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"One of the precious gifts of my father's legacy was his insistence that people can turn beliefs into knowns, finding out for themselves through direct experience that they are indeed more than their physical bodies. In that spirit, this book is a fine example of another explorer's journey into profound self-discovery, and particularly to the realization that "love is the only thing in life that counts." ?Laurie A. Monroe, President, The Monroe Institute
This book was written specifically for those people for ...
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"One of the precious gifts of my father's legacy was his insistence that people can turn beliefs into knowns, finding out for themselves through direct experience that they are indeed more than their physical bodies. In that spirit, this book is a fine example of another explorer's journey into profound self-discovery, and particularly to the realization that "love is the only thing in life that counts." —Laurie A. Monroe, President, The Monroe Institute
This book was written specifically for those people for whom the question of "what is real" is the most important thing in life. It is for those who have a hard time concentrating on career or family—or anything—for fear it will turn out to be illusory. It is for anyone whose life is haunted by lack of meaning. The entire point of Muddy Tracks is that the author went out searching. He trusted, and sincerely looked, and found that his trust was rewarded. And, he says, as his trust was rewarded, so will yours be.
Muddy Tracks tells some of the things that happened to him, and at every step he says to you, "Here's a resource; try this. Here's a resource; try that. When I did this, this happened. When I did that; that happened." Keeping strictly to what he has experienced, DeMarco shows how many aids we may find in life. He shows how his life was enriched by selected reading, and by dream analysis, and by interaction with friends and so-called strangers. He describes some of the unusual resources he has discovered and used, particularly in connection with out-of-body explorer Bob Monroe and The Monroe Institute.
More intimately, he tells of some of the nearly unbelievable things he haslearned to do—things, he points out, that are natural human abilities, available to all. As noted British author Colin Wilson says in his introduction, "Frank's experience has been in many ways remarkable, and he has a natural gift for making it come alive."
The net result is to provide the reader with firsthand, informed reassurance that we all have our own internal guidance, which is reliable and is willing and able to come forth when welcomed. DeMarco cites his own experiences to argue that if you come to the quest in faith, the faith will be rewarded. The meaning of your life can be found, but it can only be found by you yourself. And, having found it, you will find it meaningful precisely because it will be your meaning, and not someone else's.
The age of gurus is over. It is time for us each to come into our own. Muddy Tracks will help you—and encourage you—to learn to do that.
Do you want psychic abilities? In this book is all you need to learn to experience such abilities on a daily basis, rather than having to rely on second- or third-hand reports. You won't get there without work, but if you choose to pay the price, you will get there. The resources, helpers, and abilities that all humans have can transform your life. It's just a matter of your realizing what is there and how it may be used. And if our society as a whole could learn even what I have learned so far, it would have a vastly expanded idea of what we are.
That you may absorb what I know emotionally, rather than merely intellectually, I will tell you stories from my life. These are true stories, whether or not you at first dare believe them. My life now seems magical to me. It didn't always seem that way.
What I was before I slowly learned to change is relevant to what I learned to be, for it is unnecessary to live isolated, as I lived then. I started as a solitary, lonely individual, struggling along, afraid of others, afraid to open my heart, afraid to trust myself. I lived (as I would now say) only Downstairs, without day-to-day connection with my Higher Self or with other levels of being. I did try to believe in God. Many times I believed quite strongly, and learned that I could safely rely on invisible support. At my best, I said, "Dear God, show me the way," and trusted. At my best, I loved. But it was all so intermittent! So hit-or-miss!
I was a member of the last generation to grow up in what I call the medieval Catholic Church. By nature, I was a mystic. The Latin Mass, the sense of the all-pervading infinite world behind this one, the firm belief in an unchanging order of things, including a black-and-white code of behavior, appealed to me at my deepest levels. When, as a teenager, I found myself unable to remain a believing Catholic, I didn't realize that Catholicism was only one specific religion expressing humanity's supernatural connections. I thought it was all or nothing, and I had seen—I thought—that it was nothing.
Atheism didn't suit me. I couldn't see worshiping The Big Nothing, and couldn't see how anyone could say absolutely that There Is No God. I could imagine saying either, "I have experienced God" or, "I haven't experienced God." But how could anyone say, "I have experienced No-God"? It didn't make sense. Atheism seemed a bigger act of faith than believing.
So what was left? I had an affinity for Buddhism, but it isn't my path; at least, not this time. For a while, George Bernard Shaw's brand of spiritual evolution appealed to me, but gradually I came to see it as the expedient of a religious man who was looking for an intellectually respectable way out of the contemporary belief only in material reality. Carl Jung's Modern Man in Search of a Soul came to me as a godsend, if that's not too bad a play on words. Here was a mind-scientist who could investigate deeper realities—even those involving church doctrine—without giving up his right to inquire and make independent judgments.
In Henry Thoreau I found a friend, a wise man. Colin Wilson's works bred in me a sense of untapped human potential. Those of Laurens van der Post reinforced my belief in the underlying spiritual, rather than physical, nature of life. So did those of Yeats, and Ouspensky, and Gurdjieff, and Schumacher. So too, Richard Bach.
All of this, though, was only reading, and reading is a most solitary enterprise. I have done way too much reading in this lifetime. It tended to take me ever farther away from the world I was supposed to be living in. Not that a life of much reading is not as worthwhile as any other. But too much reading may lead you to think you understand what in fact you merely recognize. Without active life as a corrective, you misinterpret what you have read. This is the value of a teacher.
I well remember a day in my early twenties, standing on a city street reading that "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I wanted desperately to believe it, and didn't know whether in fact I could. He showed up, in person, within months. Although he made his living by teaching art in the public schools, he did not appear with a sign around his neck saying "Teacher!" He was not a perfect being without problems and neuroses. Nor, over the years, has it been a case of him always teaching and I always learning. More often, he and I have been able to help each other; sometimes at the same time, sometimes alternately. Indeed, the saying about students and teachers hadn't prepared me for relationships in which the roles could unpredictably reverse from moment to moment. But that is the characteristic of assistance between and among equals. Evidently my life is a no-guru zone.
As well as human teachers, I was blessed with other sources of inspiration and assistance. The divinatory arts, for instance: the I Ching, astrology, tarot. Various forms of inner guidance. In time came dreams and dream analysis, very powerful tools indeed. All very powerful. All as readily available to you as to me. And attempts at self-discipline were always available: prayer, fasting, and meditation.
I sought "psychic powers," if only as a proof that there is much more to life than the material world reported by the senses. I sought them, and obtained them, and found that they are not things divorced from ordinary life, but things that one culture has refused to admit into its own arbitrarily limited view of ordinary life. To regard them either with New Agers' awe or with religious fundamentalists' fear leads equally to superstition. In fact (reckless generalization number one): if any single thing discredits accounts of extraordinary experience—metaphysical, religious, or spiritual—it is this tendency to treat such experience as somehow disconnected from ordinary life. It isn't. Life is filled with all sorts of things, regardless how hard we try to make it consistent, logical, or "safe."
– 2 –
For more than forty years I endured the long, hard, solitary road. Yet I had gotten a startling glimpse of the existence of a better way of living one night late in February 1970, when I was a few months from turning twenty-four. I was in a drugstore checkout line when a strong impulse led me to pick up a paperback book off the rack. Oddly, for some reason the thought came to me that I might steal it. I still don't know why that thought came across, unless merely to underline for me the importance of that book, a science-fiction novel called The Mind Parasites, by an author I'd never heard of named Colin Wilson. I bought it, and that moment turned my life.
The plot was simple enough. Two scientists at the end of the twentieth century (then more than thirty years in the future) discover that we are all the unsuspecting hosts to—well, to mind parasites, creatures that sap our vitality and our sense of purpose. After sundry adventures, the scientists learn to defeat the parasites, and for the first time begin to take possession of humanity's unsuspected abilities, including a host of powers then usually called occult.
When I read that book, I was seized with the conviction that the author was telling the truth. We do have such powers, and they are inexplicably beyond our grasp. What is more, it was clear to me that the author believed it too. The strength of his conviction ran like a strong current beneath the surface of the story, and was spelled out clearly in his preface.
His preface mentioned that he had begun his career (at just about my age then) with The Outsider, an international best-seller. I went looking in the local public library for any other of his books, the beginning of a lifelong habit. I soon found that, whatever form he uses—and he has written novels, volumes of criticism, biography, history, essays, plays—the same underlying message comes through. It came through to me that night, and filled me with excitement. Something within me went click! and said, "This is how it is."
For a while I pressed this book on all my friends, and was disappointed and puzzled that it didn't turn their lives as it had mine. But it had turned mine because it was the right book for the right person.
Chance? Coincidence? I would have thought so then. I don't now. Today I know that the words "chance" and "coincidence" are shorthand terms covering mental laziness or, perhaps, fear of a world that is seamlessly purposeful. Neither was it predestination, karma, destiny, or fate; at least, not as commonly understood. Today I would call it guidance, but what I mean by that and what I don't mean and why I think the way I do now probably will take the rest of the book to explain.
Before I picked up The Mind Parasites, I had it in mind to become a writer and politician. I still had within me the dream I'd had since I was thirteen or fourteen of structuring my life like Winston Churchill's and John F. Kennedy's, combining writing and statesmanship. This was ridiculously unrealistic for several reasons, the very least of which was that they had been born into riches and powerful connections while I was a farmer's son. But at the time I had no idea of how life really is; had no idea what hidden springs move society; had no idea what motivates people, what deters them. I had had a quiet, sheltered boyhood, almost a cloistered life, surrounding myself with books instead of people. I look back now, all these years later, and I smile at the vast number of things that everybody else knew and I didn't know. I knew lots that the people around me didn't know, but that didn't mean that what I knew was useful. (Much of it wasn't even true.) But it took time for me to discover that.
My ambition to lead a life imitating two others from different social strata and different times met a snag before I had even graduated high school. In the spring of 1964 I took a bus from my hometown in southern New Jersey to nearby Philadelphia, and took the physical and other tests to enter the armed service. I was thinking to go to Vietnam and emerge a military hero—à la Churchill and Kennedy, of course—as a beginning to my illustrious political career. I didn't realize that this war was going to be unprecedentedly different, and I certainly didn't suspect what life in the armed forces might have done to me. I didn't get a chance to find out.
After going through the entire battery of physical and mental tests, I was at the very last desk. The man there looked up from my form, asked if I had asthma as I had indicated, and said, "Of course, you realize that this washes you out." I was given a 1-Y deferment. No military career for me. This was in early 1964, months before the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the beginning of America's large-scale military involvement in that quagmire. The armed forces were a lot choosier than they would be a few months hence. In attempting to enlist those few months earlier than my eighteenth birthday I was lucky, perhaps. But it didn't seem so to me at the time.
I rode the bus home in a state of shock. Never to wear a military uniform? Never to go to war and come back a hero? What happened to that instinctive certainty I had about my career? This on top of the murder of John F. Kennedy a few months previously. Asthma had hospitalized me in my boyhood, and it still gave me bad nights, sometimes several nights and days at a time. I wasn't a perfect picture of health. But I wanted to be in the army! Back home, I quietly asked an army recruiter if I should lie about having asthma and join anyway. He turned decisive thumbs down. "You'd be a menace to yourself and your buddies," he said, and I took that as the last word. What in the world was I going to do with my life?
What I did was work in factories for a year, then go to George Washington University, so that I could be in Washington, D.C. There I worked for my congressman, first as a volunteer in my freshman year, then as an intern that summer, hoping to find my way into politics. But the congressman was defeated in the 1966 elections. Another plan gone west. (It has been pointed out to me that the congressman's defeat was perhaps a bigger piece of good fortune for me than the fact that my lungs kept me out of Vietnam.)
I emerged from college in 1969 with a B.A. in history and still no idea what to do. I took for granted that I would run for Congress in 1974, at age twenty-eight, basically since Kennedy had first run for Congress at age twenty-nine. (Our two lives had no other parallels, but I didn't notice.) But I laid no groundwork, and wouldn't have known how to go about doing so.
That was entirely typical. I was very unworldly. All the time I was in college, I never gave a thought to how I would make a living afterward. Particularly shortsighted it was, in that I had had to work my way through college. It wasn't as if I didn't know the value of money, or how hard it could be to earn. But my ideas were as limited as my experience. I seriously thought that I might have to go back to work in the factories after I graduated college. I couldn't imagine a path.
But things happened, as they do. In the Washington, D.C., race riots of April 1968, I took a walk past police lines into the riot zone, wrote up my impressions, and sent them to the editor of my hometown newspaper. The following year, I began working for that paper as news reporter, beginning the Monday after my last exams, a week before the graduation ceremony, which I didn't bother to attend. A couple of months later I was married, and in February of 1970 there I was, buying this book by a man named Colin Wilson.
– 3 –
Wilson's entire body of work revolves around the same premise that is central to the story line in The Mind Parasites, a premise that could be summarized as follows: "There is something wrong with life. The unsatisfactory way we live isn't the way it should be or has to be. We possess vast unsuspected powers and abilities of which we are slowly becoming half-aware. It is our task to exert the intelligently directed will to learn to develop and use these powers."
That message filled me with excitement partly because it was pretty much without precedent. I had read Jess Stearn's Edgar Cayce—the Sleeping Prophet, and Ruth Montgomery's A Gift of Prophecy, but to the best of my recall now, all these years later, not that much else that could be called parapsychology or occult (or now, New Age). There must have been some, but my science fiction stage had not yet been replaced by fondness for what I call weird stuff. My mental world was filled with history, biography, politics, current affairs. After all, I was going to be a statesman!
The only thing in my life touching on the paranormal was the fact that in college I had hypnotized a couple of my fraternity brothers, eliciting stories that purported to be past lives of theirs. (More about this later.) As to drugs, George Washington University was a very conservative school, slow to catch up with the times, and I was a very conservative person—and a timid one—who had his future political career to consider. I graduated without having tried any drug stronger than alcohol and tobacco. So much for what I would now call a Downstairs view of things. Upstairs saw it differently, as it usually does.
I suppose I will have to explain how and why I use the terms Upstairs and Downstairs, though many will find them self-evident. Others use Inner and Outer. Either way, it's a spatial analogy describing a noncorporeal yet intimate relationship. In the 1970s I had no idea that I had an Upstairs. I lived in, and operated from, the kitchen, so to speak, and thought that was all there was.
As a naturally pious, naturally mystical Catholic in the time before Vatican II—that is, in the 1950s—I participated thoroughly in that mental and spiritual world. The Latin Mass and all it symbolized—the entire theology—was as real to me as secular, technological America. And that was the gift of the situation. I lived with one foot set firmly in twentieth century postwar America and the other set equally firmly in a medieval worldview whose assumptions about reality were radically different. My freedom from both came from the fact that I had embraced both without feeling tension between them. Looking back, I realize that most of my contemporaries and probably most of the clergy lived by constructing separate mental compartments and making sure the contents of one stayed separate from the contents of the other. But I—for reasons I never troubled to examine, because I never realized the situation—did not. To me, there was no split between being a good medieval Catholic and a good twentieth century technological American. For one thing, I was very metaphysically oriented by nature. (I didn't discover how much so, and why, until I was forty-seven.) Also, I was either intellectually lazy about reconciling different compartments of my mental world, or was particularly shielded. Or both.
Excerpted from Muddy Tracks by Frank DeMarco. Copyright © 2001 Frank DeMarco. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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Posted February 11, 2001
There are quite a number of books published which deal with one of the United States pioneers in astral projection or out of body phenomena..Robert Monroe, who,after experiencing many astral projections invented the Hemi- Sync tape process which facilitates altered states of consciousness which might allow an out of body projection to occur..amongst other interesting esoteric phenomena.Frank Demarco attended the Gatway, Guidleines and Lifelines programs at the monroe Institute in Virginia and gives an absorbing and highly personal account of his experiences there. he had some very interesting reincarnational material coming into his consciousness with some of the other participants which are necessarily subjective but fascinating nevertheless. as someone who will shortly attend the gateway experience myself i found this a detailed and absorbing account of what to expect..or perhaps it would be more correct to say..what might occur.The whole emphasis at the Monroe Institute is basically to go with the flow and not get all wound up expecting an astral projection, past life memory, alien encounter. Just take it as it comes. DeMarco's account describes his experience on taking this fascinating journey over the various week's courses. It is an honest,very personal and helpful book for folks who are inteersted in monroe's work, altered states of consciousness and one man's search for philosophical certainty.Thoroughly recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.