PART ONE of a TWO PART discussion of a book by Robert Monroe, prepared by Abe Van Luik. (Link to Part Two below). Things have come at me lately that have challenged, altered and reinforced several beliefs and suspicions. One of these "things" that came into my life was a book: Robert A. Monroe's "Ultimate Journey" (Doubleday, New York, 1994). It caused me to rethink several things such as: (1) The role of the intellect. (2) Revelation from Mother Earth. (3) The meaning of religion. (4) Saving lost souls in the world of the disembodied. (5) The goal of existence. (6) Why bother with Earth life? In each case, I relate my experience of the words of Monroe to items of experience and belief from my time as an active, believing, though questioning Mormon. Had I had a different background, I am sure there would have been different sources for me to cite from my reading experience. I have recently been asked by a very thoughtful and kind and very Mormon person why I was so adamant about not being a believing Mormon when most beliefs I expressed to him were also his beliefs to an amazing degree. He finds that inside him there is a deep conviction in him that despite his misgivings about the literal interpretation of the faith that seems so common, there is a deeper truth under the scaffolds of external Mormonism and this is his place in this lifetime. It is partly for him, partly for me, and partly for a third and important person who seems similarly attracted to both the Mormon and Monroe-an visions that I made the following observations, for whatever they may be worth. I also hope that others, including my wife and children, will read this material to see in part what I see in part, and to feel in part what I feel in part. I must say that although both the Mormon belief system and Monroe's roadmap through the world of time and space and spirit, interest and even fascinate me. I believe neither one at face value and find evidences and idiosyncrasies that betray the limited mind and thought and ability of our common human state rampant in both systems of thought. I find value and hope in both systems as well, because I have come to see, as Brigham Young (second prophet-leader of Mormonism) observed long ago, that all revelations flow to us all, on natural principles, and we know of them through the idiosyncratic and ignorant minds of individuals such as ourselves. ITEM (1) INTELLECT and INTUITION Once upon a time I wrote about the revelatory process and interpreted what Brigham Young taught about preparing oneself to receive revelation. Young said he purposely spoke to the people in conferences without premeditation and un-systematically, with the prayerful mystical hope that . . . "a hint, a key word, or a short sentence pertaining to the things of God, might open the vision of our minds, so that we might comprehend the things of eternity, and rejoice exceedingly therein" (1853, 1:264, references are to the Journal of Discourses, a running record of church conferences in the last century). To prepare to receive revelation, Young said in another conference, one needs to clear the mind of wilful, conscious thought, thus causing "that our minds would be like a sheet of white paper such as our reporters here are writing on, then the Lord could and would dictate all our movements" (1871, 14:161). Perhaps it is at that point that one's consciousness takes a step back and enters an altered state in which one's prejudiced intellectual processes would be stopped, and unadulterated messages may be seen welling up out of the unconscious, thus letting our "minds be in open vision before the Almighty, seeing things as they are". . . . (1852, 3:87) Brigham Young taught that God is within us, thus a message from the subconscious is not necessarily not from God. Monroe differs from Young in one respect: he does not suggest turning off the intellect and allowing the intuitive side take over in the revelatory process. Other than that, however, he recognizes that revelation comes from the right, intuitive side of the brain, and suggests we keep the two sides, intellect and intuition, in harmonious balance. Perhaps if we do not, as Brigham Young suggests, and let the intellect overpower our being, we will not be prepared to receive revelation: "Our prime and fundamental purpose, aside from learning through experience in being human, is to acquire and develop what we label intellect: left brain consciousness. We do not need to act similarly with our right brain abilities because we already have them. We brought them with us; somehow they were inherent. "It is the left brain capability that is of exquisite value when we visit or return to the There, beyond time-space. It is the left brain that removes the limitations on our growth that were present prior to our sojourn here. Only left brain function can make Unknowns into Knowns, dissolve fears, enhance experience, open new vistas, clean out the false belief-system refuse. It is the left brain that takes any idea, information, or inspiration emanating from or via the right brain and puts it into action. By any standards, something of value cannot become real unless and until the left brain takes over" (p. 86) "The trick is to get both left and right brain into simultaneous and synchronous action, nudging the left brain more and more into taking part in the There activity. You should never abandon one for the other" (p. 88). What is the "There" that Monroe refers to? Basically, our origin and destiny in another state of existence. Monroe differs radically and fundamentally from Mormon notions of life before life and life after life. His description of human spiritual history and destiny includes lives in other systems, states of being, and numerous Earth sojourns. All these lives are eternally coexisting in the sense that they all create and leave permanent entities that capture that life experience and being, many of whom can be communicated with, and all of whom will eventually be reunited into one unified whole at some future time. We will revisit some of these notions again, but first I believe there is an interesting comparison on the Mormon and Monroe views of the Earth as a Being. ITEM (2) MOTHER EARTH IS A BEING, LIKE US Brigham Young observed that "The terra firma on which we walk, and from which we gain our bread, is looking for the morning of the resurrection, and will get a resurrection, and be cleansed from the filthiness that has gone forth out of her. . . . We are of the earth, earthy, and not only will the portion of mother earth which composes these bodies get a resurrection, but the earth itself. It has already had a baptism." (1853, 1:274) Thus, Young believed that the Earth is a Being, part of whom is eternally incorporated into our selves. Monroe does not believe in a physical resurrection, but does believe that the Earth is a Being: Monroe describes a day of revelation in his twenties, when he had descended down a well and rested at the bottom: "Slowly, the feeling of a warm intelligence seemed to surround me, flowing very gently into my body. It seemed to blend into every part of me, body and mind. I became a part of that intelligence, or the intelligence became a part of me. There didn't seem to be any difference. "And there was a message. I could translate it into words only crudely. "My son of sons of sons, you have found joy in my winds and sky. We have shared the excitement and peace both on my waters and deep within them. You have reveled in the beauty and ingenuity of my other children spread across my surface. Yet it is only now that you have taken a moment in my bosom to be still and listen. In that stillness, hold this song forevermore. You were born of me, yet it is your destiny to become more than I can ever be. In this growth, I revel with you. My strength is your strength; thus you take with you the glory of me to express in ways that I will not understand. Not understanding, I nonetheless support and share happily that which you become. Go with this truth within you, my son of sons of sons. "That was it. The warmth continued for a while, then slowly faded." (P. 147) In 1984 I recorded a roughly comparable experience from a flight from San Francisco back home to Washington, D.C. "Settling down in my chair I stared out the window at the grey and yellow ground. 'Nevada, dry, barren, wasteland, pity,' were the spontaneous judgements flowing through my idling mind, and the overwhelming greenness of home (in Maryland at that time) loomed somewhere on my mind's horizon as the kind of Eden-ish place where I would imagine God would choose to dwell. "While my mind was running with the clutch disengaged, an invasive surge of energy entered my body from below and seemed to settle in my stomach. I thought "flu" but quickly recognized that this was not an organism but an energy, and as I focused on it I could feel a familiar and intimate warmness, mixed with feelings of love grading slightly but erotically toward the sexual. Just as I was about to relax and enjoy the feeling, however, I felt laughter, unmistakably, inside me. "The laughter was friendly but definitely not me, although I reciprocated and felt amused, but perplexed at the same time. The laughter quickly graded into a pulse of knowledge coursing through my body. It was familiar knowledge, but as soon as I perceived it the invading energy pulled out like a switch had been turned off. No afterglow, nothing. Just me. "The only thing I recall about the pulse of knowledge is that it contained no words, it was just an awareness of some basic truths that I recognized instinctively as I was under the influence, but seemed strange afterward. I almost got the feeling I was being chewed out in a loving way. The message as near as I can recall it and verbalize it was: "I am well, I am ancient, I am forever, I am whole, and you are not different from me." Something deep within me bore its testimony on its own accord as it vibrated in unison with this energy flux, it seemed to be responding: 'I am not above you, Mother Earth, when I am whole I am you, you are me, and we are eternally one.' "It was a confession of faith. Was it extracted, perhaps, because of my unthinking judgment of the part of the Earth I was seeing below as a waste? That is how I later came to interpret this experience." (The "Radical Unity" item on this home page is the result of that revelation being cogitated on). The difference between these two experiences is that in one Mother Earth rejoices because her child is becoming something greater than She. In the other, She reminds a child that when he is whole he is as She is, and that they are eternally coupled and unified. Perhaps I allowed my right brain intuitive side to get carried away with itself. Perhaps, had I used my left brain, intellect, more rigorously, I would have had a similar interpretation as did Monroe, which more closely fits Mormon doctrine as well. The source of the human intelligence comes from and is always part of the Earth Mother in my vision of how things are. In Monroe's and the Mormon vision, however, human intelligence flows from elsewhere into an Earth body. In the Mormon vision part of the Earth becomes an eternal part of the resurrected human. By contrast, in Monroe's vision after perhaps a thousand lives on Earth creating personas that are eternal, the collective entity of these combined personas has its destiny elsewhere. All of us, myself, the Mormon vision, and Monroe's vision, see the material as well as the immaterial world being as being home to intelligence. Monroe calls that process of intelligence coming into the form of a being the "Layered Intelligence Forming Entities," or LIFE process, which is quite catchy and descriptive as well of how one may imagine the physical raw materials of the universe coming together to form a "Being" like Earth. Brigham Young said, as does Monroe, that matter harbors intelligence and even Divinity: "Furthermore, if men can understand and receive it, mankind are organized to receive intelligence until they become perfect in the sphere they are appointed to fill, which is far ahead of us at present. . . . It is the Deity within us that causes increase. Does this idea startle you? Are you ready to exclaim, 'What, the Supreme in us!' Yes, He is in every person upon the face of the earth. The elements that every individual is made of and lives in, possess the Godhead. This you cannot now understand, but you will hereafter" (1852, 1:93; see also 1856, 3:335). In an even more mystical statement, Young asserts that through revelation one "could understand that matter can be organized and brought forth into intelligence, and to possess more intelligence, and to continue to increase in that intelligence, and could learn those principles that organized matter into animals, vegetables, and into intelligent beings; and could discern the Divinity acting, operating, and diffusing principles into matter to produce intelligent beings, and to exalt them -- to what? Happiness" (1859, 7:23; see also 1859, 7:285). This notion of God being diffused to a greater or lesser degree in all creation, but especially in the intelligent life that we represent and are part of, was also mentioned in Orson Pratt's (another early Mormon leader) account of an unpublished revelation by Joseph Smith (founding prophet of Mormonism). In this revelation, Joseph Smith taught the doctrine of the Divine Emanation: God in all and all in God. In this revelation, Ahman was the name assigned to God the Father; Son Ahman, Christ, was described as being the greatest of the parts of God; Sons Ahman, man, were the next greater of the parts of God; and lastly, angels or Angloman were, in their turn, the next greater of the parts of God (1855, 2:342). Note the similar sense in these words from Monroe: "The spectrum of consciousness ranges, seemingly endlessly, beyond time-space into other energy systems. It also continues 'downward' through animal and plant life, possibly into the subatomic level. Everyday human consciousness is active commonly in only a small segment of the consciousness continuum" (p. 100). "Most important, let the Human Mind of you seek out, experience, and add to your flow of consciousness where and when you encounter it" (p. 90). There is a difference between the visions Young and Monroe, respectively, have of the influence humans can have on the Earth Life System. First Monroe: "Your Human Mind has a natural and normal proclivity to try to make things in the Earth Life System much the way it is accustomed to in the There. History is full of such attempts, but in the end the system always wins. An edge may have been frayed, but the predator animalism simply comes back, sometimes a bit smarter than before, and takes over. That does not mean you don't try in your human mind expression, and it is possible you may change a part of it, but you will never change it all. If you did manage a complete overhaul, the system wouldn't and couldn't exist. Yet who knows how much longer it will exist anyway?" (p. 91) Contrast this pessimism with the optimism of Young, who is looking for, and believes in the inevitability of, a return of the Earth to Paradisiacal glory: "Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away" (1852, 1:203). ITEM 3: RELIGION: GATEWAY OR HINDRANCE? It goes without saying that Mormonism, claiming to be the only true church, and the only route to salvation, is not negative on religion. Mormonism teaches that its purpose is to bring human beings to a knowledge of Christ, to teach them to live in obedience to Christ's commandments, the greatest of which is love, and thus to "save" them into an everlasting life as a divine being among Divine Beings. The existence of Divine Beings, God, is affirmed by Mormonism: Brigham Young was taught a doctrine later expounded on by a Mormon apostle named Brigham H. Roberts, the doctrine of "the ONE GOD, though made of many." Young touched on this subject in a Feb. 8, 1857 discourse approvingly cited by Roberts ("The Mormon Doctrine of Deity" 1903 p.263): "He is a being of the same species as ourselves: he lives as we do, except the difference that we are earthly, and he is heavenly. He has been earthly, and is of precisely the same species of being that we are. Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider our Heavenly Father, or not, is a considerable mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is of no matter whether we are to consider him our God, or whether his Father, or his Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species." This contrasts sharply, perhaps, with Monroe's declaration that there is no God in the sense that religions, which he calls "belief systems" have invented and defined such beings. I say perhaps because in the end even Monroe waxes eloquent about an original Designer whom he would like to meet someday, who is very remote to our plane, yet from whom emanate the universe and all that therein is: "So I have to make one more run, to the other end of the circle. I know what it is . . . to move the other way on the Interstate, not out but in. If I use my quick~switch phasing and the skip, both of them . . . and I move swiftly in . . . past the I-There clusters they are gone . . . past the Belief System Territories they wink out . . . past the blue planet . . . and watch as it reverts to a ring of dust . . . everything moves, everything moves . . . going against the flow again, following back to where it began . . . a huge flower of particles and light folding back together . back into a beam . a beam . . . get into it, move with it . . can I stand it? It is so strong. "and there it is . . . the Emitter! No, there was no big bang . . it came from the Emitter . . the creation of the hologram . . and there it is, the return flow off to one side . . a cycle . . . a closed loop . . . a circle! Now I know . . now I know!" (P. 219) "Even if it all can be replicated eventually, I would like to meet the Original Designer. Once." (P. 222) It seems a bit facile to say that Monroe has discovered God, finally! The Interstate that he refers to is a clever word describing the path of the spirit out of this system into the source of things. The phasing language refers to his method of moving along this path. The belief system territories are places where people are drawn to because of their shared religious beliefs, they are dead end destinations off the interstate to which we will return momentarily. First, however, it would be good to finish Monroe's thought regarding this great discovery at the origin of all: "The physical universe, including the whole of humankind, is an ongoing creative process. There is indeed a Creator. Who or what this Creator is lies beyond the Emitter and the Aperture, and I have not been there. Therefore, that part I do not know. Not yet. All I have is the overwhelming experience in the ray near the Emitter, and of the evolving creative process as it takes place in this world and in myself." (P. 224) After this observation, he engages his left brain, his intellect, and translates the experience into a Known for himself (he lets the reader know this is only for himself, if others believe him that is fine, but it is only a Known for someone that has the same experience): "The human mind-consciousness has speculated for aeons as to our Creator beyond that Aperture. I have not been able to engage in this for reasons I now recognize. Because of the continuing use of the label of "God" in a myriad variations, I had resisted any attempt at identification in any descriptive form. The discoloration and misconceptions would be too great. Now I know why I had resisted. The same applies to the word "spiritual" and many other commonly used terms" (p. 224). Monroe then states that he also knows that this Creator is not the worship- demanding, rewarding, punishing and interfering God of religion (pp. 224-5). Yet has not Brigham Young seen the same vision when he proclaims, perhaps blinded by his belief system and perhaps not, that there is a continuous flow of intelligence emanating "from the inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and truth," (1856, 3:355) the Divine Source, that cascades through living beings in a continuous creative process so that if they will but hearken to whatever small portion impinges upon them from moment to moment, they will grow in intelligence. This is essentially Young's definition and purpose of human life . . . "intelligent beings organized to receive a great amount of intelligence -- seeking to possess eternal life." (1860, 8:136) Thus, the creative process in us and in the universe is ongoing, forever, under the tutelage of the Being that Young calls the "Father of Light"(1852,1:90): "When the Spirit of revelation from God inspires a man, his mind is opened to behold the beauty, order, and glory of the creation of this earth and its inhabitants, the object of its creation, and the purpose of its creator in peopling it with his children. He can then clearly understand that our existence here is for the sole purpose of exaltation and restoration to the presence of our Father and God, where we may progress endlessly in the power of godliness. After the mind has thus been illuminated, the ignorance and blindness of the great mass of mankind are more apparent. Yet there is no son or daughter of Adam and Eve but what has incorporated in their organization the priceless gem of endless life, for the endless duration and endless lives which they are approaching." (1862, 9:256) Similarly: "the influence of the Almighty, enlightening his mind, giving instructions to the understanding. When that which inhabits this body, that which comes from the regions of glory, is enlightened by the influence, power, and Spirit of the Father of light, it swallows up the organization which pertains to this world. Those who are governed by this influence lose sight of all things pertaining to mortality, they are wholly influenced by the power of eternity, and lose sight of time. All . . . that pertains to this organization, which is in any way independent of that which came from the Father of our spirits, is obliterated to them, and they hear and understand by the same power and spirit that clothe the Deity, and the holy beings in His presence." (1852, 1:90; see also 1853, 1:241) Finally, these types of revelations are ineffable: hard to convey to others: "When the vision of the mind is opened, you can see a great portion of it, [the principle being illuminated] but you see it comparatively as a speaker sees the faces of a congregation. To look at, and talk to, each individual separately, and thinking to become fully acquainted with them, only to spend five minutes with each would consume too much time, it could not easily be done. So it is with the visions of eternity; we can see and understand, but it is difficult to tell." (1854, 2:90; see also 1853, 1:115) I cited these Youngian pronouncements at some length because to me it appears that Monroe has a similar reaction: after his vision he decries the ignorance of the masses caught up in belief systems that make a caricature out of the Creator whose presence he has experienced. In addition, he sees now that the meaning of it all has something to do with his eternal destiny, and decries his utter inability to give his new knowledge to anyone else: "Most important, I realized that no words I could write or speak, no music I could compose, would be able to transfer fully such Knowing to another human mind. As a belief it might be possible, but not as a Known. This could come only through direct individual experience. How to provide this was the essential item. "Then I became aware that the process of transfer was two-thirds completed-in place and operating within the learning system we had devised at our Institute. "First I had to ascertain why there was a need to help this transfer to others. I recalled my meeting with the nameless great being near the Aperture. I was incomplete, I had been told. I was too "small." There was not "enough" of me. And I knew nothing of the "gifts" that were to accompany me through the Aperture." (P. 225) "It was the Basic; the collection and unification of the "parts," not only the errant and missing ones in my own I-There, but the parts of the entire I-There cluster to which I am bonded. I have no idea how many others are in the cluster. It may be thousands or hundreds of thousands. "Why is there this need for total unification? So that we can become truly One. Complete, and with a multitude of gifts of experience and love. Then we as a totality can wink out and pass through the Aperture. "And what then? The answer is unknown." (Pp. 226-227) The similarities are striking, to me, but the differences are even more striking and go to the heart of two very different visions of the ultimate purpose and destiny of life. But before this subject is addressed, there needs to be a discussion of the rescuing that Monroe did, and in my citations so far there have been hints of it, in the space along his spirit Interstate near the Earth. END OF PART ONE
Link to Second Part of My Comments on "Ultimate Journey"