The New Paradigm in Business, Leadership & Career
(Book Reviews)
The New Paradigm in Science and Systems Theory
(Book & Media Reviews)

The New Paradigm in Consciousness & Spirituality
(Book & Media Reviews)
In Consciousness & Spirituality
34 Book & Media Reviews by Peter Fritz Walter

Jeremiah Abrams (Ed.) • Joseph Campbell • Deepak Chopra
Mircea Eliade • Walter Y. Evens-Wentz • Jonathan Goldman
Stanislav Grof • J. Krishnamurti • Charles W. Leadbeater
Timothy Leary • Alexander Lowen • Terence McKenna
Ralph Metzner • Thomas Moore • Jeremy Narby • Michael Newton

Hal & Sidra Stone • Dora van Gelder • Alberto Villoldo
Published by Sirius-C Media Galaxy LLC

113 Barksdale Professional Center, Newark, Delaware, USA

©2014 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

This publication may be distributed, used for an adaptation or for deriva-
tive works, also for commercial purposes, as long as the rights of the author
are attributed. The attribution must be given to the best of the user’s ability
with the information available. Third party licenses or copyright of quoted
resources are untouched by this license and remain under their own license.

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Set in Palatino

Designed by Peter Fritz Walter

Scribd Edition

Publishing Categories
Literary Criticism / Books & Reading

Publisher Contact Information

Author Contact Information

About Dr. Peter Fritz Walter
About the Author

Parallel to an international law career in Germany, Swit-
zerland and the United States, Dr. Peter Fritz Walter (Pi-
erre) focused upon fine art, cookery, astrology, musical
performance, social sciences and humanities. He started
writing essays as an adolescent and received a high school
award for creative writing and editorial work for the
school magazine.

Upon finalizing his international law doctorate, he pri-
vately studied psychology and psychoanalysis and started
writing both fiction and nonfiction works.

After a second career as a corporate trainer and personal
coach, Pierre retired as a full-time writer, philosopher and

His nonfiction books emphasize a systemic, holistic, cross-
cultural and interdisciplinary perspective, while his fiction
works and short stories focus upon education, philosophy,
perennial wisdom, and the poetic formulation of an inte-
grative worldview.

Pierre is a German-French bilingual native speaker and
writes English as his 4th language after German, Latin and
French. He also reads source literature for his research
works in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch.

All of Pierre’s books are hand-crafted and self-published,
designed by the author.

About Quoting

Quotes are followed by a forward slash (/) and a page
number. They always refer to the author and the book that
is being reviewed, and the page number of the edition that
was reviewed. It may not in every case be the newest edi-
tion of the book.
To all those who are on their way …
and refuse to be settled.

The author’s profits from this book are being donated to charity.

These book reviews were written between 2005 and
2014, the result of an effort for making a contribution not
only to academia, but more so, to college students around
the world who wish to be informed about books that cover
the exciting adventure of the paradigm changes in busi-
ness, science, and culture we are currently living through.
The present volume belongs to a reviews trilogy that
are intended to be a coherent whole. The two other vol-
umes are entitled The New Paradigm in Business, Leadership
& Career and The New Paradigm in Science & Systems Theory.
This journey, undertaken with the intention to share
knowledge that I believe is useful to many people, was a
great challenge and adventure and opened me new path-
ways that were confirming my research on the perennial
holistic wisdom of ancient civilizations who were thriving
before patriarchy was putting nature upside-down about
five thousand years ago.

Currently, with the advent of a networked global soci-
ety, and systems theory as its scientific paradigm, we are vir-
tually looking into a different world, with a rise of ‘hori-
zontal’ and ‘sustainable’ structures both in our business
culture, and in science, and last not least on the important
areas of psychology, medicine, and spirituality.

—A paradigm, from Greek ‘paradeigma’, is a pattern of things, a
configuration of ideas, a set of dominant beliefs, a certain way of look-
ing at the world, a set of assumptions, a frame of reference or lens, and
even an entire worldview.

While most of this new and yet old path has yet to be
trotted, we can’t deny the changes that happen all around
us every day. Invariably, as students, scientists, doctors,
consultants, lawyers, business executives or government
officials, we face problems today that are so complex, en-
tangled and novel that they cannot possibly be solved on
the basis of our old paradigm, and our old way of think-
ing. As Albert Einstein said, we cannot solve a problem on
the same level of thought that created it in the first place—
hence the need for changing our view of looking at things,
the world, and our personal and collective predicaments.
What still about half a decade ago seemed unlikely is
happening now all around us: we are rediscovering more
and more fragments of an integrative and holistic wisdom
that represents the cultural and scientific legacy of many
ancient tribes and kingdoms that were based upon a per-
ennial tradition which held that all in our universe is inter-
connected, and that humans are set in the world to con-


sciously live in unison with the infinite wisdom inherent in
creation as a major task for driving evolution forward!
It happens in science, since the advent of quantum
physics and string theory, it happens in neuroscience and
systems theory, it happens in biology, in ecology, and as a
result, and because science is a major motor in society, it
happens now with increasing speed in the industrial and
the business world, and in the way people earn their lives
and manifest their talents through their professional en-
More and more people begin to realize that we cannot
honestly continue to destroy our globe by disregarding the
natural law of self-regulation, both outside, by polluting
air and water, and inside, by tolerating our emotions to be
in a state of repression and turmoil. Self-regulation is built
into the life function and it can be found as a consistent
pattern in the lifestyle of natives peoples around the

It is similar with our immense intuitive and imaginal
faculties that were downplayed in centuries of darkness
and fragmentation, and that now emerge anew as major
key stones in a worldview that puts the whole human at the
frontline, a human who uses their whole brain, and who
knows to balance their emotions and natural passions so as
to arrive at a state of inner peace and synergistic relation-
ships with others that bring mutual benefit instead of one-
sided egotistic satisfaction.


For a real change to happen, we need to change the
thinker, as Krishnamurti used to say, which means we need
to undergo a transformation that puts our higher self in
charge as the caretaker of our lives, releasing our condi-
tioned ego from this task.
Hence the need to really look over the fence and get
beyond social, cultural and racial conditioning for adopt-
ing an integrative, holistic and systemliterate worldview
that is focused on a higher level than mere problem-

—Systemliteracy is a term I have coined. While it sounds similar to
Fritjof Capra’s idea of Ecoliteracy ( On my site I have defined it: ‘Systemliteracy is the true under-
standing not only of nature, but also of the human energy field, human
emotions, the complexities about war and violence, and how humans
can ultimately be led to establishing world peace.’ See also my blog on

What all these books convey is that it’s not too late, be
it for our planet and for us humans, our careers, our sci-
ence, our collective spiritual advancement, our scientific
understanding of nature, and that we can thrive in a world
that is surely more different in ten years from now that it
was one hundred years in the past compared to now.

We are free to continue to feel like victims in this new
reality, and wait for being taken care of by the state, or we
may accept the state, and society, as human creations that
will never be perfect, and venture into creating our lives
and careers in accordance with our true mission, and based
upon our real gifts and talents.


I haven’t given ratings in my reviews, and for good
reason. I find rating content a misguided popular institu-
tion that puts the consumer in the role of the ‘king’ to
judge all and everything from a naturally limited personal
perspective. As mindful humans we should be careful with
judgment, with judging others, or judging what others
have achieved and produced in terms of intellectual or ar-
tistic content.

This being said, the very fact that a book was included
in my three review volumes is proof enough of the fact
that the book is highly worthwhile reading, and the review
serves to elucidate the why and how of that. Besides, there
was no need to give any specific ‘star’ ratings.

I hope that any book you may be interested in that is
included here can help you to lead a better life, have a
higher understanding of your own path of life, help you to
have better relationships, a more harmonious emotional
life, and a tighter grasp of scientific research and ultimate-
ly—a success boost in your personal path of life.
On the other hand, if any particular book you want to
see reviewed is not included here, you may write to me
using the email address published in the copyright section
of the book. I will consider your request for the next edi-
tion of this review sampler.
—Peter Fritz Walter


Jeremiah Abrams! 17
• Reclaiming the Inner Child! 17

Joseph Campbell! 29
• The Hero With a Thousand Faces! 33
• Occidental Mythology! 39
• Oriental Mythology! 44
• The Power of Myth! 50

Deepak Chopra! 63
• Life After Death! 63

Mircea Eliade! 67
• Shamanism! 67

Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz! 79
• The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries! 82

Jonathan Goldman! 87
• Healing Sounds! 90
• Healing Sounds DVD! 107
• Tantra of Sound! 110

Stanislav Grof! 117
• Beyond the Brain! 122

• The Holotropic Mind! 124
• The Cosmic Game! 128

J. Krishnamurti! 133
• Education and the Significance of Life! 141

Charles Webster Leadbeater! 167
• Astral Plane! 170
• Dreams! 195
• The Inner Life! 204

Timothy Leary! 219
• Your Brain is God! 219

Alexander Lowen! 231
• Pleasure! 234
• The Language of the Body! 251

Terence McKenna! 259
• The Archaic Revival! 262
• Food of the Gods! 277
• The Invisible Landscape! 288

Ralph Metzner (Ed.)! 295
• Ayahuasca! 295

Thomas Moore! 315
• Care of the Soul! 315

Jeremy Narby! 327
• The Cosmic Serpent! 327

Michael Newton! 335
• Life Between Lives! 335

Hal and Sidra Stone! 343
• Embracing Our Selves! 343

Dora van Gelder! 351
• The Real World of Fairies! 351


Alberto Villoldo! 365
• Healing States! 368
• Shaman, Healer, Sage! 374
• Healing the Luminous Body! 381
• The Four Insights! 385

Bibliography! 391

Personal Notes! 397

Jeremiah Abrams

Reclaiming the Inner Child
New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1990
No Cover Scan Available

Steeped in the mythopoetic tradition of Jungian psychology, Jeremiah
Abrams, psychotherapist and author, has worked for almost 30 years in
the helping professions. His books include the best-selling Meeting the
Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature; The Shadow in
America: Reclaiming the Soul of a Nation, Reclaiming the Inner Child, and
Living from the Inside Out. He is director of Mt. Vision Institute, in Marin
County, California.

I found ‘Reclaiming the Inner Child’ at the time when I
was myself working with Inner Child Recovery and Heal-
ing. Next to Stone & Stone’s Embracing Our Selves, the pre-
sent book was an important inspiration for drafting my
own approach on healing the inner child.

The reader is well edited and presented; each contribu-
tion is essential and brings a new insight and perspective
for awakening the inner child.

Jeremiah Abrams wrote once in a presentation of the
book that inner child recovery is a religious quest. I can fully
subscribe to this statement, as it’s in accordance with the
oldest of traditions.
In fact, the ancient Hermetic Tradition was teaching the
dialogue with our inner selves as a path to self-knowledge,
and unfortunately this is today forgotten in our rushy and
outwardly prosperous culture. Inwardly, most of us are
impoverished on the level of soul which is why we have
such a high incidence of depression and the resulting emo-
tional disorders in our modern international culture.
Let me tell you upfront that this book is not about psy-
chiatry. You do not need any psychological knowledge for
reading it, and applying its wisdom in your own life. Most
contributions, and to mention here especially those of
Jeremiah Abrams, Gaston Bachelard, Joseph Campbell and John
Loudon expand on the poetic and mythological dimension
of a healed and functional inner child. But even those other
contributions, written from the pulpit of psychiatric pro-
fessionals, to mention only John Bradshaw, Nathaniel Bran-
den, James Hillman, Robert M. Stein or Hal and Sidra Stone,
do not present inner child healing as a discipline that is
strictly speaking to be placed within the closed space of
psychiatric hospitals or the coach of the psychoanalyst.


Also these contributions are very well readable for the
novice and non-professional reader, and they emphasize
the poetic, creative and artistic role of the inner child,
while they also show what good a functional inner child
can do within a healthy and well-composed psyche. To
make this book review not too extensive, I have chosen to
publish a few quotes from the contribution of each author
to the reader.

Jeremiah Abrams
If we are to stop abusive family patterns and not
transmit them to the next generation, then the inter-
nalized parental image also must be recognized as
wounded. Such compassionate awareness is a de-
veloping phenomenon in the lives of those coura-
geous adults who are overcoming their shame and
pain in order to acknowledge and heal the wounded
child within./168

Gaston Bachelard
He is stuffed with sociability. He is prepared for his
life as a man along the lines of the ideal of stabilized
men. He is also instructed in the history of his fam-
ily. He is taught most of the memories of early
childhood, a whole history which the child will al-
ways be able to recount. Childhood—that dough!—
is pushed into the die so that the child will follow
closely in the path of the lives of others./45

The child dreamer is alone, very much alone. He
lives in the world of his reverie. His solitude is less
social, less pitted against society, than the solitude of


men. The child knows a natural reverie of solitude, a
reverie which must not be confused with that of the
sulking child. In his happy solitudes, the dreaming
child knows the cosmic reverie which unites us to
the world./45

John Bradshaw
Our source relationships were bathed in poor mod-
eling and abandonment. This created our shame-
based identity. Because we had no authentic self, we
clung to our caregivers in a fantasy bond or built
walls around us where no one could hurt us. These
earliest imprints colored all our subsequent relation-
ships. /225

The emotionally shut-down person literally is filled
with will, i.e., becomes will-full. Willfulness is char-
acterized by grandiosity and unbridled attempts to
control, and is the ultimate disaster caused by toxic

Nathaniel Branden
In effect, the child we once were can be experienced
as a source of pain, rage, fear, embarrassment, or
humiliation, to be repressed, disowned, repudiated,
forgotten. We reject that child just as, perhaps, others
once did—and our cruelty to that child can continue
daily and indefinitely through our lifetime, in the
theater of our own psyche where the child continues
to exist as a subpersonality, a child-self./243

When related to unconsciously and/or negatively, a
child-self is left in a kind of alienated oblivion. In the


latter case, when the child-self is left unconscious, or
is disowned and repudiated, we are fragmented; we
do not feel whole; in some measure we feel self-
alienated; and self-esteem is wounded./244

Left unrecognized, not understood, or rejected and
abandoned, a child-self can turn into a ‘trouble-
maker’ that obstructs our evolution as well as our
enjoyment of existence. The external expression of
this phenomenon is that we will at times exhibit
harmfully childish behavior, or fall into patterns of
inappropriate dependency, or become narcissistic, or
experience the world as belonging to ‘the grown-
ups.’ /244

On the other hand, recognized, accepted, embraced,
and thereby integrated, a child-self can be a magnifi-
cent resource that enriches our lives, with its poten-
tial for spontaneity, playfulness, and imaginative-
ness. /244

Joseph Campbell
How might we as individuals get in touch with the
child that lives within us? By killing the dragon
‘Thou shalt’. By choosing not to live by other peo-
ple’s rules? Right. Respecting them, but not living by

James Hillman
Jungian therapy, at least how I practice it, brings
about an awareness that fantasy is a creative activity
which is continually telling a person into now this
story, now that one. … Soulmaking goes hand in


hand with deliteralizing consciousness and restoring
its connection to mythic and metaphorical thought
patterns. Rather than interpret the stories into con-
cepts and rational explanations, we prefer to see
conceptual explanations as secondary elaborations
upon basic stories which are containers and givers of

Whenever we are caught in a literal view, a literal
belief, a literal statement, we have lost the imagina-
tive metaphorical perspective to ourselves and our

The main body of biblical and classical tales directs
fantasy into organized, deeply life-giving psycho-
logical patterns; these stories present the archetypal
modes of experiencing. /279

John Loudon
There is a sense then in which the self is a lifelong
project, as long as we remember that it is a project
that requires as much passivity as activity (to use
Teilhard’s terms)—both receptivity and taking hold,
yin and yang./237

The child has the glory of simply being, like a flower
or an animal, without the necessity of doing any-
thing, becoming anything in order to be fully what it

In later childhood, one is socialized into conven-
tional values and meanings. While this is necessary
for an adequate sense of self-worth and basic orien-


tation and for social order, all too many of us can
become arrested at this stage of development and
lead what Paul Tillich calls ‘heteronymous’ lives, in
which something external sets our priorities, estab-
lishes what is meaningful and worthwhile./239

But if we give ourselves to the process of growth, if
we take up the search for wholeness, the quest for
understanding (rather than the vain longing for cer-
tainty), we are set on a path that leads not back to
the childhood we may nostalgically idealize but
forward toward an authentic fullness and integra-
tion. /239

Maturity, then, is an achievement of synthesis. It is
not simply a chronological stage of life./240

Alice Miller
The true self has been in ‘a state of noncommunica-
tion’ as Winnicott said, because it had to be pro-
tected. The patient never needs to hide anything else
so thoroughly, so deeply, and for so long a time as he
has hidden this true self./136

Where there had only been fearful emptiness or
equally frightening grandiose fantasies, there now is
unfolding an unexpected wealth of vitality./137

Jeffrey Satinover
I would say that the puer may result from a parental
milieu which, in a roughly eighteen-month to a two-
year-old child, habitually disrupts any sign of asser-
tiveness, of action or fantasies that carry not the


hallmark of masculinity, but of specialness and

Thus, an internal vicious circle is established; each
constellation of the Self, bringing with it a tide of
grandiose fantasies, is followed by a tide of self-
criticism and re-fragmentation. /147

By reflecting back to the child his specialness and
grandeur, the parent helps to sustain a kind of nec-
essary inflation. This inflation will motivate the child
to move into an ever-expanding world where, by
suffering tolerable defeats, the inflation will be
modified and personal identity sustained more and
more by the capacities of the ego./153

Robert M. Stein
Creative psychological development, individuation,
is dependent on spiritual freedom. When we say, for
example, a man has a free spirit, do we mean that he
freely or necessarily transgresses the imposed man-
ners, mores and taboos of his culture? I think not.
But it does mean the freedom to do anything or go
any place he desires in the imaginal realm. He is a
man who has clearly distinguished the sacral, time-
less world from the secular, historical world. He
knows he can move with unashamed dignity among
the gods and demons which belong to the mundane
world. Such freedom cannot occur with a primitive
form of consciousness in which inner and outer real-
ity are governed by the same laws and values. In
this sense, our Judeo-Christian tradition is primitive
in that our thoughts and desires are subject to the


same dogma, the same regulation, as our deeds.
Spiritual freedom requires a break with biblical tra-
dition and the development of a new form of con-
sciousness—a consciousness which promotes the
cultivation of imaginal freedom./265

If one has experienced an authentic rebirth, one is
ready to enter into a new life where kinship of spirit
becomes a stronger bond than kinship of blood./269

The lack of firmly rooted kinship connections is per-
haps more responsible for our sense of isolation and
alienation today than any other single factor. Fre-
quent renewal through kinship connection is basic
nourishment for our spiritual and physical well-
being. /270

There is a great need nowadays for new forms in
marriage, friendship and community which will
promote the development of erós and feelings of
kinship connection. /270

The exchange of soul-substance which occurs when
two souls meet and touch is essential for the life and
health of the body and spirit. Inner wholeness soon
becomes cold, rigid and life-killing if the soul is not
continually re-humanized and renewed through the
human connection. Still, it is just because soul-
connections are so rare and difficult to have in our
culture that the internal healing of the mind/body
split and internal wholeness is so essential. This is
another paradox which we cannot avoid./270


The need to keep one’s soul carefully hidden and
protected disappears when one is no longer depend-
ent on the connection to another for completion.
There is no longer the fear of experiencing and ex-
pressing one’s feelings, one’s reactions to another,
simply because the integrity and wholeness of one’s
being are not dependent on a particular relationship.
This increases the possibility of having close human
connections, and it decreases the demands and ex-
pectations which we are all prone to make upon
those we care for. In addition, the revealed soul gen-
erally evokes the emotion of love, especially when it
demands nothing from the other. Thus, inner
wholeness opens the door to many more possibili-
ties for soul-connection, in spite of the lack of erós
promoting vessels in our culture./271

Hal and Sidra Stone
What is this child like? The most striking quality is
its ability to be deeply intimate with another person.
The facilitator can feel a physical warmth and a full-
ness radiating from this child. It is as though the
space between the two people is alive and vibrating.

The vulnerable child is tuned in energetically—it is
aware of everything that is happening. Words will
not fool it for a moment. As you speak, the child will
know if there is any change whatsoever in your en-
ergetic connection to it./177


Caring for this inner child through an aware ego
gives a feeling of real strength. It represents real

Joseph Campbell

Books Reviewed
The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1973)
Occidental Mythology (1991)
Oriental Mythology (1991)
The Power of Myth (1988)

Joseph Campbell was an important discovery for me. I
found his books back in 1998, through a reference in the
book The Great Mother, by Erich Neumann.

His work assumes for me the same importance as, for
example, the work of Carl Jung. His books give us insights
about the development of the collective unconscious, just
as Jung’s—but from a mythological, not psychological, per-
spective. However, his books contain a common thread, a
basic message, and this message is that patriarchy is a form
of life-denial, a collective neurosis—not a lifestyle, not a
philosophy, not a Weltanschauung, but rather a twist given
to life and that distorts our very nature. And ultimately,
therefore, it’s a refusal of true humanity. Campbell devel-
ops the theme further with Bill Moyers in The Power of
Myth (1988), by alluding to the Star Wars plot.

Darth Vader has not developed his own humanity.
He’s a robot. He’s a bureaucrat, living not in terms
of himself but in terms of an imposed system. This is
the threat to our lives that we all face today. Is the
system going to flatten you out and deny you your
humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of
the system to the attainment of human purposes?
How do you relate to the system so that you are not
compulsively serving it?/54

Patriarchy, with its craving for obedience to the father,
is a sort of compulsion neurosis. Not only are individuals
flattened out by systems that are eternal replacements of
real fathers—those who typically abandoned their roles as


true caretakers, but authority-craving individuals also have
flattened out their better halves, their right brains, so as to
serve the system even more diligently. In this sense, as a
sentinel for attention to the signals pointing to a possible
coming of Orwellian times, Campbell’s oeuvre cannot be
underestimated. It should be read in all schools, also be-
cause it’s essential to train the right brain capacities of as-
sociative, symbolic thinking from early age. In fact, these
capacities were highly developed in the great scholar, next to
his poetic understanding and word magic, which is why
his books are great reading, and not dry scholarly pam-
phlets. And then we might finally ask the pertinent ques-
tion: ‘How has patriarchy come about—and what was be-
fore?’ It all started with a murder. The murder of the God-
dess. And it became the foundation of what is called a cul-
ture. It became the foundation of what is called a religion.

In biblical times, when the Hebrews came in, they
really wiped out the Goddess. The term for the Ca-
naanite goddess that's used in the Old Testament is
the Abomination. Apparently, throughout the period
represented in the Book of Kings, for example, there
was a back and forth between the two cults. Many of
the Hebrew kings were condemned in the Old Tes-
tament for having worshiped on the mountaintops.
Those mountains were symbols of the Goddess. And
there was a very strong accent against the Goddess
in the Hebrew, which you do not find the Indo-
European mythologies. Here you have Zeus marry-
ing the Goddess, and then the two play together. So
it's an extreme case that we have in the Bible, and


our own Western subjugation of the female is a
function of biblical thinking./215-216

It seems that when man began to preach high moral-
ity and confessed to strife for goodness, he began to
really become diabolic. Campbell remarks that the
vandalism involved in the destruction of the pagan
temples of antiquity is hardly matched in world


The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Princeton: Princeton University Press
Bollingen Series, XVII, 1973

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is one of Joseph Campbell’s best books. It
contains much of the other books, but when it comes to presenting the
material, this book really is well-edited. The headers are comprehensive
and the book in its overall makeup addresses not only scholars but also
a young and always-young audience as it has a significant contact with
present-day reality.

We are now once again in the midst of a Hero Cult, and
Campbell has to be credited with the merit to have shown
the negative sides of this patriarchy-related phenomenon
and its many undesirable consequences. Contrary to the
proponents of the cult of hero modeling, Campbell makes
it all clear that, by following this idea, you miss your soul
entirely. In the meantime, he is not the only one who is
saying that. We are going to see further down in the review


of Care of the Soul (1994) by Thomas Moore, that there are
more authors now being alert to warn us about the dan-
gers of hero modeling, and perfectionism, as these are
symptoms of both individual and cultural narcissism.
Campbell can be said to be in contradiction with the
hero cult, while this may sound like a paradox. Well, the
paradox finds its solution in the simple fact that Campbell,
in accordance with the oldest of traditions, defines the hero
in a different manner than current popular culture. While
this may not be obvious on first sight, this and my other
reviews of Campbell’s books will peel this truth out for
everybody to see.
The answer is probably that to be a hero in today’s
hero culture, you have to abnegate self, so as to bring about
private victory and eventually public victory, to use popular
terms. However, it has to be seen that the creator of these
terms, Stephen R. Covey, was not advocating modeling.
Other leadership trainers however do. In Covey’s defini-
tion of a leader, soul has certainly a firm and well-deserved

—See Peter Fritz Walter, The New Paradigm in Business, Leader-
ship & Career, Book Reviews, 2014 and Leadership and Career in the
21st Century

A responsible leadership trainer cannot overlook the
immense quantity of junk productions, especially popular
video games, where the hero is depicted as an abusive type
of totally masculine—and often equally totally brain-
less—type of persecutor, and ruthless killer. The film ‘The


Terminator’ also is an indicator for this kind of redefinition
of the hero. But this kind of hero is the ‘false hero’ not the
true hero as the old sagas and fairy tales have featured
him. Joseph Campbell steps into that old tradition and ex-
plains and describes it with all his rich and mature vocabu-
lary, and his vivid imagination.
In this book, he takes an archetype-based approach for
presenting a wealth of material from mythology and the
folk lore of olden times and of all times, a lore that defines
the hero as a basic novelty, a unique brew of characteristics
and a specific energy that brings forth its mark upon the
world, whatever stands in the way, and thereby produces
and changes culture. The archetypal journey of the hero is
laid out in the chapter headings, Departure (I-1), Initiation
(I-2), Return (I-3), Keys (I-4), Emanations (II-1), Virgin Birth
(II-2), Transformations (II-3), Dissolutions (II-4).
Campbell defines the hero as a being in transformation,
and thus open for change, flexibly intelligent, and ready to
leave behind the old serpent skins. But what really distin-
guishes the hero from the ordinary man is that he follows
but his star, to paraphrase Dante, and that he models only
his or her own self, yet by doing so, and here is the other
paradox, sets the personal mission on the public stage and
makes out of it what the Romans called res publica.
Thus, the hero is defined by the fact of overcoming not
only personal limitations but also selfish orientation, hav-
ing set the stage for a transpersonal outcome of his or her
particular mission. To bring about transpersonal realiza-


tion, not abnegation of self is needed, but affirmation of self,
not ‘victory’ over selfish needs, but listening to these needs
through a constant focus inside and an open ear for our
inner child, the main creative energy in us.
Campbell puts the rebirth of the hero in our focus,
which others call second birth and that aligns us with our
spiritual family, and often alienates us from the blood fam-
ily, the pedigree, the illusion of ‘home sweet home,’ and
the eternal codependence within the nuclear family that
smashes the child’s striving for autonomy and self-reliance
by manipulating children’s emotional life in the name of
‘the child’s own best.’ Campbell writes:

The hero … is the man or woman who has been able
to battle past his personal and local historical limita-
tions to the generally valid, normally human forms.
… The hero has died as a modern man; but as eter-
nal man—perfected, unspecific, universal man—he
has been reborn./19-20

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell puts a par-
ticular stress on using introversion and introspection as
tools for gaining self-knowledge and strength, the unique
force that animates the hero, his creative energy:

Willed introversion, in fact, is one of the classic im-
plements of creative genius and can be employed as
a deliberate device. It drives the psychic energies
into depth and activates the lost continent of uncon-
scious infantile and archetypical images./64


Campbell sees the uniqueness and the power of the
hero not only in specific talents, personal strength, or a cer-
tain alignment with universal laws, but also in the release
of a specific energy that, using cross-cultural insights and
comparisons, he identifies as the life force that animates all
sentient beings.
The human paradox is that the specific realization of
spiritual energy is brought about not by abnegation of self
and focus on ideals, but in the contrary through a deliber-
ate and long-term focus on one’s own unique energy.
This energy, again paradoxically, strongest is visible not
in our good deeds, but in our bad ones, which are those at-
tributed to our shadow. It is our shadow, our inner daimon as
Socrates called it, that most originally expresses the essence
of our being, and it’s by dialoguing with this instance, and
not by repressing it, that we realize our full spiritual na-
ture. And saying this, I am in alignment with the writings
of Hermes Trismegistos and the Eleusinian mysteries.

Campbell’s message is important for understanding
what the true hero is and what the false hero is, and as a
consequence to eventually see that what is thriving today
in popular culture is not heroism, but false heroism. It is not
by striving to be superhuman but by accepting to being
only human that we become fully human.
Thus, it’s by accepting our simple yet so wonderfully
colorful humanity that we realize the spiritual man and
woman in us. For this to happen, we have to focus on our
inner world, not on outer sense-givers. And most impor-


tantly we have to avoid those who come with instant con-
cepts for self-realization and their endless quick fixes. The
soul abhors quick fixes, and instant solutions, and it pre-
fers the convoluted and slow liberation from our inner


Occidental Mythology
Princeton: Princeton University Press
Bollingen Series, XVII, 1973

Occidental Mythology, to say it coarsely, renders the murder culture even-
tually comprehensive. It is Joseph Campbell’s merit to have unveiled
Isis a second time, after her first veil was torn by Helena Blavatsky …

It all started with a murder, the Murder of the Goddess,
and it became the mold of all the murders perpetrated
thereafter. And he, the scholar, politely talks about ambiva-
lence and inversion for explaining that the basic symbols
of the Bible address a pictorial message to the heart that
exactly reverses the verbal message addressed to the brain,
and that this nervous discord inhabits both Christianity
and Islam as well as Judaism, since they too share in the
legacy of the Old Testament. We do have a constant rheto-
ric in the Bible that uses the word ‘love’ like a strange kind


of balm for the wounds torn by violence and the patriar-
chal fear of the female.

For it is now perfectly clear that before the violent
entry of the late Bronze and early Iron Age nomadic
Aryan cattle-herders from the north and Semitic
sheep-and-goat-herders from the south into the old
cult sites of the ancient world, there had prevailed in
that world an essentially organic, vegetal, non-heroic
view of the nature and necessities of life that was
completely repugnant to those lion hearts for whom
not the patient toil of earth but the battle spear and
its plunder were the source of both wealth and

The ‘fury of fire and sword,’ as Riane Eisler called it in
The Chalice and the Blade (2005), was in Campbell’s opinion
a moralistic neurosis as the point of departure of patriar-
—See my review of Riane Eisler’s Books in Peter Fritz Walter, The
New Paradigm in Science and Systems Theory (2014)

He speaks about an infantile thinking in opposites that
typically is marked by an almost total absence of intuition,
association and synthesis. It is a stiff and inflexible, and
neurotic left-brain concept, called the ‘solar worldview.’
If this worldview were a mere historical artifact, we
could relegate it to the history department. But we are not
yet beyond the solar worldview, as it has become rather
popular again, with religious and political fundamental-
ism, and a widespread moralistic attitude pervading pub-


lic discussions. And one may ask why humanity has de-
veloped a solar worldview in the first place? Campbell ex-

As the mother of all living, Eve herself, then, must
be recognized as the missing anthropomorphic as-
pect of the mother-goddess. And Adam, therefore,
must have been her son as well as spouse: for the
legend of the rib is clearly a patriarchal inversion
(giving precedence to the male) of the earlier myth
of the hero born from the goddess Earth, who re-
turns to her to be reborn./30

Campbell’s writings precede Riane Eisler’s reports of a
matriarchal reign of peace and partnership that contrasted
strongly with the later inverted culture, and having had its
peak in Crete, the great Minoan Civilization. Referencing
Martin Nilsson, he does not hide the impact that this dif-
ference had upon sexual mores:

The culture, as many have noted, was apparently of
a matriarchal type. The grace and elegance of the


ladies in their beautifully flounced skirts, generous
décolleté, pretty coiffures, and gay bandeaux, mix-
ing freely with the men, in the courts, in the bull
ring—lovely, vivid, and vivacious, gesticulating,
chattering, even donning masculine athletic belts to
go somersaulting dangerously over the horns and
backs of bulls—represent a civilized refinement that
has not been often equaled since : which I would like
the present chapter to fix firmly in place, by way of a
challenge to the claims of those proudly phallic
moral orders, whether circumcised or uncircum-
cised, that were to follow. (...) And the observation
must finally be added that all references to sexual
life, all phallic symbols, such as abound and are so
aggressive in / numerous religions—including the
historic religion of Greece—are in Minoan art com-
pletely missing./62-63

After the peaceful, emotionally intelligent, wistful and
abundantly joyful Minoan Civilization was ravaged and
burnt to ashes, an upside-down movement set in that
Campbell well describes as a rewriting of mythology, that
resulted in attributing to most deities the exact opposite
values they have had before; it was a forum of cultural
brainwashing. All cultural values were turned to their op-
posite. As a result, something like a new morality came up
at that time of early patriarchy that is based upon the de-
monization of the autonomous, wistful and knowledgeable

The Babylonian epic of Creation is a forthright patri-
archal document, where the female principle is de-


valuated, together with its point of view, and, as al-
ways happens when a power of nature and the psy-
che is excluded from its place, it has turned into its
negative, as a demoness, dangerous and fierce./86

And here we see why the serpent became a demon,
and a seducer, and why native cultures, with their natural
integrative attitude toward nature and the female, have
been largely decimated over the course of patriarchy.
Studying the research undertaken by Joseph Campbell
gives us the opportunity to be informed and enlightened
about the infamous cultural betrayal that is part of our past
as a civilization, with all the consequences this entails. One
of them namely is our problem with controlling violence
and abuse.
Fact is that patriarchy has made of abuse an automa-
tism. It has built abuse right in its cultural and social set-
ting. It has made abuse inevitable, and this is logically so,
as this cultural paradigm came about through murder and
abuse, and the ravaging of ‘the children of the enemy,’
when the strong-and-righteous were taking over the non-
believers. And we can even go as far as saying that patriar-
chy is per se a form of ritual abuse of nature. And that is
why we have to overcome the cultural betrayal of patriar-
chy and not for any other less important, reason!


Oriental Mythology
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1991
Originally published in 1962

When we want to learn what the difference is between our culture and
its patriarchal roots, so well described by Campbell in Occidental My-
thology, then we are on a path of synthesis, and of unification.

Campbell expresses it in Oriental Mythology in the
terms ‘The Indian point of view is metaphysical, poetical;
the biblical, ethical and historical.’ We could also say that
the Oriental mind is better able to tolerate opposites in-
stead of being trapped by them, and as a result can assume
the simultaneous existence and non-existence of reality,
god or truth. Or, to use modern terminology, the Orient
did not need quantum physics for understanding that life
is essentially patterned and nonlinear, not hierarchical and
linear. This is what Campbell calls the still point of eternity,


as the spiritual field beyond the dual nature of physical
appearances. And from this wistful point of departure of
non-dualism, the Oriental mind fosters not opposition to
nature, but acceptance of all nature, including human na-
ture. The social outflow of this worldview is the acceptance
of the fact that humans are not individuals only, but also
part of group life, endowed with social and cultural re-

Oriental culture is pervaded by the idea that we are all
inhabiting not only visible reality, but also a greater
scheme of intelligence than the intellectual mind, and the
divine is seen as inhabiting non-human and inorganic life
as well. From this insight, a culture has been created that
teaches the dialogue with self not only as a personal hy-
giene and religious quest, but also as a cultural imperative.
While in the West, religion was ritual and dogma, in the
East it was inquiry in the nature of reality, a dialogue with
self and the universe, and attention to the answers given
by the universe to our individual quest for truth. Campbell
puts this process in very eloquent terms:

One has but to alter one’s psychological orientation
and recognize (re-cognize) what is within. Deprived
of this recognition, we are removed from our own
reality by a cerebral shortsightedness which is called
in Sanskrit maya delusion (from the verbal root ma,
‘to measure, measure out, to form, to build’, denot-
ing, in the first place, the power of a god or demon
to produce illusory effects, to change form, and to
appear under deceiving masks; in the second place,


‘magic’, the production of illusions and, in warfare,
camouflage, deceptive tactics; and finally, in philo-
sophical discourse, the illusion superimposed upon
reality as an effect of ignorance. Instead of the bibli-
cal exile from a geographically, historically con-
ceived garden wherein God walked in the cool of the
day, we have in India, therefore, already c. 700 B.C.
(some three hundred years before the putting to-
gether of the Pentateuch), a psychological reading of
the great theme./13

And as a result, and not surprisingly so, Oriental cul-
ture long ago came up with a set of techniques that help to
bring about this inner unity which is alignment, peace, and
inner growth; and called it yoga. And the inquiry process
itself, the observation of inner processes, and the reflection
pattern, was called meditation.

The analogy is given of the surface of a pond blown
by a wind. The images reflected on such a surface
are broken, fragmentary, and continually flickering.
But if the wind should cease and the surface become
still—nirvana: ‘beyond or without (nir-) the wind
(vana)’—we should behold, not broken images, but
the perfectly formed reflection of the whole sky, the
trees along the shore, the quiet depths of the pond
itself, its lovely sandy bottom, and the fish. We
should then see that all the broken images, formerly
only fleetingly perceived, were actually but frag-
ments of these true and steady forms, now clearly
and steadily beheld. And we should have at our
command thereafter both the possibility of stilling


the pond, to enjoy the fundamental form, and that of
letting the winds blow and waters ripple, for the
enjoyment of the play (lila) of the transformations.
One is no longer afraid when this comes and that
goes; not even when the form that seems to be one-
self disappears. For the One that is all, forever re-
mains: transcendent—beyond all; yet also imma-
nent—within all./28

As for the oldest religion of humanity, Taoism, this
book contains invaluable source references from age-old
scriptures and poetic works, such as the works of Chuang

In the following passage, Campbell cites Chuang Tzu,
Book VI, Part I, Section VI. 2-3:

The True Men of old knew nothing either of the love
of life or the hatred of death. Entrance into life occa-
sioned them no joy; the exist from it awakened no
resistance. Composedly they went and came. They


did not forget what their beginning had been, and
they did not inquire into what their end would be.
They accepted their life and rejoiced in it; they forgot
all fear of death and returned to their state before
life. Thus there was in them what is called the want
of any mind to resist the Tao, and of all attempts by
means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such
were they who are called True Men. Being such,
their minds were free from all thought; their de-
meanor was still and unmoved; their foreheads
beamed simplicity. Whatever coldness came from
them was like that of autumn; whatever warmth
came from them was like that of spring. Their joy
and anger assimilated to what we see in the four
seasons. They did in regard to all things what was
suitable, and no one could know how far their action
would go./28

I haven’t found a better description of the integral
worldview of the old Taoist sages and their unifying and
non-harming, respectful attitude toward life and liv-
ing—and their true integration of nature in all its forms
and expressions. And what few have been able to eluci-
date, the difference between the Indian and the Chinese
mind, Campbell has ventured into and he came up with a
quite elaborate distinction. Even more eloquent and dar-
ing, when comparing Indian and Japanese religious cus-
toms and spiritual traditions, Campbell writes:

These, then, are the signatures of the two major
provinces of the Orient, and although, as we shall
see, India has had its days of joy in the ripple of the


waves and the Far East has cocked its ear to the song
of the depth beyond depths, nevertheless in the
main, the two views have been, respectively, ‘All is
illusion: let it go’, and ‘All is in order: let it com’'; in
India, enlightenment (samadhi) with the eyes closed;
in Japan, enlightenment (satori) / with the eyes

And then again comparing the religions of the Far East
with our Middle Eastern religious tradition, Campbell
wistfully concludes:

Whereas in the greater Orient of India and the Far
East, such a conflict of man and God, as though the
two were separate from / each other, would be
thought simply absurd./32-33


The Power of Myth
With Bill Moyers, ed. by Sue Flowers
New York: Anchor Books, 1988

The Power of Myth is an extraordinary book because it’s not a book. It’s a
typescript of radio dialogues, which makes for the liveliness of the con-
tent. I recommend it to everyone who lacks time to read more of the
great scholar, or who is a bit at pains with reading highly academic dic-

This book can be savored word for word, it can be read
aloud, it can be read at night, as bedtime lecture, and it will
always give a fascinating read. I read it in one night, as it
was such a fascinating lecture. Bill Moyers is a very pre-
sent interviewer and he surely had a liking for interview-
ing ‘the Great Campbell;’ his sympathy for him is not to be
overlooked, and was most conducive to bringing about an
invaluable document of the deeper thoughts of the great
scholar. Campbell initiates the discourse with a general

thought on modern science and its strong focus upon spe-

Now, the person who isn’t a specialist, but a general-
ist like myself, sees something over here that he has
learned from one specialist, something over there
that he has learned from another specialist—and
neither of them has considered the problem of why
this occurs here and also there./11

Campbell illustrates a variety of material he presented
in Occidental Mythology, perhaps because the content is
more controversial, and also because it bears a direct link
to our own culture. He expresses some deep truths that
form part of his mythological vision in a more convincing
manner than in the former book, for example as to the
Christian ideal of brotherhood, and how it was applied in

Now brotherhood in most of the myths I know of is
confined to a bounded community. In bounded
communities, aggression is projected outward. For
example, the ten commandments say, ‘Thou shalt
not kill.’ Then the next chapter says, ‘Go into Canaan
and kill everybody in it’. That is a bounded field.
The myths of participation and love pertain only to
the in-group, the the out-group is totally other. This
is the sense of the world ‘gentile’—the person is not
of the same order./28

Campbell leaves no doubt that this myth indeed tells
us an important story about present times, and that it has


forged some of our controversial values. They were essen-
tially forged through that in-group versus out-group thinking
that goes back to our Biblical past:

The Hebrews were absolutely ruthless with respect
to their neighbors. (...) That is to say, love and com-
passion are reserved for the in-group, and aggres-
sion and abuse are projected outward on others.
Compassion is to be reserved for members of your
own group. The out-group is to be treated in a way
described there in Deuteronomy. Of course, in bibli-
cal times, when the Hebrews came in, they really
wiped out the Goddess. The term for the Canaanite
goddess that’s used in the Old Testament is ‘the
Abomination’. Apparently, throughout the period
represented in the Book of Kings, for example, there
was a back and forth between the two cults. Many of
the Hebrew kings were condemned in the Old Tes-
tament for having worshiped on the mountaintops.
Those mountains were symbols of the Goddess. And
there was a very strong accent against the Goddess
in the Hebrew, which you do not find the Indo-
European mythologies. Here you have Zeus marry-
ing the Goddess, and then the two play together. So
it’s an extreme case that we have in the Bible, and
our own Western subjugation of the female is a func-
tion of biblical thinking./215, 216

It seems that since those early times of patriarchy, hu-
manity is entangled in one tight knot of violence, and it is
our major trinity of religions that have helped this knot to
be so tight. It is not one of these religions, but all three of


them, Judaism, Christianity and Islam that are sworn into
this kind of thinking. By contract, Eastern culture and re-
ligion offer a counterpoint here, and Campbell puts it elo-
quently when he says:

Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are
within us. This is the great realization of the Upani-
shads of India in the ninth century B.C. All the gods,
all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us. They
are magnified dreams, and dreams are manifesta-
tions in image form of the energies of the body in
conflict with each other. That is what myth is. Myth
is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphori-
cal images, of the energies of the organs of the body
in conflict with each other. This organ wants this,
that organ wants that./46

When we realize that the devil we see in the out-group
is but our own shadow, we are little inclined to go out and
kill all scapegoats in the form of ethnic, racial or sexual


minorities. Here we are again in the midst of Occidental
Mythology when Moyers asks Campbell about the Chris-
tian story where the serpent is the seducer. And Campbell
to reply:

That amounts to a refusal to affirm life. In the bibli-
cal tradition we have inherited, life is corrupt, and
every natural impulse is sinful unless it has been
circumcised or baptized. The serpent was the one
who brought sin into the world. And the woman
was the one who handed the apple to man. This
identification of the woman with sin, of the serpent
with sin, and thus of life with sin, is the twist hat has
been given to the whole story in the biblical myth
and doctrine of the Fall./54

Campbell’s reply is highly interesting for it amounts to
saying that the biblical tradition really is founded on an
anti-life attitude, on an opposition to nature, and as a re-
sult, an opposition of man toward woman. When Moyers
asked Campbell if he had found this idea of woman being
a sinner, in other mythologies, Campbell replied:

No, I don’t know of it elsewhere. … The serpent,
who dies and is resurrected, shedding its skin and
renewing its life, is the lord of the central tree, where
time and eternity come together. He is the primary
god, actually, in the Garden of Eden. Yahweh, the
one who walks there in the cool of the evening, is
just a visitor./54


Campbell’s answer is in alignment with the oldest of
traditions, that all affirm the serpent to be the god of the
gods, the ultimate spiritual force of the universe. This is
also the teaching of the old Chinese sages and of most of
the native peoples around the world. But to depict Yahweh
as a visitor is an idea I have not found elsewhere. Camp-
bell implicitly says that what Eisler called the ‘truncation
of civilization’ through the reversal of the symbolism after
the cultural turndown of matriarchy, has not really taken
place, at least not on the level of the unconscious, and in
Campbell suggests that what he called the counter-
player to patriarchy, the Serpent-Goddess, is still active on
the level of the unconscious, and probably also on the level
of the collective unconscious, relegating the ‘New God’ to
the status of a visitor. But Moyers investigates further and
Campbell retraces the historical facts:

There is actually a historical explanation based on
the coming of the Hebrews into Canaan and their


subjugation of the people of Canaan. The principal
divinity of the people of Canaan was the Goddess,
and associated with the Goddess is the serpent. This
is the symbol of the mystery of life. The male-god-
oriented group rejected it. In other words, there is a
historical rejection of the Mother Goddess implied in
the story of the Garden of Eden./55

It could not be clearer, and the principal consequence
of this rejection of the Goddess is in Campbell’s view an
implicit rejection of the unitary principle in nature, the unity
of all living as we find it so highly acclaimed and wor-
shipped in Hinduism and Buddhism. Campbell explains
that we deal here with a true shift in consciousness from
the consciousness of identity to the consciousness of par-
ticipation in duality. As the dialogue develops, it becomes
more focused and more general, and eventually turns to
asking what myth is about, what mythology does, and
what it should do. Campbell asserts that the ancients
myths were designed to harmonize body and mind, and to
bring man in touch with nature, and the nature in himself.
Another question asked was who rules whom in a democ-
racy? Campbell makes it clear that the rule of the majority
does not regulate our values, but only our day-to-day poli-
tics, because ‘in thinking …, the majority is always wrong’.
This is an important insight as there are many young peo-
ple today who simply over-adapt to society because of
their fear to be different from the herd. Instead of living
their own life, and their own love, they ask what the ma-
jority does and thinks, thereby annihilating their self-

power—or soul power—and exposing themselves to being
ultimately shunned by the good citizens that make out the
majority. These young people would certainly benefit from
reading Campbell’s books, so much the more as our media
remain silent about these issues. Campbell, taking the Star
Wars plot as a popular example, voices his deepest con-
cerns at what could be called the Darth Vader reality of
modern culture:

Darth Vader has not developed his own humanity.
He’s a robot. He’s a bureaucrat, living not in terms
of himself but in terms of an imposed system. This is
the threat to our lives that we all face today. Is the
system going to flatten you out and deny you your
humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of
the system to the attainment of human purposes?
How do you relate to the system so that you are not
compulsively serving it? It doesn't help to try to
change it to accord with your system of thought. The
momentum of history behind it is too great for any-
thing really significant to evolve from that kind of
action. The thing to do is to learn to live in your pe-
riod of history as a human being. That's something
else, and it can be done./178

And from here, Campbell goes on to show how the
‘schizophrenic crack’ comes about in so many of our
young people today because they are filled with the igno-
rant recipes of popular culture instead of being resourced
by their own soul reality:


If the person insists on a certain program, and
doesn’t listen to the demands of his own heart, he’s
going to risk a schizophrenic crackup. Such a person
has put himself off center. He has aligned himself
with a program for life, and it’s not the one the
body’s interested in at all. The world is full of people
who have stopped listening to themselves or have
listened only to their neighbors to learn what they
ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what
the values are that they should be living for./181

And global international consumer culture does all it
can to heat up that collective psychosis, to fire up the cul-
tural demons, the many shadows it creates through dis-
carding more and more behavior forms out of its official
and politically correct paradigm of living, thereby creating
miles of prison space for all those that are not exactly walk-
ing on-the-line.
A paranoid, schizoid culture cannot establish real val-
ues and valid rules because it has no real and valid self-


image, and its public opinion largely consists of modern
myths, even though most of these myths are ‘scientifically
corroborated.’ In a society where more than seventy per-
cent of all scientists work for the military and where more
than eighty percent are governmentally funded, it is abso-
lutely no problem to get a scientific backup for the latest
top-notch genocide technology. Despite all, Campbell pas-
sionately encourages young people to go their own way,
instead of sacrificing their own authentic vision to the
emotional addictions of their parents. Campbell’s message
is encouraging for all of us because it’s positive, and be-
cause it’s human in a time where inhumanity seems to get
the overhand, and he shows us that we have to find our
strength inside because we all have extraordinary gifts and

I don’t think there is any such thing as an ordinary
mortal. Everybody has his own possibility of rapture
in the experience of life. All he has to do is recognize
it and then cultivate it and get going with it. I always
feel uncomfortable when people speak about ordi-
nary mortals because I've never met an ordinary
man, woman, or child./205

When Campbell voiced his opinion that he found the
idea of God as Absolute Order ‘simply ridiculous,’ the dis-
cussion took a very interesting turn. Moyers asks if the
courage to love, in the troubadour tradition of the Middle
Ages, became the courage to affirm one’s own experience
against tradition and why that was important for evolution


of Western thought? Truly, an intelligent question. Camp-
bell replies:

It was important in that it gave the West this accent
on the individual, that one should have faith in his
experience and not simply mouth terms handed
down to him by others. It stresses the validity of the
individual’s experience of what humanity is, what
life is, what values are, against the monolithic sys-
tem. The monolithic system is the machine system:
every machine works like every other machine that's
come out of the same shop./234

I think here we have got to an angular point in our tra-
dition in that it is not a monolithic system, because love, hu-
man love and desire, is a transformational lever not only
for individual growth, but also for society at large. Camp-
bell affirms:

The best part of the Western tradition has included a
recognition of and respect for the individual as a
living entity. The function of the society is to culti-
vate the individual. It is not the function of the indi-
vidual to support society./239

The idea is paramount in the history of Western indi-
vidualism and here we encounter what the wisdom tradi-
tion has called The Holy Grail. What is that about? Camp-
bell explains:

The Grail becomes symbolic of an authentic life that
is lived in terms of its own volition, in terms of its


own impulse system, that carries itself between the
pairs of opposites of good and evil, light and

The individual love quest is always a manifestation of
the larger desire to become an individual, to gain true
autonomy, to be self-reliant and powerful, and this quest
can never be respectable, to paraphrase Krishnamurti.
Campbell notes:

Insofar as love expresses itself, it is not expressing
itself in terms of the socially approved manners of
life. That’s why it is all so secret. Love has nothing to
do with social order./254

When we recognize that love is on a different level
than social order, we can realize our love, and will realize
it not on the lines of social order and majoritarian ap-
proval, but based upon our own soul values.

Deepak Chopra

Life After Death
The Book of Answers
London: Rider, 2006

Life After Death is one of Chopra’s best. I am talking about this specific
edition that he published with Rider in London, not about the later ver-
sion entitled Life after Death: The Burden of Proof, that he published in the

What makes the strength of the present edition is that
designers and the publisher really worked well to bring
over Chopra’s poetic content to the distinguished reader.
For this book is not just scientific in the modern sense of

the word; it is scientific within the oldest traditions of the
world, and among them the tradition Chopra himself origi-
nates from, the wistful Vedic tradition of India. In this
sense, the book is an artful composition of poetic teaching
tales and scientific text interwoven in a fantastic poetic

I do not presently know an author who could do such a
fusion without losing his style, and get into popular sci-
ence jargon.
Chopra is beyond these categories, which is why he
can afford to put his whole heart and soul in a book where
others, afraid of public opinion in a matter that is still
highly controversial, would probably stay with the hard
facts. That is truly admirable. I would like to laud the de-
signers and the publisher, Rider-Randomhouse in London,
for this wonderful rendition of Chopra’s thoughts. The
choice of the cover, the font, the layout and design, all is


the work of skilled craft-makers, and it shows so much
care taken! This is how it should.
This book was for me a journey, and I read it parallel
with Charles W. Leadbeater’s Inner Life (1911)—which I
am equally reviewing in this present volume—and that
was truly a good mix.
However, it should be noted that Leadbeater comes
over as a dry mind compared to Chopra, who is a poet.
Chopra really is the better writer, as he is less academic,
less convoluted, more to the point, and more holistic in his
overall approach to life. Passages of the book remind me of
pamphlets written by Sufi writers.
Chopra uses an ancient technique of building a teach-
ing tale by weaving an Ariadne thread from the first to the
last page that helps the reader to bridge over the necessary
dryness of pages that deal with hard scientific facts and
statistics, or medical issues that Chopra eruditely expands
into for the obvious reason of giving flesh to metaphysical
issues. Indeed the mix he has brewed from this assemblage
is really alchemical in the good sense of the word, and it
has been appreciated by many readers.
I want to see the person who, after reading this book,
still fears death! I think that one of Chopra’s main goals for
writing this book was to help people cope with their fear
of death, and he has dealt with this task in a magnificent
way, indeed!

Mircea Eliade

Ancient Techniques of Ecstasy
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1989
First published by Pantheon Books, 1964

Shamanism by Mircea Eliade is considered to be the classic on shaman-
ism, and it remains a reference book. However, the book is not an easy
read. Especially when compared with Terence McKenna’s books, and
those by Richard Schultes, Michael Harner or Ralph Metzner, Eliade’s

book takes the appearance of a rather dry scholarly work, reference
manual, or standard academia. But this is its value!

The book contains so many details that one single lec-
ture will generally not leave very deep traces, except you
dispose of a photographic memory. The eminent advan-
tage of the book or generally of Eliade’s approach to sha-
manism is that his research did not take its origin in the
Amazon, but in Siberia. True shamanism, the most original
and untouched ritual of shamanism originates from Sibe-
ria, not from the Amazon, while today’s media suggest the
very contrary. It is important at the very start of studying
shamanism to learn that it is not a religion. As Eliade ob-

For all that shamanism dominates the religious life
of Central and North Asia, it is nevertheless not the
religion of that vast region. Only convenience or
confusion has made it possible for some investiga-
tors to consider the religion of the Arctic or Turko-
Tatar peoples to be shamanism./7

This is probably why Eliade sub-titled the book Ancient
Techniques of Ecstasy, for it’s that, a technique, a ritual,
something esoteric and not what the religion normally
does; shamanism could in fact be called the higher octave
of religion, like the Mystery Schools in Antiquity added
something essential to Greek religion, without represent-
ing that religion. As a result, the shaman, while highly re-
spected, and even venerated and encountered with awe, is
an outcast!

On the other hand, while a certain mental alienation
may precede the initiation of the shaman, Eliade’s early
stance on shamanism helped to repel the standard misno-
mer, for the most part brought up by ignorant missionar-
ies, that shamans were mentally ill, schizophrenic or hys-
terical people. The contrary is true. The shaman typically is
in his set and setting the only person of a really sane mind.
But for developing that sanity of mind, mental alienation is
often brought about by the inner self, as a temporary con-
dition, for the sole purpose of deconditioning the candi-
date and purifying his inner world, and his perception of
reality. Eliade observes:

Psychopaths or not, the future shamans are expected
to pass through certain initiatory ordeals and to re-
ceive an education that is sometimes highly com-
plex. It is only this twofold initiation—ecstatic and
didactic—that transforms the candidate from a pos-
sible neurotic into a shaman recognized by his par-
ticular society./14

Like the sick man, the religious man is projected
onto a vital plane that shows him the fundamental
data of human existence, that is, solitude, danger,
hostility of the surrounding world. But the primitive
magician, the medicine man, or the shaman is not
only a sick man; he is, above all, a sick man who has
been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.


Disease often has to worsen before it can be cured—
that’s known since times immemorial. By the same token,
those who rank high in society often go through a difficult
childhood or had their trials in their first years of profes-
sional engagement. Eliade observes that many a shaman
had a predisposition to shamanism since their childhood,
which typically manifests in ‘being different’, having vi-
sions and precognitive dreams, but also suffering from
strange fears, or even epileptic seizures:

But the future shaman exhibits exceptional traits
from adolescence; he very early becomes nervous
and is sometimes even subject to epileptic seizures,
which are interpreted as meetings with the gods./15

Thus, shamanic power often is the result of overcom-
ing a difficult condition, be it a mental illness or a physical
trauma; this overcoming is the result of a major effort from
the side of the individual, something like a personal vic-
tory, but one that was in some way aided by spiritual
forces, not by ego-driven action:

There is always a cure, a control, an equilibrium
brought about by the actual practice of shamanism.
It is not to the fact that he is subject to epileptic at-
tacks that the Eskimo or Indonesian shaman, for ex-
ample, owes his power and prestige; it is to the fact
that he can control his epilepsy./29

When we consider the extraordinary power of a sha-
man, for healing himself and others, and for communicat-


ing with spirits so as to alter fate, for example prevent a
tribal war between neighbor tribes, we might wonder what
personal qualities or characteristics such a person must
develop? Are they innate, or can they be acquired? Opin-
ions here vary from culture to culture, and it seems that
communication abilities are primed in this process:

As for the Sudanese tribes studied by Nadel: ‘No
shaman is, in everyday life, an abnormal individual,
a neurotic, or a paranoiac; if he were, he would be
classed as a lunatic, not respected as a priest.’ Nor
finally can shamanism be correlated with incipient
or latent abnormality; I recorded no case of a sha-
man whose professional hysteria deteriorated into
serious mental disorders. In Australia matters are
even clearer: medicine men are expected to be, and
usually are, perfectly healthy and normal./31

For the Yakut, the perfect shaman ‘must be serious,
possess tact, be able to convince his neighbors;
above all, he must not be presumptuous, proud, ill-
tempered.’ One must feel an inner force in him that
does not offend yet is conscious of its power.’/29

Finally there seems to be some agreement that the
shaman, while he may appear an unusual figure, is a per-
son not of ordinary, but of superior intelligence:

According to the testimony of Belyavsky and others,
collected by Karjalainen, the Vogul shaman displays
keen intelligence, a perfectly supple body, and an
energy that appears unbounded. His very prepara-


tion of his future work leads the neophyte to
strengthen his body and perfect his intellectual

In general, the Siberian and North Asian shaman
shows no sign of mental disintegration. His memory
and his power of self-control are distinctly above the

Shamanism is distinct from religion also by its redefini-
tion or alternative definition of what is sacred. Contrary to
the common definition of sacredness primarily being de-
fined by religious tradition, in shamanism sacredness has
an immediate quality about it, and is often related to mys-
tic appearances, or a direct perception of the divine. Eliade

It is important to bring out this notion of peculiarity
conferred by an unusual or abnormal experience.
For, properly considered, singularization as such
depends upon the very dialectic of the sacred. The
most elementary hierophanies, that is, are nothing
but a radical ontological separation of some object
from the surrounding cosmic zone; some tree, some
stone, some place, by the mere fact that it reveals
that it is sacred, that it has been, as it were, chosen as
a receptacle for a manifestation of the sacred, is
thereby ontologically separated from the other
stones, trees, places, and occupies a different, a su-
pernatural plane./32


In this sense, for the truly religious mind, the detail be-
comes the major thing in life, and nothing will be really

Such an attitude, that in major religions only is seen as
awe in front of the divine, greatly enhances our faculties of
perception. As the attitude it not projected onto a divine
figure but is general, nature as such is embraced and inte-
grated into a greater spiritual whole, and that makes that
shamanism is so successful in healing the human body. For
it brings along alignment, an alignment that most tribal
peoples indeed possess, which makes for their peaceful
and non-harmful living, and their silent dialogue with na-
The other fundamental question that Eliade asked and
tried to answer in his book was what is the intrinsic quality


of the shamanic cure, and how does it come about? Eliade

The shaman’s ecstatic journey is generally indispen-
sable, even if the illness is not due to the theft of the
soul by demons or ghosts. The shamanic trance
forms part of the cure; whatever interpretation the
shaman puts on it, it is always by his ecstasy that he
finds the exact cause of the illness and learns the
best treatment./328

In fact, the astonishing difference between the way
shamans cure is that the shaman takes the medicine, while
in our culture it’s the patient. The shaman, through the
trance, enters the vibrational field of the patient, and can
thus detect the real problem of their illness, by screening their
luminous body. This is all the secret, or the most part of it.
No medicine is needed when you can alter vibrations
within the aura, an insight that today has been made use-
ful for medicine again, and that is at the basis of what we
call vibrational medicine. Eliade observes further:

The morphology of shamanic cure is the same al-
most throughout South America. It includes fumiga-
tions with tobacco, songs, massage of the affected
area of the body, identification of the cause of the
illness by the aid of the helping spirits (at this point
comes the shaman’s trance, during which the audi-
ence sometimes ask him questions not directly con-
nected with the illness), and, finally, extraction of the
pathogenic object by suction./329


A particularity that can be found in many tribal nations
is that illness is attributed to the interference of the spirit
world. Modern medicine hardly ever asks how the patient
may have contributed to bringing about their disease; the
spiritogenic etiology, used by shamanic cultures, would by
most doctors probably be qualified as schizophrenic. Not
so in tribal cultures. Rule and exception can be seen as re-
versed in the sense that in most native cultures, illness is
primarily seen as a form of superimposition of malignant
spirit power, and only in second instance as a possible re-
sult of an individual’s condition, weakness, or fragility, or
corruption to have let it happen. Eliade describes a healing

Throughout Melanesia treatment of a disorder be-
gins with sacrifices and prayers addressed to the
dead person responsible, so that he will remove the
sickness. But if this approach, which is made my
members of the family, fails, a mane kisu, ‘doctor’, is
summoned. By magical means the latter discovers
the particular dead man responsible for the sickness
and begs him to remove the cause of the trouble.

The most important for understanding shamanism is
the shaman’s frequent use of entheogens, plants that contain
psychoactive compounds, which, when taken at appropri-
ate doses, produce a consciousness-altering effect upon our
psyche and perception. There are various names for such
plants, and the name that is given reflects the state of mind


of the researcher. Eliade says in his book that a shamanic
culture was at its decline or caught in decadence when
their people take hallucinogenic compounds for effecting
the shamanic trance. Today, this opinion is clearly contra-
dicted by the large majority of modern researchers, such
as, for example, Metzner, Harner, Schultes, or McKenna
who consider Eliade’s bias as a myopic view and a basic
misconception about shamanism.

For example, contrasting with this view, Terence
McKenna writes in his book The Archaic Revival (1992), p.

While Eliade asserts that the use of narcotic sub-
stances as an aid to ecstasy invariably indicates a
decadence or vulgarization of the shamanic tradi-
tion, there is reason to doubt this.

I will come to an end of my book review at this point,
because this book contains so many details, and there are
so many differences in ritual from tribe to tribe, and so
many different forms of shamanism, that to advance more
details here out of context would be rather confusing.

As a serious shamanism researcher, you simply can’t
do without this reference work written by one of the finest
scholars on the subject.
But on the other hand, it’s equally true that you can’t
just limit yourself to this study because the author has
many a peculiar perspective or point of view that other,
more recent, researchers openly contradict or even invali-


date. So care is needed here, and discretion, because after
all, it’s not easy to form rational views and thorough un-
derstanding of something that is so remote, exotic and out-
landish as shamanism, when you see it from the perspec-
tive of our own culture and tradition.

Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz

Books Reviewed
The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (1911)

Pixies, elves, dwarfs, leprechauns, and the other en-
chanted little people: where do they come from? Folklor-
ists consider them the byproducts of ancient religious be-
liefs, occultists term them nature spirits, and the peasantry
call them fallen angels—creatures neither good enough for
redemption nor bad enough to be forever lost.

This collection of reports of elfin creatures in Wales,
Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany ranks among the most
scholarly works ever published on the subject.

‘The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries’ begins with the
author’s collection of firsthand testimony from living
sources, classified by individual country and introduced
by leading authorities on anthropology and folklore.
The next section concerns the recorded traditions of
Celtic literature and mythology, followed by an examina-
tion of a variety of theories and their religious aspects. The
book concludes with a remarkably rational case for the re-
ality of fairy life.
Narrated with an engaging sense of wonder by W.Y.
Evans-Wentz, the first American ever to receive the degree
of Doctor of Science in Comparative Religion from Oxford,
this volume offers a valuable resource for students of an-
thropology and Celtic lore, as well as hours of delightful
reading for fairy enthusiasts.

—From: Back Cover

What the note on the book cover unfortunately forgot
to relate is that the book is not only a fantastic, unprece-
dented and precious resource for anthropologists and lay
persons, but also, and I would say primarily for:

• Parapsychologists

• Energy Healers


• Dream Researchers

• Bioenergy Researchers

• Theologians

• Theosophists

• Shamans

• Poets


The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries
London: Frowde, 1911
Minneola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2002

The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries is the final account of an immensely
complex and long-standing research on fairy faith in Britain and Brit-
tany, the French Bretagne. The research Dr. Evans-Wentz conducted on
fairies was meticulous and scientific. There was obviously an effort from
the part of the researcher to somehow classify and objectivize the fairy
world, and this was perhaps necessary at a time when holistic science
was not yet born in the West and scientists had to give an appearance of
‘pedantic detachment.’

On the other hand, this old-fashioned pedantic, me-
ticulous and detailed research approach is perhaps a good
counterpoint to the hairy stories this book abounds of.
But are we not outgrown from the times where as good
as everybody was to dismiss all this as folk lore and super-
stition? Are we not somewhat more mature today to have a


compassionate and participatory regard on these intrigu-
ing phenomena?
Well, I believe we are, and that therefore this study ap-
pears like the first volume of a greater vision—and the
second volume still needs to be written! Unfortunately this
book was written at a time when the overwhelming major-
ity of people in our culture were dismissing fairies as pure
superstition and folk belief.

It is sometimes good to see the context in which a par-
ticular book was written. I had a similar impression with
Shamanism by Mircea Eliade, and I think both researchers
share some personality traits. Both books are considered as
reference books, which also implies that you may want to
skip some passages or even chapters, as the author’s dry
academic style gets a bit annoying over a longer sitting.
But on the other hand, this detached style somehow con-
trasts well the sometimes really unbelievable stories that
are counted in the book.

Indeed, what Evans-Wentz did was to collect and cata-
logue stories about fairies, in a very orderly fashion, with
all pertinent information like tags put on needled ants,
much like Béla Bartók catalogued most of Hungary’s folk
melodies and made a fantastic music from that scurrilous
repertoire of century-old musical lines.
And this adds on to the credibility of the author. Be-
cause some of the stories are so hair-rising, bold and
unheard-of that surely without this enhanced credibility of


the author, I would not have considered this book as a
source of research in parapsychology.

An Irish mystic, and seer of great power, with whom
I have often discussed the Fairy-Faith in its details,
regards fairy paths or fairy passes as actual magnetic
arteries, so to speak, through which circulates the
earth’s magnetism./33, note 1

Perhaps the study would have benefited from a com-
parative perspective as to other paranormal phenomena
than fairies?
I could imagine that the comprehension of the intrinsic
fairy phenomenon could have been more amply illustrated
and elucidated. Evans-Wentz correctly evaluates the fairy
faith as being a part of a tradition of world-wide animism,
and he does his best to convey to the reader that this is a
good thing, and not something to dismiss as pseudosci-
The theory of worldwide animism was also held in the
face of one of the greatest holistic scientists, Johann Wolf-
gang von Goethe, and yet today we know that his color
theory is a valid alternative scientific approach in its intent
to contradicting Newtonian science. Evans-Wentz writes:

The modern belief in fairies, with which until now
we have been specifically concerned, is Celtic only in
so far as it reflects Celtic traditions and customs,
Celtic myths and religion, and Celtic social and en-
vironmental conditions. Otherwise, as will be shown
throughout this and succeeding chapters, it is in es-


sence a part of a world-wide animism, which forms
the background of all religions in whatever stage of
culture religions exist or to which they have attained
by evolution, from the barbarism of the Congo black
man to the civilization of the Archbishop of Canter-
bury; and as far back as we can go into human ori-
gins there is some corresponding belief in a fairy or
spirit realm, as there is to-day among contemporary
civilized and uncivilized races of all countries. /226

You can travel the world and ‘collect beliefs,’ for cata-
loguing them. And you can also trust human intelligence
and travel the world to find evidence for scientific truth
that is as yet undiscovered and uncharted, and yet popu-
lates the myths of the world.
There is a subtle difference between the two approaches,
while they both lead probably to the same discoveries.

Jonathan Goldman

Books Reviewed
Healing Sounds (2002)
Healing Sounds DVD (2004)
Tantra of Sound (2005)

Jonathan Goldman, M.A., is an internationally re-
nowned writer, musician, and teacher. He is an authority
on sound healing and a pioneer in the field of harmonics.
Jonathan is the author of Healing Sounds, Shifting Frequen-
cies, and The Lost Chord.
He has studied with masters of sound from both the
scientific and spiritual traditions, incorporating this
knowledge and energy into his teachings and healing mu-
sic. His award-winning recordings include Chakra Chants
and The Lost Chord. Jonathan is director of the Sound Heal-
ers Association in Boulder, Colorado, and CEO of Spirit Mu-
sic. He teaches all over the world.

Andi Goldman, M.A., L.P.C. is a licensed psycho-
therapist, specializing in holistic counseling and sound
therapy. She holds an M.A. in counseling psychology from
Boulder Graduate School and is Codirector of the Sound
Healers Association and Director of the Healing Sound Semi-
nars. Andi is the developer of Tele-Counsel, the nation’s
first telephone counseling service specifically offering
home-bound clients structured counseling. She has been
an educator at international schools in Japan, Germany,
and Indonesia and has lived and traveled extensively
throughout the world. She is a musician, teacher, sound
healer, and the wife and partner of Jonathan Goldman. To-
gether, Jonathan and Andi have dedicated their lives to the
path of service, helping awaken and empower others with


the ability of sound to heal and transform. They lecture
and give workshops worldwide.
—From: Tantra of Sound


Healing Sounds
The Power of Harmonics
Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2002
Originally published in 1992

Healing Sounds was really a discovery for me! It was through the DVD
that I discovered Jonathan Goldman’s erudite approach to sound heal-
ing. The DVD triggered my interest to order Goldman’s two major
books, to know more about the theory, while I had seen the practice on
the DVD.

Let me be down-to-earth in this review and instead of
talking generalities, I would prefer to comment some of
the quotes I have taken from the book.
Before I do this, I would like to say that this book is
very readable because the author understands to explain
quite uncommon things in a clear and easy-to-read diction
that initiates the reader in a matter that has been blinded
out from our consciousness since centuries. The author


skillfully weaves personal anecdotes in the narration,
which makes the matter more lively and interesting to the
novice reader—for let us not be delusional on the matter
itself: it’s a highly dry and mathematical subject!
I have in fact studied sound theory during my musical
studies at university that I had engaged parallel to my law
studies, and I remember to have read a thick book written
by the German composer Paul Hindemith about harmonics.
And I remember that every time when I was reading a few
pages of the book, I was beginning to fall asleep!
Not so with Goldman’s book. He manages to provide
the utmost necessary of technical information by imbed-
ding it in a larger context of information so that the read
never really gets tedious and boring. To begin with, why
should you study sound, harmonics and sound healing? If
you are not a healer, and if it’s not specifically for self-
healing, there is a reason that the author gives, and that I
find important. He states:

Sound plays a key role in these times, for sound is
helping us adjust to the frequency shifts that are oc-
curring on so many levels./viii

Presently, the huge revolutionary shifts in human con-
sciousness are indeed reflected by a raising energy vibra-
tion on the cellular level, as it has been affirmed by many
esoteric and scientific authors. This is why it is a good idea
to learn more about sound and vibration, in general. The
author notes:


Everything is in a state of vibration. Everything is
frequency. Sound can change molecular structure. It
can create form. We realize the potential of sonic en-
ergy; we understand that virtually anything can be
accomplished through vibration. Then, the miracu-
lous seems possible./viii

What are harmonics? They are mathematical extrapola-
tions of vibration projected in sound, but sound that most
of the time we do not consciously ‘hear’ but perceive as
timbre. For example, the special timbre of a trumpet is cre-
ated by the harmonics of the sound coming out of the
trumpet. The same tone played on a piano sounds like ‘pi-
ano’ because it has got different overtones than those cre-
ated by the trumpet. The author explains:

The first harmonic which occurs vibrates twice as
fast as that first note, the second harmonic vibrates
three times as fast, the fourth harmonic vibrates four
times as fast and so on./16

Different instruments will all sound overtones, but
specific overtones are most prominent in different
instruments. These most prominent overtones are
called formants. They are the area of the sound spec-
trum where the sound energy is most highly

The striking characteristic of harmonics is that they are
affecting all vibrations that are in the immediate environ-
ment, and they affect most the ones that are mathemati-
cally closest related to the one that is the triggering vibra-

tion—and therefore are called ‘harmonics’ of it. The author

These notes are not the same and yet they are inter-
related. If you were to strike that lowest C on the
piano, you would also set into resonance all the
other Cs on the piano. They are harmonics of each

Anything that vibrates creates harmonics. Since the
universe is composed of nothing but vibrations, eve-
rything creates fundamental tones and harmonics,
ranging from electrons orbiting around atoms to the
planets orbiting around the sun./31

But the author, in accordance with ancient knowledge
on the power of correct proportions, sees and evaluates
harmonics not only as an important ingredient of musical
science, but also of nature in general. He wistfully explains
what must baffle the uninitiated reader, but lets the sage
nod in agreement:

The entire length of the body can be viewed as ad-
hering to the Golden Section if we first divide the
length of the body into the proportions of the
Golden Section at the navel. These proportions are
then found at the nipple dividing the entire width of
the human body if the arms are stretched out. The
loin divides the distance from the ground to the
nipples in the proportions of the Golden Section.
These proportions are found in many other aspects
of the body: when the knee divides the entire leg;


when the eyebrows divide the head; when the elbow
joint divides the entire arm. These proportions of the
major sixth (3:5) and minor sixth (5:8) can be found
in other bodies, such as those found in the plant,
insect and animal kingdoms./35

Now, for the modern reader it is probably not self-
evident why sound can be used for healing, even when
knowing the theory of harmonics. The author imbeds his
explanations within a larger historical and cultural context:

In India, where the art of music has been developed
to the point of being a science, there are thousands
of scales, called ragas, which are designed to have
particular effects on the emotions. The scale which
arises from the harmonic series of the first four oc-
taves is known as Raga Saraswati. It is named after
Saraswati, the Indian Goddess of both music and
science. /29

In different cultures, science and music have not
been separated as in the West. The ancient mystery
schools of Greece, India, Tibet and Egypt had a vast
understanding of the relationship between music
and healing, based upon vibration as the basic crea-
tive force in the Universe./29

It is important to know that once science and sound
were not separated as it is today but sound theory was
part of the perennial science traditions, as for example the
Hermetic tradition.


In Antiquity, the sage was mathematician in just the
same way as he was musician and musical theorist, writer,
poet, philosopher and teacher of the youth, and also politi-
cal theorist, orator, government consultant, astrologer, for-
tune teller, life consultant and coach—all in one single per-
son! Goldman studied one example of this ancient arche-
type of the scholar and found it embodied in the Greek
mathematician Pythagoras:

Pythagoras believed that the universe was an im-
mense monochord, an instrument with a single
string that stretched between the heavens and the
earth. The upper end of the string was attached to
absolute spirit, while the lower end was connected
to absolute matter. Through study of music as an
exact science, one could become familiar with the
aspects of nature. He applied his law of harmonic
intervals to all the phenomena of nature, demon-
strating the harmonic relationship within the ele-
ments, the planets, and the constellations. /30


To Pythagoras and his students, the Music of the
Spheres was more than a metaphor. The Greek mas-
ter was said to have actually been able to hear the
sounds of the planets as they vibrated in the heav-
ens. The relationship between this movement of the
heavenly bodies and sound has been hypothesized
by scientists for centuries. Recently, scientists using
advanced mathematical principles based upon the
orbital velocities of the planets have equated differ-
ent sounds with different planets. Amazingly, they
seem to be harmonically related. Perhaps this an-
cient master had hearing which could perceive these
astronomical movements as sound./30

Pythagoras had a school on the island of Crotona
where he taught his understandings of the mysteries
of the universe. This ancient mystery school oper-
ated at three levels of initiation. The first level, the
acoustici, learned to recognize and then apply the
various musical proportions demonstrated to them
through the use of the monochord. The second level,
the mathematici, dealt more specifically with knowl-
edge of numbers, as well as individual purification
and mental self-control. Before going on to the next
level, it was necessary that the disciple be as clear in
mind and body as possible for the responsibilities of
the sacred information then received. The third and
highest level of initiation, the electi, were taught the
secret processes of psychic transmutation and of
healing with sound and music./31

Goldman’s merit in this book is that he does not only
refer to his own admittedly broad experience with sound


healing, as a professional sound healer, but that he also
quotes important scientific research done on healing with
sound, and in general on the effects of sound on the hu-
man psyche and on emotions. This enables the reader to
follow up from the notes and research the matter more
For example, he quotes the German scientist Hans
Kayser who, in the 1920s, developed a theory of world
harmonics. Goldman elaborates:

He believed that through understanding the connec-
tion between music and mathematics, it would be
possible to create an understanding of the relation-
ship between tone and numbers. Thus qualities (to-
nal sensations) could be derived from quantities
(numbers) and quantities could be derived through

According to Kayser, the whole number ratios of
musical harmonics corresponds to an underlying
framework existing in chemistry, physics, crystallog-
raphy, astronomy, architecture, spectroanalysis, bot-
any and the study of other natural sciences. The rela-
tionship expressed in the periodic table of elements,
an understanding of the formation of matter, resem-
bles the overtone structure in music./33

Another example of this excellent reference work of the
author, which actually broadens and backs up his own
theoretical foundation, is Cymatics and its founder, the
Swiss scientist Hans Jenny.


Cymatics is the name which Dr. Jenny gave to his
work. The name comes from the Greek kyma, a
word which means wave. Cymatics is the study of
wave-form phenomena. It is proof positive that
sound has the ability of creating form. Once they are
exposed to sound waves, the inanimate blobs of liq-
uid, pastes, and other materials in Dr. Jenny’s ex-
periments begin to undulate and move. Slowly as
the sound continues to affect them, they begin to
take form. No longer shapeless blobs, these forms
pulse and vibrate with the sounds that course
through them, looking for all the world like living
breathing creating. They are, however, not alive, but
merely assume the features of life through the ex-
traordinary power of sound. Once the sound is
stopped, these shapes cease and the inorganic crea-
tions resume their shape as formless blobs./36

Jonathan Goldman also explains that harmonics is not
just an intellectual or New Age fancy but has its roots in
human evolution, and most probably, from the information
we gain from the old myths and sagas, preceded verbal

There are legends that before there was a spoken
language of words, there was a harmonic language.
This language allowed humankind to communicate
with all the creations of nature. It utilized the con-
cept of information being encoded on the pure tone
frequencies of harmonics. It was different from te-
lepathy in that it used sound but it was similar to
telepathy for the thoughts and information were
sent on the sound wave and were received by the


listener. This may be one of the ways by which dol-
phins communicate with each other, transmitting
three-dimensional holographic thought-forms of
sound. /53

And looking in the future, we can speculate that we
may enable time-travel through manipulating sound and
frequencies, probably through the use of huge powerful
quartz crystals that act as energy transducers. The author

It is possible that harmonics can actually create an
opening or a gateway between different realms of

Another important body of knowledge on sound and
vibration is native wisdom and the author has merit to
mention the most basic facts in this context:

The Aboriginal people utilize a form of harmonics in
their sacred ceremonies that is not created from the
voice but from an instrument. The didjeridu is a
hollowed-out tree limb which is blown into to pro-
duce a very low fundamental tone as well as very
distinct overtones. The sound is very similar to the
One Voice Chord of the Tibetan monks./60

The Aborigines believe that before the first Aborigi-
nal people came to this planet, there was a race of
supernatural beings called the Wandjina. They were
a Dreamtime race and responsible for the creation of
the various creatures and forms on the Earth. When


the Aboriginal people were created, it was time for
the Wandjina to depart. They left these people the
didjeridu as a gift. When the didjeridu sounded, it
created a sonic field, a sort of interdimensional win-
dow, through which the Wandjina could travel to the
Aborigines and vice-versa./60

Another important branch of research done by the
author is the famous one-voice overtone chanting of Ti-
betan monks and Mongolian shamans. The author relates
his various meetings with overtone-singing Tibetan monks
both in the USA and Tibet and references musicological
and other research on this important subject that is still
considered highly ‘esoteric’ in our own culture. The Gyuto
and other monks from Tibet namely chant a bass voice that
is entirely unknown to any, even professional, singer in the

Scientists formerly stated that it was impossible to
produce a sound of less than 150 Hz with the human voice.
But these monks prove the contrary. The author relates:

Musicologists later determined that the bass note
which the Gyuto monks chant is two octaves below
middle C, vibrating at an astounding 75.5 cycles per
second. The deepest range of an opera singer is
closer to 150 cycles per second, nearly twice as high
as the extraordinary bass of these monks./67

In Tibetan tantric chanting the goal of the chanting is
to invoke and then unite with a particular deity or
being. The monks literally become the gods and


goddesses to whom they are praying. It may be that
the overtones which are pronounced by the different
Tantric Colleges are specific invocations to particular

The major difference between the Tibetan chanting
style and Mongolian / overtone singing is that the
Tibetans incorporate the use of sacred text in their
chanting while the Mongolians create wordless
melodies with their harmonics./68-69

Before Buddhism became the religion of Tibet, the
religion of the country was an animistic shamanic
practice known as Bon (a Tibetan word meaning to
chant). Little information exists about the exact na-
ture of the Bon chanting techniques, but there are
indications that it was similar to chanting styles


used by Mongolian shamans in which open vowels
were used to create harmonics./69

Tibetan chanting employs mantric formulas which
make up their sacred texts. These are mantras which
are fundamental to their spiritual practices. Each
sacred scripture is an invocation to a specific deity or
a collection of deities. The chanters visualize these
deities while creating a mandala, a circular cosmo-
logical painting which they inwardly visualize in
archetypal symbols. These mandalas may involve
over 150 deities and entities, all in specific place-
ment. This combination of vocalization and visuali-
zation allows the monks to become the embodiment
of the energies they are invoking. /70

Next, the author expands on the research of French
doctor Alfred Tomatis who was already twenty years ago
an authority on sound research and healing with sound.
The author relates:

Dr. Alfred Tomatis, an otolaryngologist from France
who has studied chanting throughout the world,
believes that due to the high altitude of Tibet it was
necessary to chant in the extremely deep voice in
order to create higher overtones./67

Alfred Tomatis … has been working with under-
standing the functions of the human ear and the im-
portance of listening for forty-five years. He explains
the three main functions of the ear: (1) to assume
balance (equilibrium, body tone and integration of
motor and sensory information); (2) to analyze / and


decode movements from outside the body (cochlea)
and inside the body (vestibular) so that auditory-
vocal control is established; and (3) to charge the
brain. Tomatis believes that there are two kinds of
sound: (1) sounds which tire and fatigue the listen-
ers, and (2) sounds which charge the listener. In par-
ticular, Tomatis found that sounds which contain
high frequency harmonics, such as those found in
Gregorian chants, are extremely beneficial. It is these
high frequencies (around 8000 Hz) which are capa-
ble of charging the central nervous system and the
cortex of the brain./75

Dr Tomatis believes that one of the basic functions of
the ear is to pro-vide, through sound, both a charg-
ing of the cortex of the brain and 90-95 per cent of
the body’s total charge. The chants of the Gregori-
ans, according to Tomatis, contain all the frequencies
of the voice spectrum, roughly 70 cycles per second
up to 9000 cycles per second’. These are also the fre-
quencies found in the One Voice Chord of the Ti-
betan monks, as well as in many of the hoomi or
vocal harmonic techniques discussed in this

Tomatis himself manages with a small amount of
sleep, less than four hours a night. He attributes this
to his listening to sounds which are rich in high

The Tomatis Effect states that the voice can only cre-
ate and duplicate those sounds which the ear is able
to hear. This means that until you are able to hear


various overtones, you will not be able to create
them in your voice. Further, as you begin to hear the
various aspects of the sound spectrum, not only
does your hearing change, but your voice as well.
Therefore, as we begin to listen actively and open
our ears up to harmonics, we are not only charging
the cortex of the brain and energizing ourselves, but
we are also able to actually change the quality of our

According to Dr Alfred Tomatis, nearly all the cra-
nial nerves lead to the ear. In particular, the ear is
understood to be neurologically involved with the
optic and the oculomotor nerves, and therefore is
interrelated with the process of vision and move-
ment. The ear is also related to the vagus, or tenth
cranial nerve. This nerve affects the larynx, the bron-
chi, the heart and the gastro-intestinal tract and thus
our voice, our breathing, our heart rate and our di-
gestion are affected by the ear. Is it any wonder then
that on a purely physiological level listening to the
soothing music created by the sacred sounds of vo-
cal harmonics can and will help create states of deep
relaxation and meditation?/79

Goldman also teaches conflict resolution effected
through empathic listening that is completely immersed in
sound, and distinguishes it from mere hearing. He points
out that the activity of active listening leads to deep under-

Listening is an active activity, as opposed to hearing
which may be understood as a passive activity. Lis-


tening involves really using our ears as an organ of
consciousness. Listening involves really using our
ears as an organ of consciousness. When we hear, we
do not discriminate between the sounds around us.
We may be unaware of them. This is why sitting in
silence / allows us to empower listening. There are
many levels of listening. The first level involves this
enormous step of going above the passiveness of
hearing into the activeness of actually listening and
becoming aware of the multitude of sounds that sur-
round us. Through listening we can begin to open
up to sound. /81-82

That all life is coded in sound, we know from ancient
times, but it has been completely disregarded in modern
science until very recently. Now, based on this ancient un-
derstanding of the human body as a resonance emitter and
receiver, we can indeed develop from this insight a genu-
ine healing approach that Goldman traces out as a map-
ping of frequencies:

Every organ, bone, tissue and other part of the body
has a healthy resonant frequency. When that fre-
quency alters, that part of the body vibrates out of
harmony and this is what is termed disease. If it
were possible to determine the correct resonant fre-
quency for a healthy organ and then project it into
that part which is diseased, the organ should return
to its normal frequency and a healing should


In this understanding of the human body as a creator
of sound and light, the pineal gland plays a very important
role as it has been seen by various researchers, such as
Manly P. Hall:

Research by scientists such as Robert Beck suggest
that the pineal is an organic device which is tuned
towards magnetic north to give both humans and
animals their sense of direction. Other scientists be-
lieve that the pineal is a bioluminescent organ which
has the ability to create light./106

I highly recommend the present book especially for
neophytes in sound theory and sound healing, as the
author understands to carefully introduce in the matter,
always alternating theory and practical advice or personal
experience so as to make the reading lively and interesting.


Healing Sounds DVD
Principles of Sound Healing
DVD, 90 min.
Sacred Mysteries, 2004

It was through the Healing Sounds DVD that I heard about Jonathan
Goldman. Only afterwards I ordered his books Healing Sounds and
Tantra of Sound. From the start of watching this DVD I was captivated.

Goldman understands to present a highly complex and
rather mathematical matter in an easy style, without losing
depth. And he artfully has interwoven practice and theory,
as this DVD is not just a lecture but spends about half of
the time in pure practical advice. This production is good
for everyone who wants to learn the basics and even ad-
vanced techniques of sound healing. It is also an excellent
awareness-builder. Here is how the DVD is built and what
it contains over the one hour and a half of its really gener-
ous playing time. Part I gives a general introductory lec-
ture about the principles and the healing properties of


sound. Here Goldman speaks to a small audience in an
elegant, intimate setting.
Part II is an interesting interlude about Cymatics and
the experiences of Dr. Hans Jenny in the 1970s that Gold-
man further references in his book Healing Sounds. Gold-
man shows how with Cymatics it was proved that sound
creates patterns, very specific and beautiful patterns, and
that the form and size of the patterns depends on the fre-
quency of the sound.

Part III is an experiment with creating a sound that
matches the group oversoul of the audience. Jonathan
Goldman creates an overtone sound, using overtone sing-
ing, a technique used, inter alia, by Tibetan monks, in or-
der to project light into the luminous bodies of all people
present in the audience, and the house where he gave his


Part IV is a practical demonstration of Jonathan Gold-
man applying a healing treatment to a person by using vo-
cal intonations and sound created by a Tibetan bowl.

Part V is an overview of recordings by Jonathan Gold-
man that he has realized using his expertise in overtone
singing and projecting intent into sound for various pur-
I highly recommend this DVD for everyone, profes-
sionals or lay people, interested in sound healing, not only
as a practitioner, but also for personal awareness building
on the importance and omnipresence of sound in our life.


Tantra of Sound
How to Enhance Intimacy
With Andi Goldman
Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2005

Tantra of Sound was really a discovery for me! On first sight, and com-
pared to Goldman’s earlier book Healing Sounds, this present book ap-
pears to be edited in a more professional way, and in fact, it’s from a
different publisher. The choice of headers and font, all is perfect in the
present publication, and I did not find one single typo, while in Healing
Sounds, I found several.

And this present volume has one big advantage: it
comes with an Audio CD that contains 20 tracks over 60.34
minutes of playing time, the first and last being Introduc-
tion and Conclusion and all the others being vocal intona-
tions. In addition, it is noteworthy that this volume has
been authored by both Jonathan Goldman and his wife
Andi Goldman, and this for good reason.


The book’s main intent to to apply sound to relation-
ship, and even to love and sexual union, in order to stimu-
late and broaden the pleasure and joy of love within the
couple—really an extraordinary gift item after all. I can
whole-heartedly recommend this book. But not only for
this purpose. In fact, I am myself in the moment without a
partner, and this fact did not reduce my interest in the
book. As the authors state themselves:

It is not necessary to have a partner in order to expe-
rience tantra. In Tibetan Buddhism, tantra is nor-
mally practiced alone, uniting the divine forces as
one within you. Traditionally, a tantric practitioner’s
meditations incorporate the visualizations of male
and female deities./9


To begin with, what is of high interest in this present
book is the research that the authors have done on Tantra,
a research that pretty much unveiled most of what is writ-
ten on the Internet about Tantra as folklore and imagina-
tion. Let me go into more detail here, because it’s an im-
portant matter, and let the authors speak for they have put
the right words on the right things. In a few short state-
ments, they basically say it all, and this gives you the
framework of what this book is about, and what it is not

Tantra is Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Hindu
tradition. As in other sacred languages such as He-
brew or Tibetan, there is frequently no one single
meaning that can be applied in translation. Thus
tantra is often translated as ‘continuum’ or ‘unbro-
ken stream’ and indicates a flow of consciousness
from ignorance to enlightenment. The word also
translates as ‘web’ or ‘warp’ and encompasses all
that is. /4

Tantra represents the interconnecting energies be-
tween all things in this and other planes of existence.
Other words used to describe tantra are: leading
principle, essential part, model, system, framework,
doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work, order, chief
part, rule, authority, science, mystic works, magical
formulas, means, expedient, stratagem, and medi-
cine. /Id.

The etymology of tantra points to the combination of
two words, tattva and mantra. Tattva is the science of


cosmic principles, while mantra refers to the science
of mystic sound and vibrations. In the Tibetan Bud-
dhist tradition, tantra is sometimes referred to as
Secret Mantra. This may be to distinguish it from
Western concepts. A definition of Secret Mantra from
the Tibetan Buddhist standpoint is as follows: ‘Se-
cret’ indicates that these methods should be prac-
ticed privately; ‘mantra’ means ‘protection for the
mind’ and often utilizes sacred sound to provide
this. Thus the function of Secret Mantra is to enable
us through the use of sound to progress swiftly
through the stages of the spiritual path by protecting
our mind against ordinary conceptions./5

Indeed, one of the highest levels of tantric practice
involves resonating and harmonizing oneself with
the sound. This is done in order to enhance and en-
ergize our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual
essences. Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist tantra both
stress the power of sound. Sound, in fact is the basis
of much tantra – through working with advanced
sound techniques, tantric practitioners are able to
harmonize themselves in body, mind, and spirit./Id.

The model we present in Tantra of Sound is one that
is balanced and aligned with the harmonious inte-
gration of the masculine and feminine energies
within each person. When these energies are embod-
ied, they create an egalitarian relationship with the
self and others. This relationship is not controlling
nor is it in competition with the participants in-
volved. It is cooperative and compassionate. It is
balanced and harmonious./6


So, to summarize, if you want to buy this book for
strictly enhancing your sex life, and expect it to contain
explicit sexual advice, you better buy any other book on
the matter.
This book does not contain sexual advice. On the other
hand, the exercises are varied enough and thorough
enough to impact, if you do them correctly, on your emo-
tional body, and that of your partner, and by so doing, you
may experience a stronger fusion and perhaps also a
stronger sexual response. I would say that chances are
higher for this to happen than not to happen. But the book
is not written with an intent that focuses on the sexual un-
ion, but is much broader in perspective and rather speaks
of love, instead of speaking of sex. And I personally think
that this is the right approach, as it is holistic. The authors
explain and frame their approach very well:

It is from the Hindu tradition that sex as a physical
activity has come into our awareness as being syn-
onymous with tantra. Yet, in actuality, many true
Hindu tantric practitioners are celibate, focusing,
like their Tibetan Buddhist counterparts, on the
symbolic union of male/female energy. This union
of the male/female energy—the Shiva-Shakti cur-
rent —is metaphoric ritualistic, and meditational. It
is only a specific variation of Hindu tantra that actu-
ally works with physical sex between partners. This
is the left-hand path of tantra, known as Vamacara,
which has become the focus of much Western
awareness of tantra./9


I will not discuss the holy mantras that the authors
very thoroughly present both in verbal explanation and as
vocal intonations because this may be considered by the
authors as core material and therefore might be considered
as more tightly restricted by copyright. I will thus not
quote from these chapters that cover 20 pages of the book,
so much the more as this information was secret for hun-
dreds of years.

Suffices thus to mention that the book elaborates in its
Chapter 6 the ‘Sacred Vowels’ and in its Chapter 7 the ‘Bija
Mantras’ and that the CD contains vocal intonations of
these mantras, which may be very powerful. For what rea-
son other than for that have they been kept secret for so
long? It’s because they are powerful and therefore should
be used responsibly. For the couple, Chapter 10 is of par-
ticular interest as it discusses and explains ‘Sounding the
Bijas with a Partner.’
Now, with this voluntary restriction, let me shortly
mention here what I myself found particularly useful in
the book, while it may be a byproduct of the author’s re-
search. Indeed, I myself found the authors’ explanation of
the chakras, and of the brain waves particularly useful.
They write regarding the subtle bodies:

Knowledge of these subtle bodies first manifested
thousands of years ago in the ancient mystery
schools of India, Egypt, China, and Tibet. The un-
derstanding of our bodies as being composed of dif-
ferent, interfacing energetic fields is one of the core


concepts of the / esoteric traditions found through-
out the world. These energy bodies make up what is
called the ‘aura’, a word meaning atmosphere or
light. It is a word usually defined as a multidimen-
sional energy field made up of the emanations of
each of the subtle bodies./22-23

In my research on the human energy field I found a
stringent incongruence of terminology in this respect; in
fact, I found that most authors, when they speak about the
aura only want to mention the etheric body, and thus only
one of the seven bodies we possess as humans, and I find
the authors’ very encompassing notion of aura compre-
hensive and elucidating.

Stanislav Grof

Books Reviewed
Beyond the Brain (1985)
The Holotropic Mind (1993)
The Cosmic Game (1998)

Stanislav Grof was formerly Chief of Psychiatric Re-
search at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and As-
sistant Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins University
School of Medicine. He is currently Scholar-in-Residence at
the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.
He is the author of Realms of the Human Unconscious,
LSD Psychotherapy, and Beyond Death (with Christina Grof).
His edited volume Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science is
also published by SUNY Press.
—From: Beyond the Brain (Back Cover)

When I started reading Beyond the Brain, I was deeply
touched by the drawings of LSD subjects, and their re-
membrance of the trauma of birth; further was I amazed
about the parallels between these drawings and sadistic
Grof explains sadism, cruelty and violence as conse-
quences of the birth trauma. He argues that while birth is a
natural process, it is in most cases a terrible trauma that
leaves deep scars in the human psyche and emotions and
that is responsible for most of the violence that mankind is
suffering from. The book was written in 1985 and it goes
back on 30 years of research.

Grof first successfully experimented with LSD therapy.
When LSD was forbidden, Grof and his wife developed
holotropic breathing. I looked up all I could find about it, but
was surprised to learn that it is simply hyperventilation.
Their claim it can bring you back into fetal memories is

almost unbelievable. Generally, until I find convincing
proof, I do not believe in Grof’s theory that birth is the
culprit of all and everything, as he writes over hundreds of
pages in Beyond the Brain. First of all, I cannot believe that
something created by nature, such as birth, should be
traumatic per se. What Grof sees in his research, in my
opinion, is cultural distortion of nature, but he generalizes
and not with one word does he see his cultural bias. The
counter-proof would be the Cesarean cases, and here he
should have really insisted to bring forth his arguments.
That would have been logically and systemically
sound. That thousands of LSD subjects had such terrible
birth trauma memories proves only that our culture is a
madhouse and that our birth methods are wrong. But this,
Frederick Leboyer, Michel Odent and others have said
since long and there are changes on the way. Our birthing
methods are wrong, the way mothers consider birth is
wrong, the preparation of mothers for birth is wrong, the
implications of the father in birthing, namely his total ab-
sence, is wrong —all is wrong.
In his discussion of The World of Psychotherapy that to-
gether with paradigmatic reasoning fills the first 197 pages
of the book, Grof writes that LSD subjects have basically
proven both the Freudian and Jungian theories as correct:

The psychosexual dynamics and the fundamental
conflicts of the human psyche as described by Freud
are manifested with unusual clarity and vividness
even in sessions of naïve subjects who have never


been analyzed, have not read psychoanalytic books,
and have not been exposed to any other forms of
explicit or implicit indoctrination. Under the influ-
ence of LSD, such subjects experience regression to
childhood and even early infancy, relive various
psychosexual traumas and complex sensations re-
lated to infantile sexuality, and are confronted with
conflicts involving activities in various libidinal
zones. They have to face and work through the basic
psychological problems described by psychoanaly-
sis, such as the Oedipus or Electra complex, the
trauma of weaning, castration anxiety, penis envy,
and conflicts around toilet training./154

The observations from LSD psychotherapy have re-
peatedly confirmed most of Jung’s brilliant

As it’s notorious that Freud’s and Jung’s theories basi-
cally oppose one another, this observation seems to be of
little value for supporting the thesis that LSD research by
and large confirms psychoanalysis.
On the other hand, Grof lucidly analyzes how sexuality
has become ‘contaminated’ by non-sexual concerns in our

Another important insight involves the fact that our
present definition of normal sex does not exclude
even severe contamination of the sexual situation by
preoccupation with dominance versus submission,
use of sex for a variety of nonsexual goals, and ma-
neuvers that have more relevance for self-esteem


than for sexual gratification. In our culture individu-
als of both sexes commonly use military concepts
and terminology in referring to sexual activities.
They interpret the sexual situation in terms of vic-
tory or defeat; conquering or penetrating the part-
ner, and, conversely, being defeated and violated;
and proving oneself or failure. Concerns about who
seduced whom and who won, in this situation, can
all but overshadow the question of sexual gratifica-
tion. Similarly, material gains, or pursuit of a career,
status, fame, or power can completely override more
genuine erotic motives. When sex is subordinated to
self-esteem, sexual interest in the partner may en-
tirely disappear once the ‘conquest’ has been ac-
complished or the number of partners seduced be-
comes more important than the quality of interac-
tion. Moreover, the fact that the partner is not ap-
proachable or is deeply committed to another person
can become a decisive element of sexual attraction.


Beyond the Brain
Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy
New York: State University of New York, 1985

Beyond the Brain seriously challenges the existing neurophysiological
models of the brain. After three decades of extensive research on non-
ordinary states of consciousness induced by psychedelic drugs and by
other means, Grof concludes that our present scientific worldview is as
inadequate as many of its historical predecessors.

In this pioneering work, Stanislav Grof proposes a new
model of the human psyche that takes account of his find-
ings. Grof includes in his model the recollective level, or the
reliving of emotionally relevant memories, a level at which
the Freudian framework can be useful.
Beyond that is the perinatal level in which the human
unconscious may be activated to a reliving of biological


birth and confrontation with death. Beyond this level,
again, is the transpersonal level.
How birth experience influences an individual’s later
development is a central focus of the book. The most seri-
ous challenge to contemporary psychoanalytic theory
comes from a delineation of the transpersonal level, or the
expansion of consciousness beyond the boundaries of time
and space. Grof makes a bold argument that understand-
ing of the perinatal and transpersonal levels changes much
of how we view both mental illness and mental health.


The Holotropic Mind
The Three Levels of Human Consciousness
With Hal Zina Bennett
New York: HarperCollins, 1993

In The Holotropic Mind Stanislav Grof exposes his vision of a holographic
universe, and he summons convincing amounts of data and evidence
for his view. Grof’s contribution is important especially right now as the
holographic view of the universe is one of several ‘theories of every-
thing’ or integrative visions that actually link back to ancient holistic
science traditions.

Grof further references current research, thus blending
ancient and new cutting-edge science into something like a
total synthesis. With good reason and convincing argu-
ments, he refers to David Bohm’s theory of a constantly
unfolding universe as one of the first holistic science con-
cepts in modern times:


For Bohm, holographic theory illustrates his idea
that energy, light, and matter are composed of inter-
ference patterns that carry information about all of
the other waves of light, energy, and matter that they
have directly or indirectly contacted. Thus, each part
of energy and matter represents a microcosm that
enfolds the whole./10

Bohm reminds us that even the process of abstrac-
tion, by which we create our illusions of separation
from the whole, are themselves expressions of the
holomovement. We ultimately come to the realiza-
tion that all perceptions and knowledge—including
scientific work—are not objective reconstructions of
reality; instead, they are creative activities compara-
ble to artistic expressions. We cannot measure true
reality; in fact, the very essence of reality is its im-
measurability. /10

One of the most daring thinking habits to overcome,
that are connected with mechanistic science, is the illusion
of separateness. Grof writes:

The holographic model offers revolutionary possi-
bilities for a new understanding of the relationship
between the parts and the whole. No longer con-
fined to the limited logic of traditional thought, the
part ceases to be just a fragment of the whole but,
under certain circumstances, reflects and contains
the whole. As individual human beings we are not
isolated and insignificant Newtonian entities; rather,
as integral fields of the holomovement each of us is


also a microcosm that reflects and contains the

But apart from systems theory, in which he knows to
excel, Grof is really the specialist for LSD-based psychiatry,
and his two decades of experience together with sound
judgment of his many observations have led to something
like an integrated concept of LSD-based psychiatry.
While all this research had been stopped because of the
fact that LSD, together with number of natural plant psy-
chedelics, has been forbidden by our administrative over-
soul, the insights and miracles remain an ecstatic outlook
in a possible future of psychiatry. Grof writes:

In sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy, we wit-
nessed a rather peculiar pattern. With low to me-
dium dosages, subjects usually limited their experi-
ences to reliving scenes from infancy and childhood.
However, when the doses were increased or the ses-
sions were repeated, each client sooner or later
moved far beyond the realms described by Freud.

Many of the experiences reported were remarkably
like those described in ancient spiritual texts from
Eastern traditions. I found this particularly interest-
ing because most people reporting these experiences
had no previous knowledge of the / Eastern spiri-
tual philosophies, and I certainly had not anticipated
that such extraordinary experiential domains would
become accessible in this way. (...) When the process
moved beyond the biographical material from in-


fancy and childhood and the experiences began to
reveal the greater depths of the human psyche, with
all its mystical overtones, the therapeutic results ex-
ceeded anything I had previously known. Symp-
toms that had resisted months or even years of other
treatment often vanished after patients had experi-
ences such as psychological death and rebirth, feel-
ings of cosmic unity, archetypal visions, and se-
quences of what clients described as past-life

Contrary to Freudian psychoanalysis, Grof, following a
tradition created by Otto Rank, includes perinatal experi-
ences in his psychoanalytic exploration.

Exploration in non-ordinary states of consciousness
has provided convincing evidence that we do store
memories of perinatal experiences in our psyches,
often at a deep cellular level. People with no intellec-
tual knowledge of their births have been able to re-
live, with extraordinary detail, facts / concerning
their births, such as the use of forceps, breech deliv-
ery, and the mother’s earliest responses to the infant.
Time and time again, details such as these have been
objectively confirmed by questioning hospital re-
cords or adults who were present at the


The Cosmic Game
Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness
New York: New York State University Press, 1998

The Cosmic Game is perhaps Grof’s best book. It is written in fluent style,
summarizes the most important of his LSD research and his research
with holotropic states, and is not grappling with conceptual issues as
the ones reviewed before.

It is a book that every intelligent person can read, writ-
ten in normal and descriptive language; it is clearly the
book of an expert, a man who also has a clear literary tal-
ent and an incredible knowledge of mythology, besides his
sharp scientific perception and reasoning that is always
empirical first and conceptual second.

The book is clearly structured and an overview of the
contents shows that it’s not a ‘research report’ of experi-
ments but a sublimation of any such research, a retrospec-


tive that is contemplative and basically spiritual. I would
even use the word ‘religious’ in the sense that the book
talks about our true ‘religio’, the link with our source, our
inner divinity.
1. Introduction

2. Cosmos, Consciousness, and Spirit

3. The Cosmic Creative Principle

4. The Process of Creation

5. The Ways to Reunion with the Cosmic Source

6. The Problem of Good and Evil

7. Birth, Sex and Death: The Cosmic Connection

8. The Mystery of Karma and Reincarnation

9. The Taboo against Knowing Who You Are

10. Playing the Cosmic Game

11. The Sacred and the Profane

Space allows me to only review parts of the book and
sprinkle in some quotations. In the Introduction, Grof ex-
plains that holotropic states are not ‘delirant conditions’
(which are those in which perception is grossly impaired),
but an interference with a realm that is outside of ordinary
consciousness, a parallel reality.
Grof also writes that the content of holotropic states of
consciousness is often philosophical and mystical, often
focused on the ‘ground states’ of becoming and unbecom-


ing, death, rebirth and feelings of oneness with all-that-is.
In the 2nd Chapter, Grof makes some interesting remarks
regarding Carl Jung’s theory of the Universal Archetypes.
He writes that these images do not have to be limited to
our own racial and cultural heritage but are rather of a
universal nature. He writes:

Particularly frequent in my work have been encoun-
ters or even identification with various deities from
different cultures who were killed by others or sac-
rificed themselves and later came back to life. These
figures representing death and resurrection tend to
emerge spontaneously when the process of inner
self-exploration reaches the perinatal level and takes
the form of psychospiritual rebirth. (…) However,
we have also seen many powerful experiences of
identification with Jesus during our holotropic
breathwork seminars in Japan and India. They oc-
curred in individuals whose background was Bud-
dhist, Shinto, or Hindu. Conversely, many Anglo-
Saxons, Slavs, and Jews identified during their psy-
chedelic or holotropic breathwork sessions with
Shiva or Buddha, the Egyptian resurrected god
Osiris, the Sumerian goddess Inanna, or the Greek
deities Persephone, Dionysus, Attis, and Adonis./23

Mistaking a specific archetypal image for the ulti-
mate source of creation leads to idolatry, a divisive
and dangerous mistake widespread in the histories
of religions and cultures. It might unite the people
who share the same belief, but sets this group
against others who have chosen a different represen-


tation of the divine. They might then try to convert
others or conquer and eliminate them. By contrast,
genuine religion is universal, all-inclusive, and

J. Krishnamurti

Books Reviewed
Education and the Significance of Life (1978)

Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1985, at Madana-
palle, a small hill town between Madras and Bangalore.
His father, Jiddu Narianiah, had married a cousin, Sanjee-
vamma, who bore him ten children, of whom Krishna was
the eighth.

This Telugu-speaking, vegetarian Brahmin family were
not badly off by Indian standards, Narianiah being an offi-
cial in the Revenue Department of the British administra-
tion, rising before his retirement to the position of District
Magistrate. Narianiah was a Theosophist and Sanjee-
vamma a worshipper of Sri Krishna, himself an eighth
child after whom she called her own eighth child.

Mary Lutyens
Sanjeevamma had a premonition that this eighth
child was to be remarkable in some way and in-
sisted, in spite of her husband's protests, that it
should be born in the puja room. A Brahmin writer
has pointed out that this prayer room could nor-
mally only be entered after a ritual bath and the
putting-on of clean clothes: ‘Birth, death and the
menstrual cycle were the focus of ritual pollution …
that a child should be born in this room was un-
thinkable.’ And yet it was so.
     Unlike Sanjeevamma’s other confinements, it was

an easy birth. The next morning the baby’s horo-
scope was cast by a well-known astrologer who as-
sured Narianiah that his son was to be a very great
man. For years it seemed unlikely that his prediction
would be fulfilled. Whenever the astrologer saw
Narianiah he would ask ‘What of the boy Krishna?
… Wait. I have told you the truth; he will be some-
one very wonderful and great.’
     At the age of two Krishna almost died of malaria.
Thereafter, for several years, he suffered from bouts
of malaria and severe nose bleeds which kept him
away from school and closer to his mother than any
of her other children. He loved to go with her to the
temple. He was such a vague and dreamy child, and
so bad at school work, which he hated that he ap-
peared to his teachers to be mentally retarded. Nev-
ertheless he was extremely observant, as he was to
be all his life. He would stand for long stretches at a
time, watching trees and clouds, or squat to gaze at
flowers and insects. He also had a most generous
nature, another characteristic which he retained
throughout his life. He would often return from
school without pencil, slate or books, having given
them to some poorer child, and when beggars came
to the house in the mornings to receive the custom-
ary gift of unboiled rice and his mother sent him out
to distribute the food, he would return for more,
having poured all the rice into the first man’s bag.

—Mary Lutyens, The Life and Death of Krishnamurti, Chennai:
Krishnamurti Foundation India, 1990, pp. 3-4.


Rohit Mehta
When there is total attention to yesterday’s psycho-
logical memory, than that memory comes to an end;
the brain cells and the mind then are free.’ Krishna-
murti here speaks of a total attention to yesterday’s
psychological memory in order to end it. If it ends,
then there is no projection of an image on that which
is sought to be perceived. In the ending of the psy-
chological memory of yesterday there comes into
being naturally and effortlessly a state of / attention
in which pure perception of what is becomes possi-
ble. It has to be remembered that in Krishnamurti’s
Approach, total attention means non-verbalized ob-
servation; it is perception without naming. He says
that in order to end the psychological memory of
yesterday, one must totally attend to it. Now, yester-
day’s psychological memory exists neither as an ob-
ject nor as an event. It exists only as an image. It rep-
resents not what is, but what was. It is this image
which causes all the projections of the mind; it is this
which distracts from what is.

—Rohit Mehta, J. Krishnamurti and the Nameless Experience: A
Comprehensive Discussion of J. Krishnamurti’s Approach to Life, Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2002, pp. 328-329

In 1929, after years of questioning himself and the des-
tiny imposed upon him, Krishnamurti disbanded the Order
of the Star, the theosophical organization he was elected to
be the head and chairman, turning away all followers.

Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it
by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.


Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproach-
able by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized;
nor should any organization be formed to lead or to
coerce people along any particular spiritual path.

From that time until his death in February 1986 at the
age of ninety, he traveled around the world speaking as a
private person, teaching and giving talks and having dis-
cussions. His aim was to set people psychologically free so
that they might be in harmony with themselves, with na-
ture and with others. K taught that humanity has created
the environment in which we live and that nothing can
ever put a stop to the violence and suffering that has been
going on for thousands of years except a total transforma-
tion in the human psyche.
If a dozen people are transformed, it would change the
world! Krishnamurti maintained that there is no path to
this transformation, no method for achieving it, no gurus
or spiritual authorities who can help.
He pointed to the need for an ever-deepening and
acute awareness in which the limitations of the mind could
drop away.


K always was a universal and cosmopolitan mind. Al-
though born of Indian parentage, he stated repeatedly that
he had no nationality and belonged to no particular cul-
ture of group. What he hoped his audience would learn, he
was the living example for it, which is in my view the only
way a guru can legitimize himself as a spiritual leader.
Only what is brought over as ‘incarnated’ can be shared,
not what is merely preached or lectured, as true as it may

Education has always been one of Krishnamurti’s chief
concerns. If a young person could learn to see their condi-


tioning of race, nationality, religion, dogma, tradition,
opinion, etc., which inevitably leads to conflict, then he
might become a fully intelligent human being able to live
in a way that respects other beings and nature as a whole.
During his lifetime K established several schools in dif-
ferent parts of the world where young people and adults
could come together and explore the possibility of right
relationships in actual daily living. Krishnamurti said of
his schools that they were places where students and
teachers can flower inwardly and become unfragmented
and whole humans. He wanted the schools to be real cen-
ters of understanding, of real comprehension of life.
Krishnamurti’s teaching had a strong impact upon my
own philosophical thinking, and in fact, when I first en-
countered it in 1985, as a member of a Krishnamurti study
circle in Switzerland,
Shortly before I left Switzerland for my journey to the
United States in 1985, I met Raffaella Ida Sangiorgi, Prin-
cess of Liechtenstein, the wife of Prince Alfred of Liechten-
stein, a long-term member of the group.
I was presented to her one afternoon, during a study
session in the splendid villa of entrepreneur Friedrich
Grohe in Morges at the Lake Geneva, where we met twice
per month for our exchanges on K’s unique teaching.
There was a spontaneous sympathy and even enchantment
on both sides and we separated from the group soon and
had some intimate discussions in another room where we
were undisturbed.


I was highly intrigued by the fact that the Princess and
her husband had known K for long years and hosted him
often times in their premises. And instead of talking about
him as a venerated saint and guru, she spoke about K af-
fectionately, and told me little anecdotes about his life. For
example, she told me that once she discovered that one of
her precious diamonds had stopped to shine, and had be-
come dull. And K suggested in his habitual simple style
she should leave the diamond ring with him for a few days
and then see the result. K put the ring and returned it after
three days, she explained, and the diamond had become so
brilliant and was glowing with such tremendous luminos-
ity that it seemed to be a higher grade of stone than it actu-
ally was.
Yet the Princess, who spoke a very pure German,
counted this little anecdote in rather factual terms and
without the glare that others in the circle made up about
the great sage. And after our little conversation we sum-
marized our position. We wanted to imprint a rather prac-
tical or pragmatic stance upon the group, so as to become
more effective in our studies of K’s teaching.


Education and the Significance of Life
London: Victor Gollancz, 1978

Krishnamurti’s book Education and the Significance of Life is one of the
most important books on education. I will produce and discuss some
quotes here that show that K really had a radical and honest attitude
toward child rearing.

His main argument regarding education was that it
should not condition the child, but build awareness of our
inevitable conditioning by society and social values. Here
are some key quotes:

We are turning out, as if through a mould, a type of
human being whose chief interest is to find security,
to become somebody important, or to have a good
time with as little thought as possible./9


Conventional education makes independent think-
ing extremely difficult. Conformity leads to medioc-
rity. To be different from the group or to resist envi-
ronment is not easy and is often risky as long as we
worship success./9

This fear of life, this fear of struggle and of new ex-
perience, kills in us the spirit of adventure; our
whole upbringing and education have made us
afraid to be different from our neighbour, afraid to
think contrary to the established pattern of society,
falsely respectful of authority and tradition./10

It is only when we face experience as it comes and
do not avoid disturbance that we keep intelligence
highly awakened; and intelligence highly awakened
is intuition, which is the only true guide in life./11

Though there is a higher and wider significance to
life, of what value is our education if we never dis-
cover it? We may be highly educated, but if we are
without deep integration of thought and feeling, our
lives are incomplete, contradictory and torn with
many fears; and as long as education does not culti-
vate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little
significance. /11

The individual is made up of different entities, but
to emphasize the differences and to encourage the
development of a definite type leads to many com-
plexities and contradictions. Education should bring
about the integration of these separate entities—for


without integration, life becomes a series of conflicts
and sorrows./12

What K next stresses in education is self-knowledge. And
rightly so. Without self-knowledge we become automatons
and ruthless executioners in lifeless systems.

We cannot understand existence abstractly or theo-
retically. To understand life is to understand our-
selves and that is both the beginning and the end of

When there is no self-knowledge, self-expression
becomes self-assertion, with all its aggressive and
ambitious conflicts. Education should awaken the
capacity to be self-aware and not merely indulge in
gratifying self-expression./15

Systems, whether educational or political, are not
changed mysteriously; they are transformed when
there is a fundamental change in ourselves. The in-
dividual is of first importance, not the system; and


as long as the individual does not understand the
total process of himself, no system, whether of the
left or of the right, can bring order and peace to the

One of the main points of critique of current education
by alternative educational methods is the fact that modern-
day education is mechanical and technology-based, and dis-
regards the soul and soul values. K writes:

Present-day education is a complete failure because
it has over-emphasized technique. In over-
emphasizing technique we destroy man. To cultivate
capacity and efficiency without understanding life,
without having a comprehensive perception of the
ways of thought and desire, will only make us in-
creasingly ruthless, which is to engender wars and
jeopardize our physical security. The exclusive culti-
vation of technique has produced scientists, mathe-
maticians, bridge builders, space conquerors; but do
they understand the total process of life? Can any
specialist experience life as a whole? Only when he
ceases to be a specialist./18

The man who knows how to split the atom but has
no love in his heart becomes a monster./19

Thus, K stresses the need for an integrated approach to
education, which necessarily also would be an approach
that wisely is drafted to activate and stimulate both brain
hemispheres, and the characteristics associated with them.
K points out:


The right kind of education, while encouraging the
learning of a technique, should accomplish some-
thing which is of far greater importance; it should
help man to experience the integrated process of life.
It is this experiencing that will put capacity and
technique in their right place./21

An important, and often misunderstood problem in
education are ideals, heroes, and generally any kind of
people worship. The conditioning of children after national
or social, or other heroes, and the idealism connected with
that quest in traditional patriarchal education cannot be
overlooked. Krishnamurti never left a doubt that ideas are
highly destructive for building intelligent humans, and he
boldly states:

Ideals have no place in education for they prevent
the comprehension of the present./22

The right kind of education is not concerned with
any ideology, however much it may promise a fu-
ture Utopia: it is not based on any system, however
carefully thought out; nor is it a means of condition-
ing the individual in some special manner. Educa-
tion in the true sense is helping the individual to be
mature and free, to flower greatly in love and good-
ness. That is what we should be interested in, and
not in shaping the child according to some idealistic

Now, we often hesitate to talk about love, and it’s al-
most a commonplace today, or even has a strange subver-


sive note about it to say that one must love children if one
wants to be a good teacher. K had the authority to say
what had to be said, and it was received positively because
there was no doubt in his integrity:

Only love can bring about the understanding of an-
other. Where there is love there is instantaneous
communion with the other, on the same level and at
the same time. It is because we ourselves are so dry,
empty and without love that we have allowed gov-
ernments and systems to take over the education of
our children and the direction of our lives; but gov-
ernments want efficient technicians, not human be-
ings, because human beings become dangerous to
governments— and to organized religions as well.
That is why governments and religious organiza-
tions seek to control education./24

And we are again confronted with the notion of con-
formity that goes through the book like an Ariadne thread;
in fact, idealism and conformity go hand in hand, and are
sugared up by sentimentality.

Life cannot be made to conform to a system, it can-
not be forced into a framework, however nobly con-
ceived and a mind that has merely been trained in
factual knowledge is incapable of meeting life with
its variety, its subtlety, its depths and great heights.
When we train our children according to a system of
thought or a particular discipline, when we teach
them to think within departmental divisions, we
prevent them from growing into integrated men and


women, and therefore they are incapable of thinking
intelligently, which is to meet life as a whole./24

K saw the difficult and challenging role of the dedi-
cated educator, and he was very outspoken that such an
individual cannot reasonably be a conformist, but must be
a person who is an independent thinker, and mentally and
emotionally sane:

Education is intimately related to the present world
crisis, and the educator who sees the causes of this
universal chaos should ask himself how to awaken
intelligence in the student, thus helping the coming
generation not to bring about further conflict and
disaster. He must give all his thought, all his care
and affection to the creation of right environment
and to the development of understanding, so that
when the child grows into maturity he will be capa-
ble of dealing intelligently with the human problems
that confront him. But in order to do this, the educa-
tor must understand himself instead of relying on
ideologies, systems and beliefs./25

The right kind of education consists in understand-
ing the child as he is without imposing upon him an
ideal of what we think he should be. To enclose him
in the framework of an ideal is to encourage him to
conform, which breeds fear and produces in him a
constant conflict between what he is and what he
should be; and all inward conflicts have their out-
ward manifestations in society. Ideals are an actual
hindrance to our understanding of the child and to
the child's understanding of himself./26


Ideals are a convenient escape, and the teacher who
follows them is incapable of understanding his stu-
dents and dealing with them intelligently; for him,
the future ideal, the what should be, is far more im-
portant than the present child. The pursuit of an
ideal excludes love, and without love no human
problem can be solved./27

The right kind of educator, aware of the mind's ten-
dency to reaction, helps the student to alter present
values, not out of reaction against them, but through
understanding the total process of life. (...) Without
really inquiring into this whole question, we assert
than human nature cannot be changed, we accept
things as they are and encourage the child to fit into
the present society; we condition him to our present
ways of life, and hope for the best. But can such con-
formity to present values, which lead to war and
starvation, be considered education?/30

The next important point in the value discussion is dis-
cipline. What place should discipline and self-discipline be
given in the educational framework of a non-repressive
and consciousness-based institution? K is very clear-cut in
this respect. He is against discipline, and stresses the need
to educate children sensitively by raising their self-respect
and respect for one another, and for life as a whole:

For political and industrial reasons, discipline has
become an important factor in the present social
structure, and it is because of our desire to be psy-
chologically secure that we accept and practise vari-


ous forms of discipline. (…) Discipline then becomes
a substitute for love, and it is because our hearts are
empty that we cling to discipline./31

Sensitivity can never be awakened through compul-
sion. One may compel a child to be outwardly quiet,
but one has not come face to face with that child
which is making him obstinate, impudent, and so
on. Compulsion breeds antagonism and fear. Re-
ward and punishment in any form only make the
mind subservient and dull; and if this is what we
desire, then education through compulsion is an ex-
cellent way to proceed./32

Implicit in right education is the cultivation of free-
dom and intelligence, which is not possible if there
is any form of compulsion, with its fears. After all,
the concern of the educator is to help the student to
understand the complexities of his whole being. To
require him to suppress one part of his nature for the
benefit of some other part is to create in him an end-
less conflict which results in social antagonisms. It is
intelligence that brings order, not discipline./33

The problem of discipline, K analyzes very succinctly,
is that it creates fear. And fear is not conducive to intelli-
gence, and renders people emotionally highly unstable. K

Fear perverts intelligence and is one of the causes of
self-centered action./34-35

The right kind of education must take into consid-


eration this question of fear, because fear warps our
whole outlook on life. To be without fear is the be-
ginning of wisdom, and only the right kind of edu-
cation can bring about the freedom from fear in
which alone there is deep and creative

And what place should religion have in education?
Some find it necessary that children receive a religious
education, others find that in a modern state the school
system should refrain from conditioning children spiritu-
ally. France has a special position here because of the
French Revolution and the fact that in the French Constitu-
tion, an explicit secularism is anchored that all schools
must respect. The most recent debate has been over
whether any religious apparel, such as the Hijab, the Sikh


turban, large Crosses or Stars of David should be banned
from public schools? After much political debate a law has
been voted in France to ban all those personal religious
symbols in schools. K expresses himself against any form
of organized religion or ritual:

What we call religion is merely organized belief,
with its dogmas, rituals, mysteries and superstitions.
Each religion has its own sacred book, its mediator,
its priests and its ways of threatening and holding
people. Most of us have been conditioned to all this,
which is considered religious education; but this
conditioning sets man against man, it creates an-
tagonism, not only among the believers, but also
against those of other beliefs. Though all religions
assert that they worship God and say that we must
love one another, they instill fear through their doc-
trines of reward and punishment, and through their
competitive dogmas they perpetuate suspicion and

Organized religion is the frozen thought of man, out
of which he builds temples and churches; it has be-
come a solace for the fearful, and opiate for those
who are in sorrow. /40

The next important point in a sensitive education is how
to handle the child as an individual, while participating in
a group? How should the educator relate to the single
child, and how to react to children’s curiosity, and their
often disturbing inquisitiveness? How to handle their dis-
content in phases of adaptation they invariable go through,


and that leave traces of hurt through the inevitable restric-
tion of freedom? Krishnamurti gives very clear answers

Most children are curious, they want to know; but
their eager inquiry is dulled by our pontifical asser-
tions, our superior impatience and our casual brush-
ing aside of their curiosity. We do not encourage
their inquiry, for we are rather apprehensive of what
may be asked of us; we do not foster their discon-
tent, for we ourselves have ceased to question./41

The young, if they are at all alive, are full of hope
and discontent; they must be, otherwise they are
already old and dead./42

Discontent is the means to freedom: but in order to
inquire without bias, there must be none of the emo-
tional dissipation which often takes the form of po-
litical gatherings, the shouting of slogans, the search
for a guru or spiritual teacher, and religious orgies of
different kinds./43

A very intriguing point is K’s position on success.
While striving for success is something really natural for
human beings, Krishnamurti teaches that the very striving
for success per se creates fear and is therefore not an ideal
motivational factor:

As long as success is our goal we cannot be rid of
fear, for the desire to succeed inevitably breeds the
fear of failure./44 


To apply this approach means to let children see that
the striving for success, without being based on other val-
ues can be poisoned by greed and selfish gain. The art is
not to suffocate the child’s energy for progress, which re-
quires from the teacher a balanced attitude, sensitivity and
tact. K says it in more general terms that can be interpreted
in many ways:

The school should help its young people to discover
their vocations and responsibilities, and not merely
cram their minds with facts and technical knowl-
edge; it should be the soil in which they can grow
without fear, happily and integrally./45

Another important value in any spiritual educational
concept is simplicity. K was a simple man all through his
life. He was direct and simple in his approach to people,
and to children. He was not afraid of direct exchanges, and
he did not foster hierarchy thinking. He was relating to a
beggar and a king in basically the same way, empathically
and fearlessly. This is not the way of our modern society,

so how can we help children to develop simplicity without
however neglecting our duty to help them understand the
complexity of life? This obvious paradox requires to get
deep inside and see the metarational relationship between
complexity and simplicity. Only a spiritually developed
teacher can appear as a simple human while fully under-
standing the complexity of life, and of relationships. K. ex-

From innumerable complexities we must grow to
simplicity; we must become simple in our inward
life and in our outward needs./45

Krishnamurti schools had from the start a rather pecu-
liar approach to teaching skills.


For example in a painting class, the teacher would only
introduce in the subject and then the main educational
work would be done by participation. There would simply
be a painter around, who would paint, around the chil-
dren, for them to grow into it by seeing it every day.
This philosophy is based upon the insight that no child
can be trained in anything that their soul is not ready to
receive. So if you ‘teach’ art or music to a child whose soul
has no affinity with art or music, you not only confuse the
child, but you also waste time, and in some cases you even
create a lifelong rebellion in the child against what they felt
was ‘imposed’ on them. This is why participatory educa-
tion solves many problems in that children who are natu-
rally gifted for art or music or literature or anything else
will pick that up when it’s around. That means, of course,
that the school really must be a cultural place, and not just
an academy for indoctrination. K explains: 

Teaching should not become a specialist's profes-
sion. When it does, as is so often the case, love fades
away; and love is essential to the process of integra-
tion. To be integrated there must be freedom from
fear. Fearlessness brings independence without ruth-
lessness, without contempt for another, and this is
the most essential factor in life./47

The integrated human being will come to technique
through experiencing, for the creative impulse
makes its own technique - and that is the greatest
art. When a / child has the creative impulse to paint,


he paints, he does not bother about technique. Like-
wise people who are experiencing, and therefore
teaching, are the only real teachers, and they too will
create their own technique./48

Many of us seem to think that by teaching every
human being to read and write, he shall solve our
human problems; but this idea has proved to be
false. The so-called educated are not peace-loving,
integrated people, and they too are responsible for
the confusion and misery in the world./52

As I have pointed out above, the relationship between
the individual and authority is not a standard scheme in
Krishnamurti schools and depends largely on the director
of the school. Generally speaking the attitude in Krishna-
murti schools is respectful toward authority:

The following of authority is the denial of intelli-
gence. To accept authority is to submit to domina-
tion, to subjugate oneself to an individual, to a
group, or to an ideology, whether religious or politi-
cal; and this subjugation of oneself to authority is the
denial, not only of intelligence, but also of individ-
ual freedom./60

As long as the mind allows itself to be dominated
and controlled by the desire for its own security,
there can be no release from the self and its prob-
lems; and that is why there is no release from the self
through dogma and organized belief, which we call


The integration of intelligence and love, the subtle dis-
tinction between intellect and intelligence as well as the
awareness about the pitfalls of both idealism and material-
ism is what makes this educational concept so interesting.
It seems to me that while not all ingredients of K’s educa-
tional approach are new and original, there is an edge to it
that has no equal in any other educational approach over
the last four hundred years. K points out:

Idealism is an escape from what is, and materialism
is another way of denying the measureless depths of
the present. Both the idealist and the materialist
have their own ways of avoiding the complex prob-
lem of suffering; both are consumed by their own
cravings, ambitions and conflicts, and their ways of
life are not conducive to tranquillity. They are both
responsible for the confusion and misery of the

Intelligence is not separate from love./64

There is a distinction between intellect and intelli-
gence. Intellect is thought functioning independ-
ently of emotion, whereas intelligence is the capacity
to feel as well as reason; and until we approach life
with intelligence, instead of intellect alone, or with
emotion alone, no political or educational system in
the world can save us from the toils of chaos and

Wisdom comes with the abnegation of the self. To
have an open mind is more important than learning;


and we can have an open mind, not by cramming it
full of information but by being aware of our own
thoughts and feelings, by carefully observing our-
selves and the influences about us, by listening to
others, by watching the rich and the poor, and pow-
erful and the lowly./65

Intelligence is much greater than intellect, for it is
the integration of reason and love; but there can be
intelligence only when there is self-knowledge, the
deep understanding of the total process of oneself.

As Krishnamurti has pointed out in his his book Beyond
Violence (1973), for overcoming violence we do not need to
put up ideals of peace, nor do we need tighter laws, but a
better education, and better relationships. To get there, we
need to understand ourselves and at the same time, we
need to learn relating, both to ourselves and others. This
helps us to dissolve artificial boundaries between humans
that our ideologies, traditions and national pride have cre-
ated. K explains:

The problem of man’s antagonism to man can be
solved, not by pursuing the ideal of peace, but by
understanding the causes of war which lie in our
attitude towards life, towards our fellow-beings; and
this understanding can come about only through the
right kind of education./68


If we avoid the responsibility of acting individually
and wait for some new system to establish peace, we
shall merely become the slaves of that system./70

The constantly repeated assertion that we belong to
a certain political or religious group, that we are of
this nation or of that, flatters our little egos, puffs
them out like sails, until we are ready to kill or be
killed for our country, race or ideology. It is all so
stupid and unnatural. Surely, human beings are
more important than national and ideological
boundaries. /71

Nationalism, the patriotic spirit, class and race con-
sciousness, are all ways of the self, and therefore
separative. After all, what is a nation but a group of
individuals living together for economic and self-
protective reasons? Out of fear and acquisitive self-
defence arises the idea of my country, with its
boundaries and tariff walls, rendering brotherhood
and the unity of man impossible./72


Our present social institutions cannot evolve into a
world federation, for their very foundations are un-
sound. Parliaments and systems of education which
uphold national sovereignty and emphasize the im-
portance of the group will never bring war to an

An important insight in this respect is that children are
not per se thinking in terms of nations, religions, races or
any other distinctions that our fragmented and condi-
tioned thinking comes up with. Children are universal

The child is neither class nor race conscious; it is the
home or school environment, or both, which makes
him feel separative. /75

If life is meant to be lived happily, with thought,
with care, with affection, then it is very important to
understand ourselves; and if we wish to build a
truly enlightened society, we must have educators
who understand the ways of integration and who
are therefore capable of imparting that understand-
ing to the child. Such educators would be a danger
to the present structure of society. But we do not
really want to build an enlightened society; and any
teacher who, perceiving the full implications of
peace, began to point out the true significance of
nationalism and the stupidity of war, would soon
lose his position. Knowing this, most teachers com-
promise, and thereby help to maintain the present
system of exploitation and violence./79


As I pointed out above, a responsible attitude toward
education requires us to put the cards on the table, and we
do live in a world of violence, chaos, murder, hunger for
many, but also incredible abundance, and unrivaled com-
fort for a few.
What is our relationship with all of this? Do we think
that war is outside only, or do we recognize that every war
we bring to birth was already there inside of us before we
ever lifted our arm to take a gun?
I have emphasized in my own writings that every act
of violence done in outward life is a reflection of violence we
have done to ourselves, on an inward level, long before that
particular event. By the same token, every murder commit-
ted is preceded by a murder that was committed inside of
the murderer long before he murdered. As long as we con-
tinue to murder so-called ‘perverse’ desires, longings and
fantasies, so long shall we have murder in this world. Once
we learn to embrace ourselves, and our selves, and stop
disowning parts of our inner whole that we disintegrate
because of the schizoid split that all morality brings about,
we learn to handle our emotions. K says:

War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our
everyday living. We precipitate war out of our daily
lives; and without a transformation in ourselves,
there are bound to be national and racial antago-
nisms, the childish quarreling over ideologies, the
multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and
all the many brutalities that to go create organized


Finally, what is this psychological revolution that K.
talks about? What does it require? K explains:

True revolution is not the violent sort; it comes about
through cultivating the integration and intelligence
of human beings who, by their very life, will gradu-
ally create changes in society./89

For education to adopt a higher quality, instead of be-
ing focused upon quantity in the sense of educating
masses of people, it logically needs to focus on every single
child rather than seeing children as a quantifiable factor to
be addressed:

The right kind of education is not possible en masse.
To study each child requires patience, alertness and
intelligence. To observe the child’s tendencies, his
aptitudes, his temperament, to understand his diffi-
culties, to take into account his heredity and parental
influence and not merely regard him as belonging to
a certain category—all this calls for a swift and pli-


able mind, untrammeled by any system or prejudice.
It calls for skill, intense interest and, above all, a
sense of affection; and to produce educators en-
dowed with these qualities is one of our major prob-
lems to-day./94

The following quotes are among the most revolution-
ary and challenging sentences Krishnamurti produced in
this book:

If parents really cared for their children, they would
build a new society; but fundamentally most parents
do not care, and so they have no time for this most
urgent problem. They have time for making money,
for amusements, for rituals and worship, but no
time to consider what is the right kind of education
for their children./97

We say so easily that we love our children; but is
there love in our hearts when we accept the existing
social conditions, when we do not want to bring
about a fundamental transformation in this destruc-
tive society? And as long as we look to the special-
ists to educate our children, this confusion and mis-
ery will continue, for the specialists, being con-
cerned with the part and not with the whole, are
themselves unintegrated. /98

The suffering of parents for their children is a form
of possessive self-pity which exists only when there
is no love./103


To be the right kind of educator, a teacher must con-
stantly be freeing himself from books and laborato-
ries; he must ever be watchful to see that the stu-
dents do not make of him an example, an ideal, an

For the true teacher, teaching is not a technique, it is
a way of life; like a great artist, he would rather
starve than give up his creative work./111

Creativity has many forms and expresses itself in many
ways. K. has repeatedly said in his talks that modern edu-
cation suffocates creativity, and I have seen this confirmed
in my work in schools and kindergartens in several coun-
tries. So what is creativity, and how do we nourish the
creative flame inside of us?
Krishnamurti gives a quite original answer:

The intellect, the mind as such, can only repeat, rec-
ollect, it is constantly spinning new words and rear-
ranges old ones; and as most of us feel and experi-
ence only through the brain, we live exclusively on
words and mechanical repetitions. This is obviously
not creation; and since we are uncreative, the only
means of creativeness left to us is sex. Sex is of the
mind, and that which is of the mind must fulfill it-
self or there is frustration. Our thoughts, our lives
are narrow, arid, hollow, empty; emotionally we are
starved, religiously and intellectually we are repeti-
tive, dull; socially, politically and economically we
are regimented, controlled. We are not happy peo-
ple, we are not vital, joyous; at home, in business, at


church, at school, we never experience a creative
state of being, there is no deep release in our daily
thought and action. Caught and held from all sides,
naturally sex becomes our only outlet, an experience
to be sought again and again because it momentarily
offers that state of happiness which comes when
there is absence of self. It is not sex that constitutes a
problem, but the desire to recapture the state of
happiness, to gain and maintain pleasure, whether
sexual or any other./118

Unless we investigate and understand the hin-
drances that prevent creative living, which is free-
dom from self, we shall not understand the problem
of sex./119


I will come to an end now with this extensive review in
the hope that this overview over the topics of this book
raises your thirst to read it.

It is a difference to read some quotes from a book or to
read the integral book. Also, I am very clear about it, I have
not hidden my own bias, my own necessarily subjective
participation in this book, and in the subjects that go be-
yond it, such as education, world peace, or spirituality.

I have my own philosophy and solutions to offer in my
writings, and I cannot avoid that my way of seeing the
world goes into these book reviews. But this must be so, or
I would be dishonest. After all, what is of interest for you
is your own relationship with this book and its author, and
not how it impacted upon my mind, and my emotions! In
this sense, I can only reflect it with my mirror, not with
But let me affirm that without any doubt, this book
was one of the most important I have read in my entire life.
I have read it first about twenty years ago and since then
have re-read it several times.
Krishnamurti is a thinker, a sage, a philosopher that
you cannot ‘store away’ in a library and forget, like we do
it with so many others! He and his teaching is alive, as
alive as ever before.

Charles Webster Leadbeater

Books Reviewed
Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants
and Phenomena (1894/1997)
Dreams: What they are and How they are Caused (1903)
The Inner Life (1911/1942)

The Leadbeater family was Norman French in origin,
with the name Le Bâtre (the builder), later Anglicized to
Leadbeater. The senior branch of the family settled in
Northumberland, England; whence a junior branch estab-
lished itself in Ireland. Some facts about this junior branch
are given in the two volume of The Leadbeater Papers. The
senior branch followed the fortunes of Prince Charles Stu-
art and became Jacobite; from that day on—though they
later became loyal subjects of the British Crown—it was
the custom of the family to christen the eldest son Charles.
Charles Webster Leadbeater was born on the 17th of
February 1847. During his childhood, he and his younger
brother traveled to Brazil, where their father supervised
the construction of a railroad. His father, during his stay,
contracted a tropical disease and the boy died just before
the family returned to England, and his brother died acci-

Charles W. Leadbeater’s father died while his only
surviving son was a teenager. The family was well-to-do,
but a few years later, they lost all in the collapse of a great
bank. This necessitated the young man going to work as
early as possible. For a while he was a clerk in the well-
known bank of William Deacons & Co., but the work was
naturally cramping and uncongenial. (…)
The young Leadbeater was a very active minister. He
opened several local branches of clubs and societies associ-
ated with the Church of England: first a local study clubs


for boys, later the Union Jack Field Club, then the Church
Society, and finally The Juvenile Branch of the Church of Eng-
land Temperance Society in March 1884. Astronomy was a
favorite hobby of Leadbeater at the time, and owned a 12"
reflector telescope.
During an eclipse of the moon, he saw a shadow that
was noticeable before the eclipse fairly started, and wrote
some paper as to this, and it was found to be, in all prob-
ability, the shadow cast by the Andes. At one point of time,
Charles Leadbeater used to go to a good few spiritualistic
séances in London and met William Eglinton, a famous
spiritualistic medium and reported some of his experiences
with this medium. He also organized meetings in his own
It is through Spiritualism and psychic phenomena that
Leadbeater came to discover Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and
the Theosophical Society after reading the book The Occult
World by A. P. Sinnett. He joined the Theosophical Society
on November 21, 1883 at the same time as Prof. William
Crookes, an eminent scientist, and his wife.
—From: Biographical Notes, by Maurice H. Warnon


Astral Plane
Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and Phenomena
Kessinger Publishing Facsimile Edition, 1997
Originally Written in 1894

Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena is a quite dumbfound-
ing account of the astral world from the perspective of a highly-
developed clairvoyant. Leadbeater was not a daydreamer and high-
strung delusional, but possessed a scientific mind. Judging what he
wrote from the perspective of the lesser developed ‘ordinary conscious-
ness’ would be a pitfall of perception.

When I first came in touch with theosophy, thirty years
ago, by reading Helena P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine and
so much the more after December 1997, when I joined the
Theosophical Society of Adyar in Germany e.V., I went to study
the biographies of the notorious and more or less famous
founders of theosophy, Blavatsky, Leadbeater, and Besant.
With regard to Leadbeater this in-depth lectures reassured
that he was not the high-strung and scandal-ridden Angli-
can bishop he was painted in the media, but a nobleman

who made his life’s mission from his extraordinary gift of
clairvoyance, by meticulously and systematically exploring
its phenomena, building a scientific framework for ex-
plaining them in a verifiable manner.
Today’s intelligent elite surely has less of a problem to
accept paranormal abilities than this was the case a hun-
dred years ago, and a person such as Leadbeater would
probably not come over in the same suspicious manner in
the press than this was the case in a time when these phe-
nomena were to be seen only in circuses, but were seldom
subjected to serious scientific investigation.
This being said, I will try, in this book review, to cast
some light on a number of quotes taken from this erudite
booklet, so as to show that it is a highly important item for
the library of any even moderately spiritual-minded scien-
tist and any curious individual open enough to look over
the fence of ‘school wisdom’ to explore a realm of existence
that he or she will inevitably join one day, after passing
over, and for a certain time of transition: the astral world.
The author introduces in the topic in his concise, brilliant
and lucid diction:

No one can get a clear conception of the teachings of
the Wisdom-Religion until he has at any rate an in-
tellectual grasp of the fact that in our solar system
there exist perfectly definite planes, each with its
own matter of different degrees of density, and that
some of these planes can be visited and observed by
persons who have qualified themselves for the /
work, exactly as a foreign country might be visited


and observed; and that, by comparison of the obser-
vations of those who are constantly working on
these planes, evidence can be obtained of their exis-
tence and nature at least as satisfactory as that which
most of us have for the existence of Greenland or
Spitsbergen. /2-3

Very early in his book, Leadbeater comes up with the
idea of planes; he argues that the world consists of a set of
layers that are superimposed on each other, and that he
calls planes—a very interesting idea indeed! He develops
some kind of theory that these layers are all connected and
behave interactively, and that our experience of them is not


sequential, but simultaneous. Actually, the idea of a se-
quential order of experiencing the present world and the
afterworld seems to be a myth given that we travel every
night into the afterworld or astral world, using the same
astral energy body that we use when we pass over to this
realm of existence. So it would be highly unscientific to
speak about a sequential behavior of these worlds or di-
mensions of existence.

There is now a huge body of evidence that shows that
time travel is possible both forward and backward in time,
and this would be impossible if the planes were sequential.
The astounding characteristic of our universe is that, while
it is multi-layered like an onion, it is interconnected and
interacts simultaneously on all levels at once. In addition,
on the astral plane objects are not definite but shapeshift
constantly. Leadbeater explains:

The astral region which I am to attempt to describe
is the second of these great planes of nature—the
next above or within that physical world with which
we are all familiar. It has often been called the realm
of illusion—not that it is itself any more illusory
than the physical world, but because of the extreme
unreliability of the impressions brought back from it
by the untrained seer. This is to be accounted for
mainly by two remarkable characteristics of the as-
tral world —first, that many of its inhabitants have a
marvellous power of changing their forms with Pro-
tean rapidity, and also of casting practically unlim-
ited glamour over those with whom they choose to
sport; and secondly, that sight on that plane is a fac-


ulty very different from and much more extended
than physical vision. An object is seen, as it were,
from all sides at once, the inside of a solid being as
plainly open to / the view as the outside; it is there-
fore obvious than an inexperienced visitor to this
new world may well find considerable difficulty in
understanding what he really does see, and still
more in translating his vision into the very inade-
quate language of ordinary speech./3-4

First of all, then, it must be understood that the as-
tral plane has seven subdivisions, each of which has
its corresponding degree of materiality and its corre-
sponding condition of matter. Now numbering these
from the highest und least material downwards, we
find that they naturally fall into three classes, divi-
sions 1, 2 and 3 forming one such class, and 4, 5 and
6 another, while the seventh and lowest of all stands

Now, there are certain laws of geometry, for example
the law of perspective, that are valid in our dimension, but
that do not apply in the astral region, and yet we can say
that the view of matter on the astral plane is less of an illu-

Looked at from the astral plane, for example, the
sides of a glass cube would all appear equal, as they
really are, while on the physical plane we see the
further side in perspective – that is, it appears
smaller than the nearer side, which is, of course, a
mere illusion./9


I know only of two other books that explain the human
aura with a similarly comprehensive language as the pre-
sent book. It is Leadbeater’s book The Inner Life (1911/1942)
and Shafica Karagulla’s The Chakras (1989). Now, in addi-
tion, the present booklet does not only explain the human
aura in the present dimension, but also what Leadbeater
calls the kâmic aura, which is the astral body.

We must note first that every material object, every
particle even, has its astral counterpart; and this
counterpart is itself not a simple body, but is usually
extremely complex, being composed of various
kinds of astral matter. In addition to this each living
creature is surrounded with an atmosphere of its
own, usually called its aura, and in the case of hu-
man beings this aura forms of itself a very fascinat-
ing branch of study. It is seen as an oval mass of lu-
minous mist of highly complex structure, and from
its shape has sometimes been called the auric

Most brilliant and most easily seen of all, perhaps,
though belonging to quite a different order of mat-
ter—the astral—is the kâmic aura, which expresses
by its vivid and ever-changing flashes of colour the
different desires which sweep across the man’s mind
from moment to moment. This is the true astral

One other point deserves mention in connection
with the appearance of physical matter when looked
at from the astral plane, and that is that the astral


vision possesses the power of magnifying at will the
minutest physical particle to any desired size, as
though by a microscope, though its / magnifying
power is enormously greater than that of any micro-
scope ever made or ever likely to be made./13-14

On the other hand, while the astral point of observa-
tion, according to the author, offers a very minutely de-
tailed view of objects, this view is limited to that very
plane and a look ‘over the fence’ seems to be excluded:

It must also be remembered that the regular inhabi-
tant of the astral plane, whether he be human or
elemental, is under ordinary circumstances con-
scious only of the objects of that plane, physical mat-
ter being to him as entirely invisible as is astral mat-
ter to the majority of mankind./15

That our ‘real’ existence here on earth is not a very high
level of evolution in our present cosmos can be seen in the
fact that vibrationally or energetically it is related to the
lowest of the seven subdivisions of the astral plane. Lead-
beater points out:

For the seventh and lowest subdivision of the astral
plane also this physical world of ours may be said to
be the background, though what is seen is only a
distorted and partial view of it, since all that is light
and good and beautiful seems invisible. It was thus
described four thousand years ago in the Egyptian
papyrus of the Scribe Ani: ‘What manner of place is
this unto which I have come? It hath no water, it


hath no air; it is deep, unfathomable; it is black as
the blackest night, and men wander helplessly about
therein; in it a man may not live in quietness of

The following explanation of the Akashic Records is un-
canny and unfortunately it is left open what the Akâsha is.
Fortunately we have arrived, as a culture, despite our
initial ignorance, at a point of bifurcation. Ervin Laszlo’s
amazing ‘theory of everything’ stands exemplarily for this
fact and what me miss out in Leadbeater we can look up,
at least in principle, in Laszlo’s book Science and the Akashic
Field (2005) that I have reviewed in The New Paradigm in
Science and Systems Theory (2014). So far, Leadbeater states
the principle:

An account of the scenery of the astral plane would
be incomplete without mention of what are com-
monly called the Records of the Astral Light, the
photographic representation of all that has ever
happened. These records are really and permanently
impressed upon that higher medium called the
Akâsha and are only reflected in a more or less
spasmodic manner in the astral light, so that one
whose power of vision does not rise above this plane
will be likely to obtain only occasional and discon-
nected pictures of the past instead of a coherent nar-
rative. But nevertheless pictures of all kinds of past
events are constantly being reproduced on the astral
plane, and form an important part of the surround-
ings of the investigator here./18


The book now expands in various smaller entities that
treat the astral life of specific kinds of people, as in princi-
ple Leadbeater stated that the astral body significantly dif-
fers according to the spiritual development of the person.
For the ordinary human, the author notes:

[The Ordinary Person] These extruded astral / bod-
ies are almost shapeless and very indefinite in out-
line in the case of the more backward races and in-
dividuals, but as the man develops in intellect and
spirituality his floating astral becomes better defined
and more closely resembles his physical encasement.
Since the psychical faculties of mankind are in
course of evolution, and individuals are at all stage
of their development, this class naturally melts by
imperceptible gradations into the former one./21-22

For clarification purposes, it is useful to see our recent
advances in holistic research confirmed and preceded by
more than hundred years: death is not what it appears to
be in popular culture. The author remarks:

To begin with, of course this very word ‘dead’ is an
absurd misnomer, as most of the entities classified
under this heading are as fully alive as we are our-
selves; the term must be understood as meaning
those who are for the time unattached to a physical

Another fact that is hardly known is that emotions, and
emotional memories, and also our emotional scars are not
stripped off at death, but transported in their vibrational


essence into the astral, and here they can cause distress.
And in this sense, death is not the leveler it has been
looked at by many poets. To summarize: we are not born
equal, and we don’t die equal either. Leadbeater writes:

The average man has by no means freed himself
from the lower desires before death, and it takes a
long period of more or less conscious life on the as-
tral plane to allow the forces he has generated to
work themselves out, and thus release the higher

The poetic idea of death as the universal leveler is a
mere absurdity born of ignorance, for, as a matter of
fact, in the / vast majority of cases the loss of the
physical body makes no difference whatever in the
character or intellect of the person, and there are
therefore as many different varieties of intelligence
among those whom we usually call the dead as
among the living./27-28

A very important rectification theosophy has brought
forward concerns the so-called heavenly punishment of
‘bad deeds’ that is notoriously a constant theme in Catholic
dogma—and that was unveiled for the first time in relig-
ious history as a complete misnomer, and even a blas-

The horrible doctrine of eternal punishment, too, is
responsible for a vast amount of most pitiable and
entirely groundless terror among those newly ar-
rived in Kâmaloka, who in many cases spend long


periods of acute mental suffering before they can
free themselves from the fatal influence of that hide-
ous blasphemy, and realize that the world is gov-
erned not according to the caprice of some demon
who gloats over human anguish, but according to a
benevolent and wonderfully patient law of

Grief over departed family members and friends is not
only unwise but is to their detriment, a fact that is stressed
now frequently by channeled messages, and begins to be
known in modern society. Leadbeater explains:

Apart altogether from any question of development
through a medium, there is another and much more
frequently exercised influence which may seriously
retard a disembodied entity on his way to Devachan,
and that is the intense and uncontrolled grief of his
surviving friends or relatives. It is one among many
melancholy results of the terribly inaccurate and
even irreligious view that we in the West have for
centuries been taking of death, that we not only
cause ourselves an immense amount of wholly un-
necessary pain over this temporary parting from our
loved ones, but we often also do serious injury to
those for whom we bear so deep an affection by
means of this very regret which we feel so

Not that occult teaching counsels forgetfulness of
the dead - far from it; but it does suggest that a
man's affectionate remembrance of his departed
friend is a force which, of for his progress towards


Devachan and his quiet passage through Kâmaloka,
might be of real value to him, whereas when wasted
in mourning for him and longing to have him back
again it is not only useless but harmful./31

Another important insight from astral knowledge is
suicide. There are in the West many people who suicide
themselves for the mere reason of ongoing depression, and
most of them have not the faintest idea what they are do-
ing to their astral vehicle. Suicide is the single most unin-
telligent act one can commit in one’s life. It is clearly a
form of harm to self, and thereby on the same level karmi-
cally than harm done to others. But the reasons for this fact
have nothing to do with morality; they are scientific.

[The Suicide, or victim of sudden death] It will be
readily understood that a man who is torn from


physical life hurriedly while in full health and
strength, whether by accident or suicide, finds him-
self upon the astral plane under conditions differing
considerably from those which surround one who
dies either from old age or from disease. In the latter
case the hold of earthly desires upon the entity is
more or less weakened, and probably the very
grossest particles are already got rid of, that the
Kâmarûpa will most likely form itself on the sixth or
fifth subdivision of / the Kâmaloka, or perhaps even
higher; the principles have been gradually prepared
for separation, and the shock is therefore not so
great. In the case of the accidental death or suicide
none of these preparations have taken place, and the
withdrawal of the principles from their physical en-
casement has been very aptly compared to the tear-
ing of the stone out of an unripe fruit; a great deal of
the grossest kind of astral matter still clings around
the personality, which is consequently held in the
seventh or lowest subdivision of the Kâmaloka./39

The position of the suicide is further complicated by
the fact that his rash act has enormously diminished
the power of the higher Ego to withdraw its lower
portion into itself, and therefore has exposed him to
manifold and great additional dangers: but it must
be remembered that the guilt of suicide differs con-
siderably according to its circumstances, from the
morally blameless act of Seneca or Socrates /
through all degrees down to the heinous crime of
wretch who takes his own life in order to escape
from the entanglements into which his villainy has
brought him, and of course the position after death


varies accordingly. It should be noted that this class,
as well as the shades and the vitalized shells, are all
what may be called minor vampires; that is to say,
whenever they have the opportunity they prolong
their existence by draining away the vitality from
human beings whom they find themselves able to

Leadbeater firmly contests folk wisdom in stating that
it is very difficult for even any villain to be villain enough
to deprive himself or herself of spiritual support in the af-
terlife. In fact, his observations brought him to be con-
vinced that human beings are basically good, as the human
nature is quite flexible, and very difficult to be forced in
one single direction. In so far, moral teachings that attempt
to divide humanity in ‘good souls’ and ‘bad souls’ are all
basically flawed. Leadbeater points out:

All readers of Theosophical literature are familiar
with the idea that it is possible for a man to live a life
so absolutely degraded and selfish, so utterly
wicked and brutal, that the whole of his lower
Manas may become entirely immeshed in Kâma,
and finally separated from its spiritual source in the
higher Ego. Some students even seem to think that
such an occurrence is quite a common one, and that
we may meet scores of such 'soulless men' as they
have been called, in the street every day of our lives,
but this, happily, is untrue. To attain the appalling
pre-eminence in evil which thus involves the entire
loss of a personality and the weakening of the de-
veloping individuality behind, a man must stifle


every gleam of unselfishness or spirituality, and
must have absolutely no redeeming point whatever;
and when we remember how often, even in the
worst of villains, there is to be found something not
wholly bad, we shall realize that the abandoned per-
sonalities must always be a very small minority./42

Now, as Ervin Laszlo attempts to describe in Science
and the Akashic Field, the ether, zero-point-field, ch’i, orgone,
prana, mana or however you want to call it, is very difficult
to grasp for the observer. Not so for the clairvoyant for he
can sense the fluctuant, vibrational, flowing nature of this
field. In fact, the field is so unpredictable that the only pre-
diction that can be made about it is that it will change, and
change again. Leadbeater gives a few details:

In spite of these manifold subdivisions, there are
certain properties which are possessed in common
by all varieties of this strange living essence; but
even these are so entirely different from any with


which we are familiar on the physical plane that it is
exceedingly difficult to explain them to those who
cannot themselves see it in action. Let it be prem-
ised, then, that when any portion of this essence re-
mains for a few moments entirely unaffected by any
outside influence (a condition, by the way, which is
hardly ever realized) it is absolutely without any
definite form of its own, though even then its motion
is rapid and ceaseless; but on the slightest distur-
bance, set up perhaps by some passing thought-
current, it flashes into a bewildering confusion of
restless, ever-changing shapes, which form, rush
about, and disappear with the rapidity of the bub-
bles on the surface of boiling water./52

Another important matter that has been discussed by
countless philosophers over the course of human history is
the question ‘what is thought’?
Leadbeater clearly states that we do not own our
thoughts and that we do not often think our own thoughts,
as we pick up thoughts from the quantum field that links
us all together:

A question naturally arises in the mind here as to
what intelligence it is that is exerted in the selection
of an appropriate shape or its distortion when se-
lected. We are not dealing with the more powerful
and longer-lived artificial elemental created by a
strong definite thought, but simply with the result
produced by the stream of half-conscious, involun-
tary thoughts which the majority of mankind allow
to flow idly through their brains, so that the intelli-


gence is obviously not derived from the mind of the
thinker; and we certainly cannot credit the elemental
essence itself, which belongs to a kingdom further
from individualization even than the mineral, with
any sort of awakening of the mânasic quality. (…)
When we read of a good or evil elemental, it must
always be either an artificial entity or one of the
many varieties of nature-spirits that is meant for the
elemental kingdoms proper do not admit of any
such conception as good and evil, though there is
undoubtedly a sort of bias or tendency permeating
nearly all their subdivisions which operates to ren-
der them rather hostile than friendly towards man,
as every neophyte knows, for in most cases his very
first impression of the astral plane is of the presence
all around him of vast hosts of Protean specters who
advance upon him in threatening guise, but always
retire or dissipate harmlessly if boldly faced. It is to
this curious tendency that the distorted or unpleas-
ant aspect above mentioned must be referred, and
mediaeval writers tell us that man has only himself
to thank for its existence. In the golden age before
this Kaliyuga men were on the whole less selfish and
more spiritual, and then the ‘elementals’ were
friendly, though now they are no longer so because
of man’s indifference to, and want of sympathy
with, other living beings./53

On the same line of reasoning, Leadbeater stresses that
we should not judge a human being by their acts only; in
fact, as thoughts are much more important as an influence
upon the world than most of us know, when we go to laud


somebody for his achievements and judge him or her ‘a
good person’, we may be wrong, because that person may
have exerted a ravaging influence on others and the world
by his or her self-talk, by their way of thinking about oth-
ers, and by their way of judging others harshly over years
and years, in their mind. What this creates are elementals
or thought-forms and these thought forms are more or less
permanent, and gain permanence over time and also de-
pending on the emotional energy invested in those thoughts.
I think it’s a good thing that Leadbeater addresses this
point so clearly here because most people in our culture
are ignorant about the impact of thought on the world, on
others and their own karma:

The fact that we are so readily able to influence the
elemental kingdoms at once shows us that we have a
responsibility towards them for the manner in which
we use that influence; indeed, when we consider the
conditions under which they exist, it is obvious that
the effect produced upon them by the thoughts and
desires of all intelligent creatures inhabiting the
same world with them must have been calculated
upon in the scheme of our system as a factor in their
evolution. In spite of the consistent teaching of all
the great religions, the mass of mankind is still ut-
terly regardless of its responsibility on the thought-
plane; if a man can flatter himself that his words and
deeds have been harmless to others, he believes that
he has done all that can be required of him, quite
oblivious of the fact that he may / for years have
been exercising a narrowing and debasing influence


on the minds of those about him, and filling sur-
rounding space with the unlovely creations of a sor-
did mind./54-55

Now, regarding the elementals that are created through
thought and intent, and the gestation that is brought about
by the repeated fostering of a well-defined thought pat-
tern, Leadbeater explains that elementals are not autono-
mous in the sense that they can begin to act on their own
and trigger changes; they must be pushed to do so:

But the ‘elemental’ must never be thought of as itself
a prime mover; it is simply a latent force, which
needs an external power to set it in motion. It may
be noted that although all classes of the essence have
the power of reflecting images from the astral light

as described above, there are varieties which receive
certain impressions much more readily than oth-
ers—which have, as it were, favourite forms of their
own into which upon disturbance they would natu-
rally flow unless absolutely forced into / some other,
and such shapes tend to be a trifle less evanescent
than usual./55-56

The spirits of nature, shunned so much by religious
fundamentalism and reborn now in the course of the new
age, and the revival of the folk lore of fairies, as it was, for
example, rediscovered by Dr. Evans-Wentz in his remark-
able study The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (1911/2002),
and observed by clairvoyant Dora van Gelder in her book
The Real World of Fairies (1977/1999), have certain well-
defined characteristics and they are quite distinct of hu-
man beings. Leadbeater explains:

We might almost look upon the nature-spirits as a
kind of astral humanity, but for the fact that none of
them—not even the highest—possess a permanent
reincarnating individuality. Apparently therefore,
one point in which their line of evolution differs
from ours is that a much greater proportion of intel-
ligence is developed before permanent individuali-
zation takes places; but of the stages through which
they have passed, and those through which they
have yet to pass, we can know little. The life-periods
of the different subdivisions vary greatly, some be-
ing quite short, others much longer than our human
lifetime. We stand so entirely outside such a life as
theirs that it is impossible for us to understand much


about its conditions; but it appears on / the whole to
be a simply, joyous, irresponsible kind of existence,
much such as a party of happy children might lead
among exceptionally favourable physical surround-
ings. Though tricky and mischievous, they are rarely
malicious unless provoked by some unwarrantable
intrusion or annoyance; but as a body they also par-
take to some extent of the universal feeling of dis-
trust for man, and they generally seem inclined to
resent somewhat the first appearances of a neophyte
on the astral plane, so that he usually makes their
freaks, they soon accept him as a necessary evil and
take no further notice of him, while some among
them may even after a time become friendly and
manifest pleasure on meeting him./61

The Adept knows how to make use of the services of
the nature-spirits when he requires them, but the
ordinary magician can obtain their assistance only
by processes either of invocation or evocation—that
is, either by attracting their attention as a suppliant
and making some kind of bargain with them, or by
endeavouring to set in motion influences which
would compel their obedience. Both methods are
extremely undesirable, and the latter is also exces-
sively dangerous, as the operator would arouse a
determined hostility / which might prove fatal to
him. Needless to say, no one studying occultism un-
der a qualified Master would ever be permitted to
attempt anything of the kind at all./61-62


Now, the last group of entities in the astral sphere that
Leadbeater discusses in his book are so-called Devas, di-
vine creatures. Leadbeater writes:

Thought connected with this earth, the Devas are by
no means confined to it, for the whole of our present
chain of seven worlds is as one world to them, their
evolution being through a grand system of seven
chains. Their hosts have hitherto been recruited
chiefly from other humanities in the solar system,
some lower and some higher than ours, since but a
very small portion of our own has as yet reached the
level at which for us it is possible to join them; but it
seems certain that some of their very numerous
classes have not passed in their upward progress
through any humanity at all comparable to ours. It is
not possible for us at present to understand very
much about them, but it is clear that what may be
described as the aim of their evolution is considera-
bly higher than ours; that is to say, while the object
of our human evolution is to raise the successful
portion of humanity to a certain degree of occult
development by the end of the seventh round, the
object of the Deva evolution is to raise their foremost
rank to a very much higher level in the correspond-
ing period./63

Let me comment on the very last pages of the book that
treat the exciting question of how superphysical forces are
managed. The author wonders what the forces are that
move tables at spiritistic sessions, or that can levitate ob-


jects of quite considerable space and weight? To begin
with, Leadbeater writes:

First, there are great etheric currents constantly
sweeping over the surface of the earth from pole to
pole in volume which makes their power as irre-
sistible as that of the rising tide, and there are meth-
ods by which this stupendous force may be safely
utilized, though unskilful attempts to control it
would be fraught with frightful danger. Secondly,
there is what can best be described as an etheric
pressure, somewhat corresponding to, / though
immensely greater than, the atmospheric pressure.
In ordinary life we are as little conscious of one of
these pressures as we are of the other, but neverthe-
less they both exist, and if science were able to ex-
haust the ether from a given space, as it can exhaust
the air, the one could be proved as readily as the
other. The difficulty of doing that lies in the fact that
matter in the etheric condition freely interpenetrates
matter in all states below it, so that there is as yet no
means within the knowledge of our physicists by
which any given body of ether can be isolated from
the rest. Practical occultism, however, teaches how
this can be done, and thus the tremendous force of
etheric pressure can be brought into play. Thirdly,
there is a vast store of potential energy which has
become dormant in matter during the involution of
the subtle into the gross, and by changing the condi-
tion of the matter [so that] some of this may be liber-
ated and utilized, somewhat as latent energy in the
form of heat may be liberated by a change in the
condition of visible matter. Fourthly, many striking


results, both great and small, may be produced by
an extension of a principle which may be described
as that of sympathetic vibration. Illustrations taken
from the physical plane seem generally to misrepre-
sent rather than elucidate astral phenomena, be-
cause they can never be more than partially applica-
ble; but the recollection of two simple facts of ordi-
nary life may help to make this important branch of
our subject clearer, if we are careful not to push the
analogy further than it will hold good. It is well-
known that if one of the wires of a harp be made to
vibrate vigorously, its movement will call forth
sympathetic vibrations in the corresponding string
of any number of harps placed round it if they are
tuned to exactly the same pitch. It is also well known
that when a large body of soldiers crosses a suspen-
sion bridge it is / necessary for them to break step,
since the perfect regularity of their ordinary march
would set up a vibration in the bridge which would
be intensified by every step they took, until the point
of resistance of the iron was passed, when the whole
structure would fly to pieces. With these two analo-
gies in our minds (never forgetting that they are
only partial ones) it may seem more comprehensible
that one who knows exactly at what rate to start his
vibrations—knows, so to speak, the keynote of the
class of matter he wishes to affect—should be able
by sounding that keynote to call forth an immense
number of sympathetic vibrations. When this is
done on the physical plane no additional energy is
developed; but on the astral there is this difference,
that the matter with which we are dealing is far less
inert, and so when called into action by these sym-


pathetic vibrations it adds its own living force to the
original impulse, which may thus be multiplied
many-fold; and then by further rhythmic repetition
of the original impulse, as in the case of the soldiers
marching over the bridge, the vibrations may be so
intensified that the result is out of all apparent pro-
portion to the cause. Indeed it may be said that there
is scarcely any limit to the conceivable achievements
of this force in the hands of the Adept Who fully
comprehends its possibilities; for the very building
of the Universe itself was but the result of the vibra-
tions set up by the Spoken Word./89-91

In the last, most interesting part of the book, Lead-
beater explains phenomena such as disintegration, materi-
alization, spirit photographs, reduplication, precipitation,
slate-writing, levitation, spirit lights, handling fire, trans-
mutation or repercussion. I shall end my review here and
let you order and fully read and understand this uncanny
book. The book is not an easy read, but a great treasure for
scientific minds.


What they Are and How they are Caused
London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1903
Kessinger Publishing Reprint Facsimile Edition
(Quoted Edition)

Dreams: What they Are and How they are Caused is a highly useful booklet
that explains why we dream and what the spiritual reasons are for

Now, at a time when science was far from admitting
anything beyond the five senses and when it was firmly
believed that all sensations and emotions were processed
in the brain, and when the luminous body was strictly de-
nied in science, Leadbeater provided clairvoyant scientific
explanations that today we know are true, but that at his
time were considered as pure esoterism. Leadbeater first
introduces in the aura, or the etheric body, explaining of
what it consists and what its function is:


Now this etheric double has often been called the
vehicle of the human life-ether or vital force (called
in Sanskrit prâna), and anyone who has developed
the psychic faculties can see exactly how this is so.
He will see the solar life-principle almost colorless,
though intensely luminous and active, which is con-
stantly poured into earth’s atmosphere by the sun:
he will see how the etheric part of his spleen in the
exercise of its wonderful function absorbs this uni-
versal life, and specializes it into prana, so that it
may be more readily assimilable by his body; how it
then courses all over that body, running along every
nerve-thread in tiny globules of lovely rosy light,
causing the glow of life and health and activity to
penetrate every atom of the etheric double; and how,
when the rose-colored particles have been absorbed,
the superfluous life-ether finally radiates from the
body in every direction as bluish-white light./11

Leadbeater’s assumption that it’s the spleen that col-
lects and refines the human energy field is in accordance
with the teaching of numerous tribal peoples, and it’s also
in alignment with ancient Hermetic Tradition. The author
has a funny way to explain how the transmission of energy
for healing works. Here, we have to bear in mind that at
his time what we today call the quantum field was still
called magnetism or life-ether:

When a finger becomes entirely numbed with cold,
it is incapable of feeling; and the same phenomenon
of insensibility may readily be produced at will by a
mesmerizer, who by a few passes over the arm of his


subject will bring it into a condition in which it may
be pricked with a needle or burnt by a flame of a
candle without the slightest sensation of pain being
experienced. Now why does the subject feel nothing
in either of these two cases? The nerve-threads are
still there, and though in the first case it might be
contended that their action was paralyzed by cold
and by the absence of blood from the vessels, this
certainly cannot be the reason in the second case,
where the arm retains its normal temperature and
the blood circulates as usual./12

Explaining the mechanisms, without having even tack-
led the subject of dreams, the author explains the astral
body, or desire-body, which is well different from the eth-
eric body that he discussed above. The astral body serves
us as a vehicle for the astral plane, the plane we are going
in between lives. But usually we do not stay very long in
the astral plane, and move on to higher planes. For the as-
tral plane, we need the astral body, because it’s the vibra-
tional shell for this density of energies:

The astral vehicle is even more sensitive to external
impressions than the gross and etheric bodies, for it
is itself the seat of all desires and emotions—the
connecting link through which alone the ego can
collect experiences from physical life. It is peculiarly
susceptible to the influence of passing thought-
currents, and when the mind is not actively control-
ling it, it is perpetually receiving these stimuli from
without, and eagerly responding to them./16


It becomes obvious why Leadbeater explained all of
this, while it was really the subject of his book The Inner
Life, to be reviewed below. For those who are not adepts of
theosophy and who have not read that other book, he did
well to introduce these concepts, because otherwise his
explanations about dreams could not really be understood.
The first important fact about dreams that Leadbeater re-
ports is that they are not just ‘imagination’ as psychology
continues to believe, but another level of consciousness,
another realm of existence, with a different, more subtle
vibration, that we enter, using our astral vehicle, more or
less automatically, when we sleep, and only when we sleep
deep enough:

Clairvoyant observation bears abundant testimony
to the fact that when a man falls into deep slumber
the higher principles in their astral vehicle almost
invariably withdraw from the body, and hover in its
immediate neighborhood./24

Now, how does this work? How do we move in
dreams, what propels us to certain places, and how is the
dream plot developed? Leadbeater explains:

If during our waking hours we think of China or
Japan, our thought is at once, as it were, in those
countries; but nevertheless we are perfectly aware
that our physical bodies are exactly where they were
a moment before. In the condition of consciousness
which we are considering, however, there is no dis-
criminating ego to balance the cruder impressions,


and consequently any passing / thought suggesting
China and Japan could image itself only as an actual,
instantaneous transportation to those countries, and
the dreamer would suddenly find himself there, sur-
rounded by as much of the appropriate circumstance
as he happened to be able to remember. It has often
been noted that while startling transitions of this
sort are extremely frequent in dreams, the sleeper
never seems at the time to feel any surprise at their
suddenness. This phenomenon is easily explicable
when examined by the light of such observations as
we are considering, for in the mere consciousness of
the physical brain there is nothing capable of such a
feeling as surprise—it simply perceives the pictures
as they appear before it; it has no power to judge
either of their sequence or their lack of that


It is until today anathema for mechanistic science to con-
sider thought being anything but ‘pictures in your mind’;
and that is why it understands little of the mechanism of
mind. The first thing to learn in holistic science is that
thought is a movement of subtle energy that triggers im-
mediate effects, both for self and others. The fact is only
that most people have a low energy level in their thought
process; this results in little or no effects. But take a master,
a yogi, a saint, and you will see their thought triggers phe-
nomenal effects, either for good or for bad! This is what
magic is all about, after all. A real master only needs to fo-
cus their thought and can trigger any desired effect. With
saints and yogis, it has been reported that their thoughts
can do miracles, such as producing matter instantly, shape-
shift their bodies, levitate the person in the air, or heal oth-
ers virtually as quickly as they think of it. Leadbeater ex-

Students of occultism are well aware that it is indeed
true that thoughts are things, for every thought im-
presses itself upon the plastic elemental essence, and
generates a temporary living entity, the duration of
whose life depends on the energy of the thought-
impulse given to it. We are therefore living in the
midst of an ocean of other men’s thoughts, and
whether we are awake or asleep, these are con-
stantly presenting themselves to the etheric part of
our brain./30


Another daring hypothesis that Leadbeater presents in
this book is that we do not own our thoughts and that ac-
tually many thoughts we have are really not our own be-
cause they are picked up from other people, without our
being conscious of this fact:

The vast majority of people, if they will watch what
they are in the habit of calling their thoughts closely,
will find that they are very largely made up of a cas-
ual stream of this sort —that in truth they are not
their thoughts at all, but simply the cast-off frag-
ments of other people’s./31

Another interesting theme that Leadbeater expands
about in this uncanny booklet is the notion of time in dreams.
In fact, time in dreams is totally different from time in
wake consciousness. In a dream minutes, hours, days,
weeks, months, years and even decades can have passed,
while the subject was dreaming just one second.
Unfortunately Leadbeater does not attempt to explain
why this is so. The reason may be that we are basically be-
yond relativity theory when we are in the astral, as relativ-
ity theory only is valid for matter, not for energy-waves,
and thought is wave-like energy and moves with a speed
that is approximately the speed of the light – which is why
events are dilated in time, just as it would be the case when
astronauts fly in space with a spaceship that can fly close
to, or identical with, the speed of the light. Another subject
that Leadbeater treats is the faculty of prevision in dreams.
Precognition has always given rise to questions of cosmic


determinism versus free will, and Leadbeater voices a clear
credo for human free will, but he adds an important pre-

Man, however, undoubtedly does possess free-will;
and therefore … prevision is possible only to a cer-
tain extent. In the affairs of the average man it is
probably possible to a very large extent, since he has
developed no will of his own worth speaking of, and
is consequently very largely the creature of circum-
stances; his karma places him amid certain sur-
roundings, and their action upon him is so much the
most important factor in his history that his future
course may be foreseen with almost mathematical

Now, let’s compare this with what Leadbeater says
about precognition in the life of a highly developed indi-

But when we come to deal with a developed indi-
vidual—a man with knowledge and will—then
prophecy fails us, for he is no longer the creature of
circumstances, but to a great extent their master.
True, the main events of his life are arranged before-
hand by his past karma; but the way in which he
will allow them to affect him, the method of which
he will deal with them, and perhaps triumph over
them—these are his own, and they cannot be fore-
seen except as probabilities. Such actions of his in
their turn become causes, and thus chains of effects are
produced in his life which were not provided for by the


original arrangement, and therefore, could not have
been foretold with any exactitude./44

The booklet ends already with page 69, and there are
34 esoteric illustrations annexed, one on each page.


The Inner Life
Theosophical Talks at Adyar, Vol. II
Chicago: The Rajput Press, 1911
Kessinger Publishing Reprint Facsimile Edition, 1942
(Quoted Edition)

The Inner Life is a door-opener to all worlds beyond the visible and the
physical. It’s a book that talks about things you perhaps won’t think can
be true if you have not done research about the author.

In fact, the insights of a clairvoyant into the reality of
our universe are so strikingly different from what main-
stream science and school wisdom tells you that you may
doubt this book is written in a scientific intention? But
when you read the first ten pages you will perhaps arrest
your hurried judgment because of the truly scientific style
of the author, a style that is so dry and unpretentious that
it’s not easy to read for non-academic readers. This book
has very little to do with the trials of theosophy. It’s the


meticulously honest account of a psychic who looks be-
yond the fence of ordinary reality and who didn’t really
care about being promoted to ‘popular status.’ Much to the
contrary, Leadbeater fostered a rather elitist philosophy
that I found very healthy by and large, for not all truth is
for all people:

To be psychic means to be able to bring through into
the physical consciousness something of the wider
life; it is therefore / in the condition of the physical
vehicle that there is an inequality between the psy-
chic and the ordinary person, but when the physical
is dropped that inequality no longer exists./4-5

There are many observations in the book that can nei-
ther be verified nor falsified, except you are yourself a
clairvoyant, and not just a clairvoyant but one of the high-
est initiation.

Leadbeater was on level five which means a direct per-
ception of the aura, of the after-life through trance, and vi-
sions of the future without needing to dream, but in the
trance-state or in wake consciousness. It is this level of per-
ception that for example the seer Nostradamus was gifted
with. The trance state is superior to dreaming because it
can be brought about voluntarily by the subject, and it can
be directed.
I think it’s important that you know this before reading
the book, because if you have never done studies in the-
osophy or in esoteric religious teaching (such as Sufism, or
the Cabbala, for example), you may come to think that this

man was an impostor or that he had paranoid delusions.
No, he didn’t have a deficient ego nor was he insane. This
is widely recognized by biographical research, and I have
studied several biographies of him, and also the beneficial
role he played in the life of the young Krishnamurti.
As copyright has expired because of time reasons, I
will be able to publish all my quotes from the book here
without further commenting on them.

To be psychic means to be able to bring through into
the physical consciousness something of the wider
life; it is therefore / in the condition of the physical
vehicle that there is an inequality between the psy-
chic and the ordinary person, but when the physical
is dropped that inequality no longer exists./4-5

All the matter of the astral body is constantly in
rapid motion from one part of it to another, so that it
is quite impossible for any astral particles to be spe-
cialized in the same way as certain nerve-ends are
specialized in the physical body. The senses of the
astral body act not through special organs, but
through every particle of the body, so that with as-
tral sight a man can see equally well with any part of
his body, and can see all around him simultaneously,
instead of only in front of him. (…) It is, however,
perfectly possible for him to materialize a hand
which, though invisible, can be felt just as the ordi-
nary physical hand can be, as may often be observed
at séances./6


If it is complained that … the departed does not see
the physical world exactly as it really is, we must
answer that neither the departed nor we on this
plane every see the physical world as it really is at
all, for we (or most of us) see only the solid and liq-
uid portions thereof, and are altogether blind to the
far vaster gaseous and etheric parts; while the de-
parted does not see the physical matter at all, nor
even the whole astral counterpart of it, but only the
portion of the latter which belongs to the particular
sub-plane upon which he is at the time. The only
man who gets anything like a comprehensive view
of affairs is he who has developed etheric and astral
sight while still alive in the physical body./8

The length of a man’s stay upon any sub-plane de-
pends … on the amount of matter belonging to that
sub-plane he has built into himself during earth-life.

The length of a man’s astral life after he has put off
his physical body depends mainly upon two factors
– the nature of his past physical life, and his attitude
of mind after what we call death. During his earth-
life he is constantly influencing the building of mat-
ter into his astral body. He affects it directly by the
passions, emotions and desires which he allows to
hold sway over him; he affects it indirectly by the
action upon it of his thoughts from above, and of all
the details of his physical life (his continence or his
debauchery, his cleanliness or his uncleanliness, his
food and his drink) from below. If, by persistence in
perversity along any of these lines, he is so stupid as


/ to build for himself a coarse and gross astral vehi-
cle, habituated to responding only to the lower vi-
brations of the plane, he will find himself after death
bound to that plane during the long and slow proc-
ess of that body’s disintegration. On the other hand,
if, by decent and careful living, he gives himself a
vehicle mainly composed of finer material, he will
have very much less post-mortem trouble and dis-
comfort, and his evolution will proceed much more
rapidly and easily./13-14

The ordinary man has little will-power or initiative,
and is very much the creature of the surroundings
which he has made for himself, on the astral plane
as on the physical; but a determined man can always
make the best of his conditions and live his own life


in spite of them. What has, after all, been caused by
his will can gradually be changed by his will, if time
permits. A man does not rid himself of evil tenden-
cies in the astral world any more than he would in
this life, unless he definitely works to that end./17

In the summer-land men surround themselves with
landscapes of their own construction, thought some
avoid that trouble by accepting ready-made the
landscapes which have already been constructed by
others. Men living in the sixth sub-plane, upon the
surface of the earth, find themselves surrounded by
the astral counterparts of physically existing moun-
tains, trees and lakes, and consequently are not un-
der the necessity to manufacturing scenery for
themselves; but men upon the higher subplanes,
who float at some distance above the surface of the
earth, usually provide themselves with whatever
scenery they desire, by the method that I have de-
scribed. The commonest example of this is that they
construct for themselves the weird scenes described
in their various scriptures, and therefore in those
regions we constantly find ourselves in presence of
clumsy and unimaginative attempts to reproduce
such ideas as jewels growing upon trees, and seas of
glass mingled with fire, and creatures which are full
of eyes within, and deities with a hundred heads
and arms to correspond. In this way, as a conse-
quence of ignorance and prejudice during their
physical life, many men do a great deal of valueless
work when they might be employing their time in
the helping of their fellows./19


The dead man is the only absolutely free man, free
to do whatever he wills and to spend his time as he
chooses, free therefore to devote the whole of his
energies to helping his fellows./20

When a man dies, the etheric part of his physical
body is withdrawn from the denser part, and shortly
afterwards (usually within a few hours) the astral
breaks away from the etheric, and the man’s life on
the astral plane is begun./23

The etheric body is only a part of the physical, and is
not in itself a vehicle of consciousness—not a body
in which a man can live and function./24

Here therefore is a possibility of making karma, and
of making it on a scale which is entirely out of his
reach on these lower planes, for every thought on
those higher mental levels has a force quite out of
proportion to that of our limited thought during
physical life./46

There is perfect continuity in the astral life. That life
is in many ways much more real than this, or at least
much nearer to reality, and this physical existence is
only a series of breaks in it during which our activity
is greatly limited and our consciousness but par-
tially operative./58

The astral life is much more vivid and its emotions
are far stronger than any that we know down


We must try to understand that as soon as we leave
the physical body at night we stand side by side
with a departed friend, exactly as we did when he
was with us on the physical plane. One great thing
to remember is the necessity of curbing all sorrow
for the so-called dead, because it cannot but react
upon them./60

The main object of the helper is to calm and encour-
age the sufferer, to induce him to realize that death is
a perfectly natural and usually an easy process, and
in no case a formidable or terrible leap into an un-
known abyss./62

In the mental world one formulates a thought and
without any expression in the form of words. There-
fore on that plane language does not matter in the
least; but helpers working in the astral world, who
have not yet the power to use the mental vehicle,
must depend on the facilities offered by the astral
plane itself. These lie as it were half way between
the thought-transference of the mental world and
the concrete speech of the physical, but it is still nec-
essary to formulate the thought in words./67

When a man functions in the mental vehicle he
leaves the astral body behind him in a condition of
suspended animation, along with the physical./68

There is a special class of devas who respond to mu-
sic and express themselves through it, and some-
times they are willing to teach people to whom mu-
sic is the first and only thing in life./69


The Theosophist will not allow this rearrangement,
because he intends to work, and therefore he must
be free to move through all the sub-planes. We can-
not get rid of elemental essence, but we can subdue
the desire-elemental, draw in the finer types of mat-
ter, and make the ego strong keep the upper / hand.
The essence wants violent emotion, so as to evolve
downwards—which, it must be remembered, is its
proper and legitimate course of evolution. If it knew
of our existence, we should appear to it to be evil
beings and tempters, trying to prevent the evolution
which it knows to be right for it. If we steadfastly
refuse to allow our astral body to vibrate at the rate
peculiar to the coarser matter, that coarser matter
will gradually be discharged from the body, which
will become finer in texture, and the desire-
elemental will be of a less active kind./69-70

At present there is a moment of unconsciousness
between sleeping and waking, and this acts as a veil.
It is caused by the closely-woven web of atomic mat-
ter through which the vibrations have to pass./78

The joy of life on the astral plane is so great that
physical life in comparison with it seems no life at

Astral pleasures are much greater than those of the
physical world, and there is danger of people being
turned aside by them from the path of progress. It is
quite impossible to realize while one is confined in
the physical body the great attractiveness of these
pleasures. But even the delights of the astral life do


not present a serious danger to those who have re-
alised a little of something higher. After death one
should try to pass through the astral levels as speed-
ily as possible, consistently with usefulness, and not
yield to its refined pleasures any more than to the
physical. One must not only overcome physical de-
sire by knowledge of the astral or the heaven-life,
but also go beyond even them, and this not merely
for the sake of the joy of the spiritual life, but in or-
der to replace the fleeting by the everlasting./79

If there are seven dimensions at all, there are seven
dimensions always and everywhere, and it makes
no difference to that fundamental fact in nature
whether the consciousness of any individual hap-
pens to be acting through his physical body, his as-
tral body or his nirvanic vehicle./80

Degrees in the feeling which prompts thought are
expressed by brilliance of colour. In devotional feel-
ing, for example, we may have the three stages of
respect, reverence and worship; in affection we may
have the stages of good-will, friendship and love.
The stronger the thought the larger is the vibration;
the more spiritual and unselfish the thought the
higher is the vibration. The first produces brilliancy,
the second delicacy of colour./90

A thought shows itself as a vibration in the mental
body of man; that vibration is communicated to ex-
ternal matter, and an effect is produced. Thought
therefore is itself a real and definite power; and the


point of vivid interest about it is that everyone of us
possesses this power./98

If a man allows himself to begin to think evil of oth-
ers, it soon becomes easy to think more evil of them
and difficult to think any good of them. Hence arises
a ridiculous prejudice which absolutely blinds the
man to the good points in his neighbours, and
enormously magnifies the evil in them. / Then the
thoughts begin to stir up his emotions; because he
sees only the evil in others he begins to hate them.

We must not excuse ourselves, as so many do, by
saying that undesirable feelings are natural under
certain conditions; we must assert our prerogative as
rulers of this kingdom of our mind and emotions.

We can accustom ourselves to look for the desirable
rather than the undesirable qualities in the people
whom we meet; and it will surprise us to find how
numerous and how important those desirable quali-
ties are. Thus we shall come to like these people in-
stead of disliking them, and there will be at least a
possibility that we may do them something ap-
proaching to justice in our estimate of them./100

A grumbling and fault-finding attitude towards oth-
ers is unfortunately sadly common at the present
day, and those who adopt it never seem to realise the
harm that they are doing. If we study its result scien-
tifically we shall see that the prevalent habit of mali-


cious gossip is nothing short of wicked. It does not
matter whether there is or is not any foundation for
scandal; in either case it cannot but cause harm.
Here we have a number of people fixing their minds
upon some supposed evil quality in another, and
drawing to it the attention of scores of others to
whom such an idea would never otherwise have

Think of your friends by all means, but think of their
good points, not only because that is a much health-
ier occupation for you, but because by doing so you
strengthen them. When you are reluctantly com-
pelled to recognise the presence of some evil / qual-
ity in a friend, take especial care not to think of it,
but think instead of the opposite virtue which you
wish him to develop. If he happen to be parsimoni-
ous or lacking in affection, carefully avoid gossiping
about this defect or even fixing your thought upon
it, because if you do, the vibration which you will
send him will simply make matters worse. Instead
of that, think with all your strength of the quality
which he needs, flood him with the undulations of
generosity and love, for in that way you will really
help your brother./101-102

The man who wishes to do useful work, either for
himself or for others, by means of thought-power,
must conserve his energies; he must be calm and
philosophic; he must consider carefully before he
speaks or acts. But let no one doubt that the power is
a mighty one, that any one who will take the trouble
may learn how to use it, and that by its use each one


of us may make much progress and may do much
good to the world around him. You should under-
stand this power of thought, and the duty of repress-
ing evil, unkind and selfish thoughts. Thoughts will
produce their effect, whether we wish it or not. Each
time you control them it makes control easier. Send-
ing out of thoughts to others is as real as giving
money; and it is a form of charity which is possible
for the poorest of men./103

Make it a practice to set apart a little time each day
which shall be devoted to formulating good
thoughts about other people, and sending them to
them. It is capital practice for you, and it will un-
questionably do good to your patients also./104

There mere impulse has its birth in the astral body,
while the true intuition comes directly from the
higher mental plane, or sometimes even from the

Any sudden idea or vision which comes to you may
be simply the thought-form of some person who is
keenly interested in the subject in hand./107

It is easy to see that when one thinks of something a
little difficult, one may attract the thought of another
person who has studied the same subject, and even
the person himself if he be on the astral plane./108

The etheric double is the vehicle of vitality, the life-
principle, which is perpetually circulating through
our bodies; and when any part of our etheric double


is withdrawn that life-circulation is checked and its
current broken. A terrible drain on vitality is then set
up, and that is why the medium is so often in a state
of collapse after a séance, and also why so many
mediums in the long run become drunkards, having
first taken to stimulants in order to satisfy the dread-
ful craving for support which is caused by this sud-
den loss of strength./120

In cases of materialisation, dense physical matter,
probably chiefly in the form of gases or liquids, is
frequently borrowed from the body of the medium,
who actually decreases temporarily in size and
weight; and when it takes place, naturally that is a
further source of serious disturbance to all the

No one connected with any school of white magic
would think it right to interfere with the etheric
double of any man in order to produce a materialisa-
tion, nor would he disturb his own if she wished to
make himself visible at a distance. He would simply
condense, and build into and around his astral body
a sufficient quantity of the surrounding ether to ma-
terialise it, and hold it in that form by an effort of
will as long as he needed it./121

There is no harm in using will-power to cure dis-
eases, so long as no money or other consideration is
taken for what is done. There are several methods;
the simplest is the pouring in of vitality. Nature will
cure most diseases if the man can be strengthened
and supported while she is left to do her work. This


is especially true of the various nervous diseases
which are so painfully common at the present day.
The rest-cure which is often advised for them, is
quite the best thing that can be suggested, but recov-
ery might often be greatly hastened if vitality were
poured into the patient in addition. Any man who
has surplus vitality may direct it by his will to a par-
ticular person; when he is not doing that, it simply
radiates from him in all directions, flowing out prin-
cipally through the hands. If a man is depleted of
strength so that his spleen does not do its work
properly, the pouring in of specialised vitality is of-
ten of the greatest help to him in keeping the ma-
chinery of the body going until he is able to manu-
facture it for himself./122

One should take care not to be caught or entangled
on the astral plane, as a man easily may be, and that
through his virtues as well as his vices, if he be not
exceedingly cautious. For example, it is possible to
affect others by thought, and thus obtain whatever is
wanted from them, and the temptation of his power
to an ordinary man would be overwhelming. /123

Timothy Leary

Your Brain is God
Berkeley, CA: Ronin Publishing, 2001
Author Copyright, 1988

Your Brain is God by Timothy Leary is an unusual book. When ponder-
ing how to characterize it, it came spontaneously to mind to call it a
Manifesto. I can’t think of another expression for describe the frantic
speed of Leary’s diction, his highly affirmative style, his wit and color-
ful insights, but first of all the communication of his unique worldview
and philosophy.

The book was for years in my bookshelf—untouched.
It fell in my hands just last night, when I wanted to close
this manuscript for publishing. By a chance event I saw a
documentary on Youtube that showed Timothy Leary in
prison, in California, a radiant Leary, not as you would
find inmates ordinarily, as I found them myself in my
years of prisoner care, as part of my work as a lawyer. To
keep one’s mind in high spirits in such circumstances is an
extraordinary, if not heroic, effort, and it shows the true
innocence of the man, psychologist and philosopher whom
Ronald Reagan notoriously had called ‘The Most Danger-
ous Man in America.’
The book is written in the spirit of the 1960s, while it
was actually written in the much more repressive 80s, but
the author had not lost a bit of his lofty spirited style that
distinguished him all his life through from the common
populace of ‘adapted’ citizens.
The book, which I grabbed right away from my book-
shelf, and went through just this morning—it’s just 105
pages with a quite large book font—, reminds me of my
own youth, and the year 1968, the year of the student re-
volt. I was thirteen by then, and it was a time of excitement
for all of us. I will never forget that during that year an is-
sue of BRAVO, a youth magazine in Germany, published a
joyful essay entitled ‘Jugend und Sex ’68’ (Youth and Sex
’68) which retraced the ‘student liberation’ in quite open
terms including photos of nude teenager couples. And we
were wearing our jeans even in school only after lengthy


‘operations’, unique kind of meditations during which we
cut slices in our jeans and shirts, or cut out the knees—
some did it even with parts of their jeans’ bottom … which
when the boy was rather ugly ended up in a rather tragi-
comical outfit, reminding of something in between a street
peddler and Hamlet. Yet, despite this kind of freedom, our
teachers were stressing old-fashioned principles of disci-
pline, an attitude that even more accentuated the tension
between the generations that was so much felt during
these times of revolt versus restoration.

All this would of course be outright impossible these
days. Yet I believe that despite a ‘straighter’ attitude in so-
ciety today, a man like Leary would be considered as
harmless compared to the ‘new social enemies’ such as Jul-
ian Assange or Bradley Manning.
To begin with, the description of the book on Amazon
reads as follows:


This collection of essays, written by the poster boy of
1960s counterculture, describes the psychological
journey Timothy Leary made in the years following
his dismissal from Harvard, as his psychedelic re-
search moved from the scientific to the religious
arena. He discusses the nature of religious experi-
ence and eight crafts of God, including God as he-
donic artist. Leary also examines the Tibetan, Bud-
dhist, and Taoist experiences. In the final chapters,
he explores man as god and LSD as sacrament.

As the book can be ‘looked inside’ on Amazon I spare
to reiterate the titles of the 20 chapters. These are actually 8
Questions, which the author introduces with these very
well written lines:

Religion, being personal and private, cannot pro-
duce answers to the eight basic questions. The phi-
losopher’s role is to ignite the wonder, raise the
burning issues, inspire the pursuit of answers. It is
science that produces the ever-changing, improving
answers to the haunting questions that religious
wonder poses. There are eight questions which any
fair survey of our philosophic history would agree
are most fundamental to our existential condition.

Here are the 8 Crafts (Eight Fundamental Questions):

1) Origins
How, when, where did life come from? How has it


2) Politics
Why do humans fight and compete destructively?
What are the territorial laws that explain conflict?
How can humans live in relative peace and har-
mony? How, when, where, and why do humans dif-
fer (among each other and from other mammalian
species) in aggression, control, cooperation, affilia-

3) Epistemology
How, when, where, and why does the mind emerge
(in the individual and species)? And how, when,
where, and why do humans differ in their ability to
process information, learn, communicate, think,
plan, and manufacture?

4) Ethics
How, when, where, and why do humans differ in
their moral beliefs and rituals? Who decides what is
good and right?

5) Esthetics
How, when, where, and why do human devote their
energies to decoration, hedonism, art, music, enter-
tainment? And how, where, when, and why do they
differ in modes of pleasure?

6) Ontology
How, when, where, and why do humans differ in
the realities they construct and inhabit? How are
realities formed and changed?


7) Teleology
What are the stages and mechanisms of evolution?
Where, when, how, and why has evolution oc-
curred? Chance? Natural selection? Natural elec-
tion? Creation? If life is created and evolution blue-
printed, who did it? Where is life going?

8) Cosmology
How, when, where, and why was matter-energy
formed? What are the basic units and patterns of
matter/energy? What are the basic forces, energies,
and plans that hold the universe together (or don’t)
and determine its evolution. Where are we going?

This list of inquiry is highly interesting and unique. It
reminds of the beginning of a Socratic discourse. In fact,
we know from IQ research that the highest evolved think-
ers stand out not by the intelligent answers they give, but
by the intelligent questions they ask. And here we have
such a smart question catalogue, that in my view would be
an ideal way to start a philosophy class for college stu-
dents. When you ponder these questions a bit, you will see
that they really cover all the essential questions man has
been asking over the course of human history, again and
again. And while the answers constantly changed, and
change, the questions remain. Is it, then, not true that ques-
tions are actually more important answers given that all
answers are temporary while questions, most of them, re-
main valid over time?


It was really in the spirit of Zen, with its Dharmic rule
to fulfill any task ‘With a Beginner’s Mind’ that Leary
wrote out this list. It reminds me a bit of my own questions
as a child and adolescent. In this sense, these questions are
‘seeds’ and are full of potential for each and everyone of us
could and would answer them differently, yet despite
these differences, there would be something like a consen-
sus at the end.
This being said, I am not attempting to paraphrase any
of the content of this highly condensed book that is written
in a perfectly witty style that would contrast with my sim-
ple academia style as a non-native English speaker and
Despite many of the esoteric ideas of the author, the
book is highly readable, and for many a reader can possi-
bly help dispel fears and doubts in the task of self-
expression, because the boldness of Leary’s approach to
life is really refreshing and uplifting!


I will not comment a few quotes I have taken from the

Our political experiences at Harvard also pushed us
in the direction of the religious metaphor. When it
became known on campus that a group of psycholo-
gists was producing revelatory brain-change, we
expected that astronomers and biologists would
come flocking around to learn how to use this new
tool for expanding awareness. But the scientists,
committed to external manipulations, were uninter-
ested. Instead we were flooded by inquiries from the
Divinity School. /3

I find this highly uncanny. Leary, after long hesitation,
and with encouragement by his friend Ram Dass, ap-
proached religion with a scientific mindset—which is, as
we know today, not a bad approach at all. What he calls
‘Do-It-Yourself Theology’ is today embraced by authors
like Thomas Moore who in his latest book A Religion of
One's Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a
Secular World (2014) advocates an approach to religion that
is totally personal and individual, in the sense that religion
is a question of the soul, and doesn’t need organization or
dogma to unfold for us, individually. This is so much the
more compelling as Thomas Moore spend twelve years in
a monastery with all that this implies.

—See my review of Thomas Moore’s previous book Care of the
Soul (1994) further down in this volume


Many of the observations Leary makes, for example as
to our origin as living cells, have in the meantime been
corroborated by and large by systems research.

Sometimes it seems to me that Leary deliberately exag-
gerates or rather amplifies his message, as for example
when he depicts the Mediterranean—which is after all the
cradle of European culture and philosophy— as ‘a bunch
of semi-illiterate Bronze-Age Greeks, Italian and Semites.’
His ‘Psychedelic Prayers’ are very highly original
meditations that are worth reading. Here is the first:

Sheathing the Self
The play of energy endures beyond striving

The play of energy endures beyond body

The play of energy endures beyond life

Out here float timeless beyond striving.

Finally, his famous motto Turn On—Tune In—Drop
Out explained in chapter 18 which is entitled: ‘You are A
God, Act Like One.’ Turn On means to realize that we are
not isolated, separate social egos, but rather transient en-
ergy processes ‘hooked up with the energy dance’ around
us. Tune In means to shape our environment according to
our level of consciousness, in order ‘to harness your inter-


nal energy to the flow around you.’ And Drop Out means
to ‘reflect the grandeur and glory of your vision’:

But this process must be harmonious and graceful.
No abrupt, destructive, rebellious actions, please
start ‘tuning in’ through your body movements.
Walk, talk, eat, drink like a joyous forest-dwelling
god. /87

Despite the exuberant mindset of the author and his
literary skills, the book is not an easy read for its diction is
rather dense. Sometimes Leary says more in one sentence
than other authors convey on an entire page. Here is an
example from the how-to-do Tune In:

Let us consider a sad illumination. The Manhattan
office worker moves through the clutter of factory-
made, anonymous furniture to a plastic, impersonal
kitchen, to breakfast on canned, packaged anony-
mous food-fuel; dresses herself in the anonymous-
city-dweller costume, travels through dark tunnels
of sooty metal and gray concrete to a dark metal
room, foul with polluted air. All day s/he deals with
symbols that have no relevance to hir divine possi-
bilities. This person is surrounded by the dreary,
impersonal, assembly-line, mass-produced, anony-
mous environment of an automated robot, which
perfectly mirrors hir ‘turned-off’ awareness. /86-87

How to better describe, in one single paragraph, the
misery of a society that has lost its soul?! (By the way, s/he
or hir are spellings made up by Leary to convey he’s not


willing to use sexist language, thus forming a mix between
‘he and she’ and between ‘his and her.’
Reading this book in 2014, which was written in the
spirit of an epoch almost 60 years away is a refreshing ex-
perience. It shows that the spirit of social rebel of grand
style has not lost a bit of its originality, not a bit of its juicy
wit, not a bit of its large and intuitive wisdom. I leave this
review with the motto printed in big and bold letters on
the last page of the book:

—Timothy Leary

Alexander Lowen

Books Reviewed
Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life (1970/2004)
The Language of the Body (1958/2003)

Alexander Lowen, M.D. (1910–2008) practiced psycho-
therapy for more than five decades. He published twelve
books on bioenergetic healing, including Love and Orgasm
(1965), The Language of the Body (2006), Depression and the

Body (1992), Love, Sex, and Your Heart (2004), and Narcis-
sism: Denial of the True Self (1983).
Narcissism is perhaps the most well-known book by
Lowen, but that’s precisely the reason I do not review it
here. In my view, the other two books are lesser known but
deserve a review because they are very daring, and very
important for our society, as it is ‘in transformation’ to-
ward a more pleasure-friendly approach, which is—ac-
cording to James W. Prescott and other researchers on the
roots of violence—the conditio sine qua non for a reduction
of violence in our society, and worldwide.

In 1985, I intended to establish an educational project,
putting an end to my law career after finalizing my doc-
torate in international law in Geneva. I wrote to Dr. Lowen
in New York and asked for advice. He replied, and wrote
me answers to all my questions, and regarding this par-
ticular project, he wrote me this: ‘That’s certainly a noble
idea but please keep in mind that every school can only be


as good as the educators who run it.’ This was indeed very
good advice. It dampened a little my excitement, and
within the Krishnamurti circle in which I participated, I
saw that things went wrong precisely because of this sim-
ple fact. We were namely busy with setting up a Krishna-
murti School in Switzerland, a project that failed precisely
because, as Lowen said, the right educators to run and di-
rect this school could not be found—while all the money
had been there, and even in abundance. Lowen was one of
those precious elders who really are our cultural grandfa-
thers in that they preserved a wisdom tradition of old that
knows about the value of sensuality, and the important
implications of guarding the holy custom of sexual inter-
course in its purest of all traditions, as a true form of relig-
ion, because it is a bridge to our inner god and connects us
and grounds us back to the Mother Goddess, Earth, Dust,
Serpent and Eternal Female in us.
Lowen’s late book Fear of Life (2003) is an important
contribution to fighting the cultural neurosis, if not para-
noia in our times of turmoil and change, and root us in a
true and non-narcissistic identity that is based upon func-
tional biogenic vibration, autonomy and self-reliance.


A Creative Approach to Life
Alachua, Fl: Bioenergetic Press, 1970/2004

In Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life, Alexander Lowen (1910-2008)
explains why pleasure is of the utmost importance for a sane and bal-
anced life, and for both mental and physical health and wellbeing.

We are living in another era than Dr. Lowen did. The
control of the state has risen about everywhere in the
world, the principles of pleasure and self-regulation have
largely been abandoned and replaced with a sort of com-
pulsive morality or moralism that interpenetrates today all
of life, and of political life. Hence, the books of the late Dr.


Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Alexander Lowen are the reminders
today for us that the social policies in place, with their
negativistic view of the human being, their tendency to
declare more and more of natural behavior ‘a crime’ and to
sharply control human behavior, together with the prohibi-
tion of psychedelic substances mark a turn in the wrong
direction, away from nature and toward more and more
structural violence and state control.

The media do a large part of the social brainwashing of
the consumer into believing governments and corporations
were more important than the human body; they make
believe the citizen that total consumption without reflec-
tion is the ‘ideal way of life’—while about everywhere in
the world there is conflict, poverty and misery, virtually
around the globe.
Wilhelm Reich’s social predictions were harmless
against what is really going on today, as the rise of fascism
is clearly to be noted everywhere. At the same time, the
denial of the body, the body’s needs, the denial of pleasure,
the denial of intergenerational love, the denial of border-
expanding psychic experiences and a growing general fear-
complex that Lowen called ‘fear of life’ make that people,
especially in the modern world, have become rudely judg-
mental overall when only certain forms of love are con-
cerned or mind opening and deconditioning drugs, and
the like. The truth is that paranoid leaders can only see a
paranoid world, for they are wearing paranoid glasses!


Lowen shows in the present book and actually in all
his books that the pleasure principle really is fundamental
for human sanity and at the same time, for world peace. In
all our modern policymaking, there is a strong turndown
of pleasure to be seen and felt throughout and all about.
Pleasure is condemned when it is not linked to consuming
products; this is of course much more an impact of the
corporate world than it is the will or policy of any of our
political leaders.

The corporate world has obviously little interest in
consumers being self-contained and having their natural
pleasures. People, adults or children, who are content and
satisfied with their sensual and sexual lives are bad con-
sumers! This is the reason why multinational corporations
always agree when governments apply ‘get tough’ poli-
cies, raise state control over the citizen, raise punishments
and criminal fines and instill in the consumer populace
still more fear of life, so that people stop thinking because
of the fear barrier—which is, while it is mass hysteria, the


ideal soil for implementing total consumption without re-

When you read this book, you really feel it is written in
another epoch, a time when there was relatively more free-
dom for the individual for experimenting with the limits and
the borderlines, to look over the fence using psychedelics,
to think about parallel institutions to the traditional family
and to care for the body and its beauty and health. All this
is today relegated to a few ‘naturalist’ fanatics who hold
tight against the monition that we are sooner or later going
to end up with total and global fascism. It is for that reason
a very important book, a must-read for an intellectual to-
day, and for anybody who wants to have a real look at our
social problems and who asks, what’s going wrong and
why is it going wrong? It is an important book for any citi-
zen who dares to ask the question:
—Why, tell me, do our governments seem to suspect us
being criminal virtually from birth? Why do they criminal-
ize more and more behaviors that over the whole course of


human evolution were considered as social and natural?
Why are they building every year larger prisons and even
prison camps that can hold millions of people?

The etiology of fascism was well analyzed by Wilhelm
Reich. The present book is more positive in nature. It is
well-known that Lowen, when he was asked why he
thought Wilhelm Reich had such a bad fate, used to reply:
—Wilhelm Reich had many personal problems …

Hence, he was critical as to Reich’s assumption that
only because he had been a maverick researcher, he was
persecuted, slandered and finally ended up in jail and died
Indeed, Lowen continued Reich’s research very dili-
gently and never faced any problems of the kind Reich was
facing. Lowen was a different character, he was a really
positive person and the present book is written in this
positive and happy tone, and for that reason, if it was only
for that reason, it is easy to read. It is also well structured
and reasoned through. Lowen and Reich have that in
common that both were not only great scientists and doc-
tors but also good writers. Lowen’s diction is easy to read;
he doesn’t bombard the reader with medical vocabulary of
any kind, but writes in a tone that every intelligent reader
can understand, and even for those who may never have
heard of bioenergetics.
This being said, I would like to first just list the titles of
the 11 chapters of the book for this gives already an excel-
lent insight into what can be expected from this master-

piece written by a bioenergetic healer and also a great mas-
ter of his personal life, that was, as he said shortly before
he died a centenary, a happy life throughout.

‣ Chapter 1: The Psychology of Pleasure

‣ Chapter 2: The Pleasure of Being Fully Alive

‣ Chapter 3: The Biology of Pleasure

‣ Chapter 4: Power Versus Pleasure

‣ Chapter 5: The Ego: Self-Expression Versus Egotism

‣ Chapter 6: Truth, Beauty and Grace

‣ Chapter 7: Self-Awareness and Self-Assertion

‣ Chapter 8: The Emotional Responses

‣ Chapter 9: Guilt, Shame and Depression

‣ Chapter 10: The Roots of Pleasure

‣ Chapter 11: A Creative Approach to Life

The notion of power is flawed in our society, and for
the dead simple reason that power is so much abused.
Every sexual abuse is a form of power abuse; all abuse is
but power abuse, but who are those big ‘perpetrators’ who
most abuse of their powers? We all know the answer.

In truth, what has been called ‘worldly power’ is in-
deed often abusive, but the truly moral person knows that
it is but decadence and corruption, the betrayal of the citi-
zen that brings about such power. Genuine morality is
linked to pleasure, not to the prohibitions of pleasure; it is
a morality that is non-compulsive and natural. This moral-


ity is not rooted in the personal ego, but in a space beyond
the ego.
In other words, the real power is the life force that
streams through our bodies and minds, and it is foremost
in pleasure. Indeed, this abusive power mechanism is de-
feated through pleasure and shared pleasure. As long as
pleasure is really shared, there cannot be a power problem,
it’s as simple as that. Lowen writes:

We must realize that we are all, like Dr. Faust, ready
to accept the devil’s inducements. The devil is in
each one of us in the form of an ego that promises
the fulfillment of desire on condition that we become
subservient to its striving to dominate. The domina-
tion of the personality by the ego is a diabolical per-
version of the nature of man. The ego was never in-
tended to be the master of the body, but its loyal and
obedient servant. The body, as opposed to the ego,
desires pleasure, not power. / Bodily pleasure is the
source from which all our good feelings and good
thinking stems. If the bodily pleasure of an individ-
ual is destroyed, he becomes an angry, frustrated
and hateful person. His thinking becomes distorted,
and his creative potential is lost. He develops self-
destructive attitudes. Pleasure is the creative force in
life. It is the only force strong enough to oppose the
potential destructiveness of power. Many people
believe that this role belongs to love. But if love is to
be more than a word, it must rest on the experience
of pleasure. /2-3


The truth is that our leaders consciously lead us astray
so as to easily control us. Body-conscious people are no
good followers, they are not blindly obedient, they do not
believe in conspiracies, and they are not filling the cash
registers of gadget stores because they have their satisfac-
tion from body pleasure, not ersatz pleasure. Hence Lowen’s
idea that honoring the body is the beginning of real wis-
dom is true, for it is shielding us from the corruption and
betrayal we are facing daily in our neofascist world of
global consumerism that feeds at maximum one billion of
the seven billion people now on the globe, letting the oth-
ers starve in misery and die in poverty.
The patriarchal worldview with its credo to ‘control
life’, ‘control relationships’, ‘control human behavior’ fails
at all ends. This is why we are worldwide in this mess to-
day because controlling life doesn’t bring about peaceful
togetherness nor is it in any way intelligent behavior. Na-
ture has instituted self-regulation if only humans were
ready to follow nature, that is, to follow the intelligence of
their bodies and their emotions. If we did this, collectively,
the world would quickly become a better place. But for
this to happen, we need to rebuild the lost trust with na-
ture, as we, as a civilization, have lost that continuum, that
basic trust in nature.
Lowen refers to children and their play as a striking
example how the creative impulse works in the human be-
ing. I had to think of Pablo Picasso when reading this as he


was certainly one of the most creative persons who ever
lived, but also a peaceful man, a lover.

It is widely recognized that in their games and play
children manifest the creative impulse at work in the
human personality. Often a high degree of imagina-
tion is involved in these activities. The ease with
which a child can pretend or make believe indicates
that his world is largely an inner one containing a
rich store of feelings upon which he can draw. Be-
cause he is relatively free from responsibilities and
pressures, his imagination can transform his sur-
roundings into a fairy world that offers unlimited
opportunities for creative self-expression and

Indeed, most children’s inner reality is intact, their fan-
tasy is unbroken and it is from this inner life that true hap-
piness results.
However, our culture has by and large replaced inner
life with outer consumption; it starves us through all the
millions of images it projects in our media, as when one’s
mind is full of images that are not coming from one’s inner
reality, one has lost that inner life. Lowen states:

The denial of inner reality is a form of mental

When we understand that, we see that we are collec-
tively mad in a consumer society; this may bring us back
to focus inside again and on our own body and its needs,


as the point of departure for developing our intrinsic crea-

Pleasure and creativity are dialectically related.
Without pleasure, there can be no creativity. Without
a creative attitude to life, there will be no pleasure.
This dialectic stems from the fact that both are posi-
tive aspects of life. An alive person is sensitive and
creative. /19

When I talk about the ‘schizoid split’, I mean the split
between the mind and the body, or the left and right brain
hemispheres, or in other words, the splitting off of deduc-
tive and inductive logic. While most adults think deduc-
tively, that is, from the mind toward the body, the child
thinks inductively, from the body toward the mind. Lowen

Another simple truth that should be self-evident is
that an individual’s personality is expressed through


his body as much as through his mind. A person
cannot be divided into a mind and a body. Despite
this truth, all studies of personality have concen-
trated on the mind to the relative neglect of the
body. /21

And here is the problem. As long as humans are split
apart in ‘minds’ and ‘bodies’ and have lost their whole-
ness, their feeling level doesn’t work, they are then living
with a starved body and starved emotions, and their emo-
tional balance is out of order. This is why then, these peo-
ple become more and more violent. Here is how this can be
explained in bioenergetic terms:

The two functions that are most important in this
regard are breathing and movement. Both of these
functions are disturbed in every person who has an
emotional conflict by chronic muscular tensions that
are the physical counterpart of the psychological
conflicts. Through these muscular tensions conflicts
become structured in the body. When this happens,
they cannot be resolved until the tensions are re-
leased. To release these muscular tensions one must
feel them as a limitation of self-expression. It is not
enough to be aware of their pain. And most people
are not even aware of that. When a muscular tension
becomes chronic, it is removed from consciousness,
and one loses an awareness of the tension. /22

Feeling is determined by breathing and movement.
An organism feels only that which moves within the
body. For example, when an arm is immobilized for


a time, it becomes numb and without feeling. To re-
capture the feeling its motility must be restored. The
motility of the whole body is reduced when breath-
ing is restricted. Thus, holding the breath is the most
effective way of cutting feeling. This principle works
in reverse, too. Just as strong emotions stimulate and
deepen one’s breathing, the stimulation and deepen-
ing of respiration can evoke strong emotions. /22

Breathing cannot be dissociated from sexuality. Indi-
rectly it provides the energy for a sexual discharge.
The heat of passion is one aspect of the metabolic
fires, of which oxygen is an important element. Since
the metabolic processes provide the energy for all
living functions, the strength of the sexual drive is
ultimately determined by these processes. The depth
of respiration directly determines the quality of the
sexual discharge. Unitary or total breathing, a respi-
ration that involves the whole body, leads to an or-
gasm that includes the whole body. /28

Hence, when the emotional flow is disturbed because
the body is armored and stiff, unable to fully breathe, both
psychosomatic disease and psychopathological behavior
will set in.
This is why the contact with the body and natural
pleasure is so important, for it literally prevents violence as
a ‘negative pleasure function.’ Now, let me continue my
reasoning on the patriarchal quest of ‘controlling life.’ Con-
trol brings about fear, and fear restricts all bodily move-
ments, it restricts freedom, free thinking, and emotional


vibrancy. The natural state is described by Lowen in these

A healthy personality is a vibrant personality. A
healthy body is a pulsating and vibrant body. In the
state of health the body’s vibrations are relatively
fine and steady, like the hum of a smooth running
automobile. When the motor in an automobile goes
dead, we sense it by the absence of vibration. In a
similar way, it can be said that individuals whose
bodies do not vibrate are emotionally dead. /34

It may seem surprising that spontaneity and self-
control are, despite their seeming contradiction, both
facets of natural motility. Self-control implies self-
possession, which is the attribute of a person who is
in touch with his feelings and in command of his
movements. He has self-control because he can
choose how to express himself, since his motility is
not limited or constricted by chronic muscular ten-
sions. He differs thereby from the controlled indi-
vidual, the compulsive personality, whose behavior
is dictated by his tensions, and from the impulsive
individual, whose behavior is a reaction to his ten-
sions. It is a common experience in bioenergetic
therapy that the freer a person becomes in his
movements, the more self-control he gains. /40

Hence, inherent in nature is self-control; when we fol-
low nature, we do not need outside control, we do not
need compulsive morality and endless ‘sex laws’ to behave
socially, without harming others. This is how building


trust in life enhances this natural self-control and restores
pleasure and happiness.
Furthermore, Lowen explains that there is also a rela-
tionship between pleasure and growth, which explains
why youth is closer to pleasure than old age; it’s because
young people have a greater capacity of excitement. He

The secret of pleasure is hidden in the phenomenon
of excitation. A living organism has the inherent ca-
pacity to hold and increase its level of excitation; it
does not change from inertness to responsiveness,
like a machine when its motor is started or the cur-
rent is turned on. There is a continuous excitation in
the living organism which increases or decreases in
response to stimuli proceeding from the environ-
ment. Broadly speaking, an increase of excitation
leads to pleasure, a decrease to boredom and de-
pression. /50

Lumination is also an aspect of excitation in living
organisms. We light up with pleasure, shine with joy,
and glow with ecstasy. /Id.

The lumination of the human body is surrounded by
a ‘force field’ which has been described as an aura or
atmosphere. It has been observed and commented
on by many writers, including Paracelsus, Mesmer,
Kilner, and Reich. My associate, Dr. John C. Pierra-
kos, has made a special study of this phenomenon
for the past fifteen years. This field or aura can be
seen by the naked eye under certain conditions. It is


shown in early Renaissance paintings as a glow
about the heads of saints. /51

The field also pulsates, that is, it appears and disap-
pears at an average rate of fifteen to twenty-five
times per minute under normal conditions. The rate
of pulsation, like the color of the field, is related to
the degree of excitation in the body. When the body
goes into involuntary vibratory movements as a re-
sult of deeper respiration and more feeling, the rate
of pulsation may reach forty or fifty per minute: at
the same time, the width of the field extends farther,
and its color becomes brighter. /51

Hence, the freedom of emotional flow is a bioenergetic
fact as it can be explained by a greater motility and vi-
brancy of the luminous energy field. Hence, when we fol-
low nature and honor our body and our desires, our lumi-
nous energy field will be strong and vibrant, which means
we are in a state of good health and our body provides ex-
cellent immunitary response. But as our society tries to di-
rect us away from our bodies, we live in our egos and are
focused upon satisfying the needs of those blown-up egos,
through domestication and acquisitiveness, through ‘settling
down’ in and switching, as it were, from dialogue to
monologue—with the result that our vibrancy declines.

Since the values of a mass society are success and
power, the person who accepts them becomes a mass
individual and loses his true individuality. He no
longer thinks of himself as a person apart from the


crowd, since his primary interest is to rise above the
crowd. At the same time it is very important to be
accepted by the crowd. He abandons the discrimi-
nating attitude of the true individual in favor of con-
formity. His behavior is oriented away from pleasure
and toward prestige; he becomes a status-seeker and
a social climber. What is worse is that these values
infiltrate his home life. They become the criteria by
which he judges his children, who must measure up
by being both acceptable and outstanding. /73

Power is antithetical to pleasure. It bears the same
relationship to pleasure that the ego does to the


body. Pleasure stems from the free flow of feeling or
energy within the body and between the body and
the environment. Power develops through the
damming and control of energy. This describes the
basic distinction between the pleasure individual
and the power individual. Power develops from
control and operates through control. It has no other
mode of operation. /82

Parents use power to control their children because
they were similarly controlled when they were
young. Having been the objects of power, they are
now determined to exercise power even over their
children, which is the easiest way to exercise power.
The exercise of power seems to restore, in their
minds the idea that they are individuals who have a
right to make demands and express them. /84

I haven’t discussed the whole of the book here as that
would go beyond the limits of a review. One thing is cer-
tain, without the bioenergetic way of thinking, which is the
way nature itself ‘thinks’, we wouldn’t be able to look be-
hind the veil of our cultural distortions and we wouldn’t
understand why we as a society are hyper-violent and be-
come more violent with each and every year. It is that we
turn down pleasure that we bring about violence, and for
no other reason.


The Language of the Body
Physical Dynamics and Character Structure
How the Body Reveals Personality
Alachua, Fl: Bioenergetic Press 1958/2003

It is noteworthy to see that Lowen wrote The Language of the Body before
Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life, the book I discussed earlier. This
present book is way more theoretical. I admit it is also much more diffi-
cult to read. However, for those who are interested in learning the me-
chanics of bioenergetic thinking, this early work of a master healer is a

As Harris Friedman, PhD, writes in the Introduction:

For anyone wanting an in-depth exposure to the
theoretical underpinnings of bioenergetic analysis as


a whole system, this is the book that I would unwa-
veringly recommend as a starting place.

I have admittedly read Reich’s ‘Character Analysis’
already back in the 1970s. Yet there is a difference between
reading Reich’s first attempts to build a characterological
analysis, and this work of one of his best disciples who has
worked that early draft out into a mature methodology.
Here, as in my former review, I will as well shortly outline
the content headers of the chapters, for they let us very
clearly see the broad scope and the very systematic ap-
proach of the author to the topic.


• Development of Analytic Techniques

• Somatic Aspect of Ego Psychology

‣ The Pleasure Principle

‣ The Reality Principle

‣ The Bioenergetic Concept of the Instincts

‣ Bioenergetic Principles in Analytic Therapy

‣ Character Analysis

‣ Character Formation and Structure


• The Oral Character

• The Masochistic Character – 1

• The Masochistic Character – 2


• The Hysterical Character – 1

• The Hysterical Character – 2

• The Phallic-Narcissistic Character

• The Passive-Feminine Character

• The Schizophrenic Character

• The Schizoid Character

It may go without saying that I will not be able to dis-
cuss the present book in the same depth as the former, be-
cause this would be quite impossible to achieve, not only
because I am not myself a trained psychiatrist, but because
most lay readers couldn’t see the linking points between
the different quotes, because of the conceptual barrier. It is
for this reason that I have chosen to discuss here only
PART ONE, Point 5, ‘The Bioenergetic Concept of the In-
stincts’. This is of particular interest as Lowen draws a line
to Freudian psychoanalysis that is very important to ob-
serve. To begin with, Lowen explains:


The impulse itself is an energy movement from the
center of the organism to the surface where it affects
the relationships of the organism to the external
world. This movement of energy from center to pe-
riphery has two purposes or ends. One is related to
the function of charge, such as taking in food, respi-
ration, sexual excitement, etc. The other is related to
the function of energy discharge, the foremost ex-
pression of which is the sexual discharge and repro-
duction. All activities can be classified according to
this simple criterion; that is, whether they fulfill the
function of energy charge or discharge./62

Hence, what Freud and early psychoanalysis called
‘the instincts’ must not be confounded with the zoological
definition of the ‘instinct’ in animals. It is a fallacy that
Freud used the notion of ‘instinct’, while he defined it dif-
But only bioenergetic thinking made it possible that
what Freud wanted to express really became cognizable.

We are here confronting a simple dualism that marks
all life functions, it is charge and discharge, an energy me-
tabolism in the cell plasma. This is how we can cognize the
energy nature of our emotions and find ways to regulate
them sanely, without blocking them or replacing one emo-
tion by another because we find the latter ‘more accept-
able’ than the former.
This metabolism also conveys that life is essentially a
vibration or oscillation where the constant balance of
charge and discharge creates a slightly waving ‘band’ on


an oscillator. Now, to come back at how Freud saw the ‘in-
stincts’ and how he related the sex drive to them, is con-
troversial. Lowen bluntly states:

In … eros, Freud recognized the libido of the sexual
instincts. Originally the concept of libido was re-
stricted to the energy of the sexual instincts directed
toward an object. Freud declared later that the libido
could be withdrawn and turned inward as narcis-
sism. This in no way disproves its original character
as an energy or force. One cannot agree with Freud
when he equates eros with the sexual instinct. One is
a force. The other, as we defined it, is the channel in
which the force moves./67

It seems that popular thinking goes along the same
lines of oversimplifying the concept of erós that originally
meant to be ‘divine love’ in all religions. In other words,
erós is the striving up of man toward the divine, agapé is
the divine responding to man in bestowing love upon


man. This vertical direction or orientation of man is not
just figurative, it is also structural.
Lowen explains in detail in this chapter that the fact
that man walks upright and has thus a ‘vertical’ structure,
contrary to the animal which has a ‘horizontal’ structure,
comes from the fact that in the human, energy processes
have been evolved to a point that a dissociation between
the impulse and the control of the impulse was possible;
while the animal can also control its movements, it cannot
cognize such control, which man does; this is what we call
consciousness, the possibility of self-reflective thinking that is
available only to humans, not to animals.
By the same liberating movement of seeing life as an
energy function, Lowen comes to deny Freud’s idea of a
‘death instinct’— and this is really significant because
Lowen here fully corroborates Reich’s earlier criticism of
Freud’s myth of a death instinct.

The concept of a death instinct is illogical. Since the
world ‘instinct’ implies life, it is as if one said ‘life
equals life plus death’, or A equals A plus B. Death
can be contrasted with life, it is not a part of it. The
animate develops as part of its structure, a frame-
work of inanimate matter which may cause a drag
or inertia on motility. It cannot be designed as a ten-
dency or instinct. Freud assumed the ‘presence of a
sadistic component in the sexual instinct’, which he
felt was a representative of the death instinct. I do
not, however, accept the connotation of sadism as
appropriate to this component. We must distinguish


between sadism and aggression. The lion who kills
for food is aggressive, but not sadistic. The action of
a lynch mob is sadistic. In sadism, the pleasure is
derived from the act of destruction per se. In the
case of the lion, the destruction only makes possible
the pleasure which is derived from the satisfaction
of the hunger need. We can apply / the same dis-
tinction for the sexual act. If the pleasure is derived
from the feeling of domination over or injury of the
woman’s ego, the act has a sadistic element. Where
the pleasure is derived from the experience of com-
munication, both physical and spiritual, which is the
essence of the sexual act, no sadistic quality can be
ascribed to the action. /76-77

Our culture is very much influenced by Freud’s pseu-
doscientific or outright mythical teaching, not by the real
insights of bioenergetics. This is one of many reasons why
the scientific achievements of bioenergy research have not
penetrated so far into our mass media and remain a kind
of hermetic professional knowledge. Lowen’s books tear
down the veil for those who want to know, how few they
may be …

Terence McKenna

Books Reviewed
The Archaic Revival (1992)
Food of the Gods (1993)
The Invisible Landscape (1993)

Terence McKenna (1946-2000) spent twenty-five years
in exploring ‘the ethnopharmacology of spiritual trans-
formation’ and is as a specialist in the ethnomedicine of
the Amazon basin. He is coauthor, with his brother Dennis,
of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I
Ching, and author of the forthcoming Food of the Gods.
—From: The Archaic Revival (Back Cover)

Reviews of The Archaic Revival
Scholar, theoretician, explorer, dreamer, pioneer, fa-
natic, and spellbinder, as well as ontological tailor,
McKenna combines an erudite, if somewhat original,
overview of history with a genuinely visionary ap-
proach to the millennium. The result is a cyclone of
unorthodox ideas capable of lifting almost any brain
out of its cognitive Kansas.
—Tom Robbins, from the Foreword

As wordsmith and logos laser [McKenna] stews his
conceptional imagination in language so potent that
doors open into evolutionary destiny and possible
worlds. A radically innovative natural philosophy is
offered here, one that inspires a new ecology of inner
and outer space.
—Jean Houston, PhD, Director, Foundation for Mind
Research, author of The Possible Human and The Search
for the Beloved

[McKenna's] ideas are rare jewels discovered during
expeditions to the heights and depths of inner space.
(…) The Archaic Revival is flammable to the dry-
brush and deadwood of the intellect. In the twilight


of human history, McKenna’s prescription for salva-
tion is just so crazy it might work.
—Alex Grey, artist, author of Sacred Mirrors: The Vi-
sionary Art of Alex Grey

The three McKenna books I have chosen to review are
jewels both in their quality as literary oeuvres and their
value as testimonies of one of the greatest mind explorers
of our times.


The Archaic Revival
Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality,
UFO’s, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess and the End
of History
San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1992

In The Archaic Revival, McKenna lays the groundwork for something like
a psychedelic culture, a society based on new values.

In the etiology of the group alienation that is so typical
for our culture, the author detects a basic denial of ecstasy.

McKenna’s views are deliberately political in the sense
that he claims nobody can develop a sane mind within an


insane culture, without rejecting that culture in the first

In addition to choosing to repress the strange abili-
ties of the shaman and the psychic potential of con-
tact with the Other, Western tradition has a built-in
bias against self experimentation with hallucino-
gens. One of the consequences of this is that not
enough has been written about the phenomenology
of personal experiences with the visionary hallu-
cinogens. /3

I am a political activist, but I think that the first duty
of a political activist is to become psychedelic. Oth-
erwise you’re not making your moves cognizant of
the entire field of action./13

There is a parallel here with Krishnamurti who had a
similar position with the difference only that he did not
endorse psychedelics. But K is quoted to have said that ‘it
is not a proof of mental health to be well adjusted to a pro-
foundly sick society.’ McKenna sees no way around the
citizen’s perversity than by ‘civilizing’ him or her psyche-
delically, while Krishnamurti sees the way out through to-
tal attention:

So the issue finally comes down to the citizen versus
the self. The citizen is an extremely limited defini-
tion of human potential. The self is a definition of
human potential so broad that it threatens the obli-
gations of the citizen./12


When we give a primacy to the self, the individual, and
hence see society or the group as secondary, we still can
build group values from such a starting point, and we can
build them with ecstasy as a primary value in place. This is
exactly the outcome of my own shamanism research, and I
have found no other author who saw this with an even
remotely similar lucidity as Terence McKenna. He writes:

Shamanism is use of the archaic techniques of ec-
stasy that were developed independent of any relig-
ious philosophy— the empirically validated, experi-
entially operable techniques that produce ecstasy.
Ecstasy is the contemplation of wholeness. That’s
why when you experience ecstasy—when you con-
template wholeness—you come down remade in
terms of the political and social arena because you
have seen the larger picture./13

When we ask what shamanism is we need to focus our
research on the shaman as the central figure. The shaman
is a mind-alterer, a reality-shifter, a magician, and at the
same time, a healer. But he’s an outcast nonetheless, and
this is his crux:

So it is the form of the mind that the shaman works
with: he has a larger view because he is not really in
his culture. (…) The shaman may appear a member
of the culture, but he’s broader, deeper, higher, and
wider than the culture that created him./14

As a culture-founder and ‘psychedelic’ politician,
McKenna asked who or what is going to be supportive of

his quest? He decided that shamanism was part of this
special branch of popular culture he became the spokes-
man of. Then, he discussed why he did not embrace Bud-
dhism as a religion, and his answer is conclusive and
makes sense:

I think of Mahayana Buddhism, the multileveled,
many-inhabited, demon-haunted, Buddha-haunted
realms of peace and joy. The insistence of Mahayana
Buddhism that there is really no center, that every-
thing is a construct of time and space, is the most
sophisticated psychology. But I’m not willing to
climb aboard the Buddhist ethic because Buddhism
says suffering is inevitable. That’s not a psychedelic
point of view./17

I always thought that the Buddha was judging life in-
stead of embracing life, and this is pretty much a cultural bias
in the whole of Indian philosophy. The ‘psychedelic’ sage,
and there is wide agreement here, is definitely not some-
body who judges life, but who embraces life. But
McKenna’s critical stance on religion is more general than

Unfortunately, religion for the past five hundred
years has been a hierarchical pyramid at whose top
were theologians interpreting dogma. This interpre-
tation was handed down through a hierarchy to the
faithful. I think religious hierarchies are very unset-
tled by the idea of direct revelation. Nevertheless,
this phenomenon is certainly thriving in preliterate
cultures all over the world. We discovered in dealing


with this that the only people you could talk to
about it or who seemed to have familiarity with it
were shamans./28

Now, we got shamanism and the spirits of nature in
our cultural soup, and we got no religion besides nature’s
religions, and direct perception as our awareness para-
digm. But what is missing? McKenna puts a unique stress
on language, and the evolution of language through psy-
chedelics, as an essential characteristic of his new, and yet
perennial, cultural paradigm.

And this is certainly part of what the psychedelics
are about: they force the evolution of language. And
no culture, so far as I am aware, has ever consciously
tried to evolve its language with the awareness that
evolving language was evolving reality. (…) The
social consequence of the psychedelic experience is
clear thinking—which trickles down as clear speech.
Empowered speech./21

McKenna’s detractors cunningly argue that his highly
refined use of language was not the result of psychedelics
but of his Irish tradition, and that he was using his obvious
literary talent for making up a cultural pretension, as a matter
of show, and for establishing his particular niche in popu-
lar culture.
It is true that McKenna had the ability to render com-
plex and convoluted speeches with a crystal-clear ‘pre-
meditated’ logic, that, as his voice is rather monotonous,
suggests someone reading from an invisible book in front

of his eyes. I haven’t seen or heard anything comparable in
my life. This being said, it seems obvious that McKenna,
when molding his cultural Pygmalion cannot rely on
proven theories, but proceeds by drafting hypotheses, such
as the following one, that bears however some anthropo-
logical backup:

Anthropologists have commented on the absence of
serious mental disease in many preliterate cultures. I
believe that the mediation of the shaman and
through him the contact to the centering Logos, this
source of information or gnosis, is probably the
cause of this ability to heal or minimize psychologi-
cal disorders./29

The open question is if this ability of the shaman to
seize the ‘Centering Logos’ for healing purposes requires a
culture to be preliterate? The question hits home because
in my unique experience with Ayahuasca in 2004, the plant
intelligence communicated to me that I was more or less
unable to perceiving reality directly, and that this atrophy
had come about through the strong language training I
had received, so that language had become in my life an
obstacle to the real understanding of nature, and nature’s
Thus, my psychedelic experience seems to confirm
McKenna’s view that language is in the way of under-
standing nature when it’s not transformed, modulated psy-
chedelically, and rendered a philosopher’s stone through


the unique alchemy of entheogens impacting, over long
periods of time, on our mindbody chemistry.

And this, in turn, is exactly what McKenna has sum-
marized as the essential in the Archaic Revival. It is his
mind-boggling assumption that only through psychedelics
humankind was able to build civilization, and that origi-
nally entheogens were really laid in our cultural cradle,
and have served over millennia their good purpose, until
exactly the moment when in the 20th century, our paranoid
leaders put them on the index of ‘forbidden plants.’ In his
book Food of the Gods, McKenna lucidly comments on this
prohibition with the words that ‘the notion of illegal plants
is obnoxious and ridiculous in the first place.’ And he
points to the degree of barbarous misinformation and anti-
cultural propaganda that this this cultural denial has
brought us, with the result that civilization, from that mo-
ment, was in a backward trend:

Psilocybin, in the minds of the uninformed public
and in the eyes of the law, is lumped together with
LSD and mescaline, when in fact each of these com-
pounds is a phenomenologically defined universe
unto itself. Psilocybin and DMT invoke the Logos,


although DMT is more intense and more brief in its
action. This means that they work directly on the
language centers, so that an important aspect of the
experience is the interior dialogue./36

Interestingly enough, McKenna shows a parallel of this
20th century anti-psychedelic paranoia with the former
worldview under Christianity that regarded any wisdom
from nature as diabolic and abject, and that destroyed
much of the direct knowledge that ancient civilizations
possessed about life:

The Stropharia cubensis mushroom, if one can be-
lieve what it says in one of its moods, is a symbiote,
and it desires ever deeper symbiosis with the human
species. It achieved symbiosis with human society
early by associating itself with domesticated cattle
and through them human nomads. Like the plants
men and women grew and the animals they hus-
banded, the mushroom was able to inculcate itself
into the human family, so that where human genes
went these other genes would be carried. But the
classic mushroom cults of Mexico were destroyed by
the coming of the Spanish conquest. The Franciscans
assumed they had an absolute monopoly on theo-
phagy, the eating of God; yet in the New World they
came upon people calling a mushroom teonanacatl,
the flesh of the gods; yet in the New World they
came upon people calling a mushroom teonanacatl,
the flesh of the gods. They set to work, and the In-
quisition was able to push the old religion into the
mountains of Oaxaca so that it only survived in a


few villages when Valentina and Gordon Wasson
found it there in the 1950s./40

Our symbiosis with the Other, that unique intelligence
which speaks through psychedelic mushrooms, and that is
accessible through their ritualistic ingestion, McKenna ar-
gues, was cut, as through still another cultural circumci-
sion we were subjected to, on the basis of spiritual domi-
nance taken as religion, and as a matter of power abuse
and tyranny.

Ignorance burned the libraries of the Hellenistic
world at an earlier period and dispersed the ancient
knowledge, shattering the stellar and astronomical
machinery that had been the work of centuries. By
ignorance I mean the Hellenistic-Christian-Judaic
tradition. The inheritors of this tradition built a tri-
umph of mechanism. It was they who later realized
the alchemical dreams of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries—and the twentieth century—with the
transformation of elements and the discovery of
gene transplants. But then, having conquered the
New World and driven its people into cultural
fragmentation and diaspora, they came unexpect-
edly upon the body of Osiris—the condensed body
of Eros—in the mountains of / Mexico where Eros
has retreated at the coming of the Christos. And by
finding the mushroom, they unleashed it./40-41

I have forwarded the point of view, and I am not the
only one, that psychoanalysis was meant to be, from the
start, more than a medical technique, but had, especially in


its Freudian vintage, a strong underlying idea of shaman-
ism to it. The importance of the shaman as an integrative
and sacred figure in a highly technologically alienated cul-
ture such as ours is obvious. McKenna writes:

The tragedy of our cultural situation is that we have
no shamanic tradition. Shamanism is primarily
techniques, not ritual. It is a set of techniques that
have been worked out over millennia that make it
possible, though perhaps not for everyone, to ex-
plore these areas. People of predilection are noticed
and encouraged. In archaic societies where shaman-
ism is a thriving institution, the signs are fairly easy
to recognize: oddness and uniqueness in an individ-
ual. /45

Among aspiring shamans there must be some sign
of inner strength or a hypersensitivity to trance
states. In traveling around the world and dealing
with shamans, I find the distinguishing characteris-
tic is an extraordinary centeredness. Usually the
shaman is an intellectual and is alienated from soci-
ety. A good shaman sees exactly who you are and
says, Ah, here’s somebody to have a conversation
with. The anthropological literature always presents
shamans as embedded in a tradition, but once one
gets to know them they are always very sophisti-
cated about what they are doing. They are the true
phenomenologists of this world; they know plant
chemistry, yet they call these energy fields spirits.


The integrative philosophy that McKenna’s Archaic Re-
vival represents and that we are the inheritors of, after the
passing away of its creator requires us to build relation-
ships between phenomena we don’t usually think of as
McKenna teaches that this synthetic view of the uni-
verse is immensely facilitated through what he calls the
‘mediation’ of the plant teachers:

A voice that gave guidance and revelation to West-
ern civilization has been silent for about seventeen
hundred years. This is the Logos and all ancient phi-
losophers strove to invoke it. For Hellenistic / phi-
losophy it was a voice that told self-evident truth.
With the passing of the Aeon and the death of the
pagan gods, awareness of this phenomenon faded.
However, it is still available through the mediation
of the plant teachers. If we could intelligently exam-
ine dimensions that the psychedelic plants make
available, we could contact the Oversoul and leave
behind this era where dominance hierarchies must
be disciplined by UFOs and messiahs, and where
progress is halted for millennia because culture can-
not advance ethics at the same rate as technology.

In fact, contrary to many who claim their Ayahuasca
experience was but a spectacle of colorful visions, I can tes-
tify as a direct witness of what McKenna writes about the
Logos coming through as an intelligence or plant teacher,
manifesting in the psychedelic state as an immediately pre-


sent telepathic voice and response-giver that teaches a wisdom
not from this earth. And it has taught me a wisdom, not
general, but very much tailored to my own needs, telling
me through direct insight that I needed to give love in-
stead of waiting to receive love from others, and that by
doing so without wavering in my attitude, I could over-
come the pitfall of perception that my overindulgence of
language-related thinking has brought about. From 2004 to
2007, and thus within three consecutive years, I have fun-
damentally changed not only concepts and relationships,
but also my daily life and habits, and there are no more
depressions, no more outbursts of hate and violence, no
more sad remembrances of my terrible childhood, and I
have simply become wiser in all I think and do.
McKenna’s vision of the Archaic Revival targets at the
creation of nothing less but a psychedelic science, while he
localized himself to be an avatar in the creation of that sci-
ence, in similar ways as our technological explorers some
centuries back on the road of technological progress, only
that this progress will not be fragmented, but holistic:

The early approach with psychedelics was the cor-
rect one. This is the notion that intelligent, thought-
ful people should take psychedelics and try and un-
derstand what’s going on. Not groups of prisoners,
not graduate students, but mature, intelligent people
need to share their experiences. It’s too early for a
science. What we need now are the diaries of explor-
ers. We need many diaries of many explorers so we
can begin to get a feeling for the territory./69


And as a parallel movement with the creation of that
psychedelic science that McKenna envisions, he predicts
the ultimate encounter with the Other, whenever on a
timeline of events this may occur:

Eventually this contact will occur. We are now in the
pubescent stage of yearning, of forming an image of
the thing desired. This image of the thing desired
will eventually cause that thing come into being. In
other words, our cultural direction is being touched
by the notion of / alien love, and it comes to us
through the rebirth of the use of plant hallucinogens.
The shamanic vision plants seem to be the carriers of
this pervasive entelechy that speaks and that can
present itself to us in this particular way. (…) The
appetite for this fusion is what is propelling global
culture toward an apocalyptic transformation. (…)
But it could also slip away. We could harden; there
are dominator, hypertechnological futures that we
could sail toward and realize. That would eliminate
this possibility of opening to the Other./73-74

While McKenna seems to see this encounter with the
Other a bit in the way of science fiction novels, as a spec-
tacular one-time event, described by some as the prover-
bial ‘UFO landing on the ground of the White House’, he
acknowledges, what can be called a consensus now, that
this Presence, this Other does not need to come here, be-
cause the eternal present aligns all dimensions as superpo-
sitions, and not in horizontal space. But what is the barrier,
then, between them and us? According to McKenna, it is


language, and it’s by the evolution of language that we are
going to get over the fence and face the Other:

As human history goes forward, we develop the lin-
guistic discrimination to be able to recognize the
extraterrestrials that are already insinuated into the
planetary environment around us, some of which
may have been here millions and millions of years.
In other words, space is not an impermeable barrier
to life; there is slow drift. There is genetic material
that is transferred through space and time over vast

Let me come to the end of this rather extended book
review with a brief discussion of Novelty Theory, and what
McKenna says about it in this book. Timewave Zero or Nov-
elty Theory is a graph-based mathematical construct that
depicts novelty in the universe as an inherent property of
time. The idea was initiated by Terence McKenna in the
1970s and was worked out mathematically by the Swiss
mathematician Peter Meyer. It is a wild and unconfirmed
assumption when Wikipedia assumes that ‘the theory
lacks any credible basis in peer-reviewed science and is
generally dismissed as pseudoscience’. In personal corre-
spondence with Meyer, I was informed that the theory ba-
sically is to be explained with the fractal nature of time;
when novelty is graphed over time, a fractal waveform
known as Timewave Zero results. The graph shows at what
times novelty is increasing or decreasing. Now, this is what
McKenna comments on the theory in the present book:


What is happening to our world is ingression of
novelty toward what Whitehead called concres-
cence, a tightening gyre. Everything is flowing to-
gether. The autopoietic lapis, the alchemical stone at
the end of time, coalesces when everything flows
together. When the laws of physics are obviated, the
universe disappears, and what is left is the tightly
bound plenum, the monad, able to express itself for
itself, rather than only able to cast a shadow into
physis as its reflection. I come very close here to
classical millenarian and apocalyptic thought in my
view of the rate at which change is accelerating.
From the way the gyre is tightening, I predict that
concrescence will occur soon—around 2012 A.D. It
will be the entry of our species into hyperspace, but
it will appear to be the end of physical laws accom-
panied by the release of the mind into the

Novelty, then, is put forward as a primary term nec-
essary to a description of any temporal system much
in the way that spin, velocity, and angular momen-
tum are primary terms necessary to the description
of any physical system. Synonyms for novelty are
degree of connectedness or complexity. /109


Food of the Gods
The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge:
A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishers, 1993

Food of the Gods of perhaps the best book Terence McKenna has written,
and I have read it with an enthusiastic participation that I have rarely
experienced in my literary life. It was as if I was co-authoring the book
while reading it.

And this book is much more coherent than The Archaic
Revival, and much less esoteric than The Invisible Land-
scape—the book I shall review next. In fact, it treats a very
important subject that is rather obfuscated in modern
times: food. When I say obfuscated I really mean that most


modern city dwellers have developed no consciousness of
what they ingest on a daily basis; they are just gnawing
away their very juice of life, with all the toxics that modern
processed food contains. While in ancient times food was
medicine. You still have this philosophy in the Chinese food
tradition where there are many dishes, for example a
whole array of mushroom dishes, that originally were con-
cocted for medical purposes but that today we eat just for
enriching our daily diet. There is one rather esoteric dish
among them, that is called the ‘black chicken.’
The interesting thing about this dish is that while you
can buy these small black chickens in any supermarket in
Asia, the other ingredients you best don’t buy there, but in
a Chinese medical pharmacy. They will open a number of
little drawers for you and put on a sheet of paper a curious
composition of mushrooms, herbs, spices and dried plums
that you take home for a few cents.
Now, you brew this with water, and just put some salt.
You cannot imagine what this dish can do! It cures any
cold, influenza or cough—guaranteed! The taste is exotic, it
really tastes like medicine, and the red meat of this little
black chicken really has a good taste. This is the way to
enjoy life as the ancients did: you eat what you like, but
you eat medicine at the same time.
McKenna’s mind was incredibly lucid for unveiling the
machinations of our negative oversoul, and I wonder if any
of his predictions are understood by a larger number of
people, other than the eternal adolescent-minded and


hopelessly narcissistic baby boomers that surrounded him
like a plague all through his life, and that surely will not
have the necessary strength to assume his heritage. He

Our culture, self-toxified by the poisonous by-
products of technology and egocentric ideology, is
the unhappy inheritor of the dominator attitude that
alteration of consciousness by the use of plants or
substances is somehow wrong, onanistic, and per-
versely antisocial. I will argue that suppression of
shamanic gnosis, with its reliance and insistence on
ecstatic dissolution of the ego, has robbed us of life’s
meaning and made us enemies of the planet, of our-
selves, and our grandchildren. We are killing the
planet in order to keep intact the wrongheaded as-
sumptions of the ego-dominator cultural style. It is
time for change./xxi

Food and mind do interact: this is the essential mes-
sage of this book. And there is one more link to it. Food
acts on sexuality, and sexuality acts in turn on the mind.
This is not an insight unique to McKenna’s food research
but many studies have shown that alcohol abuse has a par-
ticular effect on sexuality in that it renders the sexual appe-
tite more violent, more sadistic, or else leads to impotence.
McKenna speaks of an ‘alcohol culture’ and a little later he
also speaks of a ‘coffee culture’ so as to characterize, in
terms of food, our patriarchal tradition:


Dominator style hatred of women, general sexual
ambivalence and anxiety, and alcohol culture con-
spired to create the peculiarly neurotic approach to
sexuality that characterizes European civilization.
Gone are the boundary-dissolving hallucinogenic
orgies that diminished the ego of the individual and
reasserted the values of the extended family and the

On the other hand, the current demonization of the
harmless hallucinogenic Cannabis will in the author’s
opinion cause us a particularly heavy price to pay for the
surrender to dominator values in that it will bring about
the deterioration of the individual self, and selfhood:

Of all the pandemic plant intoxicants inhabiting the
earth, cannabis is second only to mushrooms in its
promotion of the social values and sensory ratios
that typified the original partnership societies. How
else are we to explain the unrelenting persecution of
cannabis use in the face of overwhelming evidence
that, of all the intoxicants ever used, cannabis is


among the most benign. Its social consequences are
negligible compared with those of alcohol. Cannabis
is anathema to the dominator culture because it
deconditions or decouples users from accepted val-
ues. Because of its subliminally psychedelic effect,
cannabis, when pursued as a lifestyle, places a per-
son in intuitive contact with less goal-oriented and
less competitive behavior patterns. For these reasons
marijuana is unwelcome in the modern office envi-
ronment, while a drug such as coffee, which rein-
forces the values of industrial culture, is both wel-
comed and encouraged. Cannabis use is correctly
sensed as heretical and deeply disloyal to the values
of male dominance and stratified hierarchy. Legali-
zation of marijuana is thus a complex issue, since it
involves legitimating a social factor that might ame-
liorate or even modify ego-dominant values. Legali-
zation and taxation of cannabis would provide a tax
base that could help clean up the national deficit.
Instead, we continue to hurl millions of dollars into
marijuana eradication, a policy that creates suspi-
cion and a permanent criminal class in communities
that are otherwise among the most law abiding in
the country./155

At the same time, with the suppression of Cannabis, a
most harmful and toxic food rises: sugar. McKenna writes:

Let us be absolutely clear, sugar is entirely unneces-
sary to the human diet; before the arrival of indus-
trial cane and beet sugar humanity managed well
enough without refined sugar, which is nearly pure
sucrose. Sugar contributes nothing that cannot be


gotten from some other, easily avail able source. It is
a ‘kick’, nothing more. Yet for this kick the domina-
tor culture of Europe was willing to betray the ideals
of the Enlightenment by its collusion with slave
traders. In 1800 virtually every ton of sugar im-
ported into England had been produced with slave
labor. The ability of the ego-dominator culture to
suppress these realities is astonishing./178

I know that most people are unaware of the dangers of
modern-day sugar ingestion, and gradually destroy the
health of their children with this peak form of ignorance
that is promoted and encouraged by all governments in
the world. McKenna unveils the cunning trick that led to a
total inattention to sugar as a really harmful drug:

Sugar is culturally defined by us as a food. This
definition denies that sugar can act as a highly ad-
dictive drug, yet the evidence is all around us. Many
children and compulsive eaters live in a motiva-
tional environment primarily ruled by mood swings
resulting from cravings for sugar./180

Then, eventually, we talk about tobacco and the myth
of its cancerogenous nature that not only McKenna has
unveiled in the meantime, but also a number of other re-

The tobacco of the Classical Maya was Nicotiana
rustica, which is still in use among aboriginal popu-
lations in South America today. This species is much
more potent, chemically complex, and potentially


hallucinogenic than the commercial grades of Nico-
tiana tabacum available today. The difference be-
tween this tobacco and cigarette tobacco is pro-
found. This wild tobacco was cured and rolled into
cigars which were smoked. The / trancelike state
that followed, partially synergized by the presence
of compounds that included MAO inhibitors, was
central to the shamanism of the Maya. Recently in-
troduced antidepressants of the MAO inhibitor type
are distant synthetic relatives to these natural com-
pounds. /196-197

Opium addiction was once the price paid for the pro-
hibition of tobacco, as addiction to gasoline has been seen
to be one of the consequences of alcohol prohibitions both
in 1930s America and in Iran under the reign of Ayatollah
Khomeini. As a general rule, you can observe in life that
every denial brings about worse a condition compared to
the original desire that was denied to manifest. Only that
our decision-makers have so far not fully understood this
law of the psyche. McKenna writes:

It was the prohibition of tobacco smoking in China
by the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1628-1644)
that led frustrated tobacco addicts to experiment
with smoking opium. Before that time the smoking
of opium was not known. Thus it is that the sup-
pression of one drug seems inevitably to lead to in-
volvement with another. /201

So much depends on how we define food, or not define
it as food! Psychedelics were originally defined as food,


and no one had a problem with them. And the suppression
of culture and the suppression of food go hand in hand, as
McKenna lucidly demonstrates:

Psychedelic plants and experience were first sup-
pressed by European civilization, then ignored and
forgotten. The fourth century witnessed the sup-
pression of the mystery religions—the cults of Bac-
chus and Diana, of Attis and Cybele. The rich syn-
cretism that was typical of the Hellenistic world had
become a thing of the past. Christianity triumphed
over the Gnostic sects—Valentinians, Marcionites,
and others—which were the last bastions of pagan-
ism. These repressive episodes in the evolution of
Western thought effectively close the door on com-
munication with the Gaian mind./223

I would like to close this book review with a reproduc-
tion of McKenna’s unique law draft, which he entitled ‘A
Modest Proposal’, and hope that the publisher will allow
me to share this information here, which is surely not des-
tined to preclude any book sales, and in the contrary en-
courage the reader to buy the book:

A drug policy of democratic values would aim to
educate people to make informed choices based on
their own needs and ideals. Such a simple prescrip-
tion is necessary and sadly overdue. / A master plan
for seriously seeking to come to terms with Amer-
ica’s drug problems might explore a number of op-
tions, including the following.


1. A 200 percent federal tax should be imposed on
tobacco and alcohol. All government subsidies for
tobacco production should be ended. Warnings on
packaging should be strengthened. A 20 percent fed-
eral sales tax should be levied on sugar and sugar
substitutes, and all supports for sugar production
should be ended. Sugar packages should also carry
warnings, and sugar should be a mandatory topic in
school nutrition curricula.

2. All forms of cannabis should be legalized and a
200 percent federal sales tax imposed on cannabis
products. Information as to the THC content of the
product and current conclusions regarding its im-
pact on health should be printed on the packaging.

3. International Monetary Fund and World Bank
lending should be withdrawn from countries that
produce hard drugs. Only international inspection
and certification that a country is in compliance
would restore loan eligibility.

4. Strict gun control must apply to both manufacture
and possession. It is the unrestricted availability of


firearms that has made violent crime and the drug
abuse problem so intertwined.

5. The legality of nature must be recognized, so that
all plants are legal to grow and possess.

6. Psychedelic therapy should be made legal and
insurance coverage extended to include it.

7. Currency and banking regulations need to be
strengthened. Presently bank collusion with criminal
cartels allows large-scale money laundering to take

8. There is an immediate need for massive support
for scientific research into all aspects of substance
use and abuse and an equally massive commitment
to public education.

9. One year after implementation of the above, all
drugs still illegal in the United States should be de-
criminalized. The middleman is eliminated, the gov-
ernment can sell drugs at cost plus 200 percent, and
those monies can be placed in a special fund to pay
the social, medical, and educational costs of the le-
galization program. Money from taxes on alcohol,
tobacco, sugar, and cannabis can also be placed in
this fund.

10. Also following this one-year period, pardons
should be given to all offenders in drug cases that


did not involve firearms or felonious assault. /269-


The Invisible Landscape
Mind Hallucinogens and the I Ching
New York: HarperCollins, 1993

The Invisible Landscape is the most esoteric of the three McKenna books
reviewed here. Many of the topics he treats in his other books, he treats
here as well, but he presents them under a slightly different light, or in
more subtle language.

His standard theme psychedelics, for example, assumes
a new dimension, together with his regard upon science:

Psychedelic drugs have always been and remain the
most useful molecular probes available to science for
exploring the relationship between the subjective


experience of mind and neurobiological processes.
/Preface XIX

Despite its pretensions to objectivity, science, like
any other human institution, places a certain vested
interest in its own self-preservation; thus it is likely
to be less than enthusiastic, if not openly hostile,
toward any investigative strategy that could poten-
tially call its most basic assumptions in question.

I have pointed out in my review of McKenna’s Archaic
Revival that he envisioned a future ‘psychedelic’ science
which I believe will be a holistic science that uses the psy-
chedelic experience for the progress and true spiritual evo-
lution of the human. Presently, he adds on another element
to this broad vision, which is exactly what I call the holistic
direction this science will be going to take:

It may be that the psychedelic experience cannot be
understood using only the reductionist models of
science, and that only by a conscious unification of
the reductionist, analytical methods of science with
the holistic, nonanalytical approach of the shaman
can we hope to understand, appreciate, and apply
the lessons learned from such experiences./Id.

The next element in McKenna’s vision would be the
application of psychedelics to healing. The idea of psycho-
analysis being a potential adaptation of shamanism to
modern society is not new, and it does not originate from
McKenna. It has been voiced by Freud rather early in its

creational process of psychoanalysis, and by other psycho-
analysts of the closer Freudian circle.
But McKenna smartly fits the idea into his holistic vi-
sion of an ‘enlightenment’ of modern culture through
shamanism, at some point in the future. He points out:

One area of modern life that does not appear to be
shamanic, but that might profitably model itself af-
ter shamanism, is psychoanalysis. A modern soul
doctor might well achieve better results if he or she
could model therapy after a psychopompic journey
through the collective unconscious. The exact tech-
niques would, of course, have to be adapted to mod-
ern patients, but where the unconscious is con-
cerned, all people are primitive. One approach to
such a shamanic psychoanalysis could be through
the controlled and judicious use of psychotropic
drugs; knowledge of both promises and dangers of
such agents has increased tremendously in recent
years, as has understanding of the role they play in
shamanism. A combination of knowledge and wis-
dom in applying their properties could very well
give an effective and harmless technique of ecstasy
that could be usefully employed in psychoanalysis.

But not only for healing will this science be made fruit-
ful; according to McKenna it shall also have a different sys-
temic approach to the observation of nature:

Perhaps we have arrived, then, at a point where we
can suggest a basic reformulation of the metaphysi-


cal basis of science. This suggestion is,   first, that
science consider the event as the ultimate unit of
natural occurrence, and second, that in seeking to
analyse the component elements of an event, it
should look for primary organisms rather than ma-
terial parts. For there is in nature virtually nothing
that exhibits the classical attributes of a material;
nature is a process of processes, and processes
within processes. Accordingly, the analysis of nature
should concern itself with the analysis / of aggre-
gate processes into primary processes. Biology is
concerned with the larger processes that are organ-
isms, whereas physics concerns the smaller proc-
esses, which are likewise organisms, in that they ex-
perience a reference to things past, immediate, and
future. For the primary organisms, we observe this
relation as a factor in its external aspects; for our-
selves, we observe it as an element of our psycho-
logical field of awareness. But if we experience, in
experiencing ourselves as process, our essential re-
latedness to other processes in other times and
places, are we justified in denying this experience to
other, primary organisms?/39-40

To stay with the subject of science philosophy, McKenna
has given in this book an important contribution to the
present discussion of what has been called the Holographic
Universe (Talbot), the Conscious Universe (Radin) or the Un-
folding Universe (Bohm).
The holographic theory is only one of many ‘puzzles’
that are concisely presented and commented by Ervin
Laszlo in his study Science and the Akashic Field (2005)


which I have reviewed in The New Paradigm in Science and
Systems Theory (2014). I myself think that there are many
natural phenomena that are best explained when we grasp
the notion of hologram-like coding in nature.

The unformed archetypes of the collective uncon-
scious may be the holographic substrate of the spe-
cies’ mind. Each individual and mind-brain is then
like a fragment of the total hologram; but, in accor-
dance with holographic principles, each fragment
contains the whole. It will be remembered that each
part of a hologram can reconstruct an entire image,
but that the details of the image will deteriorate in
proportion to its fragmentation, while the overstruc-
ture will remain. Out of this feature of holography
arises the quality of individual point of view and, in
fact, individuality itself. If each mind is a holo-
graphic medium, then each is contiguous with every
other, because of the ubiquitous distribution of in-
formation in a hologram. Each individual mind
would thus be a representation of the ‘essence’ of
reality, but the details could not be resolved until the
fragments of the collective hologram were joined.

Confronted with certain holographic qualities as a
feature of both mind and brain, it seems reasonable
to ask whether holographic principles are found on
other levels of organization. We can find this most
apparently in the organismic realm, in the fact of the
ubiquity and redundancy of DNA. We refer to the
fact that DNA seems to store information holo-
graphically, in that the nucleotide sequence of the


molecule is identical in every cell of a given organ-
ism. The DNA from one cell theoretically contains all
the information necessary to regenerate the entire

Ralph Metzner (Ed.)

Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature
New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999

Ayahuasca is a fascinating reader presenting personal experiences with
the sacred Ayahuasca brew, and it’s a most valuable resource for both
researchers and those interested in a spiritual voyage.

In addition to this invaluable source material, the in-
troduction and comments by the editor of the book, Ralph
Metzner, a widely acclaimed authority on shamanism and
entheogens, are precious and well-written.
The book throughout is very readable; there is no eth-
nobotanic gibberish, and the editor has mastered the task
to unite different energies into a powerful laser.
I had an immense interest and pleasure reading this
book, and it captivated me page after page. It is an abso-
lute must-have in a personal growth library, in a spiritual
library, in a library about tribal peoples, in an ethnobotanic
library, and in a specialized library about shamanism.
Ralph Metzner writes in the introduction:

Ayahuasca is widely recognized by anthropologists
as being probably the most powerful and most
widespread shamanic hallucinogen. In the tribal so-
cieties where these plants and plant preparations are
used, they are regarded as embodiments of con-
scious intelligent beings that only become visible in
special states of consciousness, and who can func-
tion as spiritual teachers and sources of healing
power and knowledge (...) The plants are referred to
as medicines, a term that means more than a drug:
something like a healing power or energy that can
be associated with a plant, a person, an animal, even
a place. They are also referred to as plant teachers
and there are still extant traditions of many-years-
long initiations and trainings in the use of these


Some people, and among them many skeptics, ask why
one who is not part of such a culture and who is not an
ethnobotanist should have an interest in engaging in a
plant-induced spiritual quest? Ralph Metzner gives a clear

A powerful resurgence of respectful and reverential
attitudes toward the living Earth and all its creatures
seems to be a natural consequence of explorations
with visionary plant teachers./4

Terence McKenna emphasized in all his books another
important aspect of psychedelics: their boundary-dissolving
nature. Patriarchy is unique in human history in its obses-
sional and neurotic striving for setting boundaries, putting
up limits, erecting fences, dividing naturally grown land-
scapes, dissecting bodies for ‘vivisection,’ splitting the
atom, dividing life and nature into ‘white-god’ and ‘black-
devil,’ and so on and so forth. We won’t get rid of our pa-
triarchal tradition by a magic stroke of destiny nor by re-
bellion. The way to go is to overcome the boundaries and
gain access to the whole.

With erecting a divider between man and nature, our
culture has developed a schizoid and delusional fantasy of
man being ‘superior’ in creation, having ‘dominion’ over
nature, obviously forgetting that we own our very exis-
tence to this nature that we tend to condemn as low and
unspiritual. In the run of patriarchy, and thus since the last
five thousand years, the really destructive and life-denying


ideology was not coming from Sumer, Babylon or Rome,
but from the suffocating ethics of puritanical fundamental-
ism. This cultural perversion lasted a few hundred years,
and perhaps we are now at a turning point? Metzner notes:

Over the past two millennia Western civilization has
increasingly developed patterns of domination
based on the assumption of human superiority. The
dominator pattern has involved the gradual desac-
ralization, objectification and exploitation of all non-
human nature./5

And by doing so, to paraphrase Thomas Moore’s Care
of the Soul (1994)—which I am going to review next, we
have created a cultural narcissism without equal in human
history. For the scientist and explorer of consciousness,
there are other values connected with the quest of getting
back in touch with the spirits of nature. Metzner notes:

As a result of the conflict between the Christian
church and the new experimental science of New-
ton, Galileo, Descartes, and others, a dualistic
worldview was created. On the one hand was sci-
ence, which confined itself to material objects and
measurable forces. Anything having to do with pur-
pose, value, morality, subjectivity, psyche, or spirit,
was the domain of religion, and science stayed out
of it. Inner experiences, subtle perceptions and spiri-
tual values were not considered amenable to scien-
tific study and came therefore to be regarded as infe-
rior forms of reality—merely subjective as we say.
This encouraged a purely mechanistic and myopi-


cally detached attitude towards the natural world.
Perception of and communication with the spiritual
essences and intelligences inherent in nature have
regularly been regarded with suspicion, or ridiculed
as misguided enthusiasm or mysticism./6

Now, as to the question of how plant-derived psyche-
delics work and what they do to human consciousness,
Ralph Metzner summarizes some of the current theories or

Two analogies or metaphors for the drug experience
have been repeatedly used by writers both in the
psycholytic and psychedelic paradigms. One is the
amplifier analogy, according to which the drug func-
tions as a nonspecific amplifier of psychic contents.
The amplification may occur in part as a result of a
lowering of sensory thresholds, an opening of the
doors of perception, and may in part be due to as yet
not understood central processes involving one or
more neurotransmitters. The other analogy is the
microscope metaphor: it has repeatedly been said
that psychedelics could play the same role in psy-
chology as the microscope does in biology— open-
ing up realms and processes of the human mind to
direct, repeatable, verifiable observation that have
hitherto been largely hidden or inaccessible. Both
amplifier and microscope are technological meta-
phors for expanded perception and divination—the
ability to see and hear more vividly, to see into other,
normally invisible worlds or dimensions, and to ob-
tain otherwise hidden knowledge./24-25


One aspect that ethnology may have overlooked in
shamanic cultures is their real—and not just fantas-
matic—knowledge about healing with plants, a knowledge
so vast, and so deep that, without having any technologi-
cal instruments of inquiry at their disposition, seemed a
sheer impossibility to many researchers.
As a result, many of them brushed this knowledge off
as nonsense, exaggeration or myth. Now, modern research
has shown that all is real, but at the same time researchers
became even more strongly aware of the impossibility of it.
The only hypothesis that could explain it was the one ac-
tually forwarded by the natives themselves: that they re-
ceive their knowledge directly from the plant teachers,
without using any further instruments or tools, while be-
ing in psychedelic trance. Metzner notes:

Some of the indigenous healers and herbalists are
veritable walking encyclopedias of medicinal bo-
tanical knowledge. They may have direct personal
knowledge of hundreds, even thousands of plants,
and what illnesses or conditions they can be used to
cure; this knowledge was not acquired by literate
means, but by direct experience./29

For all their demonstrated knowledge of herbs and
medicine, the ayahuasqueros are unanimous in their
assertion that the knowledge is given to them by the
spirits of the plants, the forest, or the animals. Like-
wise, the healing is done, not so much by the plant
drug, but by the spirit or essence invoked by the
healer, via the use of the plant teacher, and ex-


pressed in the songs. With this belief, which is com-
pletely at variance with the accepted medical model
focused on isolating and purifying the molecular
compound, they would agree with Samuel Hahne-
mann, the great eighteenth-century German physi-
cian who founded homeopathy. In this medical sys-
tem, the plant drug extracts are repeatedly diluted to
such a degree that often not a single molecule of the
original substance is left. In addition they are shaken
or vibrated, a process referred to as succussion.
Hahnemann said that through the repeated dilutions
and succussions the spirit or essence of the plant
was entirely released, or liberated, from the plant
substance, and was thus able to act on the spiritual
or essence of the patient. In this recognition of the
spiritual essences inherent in plant medicines and
their healing virtue, the homeopaths and the sha-
manic healers are in accord. It is also, I would add,
the underlying assumption and understanding that I
and my colleagues and collaborators have come to
and that is represented, explicitly or implicitly, in the
accounts in this book./32

I will come to an end with my review and refer the
reader to a few quotes from the contributions to the reader
that I publish below. I hope that this review and the further
quotes will convince you of the usefulness of this well-
edited book and make it a part of your library.

Adamson, Raoul
C., Stefan


D., Raimundo
G., Eugenia
Callaway, J.C.
Grob, Charles S.
H., Wahtola
L., Abraham
Lovetree, I.M.
McKenna, Dennis J.
Metzner, Ralph
S., Kate
S., Renata
T., Oregon

Raoul Adamson
Initiation into an Ancient Lineage of Visionary Heal-
ers, in: Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the Spir-
its of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press,
1999, pp. 46-57

I become aware of a morphic resonance between
serpent and intestines: the form of the snake is more
or less a long intestinal tract, with a head and a tail
end; and conversely, our gut is serpentine, with its
twists and turns and its peristaltic movement. So the
serpent, winding its way through my intestinal tract
was ‘teaching’ my intestines how to be more power-
ful and effective—certainly a gut-level experience!/

The visionary warrior is not just passively taking in
the visions, as we do when watching a film or televi-
sion, or during most dreaming. The warrior is ac-


tively looking at them, observing the details,
searching for the meaning behind the appearances.
(…) Painful or traumatic experiences are often in-
complete, sometimes because they are powerful
prohibitions on the third phase of communicating.
Healing or recovery from trauma involves telling the
story, so that it is shared, believed and recognized.

I had known that songs could heal before, but what
was new to my understanding here was that they
could also function in a protective manner against
toxic emotional negativity./54

Stefan C.
Having So Recently Experienced My Death, It felt
Miraculous To Be Alive, in: Ayahuasca, Human Con-
sciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New York: Thun-
der’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 64-70

As a physician, I commonly use and prescribe medi-
cation. Until this experience of ayahuasca, I had
never experienced what a true medicine might be. It
is a terrible shame that we are unable to share the
secrets and powers of this medicine with the suffer-
ing people who come to us for help. I would like to
believe, however, that a strategy could be imple-
mented for the future which could facilitate such
intervention. If our society is unable to incorporate
such a change, however, it will be sad world


Conveying that the collective Gaia-nature of this
planet cannot much longer sustain its health and
vitality in the face of escalating environmental de-
struction perpetrated by a world culture dominated
by greed and aggression, the essence of this ayahua-
sca inspired communication was to wake up before
it is too late and mobilize what forces are necessary
to prevent the annihilation of nature and the oblit-
eration of the life forces it nurtures./69

Knowledge and information, contained in the core
of the experience, has swept through me. I have
been catapulted to a domain of being other than my
self, more akin to the True Self. I have stood hum-
bled in the face of its immense otherworldly power,
and have dissolved in the embrace of life-affirming
ecstasy. These encounters have provided a learning
experience of extraordinary depth and profundity.

Raimundo D.
The Great Serpentine Dance of Life, in: Ayahuasca,
Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New
York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 129-131

The plumed serpent is masculine, involves outer
impression and show of power; the unplumbed ser-
pent is feminine, involving inner expression and
statement of strength. (…) I experienced my entire
body being reprogrammed and rearranged, even
reconstituted at the deep cellular level. This resulted
in an incredible feeling of openness, solidity, whole-
ness and openness./130


Eugenia G.
The Plant Spirits Help Me to Heal Myself and Oth-
ers, in: Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the Spir-
its of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press,
1999, pp. 124-128

I left conventional pharmacy, and the plant kingdom
provided me with a new profession as an herbalist-
educator of botanical medicines. (…) Besides being
rich with verdant fecundity and colorful wildlife, the
rain forest holds secrets that could change the course
of medicine as we know it./127

Ayahuasca has allowed my everyday life to come
more alive —my skin became electric, and light was
everywhere; lucid dreams, messengers, birds, talk-
ing animals, and plant spirits continue to teach

 J.C. Callaway, Ph.D.
Phytochemistry and Neuropharmacology of Aya-
huasca, in: Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the
Spirits of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press,
1999, pp. 250-275

DMT fits rather well into certain subsets of serotonin
receptor sites within the brain (Callaway and
McKenna 1998), where it is believed to modify the
flow of neuronal information. (…) Although a func-
tion for its presence in the brain has not been dem-
onstrated, the production of visions in dream sleep
has been suggested as a role for endogenous DMT
(Callaway 1998)./262


A Vision of Sekhmet, in: Ayahuasca, Human Con-
sciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New York: Thun-
der’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 76-85

Throughout this part of the session, I felt the balanc-
ing of male and female energies, the dance of con-
sciousness and substance./81

As I read about Sekhmet and assimilated my experi-
ence with her, the understanding that formed in my
consciousness was that Sekhmet is a Great Mother
Goddess, one that spans all time. With the sun disk
at her head and the snake around it, she symbolizes
the serpent power of the root chakra having risen to
the crown. Thus, she encompasses both heaven and
Earth, and demonstrates the way to unite the heaven
and Earth of our own nature, Spirit and Form,
through the awakening of the kundalini power in
the muladhara chakra and its arising to the sahasrara

Charles S. Grob, M.D.
The Psychology of Ayahuasca, in: Ayahuasca, Human
Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New York:
Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 214-249

The field of ayahuasca studies poses a challenge to
mainstream psychiatry and psychology. Long ne-
glected by Euro-American science, this Amazonian
plant hallucinogen concoction known in native
Quechua as the 'vine of the dead' or 'vine of the
soul', has recently begun to attract increasing de-


grees of interest. (…) The fields of psychiatry and
psychology have never had an appreciable comfort
level with the mind states of aboriginal peoples. Na-
tive peoples have often been disparaged and the
technologies designed to induce ritual trance states
either pathologized or ignored. Years past, during a
time of psychoanalytic preeminence, the medicine
men, or healers, of these aboriginal peoples were
judged to be mentally ill (Devereux 1958), their be-
haviors variably attributed to diagnoses ranging
from schizophrenia to hysteria and epilepsy. The
primitive medicine man, or shaman, was often iden-
tified as a deranged aboriginal tyrant and the well-
spring of that psychopathology inflicting the entire
tribal group, preventing their elevation into civilized
society. Until quite recently the prevailing percep-
tion of the aboriginal has been one of the ignorant,
deluded and dangerous savage, whose only salva-
tion lay in abandoning the traditions of his ancestors
for the customs and beliefs of modern culture. The
proposition of taking seriously the plant technolo-
gies underlying the collective belief system found in
native shamanism was given little credence by
mainstream science and medicine./214-215

Ethnobotanical explorations in diverse geographic
regions have yielded a surprising plethora of psy-
choactive plants, some with no prior history of cul-
tural identification. Knowledge of potent psycho-
chemical recipes have begun to disseminate, often
with the aid of the Internet. Use of plant hallucino-
gens, in both underground and formal settings, is
growing. It is time for post-modern medical science


to reawaken and be attentive to this rapidly emerg-
ing phenomenon. Beyond the need to assess safety
parameters, the full implications to paradigms of
healing and reality need to be grappled with./215

The occupying Spaniards and Portuguese, posses-
sors of now of most of the New World’s rain forests,
brutally persecuted and exploited native cultures
(Taussig 1987). Observing the utilization of sacred
plants to induce an ecstatic intoxication, and identi-
fying the central role they played in aboriginal relig-
ion and ritual, these new European overlords
harshly condemned their use. Hernando Ruiz de
Alarcon, an early Spanish chronicler of native cus-
toms, described how the plants ‘when drunk de-
prive of the senses, because it is very powerful, and
by this means they communicate with the devil, be-
cause he talks to them when they are deprived of
judgement with the said drink, and deceive them
with different hallucinations, and they attribute it to
a god they say is inside the seed’ (Guerra 1971).
Condemned by the Holy Inquisition in 1616, the
ceremonial use of the plant hallucinogens by abo-
riginal peoples of the New World survived only by
going deeply underground, remaining hidden from
the hostile and rapacious European-imposed domi-
nant culture./219

Wahtola H.
Teaching the Body Its Relationship to the Spirit, in:
Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Na-
ture, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp.


My lower centers, my thighs, pelvis, and abdomen
became the focus for the waves of fluid-like power
that pulsed through my spaces. This fluid power
was metabolizing and restructuring the conscious-
ness of my body in relationship to the power and
awareness available to it. As the intensification oc-
curred, the purge was stimulated, without the deep
significance of the first time with ayahuasca./150

The guide gave clues that helped me greatly in re-
establishing a center of focus when the flooding ef-
fects of the medicine would space out in directions
that I didn’t want to go. One set of instructions re-
lated to the four things useful to remember on a
journey, inner or outer: one is your intention of pur-
pose, two is your ancestors, three is your light or
awareness, and four is the Earth./Id.

Abraham L.
The Long, Multi-Faceted Journey of Jewish Experi-
ence, in: Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the
Spirits of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press,
1999, pp. 142-147

I saw and felt these masses of Jews clinging to some-
thing in their hearts. Clinging to grief, like an addic-
tion. Holding onto it as though it was something
precious, something that made them special or
closer to God./146

This feeling of being attacked reinforces the defen-
sive walls that surround the heart. In truth, there is
an inner battle that Jews need to wage in order to


become free of their present conflict. Perhaps, like
with me, there is a need to fight to liberate the inner

I.M. Lovetree
Liquid Plum’r for the Soul, in: Ayahuasca, Human
Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New York:
Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 116-123

After the ayahuasca sessions, I feel cleansed within,
throughout and all about. I have a sense of having
been healed at all levels, especially the physical. The
ayahuasca medicine seems to have a special affinity
for the gastrointestinal system: it snakes its way
through the body, seeking out and eliminating ob-
structions to life energy flow. I sometimes think of it
as a form of kundalini, a Liquid Plum’r for the soul.
For cleansing and healing, for reconnecting with the
vegetable kingdom, ayahuasca is definitely my
medicine of choice./123

Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D.
Ayahuasca: An Ethnopharmacologic History, in:
Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Na-
ture, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp.

Ayahuasca is a symbiotic ally of the human species;
its association with our species can be traced at least
as far back as New World prehistory. The lessons we
have acquired from it, in the course of millennia of
coevolution, may have profound implications for
what it is to be human, and to be an intelligent,


questioning species within the biospheric commu-
nity of species. Although we have no certain an-
swers, the question of the nature and meaning of the
relationship between humanity and this visionary
vine, and by extension with the entire universe of
plant teachers, persistently troubles us. Why should
plants contain alkaloids that are close analogs of our
own neurotransmitters, and that enable them to
‘talk’ to us? What ‘message’ are they trying to con-
vey, if any? Was it purely happenstance, purely acci-
dent, that led some early, experiment-minded sha-
man to combine the ayahuasca vine and the
chacruna leaf, to make the tea that raised the curtain
on the ‘invisible landscape’ for the first time?/207

by Ralph Metzner, in: Ayahuasca, Human Conscious-
ness and the Spirits of Nature, New York: Thunder’s
Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 1-45

They have been called psychotomimetic ('madness
mimicking'), psycholytic ('psyche loosening'), psy-
chedelic ('mind manifesting'), hallucinogenic ('vision
inducing') and entheogenic ('connecting with the


sacred within'). The different terms reflect the
widely differing attitudes and intentions, the vary-
ing set and setting with which these substances have
been approached./2

Ayahuasca is widely recognized by anthropologists
as being probably the most powerful and most
widespread shamanic hallucinogen. In the tribal so-
cieties where these plants and plant preparations are
used, they are regarded as embodiments of con-
scious intelligent beings that only become visible in
special states of consciousness, and who can func-
tion as spiritual teachers and sources of healing
power and knowledge./3

The plants are referred to as ‘medicines,’ a term that
means more than a drug: something like a healing
power or energy that can be associated with a plant,
a person, an animal, even a place. They are also re-
ferred to as 'plant teachers' and there are still extant
traditions of many-years-long initiations and train-
ings in the use of these medicines./Id.

Kate S.
Breaking from the Bondage of the Mind, in: Ayahua-
sca, Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature,
New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 71-75

I had the thought that the reason certain cultural or
ethnic art forms appear is because of the planetary
energy in the location of the origin of that form, and
that the music and the art were intricately connected


and reflective of the energy of the planetary location
of their origin and the energies which exist there./72

Renata S.
A most palpably Buddhist-like experience, in: Aya-
huasca, Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature,
New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999, pp. 132-

My experience with the ayahuasca (as was true of
my experience with LSD) put me in touch with an
understanding of these ideas experientially. It was as
if my body accepted ideas of oneness, duality, para-
dox, etc. on a cellular level. /133

I understood the sad and frightening visions to be
every bit as wonderful as the most beautiful visions.
The marvel was that I felt totally alive, open, respon-
sive, and fearless! Accepting the fleeting nature of
all, it was so simple to be fully present for every
moment. Perhaps for the first time ever, I felt an im-
plicit trust in my capacity to guide myself through
the incredible labyrinth of dark and light./Id.

I felt the medicine to be much like a snake, traveling
from my brain downwards, finally lodging in my
groin. As I came to the end of my experience, I felt
rooted in some tangled, steamy jungle, rich with the
scent of death and rebirth, slowly becoming one
with the vines and the very earth itself./Id.


Oregon T.
Knowledge Was Graciously Invoked in Me by the
Plant Teacher, in: Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness
and the Spirits of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth
Press, 1999, pp. 92-97

I saw the machinations of the ego-personality and its
subtle deceit of the Self, of the true Monad./95

The ayahuasca plant teacher, much like the entheo-
gens probably employed in the Eleusinian and other
ancient mystery religions, assists in the sought-after
remembrance, what Plato referred to as anamnesis.

Thomas Moore

Care of the Soul
Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature
New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999

Care of the Soul is one of the most important books of our times. It really
had a bandwagon effect in that it pulled after it a whole train with simi-
lar productions. However, what all those who think they can write such
a book from scratch overlook is that soul is not built from scratch, but in
an often painful and lengthy process of birth or ascension.

Without the author having lived more than a decade of
his life in the monastic environment, this book would not
have been born. And without his lifelong studies of Ren-
aissance art and literature, the depth of the book would not
have been reached.
The book is the ultimate no in the face of the positivist
mania of ‘getting everything fixed’ if only you buy the
right book from the right coach.

From my perspective, this book proves that ‘quick-fix’
coaching doesn’t work, because you can’t help somebody
by bypassing the soul, simply because there is no growth
without soul growth. And here the words ‘personal coach-
ing’ and ‘personal power’ are misleading insofar as per-
sonal, looking at the etymological root of the word, means
‘related to the mask.’ It’s polish.
The recipe is clone a successful person, by modeling, as
those hero-coaches express themselves, and you more or
less become that person—which means for most people to
become the wallet of that person. This means in practice
you become alienated from your true self, and ultimately
fail to realize your life’s mission. So what is soul, and what
are soul values? There is no better book as this to find the
answers. Thomas Moore writes:

Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the
soul that makes us human. We can turn that idea
round and note that it is when we are most human
that we have greatest access to soul. (...) By trying to


avoid human mistakes and failures, we move be-
yond the reach of soul./9

It seems obvious that without love there can be no
cure, because love itself is healing. If this truth was known
and the nature of love understood in our culture, we
would not have the high amount of depression and
schizophrenia that strongly marks our society and shows
that most people have a vacuum in their hearts, there
namely where they should have love. Moore writes:

The ultimate cure, as many ancient and modern psy-
chologies of depth have asserted, comes from love
and not from logic. (…) Often care of the soul means
not taking sides when there is a conflict at a deep
level. It may be necessary to stretch the heart wide
enough to embrace contradiction and paradox./14

This is exactly what real coaching is about, showing
options, in order to help the person out of an either-or di-
lemma brought about by judging and condemning. Fact is
that millions of people are trapped by either-or choices in
life because the tertium is not given (tertium non datur), and
this is the abysmal and fatal consequence of Aristotelian
logic that has subsisted over the ages, like a virus, until
today. And it truly is a virus for it has perverted naturally
integrated humans into schizoid angel-demons who act
from a personal base paradigm of compulsion, and not
from a sane and integrated mind. Moore shows with strik-
ing clarity the pitfalls of moralism:


Moralism is one of the most effective shields against
the soul, protecting us from its intricacy. (…) I would
go even further. As we get to know the soul and
fearlessly consider its oddities and the many differ-
ent ways it shows itself among individuals, we may
develop a taste for the perverse. We may come to
appreciate its quirks and deviances. Indeed, we may
eventually come to realize that individuality is born
in the eccentricities and unexpected shadow tenden-
cies of the soul, more so than in normality and

I would go as far as saying that moralism not only by-
passes the soul, it also bypasses life. It is the reaction of
emotionally crippled people, people who have from child-
hood been starved with love and who have learnt only one
thing: killing. They have learnt to ‘kill perversity’ in them-
selves, thereby killing life in themselves, and thereby creat-
ing the soil for abysmal violence within and without. This is
exactly how the hero culture works: it teaches people to
kill, by teaching them to kill off their emotions when they
are still in the cradle. Moore says that from the perspective
of the soul, perversity is meaningful, and has to be em-
braced instead of being discarded out and wiped under the

Care of the soul is interested in the not-so-normal,
the way that soul makes itself felt most clearly in the
unusual expressions of a life, even and maybe espe-
cially in the problematic ones. (...) Sometimes devia-
tion from the usual is a special revelation of truth. In


alchemy this was referred to as the opus contra na-
turam, an effect contrary to nature. We might see the
same kind of artful unnatural expression within our
own lives. When normality explodes or breaks out
into craziness or shadow, we might look closely, be-
fore running for cover and before attempting to re-
store familiar order, at the potential meaningfulness
of the event. If we are going to be curious about the
soul, we may need to explore its deviations, its per-
verse tendency to contradict expectations. And as a
corollary, we might be suspicious of normality. A
facade or normality can hide a wealth of deviance,
and besides, it is fairly easy to recognize soullessness
in the standardizing of experience./18

Embracing perversity is one leg of the integrated hu-
man, embracing suffering, or pain, or discomfort, is the
other. Moore explains:

If you attend the soul closely enough, with an edu-
cated and steadfast imagination, changes take place
without your being aware of them until they are all


over and well in place. Care of the soul observes the
paradox whereby a muscled, strong-willed pursuit
of change can actually stand in the way of substan-
tive transformation. (…) Renaissance doctors said
that the essence of each person originates as a star in
the heavens. (…) Care of the soul, looking back with
special regard to ancient psychologies for insight
and guidance, goes beyond the secular mythology of
the self and recovers a sense of the sacredness of
each individual life. This sacred quality is not just
value – all lives are important. It is the unfathomable
that is the very seed and heart of each individual.
Shallow therapeutic manipulations aimed at restor-
ing normality or tuning a life according to standards
reduces— shrinks—the profound mystery to the
pale dimensions of a social common denominator
referred to as the adjusted personality. Care of the
soul sees another reality altogether. It appreciates the
mystery of human suffering and does not offer the
illusion of a problem-free life. It sees every fall into
ignorance and confusion as an opportunity to dis-
cover that the beast residing at the center of the
labyrinth is also an angel. The uniqueness of a per-
son is made up of the insane and the twisted as
much as it is of the rational and the normal. To ap-
proach this paradoxical point of tension where ad-
justment and abnormality meet is to move closer to
the realization of our mystery-filled, star-born

In order to become whole inwardly and in our lives,
we need to embrace simplicity, and imperfection. Living in
robotic culture, we can resist becoming robots by embracing


the ultimate truth that we are always imperfect. Moore has
found a tremendously wistful tradition with the Renais-
sance saints and healers that warned, more than five hun-
dred years ago, of the pitfalls of perfectionism, which has
become, in the meantime, a real cultural disease in our
high-tech nations. More reminds Nicholas of Cusa:

Nicholas of Cusa, the great fifteenth-century theolo-
gian who wrote a book about the importance of edu-
cated ignorance says we have to find ways to un-
learn those things that screen us from the perception
of profound truth. We have to achieve the child’s
unknowing because we have been made so smart.
Zen also recommends not losing the beginner’s
mind, so important for immediacy in experience./52

The two major problems young people experience in
our modern robot-society is narcissism and boomeritis.
The first condition is marked by an almost total absence of
soul, the second is the inability to digest knowledge in a
way that it becomes a part of self, instead of building lay-
ers around the person. Moore shows that there is more to
narcissism, that modern culture is profoundly narcissistic
in its very setup as a ‘scientific’ society:

Narcissism has no soul. In narcissism we take away
the soul’s substance, its weight and importance, and
reduce it to an echo of our own thoughts. There is no
such thing as the soul. We say. It is only the brain
going through its electrical and chemical changes.
Or it is only behavior. Or it is only memory and


conditioning. In our social narcissism, we also dis-
miss the soul as irrelevant. We can prepare a city or
national budget, but leave the needs of the soul un-
tended. Narcissism will not give its power to any-
thing as nymphlike as the soul./58-59

What the narcissist does not understand is that the
self-acceptance he craves can’t be forced or manufac-
tured. It has to be discovered, in a place more intro-
verted than the usual haunts of the narcissist. There
has to be some inner questioning, and maybe even

I suspect that this is a very concrete part of curing
narcissism —talking to the trees. By engaging the so-
called ‘inanimate’ world in dialogue, we are ac-
knowledging its soul. Not all consciousness is hu-
man. That in itself is a narcissistic belief. /61

Before reading this book, it was indeed my habit to talk
to trees that got me to be interested in shamanism. That
was the trigger of my spiritual quest to ingest the tradi-
tional sacred Ayahuasca brew. I left this initiation com-
pletely transformed, regained the whole range of magical
beliefs I once fostered as a child, and became whole again.
This wholeness was precisely the cure of my narcissistic
fixation. Now, Thomas Moore, has put a particular stress in
this book on the danger of collective narcissism and he in-
vestigates the culture of the United States of America, to
identify it as a narcissistic culture par excellence. Moore


Nations, as well as individuals, can go through this
initiation. America has a great longing to be the New
World of opportunity and a moral beacon for the
world. It longs to fulfill these narcissistic images of
itself. At the same time it is painful to realize the dis-
tance between the reality and that image. America’s
narcissism is strong. It is paraded before the world.
If we were to put the nation on the couch, we might
discover that narcissism is its most obvious symp-
tom. And yet that narcissism holds the promise that
this all-important myth can find its way into life. In
other words, America’s narcissism is its refined puer
spirit of genuine new vision. The trick is to find a
way to that water of transformation where hard self-
absorption turns into loving dialogue with the

Narcissus becomes able to love himself only when
he learns to love that self as an object. He now has a
view of himself as someone else. This is not ego lov-
ing ego; this is ego loving the soul, loving a face the
soul presents. We might say that the cure for narcis-
sism is to move from love of self, which always has a
hint of narcissism in it, to love of one’s deep soul. Or,
to put it another way, narcissism breaking up invites
us to expand the boundaries of who we think we

A neurotic narcissism won’t allow the time needed
to stop, reflect, and see the many emotions, memo-
ries, wishes, fantasies, desires, and fears that make
up the materials of the soul. As a result, the narcis-
sistic person becomes fixed on a single idea of who


he is, and other possibilities are automatically re-
jected. /67

Peter Pan resisted to grow up. And astonishingly so,
Thomas Moore writes that growing-up is not a cure for
narcissism, in the contrary:

But the solution of narcissism is not growing up. On
the contrary, the solution to narcissism is to give the
myth as much realization as possible, to the point
where a tiny bud appears indicating the flowering of
personality through its narcissism. (…) Narcissism is
a condition in which a person does not love himself.
This failure in love comes through as its opposite
because the person tries so hard to find self-
acceptance. The complex reveals itself in the all-too-
obvious effort and exaggeration. It’s clear to all
around that narcissism’s love is shallow. We know
instinctively that someone who talks about himself
all the time must not have a very strong sense of self.
To the individual caught up in this myth, the failure
to find self-love is felt as a kind of masochism, and,
whenever masochism comes into play, a sadistic
element is not far behind. The two attitudes are po-
lar elements in a split power archetype./71

Anyway, from the soul perspective, and leaving politi-
cal realities untouched, Thomas Moore writes:

The secret of healing narcissism is not to heal it at
all, but to listen to it. (…) I am stuff. I am made up of
things and qualities, and in loving these things I love


This is in accordance with a general soul-based healing
approach that was the prevalent approach to healing dur-
ing the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance.

Robert Burton in his massive self-help book of the
seventeenth century The Anatomy of Melancholy,
says there is only one cure for the melancholic sick-
ness of love: enter into it with abandon. Some
authors today argue that romantic love is such an
illusion that we need to distrust it and keep our wits
about us so that we are not led astray. But warnings
like this betray a distrust of the soul./81

Interestingly enough, Krishnamurti’s approach to fear,
pain, humiliation and suffering is very similar. He often
said in his talks that we should not escape from pain or
what we consider as negative, hurtful or humiliating in
life, because if we do, there will be scars, while when we
stay fully aware and do not escape the experience, there
will be no scars.
I believe that the quotes suffice to give a taste of this
unique production of a real author-artist who walks his
talk. I recommend this book without hesitation and I rec-
ommend it also to young people and elders. There is much
spiritual water to draw from it, for all members of our cul-

Jeremy Narby

The Cosmic Serpent
DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
2nd Printing (Originally published in 1998)
New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2003

The Cosmic Serpent is an extraordinary and refreshing book. Written
from the perspective of an anthropologist, the book unveils many myths
in that science when it goes out ‘to meet the other’, and return to declare
the peoples it met as schizophrenic, retarded or ‘possessed by the devil.’

But the author also reports how ethnology changed
over time and become more objective in its look on cul-
tures that are markedly different from our own.

Anthropologists discovered that their gaze was a
tool of domination and that their discipline was not
only a child of colonialism, it also served the colonial
cause through its own practices. The unbiased and
supra-cultural language of the observer was actually
a colonial discourse and a form of domination./14

From the early twentieth century onward, anthro-
pologists progressively extended the use of this Si-
berian term and found shamans in Indonesia,
Uganda, the Arctic, and Amazonia. Some played
drums, others drank plant decoctions and sang;
some claimed to cure, others cast spells. They were
unanimously considered neurotic, epileptic, psy-
chotic, hysterical or schizophrenic./15

The change came abruptly. In 1949, Claude Lévi-
Strauss stated in a key essay that the shaman, far
from being mentally ill, was in fact a kind of psycho-
therapist—the difference being that the psychoana-
lyst listens, whereas the shaman speaks. For Lévi-
Strauss, the shaman is first of all a creator of order,
who cures people by transforming their incoherent
and arbitrary pains into an ordered and intelligible

In this context of a critical review of Western science
meeting tribal cultures, Narby reveals a very important se-
cret about tobacco, and unveils the myths behind the current

worldwide propaganda against tobacco, with its alleged
cancerogenous effects.
Narby, who has done research on tobacco over several
years, has published in this book a good part of the re-
search results, and gives further references in the footnotes.
His research indicates that it’s not tobacco that causes can-
cer, but additives and preservatives that are put in ciga-
rettes in the process of industrial fabrication. He writes:

There are fundamental differences between the sha-
manic use of tobacco and the consumption of indus-
trial cigarettes. The botanical variety used in the
Amazon contains up to eighteen times more nicotine
than the plants used in Virginia-type cigarettes.
Amazonian tobacco is grown without chemical fer-
tilizers or pesticides and contains none of the ingre-
dients added to cigarettes, such as aluminum oxide,
potassium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, polyvinyl
acetate, and a hundred or so others, which make up
approximately 10 percent of the smokable matter.
During combustion, a cigarette emits some 4000
substances, most of which are toxic. Some of these
substances are even radioactive, making cigarettes
the largest single source of radiation in the daily life
of an average smoker. According to one study, the
average smoker absorbs the equivalent of the radia-
tion dosages from 250 chest X-rays per year. Ciga-
rette smoke is directly implicated in more than 24
serious illnesses, including 17 forms of cancer. In the
Amazon, on the other hand, tobacco is considered a
remedy. The Ashaninca word for healer or shaman is
sheripiári—literally, the person who uses tobacco.


The oldest Ashaninca men I knew were all
sheripiári. They were so old that they did not know
their own age, which only their deeply wrinkled
skin suggested, and they were remarkably alert and
healthy. Intrigued by these disparities, I looked
through the data banks for comparative studies be-
tween the toxicity of the Amazonian variety (Nico-
tinia rustica) and the variety used by the manufac-
turers of cigarettes, cigars, rolling tobacco, and pipe
tobacco (Nicotinia tabacum). I found nothing. The
question, it seemed, had not been / asked. I also
looked for studies on the cancer rate among sha-
mans who use massive and regular doses of nico-
tine: again, nothing. So I decided to write to the
main authority on the matter, Johannes Wilbert,
author of the book Tobacco and Shamanism in South
America, to put my questions to him. He replied:
There is certainly evidence that Western tobacco
products contain many different harmful agents
which are probably not present in organically grown
plants. I have not heard of shamans developing can-
cers but that may, of course, be a function of several
things like lack of Western diagnosis, natural life
span of indigenous people, magico-religious restric-
tion of tobacco used in tribal societies. It seems clear
that nicotine does not cause cancer, given that it is
active in the brain and that cigarettes do not cause
cancer in the brain, but in the lungs, esophagus,
stomach, pancreas, rectum, kidneys, and bladder,
the organs reached by the carcinogenic tars, which
are also swallowed. /120-121


But this general outline of shamanism and how the
modern world came to discover it is only a by-product of
the book, so to speak. The real topic is a very specific prob-
lem that Narby had well defined in advance. He wanted to
prove his hypothesis that the visions and encounters psy-
chedelic substances trigger are actually visions of the
DNA, or the photons that irradiate from it. He defines his
research topic, first negatively, by demonstrating why this
link between entheogenic substances and the DNA could
not be discovered before by modern science:

It seemed that no one had noticed the possible links
between the myths of primitive peoples and molecu-
lar biology. No one had seen that the double helix
had symbolized the life principle for thousands of
years around the world. On the contrary, everything
was upside down. It was said that hallucinations
could in no way constitute a source of knowledge,
that Indians had found their useful molecules by
chance experimentation, and that their myths were
precisely myths, bearing no relationship to the real
knowledge discovered in laboratories./71

This meant that the gaze of the Western specialist
was too narrow to see the two pieces that fit together
to resolve the puzzle. The distance between molecu-
lar biology and shamanism/mythology was an opti-
cal illusion produced by the rational gaze that sepa-
rates things ahead of time, and as objectivism fails to
objectify its objectifying relationship, it also finds it
difficult to consider its presuppositions./78-79


The outline of Narby’s research is the most daring I
have encountered in my shamanism research so far, and
despite his well-written book, it seems that his theory was
not picked up by the scientific community so far. Narby
had previously noted a decrease of interest in the subject,
but his vision about a paradigm change in science is hope-
ful in case that his hypothesis can be confirmed by more
in-depth research in the future:

From the middle of the 1970s onward, the connec-
tion between DNA and hallucinogens disappears
from the scientific literature. It would no doubt be
interesting to reconsider it in the light of the new
knowledge established by molecular biology./125

If my hypothesis is correct, and if ayahuasqueros
perceive DNA-emitted photons in their visions, it
ought to be possible to find a link between these
photons and consciousness. I started looking for it in
the biophoton literature. Researchers working in this
new field mainly consider biophoton emission as a
cellular language or a form of nonsubstantial bio-
communication between cells and organisms. Over
the last fifteen years, they have conducted enough
reproducible experiments to believe that cells use
these waves to direct their own internal reactions as
well as to communicate among themselves and even
between organisms. For instance, photon emission
provides a communication mechanism that could
explain how billions of individual plankton organ-
isms cooperative in swarms, behaving like super-
organisms. /127-128


In addition, Narby made the discovery that quartz
played a decisive role in the biophoton research he went
through for proving his hypothesis:

One thing had struck me as I went over the biopho-
ton literature. Almost all of the experiments con-
ducted to measure biophotons involved the use of
quartz. As early as 1923, Alexander Gurvich noticed
that cells separated by a quartz screen mutually /
influenced each other’s multiplication processes,
which was not the case with a metal screen. He de-
ducted that cells emit electromagnetic waves with
which they communicate. It took more than half a
century to develop a photomultiplier capable of
measuring this ultra-weak radiation: the container of
this device is also made of quartz. Quartz is a crys-
tal, which means it has an extremely regular ar-
rangement of atoms that vibrate at a very stable fre-
quency. These characteristics make it an excellent
receptor and emitter of electromagnetic waves,
which is why quartz is abundantly used in radios,
watches, and most electronic technologies./128-129

Now, succinctly speaking, what Narby wants to show
is that what the shamans perceive as ‘spirits’ are in reality
biophotons emitted by the cells of the human body:

What if these spirits were none other than the bio-
photons emitted by all the cells of the world and
were picked up, amplified, and transmitted by sha-
mans’ quartz crystals, Gurvich’s quartz screens, and
the quartz containers of biophoton researchers? This


would mean that spirits are beings of pure light—as
has always been claimed. /129

I will leave it here with my review and let you discover
this exciting book that is often quoted in shamanism litera-
ture. However, I have not yet found an author who either
corroborated the theory, or else falsified it. So much the
more the book should be read and its daring hypothesis
shared with as many minds as possible, so that a scientific
agreement can be found to either corroborate or falsify this
very interesting theory or hypothesis.

Michael Newton

Life Between Lives
DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
2nd Printing (Originally published in 1998)
New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2003

Dr. Michael Newton is a counseling psychologist, master hypnotherapist,
and teacher. He has been on the faculty of higher educational institu-
tions and has served as a group therapy director for community mental
health centers and spiritual renewal organizations in cooperation with
hospitals and social service agencies. Now retired after forty years of
private practice, he is considered a pioneer in uncovering the mysteries

of our life between lives through the development of his own hypnosis

Michael Newton is the author of the best-selling books
Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls (winner of the most
outstanding metaphysical book award of the year at the
annual Book Exposition of America in 2001), which have
been translated into over twenty-five languages. Dr. New-
ton received the annual award of the most unique contri-
bution by a hypnotherapist from the National Association of
Transpersonal Hypnotherapists. He has been conferred as a
Chevalier of Honor by the Order of Constantine for interna-
tional education. Dr. Newton is the founder of the Society
for Spiritual Regression (now called the Newton Institute for
LBL Hypnotherapy), which is an international organization
designed for the purpose of training experienced hypno-
therapists in the techniques of life between lives regres-
—Source: Life Between Lives (About the Author)

Life Between Lives is a fascinating door-opener not only
for professional hypnotherapists that it is actually written
for, but also for lay persons who wish to know more about
the power of hypnotherapy in its spiritual dimension, as
life-between-lives regression therapy.

In my review of this book I will however address the
professional reader, simply because the quotes I shall pro-
vide from the book are addressed to this target group. For
the uninitiated, let me put a precaution first.

As regression therapy seems to be very popular today,
and as there are today thousands of different regression
therapies, let me point out why LBL is not a regression
therapy in the popular sense of the word. Traditional re-
gression therapy regresses the client into a former life, or a
series of former lives, but does not touch the realm in-
between lives. Dr. Newton explains:

The fact is that most past life regressionists merely
jump their subjects from one former life to the next.
Some still believe the time between lives is a grayish
limbo of no consequence. This notion is changing
and I have wondered if it didn’t originate with the
ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead, where people read
that ‘the time between reincarnations in the Bardo is
a maximum of seven weeks.’/14

What is this realm of existence, and what is its vibra-
tional nature? Call it the Bardo with the Tibetan Book of the
Dead, or call it the ‘astral plane’ with Charles Webster
Leadbeater, the word is not the thing.
What is important here is to see that Dr. Newton has
created a totally new, daring and absolutely unthinkable
way of hypnotic regression that fills the gap between the
already fashionable past-life regression and standard hyp-
notherapy, which typically regresses back to childhood
and the realm between conception and birth.
Dr. Newton is a twofold pioneer, he is a pioneer both
regarding the professional conduct of a hypnotherapist
(who was formerly simply not supposed to engage in this


kind of regression), and he is a spiritual pioneer because he
opened a new channel for truly religious experiences.
To begin with, I was dumbfounded that Dr. Newton
confirmed in at least one instance my research that con-
cludes as to the existence of every human emanating a
specific energy vibration that I came to call Emotional Iden-
tity Code. Dr. Newton writes:

No two sessions are exactly the same because each
soul has a specific energy pattern for recovering
stored immortal memories and their own unique
history of existence./4

I shall now provide and discuss a few pointed quotes
so as to demonstrate how Newton addresses the profes-
sional LBL hypnotherapist and what advice he gives for
the still quite esoteric practice of LBL hypnotherapy. Ad-
mittedly my quotes are rather limited, but this is due to the
simple fact that this book addresses a professional audi-
ence that will need much less guidance for purchasing a
book that might be of interest for them.
For Dr. Newton, the existence of the cosmic energy
field that I was trying to conceptualize in my own research
vocabulary is not a matter of doubt, but a simple fact of
life. He writes:

Your understanding and positive healing energy is
vital as you work to expose the client’s inner vision
of their soul life. In this way you also facilitate


alignment of the subject’s vibrational soul energy to
the rhythms of their human brains. /6

And Dr. Newton confirms the perennial wisdom tradi-
tion that may have inspired him when elaborating hyp-
notic regression to a realm of life which was overlooked so
far by almost all regression therapists:

I have great respect for Taoist philosophy. The Tao-
ists believe that inspiration occurs when one’s con-
scious mind gets out of the way of their natural un-
conscious energy. In a sense, our cosmic chi (energy)
is what brings harmony and clarity to the body.
Having a keen internal focus also makes you a better

Newton also affirms the existence of soul values by af-
firming the higher reality of a soul-based continuum and
karma that reveals itself during LBL hypnotic regression.
His advice to practitioners is to help the client find their
own personal identity by getting the complete (lost) pic-
ture of their soul reality. Dr. Newton explains:

Current truths are succeeded by a higher and acute
awareness of ourselves that is at the core of express-
ing our personal identity. As spiritual regressionists


utilizing the power of hypnosis, we are now blessed
with a new medium of therapeutic intervention. If
you are able to assist people in seeing the light of
divinity within themselves and foster self-discovery,
then you will have made a real contribution toward
the ultimate enlightenment of our race./6

With this statement, Dr. Newton actually fully de-
scribes my own mission, and I felt grateful for the encour-
agement I received through his book. Also regarding the
bioenergy, his book delivers practical information that is
barely to be found anywhere else.

Please understand that prana is not the breath itself
nor the oxygen involved with breathing but the en-
ergy connected to the breath. It is a connection to the
energy of all living things as a universal life force. I
have worked to train myself to seek energy path-
ways necessary to reach a particular client’s mind
while asking for help from my guide and my sub-
ject’s guide. I begin by opening my mind and asking
for guidance. In this way I try to receive information
and not send it. What I do send to my clients are
messages of confidence and reassurance. /12

In my research on sound and energy, I have learnt that
the human voice is a powerful musical instrument and vi-
brationally very important, when used intently and in-
genuously. Now, I was wondering what the relationship
was between sound and bioenergy, and got some clues in
Jonathan Goldman’s books Healing Sounds (2002) and Tan-
tra of Sound (2005) that I reviewed earlier in this volume.

Now, Dr. Newton writes on the subject of a hypnotherapist
modulating his or her voice, and thereby manipulating vi-
tal energies:

I have mentioned how a subject’s own mental com-
pass within their higher spiritual self can assist them
in reaching the depth they require for specific soul
memories. Also, that one must always be aware of
the two different magnetic energy fields which are
activated between the minds of client and facilitator
working together. I bring this concept up again to
remind spiritual regressionists that the voice is an-
other means of reaching through the subject’s energy
field and is useful in both removing emotional
blocks and deepening. /41

Carefully pacing a session and using different voice
inflections involving the application of sharp, soft,
encouraging, and calming techniques takes on
greater hypnotic importance during a long mental

I work to pitch my vibrational voice tones to match
both the sound and type of responses coming from
my LBL subject. /Id.

Before the arrival of my clients, I take a few minutes
to exercise my voice range and sustain certain notes,
especially in the lower registers. Calibrating my
voice with that of the client from time to time fosters
the merging of vibrational energy./Id.

Hal and Sidra Stone

Embracing Our Selves
The Voice Dialogue Manual
Novato, CA: New World Library, 1989

The Voice Dialogue Manual was my companion in the two years I prac-
ticed dialoguing with my inner selves. Let us first clarify what voice
dialogue actually is all about? It’s a synonym for the inner dialogue
with all our inner selves.

The Voice Dialogue Manual accompanied me with valu-
able advice over these years; I highly appreciated its clarity

and depth that gives immediate credit to the authors’ im-
mense expertise with facilitating personal change and
transformation. This is not just a technical manual that
teaches a method. It’s that also, but much more. Here is
how the authors introduce the book:

Voice Dialogue is not a school of psychotherapy, it is
not a substitute for psychotherapy, and it is not a
profession in and of itself. It is a technique for psy-
chological exploration and for the expansion of
awareness. Although it can be a highly effective tool
for any psychotherapist it should be clearly under-
stood that it is not a complete and autonomous
therapeutic system./78

The authors appear to be beyond the mechanistic
paradigm, radiating a true and living spirituality. One of
the objectives of their unique and empathic approach to
personal development and transformational change is to
help people develop their unique vulnerability, their open-
ness to the whole of life.
In my work, I have indeed become aware that vulner-
ability is a sort of key word, and can be set as a destination
in therapy. Vulnerability is our highest virtue, it’s the dar-
ingness, the courage, the boldness to really embrace our
destiny, to live fully and without anxiety or fear of life.
Coping with this fear is a process, it cannot be brought
about through an instant, sudden insight but is the result
of dissolving, one by one, our shields, defenses, and pro-


Now, there is one pattern that is stronger than the oth-
ers and which builds most of our character armor: it’s our
inner controller. The authors write:

The protector/controller is the primary energy pat-
tern behind many other selves. For example, it will
utilize the energies of the rational self and the re-
sponsible parent as a way of maintaining control
over our environment. When most people use the
word I, they are in fact referring to their protector/
controller. For the vast majority of us, protector/
controller energy is the directing agent of personal-
ity. It is what many people think of as an ego./15

The authors express some things better than any of the
famed psychologists I have been reading, Freud and Jung.
They speak of our psychic fingerprint, which is an expres-
sion that beautifully wraps around our inner clarity, and
cosmic identity, when we are in the state of total aware-
ness, when there are no defenses, when there is peace,
when our inner lake is reflecting life without ripples. And
beyond the scope of this book, I believe that this cosmic
identity is related not to our mind, but to our emotional
identity. It’s coded as a vibrational code, and it’s related to
the flow nature of our emotional body, the human aura.
The authors write:

The problem is, of course, that we gradually begin to
lose track of our psychic fingerprint. This is a sad
state of affairs, for our whole system of relationships
is affected by this loss. If we are no longer in touch


with those qualities that make up our unique psy-
chic fingerprint, then it is not our deepest and most
vulnerable self that is involved in relationships. In-
stead, it is a group if subpersonalities, watched over
by the protector/controller, that determines our feel-
ings and behavior./15

Another expression I find helpful for understanding
our inner life is the notion of disowned selves. The authors

We can be helpless victims to the multitude of rela-
tionships in our lives that reflect our disowned
selves, or we can accept the challenge of these rela-
tionships and ask: How is this person, or this situa-
tion, my teacher? Asking this question in itself rep-
resents a major shift in consciousness. A great deal of
the stress in our lives results from our tendency to
attract reflections of our disowned selves in our rela-
tionships, and we continue to suffer as the same pat-
terns are repeated in our lives. Unfortunately, for
most of us there is no support to learn this lesson
inherent in this process. Without this support the
energy of our disowned selves grows stronger and
more twisted./32

Sigmund Freud was among the first psychologists who
found that the etiology of neurosis is primarily sexual, or
with other words, that when we repress sexual desire, we
risk to become seriously ill. Later, Wilhelm Reich found
that not only neurosis, but also psychosis, and especially
schizophrenia are disturbances of the vital energy flow that


are the result of a distortion of body perception. The same
is true for the repression of ‘negative’ emotions such as an-
ger, hate or revengeful desires. What happens when we are
conditioned to repress our hot emotions is that they will be
replaced by depression. Thus, every time you would be
angry at somebody, you will ‘make’ a depression.
The depression will lead you back, through dreams
and intuition, to the original wound, which was inflicted
upon you when you were punished, as a child, for being
angry. When you go deep enough down the rabbit hole
into your depression, you can trigger the therapeutic effect
of remembrance! But what we do most of the time when
we are depressed is to seek distraction, else we take anti-
depressants, thus avoiding the catharsis that the depres-
sion would naturally trigger. And on it goes. Every time
you get angry because somebody interferes with your
boundaries or lacks respect toward you, instead of using
your anger as it should to put that person ‘straight’, you
escape into your next depression.
Hal and Sidra Stone speak in such a case about dis-
owning the anger energy, which is a good terminology that
vividly describes the effect of the unhealthy repression of
desire, which is unfortunately an integral part of our patri-
archal tradition.

When natural instinctual energies such as the need
for survival, sexuality, and aggression are disowned
over time, they cycle back into the unconscious and
go through a significant change. Energy cannot be


destroyed; thus, these disowned energies begin to
operate unconsciously and attract additional energy
to themselves. They soon lose their natural qualities
and become malevolent./32

Emotional flow is the natural positive flow of the bio-
energy. Demonic and destructive energies are the result of
a negative polarization, which in turn is the consequence
of the repression of the original desire and its biogenic ex-
pression as ‘emotion’:

The disowning of the seven deadly sins results in a
particular blend-up of instinctual energies in the
unconscious that we call demonic energies. They are
among the major disowned energy patterns, and as
a society we pay a particularly heavy price for their

The subpersonalities also protect themselves by re-
vealing themselves only to a facilitator who has ac-
cess to a similar energy. Thus, the facilitator must be
aware of and able to locate the energy pattern within
himself or herself that resonates with the subject’s
energy pattern./76

As an evaluation, this book clearly has merited the at-
tribute excellent, both in its addressing the intelligent lay
reader and the psychic health care professional. For both
audiences, there is ample information, which is not just
theory, but practical and directly applicable when actually
doing the work of voice dialogue, with oneself or in a
team, or else with a group, as a voice dialogue facilitator.

I may point you here to a more specific book by these
authors which is about handling the inner control-
ler—which they call the ‘Inner Critic.’ You can find the
book on Amazon.
—Hal & Sidra Stone, Embracing Your Inner Critic: Turning Self-
Criticism into a Creative Asset, New York: HarperOne, 1993

Dora van Gelder

The Real World of Fairies
A First-Person Account
Wheaton: Quest Books (Theosophical Publishing House), 1999

The Real World of Fairies is one of a few really mind-opening books I
found in my life. When I say mind-opening, I do not just mean brilliant,
excellent, daringly novel or outstanding in terms of intellectual
achievement. I mean nothing less daring than my entire worldview
suddenly shifting, widening, leading me up to a higher level of con-
scious awareness.

There are not many studies to be found about the fairy
world, that are documentary, not fiction, in nature. While
novels and short stories, especially the romantic sort, in-
dulge in the mystical theme, this would never have at-
tracted my interest. Actually I did buy Irish fairy stories by
William Butler Yeats, but that is something entirely differ-
ent. We are talking about a poetic reality here, and about
folklore. We also talk about good literature.

My interest in fairies, however, is scientific. Evans-
Wentz’s famous study The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries
(1911/2003) left me cold compared to the present book. (See
the review further up in this volume). Why was it so? Be-
cause that study presents hearsay evidence, to use a legal
expression, it substantially consists of interviews with all
kinds of people from Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Eng-
land who say they have heard of fairies, seen fairies or
fairy paths, or know about the existence of fairies, but the
author himself resides in a distant intellectual chamber, as
it were, to report all this from an alien world he himself
was seemingly never in touch with. Our science perversely
attributes more credit to the ‘disentangled’ researcher, who
strictly speaking knows nothing about the subject he re-
searches about, compared to a clairvoyant who actually
saw the fairy world and actively communicated with fair-
ies over the whole course of her life. Modern science, while
it knows that the observer is always entangled with the
object of observation, argues that evidence is biased when
a person reports events from her own life that are not peer-


reviewed and replicated by other individuals. While
quantum physics of course shows that there is no science
at all without entanglement between observer and object
of observation, many scientists still discard more of life
than they actually embrace in their residue science para-
Generally speaking, I would go as far as saying that if
you are not entangled with the subject of your research, to
a point to have sleepless nights about it, one the one hand,
and experience moments of euphoria on its account, on the
other, you will not be a brilliant researcher, and your pub-
lications will not really convince others. It’s is a parallel
observation you may accept or not, but fact is that Dora
van Gelder’s book about the existence of fairies is more
scientific, and provides more tangible evidence for the ex-
istence of the fairy world than all of Evans-Wentz’s epic
and sophisticated tales that make at best for a nice and ele-
gant book cover in your home library.

To begin with, Dora van Gelder implores the fact that
our science tends to overlook the underlying structures
that are for the most part invisible to the senses, yet abso-
lutely substantial for living systems, and which consist of
vibrations, and vibrational patterns. It is the role of the
clairvoyant to sensibilize her perception apparatus to these

The fact is that there is a real physical basis for clair-
voyance, and the faculty is not especially mysteri-
ous. The power centers in that tiny organ in the


brain called the pituitary gland. The kind of vibra-
tions involved are so subtle that no physical opening
in the skin is needed to convey them to the pituitary
body, but there is a special spot of sensitiveness just
between the eyes above the root of the nose which
acts as the external opening for the gland within./4

I found the book really starts with the second chapter
entitled A Typical Fairy, in which van Gelder meticulously
describes as it were a ‘standard’ fairy, an exemplary of a
variety of varieties, so as to give the reader a taste of the
high vibrational and etheric nature of these creatures. She

The material of his body is a loosely knit as the va-
por from the spout of a boiling teakettle and is
somewhat of the nature of a cloud of colored gas. In
fact it is exactly that, only the gas is finer than the
lightest we know and is less readily detected even
than helium or hydrogen. But this does not prevent
it from being held together in / a form, for it is not a
chemical but a living substance which life saturates
and holds together. In truth, his power of this matter
as a living creature is shown by the fact that his
body is composed of two distinct densities of mate-
rial. The body proper is a true emerald green and
fairly dense, considering the stuff of which it is
made; around this on all sides, both front and back,
is a much thinner cloud of the same matter in which
he is not so vividly alive. This thinner portion,
which extends from all sides of this body proper, is a
lighter green./32-33


Van Gelder explains that fairies are essentially beings
made of energy. The material they are built of is feelings,
vital matter, emotions, streaks of energy which are modu-
lated by their emotions, their movements, and their de-
The matter, then, they are made of is pure emotional
streams, not veins, muscles or nerves; when they feel an
emotion, their body directly responds and transforms itself
according to the emotion. They have a heart which is a
glowing and pulsating center and that emanates golden
light and that the secret of fairy life is rhythm. While we
have sensations, she explains, fairies are sensation, all sen-
sation, and they do not perceive life like we do, through
special organs, but with their whole highly electric organ-
There are some very interesting and important details
here because some of what van Gelder says confirms my
research on emotions and the vital energy.

The secret of the fairy life is rhythm. Each kind of
fairy (whether water, land, air, or fire) comes into the
world with a limited and definite range of rhythmic
power, according to his / species and his own per-
sonal nature. Within this range, he controls the
rhythm of vitality by his desires and feelings. /34-35

As I said, they have a heart center like other fairies,
but in addition, the surface of their bodies is covered
with scores of luminous points that are subcenters
connected with the heart. When the fairies move, a


sort of suction is set up in these spots of light; thus
vitality is drawn into their bodies. There are at least
two kinds of energy involved, one from the sunlight
and the other from the water. The fairy’s heart center
is in the nature of a mixing place for these two sorts
of vital energy. Now, in the sea itself, at more or less
fixed positions relative to one another, there are cen-
ters like vortices, probably magnetic, which are, of
course, super-physical. At times when the fairy has
absorbed far more of this mixed energy than he
needs, he pours it out of his / surface centers, and it
is swept into the nearest of these vortices. There it is
swirled around and distributed from one vortex to
another by way of equalizing the charge. The fairies
do this unconsciously all day long, and in this way
the sea is charged with magnetism, thus helping all
the creatures that live in it. /130-131

Another highly interesting detail in this context is the
way fairies establish relationships with other fairies, with
plants and animals, and at times also with humans. There
is a unique way they do this, namely by adapting their vi-
bration to the vibration of the being they want to relate to.
Van Gelder explains:

When he wants to respond to a plant, he makes his
heart beat at the same pulse rate as the plant. This
synchrony makes him unified./34

Apart from the form fairies present themselves in,
which greatly varies, and which they can deliberately alter,


here is more about how they handle and wistfully manipu-
late the energy they are made of:

In this exchange of energies, those from the earth
and those from the sun, the fairy plays a definite
part. He has power over both these currents, espe-
cially the vitality from the sun. He can retard them
here and accelerate them there, and he can add some
extra vitality from himself at such points as he

I am convinced that if humanity had not developed
into patriarchy about five thousand years ago, thus devel-
oping into evolutionary retardation through moral-
ism—which effectively prevents love—, we would not be
so different after all from fairies. We would be on a higher
level, the level two steps above fairies, as the step immedi-
ate above them is the level of the angels. But humans are
made to be above angels. In this sense, we humans are
fallen angels, and this is how we need to understand the
story of Genesis in the Bible and the totally misunderstood
idea of original sin.
It is not technology that provides us with the evolu-
tionary advantage over native peoples around the world. It
can only be, if ever, a true evolutionary advantage on the
level of the total human.

Most native peoples around the world are able to see
spirit beings as their extrasensorial perception is more de-
veloped than ours. They also, like van Gelder, see the fairy
world. Last not least, they also behave similarly, in their


carefree joy, while it is of course wistful behavior, and a
functional attitude in the face of life’s constant changes
and its unpredictability.

The fairy has an immense power of mimicry and a
sense of drama. He is an emotional artist of rare abil-
ity, and a group of them will put on a show for mu-
tual entertainment. I must explain again that a fairy
has the power not only to change his form but also
to clothe himself in marvelous garments, a process
that is carried out by drawing the denser part of the
material about him by means of his will power or
desire into a thought garment. This requires effort
and concentration and takes a few minutes to
achieve, especially if he desires to change his form.
The thought garment will last as long as he sustains
the effort at transformation. Most fairies are deficient
in concentration, and thus they do not keep up the
show for any length of time./44

Between the human point of view and that of a fairy,
or any member of the angelic kingdom, one of the
main differences is that we live in a world of form,
and they live in a world of life. Our thoughts are
primarily concerned with the form things have, and
we seldom go further than that. But fairies are
mainly concerned with the energy and life flowing
around and within the form—life that is every-
where. /47

For example, if we look at a tree we respond to its
size, its shape, its color, its leaves, and fruit. These
things combine to create its beauty for us. But when


one comes to think of it, this is rather a limited way
of seeing the world in which we live. In contrast, the
fairy first beholds the spirit of the tree and responds
to its vital energy. To a fairy, the tree is a living,
breathing personality which is expressing itself in
the form we see. There is then an exchange of feel-
ing, a mutual response, between the fairy and the

And in fact, natives do not possess that strict code of
morality that patriarchy has instituted with its monotheis-
tic religions, and compulsory morality. To prevent being
misunderstood here, I do not talk about genuine morality,
but what I would call ‘fake morality’ which is the morality
in our modern society, for it’s hypocrisy by and large. If we
were having true morality, we wouldn’t have crime, wars,
civil wars, and genocide around the world; we wouldn’t
know the torture of humans and animals, and we would
eat healthy food, not processed food which is after all no
food at all, but corporate chemistry, and in order to watch
television we would develop true vision, true fore-
sight—which is clairvoyance.
Van Gelder explains, in a similar spirit:

Humans have a system of morality, which embodies
a very serious attitude toward life—a moral code
based upon rules and involving fear of penal ties. Of
course the fairies have not the vaguest conception of
what all that means. They are the truest illustration
of those lovely words of Jesus: Consider the lilies of
the field; they toil not, neither do they spin. Yet


Solomon in all his glory / was not arrayed as one of
these. [Matthew 6:28-29]/52-53

Our vision becomes thus limited, because our direct
experience is bound to be small; and thus we age
prematurely, and life grows monotonous./79

Again, the energy-nature is emphasized in the author’s
description of fairies and how they feed upon the sun, and
as they do not eat, this is their unique form of nourish-

The fairies think of the sun as a tremendous life-
giving globe of light which is the source of all life, as
they derive their nourishment principally from the
sun’s rays. They seem to draw the rays of the sun
through their bodies. This is the nearest they come to
eating. Apart from deriving energy for the mainte-
nance of their own bodies, they help to guide the
energy from the sun for the plants’ growth./87

Dora van Gelder’s classification of fairies is highly
original as she aligns them with the angelic realm, as a sub-
realm actually, and I think her observations are in align-
ment with theosophical teachings. She reports that fairies
are under the direct order and observation of angels, and
the way she describes these angels is intriguing, and scien-
tific. I haven’t found it in any other book thus far:

Over all, an angel is brooding—over the fairies, the
trees, the hills, and streams which are part of his life
and are his trust. He is a powerful personality, and


the valley is just as much part of his body as the
trunk of a tree is the body of a tree spirit, except that
in this case, the angel has intelligence and emotions
as powerful as our own, and he is as much a being
as we are, if not more so. When he takes form he
looks like a beautiful human being, a clean-shaven
youth with fine dark hair and a powerful aquiline
face, his body enveloped in a lovely apple green. His
presence permeates the life of the forest and

The most extraordinary chapter to be found in the book
is the last: how hurricanes are created by angels and what
purpose they serve. The author summarizes her very in-
triguing observations with an ethical consideration:

Human beings will inevitably think that the water
fairies, sea angels, and especially the angel of the
hurricane himself are bad or evil, because for us they
have been destroying life. But this is not so. They
have destroyed forms, but they have not destroyed
the life within the forms, for life cannot die. Moreo-
ver, these beings have performed their function in
accordance with natural law./167

I shall provide here the Roster of Fairies the author out-
lines at the end of her book, because it is something like an
extended table of contents and refers to the various chap-
ters of the book. It gives you a concise overview over the
contents of the book, and is in itself very informative.


AIR FAIRIES are of three general types. First are
those sylphlike beings who inhabit the clouds and
work with them. These are the sculptors of the fairy
world. Next are the air fairies who are associated
with the wind and storms. These air fairies are gen-
erally some four or five feet high, very shapely and
beautiful. And last are the immense air spirits who
live at very high altitudes, who resemble great drag-
ons with huge heads, long bodies, and long tails.
They are centers of energy and power of some sort.
All three of these types are described in Chapter 11.

ANGELS OR DEVAS are radiant beings with great
intelligence who help to guide nature by their un-
derstanding of the Divine Plan. They direct the en-
ergies of nature and oversee the lesser fairies under
their care, such as tree spirits and those who might
be in charge of wind or clouds.

EARTH FAIRIES consists of four main types, two of
which live on the surface of the earth and two un-
derground. On the surface, these fairies / range
from the physically embodied tree spirits to the
small common garden or woods fairies. Rock fairies,
or gnomes, are one of the underground types. More
specific information is given in Chapter 5.

ELEMENTALS are, as their name indicates, spirits of
the elements. These creatures are evolved in the four
kingdoms of elements - air, earth, fire and wa-
ter—according to Kabbalists. They are called
gnomes (of the earth), sylphs (of the air), salaman-


ders (of fire), and undines (of the water). H.P.
Blavatsky, in The Theosophical Glossary, explains
that all the lower invisible beings generated on the
fifth, sixth, and seventh planes of our terrestrial at-
mosphere are called elementals and include fairies,
peris, devas, djins, sylvans, satyrs, fauns, elves, lep-
rechauns, dwarfs, trolls, kobolds, brownies, nixies
and pixies, goblins, moss people, manikins, and oth-
ers who belong to this classification.

FAIRIES are of four major divisions - air, earth, fire,
and water. Fairies range in size from the tiny
butterfly-size, to twelve-inch and two-foot ones, up
to the great sylphs and tree spirits.

FAIRE FAIRIES are also called salamanders.

GARDEN FAIRIES are a common kind of earth fairy.

GNOMES are another kind of earth fairy who in-
habit rocks.

NATURE SPIRITS are those creatures of the devic
kingdom who care for the different categories in na-
ture such as the air and wind, the growing plants,
the landscape features, the water, and fire.

ROCK FAIRIES are sometimes called gnomes. Such
fairies are to be found both above and below
ground. The great rock fairies of the Grand Canyon
are mentioned in Chapter 10 and elsewhere in the


SALAMANDERS are also known as fire fairies.
Chapter 10 has information on one class of these
who inhabit the underground volcanic regions as
well as those involved in lightning and fires above

SYLPHS are a form of air fairy. They are large in
size, though not as evolved as those other great be-
ings, devas. Cloud sylphs are described in Chapter
11 and also mentioned in the chapter on the hurri-
cane, Chapter 12.

TREE SPIRITS, treated in Chapter 7, are larger than
wood fairies and have a more physical body.

UNDINES (a classical or Kabbalistic name) are also
called water spirits or water fairies. /

WATER BABIES are small, happy creatures who are
found near the seashore and in the surf. They are a
type of water fairy, but different from both those
who live farther out in the deep ocean and those
who dwell near streams, lakes, or ponds./178-180

Alberto Villoldo

Books and Media Reviewed
Healing States (1984)
Shaman, Healer, Sage (2000)
The Luminous Body, DVD (2004)
The Four Insights (2006)

Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., a psychologist and medical
anthropologist, has studied the healing practices of the
Amazon and Inka shamans for more than 25 years. While

at San Francisco State University, he founded the Biological
Self-Regulation Laboratory to study how the mind creates
psychosomatic health and disease.

Villoldo directs the Four Winds Society, where he trains
individuals throughout the world in the practice of energy
medicine and soul retrieval. He has training centers in
New England, California, the UK, Holland, and Park City,
Utah. The author of the best-seller Shaman, Healer, Sage,
Villoldo now draws on his vast knowledge to bring us a
practical and revolutionary way to discover the source of
an original wound that may have occurred during child-
hood or in a former lifetime, and that derailed our destiny.
He then shows us how to track forward along our time
lines to find our best and highest future.
—From: Inlay of Mending the Past and Healing the Future
with Soul Retrieval.

I should mention that I was attracted to these books
through the beautiful DVD entitled Healing the Luminous
Body that was produced by Sacred Mysteries, and which I
am going to review further down. Dr. Villoldo, besides the
phenomenal cultural gap that his teaching closes and the
amazing perspectives for soul retrieval in the future,
stands out by his remarkable pedagogical talent; in fact he
is able to convey the complex matter in relatively simple
words and with many examples and excerpts from his per-
sonal journal.


He writes a poetic style, and irradiates warmth, com-
passion and empathic understanding of human suffering;
he also stands out by his sometimes childlike inquisitive-
ness that led him win the sympathy and support of people
and peoples who are, for reasons that we all know, rather
hostile toward our culture.
His popularity is growing presently. A documentary
has been released as his web presence informs and many
interviews with him can be found on Youtube. Besides, his
‘shamanic healing’ seminars are popular throughout the
United States.
I am not surprised about his success given the void in
our culture in the domain of genuine and personal spiritu-
ality, and the need for non-mechanistic healing. Villoldo’s
books are among the most important books I have ever
read in my life.


Healing States
With Stanley Krippner
A Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism
New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 1984

Healing States is a research volume that Alberto Villoldo co-authored
with Stanley Krippner, and it’s a glorious onset of his own career in
spiritual healing. The research presented in this book is highly thought-
provoking if not mind-boggling, and it’s well presented.

The point of departure of the author’s scientific journey
was his research on psychosomatic medicine. He was inter-
ested what exactly makes the soma follow the psyche, or
why the spirit imprints itself on the soma, thus causing
either health or disease. The authors write:

A growing number of allopathic physicians believe
that as much as 80 percent of all illness may contain
a psychosomatic component. Allopathic medical
science, which does not publicly acknowledge the
psychic realm, is still at a loss to explain the origin


and treatment of many of these psychosomatic dis-
orders, often merely referring to ‘unconscious con-
flicts’ that can trigger disease./19

The phenomenon of contact with spirits is highly un-
canny and unusual for the modern mind. The authors, well
aware of this cultural bias or denial, have found that in
fact, it may be a question of terminology as psychothera-
pists talk about ‘complexes’ and ‘subpersonalities’ when
they refer to the same causal agents as for example a me-
dium refers to. In fact, in my own research on what trans-
actional analysis calls our inner selves, I have found that
here we encounter just another of those hidden key formu-
las that open windows to other, wider, and deeper realms
of insight.

—See Hal and Sidra Stone, The Voice Dialogue Manual (1989), re-
viewed further up in this volume

My research on Huna, the ancient religion of the Ka-
huna natives in Hawaii, brought to daylight and gave me
evidence for the assumption that inner selves are not just
psychic modalities but inner spirits, real entities that are
part of our multidimensional psyche. And in my practice of
the inner dialogue and spontaneous art, I had at least in
once instance, a real encounter with a spirit, and I became
acutely aware of the fact that many of our thoughts and
ideas are not entirely our own but that we can, consciously
or involuntarily, benefit from the ideas sent to us by guid-
ing spirits. Yet for the authors, the idea of encountering
spirits seemed novel and daring and they write:

But as we prepared to leave São Paolo we were
struck with the thought that communications from
the spirit world could be happening all the time, and
that we might simply not be aware of them. Is it
possible that many of our intuitions and creative
thoughts come from outside ourselves? Although
most scientists believe that contacts with spirits are
fantasies of the unconscious mind, a small but grow-
ing number of investigators believe that the human
brain may behave like a complex transmitting and
receiving apparatus, which under certain conditions
can pick up thoughts from other minds, and even
across space and time./18

The first landmark research described in the book re-
gards The Spiritual Psychiatry of Dr. Mendes, a Brazilian
spiritual healer located in the suburbs of São Paolo and
specialized on healing epilepsy, schizophrenia and multi-
ple personality disorder.
The interviews with this phenomenal natural healer
revealed that it’s by following the natural principle of self-
regulation that healing states are realized. The authors
summarize their interviews with Dr. Mendes as follows,
fully quoting his reply to their questions:

You could say that we encourage the full expression
of madness and of epilepsy. We then give them bio-
energetic and psychic exercises that correct their im-
proper use of altered awareness. After many years of
observation, we have come to the conclusion that
epilepsy, schizophrenia, and multiple-personality
disorders can all result from inappropriate states of


consciousness. Therapeutic exercises help to organ-
ize the guest/patients’ psychic energies and teach
them to manage their highly developed yet poorly
trained mediumship and trance abilities./41

On the same line of reasoning, the healing state is trig-
gered not by exerting control over the sickly condition, but
by giving the psychosomatic unity of the organism the op-
portunity to regulate its own healing, which in Dr. Men-
des’ experience always leads to the original wounding. It is
by allowing this regression to take place that full healing of
the condition is achieved.

When we asked if learning to control the seizures
constituted the basis of the treatment, Mendes ex-
plained that control is not the issue—as the basis of
his therapy is hypnotic regression. This regression
can take the patient back to childhood, or to a prena-


tal state when the person was still inside the womb,
or even to former lifetimes. Mendes believes that, to
cure themselves, most epileptics must discover and
resolve the highly charged emotional events that
contribute to their illnesses. But, unlike conventional
psychotherapists, he feels that these traumatic
events may have happened in another lifetime./43

The healing would be accomplished by having one
of the clinic's mediums incorporate the former per-
sonality and help her psychologically integrate and
discharge that experience, just as if it had happened
in this lifetime./44

Alberto Villoldo, long before he was famous as an al-
ternative spiritual healer, already had grasped the impor-
tance of bringing self-regulation into healing; it was
namely before he had departed to the Andes that he was
directing the Biological Self-Regulation Laboratory at San
Francisco State University. One of the motivational triggers
for this doctor’s extraordinary journey was his research
experience with Dr. Mendes.
Stanley Krippner reported that he was especially
struck, in the discussions with Dr. Mendes, by ‘the likeli-
hood that the treatment encourages a type of self-
regulation.’ He explains:

All the various types of epilepsy involve dramatic
alterations of consciousness, some of them quite
spectacular. An epileptic may see auras before a sei-
zure, may have a sense of déjà vu, or may have sen-


sory alterations which indicate that a seizure is
about to occur. Through biofeedback, some epilep-
tics have been able to exert some type of control over
the episode, thus minimizing its symptoms. Perhaps
Mendes’ successful clients are doing something
similar by shifting their epileptic episode into a me-
diumistic experience./53

In The Shaman’s Journey, the authors come to an impor-
tant conclusion about shamanism, which points to the im-
portant fact that shamanism, at its very core, is basically
non-judgmental and does not steer toward any fixated po-
sition in terms of morality. It’s thus free of the all-pervasive
moralism that is part of the cultural bias inherent in all
monotheistic religions and their respective cultural incar-
nations (such as, mainly, Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
The authors conclude:

If we were to become polarized toward either the
light or the dark we would become trapped by that
aspect of reality and our spiritual development
would be crippled./89


Shaman, Healer, Sage
How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the
New York: Harmony Books, 2000

Shaman, Healer, Sage is perhaps Villoldo’s best book. It was anyway the
book that made him famous, a real bestseller. It has given me an ulti-
mate peak of reading enjoyment and illumination, and it has also emo-
tionally touched me.

The author comes over in this book as a really honest,
competent, emotionally mature, wistful and empathetic
person who went through a personal transformation that
only few people in these times can say to have accom-
plished. This book is not only highly recommended lec-
ture; it can perhaps be considered as one of the best books
so far in the century on the issues of shamanic healing and
the challenging task to render an outlandish practice of
Inka shamans comprehensive to the modern mind!


The literary abilities of the author, besides his exper-
tise, are out of question, and the book is an easy read de-
spite the complex and unusual subject. This might be due
to the author’s penetration of the subject and his sense for
vivifying theoretical content by practical and often un-
canny experiences, and because of his highly developed
sense for poetic language and expression.
This being said, I would like to start the discussion of
this book with the term infinity. Dr. Villoldo explains that
infinity is not eternity and that it is not a stretching of time
but as it were a realm of ‘no time’, a sort of transliteration
of another vibrational dimension, that is reigned by laws
more majestic and more complex than our own, and of
which our space-time reality forms only a tiny part. One of
the intentions of the author in this book was to render
comprehensive the fact that being in touch with shamanic
healing means to be in touch with infinity. This appears to
be the key to understanding the miraculous effectiveness
of shamanic cures.

And the experience of infinity shatters the illusion of
death, disease, and old age. This is a not a psycho-
logical or spiritual process only; every cell in our
body is informed and renewed by it. Our immune
system is unbridled, and / physical and emotional
healing happen at an accelerated rate. Miracles be-
come ordinary, and spontaneous remissions, those
mysterious and baffling cures that confound medi-
cine, become commonplace. And a spiritual libera-
tion or illumination takes place. In the presence of


infinity we are able to experience what we were be-
fore we were born and who we will be after we

And as he went through traditional medical training in
the United States at first, Dr. Villoldo then was going to
look at that medical science tradition he was coming from,
and that he had left when departing to the Andes in order
to learn with the Inka shamans. And he concludes:

Many years later I understood that Western medi-
cine, in an effort to change the physical body, was
merely moving the iron filings around the glass.
Surgery and medication often brought about violent,
traumatic change on the body. This approach struck
me as crude and invasive, like scattering the iron
filings with my hand, rather than moving them by

The other main purpose of the book is to explain to the
interested reader what the Luminous Energy Field repre-
sents, what it does in natural healing and how the shaman
can access it for altering its energetic vibration in certain
areas that contain so-called imprints. The author explains:

We all possess a Luminous Energy Field that sur-
rounds our physical body and informs our body in
the same way that the energy fields of a magnet or-
ganize iron filings on a piece of glass. Our Luminous
Energy Field has existed since before the beginning
of time. It was one with the unmanifest light of Crea-
tion, and it will endure / throughout infinity. It


dwells outside of time but manifests in time by cre-
ating new physical bodies lifetime after

This reservoir of vital force is a sea of living energy
as indispensable to our health as the oxygen and
nutrients carried by the bloodstream. They are the
energies of the Luminous Energy Field, the purest
and most precious fuel for life./43

Indian or Tibetan mystics who documented the exis-
tence of the Luminous Energy Field thousands of
years ago described it as an aura or halo around the
physical body. At first it seemed odd to find the
same concept of a human energy field among the
jungle and mountain shamans in the Americas. Once
I grasped the universality of the human energy field,
however, I understood that every culture must have
discovered it. In the East, mandalas depict the Bud-
dha enveloped by blue and gold bands of fire. In the
West, Christ and the apostles are shown with lumi-
nous halos around them. In the mystical literature,
the Apostle Thomas is said to have glowed with the
same radiance as Christ. Native American legends
speak of persons who shimmered in the night as if
lit by an inner fire. The Andean storytellers recall the
ruler Pachacutek, considered to be a Child of the
Sun, who sparkled with the light of the dawn./43

In view of our cutting-edge science revelations over the
last two decades, and the insights we gained from quan-
tum physics about the quality of light, and of universal


memory, the teaching Dr. Villoldo received from the Laika
shamans becomes comprehensive in a larger context, and
is actually corroborated by newest scientific insights. The
author writes:

Every living thing on Earth is composed of light.
Plants absorb light directly from the sun and turn it
into life, and animals eat green plants that feed on
light, so that light is the fundamental building block
of life. We are light bound into living matter./43

In the light of Integral Theories of Everything, and es-
pecially the revealing book by Ervin Laszlo, Science and the
Akashic Field (2005), what the author reports about the
Akashic memory does not sound so esoteric after all:

The Luminous Energy Field contains an archive of
all of our personal and ancestral memories, of all
early-life trauma, and even of painful wounds from
former lifetimes. These records or imprints are
stored in full color and intensity of emotions. Im-
prints are like dormant computer programs that
when activated compel us toward behaviors, rela-
tionships, accidents, and illnesses that parody the
initial wounding. /46


What Dr. Villoldo writes about the earth’s magnetic
field, and how the luminous energy field connects us to the
luminous matrix of the entire universe, reminds the ex-
traordinary research by Dr. Wilhelm Reich on what he
called the orgone, which he described equally both as a
bioplasmatic energy and as cosmic orgone, being responsi-
ble, inter alia, for the changes in weather.

—See also my reviews of Reich’s books in The New Paradigm in
Science and Systems Theory (2004). It must be seen that Reich was one
of the first systems researchers in modern history, at a time when this
kind of knowledge was not yet embraced by science, which is why
Reich had to suffer a lot of hardship throughout his career as a medical
doctor, psychoanalyst and bioenergetic healer

It is a well-known fact that Reich, on the basis of these
discoveries, was able to bring about rain in desert regions
and under conditions of severe drought. Dr. Villoldo

Although the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field
drops off very rapidly the farther it travels from the
planet, it never actually reaches zero. It extends for
hundreds of miles into space before diminishing in
strength, and travels at the speed of light, at about
186.000 miles per second, to the edge of the Uni-
verse. The human energy field appears to extend
only a few feet beyond the body since, like the mag-
netic field of the Earth, it diminishes in strength very
rapidly. Yet it also travels at the speed of light, con-
necting us to the luminous matrix of the entire Uni-
verse, known to the Inka as the texemuyo or all-
pervading web./49


Over the years I developed the ability to perceive the
streams of light that flow through the luminous
body, and read the imprints of health and disease. I
believe that this is an innate ability that we all pos-
sess but either do not develop or lose after the age of
seven or eight because we are taught to believe that
the material world is the only ‘real’ world. Shamans
throughout the Americas rely on their ability to per-
ceive the energetic realm./50

Now, what happens when for example we have been
suffering trauma in early childhood? Dr. Villoldo explains
that in such a case an imprint is formed in the luminous
energy field.

Unresolved psychological and spiritual traumas be-
come engraved like scratch marks in our luminous
fields. Positive experiences do not leave a mark in
our luminous body./55

The blueprint that shaped and molded us since we
were inside our mother’s womb contains the memo-
ries of all of our former lifetimes—the way we suf-
fered, the way we loved, how we were ill, and the
way we died. In the East these imprints are known
as karma, forces that sweep through our life like a
giant tide that we cannot swim free of. These im-
prints contain instructions that predispose us to re-
peating certain events from the past. We want to
learn where these energy imprints are located in the
Luminous Energy Field and how to erase them so
that the body, mind, and spirit can return to


Healing the Luminous Body
How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the
New York: Harmony Books, 2000

Healing the Luminous Body was my first access to Dr. Villoldo’s unique
healing methods that he exposes in more detail in his books. This DVD
is very well done, a calm and peaceful introduction into the philosophy,
the development and the effectiveness of healing the luminous body..

Dr. Villoldo expresses himself fluently, and he is able to
inform about the unusual subject in a competent and
poised manner. It becomes clear that he speaks of experi-
ence, not of theory. The video also retraces his professional
way, how he got to the knowledge that today benefits so
many people in the West, and how, at the start, he was
really a pioneer. In this sense, despite enlightening new
openings presented to a greater public in the film ‘What the
Bleep Do We Know!?,’ people like Alberto Villoldo swim
against the stream. For the enlightenment, as in all times of
turmoil and change, does not seem to reach the small oli-
garchy that handle the levers and push the buttons, and


that use red telephones and secret services. I say this to
prevent you from falling in an unreal new age enthusiasm
that deprives so many people today of their feet and lets
them float in the pure air of meditation, spirituality and
angels. Villoldo is not one of those lofty spirits! His teach-
ing is grounded, and therefore helps us connect with the
not so luminous forces in us, our inner shadow, or all the
shadows that are the results of the imprints in our lumi-
nous body, which are for the most part the consequences of
early abuse suffered as children, or that go back to former

Villoldo is not only a fabulous author, who is able to
wrap his teaching in a beautiful and wistful poetic style,
but he’s also a great orator, and his way of talking trig-
gered in me pure hope, love, and enthusiasm. I am thank-


ful for this wonderful DVD as it helps to introduce in his
teaching which is not as easy to apply as it seems on first
sight. After all, it is taken from a culture almost opposite to
ours, a culture that is psychologically and spiritually much
higher evolved than ours.

In this fascinating and informative video, Alberto
Villoldo, Ph.D., introduces viewers to the luminous
energy field that surrounds and informs our physi-
cal body like a blueprint of life. Unveiling the secret
of ancient shaman-healers, he teaches us that many
of our physical and psychological problems stem
from imprints within our luminous body. Dr. Vil-
loldo reveals the nature of this luminous field, how
it acts as a blueprint for our physical body and how
by understanding its nature, we can actually heal
ourselves and each other. Once the luminous body is
cleared, Dr. Villoldo explains, physical and emo-
tional healing can begin.

Trained as a Medical Anthropologist, Dr. Villoldo
left the academic world behind twenty years ago to
study among the Inka shamans. It was in the Andes
Mountains of South America that he discovered the
wisdom of the luminous body from the indigenous
shamans. This ancient knowledge reveals the secret
of true health and happiness.

To aid Dr. Villoldo explaining the luminous energy
field, the paintings of visionary artist Alex Grey are
presented. No other artist has depicted the luminous
energy form in all of its intricacies as clearly as Alex
Grey. Dr. Villoldo's presentation, together with Alex


Grey’s images help all of us understand the nature
of our spiritual and physical being.

Many of our illnesses, physical disorders, addictions
and failed relationships can be traced to faulty im-
prints in our luminous body. In this video, Dr. Vil-
loldo unveils how to heal and recover from these
destructive imprints and regain our physical, mental
and spiritual well-being. Join us as we travel to the
Andes Mountains to learn the secret of the ancient
shamans, a secret that can lead all of us to health,
happiness and beauty.
—From: DVD Back Cover


The Four Insights
How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the
New York: Harmony Books, 2000

The Four Insights chronologically is the last of the three books by Dr.
Villoldo that I review here, as it was the most recent at the time I drafted
these reviews.

The book is structured very differently from the pre-
ceding ones, in that it condenses the teaching into Four In-

Part One: Understanding the Energy of Perception
The Four Levels of Perception
Your Energetic Anatomy

Part Two: The Four Insights

Insight One – The Way of the Hero
The Practice of Nonjudgment
The Practice of Nonsuffering


The Practice of Nonattachment
The Practice of Beauty

Insight Two – The Way of the Luminous Warrior
The Practice of Fearlessness
The Practice of Nondoing
The Practice of Certainty
The Practice of Nonengagement

Insight Three – The Way of the Seer
The Practice of Beginner’s Mind
The Practice of Living Consequently
The Practice of Transparency
The Practice of Integrity

Insight Four – The Way of the Sage
The Practice of Mastering Time
The Practice of Owning Your Projections
The Practice of No-mind
The Practice of Indigenous Alchemy

In a way, and perhaps logically so, this book is much
more condensed than any of the former books by the
author. Every sentence, and every word counts, and is full
of meaning, and you are not going to read this in the same
speed as, for example, Shaman, Healer, Sage. This indicates
perhaps that this book is more conceptual than the earlier
books, and that the author has in the meantime created a
concise framework for his teaching. To give an example of
this density that reminds the highly focused content of


theosophical writings, the author writes in the Introduc-

The Earthkeepers teach that all of creation—the
earth, humans, whales, rocks, and even the stars—is
made of vibration and light./x

Thanks to the discoveries of quantum physics, we’ve
come to understand that all matter is densely packed
light. But the Laika have known about the luminous
nature of reality for millennia - they know that vi-
bration and light can organize themselves into a
thousand shapes and forms./xiii

There is another elucidation forwarded by the author
about his teaching that I consider extremely impor-
tant—and that he should perhaps have provided in earlier
publications. It’s the fact that the Laika tradition he was
initiated in is not to be confounded with mainstream Inka
All those who know about the Inka tradition are aware
of the fact that it was a Sun God cult, what Joseph Camp-
bell came to call a ‘solar culture’ that practiced ruthless
slavery, the oppression of the female, violent warfare, tor-
ture of prisoners of war, and human sacrifice. The author

As fortune or destiny would have it, I ended up
meeting my mentor, don Antonio. He was one of the
last of the living Laika, and he took me under his
wing and trained me for nearly 25 years. He was a


man of many lives—during the day, he was a uni-
versity / professor; in the evenings, a master medi-
cine man. He was born in a high mountain village
and worked with the tools and practices of the 15th
century, yet he was conversant in the way of the 21st.
Although he was a descendant of the Inka, he would
tell me that the Laika are much older than the Inka,
whose culture was masculine and militaristic. The
Laika’s teachings were from that earlier time, when
the feminine aspect of the divine was recognized.

Over millennia, the Laika learned to access the bio-
logical blueprint of light and assist Spirit in the un-
folding of creation. They also learned how to heal
disease and create extraordinary states of health, as
well as to craft and shape their personal destinies, by
changing the LEF [Luminous Energy Field]./xiii

The powerful message of this teaching is that we can
overcome our negative individual and collective karma by
rejoining the original pattern, through overcoming and
healing what the Kahunas call complexes, and what Dr. Vil-
loldo calls imprints in the Luminous Energy Field (LEF).

We can think of the LEF as the software that gives
instructions to DNA, which is the hardware that
manufactures the body. Mastery of the insights lets
us access the latest version of the software and al-
lows each of us to create a new body that ages, heals,
and dies differently. Without the ability to repro-
gram the LEF, we're trapped in the stories we inher-
ited; that is, we age, heal, live, and die the way our


parents and grandparents did, reliving their physical
ills and emotional ailments. The four insights con-
tained in these pages allow us to break free of the
tyranny of our familial curses, the stories that
haunted our ancestors./xiv

In becoming Homo luminous, we'll give up the
ways of the conquistador and discard the masculine
theology that values command, control, and domin-
ion over nature, a theology that justifies the exploita-
tion of the earth's rivers and forests because they're
seen merely as resources for human consumption.
Instead, we'll embrace an older mythology that has
become lost to most humans, a feminine theology of
cooperation and sustainability./xiv

It is a daring perspective, and I can only admire the
courage of the author to forward his wonderful mission in
a time of change that perhaps really contains a vortex, an
opening for the new to emerge from the old.
The book contains much more than the little window
that I opened here in my book review, and perhaps con-
trary to my other reviews, I restrain myself here. And for
good reason. It’s a symbolic act. Discover for yourself, and
see what more you can learn from this extraordinary book!
I feel unable to convey it.



Abrams, Jeremiah (Ed.)
Reclaiming the Inner Child
New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1990

Campbell, Joseph
The Hero With A Thousand Faces
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973
(Bollingen Series XVII)
London: Orion Books, 1999

Occidental Mythology
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973
(Bollingen Series XVII)
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1991

The Masks of God
Oriental Mythology
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1992
Originally published in 1962
The Power of Myth
With Bill Moyers
ed. by Sue Flowers
New York: Anchor Books, 1988

Chopra, Deepak
Life After Death
The Book of Answers
London: Rider, 2006

Eliade, Mircea
Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
New York: Pantheon Books, 1964

Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling
The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries
London: Frowde, 1911
Republished by Dover Publications
(Minneola, New York), 2002

Goldman, Jonathan & Goldman, Andi
Healing Sounds
The Power of Harmonies
Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2002

Healing Sounds
Principles of Sound Healing
DVD, 90 min.
Sacred Mysteries, 2004
Tantra of Sound
Frequencies of Healing
Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2005

Grof, Stanislav
Beyond the Brain
Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy
New York: State University of New York, 1985

The Holotropic Mind
The Three Levels of Human Consciousness
With Hal Zina Bennett
New York: HarperCollins, 1993

The Cosmic Game
Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998


Krishnamurti, J.
Education and the Significance of Life
London: Victor Gollancz, 1978

Leadbeater, Charles Webster
Astral Plane
Its Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena
Kessinger Publishing Reprint Edition, 1997
Originally published in Madras, India, 1895

What they Are and How they are Caused
London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1903
Kessinger Publishing Reprint Edition, 1998

The Inner Life
Chicago: The Rajput Press, 1911
Kessinger Publishing

Leary Timothy
Your Brain is God
Berkeley, CA: Ronin Publishing, 2001

McKenna, Terence
The Archaic Revival
San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1992
Food of The Gods
A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution
London: Rider, 1992

The Invisible Landscape
Mind Hallucinogens and the I Ching
New York: HarperCollins, 1993
(With Dennis McKenna)

Metzner, Ralph (Ed.)
Ayahuasca, Human Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature
ed. by Ralph Metzner, Ph.D
New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999


Moore, Thomas
Care of the Soul
A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
New York: Harper & Collins, 1994

Murphy, Joseph
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker, 1981, N.Y.: Bantam, 1982
Originally published in 1962

The Miracle of Mind Dynamics
New York: Prentice Hall, 1964

Think Yourself Rich
Use the Power of Your Subconscious Mind to Find True Wealth
Revised by Ian D. McMahan, Ph.D.
Paramus, NJ: Reward Books, 2001

Narby, Jeremy
The Cosmic Serpent
DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
New York: J. P. Tarcher, 1999

Newton, Michael
Life Between Lives
Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression
Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2006

Stone, Hal & Stone, Sidra
Embracing Our Selves
The Voice Dialogue Manual
San Rafael, CA: New World Library, 1989

Van Gelder, Dora
The Real World of Fairies
A First-Person Account
Wheaton: Quest Books, 1999
First published in 1977


Villoldo, Alberto
Healing States
A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism
With Stanley Krippner
New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 1987

Shaman, Healer, Sage
How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the
New York: Harmony, 2000

The Four Insights
Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2006

Healing the Luminous Body
The Way of the Shaman with Dr. Alberto Villoldo
DVD, Sacred Mysteries Productions, 2004

Personal Notes