"In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially ... These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits."
The Shikoku pilgrimage unfolds. Walking all day. Walking in the rain, walking in 35 degrees celsius ovens of sweat, walking in joy, walking in sorrow but most of all walking in synchronicity. Carl Jung had fascinated me particularly in my thirties, that most difficult period of our lives. Why do I say that? In my experience watching many others go through this threshold period, transiting from the follies of youth to the sobering realities of mortal demise, the thirties are when we lose it or use it in a new way. A quiet sense of desperation about not having attained even a fraction of the dream we had held in the teens and twenties is compounded by a powerful rebellion against all that seems to be not worth sacrificing for the sake of..marriage, family, career, money and all the rest of the fodder we are supposed to give up our wild pasions for.
Jung was smart enough to see that it is the vastly unexplored depths of our own hearts where lie our troubles and also our redemption from them. He saw invisible forces called archetypes at work in our souls and much later I was to identify these with David Hawkins' brilliant theory of attractor patterns and fields. Those unseen fields are like magnetic influences on our state of mind and explain beautifully how even with all the best intentions and the most exquisite mental training we sabotage our own higher interests time and again. Marriage is a great example when we so often hurt our partners under the banner of love and family values. It is a deep and insoluble mystery at many times we are faced with, but the thirties really provides us with the 'grist for the mill'. In short our state of consciousness defines everything in our lives. My thirties had seen me leave Japan for a new life in Canada, followed by a meteoric rise to business success as an international investment consultant.
Using my Japanese language skill I had, along with my wife and a team of Canadian lawyers and realtors and accountants, provided Japanese business men with a smoothly functioning vehicle to buy and sell real estate. By the late thirties it looked like I was set for a life of prosperity and fame. I had been the focus of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV special on entrepreneurs. The 30 minute program broadcast nationally highlighted my work on a big project in the Rockies where a dying mining town would be rescued by the Japanese golf resort entrepreneur I had brought to the bargaining table. There was me sitting at my desk in a 4 million dollar mansion I had sold to an investor whose Canadian corporation I was also the director of. Outside my Uplands office in Victoria I could see the Pacific Ocean, the snow white peak of Mount Baker in Washington state and even the occasional orca whale trawl by. I would arrive in my black BMW and drive up the long driveway to the ornate front door letting the automatic gates shut behind me. Surrounded by antiques, including tha actual phone booth where Bonny and Clyde had been gunned down and even having a guest cottage on the 3 acre property next to the private beach, I had made it at the age of 38. Life was good. For a while...
The bubble economy of Japan crashed just about then. So did my business. Getting the owner on the phone to pay the gardener's bills of that mansion became a prime concern as his bank was balking at lending any more for his foreign excursions. Within a short year I was virtually without income but had an expensive lifestyle to support and a growing family of three children and an Irish setter. The stress on my wife grew. The thirties ended with a crash and burn scenario that I am certain is not unique to me. There is a very mysterious force at work here which at the time seems hell bent on completely destroying us. Now I see it as reforming us. Literally to make the form over. Had I continued with that high rolling lifestyle I would undoubtedly have become a monster, plagued with the pride and selfishness that sudden success almost always brings the spiritually unprepared. And we are all unprepared. So I went back to Japan, alone, to start a new career as a writer and lecturer. The theme was consciousness.I therefore had to meet those who knew about it. So I did, and my fortieth orbit began of our sun. I had survived the thirties just, and was about to enter new territory yet again.
I was also about to meet a legend. Though excited with last minute preparations for his arrival, I had the nagging feeling that I was totally unready for the encounter, having not bought that book back in the psychedelic seventies. The 'Centre of the cyclone' had been well discussed by fellow travelers on the road to Katmandu in '71 and I had overheard accounts of its writer, a scientist named John Lilly repeatedly using LSD inside an isolation tank. In there he would literally transcend the confines of 'normal' consciousness conjuring up in my mind images of a pioneer shaman. Extraterrestrial contacts, solitary trips into totally uncharted inner realms - Lilly returned with stories to spark wonder in even the most jaded heart . While many had toyed with hallucinogens in those days Lilly had, in the words of Stanislav Grof, (another altered states pioneer who showed up in Kyoto too) "really played hardball with LSD". He had gone, alone and unaided where no contemporary scientist had ever gone before, totally disappearing from consensus 'reality' for days at a time risking mind and body in what appeared to me as a heroic initiation. And having returned he was about to enter my reality tunnel for a series of talks in Kyoto. The door opened...
It is of course all thanks to ECCO that we met. According to Lilly the 'Earth Coincidence Control Office' seamlessly creates the precise event sequences that manifest as our daily lives. Long before the term 'synchronicity' had become a new age hiccup, this neuro-explorer had encountered phenomenal beings in the very boiler house of the Gods. They revealed to him how short term and long term 'coincidence' is crafted into our dimension of 'reality'.
Just six weeks earlier on a trip from Canada to Tokyo, a video had caught my attention in a fashionable Aoyama bookstore. "Thinking Allowed", a taped interview with Lilly by Jeffrey Mishelove went home with me that day, along with a biographical documentary on Carl Jung and an interview with Karl Pribham. After immersing myself in Pribham's holographic brain theories and marveling at Jung's having kept a mistress in his household for most of his productive life, I then cued up the Mishelove tape expecting a fiftyish psychedelic guru. What I got on the screen was a sixtyish parody of Davy Crocket in a tight leather suit. Six weeks later an old man stepped into my tatami room..
The sound of laboured rasping of breath preceded the gaunt 1992 biophysical form-a body he claims to have frequently left and restaffed with 'walk ins' after many of his neurodimensional jaunts. One felt that here was this husk of an enormous being but that the essential core was still deep in the depths where the isolation tank connects cortical hardware to untranslatable hyperspace. I knew that he was now seventy seven, but still had not expected such a dose of mortality in a psychedelic iconographer. Dr. Timothy 'tune in, turn on, drop out' Leary swears that this man is one of the two most important philosophers of the century. As Lilly settled into a window seat looking out on the fall colours and contours of Mt. Hiezan and Daimonji I marveled that he had made it to this age at all..
He has probably ingested enough psychotropic substances in his lifetime to keep any one of us in a constant altered state for at least a year. Like the doctors of old who deliberately waded into jungle swamps to get exotic fevers for their research, Lilly had been both the subject of the experiment and the experimenter. I kept coming back to that thought over the next five days as I read his detractors rant on about how a great scientist had been ruined in the tank. Perhaps as we begin to emerge from our obsolete mechanistic paradigm of the universe to a truer understanding of being, more researchers will find the courage to abandon their glass barriers. Perhaps they will directly confront the multilevelled reality of their most important tool-consciousness itself. Surely only a scientist as solidly grounded in classical medicine, biophysics and neurophysiology as the wizened magus now sitting before me, could have retained enough 'objectivity' to record for our benefit his experiences. Records of priceless and prodigious phenomena, the topography of a realm so far outside of the comfortable certitudes of here. What do you ask Theseus on his return from the labyrinth?
"Would you like something to drink Dr. Lilly?" I served him the glass of milk he requested and decided to read the books he brought before plunging into an interview. The first five days we spent together (he slept in my tatami room on a very hard floor) slowly unfolded like the conversation between a sorcerer and his young apprentice. In our breakfast dialogues and in the ensuing interview , Dr. Lilly repeatedly stresses a fundamental insight: what we assume to be reality is just a belief system, a system that we must constantly strive to transcend until we are completely capable of 'expecting the unexpected." When he left I could not quite move back into my room. Like Lilly himself who had been 'zapped' telepathically with a trove of information by a passing compassionate whale, I was going to need some time to process the impact of these thoughts and his being..