Friday, March 2, 2012

Life Extension - The Master Key

Continuing our discussion about surviving death ... we have formulated two axioms, so far:

1. Some part of us can survive death. We call that part a bardo voyager.

2. Work on self helps the death-survivable bardo voyager grow stronger.

Our third axiom will go something along the lines of how the Tibetans perceive the initial transition of the bardo voyager from the human biological contraption they've been renting out for this lifetime. They say you go into an intense space called the Clear Light, a space very difficult to maintain consciousness in. The common tendency seems to result in blacking out after a very short time and getting bounced out of it. Part of bardo training consists of learning to tolerate and stay in this space longer by simulating it before death.

English artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare gives a resonant description in his book, The Focus of Life (p. 36):

Death is named the great unknown. Assuredly, death is the great chance. An adventure in will, that translates into body. What happens after death? Will it be more surprising than this world? Could I say? My experience may not be the commonplace . . . Without doubt all will experience the 'rushing winds' that blow from within, the body beyond perspective, into cosmic dust, - till consciousness again develops.

I just received a copy of The Writings of Austin Osman Spare yesterday. He is a bit of a new discovery for me though I've long considered him quite knowledgeable in affairs of the bardo from reading of his methods in the works of Kenneth Grant. Along with that book came a copy of Last Words by William S. Burroughs which consist of the transcripts of his final journals.

The last word in Last Words echoes the last words of both Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary. These last words all give the Master Key for surviving death. It can also be found in the ecstatic poetry of Sufi mystics, Finnegans Wake, Illuminatus!, Schrodinger's Cat, Against the Day, some Woody Allen films, The Beatles, John Coltrane, Crowley, the popcorn exercise, the Starship Enterprise, and countless other places. Wake up and smell the roses burning.

Why would Leary and Wilson freeze their entropic carcasses if they each apparently had the Master Key for surviving ecstatically, that is to say, without a body?

Woody Allen, whose main concern about the afterlife at one time was how far it was from Midtown, confronts death a couple of times accidentally with the character he plays in Hannah and Her Sisters. It wakes him up a bit and leads to an amusing search for meaning and God before discovering the Master Key. It's the same key for death that Hemingway speaks of in Allen's recent Midnight in Paris film, reviewed here. Fans of Robert Anton Wilson's Maybe Logic might especially appreciate how Allen agnostically resolves the God issue in Hannah...

This Master Key seems like something you can learn about in a very short time but spend a lifetime learning how to apply. This Master Key, willing it into existence and functionality, represents our fourth axiom for surviving death

Bardo training includes getting familiar with the conditions, feelings, and sensations of death before dying. This can be done in a variety of ways and we'll cover some of those ways in the course of this examination. It does NOT include any kind of life threatening risk taking to get closer to death.

One technique recommended across the board in a variety of different systems and teachings aims to constantly remember that death is always only one heartbeat away. Don Juan says that Death is always just over your left shoulder, if you turn around fast enough you can see it. Remembrance of death becomes a shamanic aid because, personal observation will show, that all kinds of spiritual energies get activated and accelerated - that's the best way I have of putting it right now - around death. When someone dies, the Star that they are shines forth and radiates powerful spiritual energies, a cyclone of energy especially felt by their loved ones ... and not always easy to handle.

Robert Anton Wilson places a quite vivid reminder of death in his play Wilhelm Reich in Hell. He has a computer monitoring the growth of nuclear arms and emitting an ear-splitting whistling sound every time the firepower goes up equivalent to the bomb at Hiroshima. At the beginning of the play it goes off every few lines ... very chilling. Here's an excerpt to show what kind of resistance the Master Key works against:

"SADE: And what is the truth Freud dared not speak?

REICH:Everybody knows it by now. Look at the crime news on TV --

Computer whistles again.

REICH:or go into the emergency clinics and talk to the rape victims. Talk to the battered wives and the abused children. Our whole species is mad, emotionally plagued. We have been mad so long that every attempt to break out of the Trap just unleashes unconscious rage and increases the violence.

Computer whistles again.

REICH:We all know we're in the Trap, but nobody knows how to get out of it. We attack each other thinking that's the way out.

SADE: What? That is the truth Freud dared not speak? I thought he said all that in Civilization and its Discontents.

REICH:He would not say there was a way out of the Trap -- one way only --

SADE: Your way, of course.

REICH:The way I discovered, gradually, after many mistakes.

SADE: Which is?

REICH:Work on the breathing and the muscle tensions. And tell people frankly that there is no metaphysical Good and Evil in the human world any more than there is in the animal world or the chemical world or the physical world of gravity and mass."

I would add to that, deep relaxation. The final posture we did in every yoga class was called the Corpse pose and just consisted of laying on the ground with arms and legs comfortablely placed and deeply relaxing every muscle. It can become a great way to practice dying if one can arrest and slow down the headbrain chatter. Floatation tanks are also great places to relax deeply and practice death.


  1. I have just read this book book recently, one of the few RAW books I had not got around too. It was fun and interesting.

    Do you think the play was somewhat inspired by the play within "Ulysses"?

    The corpse pose makes me think of Spare's death posture...

    BTW, you mentioned doing one of the Maybe Academy courses. I have some interest in Antero Ali's course on "The Eight Circuit Brain" but wonder if it is really worth it? Alli's books are fun but, hard to take seriously, assuming they are meant to be.

    For example, on the origens of the "Eight Circuit Brain" theory he has has story about it deriving from some secret Hindu manuscript:

    "Adams delivered a Hindu manuscript to Leary and instructed him upon the occult meaning of the little Asian jewel."

    A similar story is repeated in "Flashbacks", but it reads like an amusing yarn, and "Flashbacks was not a serious autobiography. Leary even uses the phrase "I fabricate...." and "What Does WoMan" want is sold as a novel.

    To me, although very interesting, the model just seems like a quite obvious updating of the the seven chakras idea, which is not exactly a secret -- every book shop has a book about it. John Lilly has a much more complex model, in "The Centre of the Cyclone", derived from Gurdjieff whom Leary must have read too.

  2. LJ, it has been a long time since I read Wilhelm Reich in Hell but I do remember it having a similar atmosphere in places as the Night town section (the play) of Ulysses.

    Yes, I was going to get to Spare's Death posture.

    I don't know Ali's books or the course so I don't have an opinion. Maybe someone else who reads this blog does?

    Like RAW and some others, Timothy Leary did seem to utilize guerrilla ontology tactics with his writing.

    Maybe the reason so many models exists because different types of people get drawn to different models. The bottom line may be how well any one model does or does not work for you.

  3. I just happened to be reading them at the same time, but and as there was actually one the characters from "Ulysses" in "Wilhelm Riech in Hell" the play it seemed likely!

    I thought you have come across Alli-- he also is not averse to guerilla ontology tactics either so it is hard to tell.

    I'm sure that Timothy Leasry wrote "don't believe anything I say" at least once, but i can't remember where.

    I have aways liked the 8 Circuit model, but it is only a model-- as you say, it is whatever works for you...