Saturday, January 5, 2013

How To Conquer Death on the Internet Part III

Finally got a copy of Kenneth Grant's masterpiece, Outside the Circles of Time, a modern occult classic that I should have read long ago. It begins with two quotes, one from The Necronomicon:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die.

Here begins the conclusion of Conquering Death on the Internet.

The Road to the Western Lands

Now, to pass on some great advice.  It came from the late (no, no, no, he's outside. . . looking in . . .)  Dr. Timothy Leary:  The best way to learn something consists of hanging out with people who are smarter than you on that subject.  For instance, if you want to learn how to golf then hang out with golf pros.

I wished to penetrate and utilize the mystery of Death so I found the one person who knows more Death than anybody I know, E.J. Gold.

My first memory of considering life after death happened when I was a child of about 7 or 8.  I was in church in Cleveland listening to a priest deliver a sermon about getting a job after death. He said that we put a lot of time into preparing a career for our children in life but how often do we consider what work we will do after death?  Even at the time this seemed a radical idea coming from one of society's Bastions of Authority.  My answer popped up right away, 'Oh that's easy,' I thought, 'I'll be a Guardian Angel.'  I was a little more naive in those days, maybe.

The next dramatic contact with a strong mood of death occurred at the age of 11.  A friend recorded The Beatles avant garde soundscape, Revolution #9 from The White Album, onto a cassette tape then took it apart and flipped the tape over so we could hear anything encoded backwards.    Backwards masking they used to call it.  Playing this piece backwards caused a very eerie and spooky effect especially because it sounded as coherent as when played forward.  The phrase 'number 9' sounds like 'turn me on dead man' when played backwards.  I had no idea what it meant at the time only the distinct feeling of another world beyond ordinary life.  Hearing this from The Beatles had a profound influence coming from a personal Bastion of Authority.

In my early '20's I began to make diligent efforts to 'Wake Up' in a natural and voluntary way.  One afternoon in a state of despair at apparent lack of progress, I picked up a copy of C.G. Jung's Collected Works and randomly opened it while asking for guidance.  My eye was immediately drawn to the phrase: "Many primitive cultures work with death in a ritualistic and metaphorical way to bring about change.  This is distinctly apart from the literal death of the body."  He was describing the conscious use of the Death/Rebirth archetype as a programming tool for change.  The form of the ritual usually consisted of an acting out of the subject's death followed by a guided tour through the Bardo, then a favorable rebirth.  Solve et Coagula.  The theatrical nature of the ritual could get extreme and intense as it proved most effective when the subject fully believed they would die.

I began to work with death as a technique to foster evolutionary change and growth.  I checked out all of the usual suspects in the field: Gurdjieff, Crowley, Leary, Castaneda, Patanjali, Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, John Lilly, etc.  Though I learned a great deal from these sources, after awhile it felt like I had knowledge but didn't know how to apply it in a consistent and efficacious fashion.  The problem was at the bardo stage.  I had many questions of what to do in this realm.

At some point a specific direction started to make itself known.  I read an essay by Timothy Leary, 22 Alternatives to Involuntary Death in which he recommended two books by E. J. Gold, The American Book of the Dead, and Creation Story Verbatim.

At a workshop with Robert Anton Wilson I asked him where I could get the kind of training that I was looking for?  His answer: E. J. Gold's School in Northern California.

As part of my ongoing research into consciousness and death, I began using a Samadhi floatation tank on a regular basis.  I heard about floating from books by John Lilly and took to it like a fish to water.  It seemed, by far, the most effective aid for meditating, and  for simulating death I had run across.  One day upon emerging from the tank at Sam Zeiger's Blue Light Floatation Center in New York, ( on 23rd Street as a matter of fact) I spied a copy of Floating Magazine with a full cover illustration by none other than E. J. Gold.  I took this to indicate that Gold endorsed floating, a good sign!  Later, I discovered that he and John Lilly were close friends, and that Glen and Lee Perry, designers of the first commercially available floatation tank, had moved their base of operations from Los Angeles to Northern California in order to work more closely with Gold.  I resolved to make his acquaintance.

Who Is E. J. Gold? 

... cause, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

 -Buckeroo Banzai

E.J. Gold is an artist, sculptor, writer, ranconteur, musician and composer, computer game devloper, stand-up comedian, bio-feedback pioneer, prankster, huckster, music, video, and theatrical producer, and many other things too numerous to mention.  His bio is here.  

More Color, Less Soul is an interesting and thick photobiography of Gold put together by Linda Corriveau.  Previously, Corriveau served as Director of the pavilion Man and His World at the 1967 Montreal EXPO,noted for its exhibit STRANGE, STRANGE WORLD.  The title phrase came from Heather Edelmann, his New York art dealer, as feedback for how to sell more art.

Gold is an acclaimed authority in the field of voluntary evolution.  He has been called a teacher's teacher by his colleague Dr. Claudio Naranjo.  Communicating his vision of the Bardo is the common thread that links all of Gold's activities.

Before long I discovered that it's E,J, Gold's intention to make the Bardo User-Friendly.  How?  In a variety of ways, but they have something to do with gradually exposing you to Bardo spaces and the mood they carry in order to learn to recognize and function in these spaces through experience.  This returns us to conquering Death on the Internet.  

Gold, known as Gorebagg when he plays Quake, is an enthusiastic advocate of online computer gaming as a serious method of training for the Bardo.  He recommends playing up to 16 hours a day, if possible.  Recently (ie back in the mid '90s when this was written) he had this to say about online gaming marathons: "( When someone says) 'get a life' (it) could mean a lot of things but in gaming it could only mean, 'this world is really here; we really exist, live our lives here, work, fight, rest, and play here . . . so come on console operator, get here and be here now.  This is zen; this is really happening.'  It's a way of inducing you to make a psychic transition into the other world in which this is really happening right now.  Immerse yourself; at the same time, don't lose your professional stance - remember that you are also at the mouse/keyboard/controller/whatever and that even behind that console operator there's yet another layer of onion to peel."  This is analogous to the Bardo.

G.O.D.D. which stands for Gamemaker of Diabolical Distinction is the name of the computer gaming engine Gold and his associates developed to present his own games.  He has also referred to G.O.D.D. as the AB3D because one of its goals is to present the teaching of the American Book of the Dead (ABD) in a three dimensional virtual reality format when the technology becomes available.  With G.O.D.D., Gold recreates Bardo spaces from experience and makes them available to the public for viewing.  By getting exposed to these spaces we may become acclimatized to them in a gradual, easy way, learning at our own pace in the comfort of our living room.  When things get too strange, we just exit the game and return when better able to confront what makes us uncomfortable.  We certainly don't have this luxury when the biological body dies.

G.O.D.D. hasn't publicly released a multi-player online game though some prototypes have seen use in classes.  As of now, 2013, the Prosperity Path Orbs show the latest public offerings from the G.O.D.D. engine.  They cost a dollar to download, and new ones with ever increasing complexity are going up all the time.

One G.O.D.D. level in the form of a game called Paparazi was released as a social commentary on the death of Princess Diana.  It was quite popular getting a few million downloads. 

Some levels were recorded and put out as videos: General Nunan's Cyberspace Demo, Darkside Dreamwalker, Angel's Healing Journey, and Past Lives Healing Journey.   These can be useful especially to those without regular access to a computer ( if such exist in this day and age).

Online video teleconferencing is another avenue to communicate practical methods for conquering death.  What I speculated would happen when I originally wrote this has come to pass.  A few years ago we set-up a home-spun T.V. station out of Gold's recording studio that runs 24/7.  This has enabled the broadcasting of workshops, classes and demonstrations given by E.J. and cohorts.  Every weekend from 6:30 - 8:30 am PST Gold meets with a group online.  I don't believe he's missed one of these meetings in the 3 or 4 years he's been having them.  Every Monday at 4pm PST the house band FAXL broadcasts their rehearsals.  You can find out more and access this T.V. station here.

In a meeting to discuss Internet business Gold was quoted as saying: "You must learn to have a life without a body . . . The reason for playing Quake is to experience a different world, a different world entirely, and to start having a life in that other world; actually having a life there . . . in a different world, a spirit world, a world of electronics."

Why Work With Death?

At this point you may be saying to yourself, why bother preparing for death now?  I'm young, I've got lots of time before I die.  Why get concerned with morbid thoughts of death?  Two answers spring to mind.  One I call the deathbed perspective.  There seems a strong probability that one will reach a point in life when they know their body will die soon.  This usually leads to a review of one's life and summing up of it.  You definitely don't want to be on your deathbed regretting the life you've led.  Looking at things now from a deathbed perspective can help with deciding a particular course of action to take, or help to keep one's life vows.  This view can also deflect you from doing something that might cause regret in the long run.  Ponder this:  when I die, will I be satisfied with the life I have led/  Seeing from the deathbed perspective takes consciousness out of the ordinary perceived flow of time and gives an expanded view of the lifetime.

Another way to use the deathbed perspective is to always remember the very real possibility that death may come at any moment.  Ask yourself:  If this truly is the last day or last hour of life, how would I live it?

The second answer is that by working to become familiar with the Bardo and the apr├Ęs-vie one awakens to a much fuller and richer appreciation of life.  This can be demonstrated in a very short time.  Just as a person released from any restrictive environment savours all the ordinary details of freedom formerly taken for granted, so we too may come to know a sense of wonderment and awe of the most routine, commonplace events when we fully grasp and remember the impermanence of this life.

Orthodox Buddhists tell us in their First Noble Truth that ordinary existence is fraught with sorrow and suffering.  They are referring to the world of flesh, the biological world where organisms endure endless struggle against the unremitting, merciless conditions of  entropy for a relatively brief period of time before succumbing to the inevitability of death.  In the energetic world of deep consciousness which coexists with the everyday world, you can come to experience indescribable bliss in every moment.  To see, like William Blake, infinity in a grain of sand.  To realize the vision of harmony and the dynamic life force that permeates every molecule of matter, every erg of energy.  That's when your work can really begin. 

Science tells us that there exists no permanent stability in anything except for change.  Change is stability if one has fluidity and flexibility.  We call this shapeshifting.  Elegant shapeshifting is one of our aims.  What is death but a profound change of some kind.  

Folklore and mythology tell us that the way to immortality has danger and peril at every step.  This may have some truth, but it's equally true that every step is a Great Adventure full of learning and discovery.  Wonder and awe.  Knowing that there are others on this path can be a source of help and encouragement.  It's definitely way outside the norm of social conduct in our culture.  Not only are there others more experienced and knowledgeable, but we are literally surrounded by a network of like-minded individuals invisible as it may seem.  This network is beginning to take a more visible presence thanks to computer technology and the Internet.

 So ends this essay originally written near the dawn of internet popularity with a few editorial updates.  

Happy Voyaging, see you Online.



  1. This is one your best entries. I was startled by the synchronicity of sitting on my couch in a Cleveland suburb, reading it, and seeing that one of your first experiences was in a Cleveland church.

  2. Thanks, Tom. I was born in Cleveland and lived in Shaker Heights then Cleveland Heights until age 9.

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