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  • Running the Astral Gauntlet (Astral Plane)

Running the Astral Gauntlet (Astral Plane)

AC 278: January 5, 2008 (Boston)

I went to bed at 10:45 PM and woke up at 12:15 PM. I’ve been having some pretty incredible dreams during this first ninety minutes of sleep--very clear, and often related to astral projection.

I entered the astral plane from a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD). I seemed to be walking down a path that led through an ordinary nondescript landscape (waking consciousness) to the edge of a jungle (astral plane).

I hesitated for a few moments, observing the boundary between the reality I was in and the one I was about to enter. Things on one side felt normal, like a clear day without clouds, low humidity, perhaps a little boring. This was the emotional weather of my waking state. There were no big upsets or emotional reactions that would take me to the private areas of the Dream Zone.

There was a shimmering boundary hanging in the air. I felt as if I were standing at the entrance of a dark, enchanted forest, where anything was possible and everything was alive--the astral plane, in which thoughts and feelings create our experience more or less instantly.

Once I was across the boundary, the atmosphere felt thicker, just like what I feel when I move the focus of my awareness into the astral body level of my energy field--almost like gelatin. This was the sense of being surrounded by astral essence, the living ground of consciousness on the astral plane.

I felt a little fear as I entered the astral plane. I found being surrounded by astral essence a little oppressive.

As Powell observes that such essence tends to be “hostile rather than friendly towards man.” The reason for this hostility is that it reflects our “indifference to, and want of sympathy with, other living beings.” [Arthur E. Powell, The Astral Plane and Other Astral Phenomena, 1927, reprint (Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books), 177].

There may be another reason, as well. We’re not used to thinking of the air we breathe as full of little critters constantly entering and leaving our lungs--yet when we consider bacteria, germs, spores, and so on, that’s exactly what it is. On the astral plane, our inner senses tell us that even what we perceive as the blank space surrounding us like air is an actual living being, a foreign form of consciousness with a will and purpose of its own.

This consciousness awaits our every thought and instantly materializes it into some form. Being in the presence of an intelligence so responsive to our thoughts--which we’re often so much less aware of--takes some getting used to.

After crossing the boundary, I realized I was in the Simulation Zone, an astral environment that tests people for their level of inner sense development. This particular simulation was designed to see whether fear would build to the point of turning a projection experience on the astral plane into a nightmare and cause me to wake up.

The environment felt like a dark maze. The moment I entered it, I proceeded with extreme caution, all senses alert.

One sense allowed me to feel my way forward (perception). This sense has eight levels, and I seemed to be operating from the fifth, shape perception, which Charles describes in terms of moving through a maze.

Another inner sense made me aware of the living nature of the place (vibration). It was not just a maze; it was like a forest or jungle, full of organic structures, like trees (stationary locations built up from astral essence, the basic ground of consciousness on the astral plane) and beings, like nocturnal animals (mobile thought forms produced by astral essence from the thoughts and feelings of a Dreamer or astral explorer).

I was acutely aware of my track through this environment, memorizing it so that I would be able to retrace my steps and return to ordinary waking consciousness (navigation and position senses). This path unfolded like a boardwalk through the jungle, each portion appearing (coming into my awareness) a step or two before I trod it, winding a bit to one side or the other as my thoughts wandered. The important thing was to keep going, straight ahead--this was the one correct way through the simulation.

I couldn’t see a thing. I had to feel my way with my feet, wondering whether I would fall off the edge of the boardwalk. The fact that I was moving meant the mobility sense was active. Underneath the boardwalk was black, swamp-like water--astral essence, alive, but uncommitted to a particular form. It could instantly take shape in response to my mind if I didn’t keep my mind clearly focused on my task and stray thoughts or feelings arose.

The sense of being tested was acute: I felt like I was running an astral gauntlet (or, considering the caution with which I proceeded, walking it).

Suddenly, my apprehension about the place was confirmed by the sensation of a large hairy animal I couldn’t see brushing against my leg. I froze for a moment to consider my options. But a sudden flash of illumination lighted up the being. It was a dog, part wild, part domestic--a German shepherd.

It was as if I turned a halogen flashlight on the being. But then the light went off and all was darkness again.

I realized that I’d used my vibration sense to read the ident of the dog, resulting in that flash of illumination. I sent my consciousness out, touched the beingness of the animal, and compared the information gleaned to my internal data bank of nonphysical entities.

The being was what I call a Creature, a thought form made of astral essence (part wild, i.e. originating in the wilderness of the astral plane) containing a fragment of my soul (part domestic, i.e. human). Its purpose was to remind me to guard (shepherd) my thoughts so I wouldn’t awake from fear, or attract negative entities.

The challenge here was to tell the difference between a scary self-created Creature and a menacing neg with some other source and purpose. If the latter, I would have scrammed. But because I’d created the entity from my fear, I adjusted my thoughts, calmed myself, and proceeded.

Eventually, I came to the end of the boardwalk. I’d passed my test--maintaining my focus on the astral plane without distraction by fear.

I was now standing on a pier. Off in the distance I saw a shoreline. There was just enough light for me to observe people boarding a ferry across the bay. When the boat was full, it pulled away from the dock and seemed to head right toward me, a bright light flaring up on its front.

I felt a little afraid--as if this boat had somehow been alerted to my presence and was coming after me. It seemed to be associated with law enforcement, picking up prisoners after a day of hard labor on the other side of the water and bringing them home to prison to rest at night.

I retreated from the pier. I didn’t want to be discovered.

A new boardwalk appeared, running at right angles to the one I was on. A small, frog-like creature in the water, something like a spring peeper, began spitting at me with unerring aim. Every minute or so it emitted a little bubble of clear light that gently hit me on the head and broke with the sound of high tinkling wind chimes, almost like laughter. I found the persistence of this creature annoying.

My perspective changed. The boardwalk took another sharp right turn, back in the direction from which I’d first come through the jungle, but on a parallel track.

Walls assembled themselves around me. I seemed to be in a narrow hallway of wood, as in a log cabin. There was a bathroom at the end of the hall. I was moving away from it, past several closed doors.

Light emanated from under the crack beneath one of the doors. I got curious about what was behind this door and opened it. A man in pajamas with a tooth brush came bursting out, passing me on his way to the bathroom. Then I awoke, needing to use the bathroom.

While recording this adventure, after-the-fact lucidity kicked in. Part of me was more aware of what was going on than the self I identified with during the actual adventure. As I wrote, this other part of me provided explanations for several puzzling things I experienced.

I now understood that when I believed the boat was coming after me I made an error in judgment. The result was the appearance of the second boardwalk--a path out of my awareness of the astral plane and into a private area of the Dream Zone. I was losing lucidity.

As the hallway assembled itself, that private area began closing in on me as a personal dream. The exact subject of the dream wasn’t determined yet, so it appeared as a hallway with several doors, any of which could lead me somewhere.

The hallway reminded me of one that goes to the private area of my brother Wes’s log cabin near Durango, Colorado. That’s how I knew it was leading to a private area of the Dream Zone.

My general direction of travel would be toward awakening. Hence the hallway was parallel to the track I’d taken between entering the simulation and arriving at the pier. My position sense was still active.

I also realized that the spring peeper was a type of nonphysical being I call a Robot. It was a part of the simulation environment, designed to warn me that I was about to lose lucidity within that environment. It wanted to wake me up again, before I lost my awareness of the astral plane and entered a dream.

The bubbles were thought-form messages. But my communication and information senses weren’t on, so their content was lost on me. However, they kept knocking at the door of my consciousness until I let them in--when I opened the door in the hall. The light under the door indicated that there was some illumination for me there--I just had to open my mind to receive it.

The man with pajamas and toothbrush was an image of a Sleeper, someone who is not aware on the astral plane. That’s the direction I was heading in.

Also, the people I’d seen on the other shore were Sleepers, leaving their waking lives in physical reality, where they “worked” (i.e., lived, learned, and grew), for the Dream Zone, where they rested. They seemed like inmates of a penal colony because I could sense they weren’t free to roam the astral plane, as I was. They would be confined to the private or personal areas by their need to process the day’s experience and their emotional reactions to it.

The bright light at the head of the boat was my representation of a Facilitator, a nonphysical being whose function was to guide the Sleepers through the transition from Earth to Dream Zone. The Facilitator must have seen me and indicated a desire to meet me, hence the flaring up of the bright light.

In Far Journeys, Monroe uses the term “Lighted” to refer to “Happy, idea, enthusiasm.” [Robert A. Monroe, Far Journeys (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1985).] That was pretty much what I saw--a sign that here was an awake, aware, and illuminated being on the astral plane enthusiastic about the possibility of interacting with me. But I was losing lucidity, so I only received the impression that he was coming after me.

I perceived the Facilitator as connected to law enforcement because he was enforcing the law that one’s level of consciousness determines where one ends up in the Dream Zone. The Sleepers in his charge could only go to those areas in which they would dream about stuff going on in their daily lives.

As noted, the hallway I was in would bring me back to waking life, on a parallel but less lucid track than the one I used to enter the astral plane. The bathroom indicated why I was losing lucidity: I would shortly need to wake up and pee.

When a being in nonphysical reality sends us a thought-form message, it keeps knocking at our awareness until we let it in. For example, Leadbeater says:
Each thought-form is a temporary entity. It resembles a charged battery, awaiting an opportunity to discharge itself. Its tendency is always to reproduce its own rate of vibration in the mental body upon which it fastens itself, and so to arouse in it a like thought. If the person at whom it is aimed happens to be busy or already engaged in some definite train of thought, the particles of his mental body are already swinging at a determined rate, and cannot for the moment be affected from without. In that case the thought-form bides its time, hanging around its object until he is sufficiently at rest to permit its entrance; then it discharges itself upon him, and in the act ceases to exist. [Charles W. Leadbeater, A Textbook of Theosophy, 1912, reprint (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1975), 53.]
The balls of clear light that the peeper-like being kept sending me were unable to raise me to a higher level of lucidity. They were aimed at my mental body--but I was at that point in the astral body, on my way into a dream. If I’d been in my mental body, the communication and information senses I needed to understand the Robot’s message would have been available to me.

When I opened the door of the room from which the Sleeper emerged, I finally let the message of the peeper-like being’s thought form enter my mind. I still didn’t fully understand it, because I was in my astral body.

When I recorded the adventure, however, the rest of the message, which must have continued to hang out in my energy field, got through. So, this adventure appears to begin in the mental body and descend into the astral body.

As Besant notes: “The untrained astral senses often mislead.” But the mental body “is not subject to such deceptions,” and is the preferred vehicle of consciousness for travel on the astral plane. [Annie Besant, Man and His Bodies, 1912, reprint (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1983), 84.]

Obviously, the trick is to maintain one’s focus in the mental body when traveling on the astral plane. Mistakes in judgment often lead to a loss of lucidity, as I experienced.