Tag Archives: consciousness

British author Martyn Wilson’s “Enlightenment: The Keys to Consciousness” is a worthy addition to an ancient topic

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

One of my favorite sayings from the Zen tradition is: “To talk about Zen is to not know Zen.”

I think it’s also true, then, to say that, “To write about Zen is not to know Zen either.”

Furthermore, reading a book about Zen is no way to get to really know or understand Zen.

We can substitute the word “Enlightenment” for Zen in all of the above statements. To talk about Enlightenment, to write about it, to read books it is no way to truly understand Enlightenment.

I suspect the author of this book, a down-to-earth, working-class British man by the name of MARTYN WILSON, would agree.

No one else can describe for you or explain Enlightenment. No one else can give it to you. You can only find it for yourself. And once you find it for yourself, you’ll never in a million years be able to fully explain to someone else just exactly what it is that you have found.

Why, then, did Martyn Wilson write this book? Indeed, why have whole forests been cleared by gurus, shamans, yogis, monks, teachers, etc. — all writing books about Enlightenment? For something that can never be truly explained, people sure like to blather on about it endlessly.

Mr. Wilson explains his motivation for writing his book this way:

“I believe that I have been given a gift that has completely changed my life. I also believe that it would be a waste of this gift not to share what I have learned and experienced, not because I am on some spiritual mission to convert the entire population of earth, but to point out that there is another way of living, another choice.”

He also says:

“Whatever you think Enlightenment is, it is not … Enlightenment cannot be thought no matter how many books you read, how many seminars you attend, how many meditation workshops you take part in or how spiritual you think you are. Enlightenment can only be experienced and this is why it is so difficult to explain to others.”

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Martyn Wilson

It can’t be explained, can’t be done … but Mr. Wilson certainly makes a heroic effort in this slim volume. And you know what? He comes as close as anyone or book I have read to giving the reader an inkling of what Enlightenment might be, and how to at least start your journey toward getting it for yourself.

(Yikes! I’m already in trouble! If you think that you need to go on a “journey” to find Enlightenment, then you will never find it. There is no journey to take, and nothing to find!)

But let me struggle on.

Keep in mind that when writing about Enlightenment, both authors and guys like me who review their books are grappling within a situation pitted with paradoxes. You’re always saying something seemingly contradictory, such as , “You must seek something that can never be found.” Or, “There is no journey because you are always already there,” Or, “You can never arrive because there is nowhere to go.”

So if I say that Martyn Wilson has written an excellent book and that these pages are a good place to start on your search for Enlightenment, I am already veering off track and headed for the ditch.

If you think you have to “start a journey to Enlightenment” then you are already lost. Also, if it is anything that is “out there” — such as a book, seminar or some guru, then that is something that is “outside yourself” and will do you no good.

At the same time, I will dare to say: This is as good a book to read as any if you want to seek Enlightenment.

After all, Mr. Wilson’s started somewhere, albeit someplace unusual — an all-out effort to prove that there really is no such thing as Enlightenment!

It was his wife who was really into all this stuff. She was one of those people who was deeply involved in reading books on the subject, going to seminars, practicing meditations, and so on.

Wilson thought his wife’s pursuit was 100% preposterous. Thus, he became determined to do everything he could to prove that all this stuff was just a bunch of baloney — a loony pile of eastern-religious-mystical nonsense for modern-day hippies and delusional New Age flakes.

He did tons of research on the Internet, read books, and then started testing methods, such as meditation and other “techniques” to show that they did nothing for anyone. Indeed, he found meditation to be worthless in his own case.

But then Mr. Wilson stumbled upon a certain method that seemed so simple and ludicrous, he called it “laughable” — and yet he tried it anyway, and (laughable or not) kept at it for weeks and months on end.

And guess what? Martyn Wilson was stunned one day to find that he had become Enlightened!

I’m going to say no more because I don’t want to give too much away. I would encourage all readers to buy, discover and encounter this fine and delightful book for yourselves.

Just a couple of last points. Wilson drops a couple of delicious bombshells in these pages:

1. His comments on the subject of forgiveness may cause some people to have a brain aneurysm!

2. His opinion on the subject of non-duality is unique, bold and matter of fact!

Not to be missed! I like it when an author of a book about Enlightenment manages to break new ground. Martyn Wilson does it. This is one of the best books on the topic since the sublime LAZY MAN’S GUIDE TO ENLIGHTENMENT by THADDEUS GOLAS. If it’s not as profound as Shunryu Suzuki‘s masterpiece ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND, it packs a similar punch in a more “common-working-man” sort of way.

Go ahead, get the book, have a read — just don’t expect this to be your road map to Enlightenment. There is no road map.


Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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‘Babe In The Woods’ by Frank DeMarco: Destined to be a cult classic on par with David Lindsay’s ‘Voyage to Arcturus’

babeReview by: KEN KORCZAK

I experienced a minor synchronistic “mind blast” while reading this book.

Sometimes an author’s style will remind me of another writer, but I can’t put my finger on it right away. In this case, it had been nagging at me for some 250 pages, like a steady itch. Then suddenly on page 255 it crashed into my mind: CLIFFORD SIMAK! That’s it! Ahhh! The itch was scratched!

But now the “mind blast”: I finished reading page 255 and at the bottom of page 256, lo and behold, I find this sentence:

“I though, unexpectedly, of Clifford Simak. Years ago, when I was a kid, I read one of his science fiction stories …”

Woo-hoo!

I don’t mean to make too much of it, but it was just one of those tiny “That was a neat feeling!” moments of synchronicity when you get buffeted unexpectedly by a wave on the ocean of Universal Consciousness.

Anyway – after 250 pages of  BABE IN THE WOODS  – I think anyone would become more in tune to transcendent wavelengths. This book not only gives you an idea of what it is like to tap into expanded consciousness, but dishes out insight after insight – it actually makes you feel what it might be like to push yourself to the edge of higher consciousness – a rare literary feat.

It tells the story of an ordinary group of people from widely divergent walks of life and professions who come together to challenge themselves – to open up their minds, to reach for new concepts, to expand what it means to be an “ordinary” human being in our dreary world calcified by scientific-materialism.

The model for the situation is a real-life program offered by THE MONROE INSTITUTE of Faber, Virginia. The Monroe Institute is an organization founded by the late ROBERT MONROE who became famous after publishing his first book about his experiences with out-of-body travel.

“Journeys Out of Body” came out in 1971. It was an unlikely bestseller, and was followed up with two more books, “Far Journeys,” and “Ultimate Journey.”

Perhaps no other books on astral travel have been more influential. Part of the reason is that Robert Monroe had never been a mystic or associated with any of the established traditions (such as Theosophy, for example, or Eastern religions) which trucked in arcane dabblings like “soul travel” (which also had scary occult overtones for many mainstream folks).

Monroe was no-nonsense, successful businessman who had made a considerable fortune in the burgeoning 1940s-50s world of radio. He was an entirely grounded, nuts-and-bolts kind of guy. However, in the late 1950s, he began to undergo unwanted spontaneous out-of-body experiences. This prompted the pragmatic Monroe to launch into an intense study of what was happening to him.

The eventual result was the establishment of the Monroe Institute. Its original purpose was to study the OBE and all of the mind-boggling implications which fall out of the possibility that our physical bodies are not “all that there is,” and indeed, that what we perceive as physical-material reality is not nearly all there is to consider.

The Monroe Institute developed a number of methods, mostly centered on sound technology that was designed to help any person achieve a state of higher or altered consciousness. These sound technologies leveraged something called binaural beats – and I won’t go into detail here about them, except to say that it was demonstrated that when people listened to binaural beats through headphones while in a highly relaxed state and in a supportive environment, the result could be an out-of-body experience, or some kind of realization of transcendent thought – in short, an expansion of the mind.

So this book, Babe In The Woods, takes us through a group of people who have decided to put themselves through the paces of a Monroe Institute program – except here it is thinly fictionalized as the “Merriman Institute.” Robert Monroe himself is fictionalized as “C.T” and his famous book, Journeys Out of Body is renamed “Extraordinary Potential.”

This is an incredibly ambitious book because it necessarily must employ a large group of characters – some two dozen people involved in the program – whom the author is tasked with not only introducing us to, but must rely on the reader’s patience as he builds them into believable characters of some depth, enough so that we can care about them and learn from them later.

The viewpoint character is modeled on the author himself — DeMarco is a veteran of several Monroe Institute programs.

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Frank DeMarco

DeMarco’s fictional incarnation is Angelo Chiari, a reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer. The premise is that his editor sends him to the Merriman Institute to do some stealthy investigative journalism – and hopefully come out with an expose that might blow the lid off the weird snake oil the Institute is most likely selling to gullible people with enough money and desperation to seek answers to life anywhere.

But these journalist are professionals – both editor and reporter are not out to do a pre-determined hack job. Rather, they intend to get the story in a fair and objective manner. They’ll go where the facts lead them. If reporter Angel Chiari finds a legitimate program – he’ll write about that. If not, it’s blast away with both journalistic barrels. He very much expects it to be the latter, however.

The Chiari character is a classic example of what Henry Thoreau meant when he said: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Chiari’s career is okay, but on cruise control. His work has long since become bland and meaningless. The heat of his decades-long marriage has cooled to a husband and wife more akin to roommates. His relationship with his children is shallow and distant.

Chiari holds no particular cherished beliefs. He’s a rational-materialist cog in the post-modern machine. He gets up every day and goes through the motions, running out the time clock on his life. His existence is like a tasteless block of tofu.

Perhaps it’s his training as a journalist that saves him – his fundamental dedication to objectivity leaves the door open just enough for Chiari to approach the Merriman program with an open mind and reserved judgment. That small crack in that door is enough for the Larger Consciousness System (to borrow a term from physicist Tom Campbell) to send Chiari tantalizing, subtle clues to convince him that, by golly, there might be something more to his existence – something remarkable..

This is the fourth Frank DeMarco book I have read. His writing style puts me in the mind of not only Simak, but also Sinclair Lewis (winner of the Noble Prize for Literature). That’s because there is a certain workmanlike doggedness to the way DeMarco hammers out his themes, and the way he develops and cobbles together his messages.

DeMarco somehow leverages the necessarily mundane and uses it to fetch glimpses of the transcendent. He is like a grounded, unspectacular Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, but bringing it back to us with the stolid work ethic of a UPS delivery truck driver.

Because of that, the insights we gain ultimately feel deeper and more authentic. DeMarco’s works are characterized by a  persistent and worrisome expression of doubt – the uncertainty of a person who knows he is threading a fine line between making sense of highly original and novel forms of information — while ever cognizant of the innate capacity of the human mind to fool itself with egoic delusions and struggles with Freudian “wish fulfillment.”

I’m guessing that Babe In the Woods, published in 2008, has since found only a small audience, but I can imagine it developing an ardent cult following – much in the same way that A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by Scottish writer DAVID LINDSAY has persisted and moved people since it was published in 1920.

You might be wondering how I can compare the syrupy surrealism of Lindsay’s ‘Voyage’ with DeMarco’s more staid ‘Babe,’ but I would challenge the reader to read both — tell me if you don’t see that, in a weird way, both works have the same heart.

Clifford Simak, Sinclair Lewis, David Lindsay — Frank DeMarco stands with guys like these in the literary world – and that’s not a bad place to stand, indeed.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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The ghost of Ernest Hemingway: Still eloquent in the Afterlife

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This is the second FRANK DeMARCO book I’ve read. The first was “A Place To Stand,” and I think anyone who reads both of the above will be sufficiently impressed that here is a guy who not merely another frivolous New Age writer raving from the fringe, or some person seeking to capitalize on the name of Hemingway merely to sell a book.

This is an intelligent book of substance that should intrigue long-time Hemingway fans, and give us pause to consider the implications of what it might really be like to have a one-on-one chat with an American literary giant.

There is ample historic president for these kinds of books, in particular, Jane Robert’s (author of Seth Speaks), “channeling” of the American philosopher William James. That book came out in 1977; James died in 1910.

Another famous example: Emily Grant Hutchings and a medium using an Ouija board took “dictation” from the spirit of Mark Twain to produce an entirely new novel, “Jap Herron.” It was published in 1916, six years after Twain’s death.

In 1869, a medium “downloaded” a fresh novel written by the deceased Emily Brontë; It’s presented in a book called “Strange Visitors” edited by an esteemed legal scholar, Henry J. Horn.

So DeMarco is backed by solid tradition, and the precedent of others who have written amazingly high quality books in this way.

Beginning in 2004, DeMarco, using the time-honored, method of automatic writing, made psychic contact Hemingway and engaged in a vigorous post-death conversation with Hemingway. The dialogue resulted in this book.

In it, Hemingway clears the deck on dozens of misconceptions he says numerous biographers and academics have besmirched upon his life, work and legacy over the years.

Not that he’s particularly angry or blames living biographers who, after all, only gave it their best shot. It’s just that, Hemingway says the game is rigged. Writing a truly accurate biography is fundamentally impossible. The deceased Hemingway tells DeMarco:

“To write a true biography you would need to do impossible things, such as:

* See and feel and think and react as the subject would have done.

* Contain within yourself all the subject’s background, including people, places, books he’s read, the news of the day (day by day), the daydream he had, the talents and aversions and every aspect of his personality.

* Know everything that had ever happened to him and some that happened only around him, and from multiple points of view.

* Know every strand that operated within him, and in what proportion and in what circumstances, including the tremendous amount he didn’t realize himself.

*Know at least something of why he came into life (or, you might say, what the potential or that particular mixture of elements was) and see how one thing could express only at the expense of others, and hence what tensions set up.”

That all makes sense, when you think about it. Certainly, the dead Hemingway has a knack for bringing an unclouded, common-sense kind of wisdom to vexing questions and thorny issues.

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Frank DeMarco

Another example: DeMarco asks Hemingway to explain something controversial the macho-man writer once said, that he would “rather beat someone up than read a good book.” (This in light of Hemingway’s well-known love of boxing and barroom brawling).

Hemingway, from his perch in the Afterlife, defends his statement this way:

“All right … who are you talking to? In this case I mean, what age Hemingway? The answer you’d get from a 20-year-old isn’t what you’d get ten years later, or thirty, or after-the-fact entirely … the whole point of living is not to be the same year by year, but to change — I didn’t prefer beating somebody up to reading a good book. Just count the number of people I beat up and the number of books I read!”

Still eloquent in death, Hemingway scores again!

DeMarco’s book is loaded with gems like these. Hemingway’s quips zero in like sharpened darts, hitting dead-on rhetorical bullseyes time and again.

If this is not the actual spirit of Hemingway speaking through DeMarco, then DeMarco himself is one clever wordsmith.

But wait a minute — DeMarco cautions us that just who is actually communicating here is a tad more complicated than you might think. Here is the way DeMarco struggles to define his trans-death connection with the deceased writer:

“I think you mean to say that Hemingway 1899-1961 and DeMarco 1946-20-whatever do not touch, and that I have been thinking that DeMarco-46 was touching the spirit of Hemingway-99, but it may be more accurate to say that the larger being of which DeMarco-46 is a part is communicating with the larger being of which Hemingway-99 is a part, and the two time-bound parts are having a sort of virtual conversation.”

In other words, most people assume that when you contact the spirit of a dead person, you are speaking to the exact person/ego-construct/personality of that same person when he or she was alive.

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Papa

But there is not a Person A = Person A situation vis-a-vis the live version of a person and the afterlife version of that same person.

After we pass over to the other side, we apparently expand our consciousnesses to embody the “whole self,” or perhaps “soul self.” We become aligned with the so-called Oversoul.

For the dead, the ego-self recedes into the background because the ego is actually an elaborate, artificial coping/defense construct designed to function in the environment of our earth-bound, physical matter reality. The ego is too often shaped by fears and desires, and is a reactor rather than an actor within a material system. Yet, after death, we can still operate from an ego-based platform if we want to …

What I really like about Afterdeath Conversations With Hemingway is that it reads not like the typical spooky and/or smarmy medium-channeled stuff, but as an insightful, intelligent and piercing series of observations by a savvy writer, who just happens to be positioned in the non-physical realm.

DeMarco’s book makes the extraordinary situation of speaking with the dead seem as commonplace as chatting with your Uncle Ned via Skype.

With dogged attention to detail, DeMarco combs through the issues that were the passions of Hemingway’s vigorous life — World War I, the Spanish Civil War, the American psyche, the artistic culture of Europe, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, writing and literature. Hemingway discusses what it meant to be an American, an emerging modern man in a nation straining to become the next superpower.

What about his suicide? Hemingway is actually rather blasé and dismissive of the whole issue. He called suicide “the family exit.” Hemingway’s father committed suicide, as did his brother, Leicester, and sister, Ursula. The dead Hemingway says of his suicide:

“When I left the body — when I blew myself out of that situation — I knew what I was doing, and why. I wasn’t emotionally distraught, I wasn’t out of my mind, and I wasn’t even depressed — once I figured out how to get out … the bad effects of suicide have a lot more to do with attitudes that with the given act.”

After his death, Hemingway tells DeMarco that he now manifests himself in the spirit world as a 30-something-year-old.

“I went back to being in my mid-thirties,” Hemingway said. “I was happy then. I’d taken my lumps and I’d already left Hadley, (first wife Hadley Richardson) which was a stupid thing to do but there you are, and I was in the prime of life.”

The bottom line: This is a marvelous read, well worthy of five stars, and gets my top recommendation.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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