Picture This…

June, 2015

My wife and I were recently redecorating our room. We painted it a sage green color on three walls, but on the East wall, we decided to put in cedar paneling. As we planned, we were pondering what to do around the window. I asked her about framing it, but she shook her head no. I suggested we could just leave it with paneled edges and I could tell she was thinking about it. As I looked at her, I received an image in my head of the edges of the cedar paneling beveled all the way around, their sharp edges taken off at an angle.

I reacted to the thought before she could state it in words, “Oh,” I said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea”. She was a bit confused, but when we both started to talk about the vision she held in her head, she realized I had seen it and was reacting to it. She was not too shocked. This has happened before with us. We’re getting more used to it over time.

My three year old son Oliver did the same thing a few months ago. We were surprising the kids with a trip to Sutherlin to pick up our two new cats that the kids didn’t know about yet. Usually when we go to Sutherlin at night, we take them out to eat or to the ice cream shop, but this time we weren’t going to tell them where we were going; they would see when we got there. This is when Oliver says, “Maybe there’s some cats and we’ll go get them and bring them home to play with”.  My wife and I stared at each other with mouths agape, questioning each other as to who spilled the beans, when we realized that no one had. Turns out he’s just part of the family.

The Spooky “Virus”

Halloween, 2014. Two weeks ago, I caught a spooky virus unknown to modern medicine, or at least unknown to experts in Douglas County, Oregon. It began with chills and a fever, but by the second night, it had moved on to attacking my muscles so violently, that I went in to the ER, barely able to walk to my room. By the end of the night, having stumped the ER doctors, I was feeling worse than ever and nauseous as well, thanks to a shot of morphine which incidentally didn’t lower my pain levels at all. I retired to a bed in the spare room, so that any noises I made wouldn’t wake the family.  My phone was near, just in case I needed to call my wife for help.

Two hours later, that’s just what I did.  I found that even though I had pain pills right next to me in the same bed, I could not lift my body to an upright position, without excruciating pain.  The pain was so great that my mind feared any motion. It was all I could do just to move my arms to grab the phone and call my wife Holda. She arrived groggy, and helped me sit upright to take my pills. This hurt immensely, even with help. Finished, she asked if I would be ok, then went back to her own bed. I assumed that with 800mg of ibuprofen on board, I would soon be doing ok.

Two minutes later I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom. Holda was so tired that I didn’t want to call her again just for this. The pain was so great that I couldn’t bear the thought of swinging my legs out of bed by myself, and I wasn’t sure that, even if I attempted the motion, my muscles would respond. I cried a bit, more helpless than I can remember ever feeling in my life. Then, I prayed to God: “God, now is the time I need you. I don’t think I can do this myself. Please help.” I begged. There was no waiting. A voice immediately responded,

“Ok, Andy, here’s what we need you to do. Your body needs more water. Move your left arm a bit and grab the water hose (I had a backpacker’s Camelbak in bed with me, so I grabbed the hose). Ok, keep drinking. Good. Now, even though you think you need to pee, your bladder isn’t quite full, so it’s up to you. Do you want to get out of bed to relieve yourself? “Yes” Ok, we’ll help you. Ready? “Yep.” This time, my body not only responded to my request to move my muscles, but miraculously, I felt lighter as well, as if being helped up, by something or someone I couldn’t see. I easily made it to the bathroom and back into bed. With tears, “Thank you God.” I closed my eyes. The voice continued, “We need to do some work here. Your body needs our help. See this ball?” (I could see a sphere, about three inches in diameter in my mind’s eye. We were inside the center of my body, somewhere near my diaphragm) “Yes.” Take it, and roll it around inside your body. “Ok” I moved it around, and it seemed to be attracted to my heart. As I rolled it around my heart, it seemed to absorb something, something bad. I could tell that whatever it absorbed, that was what was attacking my heart, but now the attackers were inside the ball. I was safe, saved. “Ok, now what do I do with the ball?” “Just let it go, we’ll take care of it.” As I watched in my mind’s eye, the ball moved out of my body and broke apart, into pieces that were harmless. The voice continued: “Ok, good job, you’re done, go to sleep, we’ll take care of the rest while you sleep. “Thank you God, thank you so much….”

I slept better than I had in days, awoke to a body that had much less muscle pain, and was able to swing out of bed with ease, especially compared to the torment I had endured.

The next day, I went to the doctor. He took my stats, but looking at the blood test results from the ER the night before, he said his major concern would be my heart. He had the nurse do an EKG, and the results concerned him. He showed me the lines, and bumps and explained what was abnormal. He did qualify it though saying, “Well, since I haven’t seen an EKG from your heart to compare this one to, I don’t know if this is normal for you or not, but it sure doesn’t appear normal.” So, he ordered an echocardiogram done that very day. I didn’t say a word. I knew my heart was fine. I had “good people” work on it the night before! I passed the echocardiogram with flying colors, mostly red and blue.

Baffled, the doctors took my blood again, and the enzyme they were concerned about had not yet gone down to normal levels. Meanwhile the general practitioner had shown all of my data to a specialist who told him that it was probably a virus and that if the levels went back to normal that next week, I would be good to go. A week later, the vampires took my blood a third time. Finally, the levels were normal. I was good to go. My muscles have slowly recovered, and I still have some lingering effects that are improving slowly each day, like poor circulation. Most importantly though, my heart is doing fine! Thank you God!

One book is here!

For those of you who have been reading my stories and want more, I have good news. My spiritual autobiography is complete. Titled An Ordinary Extraordinary Life, it is available at the Createspace Store .  I now have a Facebook Author’s Page (named simply: Andy Crocker, Author) where I am posting updates. Soon to come on this site will be links to the videos of my presentations, if you’d rather see it presented than written. Enjoy.

Both Speeches are Now Available in Written Form

Welcome back,  I know it’s been a while since I posted last, but alas I am a teacher with two young children at home.  So, this post is to make you aware that both of my speeches on “An Ordinary Extraordinary Life” are now available under the books tab (above right).  So, if you missed my presentations, or would like to read them, here they are.  Enjoy. -Andy

Lost and Found in Mountainous Wyoming


Sometimes I’m Just Plain Lucky

Last week (August 2012) I went on my annual backpacking trip with some old friends. We hiked up to Big Sandy Lake in Wyoming (in a mountain range the locals call “The Winds” south of Yellowstone) where we set up camp. The next day we took a day hike up the mountain to “The Cirque” through Jackass Pass. On the way we saw War Bonnet Peak, the Warrior Peaks, Arrowhead Lake, Pingora Peak (which has an uncanny resemblance to Devil’s Tower), Mitchell Peak, Lonesome Lake, and Lizard Head Peak.

About half way up the climb to Jackass Pass, as I was putting on my sunglasses (which had been hanging in my front shirt collar) I noticed that I had lost one of the earguards (a three inch gray piece of rubber) which had been present earlier in the climb. Lilly and I were ahead of the others, so after I searched in my shirt and my backpack (the two places I had put the glasses previously), we searched the surrounding area on the trail where it may have fallen. No luck. No ear guard. Oh well, I’ll come back this way later and look on the way back, I told myself. At that time my long sleeve fleece was wrapped around my waist and my t-shirt was under that, but not tucked in. I put my sunglasses on and headed up the mountain.

A mile and a half later we arrived at Jackass Pass which unveiled all the spectacular views of the mountains and lakes mentioned above in panorama view. It was a bit cloudy so I removed my sunglasses. The wind began to blow so I removed my fleece from my waist and put it on. About a half an hour later, while we ate lunch at the pass, the sun shone and the wind stopped blowing so I removed my fleece and tied it around my waist again and put my sunglasses back on. After taking in the view and snapping many pictures, we decided to descend back to camp.

As I am a fast descender, soon the others were quite a ways behind me. As I reached the part of the trail where I had noticed the lost ear guard, I slowly searched the trail and both sides as well. I did this for about a quarter mile, then resumed my fast descent, having no luck locating the lost piece. Meanwhile, nature called and I had to find a place far removed from the path to use “the facilities” (nature’s facilities that is). I removed my sunglasses and placed them in my backpack while I headed into the shrubbery surrounding the boulder field I was hiking through. Once I found a good spot, I removed my backpack and my fleece and placed them on the ground a ways away from my intended spot. I won’t go into minor details, but for the story to be complete you must realize that when a person is ready to perform said act, his shirt is hanging out in the breeze and must be tucked up out of the way to avoid any unpleasant results.

Success, I could continue the trek down the mountain free of bodily burdens, so I tied my fleece back on, put my sunglasses back on and headed down the mountain to camp. At this point I suspected that the rest of the group had pulled ahead of me and I had to catch up in order to make it to camp when they did.

When I arrived at camp one and a half miles later, I found it empty. I was there first after all. So, I entered my tent, swapped out my pants and boots for swimming trunks and river shoes, and headed for the lake (I left the same t-shirt on that I had been wearing the whole time). I still had my backpack since it had water and snacks in it and I also threw in a mini towel to use after swimming. Finally some minutes later, the rest of the crew arrived at our campsite on the lake. After greetings, I told them I would be at the back lake, near the waterfall. They told me they would join me after getting water and changing clothes. When I got to the second lake’s edge (just a couple hundred yards away), I removed my backpack and waded into the water. Noticing my t-shirt was still on, I took it off and flung it onto the nearest bush, near my backpack. Wading a bit more then coming out of the frigid water, I bent down to collect my shirt and put it in my backpack. Still hot outside, I went back to the water, about fifteen feet away where the stream flowed into the lake. Slipping down an inclined rock under the water, I plunged into the lake, up to my neck. Then I decided that since I was already that close I might as well go all the way under. Wow, that was cold. I swam a bit more over to where I had removed my shirt, then exited the water walking on the grass on the lake’s edge. Looking out over the lake, I saw it; something floating in the water, something that was suspiciously the same gray color and size as my missing ear guard. I swam out to retrieve the mysterious object and sure enough, I had found it, miles away from where I had lost it.

Now, being a scientist my mind quickly went through the options and picked out the most likely hypothesis. Perhaps somehow, against all odds, the ear guard had stuck in my shirt (I have no idea how) and when I removed my shirt, it fell into the water. However, where I found the guard was quite a distance away from where I removed my shirt. I had an idea. Perhaps…I removed a piece of grass the same length and shape as the ear guard and dropped it where I estimated the guard would have dropped if I had somehow shaken it loose when I removed my shirt. Sure enough after a minute or two, the grass floated to the precise location I found my guard floating in the lake. One piece of the puzzle solved. I had knocked it loose when I removed my shirt.

Now the harder part. How had the ear guard miraculously remained in my shirt? Plus, that is where I had checked immediately after losing it, and I swear it wasn’t in my shirt. I placed the piece in my shirt. It fell right through. I placed it in again. It stuck, but when I took two steps, it fell right down onto the ground. There is no way it could have stayed there the whole time through all the jostling, the removing and replacing of the fleece, the nature’s calling, etc. So, how, how, how…

Luckily, later in the trip I believe I may have stumbled onto the correct answer, but it is still against most odds. At a rest stop on the drive home, I removed my sunglasses and the famed ear piece remained behind my ear. Could it have been behind my ear the entire time? Perhaps. That would answer why, with all the jostling of my shirt, it didn’t fall out. What it doesn’t explain however, is why I didn’t discover it when I put on and removed my sunglasses several times during that hiking trip. Chances are, it would have fallen when the sunglasses hit it as they were being placed on my head, and again when they were removed. Something else I didn’t even mention in the story above, which I now notice when looking back at some pictures that were taken, is that I was also wearing a European sun hat with straps that I removed several times during the hike as well. If the sunglasses and the fleece didn’t knock it out, why didn’t the donning and removing of the hat? Whatever the case, what remains true is that the missing guard ended up in the lake where I found it. Sometimes as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In this case, it was not my intuition which helped me figure out the mystery, but the steps of the scientific method which I believe have led me to the truth.

The Art of Flying

      Have you ever had a dream where you are flying and then you wake up and are bummed that you can not actually fly?  I would be surprised if you have not.  I believe that while we are inhabiting these material bodies, our spirit longs for the freedom of the spiritual realm, where flying is the norm.  Lucid dreams on the other hand are dreams in which you wake up consciously and find yourself in the dream world.  For me, lucid dreams are fewer and farther between than flying dreams, but sometimes they interconnect.  More often than not, once I wake up inside of a dream and can control it, the first thing I think of is flying.  
      Let me provide you with an example.  I was in a dream where my friends and I were loading up a truck with stolen TVs.  I looked down at one of the TVs and thought, ‘wait a minute, I would never do something like this, I’m not this kind of person. Therefore, I must be dreaming!’  Suddenly, I had broken through the dream and realized I could do whatever I wanted.  The first thing I thought of was flying.  I shot straight up through the air as fast as thought would take me, flying around the city, looking down on it from above.  Then, a different thought occurred to me, “I wonder if…” and all the sudden I was zooming out of the atmosphere into space, seeing the Earth from above.  I got so high that the Earth began to look smaller, but then, unfortunately I woke up.  What happens, as I have described before, is that the conscious mind gets so excited about the experience that it breaks in and takes over.  At that point the experience ends.  The trick then is to be excited, but not to let yourself be too excited, because if you do, you’ll wake up and curtail the experience.
      Since I fly so often in my dreams, I find that I expect this to be my reality.  Others however are unsure about their ability to do this.  Therefore, I have found myself many times within these flying dreams teaching others how to fly as well.  The danger is that when others doubt my ability to fly within the dream, and I start doubting it too, all of the sudden, more often than not, I  sputter out and can not fly anymore.  When there is no doubt, flying is simple.
      Even if the lucid dream doesn’t involve flying, the rule of over-excitement still applies.  When lucid dreaming, you are occupying a space between the dream state and the waking state, walking a thin line.  One misstep and boom, you’re awake again.  It truly is an art, trying to remain in this god-like state, where you have absolute power and are limited only by your thoughts.

Time Travel

     Have you ever wondered about the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”?  I certainly have felt this reality during my summers off as a teacher.  However, I have also experienced a different aspect of time, in my waking life, and in dreams, which seems to do the opposite: time is slowed or expanded somehow so that more of it is experienced in a short period of “time”.  I’ll give you a couple of examples of this.

     I was 16 years old and lived in the eastern foothills of San Bernardino, CA.  East of town there are miles of BLM roads which stretch off into the wilderness: a perfect teenager’s playground.  My friends Reno, Mike and I went on a drive one afternoon to explore this vast territory.  We began our trek at 2pm (we knew this because we had finished a late lunch, checking our watches before we left).  We used my parent’s GMC Jimmy.  We drove miles and miles up the dusty dirt roads, stopping occasionally to take in the panoramic views, to inspect some local aspects of the scenery, or to allow Reno to evacuate his premises (we called him nature boy since he always had to go #2 when we went off into the wilderness).

We laughed, told stories, had a wonderful time.  Finally, it felt like it was time to turn around and head out.  We came out a different way, since there were many routes and it would be quicker to come out onto a paved road to the North and drive back to our house that way than to snake our way back through all the dirt roads back to my house.


When we escaped the wilderness and reached the pavement we stopped for a water break and it was at this point that we looked at our watches.  Before looking however, we had already agreed that it was getting quite late, maybe 6 or 7pm, and that’s why we had headed back in the first place.   My watch said that it was a few minutes past 4pm.  It must be broken.  Reno?  No, his watch agreed with mine.  According to our timepieces, we had only spent about two hours out there, driving as far as we did, our many stops, our many stories.  Impossible.  We each recalled the many things we had done up there, trying to add the perceived time up to come up with just two hours.  None of us could do it.  We had done too many things; spent way too much time doing those things.  It was simply not possible.  Time did not fly, but we had a LOT of fun, too much fun apparently.  And for you people trying to come up with the alcohol or drugs scenarios in your heads, I will tell you that my friends and I had a lot of fun driving around in various vehicles as teenagers and none of it, ever, involved alcohol or drugs.  We simply did not need those things in order to have fun and did not believe in using them.  No, we had  experienced our first time warp.  It was not as if two of us thought it was late and the other was iffy.  We all three had sensed the lateness, felt the time pass and each of us agreed that we had easily spent four hours up there, and maybe five.  There was no way it had been two hours.


The above story happened in broad daylight in the afternoon summer sun.  All three of us were wide awake.  The next experiences I will share came to me in the dream state.  I don’t know how detailed some of your dreams are, but mine can be so detailed that I can smell things, taste things, and feel as if I’m living my life in the dream.  The two dreams I will share had this intensely detailed quality to them and seemed just as real as waking life.  In the first dream, I was with my brother Evan.  We were traveling.  I woke up in the dream, spent the entire day with my brother, talked, ate meals, booked a room at a hotel, everything.  I went to bed, got up the next morning and traveled some more; stayed at a different hotel. This happened four times.  It was not rushed; if anything it was leisurely; like we were on vacation.  I lived those days as if they were actually occurring.


When I finally awoke in the morning, I was quite disoriented.  I had spent five days and four nights in this dream state.  I was stunned when it became apparent that it was just the next day; that I hadn’t slept as long as the dream had taken.  I had felt those days as if real time was passing.  In my mind, I lived those days and only upon awakening could I convince myself that they had not actually taken place.  It was that real.


The next dream was not quite as dramatic.  I only lived a full day and night in this one.  However, upon waking up, that same strange feeling of time warp was with me.   My mind could not comprehend how I could spend that much time in the dream state only to wake up a few hours later in waking life.


Time is not what our waking minds would like it to be.  It is much stranger than that; foreign to our logical, single-track minds which think that before was yesterday, this is now, and the future is tomorrow.  Time passes at a rate of one hour every 60 minutes and one minute every 60 seconds.  A second is defined by those radioactive atomic reactions which occur at an extremely regular rate.  This is what the scientific world has established as a truth.  However, it is not necessarily perceived in this way when the human experience informs us differently.  When our minds visit the realm of the spirit, time doesn’t exist at all.  In a dream state it exists, but travels at a different rate.  In some waking states, time is experienced much differently than its linear existence on a clock.  How plastic, elastic, and fickle the experience of time through different states of consciousness.  How mysterious this notion of time.

Sleep Paralysis: Necessary or Evil?

Mind Reading and Sleep Paralysis

     It was December of 1990, and I was in the middle of my trip around the world, visiting India.  In the afternoon we had arrived at our destination; we were staying with a spiritual group called the Brahma Kumaris. Many of us had never seen anything like it before. They all went around the compound wearing white garments, constantly smiling, as if in a trance. They were heavily into meditation, and ate communal meals. So in this atmosphere, several things happened. While having a discussion with a couple of close friends of mine on the trip, we were talking about the powers of the mind: mind-reading, astral projection (mind-body separation). We agreed that each of us could feel it when someone was trying to read our thoughts. We practiced doing this as we were discussing it. There was a palpable energy in the air, which promoted this type of activity of the mind. At one point, I looked at Rick and probed into his mind; he felt it and said “stop it” while at the same time pushing me out of his mind and back some too, into my own mind (I could actually feel the push, it was incredible!).

     Next, we moved on to the topic of sleep paralysis. Both Josh and I had experiences in which we wake up and can not move. I said to them, “It almost feels like I’m dying when it happens and it scares me.” At this point, Rick peered into my being with a sinister grin, as if taking pleasure in my fear, and it felt like being stabbed. I was so vulnerable at this moment, and I felt as though he had taken advantage of it. I staggered back, and out of the room, trying to catch my breath. Rick ran after me, apologizing, saying, “I really didn’t mean to do that.” At this young age (19 years), I had little context for spiritual encounters, and still possessed much fear. Rick was a bit older than I and had more experience. My guess is that he had already thought much about death and dying, and understood that it is more akin to a fascinating journey, than an end to life. My young agnostic self still saw it as a possible end to life, period. Thus, the fear.
That night was the first night I had what I would describe as a night attack. Granted, when I fell asleep, it was directly after our conversations above, so I was already a bit fearful. This may have colored my dream experience. At 3:30am I had a nervous stomach attack and had to use the restroom. Recovered from this, I went back to sleep. My friend Roger was in the next bed over. As I entered the sleep state, I was attacked. I was being held under duress. My mind almost drowned and I tried to moan to wake Roger up, but he’s a heavy sleeper and didn’t hear my feeble cries. Then, suddenly, it released me, I was free. I got up and didn’t go back to sleep for fear of the same thing occurring.

     A couple of months (Feb. 1991) and countries later, I was in New Zealand, land of Maoris (people) and Kauris (trees). The paralysis dreams continued. I had two more episodes. In one of them, I was paralyzed and my heart stopped. Then, my breathing stopped. It felt quite peaceful, but I knew that my body would die if I didn’t start breathing again, so I tried to will myself to wake up. It was not easy; I finally was able to move a finger, which freed me from the paralysis, but instead of waking up, I awoke into a dream. Waking from the dream finally, I realized my body was in a coffin position, with my arms crossed over my chest. This scared me enough that I could not go back to sleep that night.
The second episode was different in that I was laying on my side this time. I could sense the threshold between awake and asleep and it felt like different dimensions, different worlds. When I crossed over into the paralyzed state, I could feel and hear the sound of the crossing. Getting back was not so easy. There is a decision point in which the body will either respond to your commands to move, or it won’t, and right when I feel that it is not going to move, it finally does. Again, I woke up from the paralysis into a dream, from which I had to awake in order to be in this reality.
     In each of these paralysis events, the fear of death is what caused me to struggle to free myself. It is quite unnerving when your mind is instructing your body to do something, and it will not respond. It also freaked me out a bit when my heart and breathing stopped. While in New Zealand I thought about it and came to a realization: I am an eternal being, I can not die! With this in mind, I was prepared when the next episode occurred.
     I remember where I was: the leader of the trip around the world owned a house near the beach on the North Island in a town called Whangaporoa. I was taking an afternoon nap here when it happened. I was paralyzed, but instead of struggling, I relaxed, thinking, ‘It can not hurt me, I am eternal.’ My heart stopped. My breathing stopped. I floated out of my body, looking down from above at my body in the bed below. The feeling was indescribable, but included lightness, love, joy, peace, serenity, crystal-clarity, and freedom. I looked around the room a bit, listened to the radio playing in another part of the house. Then I watched as a fuzzy thistle seed floated into the room through the open window, swirled around the room a bit, then floated out. It was a symbol of what I was experiencing. I basked in the freedom for a while longer. Finally, I had a choice to make. I could reenter my body or not. I decided to reenter the body. I woke up from the nap, but I was still on cloud nine for quite some time. Releasing my fear and embracing the experience allowed me to view the paralysis from a completely new perspective. I had never had an out-of-body experience before, and it’s not something you ever forget. In that spiritual realm, you are much more awake/aware than in your normal waking life. Experiences there are imprinted in your being.
I don’t remember when it was I came across the information, or had the AHA! moment, but I think I finally know exactly what is happening with my body in these paralysis episodes. My conscious mind is becoming aware while my body is still asleep. You see, your body shuts down all its major motor functions to its muscles while you sleep so that when you dream, you do not act out all that you are dreaming about. This is pretty useful. After all, you don’t want to be walking, running, jumping, or dodging while in your bed asleep! Normally, you are not aware of your body’s paralysis. However, occasionally you may wake up just enough to realize you can not move your arms or legs. When I do this, more often than not, it is between REM states. This explains why, when I finally release myself from the paralysis, I enter a dream. I believe most of us can say that we have had dreams where we try, but fail to talk, shout, scream, walk, run, or jump the way we think we should be able to in the dream state. I believe this is due to the same reason: your mind is right on the edge of being awake, just enough to realize that many of your body functions are conveniently shut down while you sleep.  The body is wise.  Consciousness is fascinating.

Got Spirit?

     It is not necessary to have a near death experience or vision in order to enter the spiritual realm. In May of 1992 I did this while meditating. I began the meditation with my normal breathing method and was laying on my back. Then, all of a sudden, I was free of my body. Time did not exist. Space was meaningless. Thoughts and feelings ruled the realm. Since this was my first real experience being in this state of consciousness and being aware of it, I did not take full advantage of the possibilities available to me. I could have visited any time period I chose, in the past or the future. I stuck with the present since my mind was there.

     Still, there were plenty of things to explore. Whatever I thought of, I was immediately and simply there, without having to travel. So, I thought of a waterfall half way around the world, I was there. I thought of a friend in another state, I was there with that friend and could read her mind. I could feel the closeness, the connectedness that exists when space is negated. I decided that with this kind of power I should do something that might have an impact. I visited President Bush in Brazil, at the Earth Summit. I discussed with him the importance of the summit and our effects on the environment.

     The excitement of my mind in this state of consciousness almost brought me out of the meditative state a couple of times, but before it was over, I had experienced it enough to leave an indelible impression on my conscious waking mind. Somehow my journal entries for 1992 are missing. However, I remember this experience as if it were yesterday. Today (July 2012) I believe that the only way this experience can be possible is if in spirit, we are all truly one being. This is how it felt. It was as if I left my packaged, bound individual self, and entered my unbound, true self: the spirit which inhabits all things is one spirit! I was simply visiting different parts of my Self, all these other people, other places were no longer other, they were me, just a different aspect.

     Another example of my realization that all things are truly one occurs when I stare into other people’s eyes. With some people, the connection is instant and obvious. With others, the familiarity takes longer: months, years, perhaps not at all. With pets too, this happens to me. Let me explain using an experience that perhaps you too have felt. Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone you love and seen yourself? I don’t mean your body or your person. I mean your spiritual self. When you accomplish this/realize this, it is quite striking. It’s that electric connection you feel that is accompanied by familiarity and love of another being, a self that is separate from your body, but not your spirit. It’s like falling in love with one look. There are only a handful of people and a couple of animals I have met that upon the first instant of eye contact, this link was fully established. These people/beings are my other selves, walking around on this Earth in different packages. I can see right through them, into their soul, and they are me, we are one.

     A striking example of this oneness occurred when I was in New Delhi, India, in December of 1990, during my trip around the world. At one point, our instructors took us to a high rooftop to overlook the city, to see the layout. Before we came together as a group to discuss this, we had some time to simply take in the view from up there. As I looked around, I also looked up and saw some vultures circling above us. One particular vulture was a bit closer to us. As I watched it, something remarkable happened. I became the vulture. I was flying. I could feel the wind beneath my wings. I could see the city from the vulture’s viewpoint as I circled.

   Now unfortunately, in the excitement, my mind broke the connection, so that it only lasted for about thirty seconds. But again, when something like this happens to you, you do not soon forget it, and time is not really an issue. I wonder if, from the vulture’s point of view, it saw itself through my human eyes at the same time I was seeing my human self from the vulture’s eyes up above? Certainly I would have liked to experience this for a few minutes or more, but I feel lucky to have done it at all. Again, this would not be possible if we are not connected in a fundamental way, and I believe that way is that we share the same spirit, the spirit of life.

 

Groups are people too!

     On my trip around the world, we spent eight and a half months with the same 20 people, traveling to six different countries. With this type of closeness comes a type of intimacy similar to family; you get to know people in ways you may not have wanted to (Rick’s stinky socks for example)! When we were in our second country, England, our biology instructor introduced us to a native way of discussing group topics: the talking stick. You might be familiar with it; you have a stick and pass it around the group until someone has something to say. When that person has the stick, only that person speaks, and the rest listen. As we soon found, it works only as well as the people in the group agree to follow the simple rule.
     Several nights we did this around a fire. There’s something about fire that brings people together in a way that nothing else can; so much a different experience than sitting around a table in a room with artificial lighting. Perhaps it is our tribal instincts, but the fire brought us together, and the talking stick gave us a means by which the group could communicate to its parts. We brought up our fears and concerns, our joys and excitement. As the talking stick went around the group, it soon became obvious who wanted to speak, and whose turn it was to speak. There was a knowing that went along with this, a palpable energy was in the air. I now know it to be what we can call group consciousness. There were about 24 of us around the fire (students and professors) and when you speak in a group of people, something special happens. The energy of their attention is something you can feel as you speak. I spoke several times in this group, and occasionally, I said things in such an eloquent way that I doubt I would have been able to come up with myself. The group’s focused attention on my words, their agreement with what I was saying, these factors allowed me to say things I never would be able to say, in a way that (at that time) was beyond my personal abilities as a public speaker. Again, you could just feel the energy, the empathy from the group. Certainly there were people who would not follow the signs and signals that their turn to speak was over. There were people who spoke without having the stick. In these cases, the group’s attention would turn negative, until the natural flow of the stick’s rules could be restored.
      What I have learned about this is spoken of in psychological literature where it is referred to as synergistic effects or emergence. Synergy is defined by Wikipedia as: “Two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.” It comes from the Greek words for “working together”. Emergence has several definitions and two main types. The definition that applies to this situation is the one for “strong emergence”: “If systems can have qualities not directly traceable to the system’s components, but rather to how these components interact…these new qualities are irreducible to the system’s constituent parts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
     I believe this may be part of the reason why some people run for public office. The energy that flows through you when you speak in front of a crowd is so much different than when you are speaking in front of a mirror. It is group energy, group consciousness. Depending on the group you are speaking to, this may not be a good thing (if they disagree with you, for example). However, if they believe in you and your message, then you become their voice, and again, things come out of you that you never knew you had in you. I believe this is because you don’t have it in you. It is a synergistic effect of the mass consciousness. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts, or works together in a way that is not predictable by studying its parts.
     As a high school teacher, I experience these effects on a day to day basis. A good example is when I have several classes to teach the same material. Take physical science as an example; on a typical year, I have three different sections of the same class. How that class period goes, no matter the lesson plan that starts out the same, depends so much on the group of students that sit in front of me. It becomes hard to talk when the majority of a class is not listening to you, or has their attention on something else. I have become quite good at recognizing the subtle hints (fidgeting, eyes wandering) and not so subtle hints (drooling on a desk) that students are bored to tears. One class, which has a majority of scientifically interested students in it will feel completely different from another that has a non-interested majority. I won’t even be able to find the same words to present the material to them; it is choppy, not smooth and flowing. On the other hand, when I’m presenting something exciting to interested students that they’ve never seen before, this is when I can feel the group energy and come up with witty comments with ease. They may not be aware of it, but they are supplying me with group energy that helps me present to them. All teachers know this. Public speakers know this. It is an emergent property, a synergistic effect of group consciousness. The group takes on a life of its own. It feels alive.