This article appeared in NEXUS magazine and is reproduced here with their permission.
A VOYAGE TO KNOWLEDGE
OF THE AFTERLIFE
Do the many levels of consciousness that we can access in 'out-of-body' travels
prove the existence of life beyond this one?
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 6, Number 3 (April-May 1999).
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia.
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From the NEXUS web page at:
by Bruce Moen © 1999
THE GOOD SHIP 'CURIOSITY'
Death was once a Great Unknown to me. Gazing out to sea, I wondered: Is there another shore beyond the horizon of physical life? For centuries, religions preached eternal bliss or pain there, and science preached an edge that we sail off into non-existence. I once believed that anyone claiming knowledge of that distant shore must have some special psychic gift, perhaps a near-death experience or some other cosmic bonk on the head, to explain their ability. Yet, none of those applies to me. I'm just an ordinary guy whose curiosity about human existence beyond the physical world led to the extraordinary experience of knowing. And I've discovered that nothing separates us ordinary folks from this ability, except our willingness to let Curiosity carry us on voyages of discovery.
A CHILDHOOD VOYAGE
Often it's a chart or map drawn from a childhood voyage that later sets our course for afterlife exploration. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, looking over one of those old maps piqued my curiosity. Raised in the backwoods of Alaska, I had a recurring daydream - one that happened at least once a week for months, beginning in 1953 at the age of five...
Playing outside, like kids do, I was suddenly transported to different place where the clear, night sky was filled with stars. After climbing a set of creaking wooden stairs, I opened a door and entered the second-floor room of a small, white stucco house. A plain white curtain fluttered lightly, covering a window on the opposite wall. Between the curtain and where I stood, a woman in a big brass-rail bed beckoned, smiling. I joined her, not knowing at age five what all the joy and bouncing was about. Then terror gripped me as heavy footsteps climbed those creaking stairs. The door burst open and a man whose bulk filled the doorway stood there in seething anger. I knew if he caught me I'd be dead, or worse. I rolled out of the bed, ran naked toward the window and dove head-first for the window's plain white curtain. In the grip of pure, absolute terror, the last thing I felt was my fingertips touching that curtain...
Then the daydream would end and I'd be back in daylight, playing outside, my heart still pounding with mind-numbing fear. As a five-year-old boy, I never understood why that man wanted to kill me. As a twenty-something man looking over that old map, I wondered where the daydream had come from. How could I as a young boy have knowledge of brass-rail beds, sex, or jealousy so strongly felt it could lead to murder? And the feelings accompanying the experience: where had the pleasure, joy and frolic I'd felt with the woman and the throat-gripping terror come from?
It was clear that no reasonable, logical rationalisation could explain away the childhood voyage pointed to by this map's existence. Parents didn't take their kids to see such movies back in 1953. I saw my first television program at least a year after the daydream began, and that kind of story was not something broadcast on 1950s television. It took years of reading, questioning beliefs and exploring possibilities before I accepted the only possible explanation: I had lived a previous life in another place and time. Going over that childhood map, I realised it contained the memory of the final minutes of that lifetime. Curiosity led to my acceptance of reincarnation as the truth.
A TRADE ROUTE TO AFTERLIFE KNOWLEDGE
The eventual discovery of land beyond the horizon led to trade routes - pathways charted across the open ocean known to lead there. In 1992 my curiosity found a trade route to afterlife knowledge, charted and mapped by Robert A. Monroe from landfalls made during his out-of-body travels. Using a trade route called "retrieval", the Lifeline program at his Institute in Virginia taught a method of exploring the afterlife. Monroe claimed that, after death, some people became stuck in isolated realities of their own making. He'd embarked on voyages of retrieval, contacting and assisting those people, and gave his charts and maps to others to follow.
Voyages Into the Unknown and Voyage Beyond Doubt, the first two books in my Exploring the Afterlife series, recount my first three-and-a-half years exploring our afterlife existence. Those years were filled with doubt and scepticism on my part. I couldn't shake the nagging feeling I was making it all up in my imagination, convinced that at some point I'd discover it was all a self-delusion.
COMPONENTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In my early Lifeline voyages I discovered a key to interaction within the non-physical world. I'd expected to see, hear, touch, taste and feel there in much the same way as in the physical world, but each attempt at finding anything or anyone to communicate with beyond the horizon left me becalmed, floating frustratedly in empty blackness. Then someone suggested what I was trying to perceive were subtle energies, and perhaps physical world senses were incapable of their perception.
That key opened the door to understanding two major components to my consciousness: the Perceiver and the Interpreter.
A pattern in my experience emerged. Just as I'd begin to 'see' something in my mind's eye, it would abruptly disappear in the distraction of a series of seemingly random thoughts. I began to observe this pattern carefully, and I found that as something, say a mind's-eye image, entered my awareness, an internal dialogue automatically began.
This, I discovered, is the voice of the Interpreter. It brings into awareness anything stored in memory bearing the slightest similarity to the image. Left unchecked, the Interpreter's voice continues bringing more related images to mind, with a constant jabbering that crowds the original mind's-eye image out of awareness. Turns out the Interpreter is a vital function of consciousness. By mentally associating existing memories with the new image, it is building links within existing memory to that image. That's how we learn to remember anything. But let the Interpreter run on too long, and perception of anything more than single, fleeting images is blocked.
I wanted more, and reasoned I'd somehow have to learn to shut down the Interpreter's incessant jabbering. It took vigilance, will power and perseverance, but shutting down that automatic internal dialogue is exactly what I did. In doing so, I learned the limitations of that other component of consciousness, the Perceiver.
The Perceiver is just that: pure perception, and only pure perception. It has absolutely no associative function or ability to anchor what it perceives in memory. When I got really good at shutting down the Interpreter at the first hint of its jabbering voice, I clicked out - meaning I became unconscious to experience. Clicking out is weird. Regaining consciousness afterwards leaves the distinct feeling that three seconds or three thousand years could have elapsed, and you have no way of knowing which. It's possible I was perceiving more than single, fleeting images during these click-outs. It could have been like a 3D, full- colour and stereo-sound movie, but I had no memory of the experience.
Finding the Balance
Realising I had to find a route that sailed past this great barrier reef of consciousness, I tried combining the knowledge that both their landfalls brought. Not an easy voyage, and more than once I had to sail back out of paths that led to nowhere. Balance, landfall beyond that reef, came when I learned to shift my awareness quickly between the Perceiver and Interpreter.
Opening my perception, I'd first allow the Perceiver to bring non-physical-world information into my awareness, and then allow the Interpreter to comment just long enough to anchor it in memory. In the beginning, my struggle to shut down the Interpreter took too long and the Perceiver's images would fade out. At least the images resumed once the Interpreter shut up! Gradually, I learned to shift quickly enough between the two that perception in the non-physical world become continuous with memory of the experience.
IMAGINATION: OUR SIXTH SENSE
Early on, I discovered my Lifeline voyages required actively imagining the first few moments of a retrieval as the only way to get anything at all to happen. Without this pretending, I drifted aimlessly in the empty blackness of a cloudy night at sea.
You might see why I worried about self-deception. But by allowing myself to pretend, for example, the beginning of both sides of an imaginary conversation with a dead person, something interesting began to happen. The dead people started saying things I knew I hadn't pretended. For instance, there was the elderly woman who called out, "Maggie, Maggie! What are you doing here?" as I watched another unknown, non-physical woman approach her. I had no way of knowing the other woman was her long-deceased mother, but that was later verified by Maggie's physically alive great-granddaughter. For my first three-and-a-half years of exploring the afterlife on voyages of retrieval, this sort of thing happened often.
Over time, I discovered that pretending is a means of stimulating the imagination, a sense for perception within the afterlife that's just as real as sight and hearing in the physical world. When becalmed, pretending brought the first sign of wind that would come to fill my sails. Once underway, imagination (our sixth sense) filled my ship's log with the details of my retrieval voyage.
Columbus didn't sail a lone ship towards the horizon on his voyage. Others sailed with him, bearing witness to discoveries in the New World.
I'd been exploring solo for quite a while before I met Rebecca. An adept non-physical-world explorer, she offered to help me learn the most powerful, verifiable method I've found.
In "partnered exploring", two or more people agree to meet non-physically and carry out retrievals or other activities beyond the horizon. Such an exploration can be as short as a few minutes or last for an hour or more. After each session, participants record in their journal everything they remember about of their non-physical voyage together.
Rebecca and I lived 1,600 miles apart while learning this technique. Comparing notes afterwards by phone, I always heard my recollection of our partnered exploration in her notes, and she in mine. It didn't matter if we had planned the excursion beforehand or just spontaneously sailed into each other's non-physical experience. Our notes always matched!
Several years later I used partnered exploring with a group that numbered from two to five, to gather material for the fourth book in my Exploring the Afterlife series.
BELIEFS AND IDENTITY
Throughout those first years of exploring, my own ship's log was filled with enough verified information that existence of an afterlife beyond death's horizon should have been a known. Yet doubt continued to sail with me. I remained convinced there must be some other explanation for the accuracy of information, and rationalised it away.
Then, on a voyage to retrieve Joe, the recently deceased father of a friend, I voyaged beyond all doubt. Aspects of this experience were so undeniably verified that I was forced to accept our afterlife as real.
For several days after accepting the afterlife's reality, I wandered disorientedly, believing that at any moment the world around me would fade to black like the end of a movie; and when it did, I knew I'd be adrift in a black, formless void from which there was no escape. I didn't recognise the person thinking the unfamiliar thoughts in my mind. I felt certain I was about to die. A shrink would probably describe my experience as an identity crisis; can't say I'd disagree.
Gradually, I began to feel that after the world around me faded to black, a new, completely different one would fade in around me and I'd be living in an unfamiliar New World. In this process, I learned something about beliefs and my identity.
My world is fabricated, as all worlds are, using beliefs as the most basic building material. Since birth, I've viewed all experience through the telescope of a growing set of beliefs to construct the world-view in which I exist. Lenses always add distortion (my beliefs) to the reality passing through them, and accepting the afterlife's reality conflicted deeply with core beliefs I held. In the aftermath of accepting our afterlife as real, my world-view crumbled and disappeared, leaving nowhere for the I that lived in that world-view to exist.
My old beliefs created a reality in which I experienced everything, and in that way created the identity of the I who experienced them. I am my beliefs. Anything entering my awareness that challenges my beliefs, challenges my very existence. Survival of my identity requires that awareness of such things be either prevented or rationalised away by distortion.
Accepting anything conflicting with my beliefs triggers a life-and-death struggle in which that I's existence is threatened. By accepting the reality of our afterlife, I lost that struggle and literally died. That was the source of the disorientation I'd felt, the reason death felt imminent.
In that same struggle, a new me was born; and, like a baby fresh from the womb, I was looking through a new telescope at the world around me. With my old identity dead and gone, I was free to open my perception within a world now extending far beyond physical reality.
THE NEW WORLD OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The map of this New World is labelled "Consciousness: Human and Other". It can be thought of as stretching from physical reality outward through our afterlife and beyond.
In his explorations, Robert Monroe assigned labels to his landfalls based upon the level of consciousness of the inhabitants living there. No doubt you'll see some resemblance between the labels on Monroe's maps and places you've heard or read about from other sources. I find his labels useful in that they allow a fresh perspective, a way of bringing as few previously held beliefs as possible along on my voyages.
Sailing outward from physical reality, my first sightings were of other ships that seemed to have 'crazies' at the helm. Focus 22 is open sea that can't rightly be called part of our afterlife, since those you find there are still physically alive. Some are drugged or drunk, in a coma, or lost in the delusions of their dreams or insanities. Strongly held fear is often a common shipmate for those aimlessly sailing these waters.
Marty, a man who'd suffered a debilitating stroke, is someone I found there. Fear overwhelmed his consciousness and was preventing his death - something that could have been a merciful end to terrible physical suffering.
From the time Marty went to sleep at night until he awoke in the morning, his terrified screams and shouting kept everyone else in the house awake. His fear of a banshee that would come and take him to Hell as punishment for his sins created one. His fear became the very real image of just such a hideous, vaporous being, pursuing him in endless terror across the desert landscape of his dreams. But there was no real banshee. It was only Marty's fear, projected outwards and taking the form of what he feared.
The Law of Love and Fear
Marty's Focus 22 existence brings up something I found about fear and the power of love and I want to share it with you. The non-physical world is a place where thoughts can be things. Our beliefs can take forms that look and act as real as anything in the physical world.
In my experience with Marty and his banshee, I learned one of the laws of our existence - not like a Congress-imposed law that we're all supposed to obey, but one more like the law of gravity: it's just always there and it's always working. Love and fear cannot coexist, and I'm certain this law applies to any reality in which we may find ourselves.
I encountered Marty during a partnered exploring session with Rebecca, requested by Marty's sleepless daughter. We stood on the sand of a night-time desert, watching Marty's banshee swooping down on him. We saw him run to exhaustion and then try to hide, only to be found and pursued in terror again. Rebecca then approached him, asking that he watch her. On the banshee's next approach, she felt her love and extended it towards the banshee.
To his amazement, Marty saw the hideous beast evaporate and disappear. Rebecca showed him how to do it, and as long as he remembered to feel and project his love at the apparition embodying his fear, it disappeared. The banshee was fabricated from his fear, and in the presence of the energy of love it could not exist.
Love and fear cannot coexist: remember that on a voyage when you need it most.
Sailing outward further into human consciousness, we find the tiny islands where newly deceased individuals have become trapped in realities of their own making. This is Focus 23, and "newly deceased" is a relative term.
Some I've retrieved from here have been there for weeks or months; others for thousands of years. They exist in a level of consciousness in a reality created by their beliefs, to be completely isolated from others living in the non-physical world. Some maintain awareness of, and attempt to remain active in, the physical world. We call them "ghosts".
Most often these folks don't realise they're dead, and believing themselves to be still physically alive they continue to focus their awareness at the level of physical world reality.
For example, Sylvia, believing she was still alive, was puzzled by the fact that her husband, still living in the physical world, seemed completely unaware of her presence.
George, a man who gave up his struggle against the disease that was killing him, adopted a frame of mind in which he was just waiting to die. George died in his sleep, and, unaware of death when it came, continued waiting to die for quite some time in Focus 23.
Benjie, a boy of perhaps four or five, died in the early 1950s and believed he'd been out walking with his parents and got lost. He'd been stuck in Focus 23 since his death, believing they would come and find him, but his parents were still physically alive and didn't know where to look. Benjie refused my attempt to retrieve him because his parents taught him to believe he should never go anywhere with a stranger.
Retrieval from Focus 23 requires getting the attention of the individual and taking them aboard ship for a ride out of the self- generated reality in which they are stuck. Sometimes this is easy; sometimes it's nearly impossible.
Further from the shores of our physical world is Focus 25, also called the Belief System Territories. Here, people are drawn into an afterlife existence by a structure of beliefs they held while physically alive.
Each area of Focus 25 is like a far-off, isolated island inhabited only by those who shared the same set of beliefs. They have almost no contact with others living elsewhere in the New World of our afterlife. Their surroundings appear to them as real as physical Earth does to us, and supports whatever belief structure they mutually hold.
Not so many years ago, penal colonies were established on remote islands as a way of isolating criminals from the rest of us. During another partnered exploration with Rebecca, we went looking for Max and landed on the island reserved just for folks like him. Max had been a psychiatrist with a dark side in his most recent lifetime. After death, he was drawn into one of the hells of Focus 25 - the one for emotional sadists.
During his physical lifetime, Max probed your deepest, darkest fears and it didn't matter if you were a patient or a friend: he was always hoping to find something he could later use to inflict emotional pain. For example, say you were a gay City Mayor, afraid your constituents might discover your secret; and say Max also knew a newspaper reporter who feared homosexuals were leading the country to damnation. Max would see to it that the two of you met in a situation where he could watch the excitement. He'd give both of you reason to fear the encounter before you met and then take great delight in watching the fireworks.
At death, Max's way of life drew him to his island hell in Focus 25. To him, this place was real with houses, trees, cars and streets forming a reality indistinguishable from Earth. There were other people there, too, but only those who shared Max's emotionally sadistic nature. During our failed attempt to retrieve Max, I witnessed scenes from his life there. In one, he sat at a secluded restaurant table and watched with glee as two men came to blows over something Max had choreographed. In the very next scene, someone else sat at the secluded table, taking delight in watching two men, Max being one of them, suffering through an emotionally painfully experience.
During this exploration I discovered how people are drawn into these Focus 25 hells, and how they can escape to a better place.
There are other remote, isolated islands in Focus 25 called Hollow Heavens, and on one of my voyages I met a man who'd escaped one. He called them "hollow" because they weren't the real thing, and they described his existence there. He'd been a minister in a small, fundamentalist sect of Christianity during his most recent physical lifetime, and when he died he entered the Heaven he'd preached about. All his needs, food, clothing, shelter and more, were provided for without the need for him to work. There was only one catch: he had to continue to espouse and practise the beliefs he'd preached during his physical lifetime. If he didn't, he was told upon arrival that he could be cast into outer darkness - in other words, sent to Hell for eternal punishment. That was all fine with him, and since he'd been a minister during his physical lifetime he was given a congregation and a church where he could continue to preach and tend his flock.
All was well until a cohabiting couple in his congregation refused to be married. According to the beliefs he taught, a man and woman had to be married in order to live together. But pointing to an incongruity in his beliefs, the couple explained that in the Bible Jesus said no one was taken or given in marriage in the Kingdom of Heaven, and on that basis they refused marriage or separation.
One Sunday morning, in front of his entire congregation, the minister attempted to humiliate them into compliance by threatening to cast them into Hell if they refused a marriage ceremony. The couple stood in front of the congregation and said that, given the choice between going against the biblical word of Jesus or giving up their love for each other, they'd rather be sent to Hell. With no choices left to him, the minister performed the casting-out ritual and the couple disappeared into thin air.
Later, troubled by what he'd done and seeing the incongruity pointed out by the couple, the minister prayed for guidance. Jesus appeared to him, and what He said caused a growing rift in the belief structure that held the minister in his hollow heaven. Eventually the minister was also cast out, but he discovered to his surprise that Hell was not his final destination.
Escape from a hollow heaven island of Focus 25 requires recognition of inconsistencies within the belief structures held by the inhabitants. Leaving there usually results in entry into the Focus 27 realm.
Beyond the isolated islands of the Belief System Territories lies the afterlife continent of Focus 27. Here, the inhabitants can live in free association with all others and with awareness of the other Focus levels. The only rule I've found here is that no one may impose their beliefs upon another. It's really not a rule as much as a description of the natives living there. Focus 27 is a place where thoughts are things, and the only thing you can't have is the one you can't possibly imagine.
There are places in Focus 27 staffed by Helpers - humans who have lived in the afterlife long enough to know their way around and have the desire to be of service to others.
To expand one's awareness of what's possible in Focus 27, there are places to learn and open one's imagination beyond its old limitations.
There's a place that holds everything ever thought of or known by any human being who has ever lived. This Education Centre is open to anyone desiring to study there, and access to this information is limited only by the breadth of one's desire to know and one's willingness to explore.
There's a Reception Centre, an afterlife port of entry where Helpers meet the newly deceased and assist them in adjusting to their new existence. Areas within this Centre, like the Park, are created to provide a familiar environment to cushion the shock that sometimes accompanies death.
The Park embodies the best features of any large park you've been to on Earth. Expanses of beautiful, weed-less lawn fill the area, with beds of flowers that seem to emit their colours like they're giving off light. I've seen huge, stately trees along the spotless sidewalks, and ornate park benches along those walks where folks can rest from their transition and meet with others
A Health and Rejuvenation Centre is a place where some of the deceased go to recover from the effects of their death or beliefs that interfere with conscious awareness of their surroundings. For example, in the coma ward you might find people who believed death meant entry into an eternal sleep. There, Helpers work to assist them in regaining consciousness, but though they are always gentle and loving, some of their methods would be frowned upon by Earthly physicians.
In the Review Centre, those desiring information about previous lifetimes are assisted in the remembering process by the Helpers. This might be done in preparation for a future physical world incarnation or to help the individual gain a better self-understanding for other reasons.
There's a place in Focus 27 called the Planning Centre, where 'time management' takes on a whole new meaning.
There's also a Rehabilitation Centre staffed by Helpers who've 'graduated' from the hells of Focus 25. These Helpers are a special breed with knowledge gained by virtue of living in the 'hell' they graduated from. In their work they use their intimate understanding of the games inhabitants use on each other, to free them by offering a back door out of their hell.
Helpers staffing the House of God Centre are often former members of the clergy, working much as the Rehab Helpers do, but to free those who have begun questioning the beliefs that hold them in a hollow heaven.
The Land of Angels
The minister I referred to earlier was a House of God Centre Helper. It was as a result of communicating with him that I first visited the Land of Angels and began uncovering a greater purpose served by our physical lifetimes and our existence in the various Focus levels.
The one who appeared to him, in answer to his prayer for guidance, was actually a House of God Centre Helper who entered his hollow heaven to assist him in leaving. Later, the two of them re-entered that hollow heaven to work with others who were beginning to question their beliefs. They used some pretty elaborate stunts to play upon the incongruities within that belief structure.
There came a time when the minister's Helper left the House of God Centre. Before leaving, he explained his departure was a graduation from that Centre. My inquiry as to where the Helper had graduated was met by an offer to escort me there to explore that question myself. That place must be the genesis of our concept of Angels.
In the Land of Angels live human beings whose every act is one of pure, unconditional love. There, existence is limited to sending the energy of this love into any situation that can benefit by it. This is all these beings ever do; all they are capable of doing. A mother's prayer to heal her sick child is answered by these beings. The prayer to God for strength to overcome adversity receives the power of their love in return. In exploring what graduation to this place meant, I began to understand our purpose as human beings.
In every reality in which these human beings had ever lived, they were constantly, usually unknowingly, learning to experience and express pure, unconditional love to a greater and greater degree. Whenever they acted out of love, they moved closer to graduation; and when they didn't, they moved further away.
During their physical lifetimes, random acts of kindness and willingness to help others taught them to better express and experience love. When they were trapped in Focus 23, experiencing the loving assistance of others who freed them, they were learning. When they worked at the Reception Centre, easing the transition of others into their new way of living in the afterlife, they were learning. When they re-entered the hells of Focus 25, places they themselves had lived, they were learning. At every turn they were learning to better experience and express pure, unconditional love.
In my continuing exploration of our afterlife and beyond, I've become convinced that the course charted by these 'graduates', these Angels, is our path and destiny; the purpose and the legacy of humankind's existence within all of Consciousness.
BEYOND THE HORIZON OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
I've come to understand that the continent of Focus 27 is the last level of human consciousness, and that voyaging beyond there is indeed possible. But spacecraft seem more appropriate than sailing ships as vehicles in which to venture there.
Focus 34/35, a region of space beyond the human horizon, is described by Robert Monroe as "the Gathering" in his second book, Far Journeys. There, non-human intelligences from other areas of our physical universe, other universes and other dimensions can be found, and communication with them is possible.
During contact with a race of telepathic beings I call "2ndGathgroup" in my next book, I learned they are observing activities on our planet related to what we call Earth Changes. They and other 'alien beings' gathered at Focus 34/35 have a special interest in these changes and the possible effects on the inhabitants of their respective home-worlds.
In the third book of my Exploring the Afterlife series, my contacts with the 2ndGathgroup and other alien races will be recounted in detail.
In our early contacts, 2ndGathgroup demonstrated a complete lack of understanding or expression of the emotional side of human existence. Through interaction between themselves and a small group of humans, they were exposed to direct experience of the energy of Love.
One year after my initial contact, further communication revealed that this experience has changed their race in ways no one had foreseen.
Uncovering what they've begun to do with their newfound ability is leading me to a better understanding of the power of pure, unconditional love.
It's led me to believe that humankind's purpose was undertaken as a gift to other beings everywhere.
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