Christmas is coming, and with it the 17th anniversary of my close encounter experience of December 26, 1985. To this day, it haunts my sleep. My wife tells me that, if she should get up during the night, I will call out to her immediately, and grab her hand when she returns to the bed. I still remember those few minutes as if it had all happened last night. But, nowadays, I am beginning to be able to sleep more normally. More often than not, I sleep right through the hour between three and four, when the incident took place. For the first fifteen years after it happened, this was not true.
It has been like a black hole in the center of my life, which I have struggled for years to fill with genuine knowledge and good questions. Looking back, I see that what began as an absolute terror had changed within a few years into a sublime journey of the spirit that I remain on to this day.
In 1970, I joined the Gurdjieff Foundation in New York. This involved weekly group meetings under the guidance of Joseph Stein, who conducted careful, hour-long sessions that involved guided meditation and dialogue while remaining in the meditative state. He taught us to meditate daily, and I have continued this practice now for 32 years.
I remained with the foundation until 1983, when it became clear to me that friction that was developing between me and some of the leadership was being generated by me, because of a deep need to leave and challenge my own ability to sustain my inner work on my own. Between 1983 and 1985, I continued occasional meetings with Jean Sultzberger and William C. Segal, who were dear friends in the foundation, much my senior, and whose mastery, so assured and yet so humble, seemed very authentic to me.
Then came the close encounter. In January, I went to William Segal and described the experience to him. He said, ?fifteen minutes with them, fifteen years of meditation.? I could not have agreed with him more. Even while I was with the visitors on that night, so lost in fear that my first title for Communion was to be Body Terror, I knew from the way they moved and acted that they were, in the context of Gurdjieff?s theories, ?awake.?
If you meditate in the manner prescribed by him, dividing your attention between inner and outer life?forming what he called the ?double arrow? of attention?you become able to see when others are doing this as well. The woman whose portrait is on the cover of Communion, which I am looking up at now as I write, was without a doubt the greatest master I have ever known. Her being projected devastatingly powerful knowledge. A great part of the terror that I knew when I was with her came not from the situation, but from how it felt to be seen by her. In fact, she and those around her were trying to calm me down in some ways, even as they engaged in very quick but also very intrusive medical actions.
One of these involved inserting a probe into my body through my rectum, an action that had extraordinary consequences, not in my life, but in popular culture. Looking back over these years, two things have entered the culture from my experience: her face and the rectal probe. I have watched as one immature male after another made shrill and uneasy fun of this aspect of what happened to me. It has been fascinating and grotesque to find the rectal probe appear in newspaper cartoons, be lampooned on television, and become a focus of derision of me. I been both amused and disgusted by the eagerness with which elements of our human community seek debasement, by concentrating on whatever they can find that offers them the potential to lower themselves further.
The powerful, sublime and important parts of my experience, which I feel are adequately described in Communion, have gone unremarked and are of no public interest. However, I met somebody very great on that night, somebody whose life is vastly larger than a human life, and what I learned from my time with her is of enormous value not only to me, but to anybody who wishes to open their mind to the possibilities that it implies.
After that experience, there were many meetings with the visitors, some of which I have described in my books. As I began to understand, from them, the reasons that their presence is so secret, I began also to act both on our behalf and on theirs. However, I discovered that theirs is a very complicated presence among us, and not all of our visitors are to be trusted or accepted. Some of them are not like the woman I met and her staff. Some of them qualify as what we would call monsters, in every sense of that word.
As I learned about the physical and cultural issues that surround contact, I also came to agree that it would interrupt man?s chance to make his way into the cosmic community on his own, and would thus forever diminish us and compromise our ability to reach our full potential as a species of free and conscious beings.
In the late eighties, I dreamed daily of final, open contact. I longed for the moment that I would be able to stand up to my oppressors and detractors and silence them with the truth. I was a baby then. In the years since, I have learned a lot.
To really examine the issues surrounding contact, it is necessary first to understand what the process actually entails. To do that, it must be understood that the central issue is not a cultural or spiritual one, it is physical. It has to do with the way in which we perceive the world around us. When visitors possessing different means of perception enter our world, our way of seeing will also change. In many people?most, as matters now stand?there will be an outbreak of perceptual chaos. There will be no way to end this. I refer not so much to the educated people of the first world, who will probably develop efficient coping mechanisms fairly quickly, but to the vast majority of human beings, who are impoverished, superstitious and poorly educated, if at all. They will not be able to cope, and until they are able to, contact will be withheld.
This means that mankind will not achieve any measure of contact until the least of us is capable of mastering his measure of contact. So I think that we can safely assume that open contact is not going to happen here anytime soon.
However, that does not mean that individuals cannot get into profound contact situations, or that this is not already happening. It is happening. I know of people who started out years ago in contact situation that they were able to make work, who have gone on some truly magnificent journeys in their lives. To some extent, this is what happened to me.
I cannot agree with those who would reject the contact experience, or those who go so far as to lie in order to make it seem entirely terrible. It is not entirely terrible, any more than contact with us would be entirely terrible, were we to go to another world.
Let me construct an example of what I mean. Say we were in the position of the visitors, where movement between worlds was about as difficult, and as economically available, as travel on the Concorde is for us today. In other words, so costly that the great majority cannot enjoy it, but not so costly that thousands cannot still afford to go.
We learn to detect planets with living atmospheres, and discover that they are relatively common. Most of them, we discover at great expense, are not alive in any meaningful sense. But some are, and some few actually harbor intelligent species.
Most of these are entirely capable of interstellar travel themselves, and visiting them is a matter of seeking challenges of a kind that are hardly known to us now, and which there is no reason for me to discuss directly unless, by some miracle, we develop a useful means of interstellar travel during my lifetime.
Say, however, we find a world where there is an intelligent species clinging to life, totally ignorant, its numbers sparse, its chances low. There would be many different schools of thought about how we should handle the situation. Some would say that we should leave them entirely alone. Others would preach limited intervention?just enough to prevent them from self-destruction. Others might see the possibility of altering them genetically in order to enhance their intelligence and speed up their evolution. Others yet might address them with all kinds of ideological constructs, ranging from the sublime to the murderous.
In other words, our one, single planet would visit them with literally dozens of different approaches to contact. Consider, for example, if the Catholic Church, Communist China, the US National Security Agency, Buddhists, Hindus, the Ford Motor Company, the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, the Moonies, the Presbyterian Church, the British Royal Family and Mossad all went.
And they would go. We would go racing to impose all of our ideas, expectations and hopes on them. Indeed, if we went armed with technologies that will be in human hands within just a few years, we might also be able to intervene in their existence in ways so profound that we would, in later, wiser times, come to feel deeply responsible for them, for what we have done to change them, and how profoundly we have affected them.
Some of us would react with compassion, others with contempt. Some would be striving to bring us to the point that we could be free and on our own in the cosmos. Others would be seeking various degrees of control. Others might react to the guilt in a sociopathic manner.
If you multiply the amazing chaos suggested by the above contact scenario by dozens of worlds, and add to them species and beings who do not even address reality in terms of living on planets or indeed in space-time as we perceive it, then you have some idea of what the situation is here on earth. We are being visited not just by one world, but by many, and each ?planet? does not present us with a single personality or ideology. They are even more complex than we are, for the most part, and they address us across a range of ideologies, approaches and expectations that is completely unimaginable.
In all of this, there is only one thing that we do, and that is that we deny contact. It is not the visitors who hold back, it is us who make the process impossible. In fact, many of our visitors are entirely open about their comings and goings. They don?t care whether we see them or not. Others live among us, and some can do so quite openly.
This is because some of them look quite like us, and this is why: Life in the universe evolves according to a set of matrices that exist along a continuum of possibilities. The chemical composition of a given planet, and the type of star that gives it its energy, determine the type of animal forms that will evolve on its surface. Over eons, the forms that survive will increasingly appear like surviving forms on other, similar planets, because these are the most efficient forms in the particular survival situation that a given planet presents.
Thus there could be other earths on which live beings who appear similar enough to us to walk freely here. So the idea that living forms evolving on another planet would be of necessity radically different from us is false and naive.
Given that people from other worlds might be able to move freely here, it could be that they would inject themselves into our society on such a wide scale that they would have very substantial influence.
The question would then become, why would their influence not better our world? After all, the proportion of rich to poor, educated to ignorant has remained relatively stable as the human population has grown. We have just come through the most violent century in our known history, and the present perilous state of the world certainly suggests that there is more to come.
So, if they are not here to save us, then why are they here? They are here to protect us from knowledge that would compromise our freedom to save ourselves. All we are worth to anybody who cares about our welfare, ourselves included, depends on this freedom being maintained. The ones who don?t care about it are not our friends. The result of this is a kind of paradox: if contact begins to unfold before we are all capable of coping with it, it will mean that those who cherish us have been somehow pushed aside by those who would exploit us.
How can we tell when we are ready? It?s really quite simple. Go to any poverty-stricken slum in the depths of the third world, and ask. If the answer is objective, practical, and not filtered through superstition and ideology, we?re making progress. But then you must also ask the same question of people in the first world, and of our leaders at every level of society.
When the response is a consensus of rationality, the whole experience of UFOs and such will begin to change. The same scientific and governmental institutions that were intractably certain that the very idea of an alien presence here was absurd will begin to change their positions. As if by a miracle, institutions like the US National Academy of Science will suddenly start to acknowledge the possibility that UFOs have some sort of meaning. Military organizations, previously secretive, will begin to be more open.
Nobody will have changed policy. It will change on its own, as attitudes change.
Looking back over these seventeen years, all I can say is that I have worked faithfully for a good outcome for mankind. I have sought to do everything in my power to further our cause, which could not be more clear: the introduction of mankind into the cosmos as a free and independent species, able to express itself in every appropriate way imaginable, and, over time, in many ways that are probably far beyond our present imagination.
Many others are working in the same direction, both here and elsewhere. Many are not. Some are so xenophobic that they react to us very negatively. Others bring jealousies and hatreds to the situation that reflect their own traumatic pasts. The situation, in other words, is very complicated, and made the more so that our view of it is as distorted as our view of the world around us. We see of it only what we call its ?physical? manifestations.
In an effort to free ourselves from the superstitions of the past, we have conditioned ourselves to concentrate only on physical-sensual inputs?what our bodies tell us. In so doing, we have actually filtered out and blinded ourselves to most of what our bodies actually tell us. Those of us who still have some sensitivity to these less perceivable energies have divided reality into ?levels? and usually claim that some ?levels? vibrate at a higher frequency than others or some such thing.
This is all for one purpose: to confine ourselves to the level in which we are exposed to the most illusion and the least truth, where, in fact, the only truth that we cannot deny is death itself?and its inevitability we do deny, every day of our lives. Instead of living as if this could be our last moment, we live as if our last moment will never come. Then, when the body itself finally gives up, nature forces us to face the truth.
Until we can see and be and live as we really are, in the fullness of our potential, we will not really see what is happening all around us all the time. We will not see the vast array of being in which we swim like a little, scared school of fish, on a journey to where we know not, across an ocean of space and time that seems without beginning and without end.
I was privileged, on that night of profound shock, to be awakened?in a small way?to the reality of the world as it is. I lost the illusion that the soul and the body are somehow different, and that we cannot see into realms into which we choose not to look.
Now, I have lived in this new reality for a very long time. This came to me because I had been well prepared for it by people like Joseph Stein and William Segal. They had given me the tools I needed to go along this path?they and others who, while less visible, are equally present.
In a few weeks, I am going to begin writing a book that will be the summation of all of these years of inner and outer work, the purpose of which will be to help focus us on the path outward. It is a book that started when my life began, and that I have been writing with the experience of my living journey for thirty-two years of conscious effort, seventeen of them under the care of a truly great and humble master.
So, in a sense, this Christmas marks the very truest of new beginnings for me. I hope that you, also, find in your heart and the world around you, the blessings of this ancient season of faith and affirmation. God bless us all, and especially those suffering, and those who face peril far from home. This is a dark season in the life of man, but not as dark as it was just half a century ago. So, in the shadows that seem eternal, we now see suggestions of a coming dawn. May God give each and all of us the courage to raise our faces to the advent of the sun.
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