Communication with Higher Intelligence

The notion of higher intelligences that influence the affairs of the human race has an old and venerable tradition and can be found in all religions.

Ancient Sumeria, for example, is generally regarded as the first major civilization. To Sumeria we owe the inventions of the wheel, writing, arithmetic and geometry, and money. The Sumerian's own legend, as recorded by the ancient historian Berosus around 400 B.C., is that the arts of civilization were taught to the savage inhabitants of the fertile crescent region by an unknown creature who possessed superhuman intelligence.

There appeared, coming out of the sea where it touches Babylonia, an intelligent creature that men called Oan[nes] or Oe[s], who had the face and limbs of a man and who used human speech, but was covered with what appeared to be the skin of a great fish, the head of which was lifted above his own like a strange headdress. Images are preserved of him to this day.

This strange being, who took no human nourishment, would pass entire days in discussions, teaching men written language, the sciences, and the principles of arts and crafts, including city and temple construction, land survey and measurement, agriculture, and those arts which beautify life and constitute culture. But each night, beginning at sundown, this marvelous being would return to the sea and spend the night far beyond the shore. Finally he wrote a book on the origin of things and the principles of government which he left his students before his departure. The records add that during later reigns of the prediluvian kings other appearances of similar beings were witnessed.

Angels and Guardian Spirits

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) described in his City of God a very vivid picture of the evolution of the soul through stages towards the heavenly kingdom. Like later church fathers, he proclaimed that while magic was real, it was the work of the devil and therefore evil. On the other hand, while he repudiated pagan magic, Augustine fervently believed in the protection angels and guardian spirits would provide to Christians:

They watch over and guard us with great care and diligence in all places and at all hours, assisting, providing for our necessities with solicitudes; they intervene between us and Thee, 0 Lord, Conveying to Thee our sighs and groans, and bringing down to us the dearest blessings of Thy grace. They walk with us in all our ways; they go in and out with us, attentively observing how we converse with piety in the midst of a perverse generation, with what ardour we seek Thy kingdom and its justice, and with what fear and awe we serve Thee. They assist us in our labours; they protect us in our rest; they encourage us in battle; they crown us in victories; they rejoice in us when we rejoice in Thee; and they compassionately attend us when we suffer or are afflicted for Thee.

The Glance of the Master

The Sufi tradition, which originated in Persia, involved singing, dancing and storytelling as techniques for exploring the inner mind. Many of the wonders described in the Tales of the Arabian Nights are of Sufi origin. Snake charming and fire-eating practices still exist as testimony to the faith self-control of certain sufi mystics.

One well-known Sufi was the Sheikh Shahab-el-Din. Idries Shah relates the following story about him:

It is related of him that he once asked the Sultan of Egypt to place his head in a vessel of water. Instantly the Sultan found himself transformed into a shipwrecked mariner, cast ashore in some totally unknown land.

He was rescued by woodmen, entered the nearest town (vowing vengeance against the Sheikh whose magic had placed him in this plight) and started work there as a slave. After a number of years he gained his freedom, started a business, married and settled down. Eventually, becoming impoverished again, he became a free-lance porter, in an attempt to support his wife and seven children.

One day, chancing to be by the seashore again, he dived into the water for a bath.

Immediately he found himself back in the palace at Cairo, again the King, surrounded by courtiers, with the grave-faced Sheikh before him. The whole experience, though it had seemed like years, had taken only a few seconds.

This application of the doctrine that "time has no meaning to the Sufi" is reflected in a famous instance of the life of Mohammed. It is related that the Prophet, when setting out on his miraculous "Night Journey," was taken by the angel Gabriel to Heaven, to Hell and to Jerusalem. After four-score and ten conferences with God, he returned to earth just in time to catch a pot of water that had been overturned when the angel took him away.

The Sufis loved to tell such stories. Their traditions seem to be a mixture of teaching stories in the genre of Aesop's Fables and the Tales of the Arabian Knights with a very profound understand of methods for transforming human nature.

Irina Tweedie, is author of Daughter of Fire, a diary of five intensive years of spiritual training in India with a Sufi master. In the following excerpt of my Thinking Allowed interview with her, she describes aspects of her spiritual training which suggest that some ancient techniques have survived to the present day.

Irina Tweedie
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

She refers to what the Sufis call the glance -- the unanticipated look of the guru that affects one profoundly. At that moment, one realizes their connection with that teacher:

According to the Sufi tradition, the moment the teacher looks at you for the first time, you are born again. 
I was struck by the many doubts which Mrs. Tweedie experienced during her period of Sufi training. She seemed to alternate between moments of great peace and moments of the most profound inner torture:
I remember at the end I was suicidal. I decided to throw myself from the bridge, at Kampur, the city where my teacher lived. It was on the Ganges which is deep. So I thought, "Well, it won't hurt very much." 

He seemed to know my thoughts, because suddenly he turned to me. He was sitting in the garden, and I was so disgusted I didn't want to look at him. He said, "Mrs. Tweedie, look at me." So I looked at him. I sort of -- aahhh! He was full of blinding light. I sort of just looked, speechless. And he said, "Mrs. Tweedie, do you think I would waste my powers if you really were hopeless?" And perhaps half a day before he had told me that I was utterly hopeless.

This particular teacher seemed to be acting in an irrational manner, apparently to help his student "stop her mind," to get her outside of her conditioned intellect. This is sometimes referred to as the tradition of crazy wisdom. The purpose of the teaching is not so much to instruct people about it, because there are many books, but to lead people to it.

Robert Frager, founder of the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, is on the faculty of the Institute for Creation Spirituality at Holy Names College. 

Robert Frager
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

He is the coauthor of Personality and Personal Growth. A fifth-degree black belt of Aikido, he was a student of Osensei, the original founder of Aikido. He is also a Sufi sheik. In the following excerpt from my Thinking Allowed interview with him he describes his first encounter with a Sufi teacher which is very much reminiscent of Irina Tweedie's description of the glance: 

I was sitting in my office at the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, with my feet up on my desk, talking on the phone to someone about something administrative. Two of my colleagues had invited a Sufi group to come talk at the school for a few days; and a heavy-set Turkish man walked by my office and looked at me.

The look must have taken a half a second at most. He did not break stride. He did not stop and stare. But the moment he looked at me, time stood still, absolutely. Time stopped for me, and I had this impression that all the data of my life was being read into a high-speed computer -- that he somehow knew everything that led up to my being in that office with my feet on the desk. 

Many years later, someone else in another Sufi tradition, when I mentioned this story, said, "My God, that's a perfect description of what we call the look of the sheik. That itself is an initiation at some level." 

I suddenly found myself sitting at mealtime with this man, and then he started telling stories, and it was as though no one had ever told spiritual stories before. The stories just knocked me over -- the power, the wisdom. It felt as though there was no one else in the room, that he was literally telling the stories just to me, and that they were all designed for me. And then after the stories were over I glanced around and I said, "My goodness, there are other people here too." 

I asked Dr. Frager if a cynic might not say at this point that even a sophisticated professor like himself could become hypnotized. He responded that it was more like falling in love, in a Platonic sense, with the teacher. The essence of the practice is one of opening the heart.

The practice of devotion to a guru originated in the Hindu Bhakti Yoga tradition. The guru is said to communicate higher states of consciousness through his or her very presence or being. Certain gurus, with thousands of western devotees, currently encourage their disciples to practice this method. They include Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and Da Love-Ananda, both of whom claim to have received confirmation of their spiritual attainment from Swami Muktinanda.

Joseph Chilton Pearce, reknowned author of Crack in the Cosmic Egg
and Magical Child, is a devotee of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

Space does not permit extensive comments on this modern manifestation of an ancient tradition. It is worth noting, however, that press scrutiny of virtually all contemporary claimants to various degrees of divine or holy stature strongly suggest, if one is willing to make conventional judgments, that such guru figures have failed to maintain an unwavering state of higher consciousness. Many claimants to a state of higher consciousness -- including Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Bhagwan Rajneesh and Swami Muktinanda -- have been reported to have feet of clay., Of course, such individuals can be effective teachers. However, if a guru encourages the worship of devotees, a prospective disciple would be wise to consider the effect that the human flaws of the master may have on such a practice.

Da Love-Ananda (also known as Da Free John and Adida), a western seeker formerly named Franklin Jones, has become a prolific writer on the "great tradition" of spiritual seeking, as well an individual whose claim to having attained the highest state of awareness is viewed seriously by many scholars. {II-68-B} 


For several years, he has been compiling an annotated bibliography of spiritual literature, organized according to his own system which views the spiritual journey as a process of seven stages. Several of Da Love-Ananda's other books attempt to explicate the telepathic processes by which a spiritual master interacts with devotees.


Cabala is the word for the Jewish mystical tradition that acknowledges the personal experience of the absolute. The tree of life diagram shows the ten emanations of god that are the attributes of both humanity and the universe. In later occult systems the tree of life was used as a philosophical basis for integrating the tarot cards with astrology as well as a guide for meditation and reveries. In these ecstatic states one progressed through a hierarchy of visions that lead to ultimate mystical union. One might say the tree of life served as a very sophisticated map of the inner spaces through which consciousness progresses.

One of the most sophisticated interpretations of Cabala is that offered by Stan Tenan of the MERU Foundation. 

Stan Tenen
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

Tenan maintains that the Cabalists discovered in the ancient languages a schematic for the unfolding of the universe from unity to multiplicity. This schematic, he maintains, is isomorphic to ideas that are currently being generated in contemporary cosmology.

Emmanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) the single individual who combined within himself the most intense spiritualistic exploration with the most sophisticated scientific expertise was born the son of a devout Swedish bishop whose family was ennobled by the King when he was thirty-one. Being the eldest son, Baron Emmanuel Swedenborg took a position in the Swedish House of Nobles.

During his long life Swedenborg published scientific papers on a wide variety of topics. They include soils and muds, stereometry, echoes, algebra and calculus, blast furnaces, astronomy, economics, magnetism, and hydrostatics. He founded the science of crystallography and was the first to formulate the nebular hypothesis of the creation of the universe. He spent many years exploring human anatomy and physiology and was the first to discover the functions of the ductless glands and the cerebellum.

In addition to mastering nine languages, he was an inventor and a craftsman. He built his own telescope and microscope. He designed a submarine, air pumps, musical instruments, a glider and mining equipment. Throughout his life he worked as a mining assessor in Sweden. He participated in the engineering of the world's largest dry dock. He developed an ear trumpet, a fire extinguisher, and a steel rolling mill. He learned bookbinding, watchmaking, engraving, marble inlay, and other trades. At one point he engineered a military project for the King of Sweden which transported small battleships fourteen miles over mountains and through valleys. At the age of fifty-six, Swedenborg had mastered the known natural science of his day and stood at the brink of his great exploration of the inner worlds.

He began by surveying all that was understood by scholars in the area of psychology and published this in several volumes along with some observations of his own. Then he started writing down and interpreting his own dreams. He developed yoga-like practices of suspending his breathing and drawing his attention inward, thus enabling him to observe the subtle symbol-making processes of his mind. He carefully probed the hypnogogic state, the borderland between sleep and waking in which the mind forms its most fantastic imagery.

As he intensified this process he gradually began to sense the presence of other beings within his own inner states. Such a sensation is common to the hypnogogic state.87 However for Swedenborg, these occasional glimpses into another world came to full fruition quite suddenly in April of 1744. From that time until his death, twenty-seven years later, he claimed to be in constant touch with the world of spirits. During his waking hours he regularly probed the vast regions of heaven and hell and engaged in long and detailed conversations with angels and spirits.

The following passages provide us with a typical example of Swedenborg's later thought:


The discourse or speech of spirits conversing with me, was heard and perceived as distinctly by me as the discourse or speech of men; nay, when I have discoursed with them whilst I was also in company with men, I also observed, that as 1 heard the sound of man's voice in discourse, so I heard also the sound of the voice of spirits, each alike sonorous; insomuch that the spirits sometimes wondered that their discourse with me was not heard by others; for, in respect to hearing there was no difference at all between the voices of men and spirits. But as the influx into the internal organs of hearing is different from the influx of man's voice into the external organs, the discourse of the spirits was heard by none but myself, whose internal organs, by the divine mercy of the Lord, were open. Human speech or discourse is conveyed through the ear, by an external way, by the medium of the air; whereas the speech or discourse of spirits does not enter through the ear, nor by the medium of the air, but by an internal way, yet into the same organs of the head or brain. Hence the hearing in both cases is alike.

The words which spirits utter, that is, which they excite or call forth out of a man's memory, and imagine to be their own, are well chosen and clear, full of meaning, distinctly pronounced, and applicable to the subject spoken of; and, what is surprising, they know how to choose expressions much better and more readily than the man himself; nay, as was shown above, they are acquainted with the various significations of words, which they apply instantaneously, without any premeditation; by reason, as just observed, that the ideas of their language flow only into those expressions which are best adapted to signify their meaning. The case, in this respect, is like that of a man who speaks without thinking at all about his words, but is intent only on their sense; when his thought falls readily, and spontaneously, into the proper expressions. It is the sense inwardly intended that calls forth the words. In such inward sense, but of a still more subtle and excellent nature, consists the speech of spirits, and by which man, although he is ignorant of it, has communication with them.

The speech of words, as just intimated, is the speech proper to man; and indeed, to his corporeal memory: but a speech consisting of ideas of thought is the speech proper to spirits; and, indeed, to the interior memory, which is the memory of spirits. It is not known to men that they possess this interior memory, because the memory of particular or material things, which is corporeal, is accounted every thing, and darkens that which is interior: when, nevertheless, without interior memory, which is proper to the spirit, man would not be able to think at all. From this interior memory I have frequently discoursed with spirits, thus in their proper tongue, that is, by ideas of thought. How universal and copious this language is may appear from this consideration, that every single expression contains an idea of great extent: for it is well known, that one idea of a word, may require many words to explain it, much more the idea of one thing; and still more the idea of several things which may be collected into one compound idea, appearing still as a simple idea. From these considerations may appear what is the natural speech of spirits amongst each other, and by what speech man is conjoined with spirits.

It is tempting to think Swedenborg went insane at this point. However he otherwise showed no signs of mental weakness. He continued to serve as a mining assessor, for instance, throughout his life. Yet, during this twenty-seven year period he wrote some 282 works in the above manner describing his inner explorations. {II-71}

When asked how he could write so much, he casually answered that it was because an angel dictated to him. Numbers of people witnessed him speaking with invisible figures, yet he could always be interrupted in the midst of these states to deal with a visitor or a business matter.

He described the world to which we all go after death like a number of different spheres representing various shades of light and happiness, each soul going to that for which his spiritual evolution has fitted him. The light of higher states seems painful and blinding to one who is not yet ready. These spheres resembled the earthly society that Swedenborg knew. His descriptions of life in the spheres are written with the careful mind of a scientist. He speaks of the architecture, the flot2s and fruits, the science, the schools, the museums the libraries and the sports.

The great German philosopher Emmanuel Kant set about to examine the Swedenborg phenomena with an aim toward discrediting them. However Kant himself was at a loss to explain the well-reported incident in 1756, when Swedenborg, then in Gottenburg, clairvoyantly saw a fire raging three hundred miles away in Stockholm. This incident occurred in front of fifteen very distinguished observers.

Due to the voluminous quantity of his erudite writings, Swedenborg's popularity has not been large among the general population. Often, his spiritual visions do seem to degenerate into arbitrary theological interpretations of scripture. After his death, the Church of the New Jerusalem was founded to preserve his teachings, which can be found in the encyclopedic Heaven and Hell, The New Jerusalem and the Arcana Coelestia as well as in several excellent biographies.

Swedenborg's thought was to exert a particular influence on two of Europe's great artistic geniuses, William Blake (1757- 1827) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832).

Gustav Theodor Fechner and Psychophysics

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, there was no recognized branch of experimental science whose domain of exploration was man's psyche. While there was generally a strong public interest in the researches of Mesmer and Reichenbach, there were no trained academicians or established professionals who were competent to research and judge extraordinary claims. Psychology was thought of as a branch of philosophy, until the pioneering research of Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) established psychology as `n independent branch of science.

Fechner's formal training lay in medicine and physics. Like the ancient shamans he showed a natural sensitivity to the subtle levels of his own inner world that he could not suppress. Writing under the pseudonym of Dr. Mises, he published a number of works both satirical and symbolic. His biographer, Dr. G. Stanley Hall, describes one of these books, written in 1825, entitled Comparative Anatomy of the Angels:

These are not symbolic, but real, living angels, which stand in the organic world a little higher than man, who is not the highest nor the most beautiful. Even the ass thinks his own type ideal. The human form is a strange aggregate of surfaces and curves, hollows and elevations. There are no flat surfaces and therefore curves and specifically the sphere are the ideal forms and these change (as, indeed, Plato had said). The parts of man's body are beautiful as they approach it, but the eyeball is most complete. It is the organ of light and in light angels live. Earth is not their fitting residence. They belong to higher bodies like the sun, the stars, or light. Just as the air is the element of the angels, who are simply free and independent eyes, all eye, or the eye-type in its highest and most beautiful development. Thus, what in man is a subordinate organ, in the angels is of independent worth. In animals the eyes look backward or sideward, whereas in man they look forward. But angels are single eyes. Their language is light and their tones are colors. The eye-language of love hints at the speech of angels, these creatures of the sun with their ethereal bodies. Their skin is merely connected vapors, like soap bubbles. Their transparent nature can take on colors. They change their form and expand and contract according to their feelings. They are attraction or repulsion, and with this goes the wonderful color play. They are organisms. They move by hovering and sweeping along. General gravitation, which relates all bodies, is their sense. They feel the farthest thing in the universe and the slightest change in it.s They are, in short, living planets and, in fine, the planets are angels.
In his search for the archetypal form of angels, Fechner's work can be seen as in the scientific tradition of Goethe, his countryman, who attempted to reconcile science and poetry. In his perception of the earth and planets as living organisms, he is bearing witness to the ancient esoteric teachings.

One of the defining characteristics of Fechner's life is that he suffered a disease very much akin to the initiatory sickness known among shamans. In 1840 his eyesight began to fail him. Soon he could neither read nor write. He found he could not eat or drink and he was unable to endure society. He lost all control over his thoughts or his attention. His dreams tormented him. His own state seemed to him like the condition of a puppet. By the end of 1843, people believed him to be incurably blind and completely insane. He spent months in solitude in a dark room; and at a level deep within himself he never lost hope. It was in this state, literally the dark night of his soul, he felt he was called upon by God to do extraordinary things for which his sufferings had prepared him. He recovered after this self-perception and soon discovered within himself even greater physical strength and psychic sensitivity. The whole world now revealed itself to him in a splendor and detail exceeding his earlier visions. He resumed his academic work, no longer in physics but as a philosopher.

This work led to some very cogent philosophical explorations into the nature of consciousness itself and from there to his pioneering experimental work in psycho-physics:

As to the origin of consciousness, we have a series of thresholds, upper and lower waves. The highest consciousness is God, who planned vaguely at first and is realizing his purpose in all the world processes, so that his plan progresses and becomes more definite and conscious. Thus, as Paracelsus and Jacob Boehme thought, God is growing in our experience, which, as it gives him character, also contributes to his consciousness and adds to his achievements. God comes to consciousness in us....

Life and consciousness never arose, he said, but are original activities of the universe; they are two expressions of the same thing and differ only as a circle seen from within differs from one seen from without. From without all is manifold, from within all is unity, and both together constitute all there is. The soul is not punctual but is pervasive throughout all the body. Those processes immediately bound up with consciousness are psycho-physic movements and they are primordial and cosmogonic.

The physical world operates under one law and we must assume that the spiritual world is no less so. There must be then, a priori, some exact mathematical relationship between the physical and the psychical, some law of concomitant variations, for all that is psychic is but the self-appearance of the physical; a material process runs parallel to every conscious process. 

This Pythagorean insight as to the mathematical relationship between the physical and psychic worlds led directly to the development of modern, scientific psychology. In all fairness, however, to contemporary psychologists, most are ignorant of Fechner's mystical background -- and would probably be shocked by it. 

The Theosophical Society

A most intriguing chapter in consciousness history involves the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (H. P. B. for short), a most notorious character.

Madame Blavatsky in perambulator, attended by two students 
James M. Pryse (left) and G. R. S. Mead (right)

Madame Blavatsky declared herself to be a chela or disciple of a brotherhood of spiritual adepts in Tibet whose members had acquired psychic powers beyond the reach of ordinary men. She asserted that they took a special interest in the Theosophical Society and all initiates of occult lore, being able to communicate intelligently with individuals by visiting them in a phantom or astral form. These beings were called the Mahatmas and are described in Blavatsky's book Isis Unveiled:

Travelers have met these adepts on the shores of the sacred Ganges, brushed against them on the silent ruins of Thebes, and in the mysterious deserted chambers of Luxor. Within the halls upon whose blue and golden vaults the weird signs attract attention, but whose secret meaning is never penetrated by idle gazers, they have been seen, but seldom recognized. Historical memoirs have recorded their presence in the brilliantly illuminated salons of European aristocracy. They have been encountered again on the arid and desolate plains of the Great Sahara, or in the caves of Elephanta. They may be found everywhere, but they make themselves known only to those who have devoted their lives to unselfish study and are not likely to turn back.
According to William Q. Judge, a New York lawyer who was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society, such a Mahatma appeared to the first Theosophists when they held a meeting to frame their constitution. A "strangely foreign Hindoo," came before them, left a package and vanished. On opening the package they found the necessary forms of organization, rules, etc., that were adopted. The early history of the society was based largely on such miracles. Blavatsky's wonderworking and teaching attracted such notable students as Thomas Edison, Sir William Crookes, Alfred Russell Wallace, British Prime Minister William Gladstone, Alfred Tennyson, and later U. S. Vice-president Henry Wallace and Annie Besant (the former mistress of George Bernard Shaw, who succeeded Blavatsky as head of the movement).

After seeing the Society well established in New York, Madame Blavatsky moved to India. Marvelous phenomena of an occult nature were alleged to have taken place there at the Adyar headquarters. Mysterious, ghostly appearances of Mahatmas were seen, and messages were constantly received by supernatural means. One of the apartments, named the Occult Room in the headquarters, contained a sort of cupboard against the wall, known as the Shrine. Ghostly letters from the Mahatmas were received in this shrine, as well as sent. Skeptics were convinced and occult lodges spread rapidly. Madame Blavatsky and other Theosophists were interviewed in England by members of the SPR who were favorably impressed.

At this point in 1884, a scandal broke out. Two members of Blavatsky's staff claimed they had conspired with Madame, forging Mahatma letters and placing them in the shrine P`rough a trap door. To back up their claim, they submitted private correspondences from H. P. B. Blavatsky countered with charges of her own. Leaders of the SPR considered the matter significant enough to send Richard Hodgson to India in order to personally investigate the matter. What followed was perhaps the most complicated and confused investigation in the history of psychical research.

Hodgson concluded Madame Blavatsky was a phony -- "one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting imposters of history." His 200 page report attempted to reconstruct in detail all of the mechanisms by which she impersonated every sort of phenomena. He hired handwriting experts, for example, who determined the Mahatma letters were really written in Madame's handwriting. Most of the evidence was of a circumstantial nature as the original shrine had been destroyed by the time Hodgson had arrived at Adyar.

More recently, Theosophical apologist Victor Endersby has written a book challenging the Hodgson report point for point. Endersby cites independent testimony from handwriting experts who clearly disagree with those hired by Hodgson.

The Theosophical Society is still active. The teachings of the Theosophists continue to have an enormous impact on the esoteric folklore of western culture and for that reason are quoted several times in this book.

A Course in Miracles

Since the original publication of The Roots of Consciousness, there have emerged numerous examples of ostensible contact with higher intelligence. One of the foremost among these is A Course in Miracles, which is a system of spiritual transformation. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have used this material; and its emphasis on love, foregiveness and freedom from guilt have had an influence on a new generation of spiritual seekers comparable to that of the Theosophical Society in previous years. A Course in Miracles suggests that a miracle is really a shift in perception -- to see the spirit that lies behind all forms.

Judith Skutch Whitson, is the president of the Foundation for Inner Peace, the organization which published A Course in Miracles.

Judith Skutch Whitson
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

In the following excerpt from a Thinking Allowed interview, she describes the origins of this material:

In 1975, I met William Thetford and Helen Suchman, two medical psychologists at Columbia Presbyterian School of Physicians and Surgeons, who served as scribes for the material. The way it came to them was through their relationship. They had had a very long period together, teaching, researching, writing grant proposals; yet their life together and among their faculty was not very harmonious. They described it as one of the most stress-filled domains in the world -- academia, medical academia. 

One day the quieter of the two of them, Bill Thetford, who was a very gentle man, a very thorough scientist, a very solid person -- he just blew up. He said in a very meaningful way to her, so that she heard him, that he was sick and tired of the attitudes that that stress seemed to have promoted between the two of them, and that they just were not getting along, that there had to be a better way to live in the world.

There had to be a better way, and he was determined to find it. Instead of laughing at him -- because she was quite an acerbic woman, very sharp, the older of the two of them by fourteen years -- she actually took his hand, and she said, "You know, Bill, I think you are right. I do not know what the better way could be, but I will help you find it." 

Two people joined to find a better way of being in the world -- in other words, to heal their relationship. Not too long after, Helen started to experience what she called heightened visual imagery which gave her the feeling that there was something within her catching her attention and very gently taking her along the way, through experience, to an opening up. After many of these visions, she started to become very familiar with an inner voice which spoke with a gentleness and yet an authority she could not avoid listening to. 

One day, she was at home, unable to sleep, and she was actually feeling, hearing the words: "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes." 

She did not know what to do. That was quite startling. She called up Bill on the phone, and she said, "You know that voice I told you about? It will not go away, and it is saying something very peculiar." 

He said, "What is it saying?" And she told him: "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes." 

He is a very pragmatic fellow. He said, "Well, you've been having interesting experiences which I've been taking down so we have a record of them. Why don't you just do what it says? You take very fast shorthand. Why don't you just do it?" 

So she did, and what she took down startled her a great deal, but the next morning she brought it into the office. Before the staff came in, they locked the door and pulled down the shades so no one should catch them at this. She actually read from her notebook to him what she had taken down, and he typed it up. It was an introduction to A Course in Miracles. 

It said: "This is a required course; only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean you can establish the curriculum, only the time in which you need to take it." 

It said the opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. It also said the course could be summed up very simply this way: "Nothing real can be threatened, and nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

Well, she was threatened. At that time she called herself a militant atheist, and he was an agnostic, and here was something that mentioned G-O-D, and it just was not in her vocabulary. 

So he convinced her that it was beautifully written, and whatever it was, if it should happen again, to keep on doing it. That began a seven-year collaboration. Any time she wished, when she was ready, she could pick up her shorthand notebook and her pen, and literally start from where she left off before, without even checking what the book said. With Bill typing what she had taken down every day, A Course in Miracles came into being.

I asked Helen, the first day I met her, "Did the voice have a name? Did it identify itself, such as the Seth material and others?" She said, "I was afraid you were going to ask that," and Bill Thetford said, "Why don't you tell her, dear? She is going to read it." And she said, "It says it is Jesus." 

I said, "Well, is it?" And she said, "Of course," which was interesting, because on the one hand, as a Jewish lady, she did not believe in it, but on a metaphorical level she knew it was true. I think we are all in that position in our lives. There is something that we know is true, but we do not agree to believe in it.

I could not have predicted, in 1975, that there would be three hundred thousand copies of A Course in Miracles in circulation. I have no idea how many people study one copy, so I am guessing over a half a million folk are students of A Course in Miracles. I think we are probably laying the foundation, along with many others, who share basically the same point of view but go about it in different ways -- a foundation for a tremendous change of mind, which I call the great transformation.

The Invisible College

Earlier we discussed the image of the Invisible College used by the early Rosicrucians to symbolize their internal contact with higher intelligence. (This same term has been used by scientists, such as Jacques Vallee and J. Allen Hynek, to refer to the loosely connected network of scientists investigating the UFO data.)

An interesting perspective on the Invisible College comes from a report from Dr. Shafica Karagula, director of the Higher Sense Perception Research Foundation in Los Angeles. Karagula specialized in clinical studies of individuals who are gifted with unusual perceptive talents. One of her subjects, whom she called Vicky described a series of experiences she had in her sleep where she seemed to be visiting a college and attending classes in many different subjects. Her vision was quite lucid, recalling the architecture of the buildings, and the subject matter of her lectures. The lectures follow an orderly sequence and Karagula claimed to have carefully recorded a number of them from Vicky.

On one occasion, Vicky remembered that a friend of hers, who lived across the United States was in the classroom with her. After some cautious questioning on the telephone, this person verified that he also remembered being present although he did not recall the details of the lecture as clearly as she did.

Although similar experiences have been reported by many people, and are known to dream-researchers, they have yet to be more systematically probed. 

The notion of the Invisible College, of course, stems from the Rosicrucian writings of Francis Bacon. Peter Dawkins, a Francis Bacon scholar, tells a story of his own involvement with this work that falls very much in the Invisible College tradition. 

Peter Dawkins
(courtesy Thinking Allowed Productions)

The following excerpt is from my Thinking Allowed interview with him:

One day we went on a retreat, my wife and I, and on that retreat was a lady who was the secretary of the Francis Bacon Society in England. She introduced me to Francis Bacon, who I had not really studied before. I knew of him, but hadn't really bothered much about him. A great sort of gap in my education, that was. I went away not really knowing what to do about this.

And I was woken up with a vivid dream. Now, I don't often remember dreams, but this one I was woken up to remember. It was quite vivid. There was a certain gentleman making a certain gesture that was important in the dream, with a very short message to send to this lady. So I had to do this at four o'clock in the morning. There was no way I could not do it. It was a request that could not be refused. I wrote, and I got a letter back from her by return post saying, "Thank you very much. I've waited twenty years for this. Now we can begin our work." 

She asked me a series of questions, and as I read them, suddenly I could answer them, whereas a few days before it probably would have been alien to me. Something changed in my consciousness at that time, and it opened the gateway to another level of consciousness, which I've been working with ever since.

To me, Dawkin's story is plausible because it echoes a dream experience that has been relevant to the development of my own career. That experience took place in 1972 at a time when I was still a graduate student in criminology at the University of California. My interest in criminology reflected my fascination with human deviance. However, I was feeling very uncomfortable studying only negative forms of deviance. I deeply wanted to reorient my career focus.

One evening I felt inspired to tell myself, and to accept without doubt, that I would have a dream which would provide an answer to my career dilemma. Then I did have such a dream.

I dreamt that I was visiting some friends in Berkeley, who were not at home. Knowing where they hid their housekey, I took the key and let myself into their apartment. I walked into the living room where I found a `agazine sitting in the middle of the floor. In the dream it was called Eye (a popular magazine at that time). I picked it up and began paging through it. While I was dreaming, I had a distinct feeling of elation. I knew that somehow the answer I was seeking existed in that magazine.

I awoke early in the morning and, like Dawkins, felt drawn to act on the inspiration of the dream. Immediately I dressed and ran four miles across Berkeley to the apartment I had dreamt of. My friends were not home, but I did know where they kept their key. Breaking the bounds of conventionality, I let myself into their home. To my delight, there was a single magazine in the middle of their living room floor. It was not called Eye; it was called Focus. And this magazine literally brought focus to my life. It was the magazine of listener-sponsored television and radio in San Francisco.

As I sat there paging through Focus magazine, I was struck with the idea that I would redirect my career through involvement with public broadcast media. I applied to volunteer at KPFA-FM, Berkeley's listener-sponsored radio station -- and within three weeks, I was asked to host and produce a program twice a week called "The Mind's Ear."

Suddenly, I found that my life was transformed. Every Tuesday and Thursday I had the oportunity to hold intimate, hour-long, uninterrupted discussions with leaders of the human potential movement, yogis, scientists, psychics, psychologists, visionaries, humorists, etc. I felt as though I had found my home in the universe.

It was this experience that gave me the confidence to pursue a unique doctoral diploma in parapsychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and to write the first edition of The Roots of Consciousness. The inspiration of that dream still motivates my life twenty-eight years later as I produce the Thinking Allowed television series and prepare this internet edition.

My own dream experience certainly does not reflect a contact with higher intelligence in the romanticized or stereotyped manner characteristic of theosophical and rosicrucian legend. It does suggests a synchronistic connection (which implies some higher intelligence) that has been integrated into the movements and actions of my life pattern.


. Kenneth Demarest, "The Winged Power," in Charles Muses & Arthur M. Young (eds.), Consciousness and Reality. New York: Avon, 1972, p. 351. The accurate recording of the event referred to is quite veiled as the only preserved records come from Syncellus in Greek and Eusebius in Latin, both quoting the Greek chronicler Alexander Polyhistor, who is quoting from Berosus, who is in turn quoting from more ancient texts. This article tracing the esoteric symbology of the winged gods appears in an anthology by the editors of the Journal for the Study of Consciousness.

. D. D. Home, Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism.

London: Virtue & Co., 1878, p. 77. Actually Home is quoting directly from Augustine, but neglected to acknowledge the specific source. It's interesting to note that the nineteenth century medium placed himself in the same tradition as the saint.

1. Idries Shah, Oriental Magic. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956, pp. 61-2. Hundreds of these delightful Sufi tales have been recorded and translated by Shah, who is considered a spiritual father to story lovers throughout the world. It is said that one can develop inwardly by merely listening to these "teaching stories."

. Irina Tweedie, Spiritual Training (#S058), in Personal and Spiritual Development (#Q184), videotapes available from Thinking Allowed Productions, Berkeley, CA.

. Robert Frager, Common Threads in Mysticism (#S050) in Mystical Paths (#Q244), videotapes available from Thinking Allowed Productions, Berkeley, CA.

. William Rodarmor, "The Secret Life of Swami Muktinanda: Abuses of Power in the Ashmam of the 'Guru's Guru,'" Co-Evolution Quarterly, Winter 1983, pp. 104-111.

. Katy Butler, "Events Are the Teacher: A Buddhist Community Asks Its Leader to Stop," Co-Evolution Quarterly, Winter 1983, pp. 112-123.

. Unrestrained endorsements of Love-Ananda's teachings and books have come from Ken Wilbur, Willis Harman, Charles Tart, Fred Alan Wolf, Ken Wilbur, Irina Tweedie, Lee Sannella, and Larry Dossey among others.

. Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda, The Basket of Tolerance: A Guide to Perfect Understanding of the One and Great Tradition of Mankind. Second prepublication edition. Clearlake, CA: Free Daist Communion, 1989.

. Heart-Master Da Free John, The Dawn Horse Testament. San Rafael, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 1985.

. Da Free John, The Knee of Listening. Clearlake, CA: Dawn Horse, Press, 1972, 1988.

. Franklin Jones, The Method of the Siddhas. Clearlake, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 1973, 1988.

. Also spelled Kabala, Kabbalah, Qabala, etc.

. Charles Ponce, Kabbalah. San Francisco: Straight Arrow, 1973.

. MERU Foundation, "The MERU Project: A Geometric Metaphor for Transcendence, 1989. (P. O. Box 1738, San Anselmo, CA 94960)

. Emmanuel Swedenborg, The Heavenly Arcana, Vol. II. New York: American Swedenborg Pub. Soc., 1873, pp. 114-121.

. Wilson Van Dusen, The Presence of Other Worlds. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. A sensitive biography of Swedenborg. Formerly the chief psychologist at a mental hospital in California, Van Dusen began to treat the hallucinations of his patients as if they were spirits. The experiment worked. In fact, he hypothesized that he was encountering the very same world of spirits as described in the encyclopediac writings of Swedenborg.

. C. D. Broad, Religion, Philosophy and Psychical Research. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1953, pp. 115-116. The case for Swedenborg's clairvoyance is presented by the Emmanuel Kant in a letter sent to Fraulein von Knobloch. Later, in an anonymously published manifesto, Kant essentially retracted his support of the claims for Swedenborg. The evidence one way or another is quite shaky. Broad, an eminent philosopher of this century, demonstrated that Kant, undoubtedly a great thinker, was nevertheless, a careless psychical researcher. This book is useful for its examination of the philosphical implications of psi. 

. G. Stanley Hall, Founders of Modern Psychology. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1924, pp. 129-130. An innovative American psychologist, Hall studied with many of the German pioneers, such as Fechner, about whom he writes. This book touches on the human side of psychology's birth as a science.

. Ibid, p. 148-149.

. Ibid, p. 151.

. Richard Hodgson, "Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate Phenomena Connected with the Theosophical Society," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Part IX, December 1885.

. Victor A. Endersby, The Hall of Magic Mirrors. New York: Carlton Press, 1969. Delightfully written with a consistent sense of humor, this book is now difficult to obtain.

. Judith Skutch Whitson, A Course in Miracles (#S360), in Channels and Channeling (#Q214), videotapes available from Thinking Allowed Productions, Berkeley, CA.

. J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience.

. Shafica Karagula, Breakthrough to Creativity. Santa Monica, CA: De Vorss, 1967, pp. 110-113. Dr. Karagula is a neuropsychiatrist. However, her book lacks the detail and precision necessary for a scientific evaluation.

. Peter Dawkins, Francis Bacon and Western Mysticism (#S077), in Living Traditions (#Q304), videotapes available from Thinking Allowed Productions, Berkeley, CA.

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