The Subliminal Self In Spiritual Development
The Subliminal Self In Spiritual Development
The Subliminal Self In Spiritual Development

  The highest form of ordinary hypnotic trance reaches its ultimate achievement in activating the subliminal self and exploring its normal and supra-normal capabilities--quite an achievement in its own right.

  However, spiritual development--gaining entry into Higher Consciousness--is a much more advanced goal and is possible only if persons can achieve a higher trance 1 state while locating their consciousness within the subliminal self and if those persons develop advanced understanding and capability.

  In this essay we'll explore how persons can achieve the capability of locating their consciousness within the subliminal self, achieve a higher trance state while their consciousness is within the subliminal self, and how this superior state of consciousness can be utilized for spiritual development, primarily, developing the capability of locating our consciousness in the Higher Self.

  In this essay we shall use Frederick Myers' concept of the subliminal self instead, say, of Freud's conception of the unconscious, since Myers' vizualization contains all the essential dimensions of this area of reality while avoiding the irrelevant and foreign elements which Sigmund Freud's and others' included.

  This can best be seen by considering Freud's definition of the unconscious as adumbrated by his chief American disciple, Dr. Ernest Jones. "According to psycho-analysis, the unconscious is a region of the mind, the content of which is characterised by the attribute of being repressed, conative, instinctive, infantile, unreasoning, and predominantly sexual. The existence of the unconscious is the result of repression."

Historical Investigation of the Higher Trance State of the Subliminal Self

  From ancient historical and Hermetic writings referring to the higher trance state within the subliminal self, we learn that the study of higher trance or altered states of consciousness in the subliminal self is more than six thousand years old. Sages among the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, Chinese, Persians and Sumerians investigated and used higher trance, altered states of consciousness, and parapsychology in relation to the subliminal self as processes of spiritual development.

  Within the many embodiments of the Perennial Tradition, activating the higher trance state within the subliminal self has been employed as a process of higher spiritual development from prehistoric times to today.

"Although this process of initiation [into Higher Consciousness] bore all the outward semblance of expert hypnotism, it was something that went far beyond the entrancement methods of our modern experimenters, who tap the subconscious mind of man but who cannot make their subjects conscious of still profounder planes of existence."

"Moreover, to confuse such a sublime experience with the mental handiwork of the modem hypnotist would be a grave error. The latter plunges his subject into a strange condition which neither fully understands, whereas the hierophant of the Mysteries was in the possession of a secret traditional knowledge which enabled him to exercise his power as one fully armed with complete understanding. The hypnotist taps the subconscious mentality of his entranced subject down to a certain level, without himself sharing the change of condition, whereas the hierophant watched and controlled every such change by his own percipient powers. Above all, the hypnotist is only able to elucidate from his subject such matters as concern our material world and life, or to perform abnormal feats with the material body. The hierophant went deeper, and could lead the mind of the candidate step by step through an experience involving the spiritual worlds--a feat beyond the power of any modern hypnotist to achieve."

"There existed an exalted and final degree of initiation where the souls of men were not merely freed temporarily from their bodies in a condition of simulated death, in order to prove the truth of survival, after the great change, but where they were actually carried up to the loftiest spheres of being, to the realm of the Creator Himself. In this marvellous experience the finite mind of man was drawn into contact with the infinite mind of his superior divinity. He was able for a brief while to enter into silent, spell-bound communion with the Father of All, and this fleeting contact of incomparable ecstasy was enough to change his entire attitude towards life. He had partaken of the holiest food that exists in life. He had discovered the ineffable ray of Deity which was his true innermost self, and of which the soul-body which survives death was merely the intangible vesture. He was, in verity and fact, born again in the highest sense. He who had thus been initiated became a perfect Adept, and the hieroglyphic texts speak of him as one who could expect the favour of the gods during life and the state of paradise after death.

"Such an experience came with an entrancement which, although outwardly similar, was inwardly completely different from the hypnotic entrancements of the earlier degrees of initiation. No hypnotic power could ever confer it, no magical ceremony could ever evoke it. Only the supreme hierophants, themselves at one with their divinities, their wills bent with his, could by their astonishing divine force arouse the candidate to consciousness of his superior nature. This was the noblest and most impressive revelation then possible to Egyptian man, and still possible, albeit through other ways, to modern man."

Paul Brunton, 2 A Search in Secret Egypt, 1936

  The primary benefit that derived from the work of such persons as Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), the Marquis de Puysegur (1751-1825), and the Scottish optometrist Dr James Braid (1795-1860), among many others, was that they reintroduced the study of trance phenomena into the West.

  Mesmer was also responsible for the foundation of a philosophical system that would facilitate the mid-nineteenth century emergence of spiritual or "psychical" alchemy, an innovative breed of esoteric inquiry which went on to dominate twentieth century hermeneutics and contemporary "occult" interpretations of the Hermetic Art.

Marquis de Puysegur   The Marquis de Puysegur, an able scientist, also pursued genuine investigations into the supra-normal powers of hypnosis and high trance, discovering that a person could be operated upon without pain when in trance and that hypnotic and high trance subjects were able to see without the use of the natural organs of vision and were able to carry out mental--telepathic--suggestions.

  These researchers revolutionized the art of inducing the mesmeric state, making many valuable and unusual discoveries. Their primary technique of hypnotic induction was to gaze into the subject's eyes, make gentle passes over his head, face, and body, inducing a deep sleep. In this state the patients were frequently cured of disease, anaesthesia was produced, and surgical operations were performed without pain. The therapeutic value of the hypnotic and high trance powers was thus definitely established.

  Our subliminal self has its own way of knowing, holds a tremendous store of information, and is capable of controlling our bodies in ways our conscious mind cannot understand. Note that we advance toward Higher Consciousness by first moving out of the Supraliminal Self, then locating our consciousness in the Subliminal Self, and finally moving on to the Higher Trance State in the Hypnotic Stratum. Through concentrated training (as in this essay) we learn to transcend the Hypnotic Stratum and move on into the state of Higher Consciousness.

  We first study what capabilities the subliminal self possesses and how best to activate its powers in our lives.

Extra-normal Capabilities of the Subliminal Self Within a Trance State
  • The capability to attend to suggestions of action or fact, select which to comply with or believe, and comply with or believe those selected. This capability is erroneously seen by some persons as a weakness--the succumbing to suggestions from outside agencies. However, this is actually a supernormal strength, a marvellous capability: being able to attend to suggestions and carry out or believe those suggestions physically and mentally.
  • Ecstasy: "a wandering vision which is not confined to this earth or this material world alone, but introduces the seer into the spiritual world and among communities higher than any which this planet knows" FWH Myers
  • Amnesia: selective repression of memory
  • Hypermnesia: selective recall of former experiences
  • Post-hypnotic suggestion: "the execution, at some later time, of instructions and suggestions given in a trance and intended to become a part, either interpolated or integrated, of a later activity" Erickson
  • Dissociation of awareness: "a selective constriction of awareness which excludes all but the hypnotist as a source of stimulation" Andre M. Weitzenhoffer, General Techniques of Hypnotism
  • Anesthesia/analgesia: loss of sensation (of pain or pleasure) while conscious or having one's consciousness in the subliminal self
  • Somnambulism: A deep state of hypnotic trance often characterized by amnesia (loss of memory), positive and negative hallucinations (seeing objects, persons, and events which are not physically present and not seeing object that are present), and the ability to open the eyes and remain in full trance.
  • Telepathy: communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means
  • Clairvoyance/clairaudience: the ability to discern (see and hear) entities, persons, and events not present to the ordinary senses
  • Telekinesis: the ability to move objects without contact or other physical means
  • Mind projection: focusing of awareness on current, previous or future time periods and living during those time periods
  • Physiological effects (selected):
    • causing a blister when told under hypnosis that they experience a burn
    • correcting eye defects
    • shutting off pain
  All these seemingly unbelievable capabilities of the subliminal self have been attested to by reputable and trustworthy researchers, starting with a French commission 3 in the nineteenth century, and by independent researchers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as well.

"I merely say that we dare not set limits to the powers of the subconscious, and that clairvoyance seems to be one of its natural faculties. In other words, the subconscious has its own powers of seeing, hearing and feeling, and is not dependent on the physical organs, such as the eyes and ears, for its operation. The hypnotic condition draws the subject's attention away from these physical organs--from the whole body in fact--and thus concentrates it entirely on the subconscious mind, whose mysterious faculties thereupon come into play."

Paul Brunton, A Search in Secret Egypt, 1936

  F. W. H. Myers conceived of the soul of humans as capable of existing independently of the body in a super-terrestrial realm. He regarded our normal mental life as only a very partial expression of the capacities of the soul, so much only as can manifest through the human brain. He regarded the brain as still at a comparatively early stage of its evolution as an instrument through which the soul operates in the material world. So much of the life of the soul as fails to find expression in our conscious and organic life through its interactions with this very inadequate material mechanism remains beneath the threshold of consciousness and constitutes the subliminal self. To Myers, then, the subliminal self is the soul in its manifestation in the non-conscious life of the person, surpassing the supraliminal or normal conscious self to an indefinitely great degree as regards its range of psychical and spiritual faculties. It was further conceived as being in touch with a realm of psychical and spiritual forces from which it is able to draw currents of energy which it infuses into the organism, normally in limited quantities, but, in exceptionally favorable circumstances, in great floods, which for the time being raise the mental operations and the powers of the mind over the body to a supernormally high level.

Locating Consciousness in the Subliminal Self and Activating the Higher Trance State

  Our purpose in this essay is to outline 4 how to achieve the capabilities of locating our consciousness in our subliminal self and activating the higher trance state within this subconscious state to achieve selected mental, physical, psychic, and spiritual goals. To achieve these goals we must gain an understanding of:
  • the conscious and unconscious states of the human mind
  • the subliminal self and the other aspects of the soul
  • interpersonal interchange involved in achieving the higher trance state
  • the necessity of the subject and facilitator carefully defining the goals of the induction procedure
  • how to locate our consciousness in the subliminal self
  • how to achieve a higher trance state once having located our consciousness in our subliminal self
  High trance induction is a skill, like reading or writing that we can learn through assiduous effort. Throughout our discussion we will use the nomenclature of the person attempting to achieve the higher trance state within his or her subliminal self as the "subject" and the person assisting in this process as the "facilitator." The facilitator may be the subject. We will refer to the overall procedure as "high trance induction."

  In planning the high trance induction procedure, the facilitator and the subject focus on a concept-goal agreeable to both. The concept-goal must be broad and inclusive enough to allow for all permutations and all elements (persons, situation, needs, capabilities, incapicities, etc.) involved.

  A facilitator cannot successfully give suggestions to a subject unless the subject is willing to receive, attend to, carry out, comply with, and believe the suggestions of the facilitator. The facilitator gives suggestions exclusively to the subliminal mind, NOT to the conscious mind, which is in abeyance (temporary inactivity, suppression, and suspension). At all times and in all degrees of hypnotic trance the subject has full and complete power of selectivity, and reacts only to those suggestions of the facilitator which are reasonable, pleasing, and acceptable to him or her.

  The conscious mind is so used to being in charge, and worries about the person being taken in by irrational nonsense, that it finds it difficult to take a back seat to the subconscious subliminal self in trance state induction. Once the conscious mind genuinely and fully understands that it is necessary for it to play a different role than in the ordinary waking state, and has confidence in the facilitator and the goals of the induction, it fully cooperates in any way necessary, including putting itself into a state of abeyance.

  Subjects frequently have the wrong idea that hypnosis is a matter of "will-power." It should be stressed that hypnotic induction has nothing to do with will-power, but depends upon de-activation of the consciousness, locating consciousness in the subliminal self, and activating the imagination to engage in aspirational envisioning. Secretly many subjects resist hypnotic induction because they think that to give in would show they were "weak willed." When this wrong impression is corrected there is usually no difficulty.

  The subject must understand that hypnosis is a matter of co-operation and not a contest of wills or wits between the facilitator and the subject. Therefore, there will be no result if the subject does not do his or her part. The onus is on both the subject and the facilitator to perform their functions effectively to achieve the goals selected by both.

  The higher trance state within the subliminal self is not ordinary sleep, but a higher state of consciousness in which the unusual capabilities of the subliminal self become active. If inactivity occurs during hypnotic induction, the higher trance state will evolve into ordinary sleep and the subject will wake after a varying time of anything from a few minutes to a few hours. There is never any danger of remaining permanently in the trance state, a thing which some subjects seem to fear. Further, it should be explained that the subjects will feel merely in a pleasant, drowsy state as though half asleep and half awake, and that they will on no account be unconscious.

"Reflective reason is personal, partial, and erring; -- divine intuition is impersonal, universal, and can never err.

"In truth," observes Fenelon, "my reason is in myself, for it is necessary that I should continually turn inward upon myself in order to find it; but the higher reason which corrects me when I need it, and which I consult, is not my own, it does not make specially a part of myself. Thus, that which may seem most our own, and to be the foundation of our being, I mean our reason, is that which we are to believe most borrowed.
"We receive at every moment a reason superior to our own, just as we breathe an air which is not ourselves. There is an internal school, where man receives what he can neither acquire outwardly for himself nor learn of other men who live by alms like himself." Thus is the supreme reason found to rule in all things universally; as in man made manifest, beyond the control or modifying energy of his personal will, fixed, fontal, and everlasting.

Thomas South, Early Magnetism In Its Higher Relations to Humanity

  We can use as examples of "desired outcomes of higher trance induction" some of the "classical" descriptions of Higher Consciousness.

  The Neo-Platonic writing titled The Theology of Aristotle describes Plato's experience of the unitive state--and speaks of the difficulty of reporting on what he has seen.

"Often have I been alone with my soul and have doffed my body and laid it aside and become as if I were naked substance without body, so as to be inside myself, outside all other things. Then do I see within myself such beauty and splendour as I do remain marvelling at and astonished, so that I know that I am one of the parts of the sublime, surpassing, lofty, divine world, and possess active life. When I am certain of that, I lift my intellect up from that world into the divine world and become as if I were placed in it and cleaving to it, so as to be above the entire intelligible world, and seem to be standing in that sublime and divine place. And there I see such light and splendour as tongues cannot describe nor ears comprehend. When that light and splendour overwhelm me and I have not strength to endure it, I descend from mind to thought and reflection. When I enter the world of thought, thought veils that light and splendour from me and I am left wondering how I have fallen from that lofty and divine place and am come to the place of thought, when my soul once had the power to leave her body behind and return to herself and rise to the world of mind and then to the divine world until she entered the place of splendour and light, which is the cause of all light and splendour. Wonderful it is too how I have seen my soul filled with light, while she was still in my body like her appearance, not leaving it."

  An early Perennialist savant, Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, elucidated the higher state of consciousness which we are striving to achieve.

"One can develop to the point that one can leave one's physical form whenever one wants and go to the world of Divine Majesty, where one's ascent reaches the highest horizons. . . . Then, whenever one looks at one's essence one delights because one sees the light of God radiating upon oneself."

  In his classical work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, published in 1902, William James also spoke of the goal we are seeking and of the many voices that referred to it.
"This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed. In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian Mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about the mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which brings it about that the mystical classics have, as has been said, neither birthday nor native land. Perpetually telling of the unity of man with God, their speech antedates languages, and they do not grow old."

The Conscious and Subconscious Minds in Hypnosis

"The predominant school of thought on hypnosis is that it is a way to access a person's subconscious mind directly. Normally, you are only aware of the thought processes in your conscious mind. You consciously think over the problems that are right in front of you, consciously choose words as you speak, consciously try to remember where you left your keys.

"But in doing all these things, your conscious mind is working hand-in-hand with your subconscious mind, the unconscious part of your mind that does your 'behind the scenes' thinking. Your subconscious mind accesses the vast reservoir of information that lets you solve problems, construct sentences or locate your keys. It puts together plans and ideas and runs them by your conscious mind. When a new idea comes to you out of the blue, it's because you already thought through the process unconsciously.

"Your subconscious also takes care of all the stuff you do automatically. You don't actively work through the steps of breathing minute to minute -- your subconscious mind does that. You don't think through every little thing you do while driving a car -- a lot of the small stuff is thought out in your subconscious mind. Your subconscious also processes the physical information your body receives.

"In short, your subconscious mind is the real brains behind the operation -- it does most of your thinking, and it decides a lot of what you do. When you're awake, your conscious mind works to evaluate a lot of these thoughts, make decisions and put certain ideas into action. It also processes new information and relays it to the subconscious mind. But when you're asleep [or in the subliminal trance state], the conscious mind gets out of the way, and your subconscious [Subliminal Self] has free reign.

"Psychiatrists theorize that the deep relaxation and focusing exercises of hypnotism work to calm and subdue the conscious mind so that it takes a less active role in your thinking process. In this state, you're still aware of what's going on, but your conscious mind takes a back seat to your subconscious mind. Effectively, this allows you and the hypnotist to work directly with the subconscious. It's as if the hypnotism process pops open a control panel inside your brain."
Tom Harris, "How Hypnosis Works"

Communicating Directly With the Subconscious Mind

  What we do in higher trance induction, then, is to communicate directly with the Subliminal Self, temporarily de-activating the conscious mind. If we are to effect permanent improvements in our lives and achieve the capability of contacting our Higher Consciousness, we must make contact with our Subliminal Self, which controls our conscious mind and body. Our Subliminal Self is where our automatic patterns and habits reside, so it's within this aspect of the subconscious that we can create long-lasting changes and establish contact with our Higher Self.

"That there resides in mankind a psychic power over the functions and sensations of the body, and that that power can be invoked at will under certain conditions and applied to the alleviation of human suffering, no longer admits of a rational doubt. The history of all nations presents an unbroken line of testimony in support of the truth of this proposition."

T. J. Hudson, Law of Psychic Phenomena

High Trance State Audios


1 Trance:
  • "abeyance of the supraliminal self and the dominance of the subliminal self" FWH Myers
  • a simple trance is a state of mind caused by cognitive loops where a cognitive object (a thought, an image, a sound, an intentional action) repeats long enough to result in various sets of disabled conscious cognitive functions
  • a psychological state induced by (or as if induced by) a magical incantation; synonym: enchantment, spell
  • a state of mind in which consciousness is fragile and voluntary action is poor or missing; a state resembling deep sleep
  • a condition of apparent sleep or unconsciousness, with marked physiological characteristics, in which the body of the subject is liable to possession
  • an out-of-body experience in which one feels they have passed out of the body into another state of being, a rapture, an ecstasy
  • a state of hyper or enhanced suggestibility
  • an induced or spontaneous sleep-like condition of an altered state of consciousness, which permits the subject's physical body to be utilized by the discarnate as a means of expression
  • an altered state of awareness induced via hypnotism in which unconscious or dissociated responses to suggestion are enhanced in quality and increased in degree
  • a state induced by the use of hypnosis; the person accepts the suggestions of the hypnotist
  • a state of consciousness characterized by extreme dissociation often to the point of appearing unconscious
  • An intransitive usage of the verb 'trance,' now obsolete, is 'to pass,' 'to travel' is cognate with shamanic journeying and vision quests.
  • 'Trance' is from Latin 'transire': to cross, pass over and the multiple meaning of the polyvalent homonym 'entrance' as a verb and noun provide insight into the nature of trance as a threshold, conduit, portal and/or channel.
  • Trance is an altered state of consciousness which individuals can enter through a variety of techniques, including hypnotism, drugs, sound (particularly music, percussive drumming etc.), sensory deprivation, physical hardships (e.g. flagellation, starvation, exhaustion) and vigorous exercise (particularly dance).
  • A trance state is an altered form of consciousness in which a person is neither fully awake nor fully asleep. In essence, the trance state involves walking between the world of the conscious and subconscious mind.
2 I had the opportunity to meet and dialectically interchange with Dr. Paul Brunton in person and get to know just what kind of person he was. I had read all of his books and was eager to speak with him. I had just completed my Masters of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School and was about to enter Yale Graduate School for my work toward a doctorate in philosophy. I travelled from New Haven and met with Dr. Brunton in his New York City apartment. During that interchange, I got the distinct impression that he was a man of unimpeachable character and a genuine mystic. At the end of our interchange, he suggested we meditate together for a short time. At the end of this meditation period, Dr. Brunton told me that he had imparted a vital energy to my inner being which would remain with me. I now use that "unseen cable" between Dr. Brunton and myself in my own meditation sessions.

Dr. Brunton speaks of this "cable" between teacher and student in his book, Inner Reality:
"The attitude of the student towards his teacher is of great importance to the student, because it lays an unseen cable from him to the teacher, and along that cable pass to and fro the messages and help which the teacher has to give. The teacher can never lose contact with the student by going to another part of the world. That unseen cable is elastic and it will stretch for thousands of miles, because the World-Mind consciousness will travel almost instantly and anywhere. Contact is not broken by increasing physical distance. It is broken by the change of heart, the alteration of mental attitude by the student towards the teacher. If the attitude is wrong, then the cable is first weakened and finally snapped. Nothing can then pass through and the student is really alone."

3 So many men of learning and sound reputation attested to these psychic phenomena that the French Royal Academy of Medicine felt compelled to undertake a new investigation. A committee was appointed, composed of some of the ablest and most cautious scientists of the day. For nearly six years that committee pursued its investigation with the utmost care and circumspection. Its report admitted the therapeutic value of the process and declared that the powers of thought-transference and clairvoyance had been demonstrated by indubitable tests. This new report was so revolutionary that opponents of hypnotism made sure the report was not printed and a new investigation ordered. Another committee was appointed, headed by a bigot who had openly sworn eternal hostility to the the entire field of hypnosis. The result was inevitable. They examined only two subjects and then made their report, announcing the committee's failure to witness the occult phenomena, and impugning the intelligence of the former committee. Predictably, this report was accepted by the average scientist of the day as containing the entire truth about hypnosis.

4 In the presentation of ideas in an essay it is only possible to "outline" how to achieve the capability to locate one's consciousness in the subliminal self and achieve the trance state within the subliminal self. Initiation into the intellectual, psychic, and spiritual procedures requisite for such achievements can only be carried out through person-to-person dialectical interchange between a Perennialist teacher and a committed student of the Perennial Tradition.


Early Magnetism

Concerning Thomas South, Mary Ann South, and the book, Early Magnetism In its Higher Relations to Humanity


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