The opening of the sources
Werner Zurfluh
e-mail Werner Zurfluh Homepage

The opening of the sources of night is not only a matter of the OOBE-technique but above all a question of self-knowledge. Therefore I never gave direct hints. OOBEs happened in my youth spontaneously, therefore I hadn't to push open the door to this experience by means of a technique. The problem, I had, was not (or less) of a technical type, but involved the self-knowledge, the ideology and the paradigm - these were primarily epistemological questions ! For me, always one question was to focus: How can my body succeed to fall asleep whereas the I stays mentally awake. This was not a technical problem but a question of attentiveness.

The mail:
my friend and i have just read your lucid dream story. i must say out of all the things that i or my friend have read in our lives i can garuntee that nothing had us more captivated. I must ask on what moral belief do you base your life on? a religion or a cult perhaps? ... We ask do you strive for this type of dream? or do you have a contemplation to go into the after life?

The reply:
I'm religious (in the sense of reflexiv and spiritual minded) and not denominational. The word 'religious' means (for me): to pay attention to all experiences, to keep an eye on them, to watch the slightest and most negligible things, to be careful with them, to attach importance to them; and to look at them with astonishment and amazement - and with great respect and gratitude. I don't strive for any type of dream - they just happen. And I had to learn not to be egoistic.

However, who tries to open the field of out-of-body experiences consciously - without any spontaneous experiences -, is confronted with other problems - problems more of a technical nature. Up to now I had heeded this matter perhaps too little.

The "sources of night" - especially the OOBEs - can also be opened indirectly. A technical method often brings no results. Many wait for example for vibrations. But there is absolutely no need for vibrations! The method of the indirect approach is a mild one and always helps. Begin for example with dreams !

Hints to increase the dream-memory and the work with them (without interpretation) gives:
Williams, Strephon Kaplan
Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual

New rev. exp. ed. Berkeley: Journey Press, (1980) 1981.

Further it seems very important to me, to try to become conscious in the dream itself. This way, the normal dream becomes lucid - a dream, in which you know, that you are dreaming:
Garfield, Patricia L.
Creative dreaming

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.

Cf. also Stephan LaBerge and his Lucidity-Institute

Who is mainly interested in the problem of the continuity of the consciousness (the awareness), that is of crucial meaning, should be referred on the following text:
Lu K'uan Yü (Charles Luk)
The Secrets of Chinese Meditation
Self-cultivation by Mind Control as taught in the Ch'an, Mahâyâna and Taoist schools in China
London: Rider, (1964) 3. ed. 1975 (ISBN 0-09-069111-3)

Many people don't succeed in remaining truly awake and conscious even during the day. Therefore the 'staying awake, aware, alert, conscious, mindful and attentive' can be rehearsed continuously - for example in that: Do that, what has to be done, in fullest attention, quite conscious and aware ! In Walt Disney's film 'The Sword in the Stone' (1963) is a scene, in which this subject is represented in an amusing way (not only this one but for example also the animal-transformation and the shaman-fight).

If the awareness is present, then the OOBE depends on none pure external technique - like for example the taking of a north-south-position of the body, in which the head looks against north, or the setting aside and removing of metal-objects. Some recommend to drink salty water before going to bed - in order to generate a thirst-feeling etc. etc. And the OOBE depends on none internal sensations like vibrations and sounds. These are banal trivialities. And they distract and block - although it is said that they support an OOBE. But an OOBE is meaningless, if it lasts only a very short time - because of the lousy awareness and the inability to uphold the continuity of the self-consciousness. And it is useless, if the lowest disturbance of the self-consciousness produces a black-out.

Concerning the continuity of the self-consciousness (the awareness) is to be pointed out an old tradition, which was elaborated in China. I have understood it at the moment, when I myself had already experienced many OOBEs and considered them critically. This tradition points out the truly essentials concerning an OOBE !

In the Chinese Ch'an (Zen) school begins the self-cultivation, i.e. the finding of a continuous self-consciousness, with mind-control. This mind is the self-consciousness, that in its untrained condition constantly searches something.

This presentation happens in contact with the book of Lu K'uan Yü (literature cf. above), who tries to mediate Asian wisdom to the Western world. He has treated extensively the topic of the empty as well as the weighty self-consciousness in his book The Secrets of Chinese Meditation. The book is not simple, especially as it contains the quintessence of millennium-old experiences. It offers findings and knowledges, that are throughout equal the most modern of physics.

«According to the Ch'an method, self-cultivation begins with the control of mind as the starting point.» (44) This happens out of a very 'normal consciousness', which has automatically identified itself - in the course of its development - with a certain content. Now it is fully identical with it. The identification of the I with a content is something, with which the I lives, without noticing or even to question it - wandering always in search of something in the realm of unreality. In contrast to the old mind, the self is the continuous and empty mind and not identical with something.

«As man has been so inextricably enmeshed by his false thoughts since time without beginning, he finds it very difficult to free his mind from false views in order to uncover his inherent wisdom which they screen. He is, however, endowed with a latent potentiality which no amount of teaching can reach because of his obstinate clinging to the empty names and terms implicit in human language.» (45)

The 'old mind' holds on at its accustomed philosophy. It remains within the pre-determined theoretical and paradigmatic framework and prefers to believe something instead of entering the venture to walk the way of knowledge. Furthermore it maintains (!) the tradition and fears any change. If something looks new or even strange, then it is very reserved and extremely skeptical. It thinks to have understood even the most mysterious and questionable happenings when using words like 'archetype', 'dissociation', 'hallucination' or 'dream'.

The self-experience (the 'inner possibility') can be awakened and become alive by the Ch'an method. «The prerequisite of Ch'an training is to apply a break to the wandering mind so that it can be quieted. ... Therefore, even before starting Ch'an practice, it is imperative that we know how to stop the ever-flowing thoughts that have been stirring our minds since time without beginning» (46-47). The yaqui-indian Don Juan said, that it is very important 'to stop the world', and - on the other side of the ocean - in the Surangama-Sutra is written: «Just by mind-control all things become possible to us.» (47) Mind-control is always a control of the flowing consciousness!

First the wandering mind has to be 'curbed' and cleaned. The self-cultivation begins with putting an end to the flow of thoughts. This is the most difficult thing to achieve! «For this reason, the ancients deviced a technique which can help us to prevent thoughts from arising in our minds. This is the hua-t'ou device. Hua t'ou means the mind before it is stirred by a thought or a mental word, and its English equivalent is anteword or ante-thought.» (47) Hua t'ou is a type of an antidote and an impure thought. But it dries up the stream of thoughts. And it is a «pointed concentration to cut down all thoughts and eventual visions which assail the meditator during his training. Since the student cannot stop all his thoughts at one stroke, he is taught to use this poison-against-poison device to realize singleness of thought which is fundamentally wrong but will disappear when it falls into disuse and gives way to singleness of mind.» (48)

The maintenance of the continuity of awareness and with it the mental state of hua t'ou all the time, that is when walking, standing, sitting, or reclining can be very difficult. But «Ch'an practice has nothing to do with whether one sits or not, but sitting ... is the most convenient way for beginners to control» (49) their body and mind. However, when you «know how to exercise this control while sitting in meditation», you «should continue to do so while walking, standing, reclining or performing all the common acts in daily life.» (49) Even when going to bed maintain this mental state!

The control of the consciousness doesn't happen automatically. It must be controlled on the other hand by a constant and mild feeling of doubt (I Ch'ing). «Therefore, when looking into a hua t'ou, we should not fix our minds anywhere, but should concentrate without using force solely on the I Ch'ing after giving rise to it.» (49) The practice of the hua-t'ou is tantamount with a self-cultivation and an awareness, that lasts continuously - sustained by an easy doubt. For this, essentially more patience, discipline, and endurance are necessary as for any other technique, that promises to lead directly to an out-of-body-experience without the training of mind and self-consciousness. But, if self-cultivation remains untrained, consciousness and awareness are extremely susceptible and vanish very quickly.

Whoever wants to experience new sensations or merely thinks, the out-of-body experience would be an issue like a nice leisure time-activity, will soon plop into one of the innumerable traps, into which the fools and impatients in-run blindly in their uncritical-ness and naivete. The spark of awareness and consciousness in every person is a very subtle and tender light, that is easily tarnished and eventually could even abruptly end.

Lately I read the following:

"What do you experience in meditation?"

He was moving awfully fast. I noticed that he didn't even bother to ask whether I practiced meditation. Nevertheless, I tried to stay with him: "Sometimes, when it's good, there is a single point of light -- like a fat star -- that comes and stays. Just that ... but I feel it's the best I've attained."

"Yes. Yes, it is good. The signs are different for different people, but that is good. So then, your next step is to stop thinking."

If he had hit me with a wet fish, I could not have been more surprised or shocked. He saw my reaction: "No ... no ... not all the time. Only in the meditation. There you must stop thinking."

"But ... how? How can anyone stop thinking?"

He shook his head. "It cannot be explained. It is something you do. You must recognize it by experience."


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