Monthly Archives: July 2009

Deep Inside: The Books of the Dead, Part 1

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Insubstantially, as if a mere apparition, I rise up from my slumber. Above my breathing body, gazing downward, I am aware of my incorporeal existence but unaware of what awaits me. I decide to allow this dream to unfold without my own intervention and to simply observe events as they occur.

I remain prone and am borne upward into an alabaster chamber filled with white-robed attendants. Because I am not taking conscious control of the dream, I am filled with curiosity and eager anticipation. And even though I am in a roomful of men whose attention is focused upon me, I feel palpable sensations of utter calm and fearlessness. I wonder what is going to happen next.

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Attended to with meticulous care, at times, I simply float above the congregation and at other times I am being carried along through brilliant architectural passageways, everywhere bright and suffused with beams of golden light.

I am being prepared for some mysterious ritual, the nature of which I am unaware. Still lying prone, moving and being moved from chamber to chamber, I am anointed, dressed in golden robes, and surrounded by a saffron glow.

Moving throughout the lambent maze of passageways and tunnels, I have time to reflect upon my situation. Slowly it becomes clear – I am involved in an after-death experience. This ritual is not one of entombment but of moving upward and outward from what must have been a burial chamber. The thought that I have died is curiously devoid of emotion; it is simply a way of describing this particular state of consciousness. Quickly now, the brilliance of the surrounding light increases exponentially and I am bathed in the full warmth and luminance of the sun. I float freely in this in transparent space, content in the knowledge that I have arrived at the end and the beginning of infinite journeys…

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Clear that my dream life and my waking life are the same path, I decide to awaken and contemplate my dream from a wakeful point of view. The notion of being lucid and aware of my dreaming while making a conscious decision not to control its direction is novel and exhilarating. It allows me to proceed through a dreamworld with an interest in simply observing what happens. I find I am thrilled the experience holds no hint of fear. Indeed, having no interest in controlling the lucid-dream experience gives me a heightened sense of anticipation for what lies ahead…

 

 

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First Image: Tullio DeSantis, “What Happens When We Die,” ink drawing, 2007.

Second Image: Sacred Texts of Egypt

Third Image: Dalai Lama quote used at Budge Translation site for
Tibetan Book of the Dead

YouTube Video: Stephen Laberge – Lucid Dreaming p3

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Dreaming makes it so…

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My dream work began in earnest the day Keith Haring died. That night, I dreamed we met and continued the last conversation we had before his death. It was a lucid dream – I knew I was dreaming. And so the dream content included my observations regarding the oneiric nature of the experience and our discussion of the opportunities it provided us to further the philosophical dialog we conducted during his brief lifetime. Additionally, dream meetings would allow us to continue the metaphysical art project we initiated in the mid-1980s.

Subsequently, I began a systematic study of the scientific and philosophical literature relating to the dream state. And the unusual experience of the dream that occurred the day Keith died gave me added incentive to delve deeply into the nature of lucid dreaming. I researched the historical literature of East and West focusing on dreams and especially lucid dreams and I employed techniques ranging from meditation and self-hypnosis to the experimental techniques used by Stephen LaBerge, of Stanford University and the Lucidity Institute.

 

 

The results of the first phase of this work and the initial series of dream encounters with Keith Haring are recorded in Reading Lies Dreaming. And the most recent and continuing episodes of this activity are being documented here, in ARTology.

The dreams continue, of course, as do my ongoing efforts to explore and document the territory linking the states of consciousness involved in what appears to me to be the singular experience described by the three words, “life, dreams, and death.”

This work allows me to connect art and life, learning and teaching, living and dying in a manner that unifies my experience in ways similar to those who experience their universe through scientific or religious points of view. What appeals to me about this particular path, however, is that it requires no particular system of belief. It is simply an exploration – an experience, if you will.

And this is why I can share it so easily with you.

 

 

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Image: Tullio DeSantis, “Asia 7, Thailand,” 1998.

Lucid Dreams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASf55cov5F8

Stephen Laberge – Lucid Dreaming p2:

Lucid Dreaming references:

http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=1G1GGLQ_ENUS305&q=lucid+dreaming&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g10

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucid_dreaming

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You are Here Now

Now your eyes are here on this page. Your long arrival began with the elements of ancient stardust aggregating within our galaxy. Eons of electrochemical transformation evolving toward a living impulse coursing through millennia and generations brought you forth in a moment of human birth.

 

 

The just-born version of you is truly who you are –no less than the more fully cognizant you whose eyes are on this page in this moment. The early you was not aware of your name, your country of origin, or other externally descriptive categories.

Consciousness – inner awareness – our most central sensation is an undefined interiorized experience of being momentarily present in an environment (a “world”) – a time, a place, and an entity having the experience.

Upon rigorous examination however – and this includes the deepest and most ancient forms of meditative self-awareness and the most recent results of neuro-anatomical studies of the human brain and the brains of other animals – there is no locus of consciousness. In other words, there is no central place in the brain where a conscious entity resides.

Consciousness is a distributed system. It is seen to arise from many brain and body areas – all contributing to the emergent sense of self within us. In other words, there is no little person inside of us who is actually seeing, hearing, or feeling our experiences. There is no central screening room where these sensations appear as integrated singular awareness.

What happens inside our heads is that billions of neurons fire in astoundingly complex patterns. In mutual vibration, they can be described as a resonant system, in which the entire system generates a sensation of being conscious – even while each individual member (neuron) is not a conscious entity. Similarly, there is no specific organ, location, or axis containing a separate ego or self.

The brain is a virtual reality engine and it is also a belief generator. It creates the illusion of seamless experience from a relatively small number of discrete and disconnected inputs. Ordinary dreams confirm this illusion of an experienced world as totally transparent – indistinguishable as a created virtual experience. This can be directly observed in special states of dreaming, called lucid dreams – dreams where the brain observes itself to be experiencing a dreamed world as “real,” even while comprehending its fictitious nature.

 

 

The so-called “real world” we inhabit is, in fact, a simulation. As with other subjective virtual experiences, it is – and for the most part remains – totally transparent to our scrutiny. It appears, for most purposes to be quite solid, verifiable, and “real.”

 

 

The Rubber Hand Illusion illustrates how the brain creates virtual realities which can remap such deeply ingrained sensations as the physical feeling of our own bodies. Our body image illusions can extend to include even the “phantom hand” or “phantom leg” syndrome, which occurs when a patient with an amputated body part continues to experience sensation in the lost limbs. This attribute of body simulation allows us to remap our fingertips, for example, onto a pair of pliers. In fact, all use of tools depends on the brain’s ability to recreate our body images to include and locate the tools themselves within our body map.

It takes very little “evidence” for humans to believe in abstractions, simulations, illusions, and virtual experiences as if they are “reality.” We generate beliefs and belief systems spontaneously and – by definition – transparently. It is just this quality of transparency that characterizes a “belief” as an unquestioned, assumed-to-be-actual reality.

Modern physics and more recently, quantum physics, have been de-materializing our ideas about the universe for decades. According to the accumulated evidence, we live within a matrix of multidimensional simulation spaces inside infinitely tunneling series of virtual universes – all constructed of probabilistic energy fluctuations and virtual particles.

Understanding that we choose our reality from among an infinity of possibilities is a most potentially liberating experience. From this perspective, the fact that your eyes are on this page at this precise moment is an incomprehensibly miraculous event!

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THE WONDER OF YOU: Deepak Chopra

LUCID DREAMS: Stephen Laberge – Lucid Dreaming p1

RUBBER HAND ILLUSION: New Scientist Video

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Consciousness Reference: The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self, by Thomas Metzinger, Basic Books, 2009.
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