In his book The Holographic Universe, author Michael Talbot introduces many shall we say avant-garde concepts that are now becoming more and more mainstream. Published in 1991, the book's 25-year anniversary has arrived. 1991 was also the year I graduated high school. More cause for commemoration. Why aren't there 25-year reunions? I've missed the 10- and 20-year so I probably wouldn't show up anyway.
The book hit stores a year before Talbot's death from leukemia when he was 38. One of the concepts he introduces is using the mind to heal disease. Unfortunately either he did not implement these methods or they failed in his case. One method of recruiting the mind to heal the body is to chant the sacred mantra, Aum, which harmonizes the cells and frees the body of blockages and disease. Now Talbot doesn't discuss Aum per se, but he does evidence the miracles of Sai Baba, (written about in detail in the book Modern Miracles). Sai Baba was the Indian guru from whom I learned about Aum. We're all connected, which is another concept Talbot discusses. As well as near death experiences, and out of body experiences, and reincarnation, hypnotism, lucid dreams and UFOs and alien abductions, Jung and his work on the power of the unconscious, as well as more "mundane" events as falling stars and spinning electrons, the nuclear arms race and the work of scientists like Bohm and Bohr. In the book you will find ample excerpts from the Hindu texts, particular favorites of mine, and Talbot's agreement with them that "the ultimate answers to existence are not to be found in intellectual concepts and philosophies, however sophisticated, but rather in a level of direct nonconceptual experience [of reality]." For as the Upanishads put it, "Nature is illusion, and Brahman, that uncanny something which changes its form every moment from human shape to a blade of grass, is the illusion maker."
Like your mind subsiding into itself in deep sleep, "ultimately everything returns to this ineffable, mysterious, impersonal unknown."
But in this world of illusion, of dream that takes place in consciousness, concepts are fun. And one thing that stuck because I found it particularly relevant in today's rapidly changing age was the topic of where we are headed as a race.
To introduce the topic of humanity's future, Talbot quotes a Lakota shaman who wrote: "Only human beings have come to a point where they no longer know why they exist. They don't use their brains and they have forgotten the secret knowledge of their bodies, their senses, or their dreams. They don't use the knowledge the spirit has put into every one of them; they are not even aware of this, and so they stumble along blindly on the road to nowhere - a paved highway which they themselves bulldoze and make smooth so that they can get faster to the big empty hole which they'll find at the end, waiting to swallow them up. It's a quick comfortable superhighway, but I know where it leads to. I've seen it. I've been there in my vision and it makes me shudder to think about it."
Talbot also introduces many books that are now on my reading list (though I haven't been doing much reading, since it is summer and I prefer to spend my time swimming, biking, running and lifting, oh and caring for my mother). These include Communion, Games Zen Masters Play, the aforementioned Modern Miracles, as well as Psi-Healing and The Adventure of Self Discovery.
In her book Mass Dreams of the Future, psychologist and hypnotist Dr. Helen Wambach investigated reincarnation through past-life regression and amassed some impressive findings. These should interest me as a historian, but my sometimes motto is a variation of "what's done is done" or "let bygones be bygones" or even "water under the bridge." So what interested me even more about Wambach's work is that she progressed 2,500 people to future lives and had them describe coming centuries. What she noted was that almost all respondents agreed that the Earth's population will decrease dramatically, and some didn't even find themselves in physical bodies. Perhaps one day we will become a society of ghosts.
More interesting is that the respondents divided up neatly into four categories depending on the type of future they foresaw. The first type is a joyless and sterile future in which people live in space stations, wear silvery suits and eat synthetic food. Not unlike Star Trek or Back to the Future 2. In Type 2, the "New Agers," as they were called, saw harmonious living and more natural lives in natural settings, in mutual support and dedication to learning and spiritual development. Which incidentally is what Talbot's research indicated that the afterlife is like. A world in which the disembodied soul reviews her life and plans the next, in order to be better able to learn and grow and love. Type 3 describes a bleak mechanical future of underground cities or cities enclosed in domes and bubbles. Think Jetsons or Wells' Time Machine. Type 4 was a dystopian future not unlike the one envisioned in Terminator or Road Warrior (movies I loved) or many of today's tv shows I do not watch. In this scenario post-disaster survivors live in a world ravaged by global disaster, dwelling in urban ruins and caves and isolated farms, wearing rugged, hand-sown fabrics of fur and obtaining food by hunting and scavenging. Like the Flintstones, living in a Stone Age that has yet to come.
Talbot believed that these findings suggest several potential futures, which he calls holoverses, forming in "the gathering mists of fate." If it is the case that we are continually shaping our future physical reality by today's collective thoughts and actions, then the time to wake up to the alternative we are creating, and to tailor it to one that we want for our children and grandchildren (and ourselves) is now.
As for me, I loved The Road Warrior (its reboot not so much), but as much as I admired Mad Max, I wouldn't want to be him. As Talbot discusses in other parts of the book, the purpose of life, of this dream dreaming itself, is knowledge and charity. In other words, life is for the learning and the loving. To quote Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in the world. For your future starts now. And in truth, the four scenarios which our author envisions for tomorrow are taking place today. Witness the Middle East, Esalen and parts of America and Asia. If you visited our planet would you imagine these locales are all part of the self-same terrain, or don't they seem worlds apart? Which one do you choose?