The Presence of Other Worlds In Psychotherapy and Healing
by Roger J. Woolger, Ph.D.This article is a partly edited transcript of a lecture given at the second Beyond the Brain Conference sponsored by the Scientific and Medical Network (UK) and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (US), held in St. John's College, Cambridge, England, August 21-24, 1997.
In talking about the presence of other worlds, I want to argue this morning for a multi-dimensional view of reality, that is the presence of many worlds, higher and lower which interact with the inter-penetrate this one. I have been forced to re-evaluate my view of imagination, my view of spirit, my view of transcendence. This is what I am going to share with you. For me, the heart of the healing problem and the heart of the problem of the challenge of this conference is how we think of the body and physical space and how we think of the spirit and on-physical space. My basic thesis about confusions here is that we are mostly stuck when we try to think from the left brain about these phenomena. We mostly get stuck in the metaphors of mind and spirit that are spacial, concrete and literalistic. Metaphors that prevent us from fully encountering spirit in it's pure form and from fully moving into the spiritual realm.One solution to the problem of where mind, where spirit exists and what it's relationship is to matter was proposed earlier this century by the Indian mystic and philosopher Sri Aurobindo. He was actually drawing upon theosophical ideas of a very similar nature in the works of Madame Blavatsky. Aurobindo said (paraphrasing Blavatsky), If you are embarrassed by the word "spirit" think of spirit as the subtlest form of matter. But, if you are not embarrassed by the word spirit, you can think of matter as the densest form of spirit.4We could symbolize what the quotation says in this way: From the Aurobindo and Blavatsky viewpoint if we are starting from matter and moving upwards, spirit is the finest or subtlest emanation or manifestation of matter. If we dare to take the spiritual viewpoint, then matter is the lowest or the densest form of spirit. Rather as physicist David Bohm has put it: "matter is frozen light."5To my mind the culprit behind our bondage to materialism is the tiny little word "in". This innocent little word deceptively conceals a spacial metaphor that betrays its true allegiance to the materialist dogma, however holistic or spiritual we think we are. I believe that unconscious use of the word "in" sadly dominates and constricts much serious scientific thinking about energy and spirit.Heidegger has said that science is based on an explanatory scheme designed to convert whatever is studied into something in space, located over there and subsisting separately from the over against us. It makes no difference whether the thing in question is a chair, a man, an atom, a sense datum, or a body. It is still in some sense there. And when it is out there it has things in it and it is "in" space. This is how we imagine objects.6The spirit cannot be reduced to biological components, be they bioplasm, microvita or even etheric energy--which is not to say that spirit cannot manifest in forms perceived in this way. With most biological and materialist metaphors we end up mistaking the container--remember Kabir's pitcher in the water--for what it contains.
The spiritual dimension is other than and of a higher order than the energy fields that manifest in physical world. There is an intermediary crossover place where spirit manifests through the material world and a place moving in the other direction where conversely we can move through the material into the spiritual. In this intermediary world, this halfway place, is what we often experience as fields, a forces, as psychic phenomena, clairvoyant and subtle perceptions. I suggest that they come from a higher, not a lower source.
My solutions, my ways of getting out of the materialist position are twofold. They both entail a kind of going beyond, to use the phenomenologist Thevenaz's words, our presuppositions and "opening to a sense of wonder, opening to that which is bigger, greater and beyond us." Both these solutions entail metaphors and images but they are metaphors and images which I hope we can use consciously and not unconsciously. We can have metaphors and not allow the metaphors to have us.
We can move through higher realities, and higher realities can move through lower realities without being understood - because the laws and the dimensional forces that they operate with are quite different. You just need to push the reality up one dimension and you will see what I am talking about spirit. The other way that I want to suggest that we can move out of our one-dimensional thinking is to switch away from left brain - purely rational thinking, into right brain thinking.