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Warning About Altered State Experiences and the Literature Covering Them

Date: 1-Jan-1999/1:00+3:00


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Sometimes circumstances in your life bring you face to face with a foreign subject you simply have to learn about. As an example, most folks know very little about deaf culture or the technologies and accommodations that must be provided to assist the hearing impaired. Yet this can change if you are in an accident and go deaf. At that point you can be propelled into a whole new universe of information you never knew existed (or that you never wanted to know anything about.)
Extremely vivid and explorable lucid dreams can change your perspective on life fundamentally. For those who experience them, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that these are visits to some kind of "other dimension". I've researched the subject and the bulk of the literature comes from New Age books with clouds on the cover, written by middle-aged women with floofy hair. (These generally lack intellectual content.) You'll also find a number of claims made by schizophrenics about the CIA planting chips in peoples brains, or how reptilian aliens keep the population under mind-control. (These are generally confusing and scary, and employ an unacceptable selectivity in the interpretation of data.) You'll also probably find new meaning in works of fiction like The Truman Show or The Matrix.
Yet if you are having experiences which have led you to look into "alternative literature" to find answers, I would like to alert that you may soon face very critical choices. There is a danger anytime you start having a perception or opinion preoccupying you that is not shared by your peers. For instance, if your friends are all atheists and you become a born again Christian, word might get around that you keep bringing up Jesus. It doesn't matter if you were sharing some teachings that you thought were relevant to the conversation...being a "Jesus freak" can get you silently uninvited (or not-silently) excluded from certain company.
In an ideal world it wouldn't be this way, but you might not live in an ideal world. (If you do, beam me up!) Odds are you can always find new people who want to discuss the subject you've become passionate about, but you're probably going to be in a fairly vulnerable and confused state. So there is a very real danger of encountering isolation and stress in the wake of processing a new set of beliefs, which can create its own pathology. And your new friends might be exploitative or dangerously crazy... so you might ultimately find you were better off with your previous friends, even if they tended to write off your "spiritual" experiences.
Additionally, I want to bring up the possibility of using medicine to dispense with an issue instead of seeking a way to explain it and incorporate it into your life. If you are seeing demons on a regular basis in your dreams, you can start studying up on demonology...it might be true! Or you can take pills which make you sleep more deeply and make the whole thing disappear. A decision like this is not easy for the curious, and you may be uncomfortable manipulating your perceptions so you are potentially "seeing less of the picture". But there can be tradeoffs, and you might find it more comfortable in the long run to let sleeping dogs lie.
At heart, I am generally a rabble-rouser and want to yell from the highest mountain that people should open their minds and consider other perspectives, even the "crazy" ones. Despite that, I want to warn anyone who is already circumspect and sensitive enough to survey alternative information that they should tread carefully. Don't become so open-minded that you forget who you are! Make a list of who and what is truly important to you in your life, and if you find any metaphysical concepts pushing you away from those things...ease off the abstract ideas. Find balance.
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copy write %C:/0304-1020 {Met^(00C6)ducation}

The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?