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The Other Side of Reality
You do not have a single existence. The world that you are familiar with, the physical, material world, is not the only one in which you move and interact. Every day when you get up, shower, and go to work, each and every step reverberates through two sides of reality at once. Your physical body walks in the world of matter, but a subtler aspect of you, woven within and throughout your physical body, moves and interacts on a level of pure energy. In order to live up to your greatest potential as a whole and complete being, you must become aware of this subtle aspect of yourself that is so often ignored in favor of the physical part of your being.
People who are naturally sensitive to this subtle side of existence are what many label "psychic." All too often, we hear the word "psychic" and assume that it is a quality possessed by only a privileged few. We accept that Madam Circe, the Tarot card reader down the street, is psychic, but most of us would not see Bob the businessman or Carrie the cashier as people who are also psychic. But don't let cultural assumptions about terminology fool you. Each and every one of us is psychic. As beings of both body and spirit, our ability to perceive more-than-physical reality is nothing magickal or supernatural. It is completely inborn, and every one of us already experiences psychic perceptions on an instinctive and unconscious level. The trick to harnessing your psychic abilities simply relies on learning how to bring these subtle perceptions into a conscious and controllable portion of your mind.
Most people in our Western society are completely unaware of their existence beyond the material world. They are so thoroughly grounded in physical reality that they are blind to everything else that surrounds them. And yet that does not stop the subtle aspects of reality from affecting them. There are spirits and invisible energies moving all around us. We generate some of those energies ourselves, affecting and being affected by them. We can be touched subtly by spirits, sensing the thoughts and feelings they project, and unconsciously reacting to those impressions. Our physical and emotional well-being can be drastically influenced by energies and entities that we cannot physically see, and even the healthy atmosphere of our living spaces can be influenced by these invisible aspects of the subtle world.
Ever walk into a house and feel immediately uncomfortable? Perhaps it made you feel cold or the air just seemed too close. Perhaps you got a distinct impression of a certain emotion—anger, or maybe sorrow. If there were others with you, did you notice how they reacted? I'll bet they did not necessarily comment on a specific impression, but if you asked them later, they would admit to being uncomfortable in the house without really knowing why.
Even when we do not consciously use them, all of us have psychic sensitivities that allow us to respond to the energy of places and people. Most people will instinctively react to their impressions of these energies, but are so accustomed to ignoring that side of their existence that they never even question why they are reacting in a particular way. An unawakened person, someone who has chosen to remain blind to anything but his or her material existence, would feel uncomfortable in a house like the one described above, and he or she might suddenly want to leave. If you asked, this person wouldn't be able to tell you why he or she felt uncomfortable, only that the place felt "bad" or "weird." Another reaction might be to get very agitated while in the house. Similarly, if you asked the person, he or she wouldn't be able to explain the unusual behavior. At best, the person might say he or she "just felt out of sorts."
This is an example of our latent psychic sensitivities at work. The house might have been haunted or the feeling may have just been a strong, lingering emotional impression. There are many more things moving in the realm of spirit than the spirits themselves. The subtle energies that move in currents through this level of reality that intersects our familiar physical space can have a powerful affect on how we perceive the world around us. Even if we are totally unaware of sensing energy, we might find a particular place frightening and repellent while another will strike us as fascinatingly attractive. The physical appearance of both places may be identical, but on the level that we cannot see with our eyes alone, there is a difference, and that difference is something that we sense on an almost instinctual level. Even when we don't understand what it is we are doing, our natural psychic sensitivities give us information we react to.
This is one of the most important things to know about the subtle reality. Even if we are unconscious of this aspect of our existence, we still sense and react to it. The same is true when it comes to affecting the subtle reality ourselves. Our physical bodies are mirrored by a body of subtle energy, and this body interacts with the subtle world we move through, whether we will it or not. Our emotions, our dreams, the very energy of our life force reverberate around us, rippling through the subtle reality and leaving impressions of us behind. Wherever we walk, wherever we live, we leave these echoes, like fingerprints on the subtle world. Some of us have more impact on the subtle world that others, and so the echoes that we leave behind are much stronger and more palpable. Some impressions are so strong, they may linger in a place for years after we have passed through. This is just one of the most basic ways that we interact—almost completely unconsciously—with the invisible world that surrounds us.
How do we control this interaction that happens on such a basic and unconscious level? How do we learn to cultivate, harness, and control those psychic sensitivities that all of us are born with? The first step is to become aware of the subtle reality, thereby becoming aware of how we affect it and how it affects us. But how do we learn to perceive something that is largely imperceptible to the five senses we're most accustomed to using?
Well, first of all, you are probably more attuned to your psychic sensitivities than most people, otherwise you probably wouldn't be reading this book. Secondly, you already have the subtle senses that you need. It's just a matter of cultivating them and learning to process the information they're telling you in a conscious way. There is a part of you that already understands and interacts with this aspect of your existence. Like the part of your brain that controls your heartbeat and breathing, this deeper part of you works on its own, whether you pay attention to it or not. Some systems call it your Higher Self. You can think of it as your super-ego or your unconscious mind. It's tied to the right-brain part of you that functions intuitively, and it communicates its experiences to the conscious part of you in abstracts and in symbols. The trick to learning how to harness and control what this deeper part of you takes care of day by day is to simply bring its functions into the realm of consciousness. There you can analyze them and make informed decisions on how you react to them.
This book is about cultivating your psychic senses and coming to understand those invisible aspects of everyday life that most people experience only unconsciously. Its main premise is that those abilities traditionally labeled "psychic" or "magickal" are simply the results of our natural awareness of and interaction with energy. The primary energy involved in this awareness is human vital energy, and most psychic abilities are a product of our ability to perceive and harness this energy in ourselves, in others, and in the outside world. The subtle reality is nothing more or less than this energetic aspect of our experience—the emanations and residues that we and all other living things leave in the world around us.
The subtle reality is a vast and wondrous place, but that is no reason to remain ignorant or frightened of it. In order to achieve a balanced life, we must accept and unify these two aspects of our existence into a harmonious whole. And the first step toward this harmonious interaction is achieving understanding. So before we start experimenting with perceiving the realm of the subtle reality, let's get a good idea of what we're trying to look at in the first place.
The Shamanic View
There are several different views on the subtle reality and how it relates to our physical world. In the shamanic system, there are actually three distinct realms of spirits. These three realms are often depicted as lying along a great tree. The tree is the World Tree or Axis Mundi, and it appears as an archetypal image in systems from the Kabbalah to Nordic myth. According to the shamanic view, the tree grows through all three realms and travel occurs along its trunk. This is why many shamans often climb a tree or ceremonial tent pole prior to embarking on otherworld journeys. The ritual is symbolic of climbing the World Tree (pp. 259–269, Eliade). When a shaman journeys between worlds, there are three realms he can traverse. The first realm is the Middle Realm, and it lies along the center of the World Tree's trunk. The Middle Realm is the spiritual double of our world. It exists in the same space as our physical reality, layered over and through it like a double exposure on film. This realm is the easiest and safest to traverse, and sometimes ordinary people accidentally wander into this realm in dreams. The souls of the dead linger in this realm only if they are still very tied to their former lives. Otherwise, they are believed to move on to the Nether Realm or, in very special cases, the Celestial Realm.
To a certain extent, the shaman moves in this Middle Realm all the time, even when he is not actively journeying. It is the shaman's unique double-vision, what Holger Kalweit refers to as his "shamanic illumination," that allows him to perceive both the physical and the spiritual aspects of the Middle Realm at once (p. 203, Kalweit).
In some shamanic systems, the Middle Realm is concurrent with our everyday physical reality, woven within and throughout the world that non-shamans know. In other systems, this Middle Realm is a spirit-aspect of the physical world that is located a half-step off from "ordinary reality." Only the shaman knows how to move in the direction of this other half of our world, shifting from one to the other in visions, dreams, and trance. Because he is a shaman and a walker-between-worlds, he also moves more consciously in both realms at once.
The next realm a shaman might journey to is the Underworld or Nether Realm. This realm is located at the roots of the world tree. The Underworld is populated by spirits of the dead, totem animals, ancestor spirits, and demonic entities. This realm can be equated with the deep parts of the unconscious mind (pp. 24–26, Harner). Appropriately, certain visualizations give the shaman access to this underground realm through a cave or a passage that can only be reached underwater. Although it tends to be a dark or twilight landscape, the Nether Realm should not be equated with Hell. The concept of Hell doesn't exactly exist in the shamanic system. It is just below—or more precisely within.
The final realm is the Celestial Realm. It is located high up in the branches of the World Tree. This realm is the abode of the stars, as well as angelic and god-like beings. Great heroes and creatures from myth populate this realm. In some traditions, only certain shamans are able to travel to the celestial realms. Female shamans in general are thought to only be able to travel to the Middle and Nether Realms. So-called "black" shamans are also limited to the Middle and Nether Realms (pp. 181–184, Eliade). If the Nether Realm can be equated with the unconscious mind, the Celestial Realm can be equated with the super-ego. And, just as the Netherworld should not be thought of as Hell, neither should the Celestial Realm be associated with Heaven. "Evil" does not lie below in the shamanic reality any more than "good" resides above (p. 186, Eliade). There is danger to be encountered in both realms, and there is no guarantee that beings in the Celestial Realm are going to be benign and helpful simply because they reside in that "heavenly" space.
The Between Places
The Tibetan Art of Dying, known to most Westerners as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, presents a view of the subtle reality that is at once simpler and more complex than the shamanic view. First of all, there are six lokas which a soul can be born into. The lokas are individual realities that are separate from yet contingent to one another. The concept of the lokas seems echoed in ancient Greek beliefs as recorded in Hesiod's Works and Days. Here, four races are thought to have preceded the current human race, which is known as the "race of iron." Two of the four previous races, the race of silver and the race of gold, were believed to have lingered ghostlike in the mortal realm. The race of gold became benevolent daimons, while the race of silver became spirits of a less kindly sort.
Both were worshipped by the ancient Greeks because even though they had passed on, they could sometimes interact with the physical world (pp. 180–182, Luck). Similarly, beings from one loka can sometimes cross over to different lokas, so the lines between them are not necessarily clear. What distinguishes a loka is the quality of being that inhabits it.
The foremost loka is the realm of the peaceful deities. These are highly evolved beings who, through sensitivity, generosity, and enlightenment, have advanced to a state of near-godhood. They bear much in common with Hesiod's "race of gold." One level beneath the peaceful deities is the realm of the wrathful deities. Like the "race of silver," these are semi-divine and elevated above humanity, but they are still competitive, violent, and desire-driven. The third loka is the human realm with which we are already familiar. The fourth loka is the realm of the animals. Spirits that have been dragged down by ignorance, stupidity, and small-mindedness are reborn into this realm. The fifth loka is the realm of the hungry ghosts or pretans. The hungry ghosts are not spirits exactly, but are viewed as living, embodied beings. The souls of people who are overcome with greed, lust, craving, and frustration are born into this loka. Finally, there is the loka of the hell-beings, the lowest and most agonizing of realms. Souls dragged down by hatred find themselves reborn into this realm where the eight hot hells, the eight cold hells, the eight crushing hells, the eight cutting hells, and an infinite variety of other unpleasant places await them.
Beyond the lokas, or more appropriately, between them, is another realm. This is the Bardo, which means "island between" (p. 10, Trungpa), and it is a threshold space, existing between realities, between absolute matter and absolute spirit, between life and death. This realm is vast and populous. It is the realm of spirits who are awaiting rebirth. The newly dead, and those who cannot or will not find their way to a womb, can be found in this realm. Certain adepts can also send their spirits out into this realm and interact with it as if they were between-beings themselves (pp. 44–45, Thurman). It is much like the shamanic Middle Realm in that it is very close to our familiar reality, if not directly on top of it. The spirits that find themselves in this between-place can perceive our ordinary reality, although in most cases they cannot make themselves seen or heard. Is it as if they are somewhere that is just out of sync with the physical world—inhabiting a dimension slightly out of phase with the rest of us.
The Bardo Thodrol (or The Tibetan Book of the Dead) attributes some interesting qualities to this realm and its denizens. First of all, it is so peopled with spirits that if a clairvoyant could perceive it upon all levels at once, she would not be able to distinguish one entity from another (p. 171, Thurman). Since the limitations of physical space do not apply to this between-space, entities can and often do exist in the same space as other entities. Also, the between-beings in this realm can pass through the physical objects of our world, for they possess what is known as a "Bardo body," a body of energy completely controlled by their own imaginations or wills. A between-being, in addition to being able to travel anywhere in the world with a mere thought, can also be in two or more places at once, as he wills it. Between-beings enjoy a limited clairvoyance in the respect that they can see and hear all other between-beings of the same species. Thus, if you are a human who has died, you will be aware of all the other human spirits lingering in the between place. Hungry ghosts will perceive all the other hungry ghosts, wrathful deities will perceive other wrathful deities, and so forth.
Excerpted from The Psychic Energy Codex by MICHELLE BELANGER. Copyright © 2007 Michelle Belanger. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
CHAPTER ONE The Other Side of Reality
CHAPTER TWO Our Lost Perceptions
CHAPTER THREE The Balance of Sense and Sanity
CHAPTER FOUR Building Objectivity
CHAPTER FIVE The World of Vital Energy
CHAPTER SIX The Art of Meditation
CHAPTER SEVEN Techniques of Visualization
CHAPTER EIGHT The Human Aura
CHAPTER NINE The Anatomy of Energy
CHAPTER TEN Energy and Communication
CHAPTER ELEVEN Echoes in the Outside World
CHAPTER TWELVE Imprinting Objects with Energy
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Starting a Psychic Study Group
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Ten Tips for Teachers and Students
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Dreaming the World New
Posted June 15, 2012
This is one of the best books I have read on psychic development. Michelle gives a lot of well thought out techniques that I have not seen elsewhere and background information on how psychic ability works. It is all presented in a very down to earth, accessible way.
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Posted July 22, 2013
Haven't read the book, it was ordered on accident and apparently they wont refund it.
Way to go B&N, now I know why so many ppl go with the kindle instead!!
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Posted June 13, 2012
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