Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.                                       ― Alan Watts

‍    What ‍I’m ‍calling ‍the ‍“Big ‍Mind” ‍is ‍the ‍Consciousness ‍of ‍All-That-Is, ‍a ‍Consciousness ‍greater ‍than ‍our ‍own ‍individual ‍consciousness. ‍We ‍think ‍with ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍when ‍we ‍use ‍it ‍as ‍a ‍source ‍of ‍information, ‍inspiration, ‍and ‍power, ‍tuning ‍into ‍it ‍to ‍practice ‍telepathy, ‍telekinesis, ‍remote ‍viewing, ‍long-distance ‍energy ‍healing, ‍shamanic ‍healing, ‍prophesy, ‍and ‍other ‍techniques ‍long ‍considered ‍reserved ‍for ‍the ‍specially ‍gifted. ‍Essentially, ‍these ‍are ‍ways ‍to ‍bring ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍into ‍service ‍to ‍our ‍individual, ‍personal ‍concerns.

‍    What ‍does ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍think ‍about ‍itself, ‍for ‍itself? ‍Many ‍scientists, ‍philosophers ‍and ‍mystics ‍have ‍expressed ‍the ‍idea ‍that ‍the ‍Universe ‍is ‍coming ‍to ‍know ‍itself ‍through ‍the ‍consciousness ‍of ‍humans. ‍For ‍example, ‍American ‍Astronomer ‍Carl ‍Sagan ‍(1934-1996) ‍said, ‍“The ‍cosmos ‍is ‍within ‍us. ‍We ‍are ‍made ‍of ‍star-stuff. ‍We ‍are ‍a ‍way ‍for ‍the ‍universe ‍to ‍know ‍itself.” ‍Evolutionary ‍biologist ‍Julian ‍Huxley ‍(1887-1975), ‍in ‍his ‍Introduction ‍to ‍Teilhard ‍de ‍Chardin’s ‍The ‍Phenomenon ‍of ‍Man, ‍expressed ‍it ‍this ‍way: ‍“As ‍a ‍result ‍of ‍a ‍thousand ‍million ‍years ‍of ‍evolution, ‍the ‍universe ‍is ‍becoming ‍conscious ‍of ‍itself, ‍able ‍to ‍understand ‍something ‍of ‍its ‍past ‍history ‍and ‍its ‍possible ‍future. ‍This ‍cosmic ‍self-awareness ‍is ‍being ‍realized ‍in ‍one ‍tiny ‍fragment ‍of ‍the ‍universe ‍— ‍in ‍a ‍few ‍of ‍us ‍human ‍beings.” ‍Quantum ‍physicist ‍David ‍Bohm ‍(1917-1992) ‍agreed: ‍“[O]ne ‍could ‍say ‍that, ‍through ‍the ‍human ‍being, ‍the ‍universe ‍has ‍created ‍a ‍mirror ‍to ‍observe ‍itself.” ‍

‍    I’d ‍be ‍more ‍inclined ‍to ‍say ‍it’s ‍not ‍only ‍humans ‍through ‍which ‍the ‍Universe ‍is ‍getting ‍to ‍know ‍itself, ‍but ‍also ‍through ‍every ‍manifestation ‍in ‍material ‍form, ‍from ‍rocks ‍to ‍humans ‍to ‍spirits, ‍the ‍universal ‍Consciousness ‍looks ‍out ‍on ‍itself. ‍Many ‍entheogen ‍users ‍express ‍this ‍insight ‍in ‍psychedelic ‍paintings ‍full ‍of ‍eye ‍images.

‍    The ‍ancient ‍Hindus ‍understood ‍that ‍everything ‍in ‍creation ‍is ‍conscious. ‍According ‍to ‍teachings ‍in ‍the ‍Upanishads ‍(c. ‍800-100 ‍BC), ‍Fourth ‍Brahmana, ‍“In ‍the ‍beginning ‍this ‍world ‍was ‍Soul ‍alone ‍in ‍the ‍form ‍of ‍a ‍Self. ‍Looking ‍around, ‍he ‍saw ‍nothing ‍else ‍than ‍himself ‍and ‍cried ‍out, ‍‘It ‍is ‍I.’” ‍The ‍text ‍goes ‍on ‍to ‍explain ‍that ‍this ‍was ‍the ‍beginning ‍of ‍dualistic ‍thinking. ‍In ‍the ‍process ‍of ‍creation ‍reality ‍was ‍split ‍into ‍separate ‍parts ‍— ‍self ‍and ‍other, ‍subject ‍and ‍object. ‍

‍    Contemporary ‍Neuropsychologist ‍Rhawn ‍Joseph ‍updates ‍this ‍ancient ‍teaching ‍with ‍an ‍understanding ‍from ‍quantum ‍physics ‍of ‍why ‍it ‍makes ‍sense ‍that ‍in ‍the ‍beginning ‍Consciousness ‍existed ‍but ‍was ‍able ‍to ‍realize ‍that ‍it ‍existed ‍only ‍when ‍it ‍became ‍conscious ‍of ‍itself. ‍He ‍describes ‍how ‍events ‍arise ‍out ‍of ‍the ‍“quantum ‍continuum” ‍(a ‍name ‍for ‍the ‍universe ‍of ‍probabilities ‍that ‍particles ‍will ‍materialize ‍out ‍of ‍the ‍background ‍nothingness ‍at ‍definite ‍times ‍and ‍places ‍if ‍and ‍when ‍a ‍conscious ‍being ‍observes ‍them ‍doing ‍so). ‍These ‍probabilities ‍are ‍called ‍“wave ‍functions.” ‍The ‍event ‍that ‍happens ‍when ‍particles ‍with ‍definite ‍locations ‍in ‍time ‍and ‍space ‍materialize ‍as ‍a ‍result ‍of ‍being ‍seen ‍by ‍a ‍conscious ‍observer ‍is ‍called ‍“collapse ‍of ‍the ‍wave ‍functions.” ‍The ‍quantum ‍continuum ‍before ‍it ‍is ‍observed ‍by ‍a ‍conscious ‍being ‍corresponds ‍to ‍the ‍Soul ‍mentioned ‍in ‍the ‍Brahmana ‍before ‍it ‍becomes ‍conscious ‍of ‍itself. ‍

‍    When ‍an ‍observer ‍(who ‍is ‍himself ‍a ‍part ‍of ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum) ‍has ‍a ‍sense ‍perception, ‍the ‍wave ‍function ‍collapses ‍and ‍turns ‍the ‍part ‍of ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum ‍being ‍observed ‍into ‍things ‍with ‍shape ‍and ‍form. ‍The ‍observer ‍and ‍the ‍observed ‍things ‍are ‍still ‍part ‍of ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum, ‍but ‍now ‍this ‍part ‍of ‍the ‍continuum ‍has ‍split ‍into ‍subject ‍and ‍object, ‍observer ‍and ‍things ‍observed. ‍Keep ‍in ‍mind ‍that ‍there ‍is ‍nothing ‍else ‍but ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum, ‍even ‍though ‍the ‍act ‍of ‍observation ‍makes ‍it ‍look ‍like ‍there ‍are ‍separate ‍things. ‍The ‍moment ‍of ‍the ‍event ‍when ‍the ‍observer ‍observes ‍the ‍things ‍is ‍when ‍the ‍Soul ‍(the ‍Greater ‍Consciousness) ‍becomes ‍conscious ‍of ‍itself.

‍    The ‍Soul ‍looks ‍around ‍and ‍sees ‍itself ‍as ‍things ‍with ‍shape ‍and ‍form, ‍knows ‍these ‍things ‍as ‍itself ‍(because ‍there ‍is ‍nothing ‍else) ‍and ‍says, ‍“This ‍is ‍I.” ‍As ‍Rhawn ‍Joseph ‍puts ‍it, ‍“at ‍the ‍moment ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum ‍became ‍conscious, ‍. ‍. ‍. ‍this ‍triggered ‍a ‍collapse ‍of ‍the ‍wave ‍function, ‍and ‍the ‍universe ‍came ‍into ‍being.”

‍    Those ‍of ‍us ‍seeking ‍enlightenment ‍can ‍run ‍the ‍process ‍backward. ‍We ‍look ‍around ‍and ‍see ‍nothing ‍but ‍things. ‍But ‍we ‍know ‍these ‍“things” ‍are ‍really ‍just ‍appearances ‍that ‍parts ‍of ‍the ‍Greater ‍Consciousness ‍took ‍on ‍when ‍we ‍observed ‍them. ‍Knowing ‍this, ‍we ‍can ‍ask, ‍“What ‍is ‍it ‍that ‍makes ‍it ‍possible ‍for ‍me ‍to ‍observe ‍these ‍things? ‍What ‍power, ‍what ‍condition ‍of ‍reality ‍has ‍to ‍be ‍present?” ‍The ‍answer ‍is ‍Consciousness ‍— ‍the ‍power ‍to ‍be ‍aware. ‍Consciousness ‍is ‍undeniably ‍here, ‍always ‍was, ‍is, ‍and ‍will ‍be. ‍There ‍is ‍nothing ‍else. ‍I, ‍the ‍observer, ‍am ‍It.

‍    Does ‍all ‍this ‍mean ‍that ‍everything ‍conceivable ‍in ‍creation ‍is ‍laid ‍out ‍like ‍a ‍banquet ‍before ‍us ‍in ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍and ‍we ‍can ‍experience ‍anything ‍we ‍want ‍simply ‍by ‍imagining ‍it’s ‍real? ‍Can ‍we ‍force ‍the ‍quantum ‍continuum ‍to ‍conform ‍to ‍our ‍expectations? ‍I ‍think ‍we ‍all ‍know ‍this ‍doesn’t ‍usually ‍work. ‍Our ‍little ‍egos ‍can’t ‍control ‍reality ‍when ‍someone ‍else’s ‍desires ‍are ‍interfering, ‍and ‍in ‍our ‍crowded ‍world ‍other ‍people’s ‍desires ‍are ‍usually ‍interfering.

‍    This ‍situation ‍is ‍illustrated ‍by ‍a ‍paradox ‍proposed ‍by ‍Nobel ‍Laureate ‍Physicist ‍Eugene ‍Wigner ‍(1902-1995): ‍Two ‍different ‍“observers” ‍want ‍to ‍influence ‍the ‍same ‍reality, ‍a ‍traffic ‍light ‍at ‍a ‍crossroads. ‍Wigner ‍approaches ‍the ‍light ‍wanting ‍it ‍to ‍turn ‍green ‍for ‍him ‍while ‍his ‍friend ‍is ‍approaching ‍it ‍on ‍the ‍cross ‍street ‍at ‍exactly ‍the ‍same ‍time ‍wanting ‍it ‍to ‍turn ‍green ‍for ‍him. ‍Who ‍wins? ‍The ‍solution, ‍explained ‍by ‍Physicist ‍Amit ‍Goswami ‍in ‍his ‍book ‍God ‍is ‍Not ‍Dead, ‍is ‍that ‍“consciousness ‍is ‍one, ‍nonlocal ‍and ‍cosmic, ‍behind ‍the ‍two ‍local ‍individualities ‍of ‍Wigner ‍and ‍his ‍friend. ‍They ‍both ‍choose, ‍but ‍only ‍figuratively ‍speaking. ‍The ‍one ‍unified ‍consciousness ‍chooses ‍for ‍both.” ‍In ‍other ‍words, ‍you ‍only ‍get ‍to ‍direct ‍reality ‍when ‍you’re ‍no ‍longer ‍identified ‍with ‍your ‍individual ‍ego ‍but ‍with ‍the ‍One ‍Unified ‍Consciousness ‍– ‍if ‍you ‍even ‍want ‍to ‍by ‍then.

‍    Physicist ‍David ‍Bohm ‍saw ‍Consciousness ‍as ‍a ‍moving ‍hologram, ‍in ‍which ‍each ‍part ‍contains ‍the ‍whole. ‍I ‍call ‍this ‍unity ‍consciousness ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍because ‍it ‍can ‍think ‍and ‍we ‍can ‍think ‍with ‍it. ‍It ‍contains ‍the ‍sum ‍total ‍of ‍all ‍thoughts ‍and ‍feelings ‍of ‍all ‍sentient ‍beings, ‍including ‍those ‍in ‍bodies ‍and ‍those ‍we ‍know ‍as ‍spirits ‍and ‍deities,  every ‍ascended ‍Master, ‍every ‍genius ‍that ‍has ‍ever ‍existed, ‍every ‍animal, ‍plant ‍and ‍stone, ‍and ‍all ‍the ‍small, ‍inconsequential ‍thoughts ‍that ‍take ‍place ‍in ‍our ‍individual ‍minds. ‍It’s ‍not ‍bound ‍by ‍time ‍and ‍space, ‍though ‍time ‍and ‍space ‍exist ‍within ‍it. ‍Storing ‍memories, ‍it ‍acts ‍as ‍a ‍giant ‍database, ‍what ‍the ‍Hindus ‍call ‍“the ‍akashic ‍record,” ‍of ‍everything ‍that ‍ever ‍has ‍or ‍will ‍occur, ‍and ‍at ‍the ‍same ‍time ‍it ‍is ‍the ‍“subject” ‍who ‍keeps ‍on ‍thinking.

‍    These ‍are ‍exciting ‍times ‍for ‍humans. ‍As ‍a ‍species ‍we ‍humans ‍are ‍rapidly ‍evolving ‍abilities ‍and ‍practical ‍technologies ‍to ‍think ‍with ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind. ‍Paleoanthropologist, ‍Philosopher ‍and ‍Jesuit ‍Priest ‍Pierre ‍Teilhard ‍de ‍Chardin ‍(1881-1955), ‍began ‍talking ‍about ‍it ‍in ‍the ‍early ‍Twentieth ‍Century, ‍calling ‍it ‍the ‍“noösphere.” ‍The ‍noösphere ‍is ‍a ‍layer ‍of ‍collective ‍human ‍consciousness ‍and ‍knowledge ‍evolving ‍to ‍surround ‍the ‍earth ‍like ‍the ‍atmosphere, ‍the ‍biosphere ‍and ‍the ‍geosphere. ‍It ‍would ‍surely ‍gratify ‍Teilhard ‍to ‍see ‍how ‍quickly ‍we ‍have ‍created ‍a ‍physical ‍embodiment ‍and ‍support ‍for ‍this ‍sphere ‍of ‍consciousness ‍with ‍our ‍computers ‍and ‍the ‍internet, ‍search ‍engines, ‍programs ‍for ‍crowdsourcing ‍and ‍virtual ‍group ‍meetings ‍and ‍communications. ‍The ‍Big ‍Mind ‍includes ‍this ‍technology, ‍and ‍our ‍individual ‍minds ‍interact ‍and ‍merge ‍with ‍it ‍on ‍a ‍daily ‍basis. ‍

‍    Philosophers ‍David ‍Chalmers ‍and ‍Andy ‍Clark ‍make ‍the ‍case ‍in ‍their ‍book, ‍The ‍Extended ‍Mind, ‍that ‍our ‍iphones, ‍computers, ‍notebooks, ‍other ‍external ‍tools, ‍and ‍even ‍our ‍spouses, ‍extend ‍our ‍minds ‍because ‍they ‍are ‍intimately ‍involved ‍in ‍our ‍thinking ‍processes. ‍The ‍extended ‍mind, ‍they ‍say, ‍implies ‍an ‍extended ‍self: ‍"The ‍self ‍is ‍greater ‍than ‍what ‍we’re ‍immediately ‍aware ‍of ‍at ‍any ‍given ‍moment. ‍The ‍information ‍in ‍one’s ‍notebook ‍is ‍an ‍essential ‍part ‍of ‍who ‍one ‍is, ‍so ‍that ‍it ‍makes ‍sense ‍to ‍regard ‍one’s ‍self ‍as ‍an ‍extended ‍system, ‍a ‍coupling ‍of ‍biological ‍organism ‍and ‍external ‍resources.”

‍    Author ‍Kevin ‍Kelly ‍of ‍Wired ‍Magazine, ‍agrees, ‍asserting ‍that ‍“technology ‍is ‍an ‍ever-ripening ‍superorganism, ‍of ‍which ‍we ‍are ‍but ‍a ‍part. ‍. ‍. ‍. ‍We ‍are ‍already ‍symbiotic ‍with ‍it.” ‍Whenever ‍we ‍perform ‍a ‍search ‍to ‍find ‍out ‍what ‍diseases ‍might ‍correspond ‍to ‍our ‍symptoms, ‍to ‍define ‍a ‍word, ‍or ‍learn ‍about ‍a ‍new ‍technology, ‍we’re ‍helping ‍to ‍train ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind. ‍Following ‍the ‍evolutionary ‍drive ‍toward ‍sentience, ‍and ‍interlinked ‍with ‍the ‍internet, ‍Kelly ‍says, ‍we’re ‍evolving ‍toward ‍“a ‍planetary ‍thought ‍— ‍on ‍the ‍way ‍to ‍comprehending ‍itself.” ‍Pointing ‍out ‍that ‍technology ‍speeds ‍up ‍connections ‍among ‍people ‍and ‍“amplifies ‍the ‍mind’s ‍urge ‍toward ‍the ‍unity ‍of ‍all ‍thought,” ‍he ‍predicts ‍that ‍ultimately ‍“it ‍will ‍populate ‍the ‍world ‍with ‍all ‍conceivable ‍ways ‍of ‍comprehending ‍the ‍infinite” ‍and ‍that ‍“the ‍greatest ‍technological ‍works ‍will ‍be ‍considered ‍a ‍portrait ‍of ‍God ‍rather ‍than ‍of ‍us.”

‍    As ‍evidence ‍for ‍the ‍practical ‍workings ‍of ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind, ‍Kelly ‍recounts ‍many ‍examples ‍of ‍simultaneous ‍invention ‍throughout ‍history, ‍including ‍the ‍calculus ‍by ‍Newton ‍and ‍Leibniz, ‍the ‍electric ‍light ‍bulb ‍by ‍Edison, ‍Swan ‍and ‍Maxim, ‍and ‍others. ‍When ‍I ‍was ‍practicing ‍patent ‍law, ‍our ‍firm ‍worked ‍on ‍high-tech ‍university ‍inventions ‍in ‍biotechnology, ‍optoelectronics, ‍and ‍the ‍like. ‍Our ‍work ‍convinced ‍me ‍that ‍simultaneous ‍invention ‍isn’t ‍just ‍an ‍interesting ‍coincidence, ‍it’s ‍actually ‍a ‍rule ‍of ‍human ‍progress. ‍As ‍Kelly ‍points ‍out, ‍important ‍early ‍inventions ‍such ‍as ‍stone ‍flakes, ‍fire, ‍knife ‍points ‍and ‍human ‍burials, ‍the ‍arch ‍and ‍welding, ‍occurred ‍at ‍about ‍the ‍same ‍time ‍and ‍in ‍the ‍same ‍order ‍on ‍continents ‍isolated ‍from ‍each ‍other; ‍and ‍we ‍discovered ‍first-hand ‍in ‍our ‍firm ‍that ‍if ‍our ‍clients ‍were ‍working ‍on ‍an ‍invention, ‍it ‍was ‍likely ‍that ‍other ‍scientists ‍in ‍other ‍labs ‍were ‍working ‍on ‍the ‍same ‍thing, ‍which ‍meant ‍we ‍couldn’t ‍waste ‍a ‍minute ‍getting ‍a ‍patent ‍application ‍on ‍file. ‍This ‍brings ‍up ‍the ‍obvious ‍question, ‍where ‍were ‍these ‍inspirations, ‍manifesting ‍in ‍multiple ‍human ‍minds ‍at ‍once, ‍coming ‍from? ‍

‍    Is ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍generating ‍its ‍own ‍thoughts ‍or ‍does ‍it ‍rely ‍only ‍on ‍our ‍individual ‍minds ‍to ‍do ‍its ‍thinking? ‍When ‍we ‍think ‍with ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍we ‍have ‍access ‍to ‍every ‍thought ‍and ‍energy ‍that ‍ever ‍existed. ‍We ‍can ‍initiate ‍communication ‍with ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind ‍by ‍asking ‍it ‍for ‍information, ‍inspiration, ‍and ‍healing. ‍But ‍it’s ‍more ‍than ‍a ‍repository ‍of ‍thought ‍forms ‍and ‍patterns ‍of ‍energy. ‍It ‍also ‍initiates ‍communication ‍with ‍us, ‍sending ‍visions, ‍voices, ‍dreams, ‍and ‍new ‍ideas. ‍

‍    When ‍we’re ‍in ‍touch ‍with ‍the ‍Big ‍Mind, ‍we ‍often ‍feel ‍a ‍sense ‍of ‍sacredness. ‍In ‍meditation ‍when ‍we ‍let ‍other ‍thoughts ‍go ‍and ‍appreciate ‍the ‍bare ‍presence ‍of ‍conscious ‍awareness ‍itself ‍— ‍the ‍miracle ‍that ‍it ‍even ‍exists ‍and ‍that ‍somehow ‍we’re ‍part ‍of ‍it, ‍that ‍in ‍fact ‍we ‍are ‍it ‍— ‍we ‍feel ‍a ‍sense ‍of ‍rightness, ‍relief, ‍and ‍a ‍certainty ‍that ‍This ‍that ‍we ‍are, ‍can ‍never ‍die ‍or ‍abandon ‍us.

Exercises for Thinking with the Big Mind

    Shamanic Journeying

    Shamans are men and women who contact spirits for healing and bringing harmony to their communities. Traditionally, they healed the sick, brought rain, predicted the future, empowered warriors, told the  hunters where to find game, mediated disputes, identified thieves, helped the dying, restored lost souls, and performed other services requiring contact with spirits. Spirits include souls of the dead, gods and goddesses, animals, species of animals, fairies, trolls, angels, demons, and other entities without physical bodies. Shamans have existed for at least fifty thousand years, and probably much longer. They still exist today although some of their traditional functions — detecting happenings at remote locations, and many medical procedures, for example — have been taken over by technology. Also known as medicine people, wizards, sorcerers, and faith healers, shamans get power and knowledge from compassionate helping spirits to do their work.

    This exercise in shamanic journeying will give you practice in meeting a spirit and receiving information from it. Shamans receive power as well as information from spirits to do their work, but for this exercise we’ll deal only with information and save the power aspects for later.

    Anthropologist Michael Harner (1937-2018), pioneered the return of shamanism to the Western world after centuries of repression by religions and governments. Catholics burned “witches” in Europe during the Inquisition and later it became a capital offense to own a drum in Communist China. Through his Foundation for Shamanic Studies and his writings, including The Way of the Shaman and Cave and Cosmos, Harner taught shamanic techniques to generations of Western students as well as students from indigenous cultures where the ancestral shamanic knowledge was dying out. 

    The instructions below for beginners on how to make shamanic journeys are derived from Harner’s books and teachings. Anyone can follow them to meet helping spirits. No special talent or experience is needed.

    In the cosmology common to most shamanic cultures, there are three worlds: an Upper World, a Lower World and a Middle World. We humans live our daily lives in Ordinary Reality in the Middle World, which also has a Nonordinary aspect where spirits live. The Upper World and a Lower Worlds are entirely in Nonordinary Reality, and only spirits live there. Shamans use drumming to induce an altered state in which they journey to nonordinary realities.

    One of Michael Harner’s most important contributions to the field of shamanism was his discovery, as a result of his collection of thousands of accounts of students’ shamanic journeys over the decades, was that in their journeys to both the shamanic Upper and Lower Worlds, no one ever reported meeting spirits that were other than compassionate and helpful. In contrast, spirits in the Nonordinary Middle World were found to have all sorts of agendas and be helpful, harmful, or indifferent to the journeyer.

    This is an important discovery because many people are initially afraid to venture into the spirit world because they think they might meet harmful spirits. Harner’s work showed that if you follow the instructions below for journeying to the Lower World to meet a helping animal spirit you have nothing to fear.

    Another misconception some people have about shamans is that they always take entheogens like ayahuasca, peyote or mushrooms to contact spirits. Some shamans do, but 90% of shamans worldwide rely solely on drumming or other percussive sound to put them into an altered state for journeying. Drumming is preferred for shamanic healing because it allows you to keep control so you can do your work. 

    I’m not at all opposed to using entheogens as an introduction to nonordinary realms and to open and expand your mind. Used in a sacred “set and setting” it’s a good idea. But prolonged use for partying burns people out.  Shamans of the Shuar people (formerly known as Jivaro) of Ecuador prepare both a weak mixture of hallucinogenic alkaloids called natema and stronger drink containing datura called maikua, but for healing they prefer to use the weaker natema. The stronger maikua interferes with their ability to function in the necessary ritual singing, sucking and accompanying social interaction. 

    Any kind of percussion with a steady rhythm at 4-8 beats per second will put you into an altered state by inducing a theta brainwave state. This is the state you experience at the moment of waking up or going to sleep, when many people have audial hallucinations and colorful, detailed visions. 

    Shamanic journeying is similar to what pioneering Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875-1961) called “active imagination,” which he used as a meditation technique for translating the contents of the unconscious mind into images, stories or separate personalities. (Late in his career, Jung revealed that rather than talking about a “collective unconscious,” he should have called it a “spirit world.”)     

    Jung’s process of active imagination involved exerting as little influence as possible on one’s mental images as they unfolded. For example, his approach was to ask the patient to observe the scene, watch for changes, and report them, rather than consciously fill the scene with changes they wanted. When changes happened, he instructed his patients to react to them genuinely and report further changes that happened in the scene. He wanted his patients to participate in the active imagination and told them, “You yourself must enter into the process with your personal if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real.” This is also good advice for shamanic journeying.

    In shamanic journeying, you need to use your imagination to get to the nonordinary Lower or Upper World. This is same kind of imagination you might use to plan your next dinner party or fantasize a meeting with a lover. It’s simply the power to visualize (and/or use other senses) to create an inner experience. But after you use your active imagination to reach the spirit world, call for a helping spirit, and ask it for an answer to a question or help in healing, you need to stop actively creating the situation, and watch and wait to see what happens — just as we do in ordinary reality when we ask someone a question. We don’t try to imagine the answer, we simply stop talking and wait to hear what they say.

    If you doubt that spirits are “real,” you may be surprised to find out in your journey that when you stop actively imagining what’s happening and simply stop and watch to see what a spirit will do next, it moves and speaks (in words or by telepathy) by itself, and even tells you things you wouldn’t have otherwise known. Spirits give us sage counsel when we need it. Ultimately it’s results that count, not whether spirits confirm to classical laws of physics.

    Having been raised by scientists, educated as a scientist, and making my living patenting scientific inventions, I often find it hard to shake my doubts about whether it will work or not when I start a shamanic healing session. Of course I know I can rely on the placebo effect  — and techniques for mobilizing the placebo effect are valuable in themselves — but there’s more to it than that. When I journey to my helping spirits, ask for advice and power for working on a client, and give myself over to carrying out what the spirits tell me — whether it be classic shamanic techniques such as depossession, extracting negative energy intrusions, and soul retrieval, or something I’ve never heard of before — the client almost invariably says they feel better, and often confirms that something I saw in my shamanic journey relates to a trauma or problem in their life they didn’t tell me about beforehand.    

    If you want to try the shamanic journey, don’t be concerned about whether it makes sense or conforms to your current beliefs and understandings. Just have an open mind and give it a try.

            Preparation for the shamanic journey

    Prepare for the journey by finding a comfortable place to lie down and cover your eyes with a blindfold or bandana. 

    Have writing materials nearby so you can take notes of what happens in the journey. Spirits like to communicate to us in metaphor, and sometimes we don’t understand the meaning until we’re writing it down afterward. (Sometimes we don’t even understand the meaning for months or years. It’s good to have a record.)

    Ask someone to drum for you with a steady rhythm of 4-8 beats per second. Any kind of percussion with a steady beat in this range will put you in an altered state by entraining your brainwaves into the theta brainwave state. This is the state you experience at the moment of waking up or going to sleep, when many people experience audial hallucinations or detailed visions. Any kind of percussion at a frequency of 4-8 beats per second will work. You can use a drum, rattle, click sticks, or Hemi-sync music available from The Monroe Institute, to name a few. High quality CDs or MP3 downloads of shamanic drumming are available through The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, or you can search the internet for free downloads or YouTube videos. You’ll need fifteen minutes of drumming.

    Don’t expect the experience to necessarily be visual. You may see visions, or you may get your information through sound, kinesthetic feelings, other senses, including senses you didn’t even know you had, or intuitive knowings. Don’t expect the experience will unroll like a movie. Sometimes it does, but often it comes in isolated flashes.

    You will be using your imagination to go down into the earth, which means you  can make yourself as small as you need to, or turn yourself into water and trickle down through the soil. Or, you can call for a digging machine or make your hands into bionic shovels. Whatever it takes. You can imagine anything you need to go down and keep going down. 

    If you lose focus and find yourself drifting into unrelated thoughts, try narrating the journey to yourself as if you were telling a story to a child: “Now I’m going into my hole. Now I’m going through some sandy soul. Now it’s dense and sticky like clay. Now I’m going around a rock. Now I feel like I’m falling through an underground cave,” and so on. Some people experience being in a tunnel or a vortex as they go down. That’s a classic shamanic experience, but if it doesn’t happen for you, that’s fine. The only thing necessary is that you keep on going down until you get there.

    “There” is the first level of the Lower World — usually a lighted area, a cave with an opening, or a landscape that looks like an ordinary-reality landscape. Once you get there you’ll be looking around and calling for a helping animal spirit that wants to interact with you.

    Any animal spirit from the Lower World can be a useful source of help, but just for this first journey, don’t pick a reptile or fish with sharp teeth or an insect. These are animals some people find scary, and sometimes shamans see them as representing energy intrusions in a person’s body. When you’re new to journeying it’s best to look for an animal spirit that doesn’t have negative connotations in the collective consciousness.

    Read through the following instructions and remember them. You’ll be on your own — no guided meditation. These journeys are different for everyone. There’s no “right” way to experience them. A good shaman is in charge of where and how he or she travels in nonordinary reality, and of interpreting the meaning of communications from spirits. The spirits know us and how we think, and tailor their communications so we’ll understand. You, the direct recipient of the spirit communication, are the only one who can decode its meaning, if it needs decoding, so don’t accept anyone else’s opinion. Asking someone else to interpret for you, is a sign of disrespect for the spirits and the sacredness of your relationship with them, and they’ll be less likely to appear for you in the future. And since the communication was designed uniquely for you, someone else’s interpretation is likely to be irrelevant and misleading.

                Instructions for shamanic journey to the Lower World 

    If you enjoyed your shamanic journey and want to learn more about shamanism, I highly recommend signing up for basic and advanced workshops from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies ( The faculty, to which I currently belong, are well-trained, and the teaching methods, developed and improved over decades for Western minds, make it quick and easy to learn. The group energy gives added power to your journeys, and sharing journey experiences within the group gives you confidence and accelerates your learning. Besides, it’s fun!

    Training from the Foundation also gives you an ethical foundation for working with spirits. The compassionate helping spirits are quick to help us when we’re doing altruistic healing and promoting harmony, but if we use their power for unfair personal gain or to interfere with another person’s free will — for example, by trying to heal someone without their permission — the spirits withdraw their help.

    Contacting and forming relationships with compassionate helping spirits in nonordinary reality is a way to collaborate with the Big Mind. We can do it easily through the shamanic journey, an ancient, highly effective means of communication that has developed over centuries within the Big Mind and now comes down to us. 

    Even if you have doubts about the reality of spirits, if you practice this technique for a while you’ll find it highly useful, not only for creative problem solving in all aspects of your personal life, but also for helping and healing others and bringing harmony to your family, social groups, and government.

Divination Walk to Understand an Important Issue 

    Looking for and interpreting “signs” (meaningful events, like seeing a four-leaf clover, or hearing random words that relate to an issue you’re facing) is another technique for thinking with the Big Mind that’s useful for solving individual and group problems. Signs can be found anywhere. When we pay attention to our surroundings, which are always in a state of change, with an important question in mind we often experience something that triggers an answer to suddenly pop into our mind.

    The process of looking for signs of this kind is called “divination” because we’re taking our question to the Divine.

    For this exercise, you’ll be looking for a sign in nature. Nature is wonderful for divining. Everything in nature has a spirit, even rocks and clouds. Spirits of living beings are excellent sources of Big Mind information because they have diverse perspectives and a great deal of wisdom. You can communicate with these spirits without journeying to a nonordinary world, although as you cultivate a receptive state of mind for “tuning in” to them, you’ll automatically be slipping into a slightly altered state of consciousness.

            Instructions for divining about an important issue    

Questions of a personal nature about one’s own life can also be taken to the Big Mind, with the advantage that thinking with the Big Mind about an issue usually teaches us more than a simple interpretation that relates the sign to our personal issues. It often raises our consciousness above narrow concerns about ourselves, putting the problem into larger perspectives where we find it easier to accept whatever we need to accept to bring us into harmony.

Speed Learning with the Big Mind  

The internet is a great repository of information essential to running our practical lives. YouTube has videos showing how to do almost anything. You just have to get online and watch them. Another great way to gather information is to consult directly with the Big Mind.

When I was working as a patent attorney writing patent applications for university researchers, I had to learn a new technology for almost every new case. We were a small firm so our attorneys had to be competent in more than one field, and, we had to learn fast because we billed by the hour and our university clients had tight patent budgets. 

I already knew about the Big Mind even though I didn’t talk about it then. My task was to understand the inventor’s written description and drawings and pinpoint what was novel enough to patent. I’d start by “tuning in” to the psychic field of all the people who worked in that particular technology, past and present, imagining my mind expanding out into the noösphere of all knowledge about the subject around the globe and asking to receive whatever I needed for writing the patent application. 

With the intention of connecting with other minds in the technical field of the invention and having them participate in my thinking, I quickly reviewed the inventor’s materials, flagging unfamiliar buzz words and formulating questions, Of course I consulted the internet and other patents for definitions and explanations. Then I’d start cranking through the tedious mechanical aspects of drafting the patent application, generating more questions in the process.

My rough drafts included lots of blanks and embedded questions for the inventor. Since I didn’t want to look like an idiot when I talked to him or her, I tried to schedule in some extra time before meeting them, meanwhile turning my attention to other things, but at the same time maintaining an intention for the Big Mind to keep thinking about the invention. (This period of time corresponds to the well-known “incubation period” in creative processes, which is generally understood as a time for the unconscious mind to work on the project, except I thought of it as the Big Mind at work rather than my individual unconscious mind.)

I believed that I was tapping into a consciousness outside my own brain, a consciousness formed by the inventor and others who had also been thinking about the subject, and that this helped me understand the invention more quickly than I could have on my own. Thinking with the Big Mind during the “incubation period” while I waited to meet with the inventor wasn’t especially logical — just a process of occasionally wondering about the invention and letting thoughts and images come to mind. 

            Instructions for Speed Learning with the Big Mind 

Tuning into Intelligent Life on Another Planet

    So far nobody knows for sure whether intelligent life exists on other planets. Scientists don’t even agree on what the odds are that we’ll find such life even if it does exist. I like to think it’s likely and hope it’s more advanced than we are so it can teach us how to avoid destroying ourselves before it’s too late.

    We humans are fascinated with the idea of intelligent life on other planets and, as reported in a March 2019 article in National Geographic, manage to fund a number of expensive scientific searches — in spite of a recent probabilistic analysis from Oxford University indicating a high likelihood that we’re alone in the Universe.  

    The scientific searches for extraterrestrial life would probably lose their funding if they admitted to seriously considering the fact that many ordinary citizens and even some scientists have been reporting experiences of contact with extraterrestrials for decades. This is something that is happening in human consciousness, as does everything we experience, and from the perspective of the Big Mind, merits serious consideration.

    It can be interesting and fun to connect with the Big Mind, using your imagination, just as you did in the shamanic journey exercise and asking to communicate with an intelligent being from another planet. There may be no way to verify the “reality” of what you experience, but if enough people do it, we may come up with information to aid in the search.

        Instructions for Tuning into Intelligent Life on Another Planet

  • Expand your mind out into the Universe with the intention of tuning into intelligent life on another planet. Call on a spirit helper for companionship and advice you’d like.
  • Look at the stars in the night sky.
  • Let your mind expand until it detects a signal from intelligent life on another planet.
  • Focus in on the planet and its intelligent living beings and learn as much about them as you can — what do they look like, how do they support themselves, what do they like, what are their hopes and dreams, what threatens them?
  • Write about your findings.

        If you feel like it, email me with a description of what you found:

    Thinking with the Big Mind can help in our greatest life work: to know ourselves as One with a Greater Whole, even when we’re in the mode of consciousness in which things seems separate and isolated.



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Hiley, Basil J. and Bohm, David, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory, 1st Edition, Routledge, 1995.

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Rudy, Lloyd, “Famous Cardiac Surgeon's Stories of Near Death Experiences in Surgery,” Dental Mastermind Group, 2011,, accessed May 11, 2019.

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