Experience of the subtle realms: Contents
with my physical eyes at another person's face for a long time, and it is as
if the other's face slowly dissolves into a
subtle mist. This appears as a
cloud of fine grey-white energy that
vibrates at a high frequency. Sometimes the physical image completely
disappears for a second or two. Sometimes
one eye, or part of the brow or a cheek, is still visible through the cloudy
as though I have quietly shifted my level of awareness into the subtle domain
immediately within and around the physical world:
a domain which, it seems, provides the generative matrix of the
physical world. And it is as if any residual bit
of the physical image that I can see is
both suspended in and emerging out of this matrix. But it is the temporary dissolution of the physical image -
into what appears as its originating energy - that is the most striking
feature of the immediate experience.
application of Occam's razor here would insist that there is nothing more at
work than retinal fatigue and projected retinal lights or after-images. The
perceived face disappears because the nerves in the retina give up the ghost
for a bit through overuse. But
they are still firing enough to yield unpatterned physical vision and to
generate retinal light which is projected out so I seem to see it as a mist
over there where the face was.
beard is not necessarily shaved off by this application of Occam's razor.
For the combination of retinal fatigue and projected retinal light
could be the mechanism whereby the brain suddenly has access to register
subtle energy in the matrix domain. Psi
could be released by the retinal
fade. When ordinary seeing wanes, clairvoyance
when we talk about retinal lights and after-images, what exactly are we
talking about? Close your eyes
and look at them (a curious instruction in itself). They have spatial
properties but are clearly not in physical space.
They have elegant, ethereal colours that echo but do not exactly
replicate physical colours. They
are critically related in some way to the working of the eyes, but you do not
see them with your eyes, because they are not out there in the natural world
to be seen. As experiential entities they are very much in a world
of their own.
perhaps they are psi phenomena in inner space: psi lights in the subtle field
around and within the physical space of the cortex - witnessed by the most rudimentary clairvoyance where the
subtle matrix of the physical body interacts
closely with the neural mechanisms of eyes and brain.
And as such perhaps they can become vehicles for wider kinds of
clairvoyance, like windows which normally reflect back processes in the brain,
but can, if you choose, open out
further into non-physical domains. This idea is portrayed in Figure 5.1, and developed in
much lights around my brain may or may not be the mediators, it is still as
if, in this experience, my clairvoyance opens up to see the free energy of
the subtle matrix of the other
person's face. I seem to see the
undifferentiated life-stuff within and behind the differentiated form: as the
latter fades to ordinary vision, the former is revealed to subtle vision.
5.1 Idioretinal lights
as potential clairvoyant windows
experience is really an extension of the previous one, taking it on a stage
further. But whereas the previous experience has been quite common in my life,
the one I now report is altogether more rare.
For the extension is dramatic.
remember being seated with a close friend in a ground floor flat in Fulham in
London. It was a warm summer evening, still light, just after sunset.
There was a third person present, known to both of us, but not
intimately. The topic of
conversation hinged lightly around human potential and its development.
gazed steadily at my friend, her form dissolved into the fine grey-white mist.
Her physical image had almost totally disappeared from my perceptual
field. For a long time there was
nothing but akasha, as the Hindus call the subtle and pre-physical state of
matter. Only fragments - a hand,
a fold of the dress, an eyebrow - briefly re-appeared, soon to be obscured by
the milky cloud.
the whole of her emerged again into my view, but in a way which I had never
experienced before. Her form was slightly blurred, seemingly porous,
translucent, letting through the light of its originating field.
It was as if she was buoyant
in and emanating from a haze of subtle energy. She
no longer appeared exclusively physical, anchored by gravity to the chair.
She came forth in her levitational mode - held in suspension by, and
emerging out of, the luminous, subtle, potent akashic matrix.
transfiguration of my perception lasted for some time.
I remember feeling a great sense of release from the illusion of the
seemingly exclusive materiality of this world.
I remember wondering how on earth my ordinary perception could get so
locked in that illusion. And I
remember realising that my whole perceptual frame of reference had undergone a
major transformation. But how? And how could I sustain it?
Or recover it when it was lost?
beholding her continuous, elegant coming into being from the living subtley of
a space within and beyond her. It
was awesome, refreshing and liberating. And
now I became immersed in my own coming into being, and that of the third
person in the room. This
corporate emergence moved me deeply. Our
conversation was as if conducted on the footstool of a luminous creation
reaching far and away behind us, yet intimate to every motion of a hand,
flicker of an eyelid and re-arrangement of a thigh.
the visionary shift waned and was gone. My perceptions then felt like
bric-a-brac washed up on the beach of ordinary seeing.
I was disconsolate, deprived of the warmth of the luminous ocean.
Like a stranded whale, the victim of my own gravity, I did not know how
to get back to swim in the waters of continuous creation.
dark, I wandered along the Fulham Road. The
self-sufficiency of nocturnal London, lit up in its own mode on a warm
evening, was re-assuring. Ordinary perception re-asserted its bizarre charm:
its limits like gentle strokes for an insecure child.
this experience, after prolonged gazing at the eyes and face of another
person, the physical image of the other's face does not disappear but starts
to change. The physiognomy alters, mobility of form overtakes the normally fixed features; and it is as if other faces start to appear - in and through the physical
face. They seem to emerge out of it and then merge back into it; or flicker
briefly over it like a super-imposed image.
just one other face hovers in view for a while. Sometimes there is a succession of two or three different
faces. There is the curious sense
of double perception, of physical seeing and clairvoyance going on together,
in temporary tandem of awareness. It
is difficult to get the right metaphor: the patterns of ordinary vision become
malleable by, or permeable to, or perforated by the patterns of extrasensory
also as if the faces that appear are
the faces of persons in the other
world who are somehow intimately associated
historically and/or psychologically with the human being in front of
me. The faces thus appearing out
of their own world seem to be in present time, and also to echo with the ambience of past times and maybe distant
places in this world. It is as if
they are ancestors, not in any literal genetic sense, but in terms of some
wider notion of psychic or spiritual affinity.
is interesting here is the apparently seamless fusion of physical perception
and clairvoyance. They merge into
each other, without either losing their content, for the physical image does
not totally change its form. There
is an ambiguous double identity before me.
And I can shift my awareness rapidly between the two overlapping faces,
the physical one and the subtle one, noticing how they are similar and how
they are different, both in form and soul.
superimposed over a wide-eyed fresh white youthful face sitting before me in
Guildford, Surrey, England, I have seen the shrewd hooded eyes of a tanned and
wrinkled face like that of an Andean shepherd. And this has yielded to a fleeting but stern visage with the
commercial grasp of a seventeenth century Dutch burgher.
Then a hint of dark eyes simmering with unrequited passion.
is not only the eyes, cheekbones
and brow that flicker with shifts of form.
For as these features change, soo too the lines of the mouth curl round
different attributes of soul. Yet throughout the kaleidoscopic changes, there
is a remarkable continuity of being, an unmistakable affinity.
These are souls doing the collective business of their destiny in a
state of deep rapport.
as though the young Englishman in front of me stands in a historical gallery
full of echoes from the past. But the past figures with whom he resonates are
also present now in their own
mode and domain. And they seem to
be intimately involved in the fluctuating dynamics of his psyche, as if a
composite historical tale is being summated and taken forward by his own
growth and development.
Occam's razor would argue for a more economic explanation: in terms of retinal
fatigue and subjective imagination. When
my eyes get tired with sustained gazing at the same face, then my imagination
fills in the retinal gaps with interesting variations on the other person's
features. But all that is going
on is my own projected phantasy - perhaps charged also with some of my own
it is the subtle sense of perceiving on two different levels at once which,
when it is strong, defies this reduction to the purely imaginary. But again,
the explanations are not mutually exclusive, for one process may lead over
into the other. Thus retinal fatigue may let my subjective imagination
loose, but this in turn may lead over into objective clairvoyance.
sort of progression takes us into the heart of ambiguous experience.
And it is where Heron's beard truly comes into its own.
For I may look at the face of another person, and at first be
fascinated by shifts in their features which are entirely the product of my
own imagination. But because I
continue to attend to, and to elaborate, this imaginative process - rather
than sceptically dismiss it - it turns
into clairvoyance of a whole web of interpersonal relations between the
worlds, and between the present and the past.
use the principle of Heron's beard, you will often find that imagination has
been the chrysalis, in an ordinary state of consciousness, of fully-fledged
and radiant clairvoyance in an altered state of consciousness.
is also a small practical tip. I
have sometimes found that if I tilt my head backwards, narrow my eyes to a
small aperture, and peer with great intensity into the eyes and face of the
other person, then this greatly facilitates the occurrence of the dual mode of
in sustained and silent mutual gazing with another person, there is a very
subtle transfiguration: the eyes of the other become windows that open onto
vistas of inner space. It is as if I
can see through the other's eyes into subtle domains.
two human beings open themselves to mutual gazing, they can enter a timeless
zone of spacing out. But first,
of course, they have to let go of all the emotional agitation and
embarrassment that can obscure the gaze.
Once this is done, and a pathway is cleared for inner and outer vision
to interfuse, then the result is so deep and enthralling, it sometimes
difficult to know how to come out of it - as if to disengage into ordinary
consciousess is an affront to cosmic togetherness.
Stoics, in the third century B.C., regarded themselves as citizens of
cosmopolis - the cosmic state - and in mutual gazing the cosmopolitan status
of every human being can be seen and acknowledged.
Our participation in the one society of the subtle, formative universe
human gaze itself is not a physical phenomenon. It is supervenient upon the
eyes, but is not the same as the eyes. It is a highly personal psi
beam mediated by the eyes, like a ray of
presence. The light of the gaze is the energy of consciousness. If I attend
to this light in the other's gaze, and trace it to its origins, then I enter
the vastness of inner space indeed.
the other's consciousness is not just his or hers.
It is continuous with universal consciousness, which - as the Hindu
Vedanta affirms - is everywhere
at one with the subtle space of akasha.
So through the gaze-light of the other you can roam the inner universe
remember being seated opposite a man of my own age in a workshop I was running
at the University of Surrey. The
workshop was on transpersonal psychology, and the exercise we were busy with
was this exploration of mutual gazing. As
I journeyed backwards along his gaze-light to its remote inward origins, I
wheeled among galaxies and contemplated the genesis of stars.
eyes were like monitor screens in a space-ship that journeyed beyond the
material universe to that inward space-consciousness-energy that is full of
archetypal creative power. I
emerged from the experience drenched with transcendence.
there is a rather more mundane way of entering this sort of experience, to do
with the areas of the brain ordinary states of consciousness do not use. I
look into the eyes of the other person, rather than contemplate their
gaze-light. And in my
imagination, I set their eyes into reverse vision.
for the other person, images of the outer world register through their eyes on
their brain. That is their Janus-brain
facing outwards. But I seek out their Janus-brain facing inwards. I look for
images of the inner worlds registering through their brain into their eyes. Or
to put it another way, it is as
if through their eyes I can access the way in which the inner universe is
coded in their brain. I can
engage with their status as a Janus-brain, whether they are aware of this
status or not.
into the eyes of the other and imagine I am scanning the parts of the brain
their normal perception and thought processes do not reach. I then picture this area of their brain as a screen revealing
vistas on subtle space. It is not
clear to me whether this is simply an imaginative device for opening up my own
clairvoyance. In which case, I am
really setting my own brain into reverse vision, under the guise of a
procedure in the other person. Or
whether I am traversing an actual psi route in the brain matrix of the other,
which opens up a similar route in me. Whichever
it is, the impact can be quite liberating, yielding a noticeable shift of consciousness,
with glimmerings of extrasensory perception.
say of a Janus-brain that the subtle universe is coded and enfolded in unused
parts of the brain. And we can
say that there are unused parts of the brain that can be awakened and trained
to register impacts from the
subtle universe. The two statements
are compatible: it is those parts of the cortex that carry the subtle code
that can be awakened to decipher akashic reality.
is all this windows-in-the-eyes talk just an account of poetic inter-personal
imagination at work? It is the potent shift of consciousness into a
liberated, inward and intensive spatial mode that makes me reject the idea
that it is nothing but subjective phantasy.
Yet again, what starts out as private imagination may, with the
application of Heron's beard, transcend itself in the continuous creation of
is one simple, basic and very accessible type of ambiguous experience that is
available to anyone who cares to devote a few minutes to it.
It is to sit with the eyes closed and attend fully, without
distraction, to what appears before them.
The art of the exercise is to be calm, to watch and to continue to
watch in an unhurried way whatever it is that shows up. Just keep giving
attention to the subtle inner light and colour, and to slight blurred
configurations that may emerge and shift and change.
level of ordinary, and readily accessible, experience, there appear to be at
least four kinds of phenomena. First,
assuming the exercise is done during the day, there is the diffuse,
unpatterned daylight penetrating through the eyelids, and coloured in part at
any rate by their flesh and blood. Second,
there are some small greyish blurred blobs that move and drift around, and are
to do with the liquids of the eye. Third,
there will initially be after-images, coloured negatives of the physical
shapes you have been looking at - and they undergo various metamorphoses of
colour and form as you attend to them. And fourth, after the after-images fade
away, you will notice idio-retinal configurations and colours which appear
to be involved in the spontaneous activity of the neural structures of
these idio-retinal lights that interest me the most.
So I sit here in front of the window and close my eyes.
For a time I watch the brilliant, ethereal colours of the after-images
of the window-panes and cross-bars glow and fluctuate - until
eventually they fade away. Then I
just attend to the orange coloured diffuse light.
There now appears in the middle of this a blurred yellowish disk with a
darker hole in the middle of it. This
disk with the hole I take to be
related in some way to the retina or optic nerve or visual centres in the
gently feed my attention into the hole in the disk, nurture it with my
consciousness, a transfiguration occurs.
The hole turns into the form of an eye.
As I attend to the eye it comes more into focus, into relief.
Then spontaneously the perspective changes, and I get a view of the eye
from the side, in profile.
not in any sense imagining this eye. As
I focus my awareness
on the hole in the disk, the eye reveals itself to my inspection. I am
looking at it: certainly not with my physical eyes, for they are closed. And
it is not the after-image of an eye: there has been no
eye of another person around for some hours. Nor have I recently been
looking in a mirror.
transfiguration of a small dark circle or hole in the middle of the
closed-eyes coloured field into an eye is quite a common experience, whenever
I spend long enough gently attending in an unhurried way to this field.
And up this point there is nothing ambiguous about the experience.
There is no doubt about it, I am simply looking with inner vision at
an eye. It is not as if I am
looking at an eye. I am looking
at an eye.
are two versions of this eye, and it is at this stage that some ambiguity
enters in. Sometimes it is as
if the eye is the eye of a person in
subtle space near me, and I catch a glimpse of both eyes and something of the
person's face although never quite all of it and never for very long.
At other times it is as if
the eye is, well, just an organ of inner vision: if I focus my attention on
it, and direct my awareness into it, then it opens up and dissolves into
vistas of subtle landscapes, buildings,
and so on. I look out through it
into the other world.
is another quite common kind of transfiguration that occurs when I notice what
goes on with my eyes closed. After
a while the darker patch or circle in the middle of the coloured field appears
- and this, as I say, I take to be some image associated with the nervous
system. If I attend to it very
fully, it starts to develop form and to change in scale and sense of
as if I am looking up a
quite wide cylindrical opening into subtle space, like a dry well about
fifteen feet across. Not far
above me the circular top of the well opens out into some subtle
domain. And all around the
top I can just make out indistinct forms of figures standing round the edge
and peering down at me. Sometimes
they appear to be leaning over a circular parapet looking into the well.
some occasions, this whole picture, although I am clearly 'seeing' it and not
just conjuring it up in my imagination, will be quite indistinct and will fade
back into the idio-retinal disk before
I can do any business with it. The transfiguring effect is lost.
What was starting to be an altered state of consciousness reverts to an
ordinary state. This is because I
lack, or cannot sustain, a subtle and very intense focus of attention on the
developing image - a focus that honours what I am starting to see without in
any way seeking to interfere with it.
other times, I can focus with sustained attention on just one portion of the
rim of the well, where it leads over and out into the subtle domain, and as I do so I start to see details of the rim more
clearly and to rise up toward it, my inner vision eventually going up and
over it, spreading out to take in extended vistas of buildings and/or landscapes.
I rarely see figures once my inner sight is over the rim.
kind of clairvoyance of subtle domains is often highly metamorphic.
Buildings and features of landscapes change their shapes, with great
mobility and plasticity, as I look at them.
On the one hand it is as if my consciousness is a creative cornocupia, generating an
abundance of forms in inner space. On
the other hand, it is as if there is
a subtle world out there pouring innumerable views of itself into my
awareness. It seems as though
both these processes are at work; and that the rapidly fluctuating, almost
chaotic profusion of psi percepts is something to do with the untrained,
unskilled nature of my seeing.
abundant kind of psi is greatly facilitated, I find, if I am out of doors on a
hot day of bright sunlight. I sit in the shade, lying back relaxed in some
kind of reclining chair on which the back of the head, too, can rest.
With eyes closed, sooner or later the darker central disk appears, and
the transfiguration I have just described commences, often with great clarity,
subtle vigour and brilliance. The
relaxation, the heat, the reflection of sunlight onto the shaded and closed
eyes: all this seems to be conducive to the release of inner vision.
remember sitting in the shade of a parasol beside a swimming pool in the
grounds of the Mission Inn near Uxmal in Yucatan, Mexico.
It was December and very hot. The Maya pyramids of Uxmal emerged from
the low-lying scrub in the middle distance. I lay back and closed my eyes.
That day I was the only guest in the hotel.
by the heat, my closed-eye field resplendent with the luminous energy
of reflected sunlight, the transfiguration of the ordinary disc into the
image of a well occurred. My inner vision flowered.
It spread over the rim of the well, and was cast into a world of
immense creative brilliance.
of impressive scale loomed before me. As I ranged my vision up their great
height of arches, parapets, deep recesses and towering ornament, they reformed
their perspective to yield new reaches of proportion and design. This subtle
architectural regeneration and change of structure was a shocking delight to
my clairvoyance - which yet participated so intimately in it.
there was an elevation of cathedral status.
It rose up from one dimension of inner space to another, unfurling
its forms vertically into more refined states
of extension and awareness. It
lifted my vision up with it to behold immense vistas of high-raised akasha.
It was an extraordinary combination of great architecture and great
visions, of course, are very like psychedelic visions - but without the use of psychedelic drugs.
I have taken mescalin and LSD a few times: they seem to have the effect
of unfurling the subtle world code locked up in the nervous system, as if deep
parts of the cortex spin out an abundance of psi visions enfolded in them.
difference between LSD-induced visions and those that occur out of doors in
the shade on a sunny, hot day, is subtle. It seems as though the former are
being spun out of the deep recesses of the brain.
The latter have more the sense of pouring all over the nervous system
from another dimension. But each also partakes of something of the nature of
the other. For in both there may be an interaction between code and
impact, the difference being only one of emphasis and focus.
sceptic, wielding Occam's razor, can make an important point about this claim
to clairvoyance. He cannot of
course explain away the visions as such.
A vision is a vision is a vision. But he can resist the explanation
in terms of perception of another world.
He can insist there is nothing at work but unfettered mental imagery;
and that this does not involve perception of anything. The visions are no more
than elaborate day-dreams, sustained hallucinations.
in relation to ordinary perception, there is no proof that I know of that
establishes beyond doubt the existence of an external world.
In this matter, some philosophers
have made an appeal to common sense. So they simply avow that it is
internal to our common sense that in everyday perception we encounter a world.
There is an analogous, even more potent, appeal that can be made in
relation to psi capacity. The akashic worlds make a very strong claim indeed
on the common sense of all true seers. The
reality of these worlds is in the relation of encounter with them.
A world is what we meet, engage in dialogue with - and embrace with our
subjectivity only to find that it is intriguingly other.
there is the status of so-called retinal lights to consider.
I suggested earlier in this chapter that they are psi lights, seen
clairvoyantly where the subtle matrix informs the optic nerve and visual
centres of the brain. And that they can, with appropriate attention, open
out into wider forms of clairvoyance. The
experiences set forth in this section confirm such a view.
claim that this experience makes is, from the ordinary point of view, so
implausible that Occam's razor strikes out with great impatience. Let me give an example.
A friend of mine was walking in the country and was all of a sudden
greatly surprised to find himself looking at a peacock perching high up in the
branches of a tree. He did a double take, looked again, and saw nothing but a
plastic bag that the wind had blown into the tree, and that was now suspended
on the twigs.
reported the experience as if it was
not just ordinary misperception, but rather a startling glimpse of something
from another reality suddenly breaking through the veil of physical phenomena.
What led him to this account was the sheer impact of the experience, and the
great disparity of form between the peacock that he 'saw', and the paper bag
that he next saw. It was as if an ambiguous physical percept became for a
moment clairvoyantly transfigured.
course all our everyday seeing is seeing-as: we see this physical image as a
cup, or a cow, or a cupid.
We interpret, we fit a concept to the percept. And sometimes the image
is so ambiguous at first take that we fit the wrong concept, and only closer
inspection shows that we need to reclassify the image under a different
times there is nothing remotely clairvoyant about such misperception.
Sometimes, however, it may be that the conceptual gap, the confusion at the
level of seeing-as, permits the striking appearance of an other-worldly image
in the middle of the everyday perceptual field. But such an image is very
transient and only endures for a brief moment until the conceptual gap is
closed and a correct identification of the physical percept is
do know that concepts can radically affect percepts. Thus the native islanders could not see the first white man's
ship anchored in the bay because they did not have the
concept for such a thing. The
limited conceptual framework that came with the use of their language made
them unable to see a sailing ship.
the limited conceptual framework that comes with our modern use of language
may make us unable to 'see' in the psi mode.
It may contract our awareness around purely physical modes of
perceiving so that we simply do not notice what is going on in the great subtle matrix out of which the material world
appears. And it is only very
occasionally when this framework loses its tight hold - such as moments of
misperception - that we can receive impacts from the subtle domain.
as clairvoyance may also occur at the very edge of the ordinary visual field.
I am in the kitchen looking at the kettle. I suddenly become aware of
something like a cat moving swiftly for a split second over by the
broom-cupboard, which is on the extreme periphery of my field of vision. Yet I
know that there is no physical cat in the kitchen, for I do not have a cat. I
then re-classify my percept and realise it was the shadow of a bird flying
past the kitchen window.
maybe it was both. Maybe it
really was the shadow of a bird flying past the window. But until I grasped
this, the unclassified percept created an opening for brief clairvoyance of
a subtle cat - a creature for whom the ancient Egyptians would have had some
respect. Of course, I have no
idea why it was flitting around my kitchen.
Was it seeking out the broom in the broom-cupboard, or in foolish
pursuit of the shadow of a bird, or bestowing power on the culinary arts?
as clairvoyance may occur, too, in dimly lit physical environments.
I am lying awake in bed at midnight, with the curtains a little open. A
faint light from the night sky penetrates the room.
The dark space becomes ambiguous with bulging forms.
They are not the forms of things in the room, for I know the exact
shape of each item of furniture and where it is.
are some kind of retinal response to minimal light. But because I am
busy perceiving nothing as vague masses which I cannot classify, they
yield to sudden and impromptu clairvoyance of subtle shapes - but only for
fractions of a second. And since I never succeed in classifying the masses - for
they are pure perceptual illusion and there is nothing there to classify - I
keep oscillating in and out of fractional moments of clairvoyance. It is no
wonder some children are afraid of the dark if they are subject to these
visionary oscillations, with no guidance as to what they are and how to cope
have already said, many misperceptions are nothing to do with clairvoyance. I
simply misidentify something, apply the wrong concept to it and imagine it to
be something it is not. This
can apply in the dark too: my imagination can run riot with vague masses, and
there is no psi vision involved at all. The
art of the Janus-brain is to discriminate between this purely subjective
kind of misperception, and the kind of misperception that yields brief but
authentic episodes of psi encounter with the subtle world.
refer here to a very common experience of looking at a relatively formless
physical pattern - the configuration of a cloud, of stains on an old wall, of
the grain of polished wood, of tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, of glowing
embers in the hearth - and seeing it as
if it has some determinate shape, such as the shape of a human face,
an animal, a building, or a household object. Now the transfiguration
here is purely conceptual and subjective.
The physical pattern does not change.
It is only what I see it as that changes.
But is this always true?
have looked into a low burning fire and seen a face, but the face has a form
that is more extensive than the form of that part of the fire out of which it
emerges. So it is as
if I see a face that has more pattern in it than the associated bit of the
fire has: the change is not only conceptual, but also perceptual.
And sometimes it is as if the
perceptual change has a psi shift on it, as if there is a clairvoyant image
within the physical perceptual field.
are multiple ambiguities here. Firstly,
the physical pattern is ambiguous: it can be seen as bearing this, that or the
other determinate image. Secondly,
is the transfiguration purely conceptual, only a matter of seeing-as, or is
it also perceptual, to do with the actual pattern itself?
And thirdly, if the transfiguration is both conceptual and perceptual,
is it just a hallucinatory distortion of ordinary perception, or is it
clairvoyance of an actual subtle entity through a briefly open window in the
everyday visual field? Only rigorous noticing, with the growth of Heron's
beard, can resolve the last two
is a cultural phenomenon. We
perceive the world our culture believes in.
As children, we learn to see things in terms of the concepts and
categories that come with the mastery of language.
And these in turn are organised by the belief-systems that prevail in
the culture of which we are a part.
animists in ancient and so-called primitive societies perceived a different
world to those living in mediaeval times. The former saw a world suffused with
supernatural fluid, occult powers and ancestral presences. The latter saw a
world that was the lowest realm, the footstool, of a theocratic universe, with
god in his heaven beyond the sphere of the stars. The beliefs, we may surmise, were part of the way of
today, seeing the world is not separate from having beliefs about it.
For there is a restrictive belief-system built into the very process of
perception. In our culture, we perceive a world that is mechanistic,
materialistic, and atheistic. When we see things, we see them as incorporating that sort of
world-view. It is the 400 year
old heritage of our modern culture, which possesses our childhood brains as we
learn to talk and act socially.
the cultural belief-system that is deeply embedded in the structure of
everyday perception, may be at odds with
ideologies acquired later in life through education, experience and
reflection. Thus a person may
inwardly have come to believe in a systems view of the world, in other
non-physical levels of being, in a divine presence - and yet still sees the
garden, the high street, the living room, the surrounding hills, in
Cartesian-Newtonian terms as purely physical entities subject to mechanical
laws operating in empty space.
is a way of countering all this. It
is to construe actively while looking. To rethink the world in the very act of
seeing it. To restructure the belief-system that is built into the process of
belief-system that possesses perception is not just abstract in nature. It is
fuelled by imaginative, creative power.
It is an active, dynamic shaping of the meaning and impact of the
world by the mind. And so to
rethink the world in the act of seeing it means putting out a deep
re-appraisal of what we see. Then
we start to experience the world as being
have to rethink the world with the whole of the nervous system, with our
nervous centres in the belly as well as, if not more so than, in the cortex. I
find that the presence of trees is a teacher in this matter.
So if I walk in the woods, in the ambience provided by stately trees, I
become more and more able imaginatively to re-appraise the being of the world
in the very act of perceiving it. The belief-systems impregnated into perception
by the culture lose their hold.
think-perceive the world anew. And it is as
if the trees themselves generate the creative thoughts that reconstruct
the world within my eyes. Of
course my mind provides the unspoken words implicit in the thoughts, but the
trees assist with the underlying conceptual pattern.
found a wood near Nutteln in Emmsland in West Germany.
I walked through it for two hours or more on many days in the middle of
a sun-clad September. The trees
were great teachers, like members of a distinguished philosophical arboretum.
I relay here their teaching in terms of my perceptions.
the physical world as porous, as open everywhere to the energy fields in the
matrix space that sustains it. There is the immediate matrix space of the
earth and the solar system. And
there is the vast matrix space of the galaxy, a space that is deeply inward,
extensive, subtle, potent; and out of which the physical galaxy emerges.
the earth as an energy structure floating in the matrix space of the galaxy,
interpenetrated by the subtler energies of that immense inner space. I am also aware that the earth is a conceptual artefact; and
that I am participating in creating this artefact as I see it.
I do not quite know how I am doing this, but I do know that I am doing it.
I see, I hear creation singing its own song.
Cast into English, the refrain becomes something like: 'I perceive as
I think as I choose to exist'.
There is an act of being. This
act, this ecstatic choice, is a choice of being. And what is chosen is the
value of being, its joy. I
realise that, as part of creation, I too choose to exist, choose my belief-systems
and choose my perceptual frameworks.
again at the earth suspended in,
porous with, inner space, light and power, I start to notice the more specific
energy structures in and around things: trees, stones, crops in the field
beside the wood, a tractor and a man working on it, farmhouses on the other
side of the field. Also persons
or presences in the other world related to the energy structures of the houses
out of the woods and realised what had
been happening. As I transfigured the concepts that were built into the very
process of perceiving the world, the process itself became extended and
inclusive. It started to
integrate physical perception and clairvoyance into one seamless whole: I
saw the two worlds interacting in a total system - both on the grand scale,
and in the bush beside the path.
found it curious that when I had finished my walk, drove off in my car and
re-entered the city where I was staying, I reverted to my ordinary,
culture-bound way of perceiving the world. But then a modern city is very
Cartesian-Newtonian in concept. Perhaps it
is better to think-perceive it that way.
It is no good being too porous in New York, London, or any other
metropolis. The conventional perceptual framework is good armour in the
alien world it creates.
there is another way of transfiguring ordinary perception of the world, and
that is by exercising and developing the tacit clairvoyance that is normally
in servitude to it. This done
through a grasp of the geometry of vision in two worlds, and a realisation of
the archetypal spatial powers of point, line and plane. This is dealt with in sections 4 and 13 of Chapter 7 - on the
doctrine of powers.
beings can undergo quite remarkable transfigurations of appearance,
so much so that in the realm of interpersonal perception, one doubts
the validity of any real separation between physical perception and
clairvoyance. Let me explain what I mean.
same person's face can at one time appear confused, mean, shrunk, vacuous and
stupid. Yet at another time it
can appear luminous, potent, full of intelligent authority and generosity.
Do we just physically perceive changes in the shape of their face, and
then mentally infer corresponding changes in their state of soul?
I hardly think so.
each person has a physical body, a subtle body, and a soul undergoing varying
changes of state, mental and emotional. Suppose
too that the subtle body in its most dense mode is a matrix for the form and
processes of the physical body. And that in its least dense mode it mediates
states of soul and shapes their physical appearance in facial expression,
gesture and posture. Of course, such a view is hardly new.
It is a bit like Aristotle's doctrine of pneuma:
a subtle, active, near-material
principle that acts as an intermediary between body and soul.
And pneuma is analogous to
his aether which I mentioned at the
start of chapter 1.
now that when I physically perceive the physical form of the person's face, at
one and the same time I
clairvoyantly perceive the subtle configuration of the person's state of soul.
I don't properly notice this is going on, because the culture does not
provide me with the concepts. The belief-system culturally induced into my
perception of people cuts short my full awareness of what I am about.
And nature obscures it too with the demanding impact of physical
vision. The clairvoyance is tacit, underdeveloped.
doubt this, take up another person's gaze.
Now the gaze, as I said earlier in this chapter, is not the same as the
physical eyes. It is one thing to
look at someone's eyes as purely physical objects; and quite another to take
up the gaze that is mediated by those eyes.
It is as if the gaze is the
subtle light of a person's consciousness, supervenient upon and shining
through the physical eyes. And
the gaze itself can have many different meanings or qualities: intelligent,
loving, spiritual, commanding, erotic.
does it seem to me that I infer the gaze and its meanings. Rather I directly apprehend it: not by physical perception,
for it is not part of the physical eyes of the other person; but by
clairvoyant perception. I am
seeing the other's eyes in physical space, and I am 'seeing' the other's gaze
in subtle space, simultaneously. There is a dual perception going on, in two
worlds, in two spaces, at once.
course, mental and emotional states of soul are not just manifest through the
gaze, but also by the whole facial expression,
by gesture, posture and movement. Here, too, in my experience, facial
expression is a psychic configuration revealed in physical features.
I see the physical shapes of the face, and I 'see' the psi-delineated
mood. In the days when I painted portraits, it seemed to me that I painted the
sitter's face as much out of subtle perception as out of physical perception.
this sort of view, we always interact with others in a state of dual
incarnation and dual perception. The culture would have us believe that it is
somehow all taking place in terms of the physical dimension only. And nature
supports this cultural error. For
physical perception of other persons has a strong claim on our attention and
hypnotises us into not noticing the subtle perception that always accompanies
it. This visual claim is
reinforced by the emotional pre-occupations that so often engage us as we relate
to another person.
is a common experience in favour of the dual incarnation thesis.
You cover up your real
mood by arranging your physical features and posture to portray a quite different
one. But along comes a perceptive
observer who notices immediately the disparity between the physical
appearance and the hidden feeling. This observer does not - in this instance
at any rate - guess, or infer, or hypothesise your real emotional state.
Rather she or he perceives your external face and posture, and all at
the same time directly senses your
mood. This direct sensing, I
suggest, is tacit clairvoyance - a knowing by psi of your real emotional form
in subtle space.
there is a loving bond between two people this tacit clairvoyance often works
with great ease and fluency. Perception of physical cues and direct sensing of
state go hand in hand. This dual intimacy of access to the being of another is
one of the primary fascinations of a close relationship. It is usually wrecked
when anxiety, fear and suspicion arise.
clairvoyance yields psi to psi knowledge of the other's mental and emotional
states of soul. I say it is going
on all the time in interpersonal interaction. But because it is tacit - not
fully identified, exercised and
developed - there are often ambiguities afoot in our reading of other people,
especially where the relationship
is not close. Am I sensing his
state, or just seeing his face?
I have only spoken of changes of external appearance revealing different
mental and emotional states. And
I have suggested that these are transfigurations of physical form by subtle
configurations of soul; and as such involve, in the person perceiving them,
both explicit physical vision and tacit clairvoyance.
But there is something more. This
is the phenomenon of presence.
that a peson has great physical presence; or that an actor has stage presence;
or that the speaker on the podium has presence.
What do we mean by the word 'presence' used in this kind of context?
the Bolshoi ballet company in Moscow. The
principal male dancer in, say, Spartacus, has remarkable presence. On stage he
has formidable impact, whether he is immobile in dramatic posture, or bounding
through space. Part of it is to
do with bearing: how he is spreading his chest broad, commanding physical
space with his head, neck and shoulders - and with the flourish of his arms
and hands. Part of it is to do
with conscious intent and commitment of soul: he seeks to infuse the role with
passion of being. Part of it is
to do with sheer charisma: a subtle energy that strikes the audience directly
at a subliminal level, a powerful effect in subtle space.
three things - commitment of soul, charisma and bearing - all go together to
make up presence. The result is a
transfiguration of human expression in this world by potency in another world.
It is as if the person is living, breathing, being and moving in two
worlds at once; is in conscious command of their expression in physical space
and in subtle space at the same time. Hence
the sense of a visitor, an entrant from the other world into this.
is the most potent form of personal expression.
You can cultivate this kind of transfiguration by practising conscious
use of the physical body in all its expressive modes simultaneously, and by
doing this through command of the subtle body.
integrate your posture, gesture, movement, facial expression, use of eyes,
tone and use of voice, in one comprehensive act of conscious bearing.
And this alert unity of bearing in physical space emerges out of
subtle-body command in subtle space. It
is this command that generates the unmistakable impact of
charismatic energy upon those around.
And within it all is the soul's commitment and intention to manifest in
the fulness of being.
of course, is analogous to the Aikido practice of moving the physical body
through command of chi energy from the hara chakra.
The temporary transfigurations that can be attained in Aikido are
remarkable, as skilled devotees will attest.
Physical movements in physical space become extraordinaily deft, with
great charismatic impact, because they are supercharged with chi energy in
subtle space. Your opponents are thrown when you have greater command of chi
than they do. And though the
formal exercises in Aikido are restricted to the domain of a martial art,
there is a widespread effect on the bearing of practitioners in other
aspects of their daily life.
when actors and actresses have stage presence it is as if they command the
whole subtle space within the physical space of the auditorium.
They have acquired the knack of managing their physical bearing and
expression in this world out of the immanent energies of the other world.
Hence they rivet the attention of the spectators: by arousing their
inner alertness, enthralling their tacit clairvoyance.
And this ability - through charismatic bearing - to attract attention
may continue even when they stand silently on the edge of the stage out of the
action of the immediate scene.
someone with presence walks into a room, heads turn as if there is an immediate
impact on the subtle bodies of those already in the room.
It seems that command of subtle
energy in physical bearing also dominates subtle space at a distance.
the gaze is a psi phenomenon that
can turn heads at a distance. It
is a common experience to find you have unwittingly turned round in response
to an intense gaze focussed upon you by another person.
This also, I believe, is primarily an effect from one subtle body to
may say that actors and others who in certain circumstances have presence have
no knowledge of psi. But I
believe you can acquire the knack of being doubly incarnated, of directing
the physical out of command of the subtle, without necessarily having the
concepts. As with many other
skills, you know how to do it
without quite knowing what it is you are doing.
What the knowledge adds, is increased depth and range of command.
thesis of double incarnation is an important one.
It propounds that a person is manifesting simultaneously in a subtle
vehicle and a physical body. And that the subtle form is the first,
most intimate and potent mode of personal expression, and mediates
between a person's intentions and their physical embodiment.
In our culture the subtle body is not acknowledged, even where its
intimate potency is most evident, as in mutual gazing, transfigurations of
appearance and apprehension of personal presence.
result of this lack of acknowledgment is the persistent delusion of
physicality. At its most crude, this delusion consists of the belief that when
we move about, one bit of the body, the brain, is moving other bits of the
body such as the limbs. Less
crudely, it is the belief that the mind through the brain is somehow moving
the limbs around.
way round, we get leaden living:
people thinking they are shunting heavy parcels of animated matter around -
their bodies. Hence the zombie
like aspect of people walking along the streets of any town or city: they
collude with gravity at the expense of the inherent levity of their subtle
power - which is held in check, grossly underused, by the restricted beliefs
which dominate their minds. Indeed,
it is difficult to imagine how people will move around on the surface of the
earth, when they realise that it is through the levity of the other world that
they move the physical body in the domain of gravity.
the realisation is kept alive by ballet dancers - who celebrate the command of
gravity by levity - by practitioners of other expressive arts, and by devotees
of some of the martial arts.
remember once driving through Holland from west to east. It was in the late autumn, just after sunset. The window
beside me was open an inch or two. The noise made by the forward movement of
the car assailed my ears. It was
mainly wind noise, with an addition of noise from the tyres on the road.
suddenly noticed that this noise had become transfigured by barely audible
sounds. It was as
if, supervenient upon the physical noise, I could hear ethereal voices in
concert. The more I opened my
imagination to this sound, the more sustained the choral revelation became -
a rarefied, elevated, potent, extremely subtle kind of singing from a large
number of voices at a great distance.
noticed I could switch this subtle singing off and on, attending at one moment
only to the physical noise as such, then letting it open up to carry the
transcendental sound. The
rarified choir was carried by the
physical noise, as though the former were transforming and transfiguring the
overtones of the latter.
use of my imagination aided the process of opening up to the choir of voices
from inner space, but clearly did not generate it.
My imagination was the listening organ of clairaudience.
Occam's razor, of course, must insist that auditory phantasy is the
sole explanation of such celestial sounds. Heron's beard, by contrast, uses
imagination to aid the process of inquiry into their status.
a similar kind of experience sitting in the back of a large car being driven
by friends through the state of Connecticut in the USA. This was in the middle
of spring, but also just after sunset. On
this occasion, however, I had previously smoked some cannabis at the home of a
leading TV character actor.
the wind and tyre noise of the car became the carrier for inner sounds: this
time extraordinarily subtle music. It was a vastly more sophisticated version
of the music played by a band of the time, Pink Floyd. But this time, partly because of the derivative nature of the
music, partly because I knew it was cannabis induced, I was more prone to
regard the sound as the product of my own imagination, chemically liberated
into refined creativity.
doubt remained. Did the cannabis
release my imagination to tap in to the music of subtle domains? The music was
unbidden and exhilarating, my state passive and appreciative. Was I a chemically awakened psi listener, rather than a
chemically liberated musical phantasist?
The beard sprouts despite the razor.
the obvious sceptical thesis about all this is that I am simply sensitive to
purely physical overtones of physical sounds, and these overtones get worked
up by my imagination into 'music' I am 'hearing'.
But this is not what it seems like.
It is much more as if my
auditory imagination is the bridge between physical overtones and a genuine
clairaudience of the sound of
subtle voices or subtle music. But
the experience is still only 'as if' - and so a haunting ambiguity remains.
way to explore the clairaudient transfiguration of overtones, is for a group
of people to become proficient in overtone chanting.
This consists in producing a basic somewhat nasal chant resonating in
the bones of the face, then arranging the tongue and/or lips in such a way as
to release overtones sounding out over the basic chant.
group has learned the skill and can generate overtones readily, it can start a
co-operative experiential inquiry into the possibility of clairaudient
transfiguration. As the overtones
produced by the group merge and mingle, do they for any significant number of
people become carriers of subtle sounds that transcend them?
And if so, how do the different accounts of these subtle sounds compare
with each other? What
criteria do people use to differentiate
between the products of auditory imagination and clairaudience?
How can you tell when one leads over into the other?
was 16 years old, I attended at Rugby School a concert by Kathleen Ferrier,
the extraordinary contralto. It
was when she let loose the remarkable timbre of her voice in Orpheus' lament
for Eurydice, by Gluck, that I became utterly alert. Her vocal power was transfigured by a numinous quality of
tone. In that sound, the two
worlds fused: the deeply human, and the profoundly sacramental.
I shall never forget sitting on the edge of my chair suffused by a
cascade of glory. My physical
listening was entirely subsumed within my clairaudient listening to I knew
not what resonances from the universe beyond.
there is a much more hum-drum 'transfiguration' going on all the time at the
heart of everyday conversation. For
just as in mutual gazing, clairvoyance of the other's gaze is tacit within
physical perception of the other's eyes, so when I listen to anyone
speaking, my clairaudience of their emotional tone of voice is tacit within my
physical listening to the timbre or physical quality of their voice.
just as the physical eyes are not the same as the gaze they carry, so too the
physical tone of a person's voice is not the same as the emotional or personal
tone which that physical tone carries. I
listen to the physical tone, and at the same time I 'listen' directly (but do
not infer) the emotional tone. This emotional tone is psi or subtle tone.
so, too, just as the eyes are intrinsically transfigured, when open, by the
subtle gaze, the physical tone of voice is intrinsically transfigured by the
subtle tone. The transfiguring in
each case may be low level, and not up to much in the way of quality and
impact, but transfiguring it nevertheless is.
subtle power of the physical voice can be stepped up a lot. You can enhance
its frequency and impact. But
this is not the same as simply improving the resonance and range of the
physical voice. An actor can
develop physical voice, yet its subtle power may remain relatively unused.
Richard Burton, at his early Shakespearean best, had developed subtle tone as
well as physical voice. Even in
the later decay of the Hollywood years, he never quite lost the resonance of a
can practice intensifying subtle power of voice
by chanting or by reciting poetry in sonorous tones: that is, tones
that resonate from within the soul. You
can feel in this exercise the totality of double incarnation, especially if
you have that sense of a deep commitment to the fulness of being.
For you are are at one and the same time dealing with both physical
tone and subtle resonance: they become deeply interfused.
This charged voice has a powerful effect on inner space and its subtle
energies. Hence the importance of
invocation in esoteric ritual.
human voice is one of the most intimate and flexible zones for manifold
transfigurations by inner power. Charismatic
speakers have developed the knack of talking fully out of an inward domain of
potency, that rivets the inner listener, commanding attention of soul.
Mastery of language is not a necessary condition for such charismatic
speech, which can manifest through the simplest statements.
But it can greatly enhance the effect.
For imaginative command of the choice, the meaning and the sound of
words, putting them together in combinations of magical persuasion,
already seems born out of another domain.
is time to bring out Occam's razor. The
sceptic might well say: 'All this talk of a subtle tone that is somehow
another kind of reality interwoven with the physical tone of the voice, is
nonsense. Consider a famous
violinist who can make his violin sing with remarkably soulful tone.
Are you going to say that the violin strings produce
a subtle tone as well as a physical tone?
Surely not. The violin is
producing a purely physical sound that affects us emotionally.
Similarly, there is no extra tone
above and beyond the purely physical tone of the human voice.'
two worlds view, the answer to this objection is simple. For a physical violin, just as the human voice box, is
embedded in the subtle matrix, the subtle universe.
And the violinist can so manage fingers and bow upon the violin strings
as to produce physical tones and overtones that reveal subtle tones in and
through them. The finest human
music creates through its physical sound an auditory opening for the subtle
music of inner space, and calls forth an attentive clairaudience at the very
centre of physical listening.
enter a basic domain of magic, the magic of musical transfiguration, in which
the 'shape' of physical sound produced by one or more instruments is
transfigured by subtle sound from an inner world.
The musical instrument is an inert piece of matter until the musician
makes it and/or the air in and around it vibrate. The art and magic of musicianship is to generate a physical
vibration that is transformed for the attuned listener by the psi
frequencies that it invokes.
course, the structure of the music, the pattern of the sound, helps to
generate the appropriate quality of the sound.
When a great performer plays the work of a great composer, and
quality and pattern of sound enhance each other, there is a musical aperture
into another world, and we are listening to two kinds of music at once.
again we find what for our culture is this unacknowledged duality of
perception and awareness. We do not fully grasp that we are simultaneously
hearing in two different modes and in two different worlds, that are both
interfused and also distinct. Yet
tacit clairaudience, I believe, is indispensable to musical appreciation.
Experience of the subtle realms: