Little does she know it, but the little girl who spins on the spot in the playground with her arms outstretched, eyes shut tight awaiting the onset of dizziness and disorientation, is part of an age-old human tradition: the desire to change our reality. She spins, laughing, aware of her sense of direction and balance slipping away, gravity taking hold, then ceases to spin and opens her eyes before stumbling and losing control and laughing some more, in awe of the new reality imposed by her will. The hypothetical young girl’s method is crude, founded as it is on altering a reality based on the perception of the senses, but nevertheless it suggests that this desire to transform the world in which we live is innate and visceral.
Yet it is the perception of reality based solely on the experience of the senses that is fundamentally flawed. To elaborate, I know that I am sat at my desk now writing this piece, feeling the keyboard at my fingertips, seeing the words emerge on the monitor as I write and hearing the rain fall outside. But at the same time, I know that I have dreamt these sensations with acute verisimilitude, and by that token the veracity of my experience as perceived reality is fundamentally flawed, since perception (and by that we can infer a subjective interpretation) by no means indicates truth. And since the fact of my own existence cannot be predicated on this ambiguous and inherently flawed interpretation of the sensorial world I inhabit, the only element which confirms my existence is the simple fact that I have these thoughts – as French philosopher Rene Descartes so succinctly expressed it, cogito ergo sum: “I think, therefore I am”.
In rising above what we believe we know of the physical world, we enter into the realm of metaphysics, in its broadest sense transcending sense-based sciences and entering esoteric concepts such as spirituality and the ultimate nature of “being”. Historically this has been a constant factor in the evolution of mankind, from ancient Sumer to Aristotle through to Buddhist mysticism and Pagan immanence. Ironically, given the mind/body distinction fundamental to this outlook, the transition to a so-called “higher consciousness” has been frequently induced by the consumption of brain-altering chemicals. In 5000 B.C the Sumerians used opium, the ideogram “hul” translating as “joy” or “rejoicing”. Indigenous Americans consumed peyote, well known for its psychoactive alkaloids assisting in transcendent ceremonies. In modern times, Generation Xers were known to turn on, tune in and drop out to LSD – in the words of counterculture luminary Tim Leary, “‘Turn on’ meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. ‘Tune in’ meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. Drop out suggested an elective, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. ‘Drop Out’ meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change…”
Whatever the method, be it drugs, meditation or the recourse to theosophical traditions, humanity strives to explore the realms beyond what is apparent and real in our waking lives. Cognizant of the infinite possibilities suggested in our dreams, we seek to reproduce them in a manner that can be measured and understood with our conscious selves.
In our own way, each and every one of us is the spinning girl in the playground, eyes shut tight in anticipation of a new reality.
***TRY IT YOURSELF! INDUCE AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE IN TWO EASY STEPS!!***
- Go to your bedroom and light the room ambiently. Wearing loose clothing and removing all watches and jewelry, lie down on your back on the bed and close your eyes.
- Open your mind’s eye and imagine looking to your left. Slowly visualize panning around the room in a large arc taking your mind’s eye around and to your right. Take your time and picture everything in as much detail as you possibly can – done thoroughly, this should take around fifteen minutes. When your mind’s eye has scanned the room, imagine looking up at the ceiling, then imagine sitting up and standing up at the end of the bed. Turn around and hey presto! You’ve induced an out of body experience!
DISCLAIMER: the author of these instructions is not responsible for any spirits or demons witnessed during the experience.