This article is excerpted from Dark Pool of Light: Reality and Consciousness (The Convergence of Physical, Philosophical, Psychological, Psychospiritual, and Psychic Views), Volume Two: Consciousness in the Psychospiritual and Psychic Ranges, recently published by North Atlantic Books.

Higher planes and energies, if they exist, are not operating at this frequency. So no matter how many great runs or occult expeditions you have, the wedding festival ends; the guests are kicked out of the banquet hall. That's just the way it is. A flaming sword was placed inside us for a reason.

Perhaps cosmic lucidity will someday be stabilized at a human frequency but, if so, it will be a long time from now and we have a daunting journey prior. We will go from here to another epiphany and its dissipation, though, as foretold in the Moon card, its valleys will be higher than the peaks of previous emanations. Each cosmic manifestation will capture more of the Truth Mystery behind the universe, will concede less as it turns over to the next.

From the epidemic skepticism of our time, we twenty-first-century humans block most possibilities for psychospiritual growth. Everything untoward or in the cracks between worlds is rejected out of hand. Auras and Astral flying-body stuff seem like, as a long-standing anti-spiritual buddy emailed me recently in smug triumph: intellectual masturbation. Grim, fatal words.

It's easy enough to adopt his aspersion and go "mea culpa" internally (we do it all the time): "You're right. I don't really see or feel or hear anything — not a damn thing — no spirits, no ghosts, no communiqués from the dead, no auras, no disembodied voices, no beams of light from the star Sirius, no out-of-body peregrinations. I have no incoming telepathy or remote views either. I don't feel any ‘chakras.' I don't remember any past lives. I don't have foretokenings or future visions that couldn't just as well be ascribed to something else.

"The many synchronicities I notice are just coincidences. With all the things happening in the world, some are bound to seem connected in meaningful ways, and those are the ones we notice. What about the rest that are unconnected and nonsynchronous and don't get our attention because nothing about them stands out?

"More than ninety-nine-point-nine percent of life is ordinary — make that a hundred — so anything that I attribute to karma or destiny could have occurred without karma (and did), and, if something else had happened instead, the same would be true of it. Any tarot reading or birth chart is as valid as any other, good for anyone. Just make one up. Anything I credit to gods or guides I could just as easily assign to blind chance. There would be no differences between any of these alternatives or between them and any other happenstance outcomes. Everything is fated, once it happens. The one-in-a-trillion card is always drawn, every moment in fact, but once it is drawn it is no longer one in a trillion.

"I have zero reason to believe that consciousness isn't just a light that went on in the darkness for incidental reasons and will go out soon enough forever. ‘Little brown jug, ha ha ha, you and me….'"

By now mainstream culture has officially ceded the Astral sky and its environs to the heavens of modernity that shine coldly down on all literature, politics, prayer, and civilization. They tell us that the Divine is no longer watching us, no longer guiding us, no longer even there; that we cannot escape our imprisonment in matter or obliteration into dust.

In fact, God was never there. People may chant and pray as often and as avidly as they used to, but they do it joylessly and without much hope. They no longer even pretend to access real spiritual beings. Only money-changers fill the temple.

There are plenty of times when I have concurred with the anti-spiritual gadfly and his Amazing Randi-worshipping crowd* as I stare through my incurable crisis of faith into an impregnable void, feeling alone and afraid and tiny again — isolated in who I am, afraid for myself and all of us against the sheer vastness and anonymity of the night and the cruelty of design — a God who has lost track or doesn't care or is actively sadistic,? beyond petition or appeal.

Under the reigning cultural model and its thought terrorism, the cynic in us flummoxes and confounds itself with organized materiality, zones of rubble without end — the bottomless abyss. No one wants to be conned, especially by themselves. Certainly the Amazing Randi and his CSICOP? buddies don't. The most demagogically fatal dagger goes something like: "What if I believe some weird unscientific promise and it isn't real (as surely it won't be)? Then I will be deluded and suckered. What a waste of my life! I will fall for something merely because I want it to be true, a hoax that's not part of reality. How pathetic! If I hoodwink myself into believing in a fantasy or fairy tale, I won't be any better than an ostrich with its head up its ass or some guy with a bone through his nose praying to a statue of a mongoose or his crony over there sacrificing hogs to the ancestors."

During my one visit with him, in 1972, pop-star astronomer Carl Sagan snarled over what he viewed as my credulousness. "If I believe in life after death and then I die and find that there's nothing," he declared in exasperation, "I will have wasted my whole life."

I felt like noting the obvious: "But if you die and there's nothing there, you won't know."

Because I didn't say that, he didn't have to toss back the smartass retort he probably had waiting: "But I don't have to die. I already know it."

The stranglehold of this belief is such that the smartest people among us haven't the slightest doubt that they are right — doctors, biologists, physicists, geneticists, amateur and professional skeptics. The universe is what science shows it to be — that's the height of our species' redaction. It is what it looks like and what it shows itself to be. The constraints of the physical world alone generate functionality and productive, admirable lives. Furthermore, material systems have proven to be multi-leveled and complex and, once they go digital, all bets are off: exquisite order arises out of chaos, without paraphysical interference: gifts of nonequilibrium thermodynamics. Good enough to play!

That's the paradigm that makes twenty-first-century folks smarter and more valid than dart-blowing pygmies and rock-dreaming Aborigines. And I include the God of religionists in this myopia, though fundamentalists from Islamabad to Houston coronate Him as their difference from the materialists. But He and their prayers to Him are just other commodities. These dudes are invoking the divine as a means of hijacking power and moral ground and influencing the gullible rather than of putting the human event into an actual divine context. No, the religious fanatics don't help one iota because they don't believe in anything either except their own xenophobic war-gods and sectarian agitprop. They raise an even stagier and more rigid pseudo-reality.

Faith is not sissyish or frivolous. The Dalai Lama doesn't have a puerile, delusional intelligence, nor does a monk feeding the poor in Algeria, a nun in Colombia. These are mature, sophisticated beings with a measured sense of who they are and what the universe is. They do not think that serving the Divine is a sinecure or that they are wasting their lives. They are not intellectual or emotional cripples or copouts — quite the reverse.

Yet most average people are literally scaled down into triteness by their own doubts and apostasies, denying Christ at least three times a day before the cock crows. These doubts are durable and, in a metaphysical universe, have real psychic and planetary weight. We all participate in the murder of angels, the denial of other planes, the obligatory certainty that this is it, the whole enchilada. It is not only the obligatoriness and fierce certainty — that is a minor coloration — it is the living out of density at the frequency of density, so that we feel as dense as everything else and experience our exile in matter as absolute and fatal, with all that that implies.

There are days during which I have to force a shallow smile just to keep my humiliation and self-betrayal under wraps — and I am mostly faking it. I hit long dead spots where nothing happens, the world stays hard and "what you see is what you get." I can be as cynical, dismissive, and recreationally wry as the next guy. I get suffocated in the thick, shiny, seamlessly self-renewing reality, and I get just as asphyxiated by the New Age extravagance and inflated kitsch proposed as its make-believe alternative, its own smug impenetrability and infernal amenity. The overriding mood is: let's just tell jokes, stay amused, follow the games and the politics, have a good meal now and then, cherish the peaks for the fleeting epiphanies they are, hang for a while until the party ends.

To the nonbelievers and aggressive cynics (the Marxist atheists and professional academic crowd), "intellectual masturbation" and "opiate of the masses" sound just about right. Hedonistic vacuity and professional nihilism are the bands to which we march. Modernity is a nasty, tedious encampment, and we are all on death row. We are lifers too. We better have a sense of humor about it, not take ourselves too seriously. Existence is not for sissies.

Then just when things seem most hopeless, the whole universe opens up — not as the manic phase of a bipolar state but the song of Creation. I feel infinite capacity to change and be anything and everything, to contribute spontaneously to peace, well-being, and healing, not just in my immediate vicinity but throughout All That Is. Nothing could wipe that delighted, knowing smile off my face. I see a flock of geese or children playing in a schoolyard, recall a line from the Prajñâ-parâmitâ Heart Sutra, or receive instructions in a song — Jay and the Americans: "This magic moment/so different and so new…" or Jimmy Cliff: "This little boy is moving on…."

Such is the natural oscillation of existence. People get the same hits from sports triumphs, rock concerts, intimate relationships, or just upticks in the daily Om. "No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path…."

Catch a look on David Freese's face at the turning point of the 2011 World Series. He grew up in St. Louis, a wannabe baller and fan of the locals; then he made the Show with the San Diego Padres. In a fluke deal for an aging superstar, he got traded to his hometown team. A month before his heroics the Cardinals faced something like one in five hundred odds even to make the playoffs, let alone the Series. Before Freese no one ever got two such legendary hits in consecutive at-bats-he logged three of them, tying and winning the sixth game with a double and a home run, respectively, and then tying the seventh with another double. He must have been wondering what had become of the universe, what alternate reality was running. It was playing his song and only his song. He was surfing the Real.

Both the epiphanies and the inconsolable griefs are real, both are ecstatic; both are unbearable, both are delusions. None of it is real but, ah, the way in which it's not real…!

Rock musician Rob Brezsny (Tao Chemical) recalls staggering offstage after a high-energy performance to what "I most want to remember about my stay here on Earth; that when my body dies and my will-o'-the-wisp soul is negotiating its way through the bardo planes, I will treasure most the exquisite blown-out sensation that comes from blending kamikaze release with practiced discipline."1

We are moving much too fast to notice ourselves in the act of life, and the speed of light is moving almost as fast. Sometimes a decade transpires in a day (revolutions, earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks), but all of it gets folded into life and death anyway, and then people abruptly depart this manifestation for good. It's quite a thing, the Show.

So what to do?

For a start, just keep working at simple recognitions and psychic exercises, believing in them, believing in your epiphanies, that they are real epiphanies matching real energies, especially in hard times. Create and destroy roses; breathe into your visualizations. Bump the vibration up or down a plane or subplane. Neutrally experience what arises.

You have to go where fate (and the angels and guides) take you. There is no magical shortcut or "one size fits all."

Any of this stuff — viewing auras, chakras, nadis; excavating past lives; finding the Soul; communicating telepathically with the dead (or for that matter the living); reading the future, remote viewing, etc. — is equivocal at best: first of all, because it may actually be fabulist bullshit sustained by self-delusion and fain suggestibility; secondly, because any exertion toward activating psychic techniques or proving them leads to zippo. There is no way to break the ice with a hammer; in fact, there is no way to break the ice.

Yet paradoxically, efforting is the only way to acquire tools. It takes concerted intention and commitment to generate an inner framework tight enough to attune you to upper frequencies because, if the energy field exists, it is operating at intervals that are indiscernible within the hypnotic body trance, and they are shifting wildly too. You have to expand your capacity. But first you have to build capacity.

Your approach has to be light and improvisational; efforting to attain subtlety is crushing a feather while pulling it off the surface of a lake. Effort takes you precisely the wrong way. Use effort to begin, to make your commitment to following through, but then turn effort into bare intention and receptivity. That is how you shatter the paradox.

You have to be willing to stumble and bumble, get blindsided; then you stop efforting and a portal opens in such a way that the part of you not in the Great Trance falls into alignment with the macrocosm, the "abyss of manifestation." It just happens. "[F]ind an energy that is you-an energy of infinite resiliency, expanding in all directions, which like a lullaby assures you that all is well."2

At the same time, maintain a minority report: allow that it is mere flimflam and that nothing psychic or paranormal could be possibly happening.

Real psychic flow comes from nimbleness, mirth, goofing around. At Berkeley Psychic Institute, joke books were made handy, and classes were routinely interrupted by random readings of cornball and politically incorrect ha-ha's.

Once you acquire a few tools consciously, you can — oxymoron — try to use them without effort. Or not "try," just let it happen. First you load yourself with information potential and intention, then Creation picks its spots.

"The difference between death and sleep," declared Woody Allen, "is that when you're dead and somebody yells, ‘Everybody up, it's morning,' it's very hard to find your slippers."3

So, have at it, Amazing Randi! Congratu-fucking-lations. It's all just intellectual masturbation anyway.

The universe is laughing too.



*For what it is worth, there is an alternative narrative about the
debunking golden boy that exposes him as both a crook and a fraud who
keeps changing the rules and moving the goal posts; in private venues
"the Amazing Pederast." No big surprise. The surprise is that he is an
unexamined hero and accepted "good guy" among humanitarian scientists
and otherwise educated people.

?The dark reading of the Crucifixion is, if God did that to His own Son,
what do you think He is going to do to you? But that overlooks the

?Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal — switch out the facile first vowel and make the alphabet
trainwreck into CSDCOP for "Debunking."

1. Rob Brezsny, Televisionary Oracle (Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 2000).
2. John Friedlander and Gloria Hemsher, Psychic Psychology: Energy Skills for Life and Relationships (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2011), p. 251.
3. Woody Allen, Side Effects (New York: Ballantine Books, 1986), p. 54.


Teaser image by fdecomite, courtesy of Creative commons license.