I spoke the words, waving a finger before her eyes, just as she’d instructed. “At the count of three you will fall into a trance. One… two… three.” Her head fell upon her chest. At the age of ten, I didn’t really know what to expect.
She was a ten-year-old friend who had been hypnotized for entertainment by a counselor at summer camp. She’d been sitting around a campfire with fellow members of the International Order of Job’s Daughters – a Masonic sponsored ritualistic organization for girls. The counselor gave her a permanent hypnotic command: that these words would immediately duplicate the trance. She had told my brother and me about it, and invited us to try. I was skeptical.
“What is your brother doing in the next room?” I asked the entranced girl.
“He’s writing a letter,” she replied slowly.
“What is he writing?”
“I can’t see the paper.”
“Look over his shoulder, and tell me what he’s writing.”
“He’s writing to Santa. He wants a new bike.”
Afterward, my brother asked him if he’d been writing, asking for a new bike. He looked shocked, and then furious. “You’ve been spying on me somehow! Get out! Get out of my house right now!” he screamed, chasing us to the door.
I was stunned. How could this have been possible? I was compelled to find an explanation, or at least a theory. I will tell you what I came up with.
In following years I borrowed library books on hypnosis, including one by The Impossiblist Reveen, and practiced on people at parties, promising entertainment. Following instructions in the books, I would say “You’re sinking deeper and deeper into an ocean of sleep.” Then I would test the subject, hoping they’d reached the hypnotic state known as somnambulism. They must be able to open their eyes without waking from the trance.
“Ok, that’s very good, Rebecca. Now sit down and close your eyes again.” It was the first time someone passed the test. “Now as I count to three, I want you to gently, easily and naturally fall deeper and deeper until you have left your own mind behind. One… two… three. Now, as I count to three, I want you to focus on James, and float back from the depths into James’s mind instead of your own. Be in James’s mind, see what James sees, hear what James hears, and know what James knows. One… two… three.”
She sat quietly, giving no sign that she’d heard me. I was breathless with anticipation. “Now I want you to nod if you can see through James’s eyes.” She nodded lightly. Amazing! “Very good. Nod if you know James’s thoughts.” Again she nodded. “Now I want you to tell me what James is thinking of.”
Speaking softly Rebecca said, “He thinks I’m faking. He’s remembering a beach. He’s looking at waves, and trying not to stare at girls in bikinis.” James’s face turned beet red. About an hour after the session was over, Rebecca was petting the imaginary dog I had hypnotically told her she would see whenever I spoke the word “scarlet.” Again red-faced, James chuckled, “It’s true. I was trying not to be obvious about staring at the girls.” While everyone was laughing, I was thinking about what this meant.
The hypnosis books directed me to say, “…deeper into an ocean of sleep.” An ocean? Are individuals like tiny wavelets on the surface of a vast ocean of mind? Could it be that we all share the same depths, the same unconscious mind, like conjoined twins joined at the unconscious? I realized that everything we experience, we experience in or through our mind. Everything we understand or recognize would be through association to experiences stored in that shared mind. This would explain our ability to empathize with, imagine and dream what we have not personally experienced.
At a later party, I tried another experiment with someone else. “Now, as I count to three, I want you to focus on the armchair behind you, and float back from the depths into the armchair instead of your own mind. You will be that armchair instead. Do you understand?” Kim nodded. “Ok then, one… two… three. What do you feel right now?”
“I am a chair,” Kim murmured.
On that cue, a skeptic partier slightly lifted one side of the armchair behind her. “I’m tipping!” she screamed, her eyes still closed. “It’s ok, don’t worry. You’re perfectly safe.” I said. The armchair was soundlessly lowered, and Kim visibly relaxed.
What if every object we see, like the armchair, is also part of that same collective ocean of Mind? What if we’re actually looking at and touching people and things that are the surface of our own mind, which we can find ourselves actually being, somewhere in the back of our mind?
This idea, that everything we experience is recognized by reference to experiences stored in a common mind, offers a way to understand shared experiences like ESP, community spirit, racial memory and evolved instinct.
Recognizing that there are larger waves upon which we see many wavelets, and even bigger surges composed of these larger waves, we can understand group-minds such as ant colonies, bee hives, bird flocks, communities and nations.
Noticing those wavelets naturally bob up and down, into and out of being, yet virtually identical each time, we can comprehend sleep and waking besides death and reincarnation. Dreams would be our forays into the depths, when our wavelet dips, unconscious.
Ghosts and spirits would be imperceptible undercurrents that invisibly affect the surface. Insight and wisdom would come from knowing the undercurrents. Prophecy would be recognizing an undercurrent that will soon break the surface in our visible lives. Magic would be the deliberate triggering of an unconscious impulse or undercurrent, through simple but powerful mental associations.
But what kind of things are we, able to turn the mind’s eye on being anything in the Universe, whether living or inanimate? Are we not the eyes – or I’s – of the Universe?