When I first read Robert A. Monroe’s Far Journeys some months ago, the book sent me reeling back into an examination of my own “knowings”--so much so that I couldn’t get down to the business of seriously reviewing the book. I found myself still reverberating from its impact, still testing it against my own experiences.
Now, enough time seems to have passed, and if I seem to be making too much of this task, share with me--at this stage--the insight that Monroe’s book is an undoubtedly seminal work in a field of vast, though still largely unrecognized, importance. What we’re looking at is a Way Through, a technical access that allows us to lift barriers to other states of consciousness and report back--a glimpse, if you like, under the veil of Isis.
The arena of out-of-body experience, or OOBEs, runs afoul of virtually all the taboos that the human race has been able to conjure over these last 200,000 years of relative darkness. To the scientifically-minded, OOBEs represent the unrepeatable (let alone unthinkable!)--plus there’s no way of checking them except by trusting the participants’ reports. Religions, especially of the “organized” kind, have invariably discouraged out-of-the-body work. Too individual, too uncontrollable--this, in spite of most of the roots of religious movements being grounded in visions or revelations that could equally well be described as OOBEs!
Traveling out-of-the-body can be seen as the very edge of the known; the interface between the visible and invisible realms; the place in which each of us finally, once and for all, gets to discover that we are not alone; the realm in which our faith and belief in other sentient beings turns into a sure knowledge of “otherness.” Monroe writes about his program of 3,000 test subjects:
The individual, of his own accord, without suggestion but through direct experience, begins to know, rather than believe, that he does survive physical death...survival beyond physical death is not a belief system, therefore, but a simple fact as natural as being born.
This is the truth of it, and the general understanding and acceptance of this reality marks the Great Transformation from the long, dark winter of ignorance to the Light of our greater value as participants in the Divine Game.
Back in 1958, when Monroe spontaneously started leaving his body, he admits to being terrified. When the experience recurred, he tells us, he “was filled with panic-driven visions of brain tumors and oncoming insanity”--which led to the explorations outlined in his earlier book, Journeys Out of the Body. Western medicine has no explanations for his unfortunate complaint--for which we can be profoundly grateful, since it was the classification of “minor hallucinatory dysfunction” that propelled Monroe to seek to understand what he was experiencing.
I’m grateful too, since it was just about that date that I first found myself leaving my body. In my sleep, I kept “waking up” to pneumatic drills battering the inside of my skull. One night, I stilled my panic long enough to look around and found myself sitting up in my physical--but still supine--body. Leaving it, I floated across the room, passed through the closed door, down four flights of stairs and into the empty street, only then to realize my nakedness and hurtle back into my body in adolescent shame.
Monroe’s first book was essential for me, as for so many others who wrote him with thanks for “the reassurance that they were not mentally deranged, were not so much alone after all with their ‘closet’ secret experience that they could not explain, and, most important, that they were not necessarily candidates for the psychiatric couch or mental hospital.”
It’s now hard for us to recall how unacceptable this subject was back in the super-materialistic late ‘50s, when parapsychology had little data on OOBEs, religions continued to see the work of the Devil, and the Eastern disciples insisted on submission to their gurus. Monroe and the rest of us had nowhere to turn but inward, and his first book became part of the wave of progressive illumination that has changed the World Mind so profoundly in a mere 25 years.
By the early ‘70s, however, Monroe had reached the limit of what he’d set out to explore in that first phase. He’d satisfied his basic curiosity, discovered he could travel safely to locations outside his body which coincided to some degree with consensus reality, admittedly had some shocks along the way, but knew by this time that all was well. His explorations of the lower and mid-astral realms left him capable, balanced, but...bored! He maintains that only when he dedicated his decision-making process over to his “total self” (soul?) did his era of entirely new OOBEs begin.
And for us the readers, a strong clue emerges as we start to appreciate the recurrent theme of self-determination. Monroe’s experiences show how really important it is to directly ask for what we want. The Universe--at least on these more subtle levels--works on a need-to-know basis; so if we can form the correct question, we are invariably led to the next step in our development.
In fact, Monroe’s book acts as a supremely useful primer in showing us how to flex our fledgling spiritual muscles. All the way through, hints are dropped with great subtlety by the invisible levels with which Monroe works. Often the clues are coded into “channeled” messages. Sometimes those hints are hidden among wholly idiosyncratic personal visions; but for those ready for it, the information is here.
Hemi-Sync, Monroe’s electronic device for inducing altered states, is credited with the ability to provide the portal to other levels of consciousness. Its development paralleled the interest he was getting from his readership and other intrigued people. The trial and error must have been tremendous--he speaks of some 60,000 individual sessions for over 30,000 people.
Bit by bit, he establishes a matrix within which the work can progress, a language that describes the essentially ineffable states. “Focus 10,” for example, is a state of awareness in which the body is asleep and the mind awake. His volunteers learn to access this state and move from one secure signpost to another until “the body,” that old donkey, is totally assured that it is safe. Significantly to most Near-Death Experiencers, Monroe’s subjects started locating a pinpoint of light within their visual fields. This access opened into a tunnel through which we all go to reach the Source.
Since Hemi-Sync functions by balancing the brain’s left and right hemispheres, it seems natural that Monroe Would have observed a great deal in this extremely fertile area of research. His findings, too, are consistent with the best information on the non-dominant hemisphere’s potential capabilities. He credits the right brain as “the originator of ideas, spatial sense, intuition, music, emotion, and probably much more than we now realize. It is timeless, apparently with a language all its own.” Equally, he observes that as a culture, “we have generally regarded right-brain thinking with amused tolerance, suspicion, disgust, irration, distrust, and awe.” Don Juan, the Yagui sage, would not have disagreed.
Monroe doesn’t diminish the significance of these two primary states of consciousness, seeing perfectly clearly that from this stage on, our examinations could well focus on the potential of the right hemisphere and its implicit multidimensionality. His success with Hemi-Sync seems to be a mix of both sides of the brain into a third, balanced, and creative alternative. In such a way, Monroe meets with the Trinity Effect, a recurrent but heavily coded theme throughout the book.
By all accounts, Hemi-Sync has a wide field of application, from pain control to rapid healing, to surgical anesthesia, to all manner of consciousness juggling. Imagine it--a mechanical way into the mystical realms! It is also an excellent learning tool, with statistics suggesting improvement in motor skills of 30% to 75%. It is even good for jet lag.
But lest we get carried away by the technical possibilities, Monroe is quick to point out that the technology flourishes when it is applied to more natural, easy-going “targets of opportunity”--a reminder to us from the other levels: Easy does it, every time.
By the time the author gets to describing his encounters with his dead friend Roy, it is evident that the recently deceased can take great pleasure in communicating with the living. The story is hilarious and is further significant in that it didn’t happen in one of those little ten-by-eight-foot sleeping booths, but out there in the “real” world. Indeed, one fascinating aspect of Monroe’s explorations is that there inevitably seems to be a matching of the inner and outer. His down-to-earthiness has enabled him to see and say much that most of us have hitherto amnesed away. And so, reading this book has the effect of making us remember things we have known and seen. Perhaps it is merely such a strong sense of familiarity that we know the truth when we feel it.
The story of Roy, an enthusiastic poker player who sticks around for a few games after dying has, I find, the effect of jogging some deep racial memory. It all feels so normal and everyday, as though we’d simply forgotten that nobody ever really dies and that we are all citizens, however multidimensional, of a vast and loving Universe.
Fascinating, too, to read how Monroe and his subjects stumble on life in the Universe. His early Explorer teams, picked from the large number of volunteers as being most adept at leaving their bodies, find the galaxy totally bleak and barren. They lope around spotting nothing and nobody until--and once again, it’s on a need-to-know basis--they formally express their desire for:
help and cooperation, the assistance, the understanding of those individuals whose wisdom, development, and experience are equal to or greater than my own. I ask their guidance and protection from any influence or any source that might provide me with less than my stated desires.
At that point, Monroe tells us, almost all the volunteers began meeting discarnate entities. It’s a tricky business, because you don’t really “see” them as such. In fact, other entities are generally reported as hooded or cowled until their presence is clearly discernible to the subject--at which point they aren’t seen anymore, but merely felt.
More hints here. The Game becomes clearer: It is evidently about emotional feeling and the increasingly subtle levels of feeling that are now becoming available to us. Contrary to the hardware approach of more conventional extraterrestrial research (e.g., Carl Sagan and S.E.T.I.), we find that these more subtle levels of being encourage us to refine our emotional response-ability. Bill--one of Monroe’s nonphysical friends--tells him, “The big game is to control and develop this emotional energy to its most effective condition, which is vaguely set by us humans as love, until we graduate.” Thus the manner and the degree of wholeheartedness with which we choose to live out our lives leads very directly to our contact with these more subtle levels of being. They are al interwoven, as one might hope of a superbly designed system.
The early volunteers all pointed to the same conclusions. “Emotional feeling is the only perceptual tool that I am able to use to sense beyond the illusion,” says one of them, clearly showing us the need for refining our emotional feelings as perceptual tools. The process Monroe sets out for us is no more escapism, and what emerges through the book is thoroughly encouraging. Throughout are plentiful signs that affirm for me my own positive experience of the Universe as a benign and loving place, though happily not without its challenges. What is written between the lines suggests that Monroe and his volunteers have enrolled in more advanced university courses and, further, that the two primary levels of consciousness--consensus and OOBE--can help and complement each other in far more profound ways that hitherto thought possible.
Of course, the whole setup--waterbeds, isolation, all that electronic equipment--turned out to be ideal for mediumistics, too. The author can only plant the seeds of what must be an incredibly potent supply of channeled material, but what he does print is of great value to the researcher in this field.
When the volunteers were capable, it seems, they were tripped out into learning spaces, each appropriate to their calling. A psychiatric counselor gets some great counseling from the other levels; a physicist talks physics to a young woman in another reality, eager to communicate but seemingly disinterested or disbelieving in physics; a social service executive meets his discarnate “overseer...responsible for my growth and development”; an office manager finds herself literally managed--lifted out of her body by four discarnate helpers!
As often as not, while the Explorers were away, discarnates must have taken the opportunity to speak through their bodies. Some first-rate channeled material is the result, each piece naturally reflecting the interests and vocabulary of the particular Explorer. For anyone with A Course in Miracles background or even a bent for The Urantia Book, it’s deeply enheartening to fins a physicist talking in terms of physical reality making more sense as the daydream or the thought of a higher consciousness. For those with a background in the Seth Material, all beings appear multidimensional, and there are frequent references to living more than one life simultaneously. Furthermore, there are even some references in the descriptions of the levels of consciousness and their sentience that resonate with the Diagram of Transformation of the Seven-Souled World, certainly another gift from those levels [see the Autumn 1985 Metapsychology, page 79]. Thus the Explorer material is valuable if only to show how flexible our belief systems need to be to sustain our plunge into the unknown.
Not all the visions have become fully integrated, and perhaps because their approach is somewhat scientific, Explorers grope for metaphors that are by nature more poetic. We all do as best we can! There’s also some rather unsatisfactory speculations that inadvertently underline the fact that we are never going to get a single, ready-made, or complete answer to any of these major issues, nor any single document that describes the overall situation. Lest the fascination of these illusions get the better of us, Monroe points a wonderfully familiar Voice.
Biblical or no, this Presence lights up The Starseed Transmissions and Ken Carey’s latest work, Visions, as well as much of revelatory literature. It trains us to hear the Word and is certainly worth reproducing here in part:
Blessed are those who seek me. In seeking me, their long period of forgetfulness is coming to an end. They are awakening to who they truly are--a living part of me, manifesting life and radiating love.
There are countless numbers who live in the expectancy of my coming. In truth, I never left. Let him who has ears...
You seek me amidst your blindness. You look upon me without recognition. You touch my hand and know not whom you have touched.
You proclaim my name and teachings as it suits you and the occasion. awaken, behold the reality of my being that is among you.
I am the earthquake, wind, and fire.
I am the still small voice piercing the thunderous tumult.
I am the peace beyond all understanding.
I am the light that guides all men to the Father.
I am the love that overcometh all things.
I am the light that illumines the minds of men. I am the sustenance of men’s souls. I am your life, and you are my own.
I am the very breath you breathe....
Do not despair. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, not can you truly forsake me, for we are one.
Do not look for me in the form of a man. The time is not yet. But look for me in the life that speaks to you in your everyday activities. You have looked amiss.
I have no limitations and am not bound by physical dimensions. I defy logic and am beyond your conceptual imaginings.
I live and move and have my being in all there is...My countenance is seen within each face of my Father’s creation. Look upon your brother and see my face.
Bend over a still pool...The image you see reflected is my own....
Learn of me. Take within your hand a leaf, a stone, a drop of water, and know that nothing exists that does not contain me.
Far Journeys is very wisely drawn from a variety of input, the first half being mainly the reports of the Explorers. In the second part of the book, Monroe literally takes off. He shifts to top gear and opens up a fresh and marvelous cosmological vision. Although much of it reads like a novel, it resonates in some deeply familiar way with my own experiences, now mainly amnesed.
Telepathy or NVC (nonverbal communication; Monroe rightly expands our appreciation of what telepathy really means) “is direct, instant experience and/or immediate knowing, transmitted from one intelligent energy system and received by another...All other intelligent species use NVC.”
This allows us to fuller appreciation of the capabilities of any species that can consciously use NVC, as well as underscoring once again how this area lies on the borderline of the known. The quantum leap of consciousness we are all taking becomes clearer as we read of some of the abilities of these intelligent lifeforms whose interests seem so focused on human beings.
Their technology is certainly benign. They can move at will in and out of bodies and realities. The entire history of humankind appears to be available to them in the most minute detail.
Monroe tells us, “this technology can produce a beam of energy, which is first translated as light, through which the human energy essence can travel back and forth, information can flow, and the operators of such technology can enter time-space/earth environments.”
As I write this, I have a spontaneous recall of two figures of light that hovered just behind and to either side of me when I was taken out of my body in 1973. Monroe’s talk of advanced technology brings back to mind my standing with those two on a hill overlooking a wide green plain. In the middle stood an immense structure, an utterly beautiful paean to a technology so advanced I could scarcely conceive it. I too must have come across sacred places such as Monroe describes, and his thoughtful analysis helps me remember more fully the astonishing experience of being out on those levels.
With the authenticity of his vision established in a deep way, does a basic scenario emerge from these explorations? In part answer to this, Monroe dives back into his body from yet another encounter with the intelligent Universe and reports, in one of his more poetic revelations:
For those who would die, there is life.
For those who would dream, there is reality.
For those who would hope, there is knowledge.
For those who would grow, there is eternity.
And after acknowledging the complex and rugged curriculum of being human, he assures us on talking with those who have passed through the experience.
Among...those I encountered, there was not one who would not repeat the in-human learning system again and again, no matter how many times-- knowing the indescribably magnificent result. My fleeting glimpses support totally this perspective.
And then I recalled what had struck me so powerfully when first reading Far Journeys, what had discombobulated me so thoroughly that I couldn’t even dwell on the book my first time through. It was a particular scenario that Monroe had been shown while in an out-of-body state, and I suppose it is something we humans have to look at squarely at least once in our lives. I found myself as stunned and horrified by what Monroe calls his “loosh rote” as he himself was when it was unrolled for him. Suffice it to say that the loosh rote appears to be a cold and heartless historical overview in which the only matter of any significance is the harvesting of loosh, an energy byproduct of strong emotions, and most readily culled at death. In short, we are what eats us!
There objectivity of the description was thoroughly detached, and so distant it was almost cynical--yet simply because of the belief system’s effect on me, it must have a certain amount of truth to it on some level of awareness. For Monroe, it took several months to recover from his “complete cycle of shock, rejection, anger, depression, resignation, and acceptance.” He tells us, “Something was dying in me,” and he found himself having to profoundly reassess his explanation for human behavior and history. It is also a reality that each reader of his book has to move through, since the Universe’s wondrous truths are often hidden behind barriers of fear.
What finally pulled Monroe out of his slump was a direct confrontation with yet another level of Beings, one that addressed him with the courteous “Mister Monroe,” but also seemed to know him as Ashaneen. From them, it becomes apparent that the Game is indeed about love, or loosh, the generation and transmutation of lower feelings into real loving, and the reality that we all carry of being--at least in small part--a holographic shard of the Creator.
An especially good way of describing the process, as these Beings tell us, is “a carefully designed School of compressed learning.” They take Monroe through exactly that, they allow him to make his own grade, but quite evidently steer him into asking for an encounter with the places and Beings whom he felt might be ripping off his loosh in the first place. Somewhat hesitantly, Monroe agrees and is thrown into a maelstrom of such wondrous and brilliant joy, awe and reverence that he has to learn very rapidly how to master not being torn to shreds by such power.
In such charming touch, one of his new discarnate guides becomes a smoked-glass shield through which Monroe can somewhat control his involuntary awe (which seems to be another quirk of the physical body) and studies the place most nearly described as “heaven, or the final home.” He reaches out his hand to touch part of a continuous cascade of rays of pure loosh and is immediately transported into a field of total knowing: “I knew and, in knowing, knew that I would forget if I tried to remember, because what I was could not handle the reality of it.”
Which brings us back to the central issue: We sorely need to nurture our capacity for subtle feeling. At a certain point of individual development, this growing process can be accelerated by an awareness of other levels of consciousness and by applying it to ways of deepening the human experience. It seems that only this can we prepare for the experience of these other levels of consciousness--an encounter which, when it occurs, can remind us of how very provincial our Universe-constructs are likely to be.
Monroe is congratulated on his initial exposure: “Your human loosh/energy/love,” his guides tell him, “is transmuted into what you call rays, to the points where it is needed most.” They continue by reassuring him that they don’t know either where the state or place comes from. “It was created. It was always there.” And lest he become unduly worshipful to them, they add that they too “are created, just as you were created.”
And this, of course, points up the full absurdity of the view commonly held by both dominating culture-blocks on the planet: that we are alone, a cosmic accident putting out longing feelers to see if there’s anyone out there, condemned to isolation by the limitations of out convictions. All this is swept away by the familiarity of the encounters described in Far Journeys.
Suddenly it becomes real to us! It is simply because we have forgotten: We have all forgotten who we are and why we are here.
Thus the function of a book like Far Journeys takes on another dimension. It is here to further awaken us, and it does so with great elegance, humor, and with the excitement of a first-rate adventure story. As we awaken, we find that the larger perspective is almost completely the reverse of the dreadful isolation we had believed in while we were asleep. Not only are we not alone, but out little planet--and in particular, our peculiarly human consensus-reality--appears to be the focus of an enormous amount of interest.
Monroe’s discarnate friends call this “the gathering.” Countless entities traveling from other energy systems are here to witness the Big Show--a rare event, this, occurring once every 87 million years and focusing upon “the possible birth of a new energy.” For us down here, it will be a period of danger and opportunity, but most significantly, “it will offer human consciousness a rare potential to emerge rapidly into a unified intelligent energy system.”
Within this splendid vision, each of us has a part to play. By all accounts, a human body is hard to come by these days, which makes us even more astonished at the privilege of having one when we wake up. In Far Journeys, there are some undertones of possible pessimism as to whether we’ll be able to get through the Eye of the Needle, with Monroe’s omniscient guides telling him that if we indeed mess up, they’d simply go off somewhere and start the action again “on another planet in time/space, with some new humans.” But it’s hard to imagine we are really going to fail--so much has gone into the Great Transformation, and many are now saying that critical mass has been reached and that we are through the worst. Only time will tell.
This book made a profound impact on me. It affirmed many inner knowings; it honed down for me the bullshit factor inevitable in all of belief systems; it jibed with experiences I’ve had and am having; and did what all profoundly real documents do--it entered into the foundation of my soul and allowed me a new and more coherent vision of my Self, myself, and the reality I create.
Far Journeys is one of the furthest journeys, outside or inside, that I’ve taken in a while, and like a fine substance--or, indeed, loosh itself--it’s going to give and take much joy to assimilate. Onwards and inwards!
©1986 Timothy Wyllie