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Experience of the subtle realms: Contents page

Chapter 4. Openings between the worlds

My experiences of openings between this world and the other are mixed: some are very ambiguous, very much as if; others much less so.  By an opening I mean a situation in this world which seems to provide special access to the other. 

1.  The horizon

When I look at the physical horizon – the actual zone in my visual field between the earth and the sky – it is as if my awareness goes through that area of physical space and extends into far-reaching akasha,  the other universe within and beyond this one.  What I apprehend in this way is inchoate, unfocused, vague, but unmistakable in its subtle expansive effect on consciousness.

I notice the effect anywhere, but especially on tropical or sub-tropical beaches – Sri Lanka, Bali, Yucatan – when I am standing at the water’s edge looking out to the hori­on between sea and sky.  And sometimes in such a setting, the effect is particularly potent in one quite precise direction.

Thus standing once on the north coast of Yucatan, I could pivot round slowly on the same spot on the beach, with my right forearm and hand projecting out horizontally from my body, and locate precisely the compass bearing of the most potent other world opening on the horizon.

What opens up at such a point is the awareness of a vastly expansive inner space, a subtle universe porous to consciousness, that provides the backdrop, the ground, the potent support of the material universe.  It is not simply a matter of looking out into physical space, but of finding a ‘gap’ at the horizon in which awareness encounters its own kind of luminous interior extension.  ‘Interior’ not in the sense of being subjective and private, but in the sense of being within, behind and beyond the whole panorama of the visible world.

I do not know why tropical beaches favour this experience more than other places.  It may be some romantic association that aids the effect.  I may be more relaxed and open, and physically warm.  It may be something to do with the actual structure of inner and outer space  in these areas of the earth.

One hypothesis I have about this effect, whether  it occurs in the tropics or anywhere else, is that when you look at the horizon, you are looking along a line and a plane tangential to the earth.  Let us suppose that tangent planes in physical space correspond to zones of influence of formative fields in akashic space; and that such fields support physical forms.  Thus when you look along a tangent plane to the earth, you can more readily access the earth’s formative field and its remote origins in subtle space. This, of course, is pure speculation.  It is the experience itself that is most interesting.

2. Between sleeping and waking

This is a well known gap between the worlds.  It is a psychological and physiological aperture.  The mind and body are relaxed, the autonomic nervous system in the parasympathetic mode. Between the normally unconscious state of sleep and the ordinary conscious waking state there can be access to altered states  and subtle  domains, either by clairvoyance and clairaudience, or through out of the body experiences.

I have commented on out of the body experiences in the previous chapter.  Here  I will consider briefly the unbidden clairvoyance that can occur between sleeping and waking.  It is as if a subtle kind of seeing temporarily breaks through into my ordinary consciousness and I glimpse a landscape or, more rarely, a face.  Sudden vistas of the other world appear, scintillating with clarity. It is as though the brain can for a moment or two respond to a much higher frequency of perception than sense perception.  Janus facing out, while dozing off, suddenly and suprisingly yields to Janus facing in. But the subtle seeing is usually rapidly lost, blotted out by the normal more gross processes of the nervous system.

The blotting out occurs by a quick defensive shock reaction from the neurones,  as though a part of the brain itself is very rapidly flicking the psi switch to the off position.  It is frustrating that I find this immediate shut-down quite uncontrollable.  I stand helplessly by while some cortical tyrant goes about his repressive censorship, at the nub of which I feel there is a habitually congealed fear of being overwhelmed by psi.

It is odd to be so sundered; to be so clearly wanting the spontaneous subtle seeing to continue, and at the same time to be dominated by a sector  of the psychophysical system that finds it intolerable. I know of no internal conflict quite like it. The Janus-brain is caught out, divided against itself.  Its constitutional imbalance is exposed. The part that faces out towards ordinary life has an oppressive intolerance of the part that faces inwards to the other world. But this reflex intolerance can, in other circumstances, be overcome.

For the neural censorship does not occur when, in a fully conscious waking state, I gently and gradually open up clairvoyant perception by specific exercise (section 5, chapter 5).  Then I can often sustain the inner seeing for some time. Yet I must own that such carefully cultivated clairvoyance does not have the sharp clarity of the spontaneous episodes between sleeping and waking. It is the sheer brilliance of these episodes, their unbidden nature, and the fact that I am  totally passive and unprepared when they occur, that puts me face to face with subtle repressive fear.

The source of the fear is not clear to me.  I do not know whether it is some innate biologically programmed defense, built in to ensure that my brain attends to the issues of coping with this world and is not distracted by a bewildering mass of extrasensory perception from the beyond.  In this case, Janus facing out is hedged around with automatic switches that immediately interrupt any relays from Janus facing in.

Or it may be a psychological defense mechanism I have acquired as a child – who learnt very early to repress psi because of its social unacceptability.  Or it may simply be that learning a language causes a denial of psi, because the concepts and belief-systems that come with  mastery of language have no room for it.  Maybe the reflex fear comes from a mixture of all three of these.  It would be good to be clearer about its origins, in order to get some control over it. 

What I see at these breakthrough moments is usually very pleasing and exhilarating:  often trees and treescapes, brilliant in clarity and colour, as if I am looking up at them in the near or middle distance, in some other space; sometimes trees in blossom; sometimes landscapes clearly etched against a bold horizon; sometimes flights of birds win­ing in inner space way above me; occasionally a kindly face; and rarely an ugly face.

There is no ambiguity about having a spontaneous, clear and coloured visual image of an identifiable sort.  The ambiguity attaches to the status of this image.  Is it a very vivid bit of projected imagination, entirely subjective in origin?  Is it an hallucination – conjured up by some mental and physical processes not yet understood, but again purely  subjective? Is it  clairvoyance having reference to a subtle domain that has objective content? 

Is it an imparted visual symbol – popped into the mind by mentors in the other world  in order to convey some message or meaning – but not an actual percept of anything?  Or is it clairvoyance  of an actual  subtle scene, that is also doubling up as a symbolic message?   Or is at an archetypal image, suddenly washed up on the shores of the conscious mind from the collective unconscious?

If I am true to the experience, I would simply say that I am seeing  something out there in a real kind of space, akashic space.  It is the shocking impact of this space and its contents on the Janus-out brain that clearly differentiates it from the subjective space of dreams and imagination – with which Janus facing out has no such difficulty. 

The shock is not because of some powerful personal message being imparted to me symbolically. It is simply the shock of the suddenly realized fact, intrinsically conveyed by the experience, that there is a whole brilliant other world in, up or out, there.  When I unexpectedly encounter this other world in all its fulness, my dominant neurones just cannot take it.

The sceptic may ask how I know it is a world. My simple answer is that worlds, like persons, are what we meet. We know of their existence through the relation of encounter.  The reality is in this relation.  The knowledge is experiential, by acquaintance.

The other possibility I have not mentioned is that the extrasensory perception is not of some scene in another dimension, but of a physical tree or landscape – I am seeing something in this world, but at a distance, without the use of the senses.  This does not apply in my case because what I see meets all the distinctive criteria for extrasensory perception of the other world: the clarity and brilliance; the inherent illumination;  the unusual and distinctive form of things (surprisingly not quite like their physical counterparts); the sense of intimacy to consciousness of the space combined with the essential otherness of its contents; the exhilarating expansion of awareness intrinsic to the space.

One final point.  I can go out of the body and see a subtle realm by visiting it.  Or I can see it simply while lying in bed on the conscious side of sleep. Since these are so very different, one must assume that the latter is clairvoyance at a subtle distance, analogous to clairvoyance of the physical world at a distance.  In neither case  does the experience as such give any obvious indication of the mechanism by which it occurs.

3. The sun

It is painful for the physical eyes to look directly at the sun.  Once I sat on the edge of a wood in Emmsland in West Germany, looking out over a field that rose gently toward a near horizon, above which shone the afternoon sun.  I was sitting in the sunlight, facing the sun,  and wearing a peaked cap pulled down to keep my eyes in the shade.  I turned my eyes down to look at  the field in front of me and focused my attention upwards on the sun in the sky.  

Attending directly to the sun in this way, I notice how powerfully and immediately it provides my consciousness with an opening onto inner space.  It is as if there is a subtle sun within the physical sun.  The sun within is luminous in akashic space and this luminosity commands a vast area of the subtle universe.  The inner sun is sounding all the time, giving off a note,  a comprehensive tone.  And it is itself emerging out of deeper layers of inner space, as if through it the consciousness of these domains is being converted into energy.

The prevailing world view of course has it that the sun is just a ball of fire moving around in the physical space of our galaxy.  One way for anyone to challenge the ‘just a ball of fire’ view, is to do my Emmsland exercise on a day when the sun is out and it is warm but not excessively hot.  As you focus your attention on the sun, go right into its fiery heart in your imagination. Then expand and magnify the contents of that imagery until you start to notice the space within, beyond and behind the fire.

The subtle sun teaches me that consciousness is one and omnipresent, informing manifold dimensions of space and energy. It is an illusory appearance only, that my con­sciousness is somehow restricted to my subjective experience, and to my physical perspective here and now where my body is.  I can learn progressively to expand my awareness and to attune it more and more to the one consciousness everywhere and its diverse, subtle domains.   And I can do this by a simple combination of will, attention and imagination.  Imagination, correctly applied, is an organ of subtle perception. Never discount what at first appear to be only the rarified and slight effects of its disciplined use. 

Central American cultures were preoccupied with the sun.  The Maya in particular were sun-mad, spreading  extraordinary pyramid complexes all over the sun-baked limestone plain of Yucatan.  Here there is no tropical  forest, only low-lying scrub that veils the poverty of the soil.  And the sun beats relentlessly down. 

In my view, the Maya were hooked on the subtle sun, its exhilarating power and energy, its potent impact on mind and body.  It became a dangerous and catastrophic obsession, with endless hearts of sacrificial victims torn out, aristocratic tongues and penises pierced for yet more sacrificial blood.  Maya pyramids today are all still murky with the psychic fall-out of this occult addiction.

I have wandered all over the many Maya sites of Yucatan, up and down and in and out of innumerable pyramids, and I only found one whose subtle space was clear and clean, luminous with subtle light. This is a pyramid at Dzibilchaltun, dating from the earliest Maya settlement of the area.  Archaeologists uncovered it by stripping off the ruins of later pyramids that had been built over it.  It remains a witness to what the early Maya knew and the later Maya perverted.

Yet even in the later period, despite the protracted spiritual corruption, and the autocratic oppression of the masses by an elite, there is something deeply impressive about a whole culture drawing its energy at the interface of the physical sun and the subtle sun.  At Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Labna, Dzibilchaltun, Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum, there was a remarkable aesthetic commitment to living in two worlds at once – and this in the most unpromising terrain.  Baking on the physical limestone, the Maya lived at the same time in a world of akashic power – and put that power to work in remarkable ways.

4. Any single star

I remember sitting on a deserted tropical beach at midnight.  It was at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka. There was no moon, but an absolutely clear revelation of stars.  I lay back on the warm sand, and chose a promising star to concentrate on.

I held my attention on the star for a long time, and visited it in my imagination.  It was like being hypnotised by distant emissaries from another world. I entered different concepts of space, time, reality and being, in terms of a language whose vocabulary and syntax was totally alien to me, deeply disturbing, and inescapably exhilarating.  I knew and yet I did not know the world-view that tumbled over my brain.

I felt slightly insane, and stopped the exercise.  I stood up, fell over, and burst into tears.  I lay sobbing on the sand for an hour.

5. Special locations

Some places in the physical world seem to be more open to the subtle world than other places.  It is as if just by being in a certain physical location you can readily expand your awareness into liberating inner spaces. The outer world is somehow porous, open to the other world, at that spot.   There are several classes of such locations.

Firstly, there are natural openings.  For me, they include (as well as those already mentioned in this chapter): groves of trees on hilltops; mountain tops with panoramas of distant peaks, as, for example, in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies; certain wells, pools, streams surrounded by a grove of trees; some caverns and caves deep in the earth, for example, Carlsbad Caverns in Texas; the edge between a forest or wood and open land; the edge between land and water; any natural configuration that produces an effect like a network, trellis or fretwork – such as the marais in the Ile d’Olonne in the Vendee region of France.

I don’t think this is just aesthetic preference at work, inclining my mind to attune to subtle spaces.  It is more to do with the way in which the energies of the two worlds interact at these points.  And at the same time it is something to do with the symbolism of the natural phenomena; although I do not think symbolism alone is enough to create a special location.

Secondly, there are cultural and social openings.  These include: places made sacred by continuous human ritual and worship; places on the occasion, say, of some musical or dramatic performance; houses and rooms made porous by the modes of being of those who occupy them.  Here it is as if human activity has altered the quality of physical space and energy at a certain place – as though it is less of a veil over, more of a window onto, subtle and liberating inner space.

Thirdly, there are geometric openings, to do with shape, size, angle and proportion. Thus it is as if certain architectural designs directly facilitate openness to the other world.  Similarly with certain types of human gesture and posture, and of spatial relationships between people.  What we are here concerned with, of course, are the abstract properties of space itself, a kind of occult geometry in which certain configurations can expand awareness from this world to the other world  – simply by virtue of their geometric properties.  I shall have more to say about this in Chapter 7, where I write about the doctrine of powers.    

6. Openings in groups

I have run many kinds of groups, in the fields of personal and professional development, in the last two decades.  In these groups I use experiential methods, involving the whole thinking, feeling and choosing person in the learning process.  This experiential approach does seem to create a special class of social opening between the worlds.

The typical opening usually occurs after the group has worked together for some hours: members have taken some risks, become receptive to each other through action-methods, self-disclosure and feedback.  A real climate of togetherness has started to develop.

We are all seated together in a circle, and a moment of silence supervenes.  It is then as if the social, psychological and indeed physical space of the group becomes open to presences in the other world; as if the group as a whole is in silent communion with those in the unseen.  The mood is calm, the air is still.  Subtle energy hovers around.  The group is like a pool, reflecting faces and spaces in another dimension.  It is as though the ancestors, with their vistas of expanded awareness, are amongst us.

Even when I grow Heron’s beard on this ambiguous eperience, it is not entirely clear what this two world togetherness is all about. I often think that the physical members of the twin groups both know and don’t know of the presence of the non-physical members: it is a tacit and subliminal knowing while their minds overtly drift over mundane themes.  They quietly feed on the communion without having the concepts fully to acknowledge that it is occurring.

And yet when I casually make one of my so-called ‘transcendental process comments’ and murmur that it feels as if the ancestors are gathering,  no-one seems particularly surprised.  The comment dissolves harmlessly into the general reverie.

What are the non-physical members doing? Enjoying the togetherness; affirming, supporting, offering energy and inspiration to, the physical members; observing, learning and noticing?  All this seems likely.  Perhaps they are also patiently waiting to be ac  knowledged, to be consciously included in some appropriate way in the activities of the physical members. This takes us back to the dimly felt presences mentioned in Chapter 2.

You may say: what are unsolicited non-physical participants doing hovering around an autonomous human group?  But this begs an interesting question. Is any human group absolutely independent ?  For maybe every human group is at best only relatively so. That is, such a group is always set in the context of what in Chapter 2 I called ‘a passive hierarchy of the second kind’.

Those in the unseen society may make critical decisions that influence the development of human society.  We humans seem to choose independently to hold a group, unaware that unseen plans already set in motion have encouraged us to gather. And unaware too that when we meet we do so inescapably under the subtle auspices of those who have evoked our social creativity. This does not mean that we are mere puppets, our autonomy a total illusion.  It means, rather, that it is relative to an unseen social context that has evocative and sustaining power over it.

The thesis that persons are only persons in relation to other persons has now a vertical as well as a horizontal axis of meaning: autonomous human encounters have as their necessary ground passive hierarchies of the second kind.

Social openings or windows onto presences in the other world seem to occur when the following conditions obtain at the human level.  (1) The persons concerned are both autonomous and co-operative.  (2) They can supportively confront each other as and when appropriate; so they do not collude in unreal relationships.  (3) They can distinguish in action and awareness between authentic, intentional behaviour and compulsive, distress-driven behaviour. (4) They function as whole persons, as thinking, feeling and choosing beings.

When human beings start to express themselves according to these sorts of criteria, then it is as if inescapably their togetherness will have spaces in it that reveals its hidden social ground  in the other world.

7. Between the breaths

Breathing is a very odd process.  It is ambiguous: am I doing it or is it doing me?  It is neither wholly voluntary, nor  wholly involuntary.  It is at the interface between my intentionality and some unknown power.  It is also, of course, a spatial process, the thorax expanding and contracting in three dimensions.

I cannot stop the process of breathing, and I cannot start it, or rather, I did not in any obvious sense start it at my birth.  All I can do is hold the breath in, or hold the breath out, for a short period of time until I just have to let it go on.  If I hold the breath for a shorter period, within my limit of tolerance, then I can choose when to let it go on. But when I thus choose, I don’t originate, cause or generate the process.  I am only in the business of regulating, managing or controlling it.

As well as holding the breath, I can breathe fast or slow, deep or shallow; and when I breathe deep, I can expand different parts of the lung cavity either serially or simultaneously.  I can breathe through my mouth or through my nose, silently or with a variety of different sounds.  But what is the source of the process of breathing? Whence comes the in-breath, and whence comes the out-breath?

It’s no good holding the breath, either in or out, to try to get an answer.  That just temporarily halts the process.  But there is a space between the worlds that gives a glimpse, a hint of origins.  In normal breathing, it is found at the turn of the breath. 

If I attend to the time between the out-breath and the in-breath, it is as if the energy of the in-breath wells up out of subtle or subtle space in the lower abdomen.  And if I attend to the time between the in-breath and the out-breath, it is as if the energy of the out-breath comes from a subtle space in the mid or upper thorax. These subtle events are readily obscured by the more gross physical processes of breathing.  But I can shift my consciousness so that it is as if I am breathing in two worlds at once.

In the physical breathing I am aware of the inhalation and exhalation of air, the expansion and contraction of the thorax and diaphragm.  In the subtle breathing I am aware of a subtle double, pulsing in a subtle universe; as though this pulsing generates the physical breathing process, is the source of it, and sets the limits within which voluntary control operates.

The pulsing of my subtle double seems to have a wider planetary source, very much as if the subtle  double of the earth expands and  contracts.  So my physical breathing is set in the generative context of the pulsing of my subtle body, which in turn is set within  a wider rhythm.  And it seems as though there is differential gearing between the three rhythms so that they can fluctuate in limited independence of each other.

Attending to the breathing thus takes me directly into the world of the subtle matrix of physical phenomena.  The turning of the breath is an immediate opening onto this  matrix of the body and of the planet.  By a  ‘subtle matrix’ I mean a field in inner space that is formative and generative in relation to physical events.

When I am immersed in the experience of subtle breathing, this whole account seems plausible enough. If I examine it intellectually, I am much more sceptical. The subtle experience is highly ambiguous.  What physical correlates can be proposed for the so-called subtle breath of the planet? To explain the source of the physical breath in terms of subtle pulsing only shifts the problem – for whence arises the pulsing?

8. Breathing in

There is a simpler and more accessible ambiguous experience to do with the breath, simpler, that is, than the one just described above. When I breathe in, expanding the abdomen and the whole thorax in one complete and simultaneous enlargement in all directions, it is as if I fill the whole subtle space of the body with subtle energy.

The effect is only noticeable when abdomen and thorax expand fully and together, as if a balloon is filling up.  And there are two balloons, one gross, one subtle.  Air fills the lungs, and free prana, akashic energy, fills the subtle body – all over, not just in the subtle space of the trunk but of the limbs also. Now is this effect just an elaboration of proprioceptive sensation, or is it registered by what I may call subtle-sense?

Perhaps all physical sensation is really a limiting case of a subtle, psi account of the nervous system.  It is experienced in what I call the subtle matrix where the subtle body is most fully identified with the physical body.  Suppose the subtle body is not totally identified with the physical body but partially  transcends it. Then the psi-sense that reports the nervous system will have an ambiguous hinterland that leads over into the psi-sense which goes beyond the nervous system into pure akasha, but which can still be registered in the brain.  So with the in-breath, sensation (psi-sense) of lung events is continuous with the psi-sense of purely subtle energy events.

It may be possible to awaken and train relatively unused parts of the cortex to register psi-sense that transcends the normal reach of physical sensation and perception. Maybe you can start to use the brain to reflect into ordinary consciousness a psi-sense of all sorts of  transcendent  processes – some of which generate physical phenomena, and some of which relate entirely to non-physical domains.  Chapter 5 develops this idea and considers some examples of such transfiguration of ordinary perception.

9. At the edge of the visual field

Let us suppose that this visible universe we know of in everyday life is embedded in another, invisible one which is its ground and origin.  Then we might expect that the unseen universe would only be relatively unseen, that there might be all sorts of apertures between the worlds, affording glimpses and views from one into the other. 

There is one possible opening which, precisely because it is so obvious, yields for me the most ambiguous of all two world experiences. I doubt whether some people ever attend to it at all.  It is the edge of the visual field.  And it is a place where interesting phenomena can occur.

By the edge of the visual field, I mean quite literally the place where, all around the border of physical vision, the perceptual images end.  If you focus your eyes on whatever is in the  middle of the visual field, then you can at the same time notice, attend to, the edge of it: you can practise a kind of global awareness of its somewhat ellipsoid limit.  Or you can, as it were, ‘look’ at the edge.  Sit on a chair and hold you head upright.  Without moving the head cast your eyes down as far as they will go: the image of your thighs will merge and disappear into a very blurred image of your lower eyelids.  Now attend to the limit where this blurred image disappears.  Can you find it, or notice it, or identify  it?  What is there?  What is beyond the edge?

This final edge is not anywhere in the physical world, for it is just beyond blurred physical images in a zone where there is no physical space for it to be in. It is an experiential limit that has no physical locus. But it is a limit, and a limit is a spatial entity which has more space of its own kind beyond it. And the question is, not what is beyond the limit of the visual field in the physical world, but what is beyond the limit of the field as such, beyond the experiential edge,in this other experiential space that has no physical parameters to define it. For the edge of the visual field as such is not the same as the image of outer rim of the eye socket which in very blurred form appears just within the edge. The image of the rim of the eye socket is one phenomenon, and the experientially vacant edge of the visual field is quite another. It just so happens the former appears at the latter, but does not constitute it. 

In my experience,  it is as if, at this seemingly void edge of the visual field, outer space wraps round into inner space: there is an opening that can access all kinds of subtle domains. The only reason I don’t notice this in an ordinary state of consciousness, is that I am so busy generating a sense of the lay-out of the everyday world immediately beyond the limits of my visual field.  My mind is always active supplementing my very partial physical perspectives.  While I am thus mentally engaged in constructing a more complete account of physical space than my visually perceived view of it, I simply don’t notice, and haven’t acquired skills in attending to, the wrap-round into inner space.

You can study this mental preoccupation with the lay-out of the physical world if you repeat the exercise mentioned just above and hold the head well up while turning the eyes to look down as far as possible.  Now if you try attending to the edge of the visual field as such, your mind will continually throw you back into ordinary space and you will start to think of what is physically beyond the edge of the eye socket, so you become aware of the parts of the face, chest and so on that are beyond perceptual range. (In section 13, chapter 7, I shall suggest that this process itself is a very limited, tacit kind of clairvoyance of the immediate spatial matrix of the physical world.)

Now you can notice how the mind is habitually at work in everyday perception causing you to attend to the immediately adjacent bits of physical space that you can’t actually see.  Thus you become oblivious to the wrap-round opening onto the other world. Of course, this powerful habituation is very important for physical survival.  It’s no good wrapping round into another universe at the edge of the visual field, then falling over a cliff because you have lost your mental grip on the structure of physical space just outside the range of your eyes.    

However, it is possible to interrupt this habituation somewhat and attend to what is beyond the edge of the visual field, not out there in the physical world, but experientially beyond the blurred imagery as such. I find the best way to do this is not to use the look­ing-down-at-the-edge exercise, but to look into the centre of the visual field, and then attend to the edge. Once I start to attend actively to experiential space beyond the edge of the visual field, I am busy with incipient clairvoyant structuring of subtle space. Figure 4.1 portrays some of these ideas.

Figure 4.1  The experiential edge of the visual field

I am then, as it were, between the worlds.  I am aware of the physical world out there as revealed in my visual field, although  I am not giving it my full attention. For I am also aware of an ellipsoid rim or border, all around and just beyond the edge of the visual field, that is both in subtle space and is a clairvoyant opening into subtle space.

I can attend to this ellipsoid subtle rim as a whole, and get only the most vague and inchoate sense of I-don’t-know-what  other-worldly goings-on in I-don’t-know-what subtle domains.  Or I can attend to one part of the rim (my eyes are still focused in the centre of their visual field) and have a clairvoyant look at that point: if I let my psi vision enter this more focused experience and go with it, then it may start to acquire some degree of form. But it clearly needs a great deal of practice to make something of it.

And whether you go for the whole rim or only part of it, there are two possible directions for practice.  Your clairvoyance can go ‘outward’ from the subtle  rim into more ‘remote’ other-world domains; or it can wrap around ‘inwards’ so that it peers  within and through the visual field at subtle realms interpenetrating the immediate physical environment.

Of course, the whole experience is ambiguous: it may be nothing more than vague physical sensations dressing themselves up as pseudo-psi.  Have a ‘look’ and see what you think.  The final warrant is experiential.  Conceptually it is clear that the outer edge of the visual field is not a physical edge out there in the world, susceptible of physical demarcation, but it is also clear that it is an edge, that is, that it does have spatial properties.  I say the edge wraps round into subtle space.  Does it?

There is something else that happens when I am quite preoccupied with physical events, and not at all trying to practise clairvoyance.  And it occurs at  this mysteriously ambiguous edge of the visual field. It is as if I see some kind of entity flitting along it, or in and out of it, for a split second. 

I am never physically looking in that part of the field where I seem to see the entity.  The flitting occurs on the periphery well away from the central focus of my eyes.  But did I physically see it, or did I ‘see’ it clairvoyantly? Did another world entity materialize from subtle space at the edge of my visual field, or did I suddenly and briefly ‘see’ into a bit of the other world  interpenetrating physical space out there on the visual periphery?

Or was it simply a misperception of some simple physical phenomenon, like a moving shadow cast just within my field of vision by some physical thing moving quite outside my field of vision? Or a mirage, a hallucination, purely subjective imagery projected out as if I were perceiving it? I can often quite readily rule out the misperception explanation, much more rarely the hallucination account of the experience.For what it is worth, two kinds of entity appear to flit in this way.  One is like a person, in vaguely human shape.  The other is like an animal, anywhere between the size of a small cat and a large deer.  I return to this topic in section 6 of the next chapter.

Experience of the subtle realms: 

Contents page

Chapter 5