By Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.
The first time I noticed the imprint of what appeared to be a mysterious symbol on the palm of my right hand was in the shower as I poured out some shampoo. Over the next seven months, this same symbol appeared several more times. During the last occurrence it appeared on the left palm, this time with a Sanskrit word written on my finger. When all rational explanations fail (assuming fear has not erased our curiosity) we tend to entertain irrational possibilities. When we cross the threshold of mystery, it’s wise to be cautious: we need both discernment and illumination. We certainly can use some guidance.
Spiritual wake up calls can come in a variety experiences – such as premonitions, psychic dreams, bizarre coincidences, or like the symbol on my palm. The common thread found in these events is an invitation to explore a world different from the one experienced through the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. When the curtain is pulled back from our normal reality, even briefly, a glance into other realms is both alluring (the excitement of discovery) and challenging (the confrontation with belief). While there are many excellent guides, there are a few known to lead the curious astray.
I have had several mystical experiences and I know this isn’t rare. Having an “other worldly” encounter, one that defies the logical, rational mind, may not be uncommon, but it can leave us feeling alone. If we tell others, they might reject us or label us crazy. I think feeling apprehension is not only normal, but to some extent healthy: we should be cautious. But we should not let fear immobilize our spiritual quest.
In the past when spiritual awakenings led to exploration, the seeker would go to a tribal elder for validation, insight, wisdom. We still have wisdom keepers, yet today we are more likely to consult spiritual elders’ books than to talk to them directly.
On a trip to Ireland in 2010, I explored the ancient sites of New Grange and the portal tombs of the Boyne Valley. Walking among the field of stones, I recalled being told by a psychic that the symbol on my hand was an ancient Celtic symbol that would reveal itself to me one day. As I entered the portal tomb, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. There before me was a symbol identical to the one that appeared on my hand years before. The tour guide explained that Celtic bards and wisdom keepers marked these stones with symbols as a way to pass down wisdom through the ages. I passed my hand over the stone carving and smiled.
Here is a short list of books that have been of great service to me in my search as I explored the world beyond the curtain. Many of these books have become classics and call for more than one reading.
Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung – 1968. This was one of the first books that gave me comfort with what’s beyond the curtain. The topic of consciousness gained a strong foothold with the collective works of Jung, a pioneer in the field ofpsychology(in the original Greek the word means “the study of the soul”). Knowing that his work was quite complex, Jung offered to simplify his concepts. Sadly, he was only able to write one chapter before he died, leaving the rest to his students, who rose to the occasion. If all you do is read the first chapter (Jung’s chapter) you will be miles ahead of where you started. Be sure to read the color version (not the black and white one).
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung – 1963. This is Jung’s autobiography. Not just a look into his past, Jung revealed more about his theories and the experiences behind them.
Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of the Lakota, Wallace Black Elk – 1991. While the American Indian culture often remains reticent in sharing information, shaman Wallace Black Elk opened the door to the Great Mystery through remarkable personal experiences and the collective wisdom. The stories are fascinating and his message is genuine: we are all part of a much bigger picture.
Stalking the Wild Pendulum, Itzak Bentov – 1988. Those with a scientific mind will find solid ground to stand with this physicist’s examination of the great mystery through the lens of quantum physics. From energy healing to an explanation of the kundalini experience, you can see the world quite differently with this book.
Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell – 1949. As a cultural mythologist, Campbell illustrated the hero’s journey though a tapestry of stories, myths, legends and fables from all over the world. From the departure stage, through the initiation, and ultimately the return home, we are reminded that we are never alone and have spiritual assistance from point where the seen and unseen worlds merge.
The Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell – 1971. Even Jung thought his work was hard to understand: he once said, “I am glad I am Jung and not a Jungian.” Campbell met the challenge of Jung’s writings by distilling his collective works into an easily digestible read. To understand consciousness, to obtain what Jung called psychic equilibrium, we must master the language of the unconscious mind. This book can be part of that understanding.
Starseed: The Third Millennium, Ken Carey – 1991. When the curtain is pulled back long enough, you begin to realize that humans are members of a much bigger family of beings. Carey, through knowledge received through what he called transmissions, explained our relationship to the cosmos in a way that is comfortably grounding.
One Mind, Larry Dossey – 2014. Dossey is a physician who has bridged the physical and metaphysical worlds through an incredible collection of case studies, scientific investigations, and personal experience. With over 10 books to his credit (each one a gem), Dossey has taken the reader step by step from the known to the unknown. One Mind explored consciousness through what Dossey called the non-local mind.
Recovery of the Soul, Larry Dossey – 1989. The words soul and science may not seem to belong in the same sentence, but Dossey offered convincing proof (through case studies, scientific research and amazing stories) that both validated perceptions of a bigger picture and invited questions at a deeper level.
Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl – 1946. The question of the purpose life is universal. Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz, presented his ideas about meaning and purpose that became the core of his Logo Therapy, but the triumph of the human spirit was his real take-home message.
Vibrational Medicine, Richard Gerber – 1988. A radiologist, Gerber walked the reader through scores of energy medicine research, leaving the reader to question why Western medicine does not embrace this aspect of healing. In easy to understand language (and a host of wonderful illustrations, Gerber gave credence to what he called esoteric wisdom. This book is considered a classic in the pantheon of energy medicine.
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert – 2006. What may appear to be an armchair travel book is really about a dynamic spiritual quest. Throughout the story of her journey Gilbert scattered gems (such as the blue pearl meditation and the internal search for happiness) that she gained from various spiritual teachers in India and Bali.
Infinite Minds, Valerie Hunt – 1996. Hunt explained her research into the field of the human energy field. She was one of the first people to scientifically measure the layers of the auric field. This book showed us, in an academic setting, where the metaphysical world meets the physical world.
The Future of the Mind, Michio Kaku – 2014. When a world famous physicist addresses the concept of consciousness and the mind, we should all pay attention. Kaku did just that as he explored consciousness through the lens of physics.
Questions and Answers on Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross. After hearing Kubler Ross speak in 1981, I wanted to read everything she’d written about human consciousness after death – after publishing her landmark book, On Death and Dying.
The Cosmic Serpent, Jeremy Narby – 1998. In the course of spiritual exploration, we gather many data points (dots) and processing them is another aspect of the spiritual path. This was a book that helped me to connect the dots. Narby headed to South America and explored the chemical properties ofayahusca.He understood that this shamanic drug is a portal to consciousness and that the “cosmic serpent” is our own DNA.
The Psychology of Consciousness, Robert Ornstein – 1986. Ornstein assembled a wonderful collection of early studies of consciousness and the mysteries of the mind. This book is considered to be an early classic in the exploration of consciousness.
The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck – 1978. We can’t understand consciousness without including the concept of love and compassion. This book is a classic best seller because Peck explained the dynamics of love in a simple yet profound way.
The Field, Lynne McTaggart – 2003. Most books on consciousness are written by experts in the fields of medicine and physics, or even in healing and mysticism, but Lynne McTaggart is an American investigative journalist based in London. Puzzled that energy medicine is commonly accepted in England but not in America, she wrote about the scientific findings on aspects of energy healing and consciousness. The Fieldhas become a classic about research studies that’s written in an easy-to-understand style.
The Mystery of the Mind, Wilder Penfield – 1975.Are the mind and the brain the same thing? Is the mind created by the brain, or is the mind independent of the brain? Penfield, an esteemed neurosurgeon, explored human consciousness from the perspective that the mind and brain are not the same thing, and he made a compelling case that the mind is not a product of the brain.
Entangled Minds, Dean Radin – 2009. As the Director of Research for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Radin was in a unique position to create studies on mind-body healing that otherwise might have been ignored or not funded. Using double-blind methodology Radin came to understand that science is beginning to prove what mystics have been saying for eons: thoughts are energy, consciousness is energy, and at a deep level, all of this energy coalesces into one connected, entangled mind.
Secrets in the Field, Freddy Silva – 2002. In Ireland, life is often described as involving both the seen and the unseen worlds. Silva explored the unseen world through structures that were created to access it such as stone circles, dolmans, pyramids, and standing stones. With data points from around the world it would appear that planet earth is not only conscious, but that ley-lines form a geomantic grid also allows for instantaneous mind to mind contact.
The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot – 1992. If you are looking for a book filled with stories about mystical events and experiences, this is one of the best collections ever published. In an articulate narrative, Talbot guided readers through a complex understanding that every one and every thing is connected through a matrix of consciousness. (As a side note, after reading this book, I was invited to a dinner party where I was seated next to Marilyn Ferguson, the author of The Aquarian Conspiracy, and a good friend of Talbot’s. She said that Talbot’s publisher edited several of the most amazing stories out of the final version and shortly after that, Talbot died. We will never know what those stories were.
Many Lives, Many Masters, Brian Weiss – 1988. At some point in our exploration of consciousness, we run into the concept of reincarnation. Weiss, a psychiatrist, wrote a beautiful story of the wisdom gathered from hypnotherapy sessions that gave credence not only to the idea that consciousness survives physical death, but that planet Earth is a “school” we attend to learn the difficult lessons of love and compassion.
Miracles of Mind, Russell Targ and Jane Katra, – 1999. Russell Targ was instrumental in helping to establish the field of remote viewing that was used secretly by our military. In Miracles of Mind, Targ and Katra explored the psychic abilities known as clairvoyance and clairsentience and how these abilities can be used in the healing process.
Waking Up In Time, Peter Russell – 1994. The premise of this seminal work, that time is an illusion (everything is now), and human stress is a result of the lack of conscience and consciousness. Inner peace involves examining our own consciousness and in doing so, opening up to a much greater world.
The Source Field Investigations, David Wilcock – 2011. Wilcock created a wonderful synthesis of current research ranging from the mysteries of our DNA to our connections to the family of beings in the cosmos. With over 100 references, The Source Field Investigationsis a well documented and well written synthesis of information.
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Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.is the author of several popular books including Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water; Health of the Human Spirit; Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart; Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, and the acclaimed college textbook, Managing Stress. He is the executive Director of Inspiration Unlimited & The Paramount Wellness Institute in Boulder, Colorado and can be reached via his website