a new world, with much greater assurance that it’s true, what the guys continually told us, that “all is well; all is always well.”
I published the transcripts of these sessions in 2009 as The Sphere and the Hologram, about a year after Rita made her transition into the non-physical. By that time, my connections with disembodied intelligences had broadened and deepened considerably. Beginning in late 2005, I had the great good fortune to experience six months of daily written conversations first with a “past life” and then with various authors and historical figures. I published an account of the first part of that process, also in 2009, as Chasing Smallwood. So here I am in my sixties, talking to non-physical people. Some have been dead a few years, some for decades, or centuries. Apparently I may talk to nearly anyone I wish to, provided that I have a real reason to do so. I seem to have tapped into the invisible world’s Internet.
Much of this material came in early-morning sessions. I would sit with my journal and write out questions, or merely announce that I was open for business, and then I would write out what came. Bear in mind, it isn’t as if I was actually physically hearing words, nor did I usually hear the words in my head. Mostly it happened the way it does when you sit down to write a letter. You start a sentence and you don’t necessarily know how the sentence is going to end, or what it is going to lead to next. You start, and the words well up from somewhere, and as you write them, more well up.
Sometimes what came had the flavor of a prepared talk. Sometimes it became a dialogue, often enough with us bantering back and forth. Sometimes I was taking dictation and sometimes it was as if I was overhearing them talking to themselves, thinking aloud, and sometimes I would have a sense of what they wanted to communicate but would have to find the words myself. It was always entertaining, with a flavor much like the continuing dialogues we have via the Internet, talking with unseen friends at a distance. In fact, that isn’t a bad model for the relationship—friends interacting at a distance. In my original experiments, more than 20 years ago, I thought I was talking to my anima, whom I arbitrarily named Evangeline and thought of, humorously, as The Boss. Then came various individual “past lives,” then the concept of TGU, then Jung and Lincoln and other historical figures.
Unlike Jane Roberts’ Seth, who dictated sentences and paragraphs and specified titles and chapter headings, my contacts (who I usually just called “the guys upstairs,” or TGU) left it to me to find a way to make these things accessible to others, and it took a long, long time to figure out how to do so. I give you the conversations as I transcribed and edited them, where necessary adding bridging remarks [set off in brackets and italics, like this]. In places where I and they interact, my sentences are always in italics. I should add that the entries, which were received between 2006 and 2010, are not in sequence. Therefore I have omitted dating any of the entries, lest dating add confusion.
Below, an example, a conversation with Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, or a spirit claiming to be Carl Jung, or my own imagining of what Carl Jung would have to say, or—. You see the problem. I have enormous respect for Jung, and it was almost too much for me to accept that he was choosing me as a means (not necessarily the only means) through which he could address the world. Perhaps it is as big a step for you. If so, I suggest that you join me in paying attention to what is said, rather than worrying too much about whether in fact he is the source.
Carl Jung on Exploring
Dr. Jung, can you provide some context for what is going on here? I’m beyond suspecting that I am “making this up” except that the more I think about it the less I have any idea what’s really going on, how I should really be looking at all this. I’m not really simple enough to take all this at its face value either as legitimate contact or as construct of my own mind.
You are in deep waters, and you prefer to be able to stand firmly on the bottom. And yet you want to go sailing. Very well, if you wish to sail and you cannot swim, it is well for you to not fall out of the boat, or else go sailing wearing always a life preserver! But life preservers are not much fun, so you must learn to swim, or be sure to not fall out of the boat, or stay ashore.
And you do not quite know how to swim—although, you float quite vigorously!—and so you are confined to your boat and in fact are confined a bit in what you dare do in your boat lest you fall off. But enough of analogy. “Your boat” really refers to the concepts you use in order to make sense of your experiences. This is necessary if you are to sail farther and acquire even newer experiences. Otherwise you are swimming alone and the strangeness could overwhelm you.
Your question is, what is going on? Who are you talking to? What is the process? You have a working hypothesis. Why do you feel the need to abandon it or modify it, and why use me rather than yourself?
Well surely it is obvious. I don’t know if my explanation isright—and how can I find out by asking part of the manifestation if it is what it seems to be?
Precisely. So—nevertheless you ask. Having called spirits from the vasty deep you ask them if they are really spirits, and if they are really from the vasty deep, or if you are making the whole thing up.
And it’s ridiculous, I know. It is exactly like asking somebody if they exist outside of my own mind. In the nature of things, the answer is inside the frame of reference. I don’t suppose we could ever really prove that anybody else exists, really—because all the evidence that seems to be sensory has been processed by our own mind.
And so you should ask yourself, why does this question remain important to you? Regardless what the answer is, the fact that you are presented with is that the question exists and is real for you and important.
And for someone else, it might not be.
That’s right. Your questions define you much more than your answers do.
I have been working on the assumption that this experience is for the sake of others, not just for me. The fact that I am willing to experiment in public is—I take it—one of my qualifications for the job. Well, if this is true, setting out my doubts and problems is a good thing, surely, so as to encourage others to begin or continue. But it seems to me that some tentative structure is equally important.
Yes, but anyone doing something by following another person’s example has a pitfall to deal with that the first person does not. The very fact that you have recorded your experiments makes them more real, more objective. It gives them greater weight, to the person reading of them or hearing of them. It tempts followers to assume that you know more, can do more, are more, than they. It can scarcely be avoided. Perhaps it shouldn’t be avoided, for in its own way it can be an encouragement. But wrongly used—or rather, revered instead of being used—it becomes a pitfall. When you read of another’s efforts and you sympathize with them, there is a temptation to set the experimenter higher than yourself in your estimation. Were you not told that too much admiration sets a distance between people that hampers communication?
Yes. I see. So do you think it would be a bad thing, or say a useless thing, to try to make a structure to contain this in?
Why should you wish to contain it? To contain it is to confine the ship to the harbor. You know the saying about ships and harbors.
Yes I do. Ships are safe in harbors but that isn’t what ships are made for.
So how about if we at least sketch out the structure of the ship itself?
To reassure the sailors, presumably.
Well, sure, I guess that’s what it amounts to.
Very well, look at it this way. You are a consciousness, a part of which is confined within a body and the body’s experiences. To the degree that you restrict your awareness to that part of your consciousness only, you will live in a world of senses and, perhaps, thoughts. But that world will be haunted by dreams and the irrational. Things will occur that are seemingly external to you, seeded from chaos. Life may become a struggle for sanity.
Religions were created for many reasons, not least of which to provide a formal social acknowledgement that the consciousness of the senses is not the end of the story. The idea, you see, is just what you were proposing—by giving people a framework, perhaps they would feel more comfortable, exploring. But not everyone needs religion for that purpose. Some find their consciousness ranging far and wide beyond the body, and some find this exhilarating and some find it frightening and some don’t think much about it, taking it as natural. In this difference in reaction you may see a difference in types, as I studied long ago.
In a time in which religion is alive to people, anyone’s imaginings, dreams, experiences, visitations, apparitions, communications, are fitted into the framework the religion provides, and thus they make sense, pretty easily. These are not the kind of times you live in—or wish to live in, or you would be living in other times! In your times, the old religion—the old way of linking up, which is what the word religion means—has lost its vitality. New myths, new containers, are being shaped, as you live through the process. Your great-grandchildren will live within a new myth that more closely matches their psychic reality. There is nothing wrong with the process, neither the making of myths nor the outgrowing of myths. How else is chaos to be contained, save in form? How else is growth to occur, save in the breaking of form?
Living as you do—as I did, but in an earlier phase of it—in which the old gods have left the forms that society had become accustomed to, you have a transitory freedom of exploration that has its advantages and disadvantages. No one can see God’s unshielded face, religious tradition tells us. What does this mean? One meaning is simply that the created cannot comprehend that which created it. Another meaning is that the consciousness, while confined within form, cannot comprehend the formless, but immediately and inevitably attempts to confine the formless in some sort of definition that consciousness-within-form can grasp. You know the Sufi saying. It is very true: “Words are a prison. God is free.”
Well, if you cannot really see the infinite as it is—not from want of will or want of intensity or want of depth or want of sustained effort but in the nature of things—then you must resign yourself to the knowledge that whatever glimpse you get is precious, but incomplete; infinitely valuable, but misunderstood and not very communicable. In times between eras, times between myths, times between religions, in times when the gods have left their former habitations and have not yet had new houses built for them by man—in your time, in other words—you can see this inability to comprehend the infinite. The times between gods (if you care to look at it that way) allow people to see between the cracks and remember how little we ever see. Later, when we are worshipping the gods in these new houses, we will find it easier to forget that still we do not see them face to face.
This should serve as a reminder that the fact that you do not know is actually a good thing, for it merely means that for the moment you are awake to a reality that persists but is forgotten. You can never know at any absolute level. Given that you cannot know if pink looks to your neighbor as it does to you, can you expect to compare visions of the formless? There is no harm, and much use, in making such comparisons provided that you remember the limits to your certainties. But it is precisely this remembering that you will find very hard to do. The continual recurring temptation will be to fall into certainty or to cease to explore.
So there is an example of the kind of material I have been bringing through. What, if anything, it means to your life is for you to decide. The only guarantee I can offer is that I am not deliberately deceiving you. Whether what you hear is true, and whether the source is as claimed, is for you to discern.
Isn’t the first question how it can be possible? This is where experience is superior to theory. When we have experienced certain things, we don’t have to speculate as to whether those things are possible. Experience gives us grounding in a way that theory cannot. So, here, based on that experience, I propose to answer certain questions. Among others: How can dead people talk with us, and talk to each other—regardless when they lived—and talk about our time, which was their future? How can they be aware of us, and of each other, and of everything we know? And why should they be interested in talking to us or to each other?
I start with “A Model of Our Minds on the Other Side,” which gives us a way to see the interaction of our lives in the three-dimensional physical world and the greater life that exists on the non-physical side of things.
“The Individual as Convenient Fiction” reinterprets our lives and essence, showing that what we think we know about ourselves is true only partially, and only from a particular point of view.
“The Physical and the Non-Physical” sets out, as plainly as possible, the differences and interactions between the two sides of the metaphorical veil. This chapter, more than any other, shows how and why our lives here are important to both sides.
Chapters Four and Five, “Living Connected” and “Shaping Your Life,” move from description of what is to suggestions about what you can do to live a life that is richer, more satisfying, more meaningful.
Let’s begin with a model of how we function on the other side, as described by the guys upstairs.