An ASKLEPIA FOUNDATION Journal
THE UNBORN DREAM
Thriving On Chaos
by Iona Miller, 1993
ABSTRACT: If the implicate order is analogous to the frequency domain,
as Bohm-Pribram have shown, the image/object domain unfolds from this invisible
reality. That which is enfolded within the undivided whole is the
"Bornless One," the unborn dream of our infinite possibilities. Unity-in-diversity
is the direct experiential/existential goal of the Creative Consciousness
Process in its experimental form.
Complex dynamics is implicated in the energetic translation of the "waves
of unborn nothingness" which constitute the unborn dream, the relentless
flow of consciousness in search of embodiment and formlessness. Consciousness
journeys are the "reading" or explication of the formless domain of Spirit.
Following Nature to whatever abysses she leads, they reveal a way of thriving
KEYWORDS: polyphasic consciousness, entrainment, shamanism, the pregnant
Void, iterative paradox, recursive feedback, bifurcation, penetration,
The ecology of the soul is to recycle one's consciousness.
--Videru Telemahandi, EAT THE SUN
Thee I invoke, the Bornless One.
Thee, that didst create the Earth and the Heavens.
Thee, that didst create the Night and the Day.
Thee, that didst create the darkness and the Light.
Thou art Myself-made-Perfect:
Whom no man hath seen at any time.
Thou art the Truth in Matter.
Thou art the Truth in Motion...
I invoke Thee, the Terrible and Invisible God:
Who dwellest in the Void Place of the Spirit.
The Bornless One.
--A. Crowley, LIBER SAMEKH
We can invoke the Bornless One with the postmodern "magic" of chaos theory,
following the trail deep into bottomless Nature. It is a journey
through the magic mirror of the imagination into the looking-glass universe
of multiple realities.
The nameless, shapeless, unborn face of chaos is the matrix of all creation.
At the root of the universe, and ourselves lies chaos, or paradoxical order
of an infinite degree. The "self made perfect" is not a picture of
ultimate hypostasis, but only of "self made whole", the union of unbroken
wholeness rooted beyond the paradoxical realm of opposites. The paradox
of the Bornless One is that it is always manifest as infinite multiplicity.
At the turbulent brink of chaos--the bifurcation point--we see nonlinearity
and feedback throbbing in the form of an utterly wild and eerily beautiful
creature called the strange attractor. With its siren call, it beckons
us to dissolve and merge with the formless, shapeless, unborn chaotic potential--to
transform through repatterning by the whole--to reiterate the process of
unfolding creation from nothingness.
The unfolding process of creation is riddled with intermittency taking
the form of islands of order in a sea of randomness, or randomness interrupting
order, like static breaks up a clear signal. Paradoxically, in regions
of intermittency, the old order (or chaos) momentarily reasserts itself.
It is a never-ending dance at the edge of chaos--the universal flux of
creation and destruction.
Paradox constantly reenters itself through the process of iteration--feedback
loops involving the continual reabsorption or enfolding of what has come
before. Chaos theory describes this operation as one of stretching
and folding spacetime.
Similarly our experience is encoded in nonlinear form through the process
of association. Things that are alike are grouped together, and the
more energy stored in the system, the greater the emotional charge.
In consciousness journeys we find that experiences from later life lead
to sequences from birth trauma, even embryonic development, and their transpersonal
Grof (1988) refers to these constellations of memories and associated imaginal
material as COEX systems, systems of condensed experience. They consist
of material from different periods of life with a strong emotional charge
of the same quality, intense physical sensations, or additional shared
elements, such as a discrete state of consciousness.
Trauma creates typical reactions which become habituated as self-induced
trance states, which recycle the accumulated existential responses of multiple
incidents. Initially they may develop as coping mechanisms, defenses,
and dissociations. In terms of chaos theory we can view this stretching
and folding of the experiential continuum as "temporal recursiveness."
Nonlinear phenomena express in CCP through experiential transcendence of
spatial boundaries and linear time frames. Thus we find shifting
identifications with inorganic processes, plant life, animals, even planetary
or universal consciousness. Temporal distortion manifests as pre-existence,
embryonic and fetal experience, ancestral and genetic consciousness, tapping
the racial and collective unconscious, and various evolutionary themes.
Grof has compiled a useful taxonomy of these states in THE ADVENTURE
OF SELF DISCOVERY.
The chaotic attractor systematically removes the initial information and
replaces it with new information: the stretch makes small-scale uncertainties
larger, the fold brings widely separated trajectories together and erases
large-scale information. Thus chaotic attractors act like a kind
of pump bringing microscopic fluctuations up to a macroscopic expression
(Crutchfield, et al). Chaos is generated by the stretching and folding
of complex orbits.
Elementary particles generate themselves through a constant process of
creation and destruction through iteration from the vacuum state.
This "quantum potential" has the quality of infinite sensitivity to its
surroundings. Quantum potential is infinitely sensitive feedback
with the whole--the webwork of ever-changing possibilities. This
fluctuation of the whole of the information field gives rise to the probabilistic
results of quantum processes--quantum chaos.
In much the same way, our dream images come and go, permeating our life
with their iterated message. They are constantly repeating and reflecting
our central concerns, and our sensitivity to the slightest perturbations
in our external and internal environment. Listening to the voice
of our unborn dreams provides infinitely sensitive feedback with the whole.
The brain is a nonlinear feedback device. Iteration generates chaos,
through the dynamic cycling process. Iteration suggests that change
is stability. Determinist systems, including ourselves, which are
maintained through oscillation, iteration, feedback, and limit cycles are
vulnerable to chaos and face an indeterminate (unpredictable) fate when
pushed beyond critical boundaries. We maintain identity only by remaining
continually open to the flux and flow of the environment.
The whole shape of things depends on the minutest part. The part
is the whole, since through the action of any part, the whole in the form
of chaos or transformative change may manifest. That transformative
"part," the incipient whole, is the "missing information," which through
iteration traces out the system's unpredictability. The shape it
traces is the strange attractor. There will always be missing information,
a hole (or whole) at the center of our logic.
The missing, transformative information lies within the very heart of chaos,
a shapeless, unborn form--an unborn dream, waiting to unfold its potential.
Chaos is an infinite information source, a "hidden variable." Nuances
are full of a sense of the "missing information." Dreams are full
of creative nuances. So are wondering, uncertainty, and questioning;
they are the very flux of creative disequilibrium.
In experiencing nuance we enter the borderline between order and chaos,
and in nuance lies our sense of wholeness and inseparability of experience.
Dreams express as sensory metaphor. For metaphor to elicit nuance
it must be fresh, not dead; it must shock the mind into wonder by opening
up a gap, an abyss, a void.
Herein lies that missing information--again, the unborn dream. Thus
dreams continually amaze us with their freshness, engage us with their
ability to clothe our recycling issues in story and metaphor.
Dreams also encode our evolution, our coevolution with the entire webwork
of life. Pioneer dream researcher Montague Ullman (1988) states,
"I no longer look upon dreaming primarily as an individual matter.
Rather, I see it as an adaptation concerned with the survival of the species
and only secondarily with the individual."
For Ullman, dreams represent our failures and frustrations in maintaining
positive bonds, links to others, our connections with the larger supportive
environment, our capacity for involvement. The images metaphorically
reflect the core of our being, the place we have made for ourselves in
the world. They offer deeper insight into the truth about ourselves,
a way of exploring both internal and external hindrances to flow and unbroken
His view of dreams suggests, "that we are capable of looking deeply
into the face of reality and of seeing mirrored in that face the most subtle
and poignant features of our struggle to transcend our personal, limited,
self-contained, autonomous selves so as to be able to connect with, and
be part of, a larger unity."
In the waking brain, the chaotic activity of neuron firings is at a low
level. But as the brain sinks deeper and deeper into sleep, the chaos
becomes more pronounced. However, during REM activity, when dreaming
takes place, the amount of background chaos decreases. Chaos seems
to become embodied within the dream image, rather than the physical patterning
of the firing neurons.
The iterative paradox, the (w)hole in the center of our orderly logic,
represents the potential chaos of the missing information, which applies
to most of our experience. Recycling ourselves, recycling our consciousness,
with CCP means dissolving into the unborn dream, connecting with the missing
information, opening to the whole and its self-organizing impression.
Familiar order and chaotic order are laminated like bands of intermittency.
Wandering into certain bands, a system is extruded and bent back on itself
as it iterates or recycles--dragged toward disintegration, transformation,
and chaos. Thus, for example, birth trauma, near death experience,
and ego death become experientially contiguous. The unfolding wave
of the unborn dream presents imagery iterating any/all of them simultaneously.
Meanwhile, inside other bands, systems cycle dynamically, maintaining their
shapes for long periods of time. Beneath each thought or simple emotion
lie layers of sensation and feeling which keep cycling in the brain's feedback
loops. Memories arise as relationships within the whole neural network--a
sort of phase space of memories. But eventually all orderly systems
feel the wild, seductive pull of the strange chaotic attractor.
In chaos theory, state changes occur at the point of bifurcation--a forking
or splitting of possible paths of development. Some bifurcations
are catastrophic, others somewhat gentler. The amplification of bifurcations
leads to order or chaos. The system takes off in a new direction.
Over time, cascades of bifurcations either cause a system to fragment itself
toward chaos, or to stabilize a new behavior through a series of feedback
loops, coupling the new change to the environment.
There is flux at some bifurcation points--the consideration of choices
within a virtual infinity of degrees of freedom. The order of choice
is so high that it is chaos. Other choices are limited in degrees
of freedom through constraints imposed by coupling feedback processes from
Similarly, in chaotic consciousness the choices are from infinite self-organizing
potential. It allows the highest degree of freedom for the whole
to pattern the new self/world image. From the All--total potential--probabilities
unfold--in this case the probabilities of evolutionary transformation.
An emergent order manifests.
Bifurcations are the milestones in any system's evolution, including our
own. They crystallize our history. An untold number of evolutionary
bifurcations are enfolded in all our forms and processes. During
flux, many futures exist. But through iteration and amplification,
one future is chosen. The system embodies the exact conditions of
the environment at the moment the bifurcation occurs.
Thus, in CCP the bifurcation which occurs during chaotic consciousness
embodies the therapeutic environment or context. It is an expression
of the feedback arising out of the flux of chaos. In that instant
one becomes the "Bornless One," the Unborn Self. "No man hath seen"
the Bornless One, because it transcends "seer" and "seen." Its essence
is evolutionary because--following nature's lead--it is based on the pure
intensification of life, intensification of consciousness.
Research shows that even chromosomes can reprogram themselves when exposed
to enough environmental stress--learning from the organism's experience.
DNA inhabits the edge between order and chaos. Acting like a feedback
relay center, it balances the negative feedback ability to maintain stability
with the positive feedback ability to amplify change.
The greater an organism's autonomy, the more feedback loops are required
between the system and environment. We are immersed in and reflective
of a vast webwork of being to which we are seamlessly connected.
This bonding through feedback loops is the "yoga of chaos," the yoking
or binding back to the whole which is the essence of "religion."
This implies that individuality is an illusion, an abstraction, a category,
WAVES OF UNBORN NOTHINGNESS
What happens in that instant where nothing becomes something? Waves
of energy "crystallize" into matter in the womb of empty space, a dynamic
void. The transpersonal Void is primordial Emptiness, the silent
cradle of existence. It is the ineffable Source, which is experienced
as both beyond phenomenal existence, while paradoxically underlying it.
In its dynamic form matter cannot be separated from energy. Energy
is a property of matter, which can be considered potential energy.
The mystic believes in matter, but believes it is more than science has
yet discovered. Long before Western science began, mystics perceived
that mind, consciousness, or spirit is a property of matter. It hardly
matters, philosophically, if you consider it as manifesting force or manifesting
THE HEART SUTRA tells us that subtle forces underlie matter-energy and
space-time. All form and power are latent within the void: "Form
is not other than Void, Void is not other than Form." This implies
that our human form also is not other than void, and biophysics shows this
to be essentially true. Our physical makeup is largely emptiness.
If we conceive of humans as being fundamentally electromagnetic entities,
instead of chemical beings, we can imagine our finer existence as wave-fronts
in space. Our personal "space" is not utterly empty, but cannot be
conceived apart from our matter exhibiting itself in particular ways, i.e.
Yet, the void state or primal matrix is "cosmic zero," and proportionately
our most fundamental reality. The characteristic feature of the universe
is not matter, but empty space. It is part of the surrealistic quantum
realm. It lies within us all, for the relative space between our
atoms is astronomical. The void is both a dynamic and receptive field.
This is the ground state of existence which mystics seek in their meditation,
moving beyond mind and maya.
Echoing all the qualities of the Bornless One, Grof (1988) describes the
void as follows:
The Void is beyond space and time, beyond form of any kind, and beyond
polarities, such as light and darkness, good and evil, stability and motion,
and ecstasy or agony. While nothing concrete exists in this state,
nothing that is part of existence seems to be missing there either.
This emptiness is thus, in a sense, pregnant with all of existence, since
it contains everything in a potential form. This experience has a
certain similarity with the experience of the interstellar space and with
the concept of the dynamic void known from quantum-relativistic physics,
although it is obviously on a much higher metaphysical level than either
of the above.
The experience of the Void also transcends our ordinary concepts of
causality. Subjects who are having this experience accept as self-evident
that various forms of phenomenal worlds can emerge into existence out of
this void without any obvious cause. The possibility of something
originating out of nothing or of something vanishing without any traces
does not appear absurd, as it would in everyday consciousness.
Washburn (1988) takes care to distinguish this high mystical illumination,
speaking of its measureless immensity, power, and grandeur as an "eclipse
of the ego." Mystical illumination needs to be distinguished from
the other types of objectless states: (1) the dead void; (2) the empty
trances; (3) undifferentiated effusions and ecstasies; and (4) objectless
contemplation. All fall considerably short of mystical illumination,
though they are akin to it.
Dead void states differ from mystical illumination in being bereft of
the power of the Ground; these experiences are merely episodes of mental
vacancy, without any degree of dynamic infusion or absorption. Empty
trances differ from mystical illumination in being implosive rather than
infusive absorptions; moreover, trances are dense and dark rather than
ethereal and bright.
Undifferentiated effusions and ecstasies differ from mystical illumination
in being wild and impure; they are explosive absorptions or transports
that are admixed with derepressing feelings and instincts. And objectless
contemplations, although suffering from none of these deficiencies, differ
from mystical illumination in being experiences of significantly lesser
stature; they fall far short of mystical illumination in the degree to
which the ego is infused, illumined, and beatified by spirit."
The difference in degree that distinguishes mystical illumination from
objectless contemplations is sufficiently great to constitute a difference
in kind. Mystical illumin-ation is not just an experience of serene
enlightenment, as are objectless contemplations; it is rather an experience
of celestial exaltation and effulgence.
Mystical illumination is an experience of inconceivable enormity.
In the case of mystical illumination, the Ground releases a prodigious
outpouring of spirit. The aperture of the soul is opened to its widest
bore and spirit, in the fullness of its power and glory, graces the ego
with the ultimate vision. Mystical illumination, then, unlike objectless
contemplation, is inherently of the nature of a gift...it is the Ground
itself, or the inner principle that regulates it, that determines when
an ultimate disclosure will occur.
The Bornless One is pure unborn Spirit, the unborn dream or vision.
Because of its pre-existent condition, it is eternal, beyond the realm
of time and space, always without exception. It is inherent in its
paradoxical nature, however, that it can be unfolded into "ordinary" experience
from initiation in nonordinary consciousness--i.e. dream-healing, vision
quest, etc. As a patterning principle, it transcends and contains
The image is one of symbolic penetration into the primordial field.
Perception of the "pregnant void" implies penetration to that sacred dimension
of experience. Imagery orders the process until the last possible
instant, even the "imagery" of "nonperception." Like the void, emergent
imagery is "pregnant" with meaning, which only partially emerges as the
panoply unfolds. Imagery is a natural expression of the Void fleshing
itself out to the fullest extent.
Meanings elaborate and multiply through the integration of information.
That information is infused through direct experience. Once again,
we find the "missing information." Imagery invites entrainment--the
evocation of beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It invites
experience by attracting our attention and evoking multiple associations.
Imagery invites us to experience by penetrating to the very core of natural
process, through recognition of pattern, mediating available information.
Images penetrate or directly affect unconscious intentionalities, often
initiating habituation. The purpose is generally coordination of
the organism. The activities of one system affect other systems.
Changes of state are only partially isomorphic with one another.
RIDING THE DREAMWAVE
Healers in all societies diagnose mental and physical disease from symbolic
expressions. In many societies dream symbolism is interpreted as
symptomatic of psychological disorder. Experience is considered as
symptomatic of changes or problems existing outside the range of consciousness.
Stress responses can be elicited from various physical systems merely by
evoking an image of dangerous or painful experience.
Emphasis on the residual effects of physical trauma, in addition to emotional
pain, is one of the distinguishing features of experiential therapy compared
with "talk therapies." Sensorial symptoms "invite" penetration through
symbolic means of healing (i.e. CCP). Imagery work sets up a continuous
feedback interaction between sensorial neural and nonsensorial neural and
It is virtually impossible to distinguish whether the imagery is an expression
of unconscious processing in the person, or whether the imagery is the
penetrator to unconscious processes. This bidirectional communication
among discrete systems is crucial to the maintenance of whatever degree
of fragmentation or integration of systems is characteristic of any particular
Metaphor is used to constitute meaning in all cultures. It is one
of the basic structural "building blocks" of culture. Through metaphor,
imagery attained in one domain of experience is used to order, or provide
meaning for, events in another domain of experience. The superposition
of images from memory and the present entrain associations.
Utterance of such imagery may evoke thoughts, scenes, feelings, states
of arousal, autonomic and metabolic responses. They may or may not
carry the intense emotional discharge indicative of some intentionalities,
Laughlin, et al (1990) speak of various techniques of symbolic penetration,
engendering metaphorical understanding and transformation of ego identity.
They include ritualized practices of evocation, and the dramatic performance
of metaphor. They are "especially interested in the use of penetration
techniques in order to evoke significant warps of consciousness--an evocation
that is a universal theme of transpersonal religious practices cross-culturally."
The experiential therapeutic process, CCP in particular, provides a "container,"
ritual, or means of initiating the unfolding transformation via the process
of "penetration" of the transpersonal domain.
Feedback from that domain comes in the non-linear form of a "call" and
an "answering receptivity." When we respond to the initiatory call
of the dynamic ground, there is movement of both poles of consciousness
toward common ground. They are synchronized through the process of
The "penetration" of the transpersonal process is recursively linked to
the instant of penetration of sperm by egg, the mutual interpenetration
of their genetic material, and all subsequent experiences of sexual or
other forms of penetration, as well as transpersonal imagery.
Thus one consciousness journeyer reports her multi-dimensional insight:
that I just am this ovum being penetrated by the sperm, I'm no longer violated...how
about that! I'm created, I'm not violated! I feel like Jesus
when they pierced him in the side. I was still resisting until now
that sperm penetrating, and until it did, I couldn't be whole. Now
I'm feeling like I'm in the Fallopian tube, and going into the uterus,
and I can implant, and grow to where I am now. Its a wonderful feeling,
because I can be inside my mother and here at the same time. I can
be in all of those places. It's wonderful!"
The images work in arenas far beyond the conscious awareness of the journeyer.
Images penetrate networks latent in their functioning, or operating outside
the bounds of awareness. They can activate a broad field of intentionality,
as systems synch with one another.
Beyond our wildest imagination, the opening of this doorway to chaos, invites
an influx of the formerly repressed unconscious. It manifests the
return of natural wildness. It is embodied as kaleidoscopic, pluralistic
chaos consciousness. It may virtually erupt into awareness, resulting
in profound alterations in personality, autonomic balance, understanding,
RUNNING WITH THE WOLVES
The archetype of "wildness" has enjoyed a certain fashionability in the
last few years. Both the men's movement and the popularization of
Feminine wildness in WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES have extrolled the virtues
of reconnecting with the part of ourselves which is so often lost in modern
life. It is a shamanic form of penetration to the heart of a natural
Laughlin, et al describe a wolf ritual used to generate an alternate phase
of consciousness, and penetrate to primal experiential domains. As
reported by Ernst in 1952, there is a secret society among the Makah offering
an initiation every winter. Initiates fast and act out wolflike traits;
they wear wolf masks, sing about wolves, and channel their attention toward
Imitating the behavior of the wolf they work themselves into a Wolf frenzy,
punctuated by wolf calls. Circling round the fire they "show what
they are"--the essence of wolfness--until the fire goes out. The
Wolf frenzy initiates radical biophysical changes in respiration, heart
rate, corticosteroid secretion, adrenalin secretion, endorphin and enkephalin
secretion, muscle tone and facial expression.
The researchers interpret this experience as "mediated by the older
core limbic and brain stem networks which, when triggered to total eruption,
relevate the fundamental, "bestial" functions of these systems into full
They go on to note that, "the initiate experiences a gestalt of specific
neurophysiological responses that become associated with the "wolf-frenzy"
and the core symbol, the wolf, particularly as depicted in masks.
This experience and the resulting alterations in cognition constitute the
conation of the ritual."
"There exists the potential for a more complete integration of these
archaic structures within the confines of conscious network. That
is, the individual may now have more conscious access to these structures
as they are more likely to be entrainable to conscious network."
One can draw on this primal awareness across a continuum ranging from gut
instinct to intuition.
For those members of the Wolf cult who actually do experience the frenzy,
cognitive, experiential, and physiological models become transformed by
association with paleoneurognostic models and are reintegrated as intentionality
around (penetrable by) a core symbol. Presumably, by manipulating
this core symbol, the secret society is able to penetrate and access this
new intentionality for its collective purposes.
Probably the most sophisticated postmodern theory of consciousness has
been described in BRAIN, SYMBOL, AND EXPERIENCE. The authors (Laughlin,
et al) abandon all notions of dualism between consciousness and the nervous
system, between mind and matter.
They theorize that "consciousness is produced by a field of neural entrainments
that is constantly in flux but exhibits recurrent patterns of reentrainment."
Phases of consciousness are in fact patterns of entrainment in the community
of living, goal-seeking cells.
There is moment-by-moment entrainment of the oscillating infrastructure
of neurons. They suggest that recruitment and eventual entrainment
of most, if not all, somatic systems comes through sustained concentration
of attention upon an object or process. Similarly Bentov (1977) has
hypothesized that certain meditative procedures lead ultimately to the
synchronization of all standing waves in the body to the rhythm of the
dominant, aortic standing wave.
Laughlin, et al suggest a state-of-the-art way of viewing reality, combining
the mystical art of mature contemplation and scientific method to correct
perceptual errors intrinsic within each system. They interpret the
experience of multiple realities as alternate fields of neural activity
entrainable to conscious network.
Their evidence shows that "experience appears to be phasically organized;
the shifting reentrainment of neural components making up the ever-changing
conscious network" which is organized into temporally recursive configurations.
Awareness is related to vigilance, attention to and detection of danger,
and recognition of recurrent patterns in awareness.
It is this awareness that is self-organized into different "states" or
phases of consciousness. Sequences of phases are marked by transitions
or warps intervening between phases. They are the points of transformation
between systemic states modeled in catastrophe theory. Warps have
both structural and functional aspects just as do phases.
Different neural entrainments are initiated during trauma. Repeated
episodes lead to fragmentation of consciousness over time, resulting from
entrainment and reentrainment of alternative networks to conscious network.
Complexes and subpersonalities develop, as well as the less emotionally
charged systems of condensed experience, described by Grof as COEX systems.
These competing networks are patterns of entrainment which persist even
though excluded from or inhibited by entrainment to conscious network.
In regression or retrogression, "the structures strain, twist, and often
come apart (disentrain). Yet, sectors of functional entrainment remain;
some structures continue intact. With good fortune, should a "cure"
be affected, the ego system will find a relative equilibrium..."
Ordinarily the nature of our ego controls the nature of our experience.
The intentional guided induction of nonordinary states of consciousness
leads to adaptive experience of multiple realities. It is the function
of the shaman to guide initiates to direct transpersonal experiences that
enliven the multiple realities depicted in cultural myths and archetypes.
Experience is symbolic because the system that generates experience processes
only symbolic material.
Experimental and naturalistic observation are applied to the task of observing
the very processes that "produce the ego, the object, and the entire
cognized environment." The observer watches the process of reduction
during transformations of state. They suggest that one cross-cultural
expression of this way of being is the shamanic principle. "The
shaman learns to transcend empirical ego constraints by altering his ego
state, allowing him to immerse himself and participate in a broader, more
destructured phenomenal field."
The ego itself is chaotically based, displaying its own self-organization
and adaptation. As a system, it is its own expanding universe.
It expands by separating, differentiating, and reintegrating, echoing the
alchemical maxim, "Solve et Coagula." Laughlin, et al
hypothesize that the ego emerges based on the developmental sequence that
is the very process of cellular reproduction--separation, differentiation,
The isolated, alienated ego is trapped in the dead void of its own creation.
It perceives the ground state as a vast black hole, a bottomless pit whose
magnetic pull it fears. If it finds itself within that hole it hears
only the dull echo of its own cries. Resisting the pull, the ego/hero
may be dragged into the adventure irregardless. According to Laughlin,
"From the ego's point of view, looking at its own supportive field and
developmental context is like looking down into a massively spiraling vortex
of dancing shapes, receding further into haze and eventual murky darkness."
One participant in a consciousness journey found herself near a dark hole,
which, after initiating sensations of dizzyness and swinging, became a
cold cave with echoes. Listening to the echoes she became an owl
and eventually moved into a crack in the rocks to become a powerful hibernating
polar bear, who begins to dream. Thus she realized the embodiment
of her unborn dream of empowerment, safety, rest, and recuperation.
In another instance, a different journeyer entered through sensations of
sharp pressure on her chest area. This session revolved around the
issue of her domineering, pushy mother. She described a gray mist
in the area of her heart, which had a calming effect. During the
journey she had also approached a black hole. Attempting to put her
leg in it, she felt tremendous sensations of physical energy shooting up
her legs, and she did not like it. Following her process, allowing
the journey to go elsewhere, permitted direct experience of flowing with
the non-pushy Feminine.
This upwelling of energy from the unconscious abyss represents the derepressing
influx of all that suppressed energy and existential information.
Having already been differentiated, Graywolf suggested she bring this energy
into the heart area to interact with the mist.
This conjunction provided a sense of sanctuary within that she had formerly
been seeking externally through control and compulsive orderliness.
That which was separated and differentiated became integrated--assimilated.
Sensations of flow derive from the breakdown of body image entrainment
in favor of direct entrainment with proprioceptive fields, (sense receptors
or sensory homunculus). She manifested her unborn dream of serenity,
embodying the new myth that contentment flows from within.
Each of these journeys shows polyphasic consciousness in process.
Identifications range from self image, to inorganic objects, to natural
processes, to biological forms, to geometric and destructured primitive
forms. Other journeys have symbolically shown the destructuring process
Dismemberment (ego death) is experienced as the internal structure is literally
coming apart under powerful and impelling intrusion from unassimilated
neural structures. If they do not shatter the ego, those structures
eventually may reciprocally assimilate with ego into a greater structure
producing a wider vision. During creative emergence, the usual body
image is replaced by the experience of flow, which may entrain visual and
other sensory systems.
With guidance and experience a shaman gains mastery over the new realm
of experience. According to Laughlin, "He becomes expert at cross-phasing
warps and transcending levels of his own internal structures. What
was earlier experienced as dismemberment and madness now becomes an exploration,"
of a world of symbolic transformations of internal neurological processes.
The internally generated images in the sensorium are perceived to be as
"real" as the external world. These images are embedded in fields
of affect. Entry to the other world is usually accomplished through
a process we can describe as "portaling," using some kind of portal, door,
tunnel, or vortex to navigate the crack between the worlds.
Laughlin, et al attribute the universality of this process to "the consistent
organization and entrainments of neurognostic (self-organizing) structures
existent within the human nervous system. As one experientially converges
toward the vortex of the internal structuring process, individual and cultural
variations vanish to reveal a profound, common structure. This structure
embedded neurognostically in the human brain is experienced by shamans
everywhere in their realization of the interrelatedness of all things,
of energy flow, and of the existence of nonprofane world outside the bounds
of conditioned normal perceptions."
Thus, the shaman accesses and reshapes a world of almost pure experience.
Changes take place at subconscious levels of neural entrainment, rearranging
substructures, and progressively entraining other systems through elicitation
and sequencial exposure. Internal entrainment becomes more fluid,
The world of the shaman is one of the application of myth through the mystical
journey. Myth, symbol, and ritual, as well as the generative ground
of dreams and visions, provide the context which frames the experience
and its interpretation. In the mythic world, imagery and feeling
are unfolded into a narrative. The shaman helps others access the
mythic experience; the human need for this engenders the shaman.
"Myth acts as the field of external constraints molding the ego from the
outside as the shamanic experience remolds him from the inside."
In the initial stages, typically the journeyer enters a trance state induced
by overstimulation, because the ego is immersed and overwhelmed.
The seasoned journeyer can maintain the bifurcation of consciousness, where
the ego is detached and stable, while polyphasic consciousness flows.
This allows the shaman to function simultaneously as guide and co-conscious
Shamans are those who have learned, not only to survive and adapt, but
to actually thrive on chaos. In shamanic consciousness, the flesh
meets the spirit world. Through the consciousness journey, we can
also have the experience of thriving on chaos, facilitating destructuring
of outworn adaptive patterns via shamanic consciousness, and subsequent
repatterning through polyphasic process.
Laughlin et al consider polyphasic consciousness as potentially fully informed
about all phases of consciousness in each phase of consciousness.
They assert that,
Fully polyphasic awareness is subtly different from egocentric awareness
of transpersonal material. Polyphasic awareness describes a consciousness
that is operating within the same intentional range of attention, concentration,
and awareness in every phase of consciousness, whether waking, or dreaming,
The intentionalities of all networks that become entrained to it are
"meaningful" to conscious network within the frame of reference provided
by whatever pattern of entrainment prevails at the moment. In other
words, to the fully polyphasic consciousness, experi-ence is meaningful
as it is occurring, regardless of the phase of conscious-ness during which
Polyphasic consciousness does not require interpretation of events occurring
within one phase of consciousness to be rendered in another phase of consciousness
in order to be meaningful. Yet, because cross-phasing is fluid, each
phase of consciousness may interpret events in other phases according to
its own context, intentionalities, and logic of events.
Their model includes rare, totally polyphasic individuals who are characterized
as having realized Void Consciousness--healers, guides, leaders, sages,
and wise teachers. Social interpretations of these individuals within
cultures ranged from "crazy" or deviant to legitimate travelers to alternative
realities, depending on the reductive or holistic nature of the society.
They posit that a truly "Polyphasic Void Society" would have institutions
that encourage exploration of dream and other alternative phases, not as
ends in themselves, but as means to the realization of a phase of consciousness
beyond any phenomenal reality. Mature contemplation involves the
cessation of both conceptualizing and imagery.
In the experience of totality, global entrainment, "subject," "object,"
and "observer" are moot. The completely integrated process is inseparable
from the field of potentialities that is the Void.
Briggs, John & Peat, David; TURBULENT MIRROR, New York: Harper &
Crutchfield, James; Farmer, J.; Packard, N. & Shaw, R.; "Chaos", SCIENTIFIC
Grof, Stanislav, THE ADVENTURE OF SELF DISCOVERY, New York; SUNY Press,
Laughlin, Charles, McManus, John, d'Aquili, Eugene; BRAIN, SYMBOL, AND
EXPERIENCE: Toward a Neurophenomenology of Human Consciousness, Boston:
Ullman, Montague; "Wholeness and Dreaming" in QUANTUM IMPLICATIONS, London
& New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul,1987.
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