THE PROVERBIAL “BOX” which we the public are so often encouraged to “think outside of” by various inspirational writers and speakers is generally of a dynamic, but decidedly “worldly” nature; namely, how we might be more creative in our efforts to expand our individual or business horizons and thus achieve a better position for ourselves in terms of obtaining our personal goals or enjoying a more lucrative portion of some market share and “getting rich”.
Nowadays millions of individuals have taken this brand of positive thinking onboard with great zeal and are even practicing advanced levels of visualization for the express purpose of activating the so-called “law of attraction”, thus fervently hoping to bring their greatest dreams to fruition.
This is a highly laudable approach which I, too, promote, but to which I wish to propose a twist.
Many, I believe, can claim true success with the law of attraction, but I have to ask: why stop at the level of “worldly” enrichment only? What about daring to really think outside of the proverbial box in the pursuit of “otherworldly” experiences? What about seeking super advanced levels of knowledge and insight? After all, we are only on this earth for a century tops and most people fall far short of that. This is not to say, of course, that fame, acclaim and wealth aren’t fantastic in their own right. They clearly are, but to trot out that oldest of lines about money: “You can’t take it with you.” No, we cannot.
What I am speaking about here, then, is the possibility of not just thinking outside of the proverbial box, but outside of the body itself.
If one’s immediate reaction to this notion is instant dismissal that is not surprising for several reasons. For starters, those of us raised in Western society on a steady stream of scientific materialism and Abrahamic religious dogma are taught nothing about such a possibility. In fact, we westerners are told that scientifically there is no proof whatsoever that a “soul” or “spirit” even exists. Our religious leaders, meanwhile, insist that the “soul” does exist, but it only leaves the body at death and goes either to heaven or hell depending on how commendably or horribly one has lived his or her life. We are also essentially instructed to never question the validity of the teachings, which is really something of a threat.
What if there is, however, every reason to question the validity of these paradigms?
Consider the words of the highly respected psychologist, Abraham Maslow, in his book Religions, Values and Peak Experiences. “The very beginning, the intrinsic core, the essence, the universal nucleus of every known high religion… has been the private, lonely, personal illumination, revelation, or ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or seer.”
This statement can scarcely be disputed. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Mithras and virtually all other figures around whom a religion has been founded speak earnestly and reverently of otherworldly beings; be these entities “God”, “gods”, “angels”, “demons”, “saints”, “dakinis”, “devas”, “beings of light” and so on. Needless to say, millions upon millions of people over the centuries have believed absolutely in the truth of these encounters and experiences, and hold them in the absolute highest of regard, and millions still do.
Yet, few of us think that any such similar encounters or experiences in contemporary times are equally valid or equally of value. So complete is humanity’s general cultural indoctrination that most people believe that only “religious authorities” may speak of these encounters and experiences, and only in the context of a clearly defined religious tradition. Custom dictates, in other words, how we label these encounters and experiences and which persons are sanctioned to speak of them.
In other words, as with all humanly created contexts and labels, these encounters and experiences are put into very specific “boxes” and are to remain there. Political and religious institutions especially stigmatize anyone who disregards this custom and they generally ostracize anyone who dares to challenge this convention. Why? Because it has been in force for centuries and millenniums and the institutions know that enforcement ensures their survival.
Fortunately, in today’s world, there are now millions of people in the West who are braving a particular activity that arose in the East: namely, meditation; and while meditation may have its origins in certain religious traditions, the psychological and health benefits of meditation are by now well documented by western science.
In these more progressive times, in fact, many westerners are so proficient at achieving deep states of meditation that they are having some pretty remarkable experiences. Some practitioners are actually reporting out-of-body experiences in which they find themselves in other dimensions entirely.
If one studies the various ancient western wisdom traditions which began millenniums ago, one discovers that most of the masters affiliated at that time with the “Mystery Schools” subscribed to the idea that there were many dimensions in the cosmos. They called these dimensions “heavens”. This is why, for example, even now we still hear the expression, “I was in seventh heaven”. Seven heavens, or dimensions, was precisely what the wisdom masters postulated.
Early Christians like St Paul, by the way, were well versed in the teachings of the Mystery Schools. Likewise, in the Middle East, the Sufis held to this same notion about multiple heavens, while yogis in the Far East have always stated unequivocally – based on firsthand experience – that the multidimensionality of human spirituality is for real.
For westerner in the Middle Ages, however, these notions fell into disrepute owing to the manner in which the Catholic Church exercised its “authority” and control over the European peoples.
The idea that there was “forbidden” or “occult” (hidden) knowledge virtually altered everything in the western world. Eventually, only those who had firsthand knowledge of the “soul” or “spirit” directly and had experienced out-of-body moments understood just what was being suppressed and how real the metaphysical side of life actually is.
A firsthand experience of any nature is always the most convincing of any and should be the preferred approach to knowledge, for to “know” a truth is far more valid than merely “believing” something based on second or third hand information.
“Otherworldly” experience, perhaps, won’t make anyone wealthier in worldly terms, but on the positive side it will most assuredly leave one feeling richer in spirit and less afraid of death, not to mention giving one a truer taste of one’s own immortal nature.
Such an insight is beyond huge. Its magnitude, as it were, is inexpressibly significant and important. In fact, it is utterly, ineffably enlightening.
For those who have the curiosity, the courage and who genuinely desire that, thinking outside of the proverbial box is step one to many a profound adventure.