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13 June 2006 @ 10:36 am
The Perrenial Philosophy, The Perrenial States, and Liminal Yoga 101  
Ah, one of the real reasons I'm writing a book on magick: so I can explain to the rest of the world just what the heck it is that I do in magick. I'm working on my pre-writing for the integral magick book. As such, I first need to touch on the perrenial states and their conscious navigation. I do this by examining the theoretical foundation of the Perrenial Philosophy and its corresponding Perrenial States with a practicum of liminal yoga and lucid dreaming based upon that theoretical foundation.

I've already drawn up correspondences for the Three Realms model (the "Perrenial Philosophy") that should make sense to anyone who understands what a table of correspondence is. (If it loses you, feel free to ask questions.) I've now also uploaded a scan from my notebooks of the summary position piece regarding the formation of the three realms model. For those who don't want to load the entire 1600x1200 image to read my tiny handwriting (1/8" [~3mm] per line) I transcribe it here:

Manifestation from Kosmos --> 3 Realms

[diagram of wide rectangle with hole/sipapu on one side; inside of box labeled "Kosmos," outside labeled "TWE"]
1) The Kosmos en toto, TWE = "The Whole Enchilada." The sipapu reminds us that the system is unbound and that any lines on the map are created from our own minds.

[Diagram of box with wavy line dividing right third (labeled "Unmanifest") from left two-thirds (labeled "Manifest"); outside labeled "TWE"]
2) We introduce a separation between all that is formless, and all that has form. This may seem entirely unnecessary -- after all, who can talk of formlessness? Nonetheless it will become an important part of our model, and we first acknowledge it here.

[Same rectangle, now divided with wavy lines into three equal thirds; left-most labeled "Physical," middle labeled "Subtle," right-most labeled "Causal," and outside labeled "TWE"]
3) With the introduction of another margin, we separate the manifest world into those things that exist and have a physical form (stones, stars) and those things that exist that do not have a physical form (thoughts, minds). The former we call the physical realm, the latter we call the subtle realm. We call the unmanifest the causal realm. These are the three realms of the perrenial philosophy.

[Same rectangle, each wavy line now doubled to show a narrow line between each third of the box. Labeled, left to right, large left-most box "W" for Waking, narrow section "L" for Liminal Margin, large middle box labeled "D" for Dreaming, narrow section "A" for Abyssal Margin, right-most box "DS" for Deep Sleep; outside labeled "TWE"]
4) The Three Realms correspond to the three great states -- Physical to Waking, Subtle to Dreaming, and Causal to Deep Sleep. The margins between the states themselves represent related transitional states. The liminal margin between waking and dreaming contains the hypnagogic (waking --> dreaming) and the hypnopompic (dreaming --> waking) states, and represent shifts from one waking self to many dreaming selves. The abyssal margin between dreaming and deep sleep represents a respective shift from many dreaming selves to no sense of self at all (ego dissolution) and back again (ego assumption).

That explains the three realms and the margins between them. In religious philosophy this is called "The Perrenial Philosophy" for it represents the lowest common denominator of most of the world's wisdom traditions. The Causal is the realm of deity and spirit, nondual and unmanifest, where God and enlightenment both reside. The Physical is the daily workaday world. And the Subtle is where our ideas and thoughts live (among other things). From this base, most wisdom traditions then begin to make further distinctions.

For example, in Vedanta the main scale consists of five divisions of Matter to Body (the Physical realm) to Mind to Soul (the Subtle realm) to Spirit (the Causal realm).

The seven-chakra model of occidental familiarity consists of Muladhara and Svadhisthana (dealing with the Physical realm traits of survival and reproduction), Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddi, and Ajna (dealing with the Subtle realm traits of interaction, love/connection, communication, and spiritual insight), and Sahasrara (Causal connection to the divine).

Qabala has ten divisions from Malkuth (the Physical) to Kether (The Causal) with eight divisions in-between (making it a useful system for navigating the fine distinctions of the Subtle realm)

But at it's core, we can talk about sticks and stones, ideas and minds and spirits, and the divine. Every day our consciousness navigates its way between these states. We wake every morning to find (usually) an ego that identifies itself as a single physical waking entity. We go to sleep and pass through an in-between state (hypnagogia) where that ego softens and can become many dreaming selves with which it identifies while there. We pass from that into deep dreamless sleep where there is no sense of self and ego has dissolved entirely. Then we pass back up and assume the mantle of many dreaming selves, and back through hymnopompia in which our ego reasserts itself as a single entity again.

These are the "Three Great States" in Wilber's integral model, derived from the Perrenial Philosophy. These are the states available to all human beings at every stage of their development from birth to death and are called the Perrenial States. One need not develop any spiritual practice to journey between these; it's part and parcel of "the precious gift of human birth" as it is known within Buddhism.

It is very easy to diagram the normal ways that we move between these states, shown in the diagram below:

The goal of many spiritual traditions include the development of a greater awareness of how one moves between these states on a daily basis. In the search for the "true self" one must become aware of how that self's perceptions of the kosmos change, and these perrenial states form the foundation of our ordinary, daily shifts in conscious awareness. These practices include things such as lucid dreaming (bringing a conscious awareness to the Dreaming state that one is dreaming); "Witness" consciousness (turiya) or lucid waking (developing a conscious awareness of oneself as an illusory ego in the Waking state); and various forms of enlightenment practice (retaining conscious awareness of one's journey into the Causal realm, characterized by "formless consciousness" or consciousness of consciousness itself without outside perception).

Enough theory, let's get into the practical.

Lucid dreaming is a very simple practice, which is not to say that it is easy. It requires firm dedication if nothing else. As the goal is to retains one's full conscious awareness as one slips from Waking to Dreaming, we must obviously focus on the Hypnagogic state wherein the ego transforms from one self to many potential selves.

The easiest way to do this is by learning to extend the hypnagogic state itself. By extending this state one has the potential to bring more awareness to it, thereby "stepping down" into the dream state rather than taking the quick slide down we normally do. We wish to retain an awareness of who we are and what we are doing. Therefore we find good training tricks in looking for ways to "do something" as we fall to sleep, something that will allow us to step down into Hypnogogia but not slide down into Dreaming.

The easiest trick I've found? Lay on your back and hold your arms straight up as you fall to sleep. Do this every night. As your Waking awareness fades, you remain focused on "doing something" -- holding your arms up -- and it serves as a reminder of the task at hand. As hypnagogia sets in, your awareness of the physical world fades; the last slide from hypnagogia to dreaming includes a fading awarenss of the physical body to be replaced by the dreaming images of body. As this awareness fades the body relaxes and "goes to sleep." If you are holding the arms up, they will fall and this has a tendency to jerk one back from the near-dreaming back into hypnagogia (or, often when first doing this practice, back to a groggy waking state).

Over time what happens is one learns to retain a certain amount of awareness of the physical body that belongs to the waking state as one assumes the bodies of the dreaming state. It promotes a conscious awareness of oneself in both states at the same time, providing a meta-level view of one's "self" that spans the two.

Over time, as one becomes more familiar with the terrain of the Hypnagogic state, the arm-holding exercise can be substituted for others. Perhaps one of the most popular is to adopt a mantra. The repetition of the mantra, rather than the conscious act of controlling one's physical body, becomes the focus by which one controls the descent from waking to dreaming. It also relieves one of the jerkiness of being yanked back from the dreaming when one's arms fall. If you can't hold the mantra down into dreaming, though, it's probably best to stick with the arm exercise with concurrent use of the mantra. Any mantra is suitable, so long as you choose one and don't change it around. I am personally fond of "Om" or the longer "Om mani padme hum" but that's my yoga background speaking. "Would you like fries with that" would theoretically work just as well, though in practice may induce entry into an odd level of the dreaming state. (I wouldn't recommend it.) Pick a mantra you find sympathetic to the goal at hand.

Alternatively, one may instead use a visualized image as a focus. The same guidelines about choosing a sympathetic image apply. I tend to use basic symbols in which I have vested a great deal of meaning: the pentagram, the Om symbol, and the Sri Yantra top my own list. The major downside I have found to this technique is that it is not so easily extended to the crossing of the Abyssal margin in more advanced practice; mantra seems to be a superior method, at least for myself. I suspect strongly that this varies based on which of the five senses is most primary for oneself; most people weight their visual sense stronger than hearing and thus choosing sound helps one dissociate from the senses easier, but someone who perceives sounds more intensely than their vision may get better mileage out of a visualized image. Alternatively, one could experiment with choosing other senses as foci; the arms-up trick relies on the kinesthetic body awareness, generally a low-bandwidth channel for most people and thus as undistracting as can be. Visualizations and mantras have a tendency to wander more than kinesthetic body tricks.

Once you have learned to control the descent into the dreaming state and retain a conscious awareness of the process, it becomes easy to develop a greater ability at lucid dreaming. The methods outlined here are essentially variations on the "WILD" (Waking Induction of Lucid Dreaming) lucid dreaming technique, in which the goal is to retain conscious awareness from waking to dreaming.

Stage three involves reversing this process -- retaining an awareness of self as one slides up from dreaming to waking through the hypnapompic state. This is still a practice that I struggle with myself, though I have had the greatest success in it by trying to wake up into an awareness of the body first before I open my eyes. I find that laying on my back as a "sleeping asana" (one could use other positions) and trying to retain bodily awareness within the liminal margin aids this the most.

There are, of course, individual problems one will have to overcome in any practice based on individual backgrounds and tendencies. My own personal problem is that I struggle with insomnia. Even when I sleep, I tend to not sleep deeply and don't have a regular dream cycle. This has been exacerbated mildly by extending Hypnagogia and thus training myself away from the dream state as step one. The best cure I've found thus far is .5-1.5mg of melatonin at night; a half-milligram is considered the active dose, and up to 1.5 I have personally found little ill side effect. At higher doses I tend to wake up groggy and have a hard time getting going in the morning, probably because there is still melatonin in my system that has not burned off at night during the sleep cycle. (Standard disclaimer: consult your doctor before taking supplements such as melatonin, even if they are available over-the-counter. Also, most melatonin on the market comes in far too high a dosage, typically 3-5mg. Also, not all melatonin is created equal; research into the manufacturing method and quality control process of the various companies is priceless.)

I find that with melatonin I have a harder time holding the hypnagogic state, but I have developed enough familiarity with its subtleties that this is not as great a problem as it would have been earlier in my practice. It also seems to have the effect of making my dreams more vivid, probably because I am more fully submerged into the sleeping/dreaming state. And when I do have too much and wake up groggy, it actually helps in developing my awareness of the hypnopompic state that I normally fly right through -- I'm one of those "morning people" that tends to wake up quickly to an alert state.

Which brings up an interesting sidenote. In the handful of people I know skilled in these practices, morning people seem to have an easier time learning hypnagogia and night people or people whose bodies start out slower in the morning seem to have an easier time learning hypnopompia.

Further topics for expansion and extension from here:
  • Expansion of brief ideas covered in the manifestation of the three realms
  • Tips and tricks for controlling lucid dreams
  • Finding a balance between control and flow ("Path of Will" vs. "Path of Surrender") when using these practices
  • Extending the skills gained at navigating the liminal margin to navigating the abyssal margin
  • Developing skills to bypass the normal flows between the perrenial states; e.g. moving directly from Waking to Deep Sleep such as by formless meditation, magick, or the targeted use of entheogens
  • Using these skills in both results-oriented magick and in self-transformation
  • Extending these skills into the development of a more complete Witness awareness (turiya)
  • Anything people ask me about related to this (until which point I'll keep happily babbling away about what I only think people might be interested in)

I'm out of writing time today. More later.
Current Location: Willow Keep, 97477
Current Mood: productive
Current Music: Talisman + Hudson, "Leave Planet Earth" (Paul Oakenfold mix)
Bianca Lee: meditativenysidra on June 14th, 2006 12:04 pm (UTC)
I haven't learned to go into a hypnagogic state. I've tried many times. *chuckles* When I was younger, lucid dreaming, lucid "daydreaming" even, was a matter of closing my eyes. I remember it so well. During those naps in elementary school. I'd put my head down, and viola, I was wherever doing whatever.

I wake up pretty alert in the mornings. I go to sleep as soon as I intend to. When I'm lying on my back resting and not falling asleep. I don't ever fall asleep. I don't fall under "wakefulness" either. I've laid in bed for two hours relaxing breathing hearing, smelling, sensing the entire world around me.

Then, I'd take a deep breath, resolve to go to sleep for to evening, turn on my side and *snap* deep sleep.

But yeah, I like the notes just far. I just thought to babble a bit. *laughs*
My dreams these days are only semi-lucid, I have a sense that I am in a dream, but I am willing to 'play along' and whenever I get in a situation I don't like I simply, "wake up."

Not so bad, I guess.

One thing that's neat is "dreaming while awake." I imagine street sides or parking lots to have streams, flower beds, or animals running around. I impose an imaginary scene over the asphault, grass, and trees. Even on days when I'm not maintaining it, I'll drive by and get a hint of roses growing just off to the side. It's pretty cool!

Fenwick Kaidevis Rysen: Avatar Smirkkaidevis on June 14th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
>>> I have a sense that I am in a dream, but I am willing to 'play along' and whenever I get in a situation I don't like I simply, "wake up." <<<

That's a much more succinct summary of what it is I was trying to explain I do most of the time, as well. I will either choose to wake up, or sometimes I'll step into full lucidity, alter the offending dream or replace it entirely, then go back to the semi-lucid watching of it all.

>>> One thing that's neat is "dreaming while awake." <<<

I used to practice that same technique a lot when I was a young magician, and though I don't really do it at all these days I still occasionally get hints of such things coming in spontaneously. Potential worlds just beyond this one... Different visions of this one... Dream images in the waking world, or waking images in the dream world -- I'm not entirely certain, on a level. I used to call those things "oogies" and pictured them as a kind of psychic flotsam and jetsam, though whether it's my own or someone else's or something independent, well, that's also unclear on a certain level. All I know is that most of these distinctions between waking, dreaming, and all the rest are all artifice and illusion -- again, at a certain level.

A stone to the head in the waking world still hurts, though. That makes a good barometer for practicality. :-)
Bianca Lee: amusednysidra on June 14th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
True, but in watching others it's still not "hard reality."

Car driving by, kicks a rock up, hits the person in the shoulder.

Well, some people get angry, and curse, and throw the "International Anger sign" up at the passing car.

Others cry, hold their shoulder and tell everyone all day how they got hit with a rock and how much it hurt.

And then, there's me. Yes, it's happened. First, I shout out, "Ow!!" and then I laugh, thinking how incredibly random that was. Where's that rock come from? What kind of rock was it? Am I okay. Yeah, I look okay. Wow. That was random. I laugh, and carry on.

Okay, it happened, but I was inside my car driving, and the rock came in through my window and hit me on the shoulder.

It hurt. This is true. But looking back i find it more "Weird and amusing" than "hurtful and traumatic."

One might note: A stone to the head in the dreaming world also hurts. Especially if your mind + body is highly interwoven.

*fit of giggles*
Bianca Leenysidra on June 14th, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC)
I might note - I'm trying to weave illusion more into my current state, while you're probably at a point where you're attempting to parse out.

We're still talking about the same stuff, just approaching from different angles.
Sighris: small_flaresighris on March 4th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
short hello
I am an inactive member of the Z-Cluster (which is how I met Fenwick so many years ago in SF). I was very active in the mid & late 90s, even went to visit many members {such as Krim Hum in Florida (now on the west coast), Marik in N.O. LA, & again after he moved to Florida, Havoc23 up N.W., Fenwick in SF, James Lin in Tiawan (a long way to go, but we had a great time), etc., etc.} and I was wondering if we have traded emails back when I was on the zee-list.

Have we?

I don't think so, but I wanted to say "Hi - you seem like an interesting, intelligent & nice person." and ask: "Will you be my LJ friend?"

I will send you an email (to your Gmail) shortly with more info.


Ergerg on September 13th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC)

Dunno if this is of any interest.
Sighris: Eye_in_Triangle_8sighris on March 3rd, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
short hello - STAY IN TOUCH!
> Ah, one of the real reasons I'm writing a book on magick:
> so I can explain to the rest of the world just what
> the heck it is that I do in magick.

I was going to do the same thing... I started it, then decided I had more important things to do, but I hope you get your book done... let me know if I can help you by inve$ting in it; but then I want a signed copy when it is done! ;)

> I'm out of writing time today. More later.

Is it later now? :D
soyunapollasoyunapolla on March 2nd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
man you really have a knack for turning trippy magical concepts into sound technical terms!