Prince and Geisha

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Prince and Geisha: Esalen with Stan Grof

I'm really getting worried. People became hysterical during the breathing sessions. I hardly could believe my eyes. My sitter started crying and praying like a Muslim. He was lost from his tribe in another life. It's all just cultural reincarnation. Recycling, patterns repeating themselves. Only the context is different.

Does Stan make sense? He's leaving the old psychological models behind. Freudian biography just isn't enough. Karma and past lives seem to be just as important. Is science getting mystical? Is mysticism getting scientific? Are these the right questions? It's my Newtonian mind! I want to be a detached observer. As long as I am detached, I can really get into the experience. If I can't get into the experience, then....

I felt totally paralyzed by the heavy breathing. After only a little of it, I started crying. The Sufi music was loud. My arms and legs could barely move and then I started hearing some screaming and barking coming from the other side of the room. Everyone sounded like they were having convulsions.

A subtle sense of claustrophobia is beginning to settle into my bodymind. Like a lead weight, this feeling hangs over me. What time is it? Time seems to be weirding up. I'm losing my orientation. Shut your eyes now and open them again....

I talked to Stan today and he explained to me that the holistic discoveries in science today are different from the earlier holistic perceptions of ancient cultures. But he claimed that the spirit was the same. If not the actual technique. He likened it to a just expanded and expanded as time " progressed. "

During the morning lecture, the idea of a finite vessel that can only hold so much information was discussed. Limits to channel capacity seemed to imply the need for recycling. Recycling implied some information pool. An information pool implied some archetypical forms possibly coming from an infinite source. So what was it?

I started to day-dream. I saw spirals and waves. I thought about Oswald Spengler's historical cycles. Could they all be based on simple psychological recycling? Gregory Bateson may have been right. The mind is indeed an ecology. Our minds recycle information just like nature recycles material waste. This information is a murky form of inter-connecting patterns, that ultimately generate these meta-patterns. A big gestalt so to speak. A field and recycling changed the field.

So science says that information is recycled. Bits of meaning float in and out of our psychic fields. Are souls recycled too? This is no longer the realm of science. But the metaphor is powerful and convincing. Stan is ready now for a karmic interpretation of all this stuff. Certain psycho-pathologies may just be these self-healing processes. Letting go of the demons by deep breathing possibly accelerates this self-healing process. Drugs and other forms of clinical " therapy " may simply arrest this self-healing process.

The more I think about this, the more this business reminds me of the I Ching. There seems to be a universal grab-bag, that one can tap into for insights towards solving one's emotional and practical problems. Stan who is a cultural scavenger, if there ever was one seems to have created a new field of inquiry: Psychic archeology. He combines this mythic rummaging with a weird type of experiential psycho-therapy. The bodymind is put on the rack and out of this horrible pain some kind of psuedo-enlightenment is attained-or at least some insights into ones emotional problems. I wonder if there's an easier way.

Rebirth after ritual death. Destruction of the ego's defenses and then a resurrection. DEATH-REBIRTH, DEATH-REBIRTH, DEATH-REBIRTH. This vicious cycle continues in one's life and ever higher levels are reached, rebirth after rebirth. Is there any end to all this? Is there a stage where the cycles finally end and union with Bhrama ensues?

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