The Earth Beneath Your Feet: Looking at Sacred Lands.
Todd Murphy E-mail: email@example.com
Educated Guesswork on the Meeting of Consciousness and the Earth at Harbin Hot Springs: A Northern California Spiritual Retreat Center, long believed to be sacred by the Native Americans and those who live there today. ________ ________ ________ ________ Spiritual Coaching ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ The Buddha’s Brain. ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________
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There are some places on this earth that people hold as sacred, and we’ll be looking at one of them here. The place is Harbin Hot springs, a spiritually-oriented retreat in Middletown, (Lake County) California, about 100 miles north of San Francisco. It has been seen as a special place by the Pomo (Miwok) Native Americans, groups of LSD devotees, New Age Teachers, reincarnate Tibetan Lamas, Rajneesh “neo-sanyassins”, a group who used to wait for Aliens to land, Adi Da and his disciples, (who have a retreat center not far from there), and many others. Harbin is not so famous as some of the other “power spots” in the world, like Findhorn in Scotland or Easalen in Big Sur, California or Glasonbury in England. All the same, as a place where “things happen,” it must surely rank among the most spiritually evocative places in the world. In this article, we will be looking at some of the things that help to make it what it is. The people who live and work at ‘Harbin’ often say that we create our own realities. At Harbin, however, and other places like it, the earth beneath our feet is also making its contribution.
Not so long ago, I was doing an evening research session at Harbin. While we were settling in, The subject’s presence struck me in a way I had not yet experienced before. I had the strongest ‘intuition’ that she was a highly evolved being. She had a `vibe’ that reminded me of an old Carmelite nun I had once met. I found myself briefly imagining myself performing Buddhist prostrations before her, as I might have done before ordained monks when visiting their temples. I held back. There is no clinical or experimental evidence that getting down on your knees and worshiping the experimental subject will affect the outcome of research, but I decided not to take the chance. People might talk. The session began at 9:00 p.m., and ended two and a half hours later. That’s common in my work. This picture was taken at a natural formation called “The Punchbowl” in Anderson Springs, about 6 Miles from Harbin Hot Springs.
The next day, I met a bodyworker from San Francisco who was finishing a week stay at Harbin. He told me that the night before he did a massage for a regular client, a man he’d worked on about 10 times before. As he was beginning the session, he was overwhelmed with a sensation that his client was a Buddha or Bodhisattva. He was sure that he’d never felt anything like this about this client, in spite of having worked on him before. I asked him what time the session had occurred, and he commented that It was pretty late for a massage, about 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
At the same moment I felt my subject was a Goddess, he felt that his client was a God.
His experience and mine had a couple of points in common. We were both in active roles, and our recipient’s were in passive ones. They happened in the same place, but also at the same time..
I have heard it said that being at Harbin `brings out your trips.’ If what that massage therapist and I experienced was just our own trips, then why did we feel this only at Harbin? And why at the same time? The chances of such a coincidence look pretty slim when we stop to think how rare it is that we are spontaneously overwhelmed by prayerful moods directed at those we work with. I also heard it said that Harbin is a magical, sacred space that somehow `opens’ us to perceptions we would otherwise `block,’ such as the divinity of each person, and our own ability to hold them in reverence, awe, and love. If this were the reason, then why is it not so all the time? Why weren’t all my sessions like this?
With a knowing smile, one might answer that that’s just the way it is. One might also suggest not thinking about it too much. Just experience it, and don’t forget to breath (‘just breath’ is a kind of saying there). If you were in your heart, you wouldn’t bother with these questions. (An alternative is that if you were in the present, you wouldn’t think about these things so much.) For sure, this guy hasn’t learned that he’s never going to `get it’ this way. It’s just the magic of this special place, and when is he going to figure out that he’s never going to figure it out?
Something is going on at Harbin, and its not only that `trips come out’. Its not only that synchronicity flows like water. This land is sacred, they say. Well, what does that mean? All the Earth is sacred, but things don’t happen for me in nearby Santa Rosa the way they do at Harbin. Is Harbin `more sacred’ than other places? Are there several kinds of sacred? The idea that `stuff comes up’ at Harbin because its a sacred place doesn’t seem to be very well thought out. Certainly something is different here. One woman who participated in my research told me that she had heard inner voices all her life, but that they stopped when she came to Harbin. After that, she said, they rarely appeared, and when they did, they only told her to stay. Another woman told me that Jesus, a longtime spirit familiar, had refused to give her the insight she needed to find her true calling in life. Jesus only told her to stay, but withheld the long term guidance she had been praying for.
If Harbin’s special way of affecting people is because of the place itself, I need to ask what is it about the place that creates the effect. Why this need? If you were in the present, you wouldn’t ask.
Questions from a Caterpillar
`Who are you?’ said the caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I-I hardly know, Sir, just at present-at least I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’
`What do you mean by that?’ said the caterpillar, sternly. `Explain yourself!’
`I’m can’t explain myself, I’m afraid , sir’, said Alice, `because I’m not myself, you see.’
`I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar.
`I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied, very politely, `for I can’t understand it myself, to begin with; and [being taken by so many moods]…is very confusing.’
`It isn’t,’ said the Caterpillar.
`Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; `but when you have to turn into a chrysalis-you will some day, you know-and then after into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a bit queer, won’t you?’
`Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar.
`Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,’ said Alice: `all I know, it would feel very queer to me.’
`You!’, said the Caterpillar contemptuously.
`Who are you?’
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland -authors parenthetical addition
Sleeping at Harbin.
Not poppy, nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the world shall medicine thee to that sleep which thou owest yesterday’- Shakespeare, Othello
“I noticed something happening to me as I lay at night, waiting for sleep at Harbin. Something that happened only rarely before I came here. I had waking nightmares. One week they were of a type of death I find especially horrifying, in which a person meekly accepts a death imposed on them by another person. Jews herd themselves into gas chambers when ordered to do so. A samurai, in obedience to his lord, opens his stomach. A Vietnamese child, doing as its parents have taught, detonates a bomb, which explodes in a cloud of blood, killing two GIs who have paused on their way to admire how cute it is. Aztecs volunteer for `the flowery death.’ Thich Quang Duc, the Supreme Patriarch of Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhism, equal in rank to the Dalai Lama, pours gasoline over himself, and, unmoving, dies in a posture that reminds me more of being alive than dying.”
These were not dreams, visions or hallucinations. They were more like forced imaginations. Like the tune you can’t get out of your head (that happened to him a lot at Harbin, too). He could think of other things in these moments, but his mind always reverted back to these images. At other times, these waking nightmares were different. One included erotic images of women whom he had once desired deeply, but was never able to connect with. With other men. The first ones were about horror. The following ones were about a particularly piercing kind of frustration. Each type of waking nightmare lasted about a week.
There were others, but I won’t go into them. If reading them is as unkind to the reader as thinking of them is to the writer, then we should move on.
The days were a very different story. One week, he felt aware. Just aware. Here and now every minute. Or so it seemed to him. He said that he recalled getting angry once that week, but it didn’t last long, and he quickly defaulted back to awareness. Another week, he said, he was horny. All the time. Another week, he was angry. During another week, he said he was overcome with love and a sense of tenderness and poignancy that appeared almost every time he talked to anyone.
I was intrigued by this man’s experience. So, I started asking Harbin residents a question: `Do you find that you have periods of five to ten days when you have single moods that seem to predominate? So that, in one period, everything seems to make you angry, and in another, you love everybody, while in another everything makes you want to cry? Do you find that you automatically fall into the same mood over and over, and do these moods change from week to week?
What I found out (after asking about 25 people) was that all but a few felt they experienced the same thing he did. One of the exceptions said that she had a history of bipolar mood swings. Mercifully, these had lessened since coming to Harbin, but she still felt that their residues outweighed other factors. Another takes legal hallucinogens for a hobby, while another is intensely psychic. Another one who felt nothing like what I describe said that, although he didn’t feel these mood shifts, he did notice it in the people around him. One week everyone was friendly. Another week, nobody seemed to want to talk to him. You don’t have to feel this effect to know that it exists. You only have to watch how people respond to you
In Urdu (Pakistani) poetry, there is a word that refers to this collective mood. Roshni. Literally, the word means `light’, but it also has a special, poetic meaning. It refers everybody’s collective mood, including the variations felt by individual people. I’m going to be using this word a lot in this article. Harbin seems to create more intense Roshni than other places, and with more distinct changes from roshni to the next.
This is not the only mysterious why we can find at Harbin. There are others. Like: why do people who hate the place (or at least seem to say so by their constant complaining), keep coming back? Why did the one woman we spoke of earlier have inner voices when she was away, but none when she was at Harbin? Why do UFO sightings at Harbin outnumber those in Santa Rosa? Why (or so I’ve heard) did the Miwok or `Digger’ Indians say that these hot springs were very healing, but that if you stayed too long, they could make you crazy? Or how about the scenario, repeated over and over again, about the person who came for a weekend, but stayed to become a resident, leaving all their worldly goods behind them?
They say that Harbin’s energy is special, but what is energy, anyway? Perhaps the definition is: whatever makes special things happen. How do you know that there is a special energy at Harbin? Because we experience special things and feelings when we’re here. How do you know its an energy? Because it brings on special experiences. What makes the experiences special? They have energy. Round and round in circles. If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a little deeper answer.
The idea that Harbin has a special energy seems to be tailored to help people accept Harbin rather than to understand it. Understanding what happens to others at Harbin can help you to understand what happens to you when you visit any space considered sacred.
Mother Earth Meets the Buddha
`Don Juan squatted in front of us. He caressed the ground gently.
`This is the predilection of two warriors,’ he said. `This Earth, this world. For a warrior there can be no greater love.’ Don Genaro stood up and squatted next to Don Juan for a moment while both of them peered fixedly at us, then they sat in unison, cross-legged.
`Only if one loves the Earth with unbending passion can one release one’s sadness,’ Don Juan said. `A warrior is always joyful because his love is unalterable and his beloved, the Earth, embraces him and bestows upon him inconceivable gifts. The sadness belongs only to those who who hate the very thing that gives shelter to their beings.
Don Juan again caressed the ground with tenderness.
`This lovely being, which is alive to its last recesses and understands every feeling, soothed me, it cured me of my pains, and finally when I had fully understood my love for it, it taught me freedom.’
Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power.
In Southeast Asian Buddhism, there is a story about the night of the Buddha’s enlightenment. It is said that the forces of darkness, led by the lord of evil, Mara, attacked the Buddha. First he tried temptation, and when that failed, he tried fear. To try to frighten him, he sent out his armies, led by a ferocious war-elephant called Grimilkhala. Mara himself assumed his ten-headed form to try to appear even more frightening. The Buddha was not afraid, or even disturbed. He used his powers to transform the arrows fired by the army of evil into flower petals, and when he had enough, he lowered his hand to the Earth until one fingertip touched the ground.
Years before, at the beginning of his renunciation, Prince Siddhartha had vowed to the Earth, the only witness available at the time, that he would find the way to end human suffering, and then find a way to pass that way on to the rest of the world. He would not pursue the final goal only for himself. The night of his meeting with Mara would be the time when he would redeem that vow.
When the Earth mother felt his touch, she quickly roused herself to come to his aid. She appeared, taking the form of a lovely young woman with a sweetly smiling countenance, and kneeling before the Buddha, she wrung out her wet hair. It is said that to produce the deluge that followed, She borrowed the water of whole oceans. Mara was defeated, and departed after paying homage to the Buddha. That Goddess has two names. The first is Mah Din, or Mother Earth. The Second is Mah Torahnee, or `Mother of the waters of the world’.
It is said that the Earth herself will come to the aid of any who strive to attain the final liberation while they still walk upon her body.
One thing stands out about Harbin’s land. It has a unique geology. Very unique. I am going to try to convince you, gentle reader, that this geology is what’s behind Harbin’s amazing synchronicities, emotional cycles, reputed healing powers, and beguiling Roshni. Not only that, but also that other sacred places owe their phenomena to similar forces.
Harbin Hot Springs is just one of many geological features in southern Lake County. It rests between two ancient volcanoes. One of them, northwest of Harbin, is a Pleistocene (really, really old) formation (including Cobb Mountain and Harbin mountain), while the other, directly south is a Plieocene (really, really,really old) one. The older one, in the Calistoga area, is almost worn down to the level of the surrounding valley (Napa Valley). That explains why there are 92 hairpin turns on route 29 between Calistoga and Middletown. One volcanoe was building up next to one that was wearing down. That will make a steep mountainside for you. Try it yourself if you don’t believe me.
Between these two old volcanoes there is a line of spots where the underground volcanic heat breaks through to the surface. There are three natural kinds, and one that’s man made. The man-made one is the Calpoint geothermal power plant in Cobb, California. You can’t miss it on route 175 coming from Cobb towards Middletown at night. It presents an almost ethereal angry look, with its billowing clouds of steam backlit by orange lights.
There are also two groups of geysers (called big geysers and little geysers), each with neighboring Fumaroles, holes where volcanic fumes escape, reeking horribly. There is also a line of hot spring clusters (running along the the southeastern edge of the taller old volcano to the north):
and the Sulfur Banks.
Besides geothermal spots, there is also the isolated Collayomi fault. One of its ends is about four miles to the west of Harbin (Isolated means that its not connected to other fault systems). That’s close enough for Harbin to feel its tremors. That power plant is built right on top of it, close to the middle of its length.
The Collayomi fault is the source of about 85% of all the seismic activity within 50 miles of Clearlake (a city about 10 miles from Harbin). A typical day will see 5 tremors of 1.5 (or more) on the Richter scale. Our extinct volcanos have left the crust thinner here than in other places, so its more likely to vibrate. Each vibration makes a seismic event.
The Collayomi fault, I believe, is one of the main reasons why Harbin has its almost paranormal emotional atmosphere. My explanation can explain a great deal, from psychic synchronicities to the emotional phases we talked about earlier. It does not rely on spiritual concepts. Instead, it only uses scientific ideas. Together, we will see how much about Harbin can be understood without the expectations that appear when one tries to understand it in terms of traditional spiritual beliefs. There will be a lot of convergence with these ancient ideas, but also some differences.
What’s the point?
It will help scientists to understand a variety of related things. It will help us to understand which mental disorders a place like Harbin heals. Remember our case of the Bipolar woman who improved when she came to Harbin? There are other geologic `hot spots’ in the world, places whose transpersonal uses are untapped, never being sought out by those who need them. For the world to see how the earth can touch human consciousness, it must look at a place where this touch is most keenly felt. Harbin, and places like it, may offer help for we know not what human ills. But, if we look at the changes that happen there, it will be an easy matter, with time, to see who can benefit from them. Such individuals might find a healing simply by renting a house in Anderson Springs. Some people who live in the area might do well to leave. The psychological processes at work will be easiest to see at Harbin because, as we will see, these processes were already happening to many of its residents before coming to stay there, and this is what enables them to feel its roshni so keenly.
There is another reason. It has to do with our children’s education.
About 40 years ago, Rachel Carson published The Silent Spring. It was the first scientific work showing how the world’s industrialization was wounding the planet. At first, only a few people in the academic world took her seriously. Her first supporters did follow-up studies that supported her conclusions, and the new field of environmental studies was created. The work done in this field has grown into all phases of education, including that of children. Today, Big Bird and Barney the Purple Dinosaur teach toddlers not to litter, and to see that the cute li’l animals are threatened with extinction.
In the first half of this century, the most popular (though not the only) school of psychology was Freudianism. Although it was probably not the best one in its time, it was the only one that had the respect of the general public. After the second world war, that changed. Cognitive, gestalt and humanistic psychology, behaviorism, and many others appeared then. At first, only a few academics understood. With time, the new psychology made its way into every part of the educational system. Today, Barney and Big Bird teach our children to be as non-judgmental as possible, to talk about their feelings instead of acting them out, and to encourage sharing and social skills.
If spirituality were understood in a scientific way at the top of the ivory academic tower, eventually it would come out the bottom as children’s education. One day Bert and Ernie might do a little skit showing how good it is to be aware of the feeling breathing creates, or how to move energy through their hands. When children taught in this way are grown, they will raise their children more consciously than they themselves were raised, and so on, through the generations. `O brave new world, that has such people in it.’
I’m not going to say that this will accomplish the planetary transformation in consciousness so may people predict, or bring out the ‘hundredth monkey’. Rather, it will serve to create a context for spirituality in our culture that isn’t attached to any guru, church, or entrenched spiritual tradition. The integration of science with spirituality offers no guarantee of spiritual `truth,’ but it sure can help people to spot nonsense in spiritual clothing. It also might create a kind of spirituality that doesn’t violate the separation of church and state. It will allow even the most `head-centered’ doctors to think about spirituality in their own, scientific, language. When they can do that, they will be able to use spirituality as a part of their practice, or at least be more open-minded as a group than they are at present. The spread of spirituality into new facets of our culture can’t hurt.
Some people think that the preservation of the planet depends on a transformation of human consciousness. If these people are right, then no avenue with even the slightest chance of aiding this process should be neglected. The integration of science with spirituality is one such avenue.
Finally, one point remains. If there were an integration of spirituality with science, discoveries in the field that it would create might eventually provide new ways to help people have spiritual experiences. As we shall see, this process has already started.
On Being out of the Body, in the Company of Angels, Sighting UFOs and Seeing the Future
`Saw you not even now a blessed troop invite me to a banquet, whose bright faces cast (a) thousand beams upon me, like the sun? They promised me eternal happiness, and brought me garlands…which I I feel I am not worthy to wear. (But) I shall, assuredly.
Shakespeare, Henry VIII
Photo below taken at the “punch bowl”, a spring-fed pond about six miles outside of Harbin’s property.
When I say `science,’ I mean two fields of science in particular. Neurology and geology. Behavioral neurology and the study of seismic and geomagnetic phenomena.
The Earth’s magnetic field changes all the time. About 80% of the field stays the same (is steady-state). The remaining 20% is the variable part. When we speak of geomagnetic quiet, or intense geomagnetic activity, we mean within its variable range. The field itself, even at its peak, is very weak. The measure is called a nanotesla. A nail, magnetized to a strength of a hundred nanoteslas, wouldn’t even pick up an iron filing.
Dr. Michael A. Persinger, director of the Behavioral Neurosciences Laboratory at Laurentian University (and my mentor) writes:
`The tendency for … telepathic experiences concerning death or crisis to occur on days when the geomagnetic activity is significantly quieter than the days that precede or follow the experience have been found for collections of experiences that occurred during the latter quarter of the last century and this century. This pattern is not unique to spontaneous cases. Over six decades, larger effect sizes for psi experiments occurred during years of quieter geomagnetic activity. …analyses of [certain] dream telepathy studies also indicated that the geomagnetic activity on nights in which the contents of were most strongly correlated with the target stimuli had been significantly quieter than the nights in which the dreams did not match the target pictures.”
M.A. Persinger, `Geophysical Variables and Human Behavior LXXI. Differential contribution of Geomagnetic Activity to Paranormal Experiences Concerning Death and Crisis: An Alternative to the ESP Hypothesis’ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1993, 76, 555-562
What’s it mean? When a mother in San Diego just `knows’ that her daughter is in danger at the same moment that she is really having a car accident in New York, its a good bet that the Earth’s magnetic field was quiet at the time. Quieter then the days immediately before and after. It also means that if someone had a dream about the end of your relationship just when your girlfriend was packing her last box into her new boyfriend’s van, its a safe bet that the geomagnetic field was quiet for that dream, too.
Here’s another quotation from the same Ph.D. guy, working with two other Ph.D. guys about precognition (I’ve added some stuff in parentheses to try to keep thing clear):
` …(156 legitimate) first hand precognitive cases that contained the days, months, and years of the experience and the event were obtained from all of the publications of FATE magazine (approximately 450 issues). …(these cases were analyzed against) measures of global geomagnetic activity for the years 1867 to the present. …values were obtained for the day of the experience (of precognition) and the day of the event (that validated the precognition) and for each of the three days before and three days after the experience and the event.
…These results support the hypothesis that precognitive experiences tend to occur during periods when the geomagnetic activity is similar to what the geomagnetic activity will be at the time of the event (it predicted).
Lewicki, Douglas R., Schaut, George H. & Persinger, Michael A. `Geophysical Variables and Behavior: XLIV. Days of Subjective Precognitive Experiences and The Days Before the Actual Event Display Correlated Geomagnetic Activity’ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1987, 65, 173-174
What does it mean? That if you have a vision of your aunt Martha wearing a Boa Constrictor, and then, shortly thereafter, you meet her in the reptile house at the zoo doing exactly that, the values for the variable part of the earth’s magnetic field will turn out to be the same for the moment when you had the vision, and the moment when your aunt started playing up with reptiles. Something is going on between this magnetic stuff and psychic experiences, and I’ll give you a hint. It ain’t tachyon power.
And now for something completely different. Out-of-body experiences (OBEs). Dr. Persinger:
`…the greatest subjective intensity of out-of-body-like experiences was reported primarily for those subjects who …(were most prone) … on those days when the geomagnetic activity ranged between 16 nT (nanoteslas) and 45 nT. … (There is a) concurrence between daily geomagnetic activity and the enhanced experiences of detachment of the self from the body for individuals whose brain’s are most prone to generate these experiences.’ [Earlier]…’The results of this study support the hypothesis that sensitivity or lability of portions of the brain which are most correlated with the reports of …(subtle altered states of consciousness)… are sensitive to a component of geomagnetic activity … The likelihood that there is some particular frequency or pattern of information which is probabilistically associated with this range of intensity variation in global geomagnetic activity must be considered.’
…'(An) exploratory hypothesis (to explain the result) is that the neurocognitive processes which are associated with the generation of the sense of self are coherent or intercalated with some unspecified feature of the steady-state or quiet component of the geomagnetic field. During periods of perturbation (increased geomagnetic activity) … the sense of self can … be discriminated as different from the body …’
M.A. Persinger, `Out-of Body -Like experiences are More Probable in People With Elevated Complex Partial Epileptic-Like Signs During Periods of Enhanced Geomagnetic Activity: A Nonlinear Effect’ Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1995, 80, 563-569
What does this mean?, you might rightly wonder. It means that OBEs are more likely on days when the variable 20% of the earth’s magnetic field is up in its higher ranges, but only for those who are prone to the experience. This proneness is measured using questionnaires that ask about feelings that often precede OBEs.
If you read books on how to have an OBE, or how to astral project, you will almost always find that the author explaining that the first step in attaining OBEs is to create the feeling that the body is rocking or swaying when it is actually still. The best time to do this, we are told, is while falling asleep. The subtle body rocks its way out of the physical body. This sense of movement, felt when the body is at rest, is an `OBE-like’ experience. Another one is `feeling as if I were somewhere else.’ We need to remember that OBEs are the most common first phase in Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) in our, western, culture. One cannot help but wonder if experiences that are similar to other NDE episodes might be enabled by increased geomagnetic activity. Angels, being visited by beloved dead friends and relatives, going through a tunnel into a spirit world; all these might also be more likely to happen when the Earth provides a strong field.
To deal with our next subject, UFOs and visions of the virgin Mary, I need to make sure that the reader, has a grasp on a concept called tectonic strain. Tectonic strain is the stress that builds up when one tectonic plate is pushed up against another. Earthquakes and tremors release this strain. The tectonic plate’s constant movements against one another builds it up again.
Here’s the idea: When a fault moves, the land bends. When this happens, the rock below is squeezed. That creates magnetic fields, although its a complicated piece of physics (its called a piezoelectric effect). What we find is that there are experiences that don’t line up with geomagnetic values, but that do line up with earthquakes and tremors. Both types are `special cases’ of the same phenomenon.
This is because the strengths of the field is not what is at work. Its the signals that are the culprit. Not how strong they are, but how coherent they are with the brain’s own, internal ,signals
Lets start off with UFOs. Not alien abductions, but the experience of seeing spaceships in the sky. We will be looking closely at UFO reports because understanding how they happen will help us understand Harbin. Although they are rare events, they do occur at Harbin, and this fact is a major clue in my investigation of the `Harbin experience.’ Again we go back to the same researcher, Dr. Michael Persinger. Writing about one of his research projects, he said (again I will use parentheses to try to keep things clear):
` Various correlational methods involving over 20,000 UFO reports (UFORs) between 951 and 1965 for six earth quake sectors of the U.S.A. indicated that the combined numbers of seismic events during 6 month periods within the northeastern, eastern and central regions were correlated as much as 0.70 with UFO report numbers during previous 6 month intervals …’ `The greatest number of significant correlations occurred with UFORs before low level … seismic displays.’
`The data support the crude associations noted between seismic activity and UFORs. Although the variation in numbers of seismic events in the central, eastern, and northeastern sectors of the U.S.A. during 6 month periods accounted for no more than about 50% of the variability in UFOR numbers, the magnitude of these (statistical) effects may be considered significant in light of the gross nature of UFOR measurements. Perhaps we will find that the UFO dilemma, like so many other apparently, unsoluble problems in the history of science, can be resolved by precise numerical analyses.
Persinger, Michael A, `Earthquake Activity and Antecedent UFO Report Numbers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1980, 50, 791-797
You have to remember that seismology is an exact science. So is statistics. UFO reporting is not. When the three are put together, the results can be somewhat, well, crude. The same article also says that some quakes in one area matched up with UFO sightings in another, distant, area.
`If the (tectonic strain) hypothesis is a valid explanation for UFORs, then the concept of tectonic strain should be supported by any systematically collected data base, including those that are given alternative interpretations. The Rutledge field observations are classic examples (a group of UFO sightings collected by somebody named Rutledge). They involved the observation of luminous globs of light, metallic looking objects, and flashing or strobe-light like observations primarily during the years 1973 and 1974.’ …
`The temporal distribution of UFORs indicated that they clustered around the occurrence of the only two earthquake periods in the region (within 1000 km).’
`The spatial distribution of UFORs … indicated that most of Rutledge’s observations occurred in an area near the opposite side of the seismic activity in the area.’
Persinger, Michael A `Geophysical Variables and Behavior: L. Indications of a Tectonic Sstrain Factor in the Rutledge (UFO) Observations During 1973 in Southeastern Missouri. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1988, 67, 571-575
UFO sightings have also been made at Harbin (unfortunately for guys like me, no records have been kept). Just like the S.E. Missouri sightings, the ones at Harbin happen on the the opposite side of a seismic region. The Collayomi fault is towards one side of the chain of Hot Springs. Harbin is towards the other. The same, documented earth forces that contributed to flying saucers in Missouri are also at work at Harbin, too.
Not all the lights in the sky are seen as aliens. Some of them are seen as the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the powers behind it are much the same.
Between April 1968 and May 1971 hundreds of thousands of people reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary over a Coptic Orthodox church in Zeitoun, near Cairo, Egypt. When photographed, these phenomena appeared as irregular blobs of light. Primarily there were two types of events: small, short-lived highly kinetic (`doves’) and more persistent coronal type displays that were situated primarily over apical structures of the church. More detailed descriptions of the phenomena , such as visions, often occurred as `flashes’; their details usually reflected the religious background of the experient.
The characteristics of these luminous phenomena strongly suggested the existence of tectonic strain within the area. According to the hypothesis of tectonic strain, anomalous luminous phenomena are generated by brief, local changes in strain that precede earthquakes within the region. Psychological factors determine more elaborate details of the experiences because there are both direct stimulations of the observers brain as well as indirect contributions from reinforcement history.’
(Analysis revealed that) `luminous phenomena in Zeitoun increased during the month of or the month before an increase in regional seismic activity’
Derr, John S. & Michael A. Persinger `Geophysical Variables and Behavior: LIV. Zeitoun (Egypt) Apparitions of the Virgin Mary as Tectonic Strain-induced Luminosities. Perceptual and Motor Skills 1989, 68, 123-128
The epicenter of the earthquakes in Egypt (at the southern tip of Sinai) was much farther from Zeitoun than the few miles from Harbin to the Callayomi fault, where Harbin’s tremors come from. The monthly periods mentioned in the quote above will probably not apply in other areas. Only further, in-depth studies will provide the answer.
Earthquakes and the Harbin Experience
“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the lord came down from heaven…
… His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow.” Gospel according to Matthew 28: 2,3
How can balls of light, you may ask, become spaceships when people look at them? It has to do with magnetism. The land below Harbin stretches as the Collayomi fault builds up and releases its strain. The earth’s magnetic field, coming up from below our feet, picks up the signals emitted by the rock as it bends (`piezoelectric signals’) as it bends following changes in tectonic strain, like a tremor or earthquake. When the rocks change the way they bend (before or after seismic events), their signals change, too. Lightning also contributes. It puts a charge in the ground that can be released when the tectonic strain changes. This charge helps the magnetic field light up.
The parts of the brain that are the most sensitive to magnetic signals are the parts with the lowest electrical thresholds. What do these parts do? They are in charge of managing your states of consciousness, among other things. The intense magnetic fields that are around the light shows, therefore, can out you into an altered state. When you are in one of these states, it becomes much, much easier to hallucinate. You are also more suggestible. If you expect that bright lights in the sky are most likely to be spaceships, then that’s what you are most likely to see. Also, these same brain structures have been found to produce the experience of The Light in laboratory settings, so that if a person is confronted with a light in the sky, and they begin to have an hallucination, they might very well find themselves seeing the light as they are seeing a light. The combined effect might be to induce a vision of a light quite beyond description
Hallucinations are not just visual. You can hallucinate sounds, tastes, smells, touches, `senses of shape’, memories, and even emotions. The brains uses magnetic signals. The earth produces geomagnetic signals. When the two are in phase, so to speak, the earth enables an hallucination of whatever function that signal would ordinarily be matched with. My guess is that the normal range of geomagnetic signals at Harbin leave them in phase with one of the signals involved with our emotions at almost all times. The changing signals might produce the roshni phases.
I believe that the geomagnetic signals that the land at Harbin, constantly being flexed by the Callayomi fault, are similar to the ones the brain uses to help us experience emotion. These signals are what makes 80% of the Harbin residents (who were asked) feel their emotions keep changing their default settings from week to week. If the signal coming out of the ground is like the one that your brain uses when its pissed off, then you are going to be much more irritable than otherwise. Neuromagnetic signals interact with geomagnetic signals. The roshni changes as the signals change. The signals change as the tectonic stress on the land change. The tectonic stress changes as the fault moves, either building up or releasing stress. Where is the interface between the magnetic signals coming from the ground and consciousness?
It’s a fact. The brain has about five million (very small) magnetite crystals per gram, and it averages about 1400 grams. That’s enough crystals to make all kinds of things happen, if you believe in `crystal power.’ I suspect that these crystals work to help brain centers talk to one another, by organizing themselves to flash little signals to one another. When the brain wants to call up an emotion, it uses its little magnets to do it. Magnetic signals travel much faster than If a signal from outside is close enough to one that an emotion center responds to, the outside signal will turn on that emotion.
The signals from the Harbin land, I think, are close to the ones the brain uses to create and maintain emotions. These signals don’t make you feel emotions. They act more like default settings, so that one emotion or another is always the easiest to fall into. If something is going on that makes someone feel happy, like a new relationship, the earth’s signals during an ‘angry week’ won’t have much effect.
One other point about roshni at Harbin. All other conditions being equal, women will experience it more intensely than men. There are many gender differences with respect to management of state, and disorders of state, and all of them imply that more parts of the brain will be affected in women. However, all other conditions are not always equal at Harbin. Harbin has gay men, left handed men, and men who have done spiritual work. Each of these things (and others) will make men more likely to respond to the roshni the way women do. Both men and women are more venusian when they pursue spiritual practice. Take nothing for granted just because someone is one gender or another.
Another point worth mentioning is that It seems to take some time for some people to feel the land’s effects. The community’s founder actually once recommended that residents avoid spending much time with short-term guests. This man has a reputation for being very sensitive to ‘energies’, which we must treat as agents that induce alterations in state. His responses to people who are either not as sensitive as he is, or have obtrusive personalities is easy to understand.
Spiritual People on Sacred lands
“Lead me, lord, from the darkness to the light” – Upanishads
I want to tell you about a brain disorder called Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. This type of epilepsy does not usually cause convulsions. Its seizures are often called complex partial seizures, because they stay in particular parts of the brain. They don’t involve the portions that control the body, so they don’t include convulsions.
This type of epilepsy stays in the temporal lobes of the brain The electrical levels at which the neurons in this region fire are at their lowest in the deeper areas of this part of the brain. That means that they get activated easily than anywhere else. In this way, this type of seizure will usually stay in the temporal lobes. What do the temporal lobes do? Among other things, they are in charge of altered states of consciousness. If you get in the way of a magnetic signal that’s tuned just right, you will enter altered states. Magnetic signals like the ones that the Collayomi fault pumps out of the land at Harbin and other sacred lands? No, signals that are similar, but probably not identical. What is a Temporal lobe (TL) seizure like?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is woven out of visions Lewis Carroll had during his seizures. The book’s motifs include many experiences that are known in TL seizures including: falling through a tunnel, feeling like one is becoming larger and smaller, of the loss of the sense of self, and of the feeling of floating. The same is true for Gulliver’s travels. In Lilliput, you are large, in Brobdinagia, you are small. One side of the mushroom makes you larger, the other side makes you smaller. Other kinds of TL seizures include re-experiencing moments from the past, strange smells, hearing inner voices, and electric buzzes in the body. They are often accompanied by a type of fear that is most often described as `the feeling of impending doom.’ Once in a while, though, someone turns up who has the opposite feelings. Their seizures are blissful, even ecstatic, and understanding these `bliss attacks,’ is what helps my colleagues and I to understand what is happening in the brain when people have mystic, religious, and spiritual experiences. These experiences, we find, depend on altered states of consciousness.
Altered states make it easier for hallucinations appear. If you are subjected to a powerful magnetic field that has a signal embedded in it, you may well enter an altered state. In that moment, you are very suggestible. If you think it’s going to be a spaceship, that’s what you are going to see. If you think it’s the Virgin Mary, then you’ll see that. When Our Lady of Fatima appeared, some people didn’t see Mary. They just saw balls of light. The earth light itself is suggestive. It looks ethereal, so it guides the hallucination into an ethereal experience.
If, by some chance, you didn’t have any temporal lobes, you’d come up short in a lot of ways. One in particular is that LSD wouldn’t have any effect on you. Stimulate the temporal lobes, and you get an altered state. The deeper parts of the temporal lobes are thought to have some of the lowest firing thresholds found anywhere in the brain.
Lots of different things can make these thresholds get even lower than they usually are. When that happens, the person becomes more prone to altered states. If I can be forgiven for trying to put a definition on the word `spiritual’, I would define it as `likely to enter altered states of consciousness.’ Harbin is a place where the land increases your chances of getting into unusual states, so Harbin is a sacred place. Its not all that complicated, and the scientific view of the issue only expresses the traditional one in different terms.
Some other things that make altered states easier include:
Having epilepsy of any kind
a history of hallucinogenic drug use
encephalitis in your past
being terminally ill
losing yourself in imaginative play
learning to use your imagination
having had a near-death experience (don’t try this one at home)
learning to do bodywork
having lots and lots of sex
having no sex at all
staying up to write poetry almost every night
sitting in Satsang
being here now
getting hit in the head in the right place, and at the right age
touching ball lightening, or having been hit by lightening.
The list goes on. One last item. Childhood abuse, neglect and deprivation.
What happens is that when kids are in pain, they escape into states of consciousness where they find relief that ranges from making the pain go away to absolute bliss. Later, as adults, these people have a greater chance of getting into spiritual states than people who weren’t abused by going into the same states. They have more experience. Don’t get me wrong. I want to stress that a lot of people who were never abused have lives that are rich in spiritual experiences. There is no evidence to suggest what these people have in common. I suspect that it has to do with their involvement in imaginative play as children, as well as the factors we listed earlier.
Whatever it is that stands behind each person’s early `not in Kansas anymore, Toto’ experiences, the result is the same. As adults, they are inclined to look for spirituality. There was a study done of college students and their propensity for altered states. The results showed that the ones who had `transpersonal’ experiences as children also had the greatest number of Temporal Lobe Signs (TL signs) as adults. There are many TL signs, but the most commonly known ones are 1) having a word on the tip of you tongue that you can’t get out, 2) déjà vu, and 3) feeling spontaneous `pins and needles.’ The questionnaires that ask about these experiences are one of the most important research tools I use.
TL signs are light altered states. Spiritual experiences are intense ones that feel good. Temporal lobe seizures are also intense ones, but they usually feel bad. I don’t want to appear judgmental, but if anything is `bad,’ its the feeling of impending doom.
Another point: re-entering a state (like a state one learned initially in response to abuse, but that appears later as a part of one’s spiritual process) does not mean repeating an experience. A single state can appear as lots of different experiences. Each person’s experience is different, but the states that create these experience are the same for everyone.
TL signs are not something that only happens to certain people. Almost everybody experiences them. Some people have them often; some people have them rarely. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. TL epileptics are different from `normals’ only in degree. Not type. The same is true of spirituality. By the way, did you know that Hippocrates’ paper on epilepsy is called: On the Sacred Disease? If it seems like an odd idea, think of this: If you have spontaneous bursts of fear, you might see a doctor. If you have spontaneous bursts of joy, you won’t. Who ever wants to be cured of something that feels good? This might explain why doctors usually know so little about spiritual process.
One of the reasons I have chosen the work I do is that I had TL epilepsy as a child. The `locus’ of my seizures was/is in a particular spot. One that functions in the death-process. Every seizure was a near-death experience (NDE). A terrifying one. `Hellish’ NDEs, as they are called in NDE research, are not as rare as you might think. I didn’t go to hell. I had experiences that usually feel good when they happen in NDEs. In my experiences, they came with the feeling of impending doom. I once spoke to the author of the most-often-cited paper on distressing NDEs, Nancy Evans Bush. We agreed that it felt true that both the negative and the positive types of experience made spiritual changes. Most NDEers, having blissful experiences, lived as though moving towards the light. Those who had hellish ones also changed spiritually. They lived as though moving away from the dark. Spirituality, both.
Both NDEs and TLE lower the thresholds for many of the magnetic mechanisms the brain uses for entering altered states. This makes me more sensitive to the effects of the geomagnetic changes than most people. That’s why the waking nightmares. They are unpleasant because my TL seizures were unpleasant. My childhood (non-convulsive) seizures exercised my fear centers, making them more accessible. They happen at night because the brain makes melatonin at night, helping it to enter altered states. In fact, most TL seizures happen at night. Almost certainly, as I lay awake at Harbin having these nasty waking nightmares, other people were awake, unable to sleep as waves of bliss and electric joy swept over them. Some, perhaps, were making love with their spirit familiars. Same signal, same state of consciousness; different feelings. Like NDEs; it will come in both varieties. This suggests that the moods that the roshni enables might not be the same. If we accept the idea that love is the opposite of fear, then we must allow for the possibility that one person’s lovingkindness week might be anther’s apprehension week. Was it just him? No. I have heard accounts of similar nighttime experiences from others in surrounding southern Lake county, complete with the changing themes he experienced at Harbin.
Survival Skills for Living in a Sacred Space
`The monk who delights in awareness, and looks with fear on unawareness, is not liable to fall. That one is in the presence of enlightenment.” Dhammapada, 2, 12
`Who are you?’
Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar’s making such very short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, `I think you ought to tell me who you are, first’
`Why?’ said the Caterpillar.
Here was another puzzling question; and, as Alice could not think of any good reason, and as the Caterpillar seemed to be in a very unpleasant state of mind, she turned away.
`Come back!’ the Caterpillar called after her. `I’ve something important to say!’
This sounded promising, certainly. Alice turned and came back again.
`Keep your temper,’ said the Caterpillar.
`Is that all?’ said Alice, swallowing to keep her anger down as well as she could.
`No,’ said the Caterpillar.
Alice thought she might as well wait, as she had nothing better to do, and perhaps it might tell her something worth hearing. For some minutes it puffed away without speaking; but at last it unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said `So you think you’ve changed, do you?’ “Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
The Roshni is always inviting us to default to one mood or another. These moods are our not our own. We learned our emotions during our childhooods, as well as our own ways of expressing them. We learned, for example, that some things cause anger while others do not. Nothing can make us angry unless we saw someone becoming angry in response to similar things. But, only at the right time; while we were young enough to still be learning how to use our anger. Anger is innate, but its contexts are learned.
As children, we all looked for ways to get attention, enhance our self-esteem, and test our importance to those around us. One of the ways to do this was to see how seriously our anger or tears are taken. Can you get away with being angry over little things, or just big things? The habits this process create contextualize your anger. But, when you get enraged over a misplaced invoice during irritable week, it may not be in context for you. Normally you have contexts for your anger. You know, roughly, what to expect from yourself. If one day’s roshni is constantly whispering suggestions that you be apprehensive, you’ll fret and worry over things you never would otherwise. Moments in which you look at yourself and realize that you are not acting like yourself begin to happen more and more often. You are acting out of context. Congratulations. You have just short-circuited a piece of your conditioning. Here’s the question that decides which of you little kiddies gets a gold star: How much attention were you paying? None? You Lose. You are still as vulnerable to anxiety as you were before. No points. Try again in the next moment. A new game every second. Step right up and place your bets.
Do sacred places `bring out your trips? Your `trips’ are conditioned by your experiences. The roshni are not. Some people are not very sensitive to the roshni, even though everybody has trips. Your trips are partly contextualized. At Harbin and places like it, these contexts break down. Your feelings reflect your trips and old conditioning, but when they happen outside of your conditioned contexts, they aren’t wholly your trips anymore.
When you are always prone to stepping out of character, you have to be aware just in order to remain yourself. Until you have learned to see your own emotions as they come up for you, you remain vulnerable to unhealthy responses to them. If you don’t see yourself falling in love with everyone during lovingkindness week, you can get your heart broken. A whole bunch of times. If you do see it happening, then when its going on, your attention is on your process instead of this moment’s object of your sublime adoration. So, why doesn’t everybody just go around loving each other during these times?
Because different people have different sensitivity to roshniya. When you are in awe of someone’s halo, they might just be feeling that you’ve got good energy. One can come on too strong or convey one’s feelings too subtly to be seen by others. You might not bother to put in words. You might be too stressed to go to a default setting. Your work keeps you in a certain state all the time you are doing it. You finish work, go home, and be with your lover or even kids. There, where you can finally relax (unless, of course, you have kids), you begin to feel the effects of the default settings, that is, the feelings that come up when you are on automatic. You interpret these feelings as having to do with you relationship, your family, or whatever it is you go home to. In this way, a roshni might be experienced without ever actually being noticed..
Another reason is that different people with the same sensitivity to the same signal might have different defense mechanisms built up around the moods these signals inspire. When you think about it, an exact match could be pretty rare.
If you go on autopilot, your plane will crash into whatever mountain is just ahead of you. If you stay at a place like Harbin without crashing long enough, you will, along the way, pick up the spiritual benefits of awareness almost as a fringe benefit. The `spiritual benefits’ include some amazing things, too. Real, live secrets of the cosmos. Mystic spiritual treasures of the east. The Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailly Circus. Bunny rabbits wearing kilts singing happy little songs in unison. This is one of the mystery school paragraphs. At the tone, Pacific Standard time will be ten thirty-two. And twenty seconds. Boooop.
The store is out of your favorite candy. During lovingkindness week, it’s a perfect teaching from a perfect world. During irritable week, it’s an affront not to be tolerated, and dammit, you ought to speak to the manager. If you want to act the same way, more or less, in each case, you had better learn to regard your emotions as separate from yourself, and keep an eye on what they are doing.
There are only three ways to respond when mother earth hacks your system and overrides your very own user configured emotion software. The first is awareness, as we spoke about in the last paragraphs. The second is denial. Denial is not the easiest way. Its easy to pretend you’re not mad for half an hour. Try it for 5 or 6 days nonstop, though, and you might just wish you were still in Kansas.
The third response, after denial, is acting out. If you act out too much, you eventually get into some kind of trouble.
The best way is to give no energy to those same emotions that you once may have thought were your energy. To feel them without lending them any importance. This can be easy or difficult. Lao Tzu said: `The broad way is easy or those who have no preferences.’
The most difficult emotions to disconnect from will be those we default to most readily. If you have always been prone to anger, it will be hard to avoid acting out during angry week, and hard to avoid denial during lovingkindness week. If you are aware all the time, you’ll see the roshni; the geomagnetic `energy’ as it does its thing, getting it on with all the moods that are possible for you. Its a bit like combing your hair. It only hurts where there are tangles.
Eventually, your most sensitive buttons will be pushed, no matter what you do. The only way is to disconnect their wires from the inside. Self awareness does this more effectively than any other way to `self transformation.’ At least, that’s what the Buddhists will tell you.
NOTE: A major fire destroyed Harbin Hot Springs in 2015, and at this time of writing, they are rebuilding it, and just recently announced that they were re-opening on a limited scale.
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