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Depart Knowledge of Self

Depart on a Journey to Discover Our Inner Universes

Go deep with­in to a reflec­tive aware­ness of the con­nec­tions between nodes of life. Gain insight from empti­ness, and find your­self with­in that clear, open space.

“Biz­zarie di Varie Fig­ure”, Gio­van­ni Bat­tista Bra­cel­li, 1624

“Our own indi­vid­ual inner uni­verse, our way of being con­scious, is just one pos­si­ble way of being con­scious. And even human con­scious­ness gen­er­al­ly, it’s just a tiny region in a vast space of pos­si­ble con­scious­ness­es… With a greater sense of under­stand­ing comes a greater sense of won­der, and a greater real­iza­tion that we are part of and not apart from the rest of nature.” — Anil Seth

If we wish to gain insight on our true nature, it is nec­es­sary to delve into the field of con­scious­ness.

One grow­ing approach to this inves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns a branch of meta­phys­i­cal phi­los­o­phy deal­ing with the study of the mind called noet­ics. In Greek, noē­sis / noētikos describes inner wis­dom, direct know­ing, intu­ition, or implic­it under­stand­ing. The Petaluma, Cal­i­for­nia based IONS (Insti­tute Of Noet­ic Sci­ences) describes Noet­ic Sci­ences as: “A mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary field of study that brings objec­tive sci­en­tif­ic tools and tech­niques togeth­er with sub­jec­tive inner know­ing to study the nature of real­i­ty.”1 In this mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary field, the study of sub­jec­tive expe­ri­ence is seen through a sci­en­tif­ic lens to exam­ine ways in which con­scious­ness per­tains to the phys­i­cal world.

The idea behind the term uni­ty of con­scious­ness is that when we expe­ri­ence sen­sa­tions like sound and feel­ing, or smell and taste, we do so all at once.2 Con­scious­ness has the capac­i­ty to inte­grate com­plex parts and pat­terns into a seam­less whole. Con­scious­ness plays a cru­cial role in sup­port­ing indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive trans­for­ma­tion, and engag­ing a glob­al com­mu­ni­ty in the real­iza­tion of human poten­tial.

Con­scious­ness is not a fixed qual­i­ty we pos­sess, but rather an evolv­ing expe­ri­ence of who we are. We can devel­op our aware­ness of con­scious­ness when we qui­et our inner dia­logue and calm the fran­tic pace of our dai­ly lives. Deep­er insights of con­scious­ness occur when we tune into the res­o­nant fre­quen­cy we share with all oth­er obser­vant beings. To cre­ate con­di­tions for our bod­ies to live in a healthy, relaxed, and lib­er­at­ed state, enables the mind to gain greater aware­ness of the sen­sa­tions the body receives. This col­lec­tion of sen­so­ry input and extrasen­so­ry insight can then be recon­fig­ured by the mind, through com­plex pat­tern recog­ni­tion and res­o­lu­tion, to influ­ence mat­ter. At this pre­cise moment, the uni­ty of con­scious­ness expands to allow for a state of total har­mo­ny. Per­haps this is what is meant by the title of the Radio­head song “Every­thing in its right place”.

“Alle­gor­i­cal-sym­bol­ic Work”, Uncred­it­ed, 1922

“Tech­nol­o­gy is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of mind. It’s our thoughts and imag­i­na­tion brought into phys­i­cal form. If you look around this room, every object, even the room itself, start­ed as a thought. And like thoughts, tech­nol­o­gy can run wild, and cause immense dev­as­ta­tion and suf­fer­ing, or it can be our ally, to help us real­ize that which we all see: Peace, truth, love, enlight­en­ment, what­ev­er name you want to give to that.” — Mikey Siegel

New pieces of tech­nol­o­gy are cur­rent­ly being cre­at­ed to help access and explore the mys­ter­ies of con­scious­ness. One of the peo­ple in the spot­light of this pur­suit is an engi­neer named Mikey Siegel who has been work­ing on inte­grat­ing tech­nol­o­gy with con­scious­ness through a series of glob­al events he’s titled the Con­scious­ness Hack­ing Meet­Up. These com­mu­ni­ty-based gath­er­ings offer the oppor­tu­ni­ty for atten­dees to try out a device Siegel cre­at­ed called Heart­sync which can con­nect up to 24 peo­ple wear­ing EEG head­sets to a com­put­er, visu­al­ize their heart-rates, and emit cor­re­spond­ing sounds through speak­ers. This device enables a group of peo­ple to syn­chro­nize their breath­ing and heart-rates into a col­lec­tive rhythm. Through Siegel’s net­work of Meet­Up events called Project Nights, oth­er indi­vid­u­als and star­tups are able to share poten­tial­ly influ­en­tial pro­to­types.3 For instance, a group called Lucid­ing Inc. has invent­ed a spe­cial­ized head­band that can send elec­tri­cal puls­es to you while you sleep, which they claim allows for the abil­i­ty to con­trol one’s dreams and enjoy lucid­ly-nav­i­gat­ed desires.

Tech­nolo­gies that sense and trans­mit heart rhythms, or that allow us to choose our own adven­tures through our dreams, reveal the pow­er­ful inter­work­ing of our own bio­log­i­cal machin­ery. We are learn­ing to har­mo­nize the ener­gies of our exter­nal tech­nolo­gies with the ener­gies of our inter­nal tech­nolo­gies. Along the way, we are deriv­ing an ever greater mean­ing of what tech­nol­o­gy can be. Most of all, tech­nol­o­gy can be inter­pret­ed as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of human imag­i­na­tion.

PCH exper­i­ments with Brain Com­put­er Inter­faces (BCI)

Altered states of con­scious­ness are a built-in fea­ture to human expe­ri­ence. Pop­u­lar­ized modes for quick­ly alter­ing consciousness—like enter­tain­ment, caf­feine, alco­hol, hal­lu­cino­gens, sen­so­ry depri­va­tion, or elec­tri­cal brain­wave stim­u­la­tion —are ripe for rein­ter­pre­ta­tion. Like with chem­i­cal sub­stances, the poten­tial for depen­den­cy to devel­op presents risk to cer­tain avenues for alter­ing con­scious­ness. Yet ancient prac­tices will con­tin­ue to be our most acces­si­ble means for expe­ri­enc­ing inter­nal trans­for­ma­tion. The most sus­tain­able means for gain­ing insights from dif­fer­ent states of con­scious­ness might very well con­tin­ue to include the shaman­ic method of rhyth­mic per­cus­sion, or the yog­ic meth­ods of breath-work, move­ment, and med­i­ta­tion.

We believe that in the future, ecosys­tems for explor­ing and expand­ing con­scious­ness will con­tin­ue to grow. So too will the num­ber of pos­si­ble paths toward the dis­cov­ery of the truths hid­den with­in each of our inner uni­vers­es. Oppor­tu­ni­ties to access enlight­ened expe­ri­ences from with­in will con­tin­ue to unfold. All the while, humans will grad­u­al­ly devel­op a more cohe­sive con­nec­tion with the out­er uni­verse.

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Depart Knowledge of Self

Embark into Greater Awareness

Lucid dreams, med­i­ta­tion, and hal­lu­cino­gens serve as bridges between states of con­scious­ness and reveal the pow­er of mind over mat­ter.

“As a lump of salt thrown into water melts away…even so, 0 Maitreyi, the indi­vid­ual soul, dis­solved, is the Eternal—pure con­scious­ness, infi­nite, tran­scen­dent.” — The Bri­hadaranaya­ka Upan­ishad

Mys­tic wis­dom reveals uni­ver­sal truths that exist out­side the intel­lect, and can be obtained only in the spir­it realm. Mys­tic aware­ness becomes avail­able with dis­tance from the intel­lect and cor­re­spond­ing sense of self. The amount of pro­cess­ing sim­ply to nav­i­gate one’s every­day indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence requires pow­er­ful cal­cu­la­tions and ener­gy. As such, liv­ing in a con­stant state of mys­tic aware­ness is unfor­tu­nate­ly not prac­ti­cal for nav­i­gat­ing the phys­i­cal world. Yet, we can cer­tain­ly become more aware of the truth about our inter-con­nec­tions by giv­ing greater atten­tion to insights shared by mys­tics. We can also pri­or­i­tize some time each day to take a break from all our pro­cess­ing and, in a calm, appro­pri­ate space, learn to devel­op mys­tic aware­ness.

No mat­ter what we come across in that time and space, we will at least ben­e­fit from access­ing a more self­less realm and stop burn­ing so much ener­gy on judg­ing our­selves. We should, instead, learn to embrace all of who we are, appre­ci­ate our var­i­ous flaws and mis­takes, and see how our imper­fec­tions con­nect us to the per­fect­ly chaot­ic com­po­si­tion of life.

US Pub­lic Health Ser­vice Poster, 1942

The Upan­ishads are ancient San­skrit writ­ings that com­prise part of a larg­er body of reli­gious texts known as the Vedas, text that informs core ele­ments of Hin­duism as well as Bud­dhism and Jain­ism. These writ­ings are con­sid­ered “author­less”. The date of their ori­gins remains in ques­tion, although some schol­ars have placed the ear­li­est writ­ings as far back as 800 BCE. As ear­ly philo­soph­i­cal texts, the Upan­ishads are extreme­ly pre­cise in describ­ing a con­nec­tion between the phys­i­cal world and the spir­it world.

We believe that once we begin to dis­tance our­selves from the demands of our ego-tech­no-cen­tric eco­nom­ic sys­tem, we will free up space to pur­sue a more mys­ti­cal rela­tion­ship to the nat­ur­al world. In small ways we can uncov­er the con­nec­tions between peo­ple in order to arrive at a more spir­i­tu­al­ly awak­ened exis­tence.

Fig­urine with joint in the PCH stu­dio

When we sleep we enter an entire­ly dif­fer­ent space in real­i­ty. Dream Yoga describes a tantric process, in the realm of lucid dream­ing, typ­i­cal­ly taught as a trans­fer of enlight­ened expe­ri­ence from a teacher to a stu­dent. One of the first sen­sa­tions prac­ti­tion­ers of this type of dream­ing often report is the chal­lenge of learn­ing to fly dur­ing their dream. Per­haps this com­mon, ini­tial expe­ri­ence of Dream Yoga reflects humanity’s fas­ci­na­tion with flight. Maybe it’s a fea­ture of a shared desire to exceed our species’ phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions. In any case, dream flight reminds us that we’ve entered an enhanced plane of exis­tence, in which the oth­er­wise impos­si­ble becomes achiev­able. In a lucid dream, the dream­er delib­er­ate­ly arranges the envi­ron­ment and their actions by their own active choice. In Bud­dhist tra­di­tions, the dream state is taught to be just anoth­er pass­ing state of con­scious­ness, or illu­sion of the phe­nom­e­nal world. Sim­i­lar to how a rain­bow reveals the col­ors with­in the vis­i­ble spec­trum of light, so too can dreams reveal what we might not yet be able to explain.

How might we trans­fer the wis­dom of Dream Yoga’s mys­ti­cal state into prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions to soci­etal chal­lenges? How might we take proac­tive con­trol of our envi­ron­ment through enlight­ened expe­ri­ence? There are var­i­ous path­ways to unfold the lay­ered pro­jec­tions that com­prise real­i­ty. How­ev­er we access that unfold­ing of self and sen­so­ry per­cep­tion, we dis­cov­er that we are all con­nect­ed to a mys­ti­cal cos­mic force. The soon­er we col­lec­tive­ly come to that real­iza­tion, the soon­er we will be able to begin cre­at­ing the next chap­ter of human achieve­ment.

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Depart Knowledge of Self

Trace the Hero’s Journey for Humanity

The phrase “the hero’s jour­ney” was pop­u­lar­ized by Joseph Camp­bell who employed it to describe a nar­ra­tive motif he repeat­ed­ly found through­out var­i­ous mytholo­gies. The jour­ney has three parts: Depar­ture (on the jour­ney / call to action), Ful­fill­ment (of the quest / acquir­ing knowl­edge), and Return (home or back to one’s peo­ple, with a renewed sense of how to improve life).

“Every sto­ry is a trav­el sto­ry – a spa­tial prac­tice.” — Michel de Certeau, The Prac­tice of Every­day Life

In The Hero with a Thou­sand Faces, Joseph Camp­bell looks to myths from around the world, and ear­ly writ­ten his­to­ry, in order to trace a com­mon struc­ture to bet­ter under­stand the human dri­ve. His work revealed how the major­i­ty of sto­ries that are passed down through gen­er­a­tions con­tain a cen­tral char­ac­ter who can be seen as the story’s arche­typ­al hero.

Camp­bell found that each of these arche­typ­al heroes go through a trans­for­ma­tive jour­ney. Whether its Odysseus’ return home from war, or the sto­ry of Jesus, Bud­dha, or Mohammed being for­ev­er changed by the wis­dom they received from a spir­i­tu­al source, the jour­ney itself reflects a depar­ture from all pre­vi­ous stan­dards, and sig­nals entry into the unknown.

In his book, Camp­bell explains the nature of the mon­o­myth, in which, “A hero ven­tures forth from the world of com­mon day into a region of super­nat­ur­al won­der: fab­u­lous forces are there encoun­tered and a deci­sive vic­to­ry is won: the hero comes back from this mys­te­ri­ous adven­ture with the pow­er to bestow boons on his fel­low man.” 1977’s mega-hit, Star Wars, helped pop­u­lar­ize the notion of the hero’s jour­ney. Film­mak­er George Lucas has acknowl­edged the impor­tance of Campbell’s work in inter­views, cit­ing Camp­bell as a con­stant inspi­ra­tion in real­iz­ing the film’s char­ac­ters, its uni­verse, and the cen­tral theme of the bat­tle between good and evil, light and dark. In fact, so strong was the cor­re­la­tion between Lucas’ sto­ry and Campbell’s orig­i­nal text, that the third print­ing of Campbell’s book fea­tured a pho­to of Mark Hamill as Luke Sky­walk­er on its cov­er. This only helped to fur­ther insert the idea of the hero’s jour­ney into the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness.

We feel it’s time to explore how the hero’s jour­ney can be applied as a way of look­ing at humanity’s evo­lu­tion. How we too are cur­rent­ly on a col­lec­tive jour­ney, and how it is now our time to step up to the demand for change. It’s our time to respond to the greater call for action across our species.

“The Sto­ry of Bud­dha”