I first became aware of IONS (Institute of Neotic Sciences) through the work of Dr. Charles Tart, who studied altered states and as a noted psychiatrist delved into areas that science finds “irrelevant.” Then I was privileged to meet Cassandra Vieten, the current head of the Institute, at last year’s Science and Nonduality conference.

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Cassi opened this year’s IONS conference by describing some of the amazing attendees and remarking that IONS and the conference attendees “make the paranormal normal.”

By way of background, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded in 1973 by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, is a nonprofit research, education, and membership organization whose mission is supporting individual and collective transformation through consciousness research, educational outreach, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential. “Noetic” comes from the Greek word nous, which means “intuitive mind” or “inner knowing.”

Dr. Edgar Mitchell welcomed us on video by describing how the experience of seeing earth from space palpably made him aware that consciousness is primary, and “we are all one.”

Emanuel Kunzelman, President of Greenheart, described the issue in a way that resonated with me: Imagine if a tornado went through a junk yard and blew the parts together and it assembled an airplane, that’s what science would have you believe created the universe (Chance).  The goal of IONS is to “bring consciousness to the forefront of scientific inquiry.”  In speaking with Emanuel later I found out that his example originated with the famed astronomer Fred Hoyle.


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The first person I met socially was Allene Symons, author of the upcoming Aldous Huxley’s Hands; we talked about how Huxley’s other biographers stayed away from his “woo woo” side but her father had known Huxley well and she discovered more and more of his work in the nature of consciousness.

A nice touch to the conference was a small card every attendee got to give to someone whom they met that read: “You Inspire Me!” My first encounter with Ms. Symons earned her my card.

Lou Ferrante gave a rousing presentation about being “freer in prison” than he had been as a high ranking member of the Mafia. “In my cell I felt better about myself even though I had to put tissue in my ears to keep out cockroaches.”

He described a dream where he was told he was finally free to go but said, “no, I’ll pass” because he realized he was terrified of freedom and his cell was a bizarre comfort zone where he was free to do what he loved – he read 18 hours a day.

Dancing in the aisles at IONS 2015.

Dancing in the aisles at IONS 2015.

Upon release he wrote several best-sellers and then decided he wanted to write on what he had discovered through his inner work in a book on Dream Theory, but his agent and publisher balked because he had no credibility in that field. “You can’t write a book about the brain, you’re not a scientist.”

Ferrante said that he deserved his prison chains and this made him sensitive to those who didn’t.  He wrote about his need to accept responsibility for his crimes and how his conscience torments him, and that he became deeply aware of the injustices of the Holocaust and Racism.

Still Ferrante kept true to his inner code, he “never snitched.” His first hit book was about what the Mafia can teach a legitimate businessman and he described the ethics of the mob and how in many ways they transcended the lack of integrity he found when getting a loan on the outside.

“When you strip away the violence the mob had a deep code. For example you couldn’t go into a man’s house and hurt his family.”

Now Ferrante has written about about dreams and brain and his work resonated with that of another speaker, Dean Radin of IONS, in taking into account the possibility that dreams refer to “an external stimulus that the brain actually senses before it happens.”  Check out Three Pound Crystal Ball:  How the Dreaming Brain can Sense the Future.

Sometimes the interludes at such conferences contain amazing surprises.  Two IONS members, Dr. Bob Schwarz and Michael Ray, sang duets based on the songs of Bob Dylan and Don MacLean that made me sing along and brought me to tears. Here are the incredible lyrics and this is a sample of their performance at another conference with similar effect. Sing them in your head…

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the classic The Four Agreements, was a major highlight and I had the privilege to get not one but three hugs from him.

Speaking without notes or slides Don Miguel spun an amazing analogy of being the protagonist of your own Dream Story but often allowing the “secondary characters” the power to derail your dreams and convince you of illusory beliefs.

He asked with humility for help in achieving his goal for presenting: “Please help me to change the world. You create the reality of your world. Only you can change your world. Try to control secondary characters and learn to love unconditionally.”

Secondary characters will love you if you meet their conditions but “real love is unconditional.”

One of the first things Don Miguel realized that led to awakening was that “I know that I am not what I pretend to be.”

His message is that love is a life force that moves matter. He said, “It’s energy that cannot be destroyed only changed. Truth exists long before humanity; no proof needed.”

We believe we are the body and our fear of death leads us to try to love with conditions. Even Humanity at large tries to love with conditions: nations, states, groups and so on.

His simple but profound message is that we can change ourselves by changing our story – trusting and loving life and ourselves and not paying attention to secondary characters and not fearing death of the body for our “main” character, because All is energy and life.

My most anticipated breakout session was with my friends Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo of the Science and Nonduality Conference and their colleague Nick Day, a “conscious filmmaker.”

Nick opened with a wonderful overview of the history of cinema and its effects on the mass psyche. He described how the very first film attracted crowds to watch fifteen seconds of a locomotive arriving and how crowds fled in terror because they could not distinguish between film and reality – they had no frame of reference.

Nick also showed an incredibly simple 2D animation with no dialogue – just two triangles, a circle and box, onto which audience members project multiple interpretations. From there he traced the history of cinema up to what today is the threshold of virtual reality, and intertwined the mythic and philosophical themes of Jung and Joseph Campbell as well as the Greek philosophers to trace the emergence of storytelling along with our view of the nature of reality and consciousness.

Nick and Maurizio have known one another since their collaboration on the award winning Short Cut to Nirvana.

Maurizio and Zaya provided an in depth preview of the SAND conference and “outtakes” from past conferences which featured physicists, neuroscientists, and philosophers exchanging ideas on the nature of consciousness and reality.

One of the participants, Dr. Rudy Tanzi, is working on Alzheimer’s and approaches his research now from the perspective of the Mind or consciousness NOT being localized anywhere specific in the brain, but rather existing as a “field” of infinite awareness or possibility.

The video and slides presented by Maurizio and Zaya gave a nice flavor of their amazing conference which complements IONS – Science and Nonduality is in San Jose in the fall of 2015.

Federico Faggin designed the world’s first microprocessor, the Intel 4004 (1971), and developed the design methodology and directed the design of all early Intel’s microprocessors. Now this brilliant scientist and mathematician is devoting himself to a scientific inquiry into the nature of consciousness.

Using mathematics and experimentation he has come to the conclusion that the “Universe responded to my desire to know” and that the “Self cannot be known by studying only its outer form. Consciousness is [no thing/nonmaterial] with “the capacity to experience itself.”

According to Faggin we are materialized selves whose purpose is to know [discover] ourselves by interacting with other selves and the environment. The physical universe acts like a Virtual Reality “world” in which objects are temporary illusions.

This “P-Space” is merely a projection of consciousness (P=physical) and “I-Space” (personal ego) exists within P-Space.

Within our own conceptual framework we each “see” a different universe which gives rise to our unique experience and we exist within a conditioned conceptual framework. Faggin is working on mathematical descriptions of how I-Space emerges within consciousness.

According to Faggin, along with I-Space, experience exists in P-Space. This is interpreted through language and its semantic, conditioned “programs,” so that there are hierarchical syntactical rules that govern language – this resonates with The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz.

“What gives meaning to all existence?” To Faggin, this remains the greatest question.

The audience next heard the poetry and insights of Drew Dellinger, author of A Love Letter to the Milky WayDrew’s message is simply that “we’re living on a planet that is shooting through space and it’s time we acted like it.”

Drew has a unique, almost musical presentation style that blends rhyme and rhythm with unique insights.

Another famed author, Barbara Marx Hubbard described her personal journey from “a housewife in Connecticut” and mother of five to feminist, humanist, and futurist. As I watched this amazing 85 year old dynamo it seemed to me that she literally embodies the Divine Feminine.

To Barbara, “The Universe is a Love Story” and evolution is consciously and lovingly self-organizing – echoing Bruce Lipton she talked about how each cell “evolves” and builds from parts to wholeness.

Her belief is in “Evolutionary Spirituality” – the Christification of Earth – or the evolution toward Christ Consciousness of the Whole Planet but from a secular perspective.

She told the story of how as a young girl she met President Eisenhower and asked him how can this new atomic power be used for good?  The President replied that he did not know and it led her on a journey to discover how the vast power of intellect can be refined for the greatest good.

She went through a description of the “Four E’s”:

  • Eternal
  • Embody
  • Emerge
  • Eros

Which leads to a needed new vocabulary and the word “Telerotic” – combining teleos and eros.

Teleology is akin to Phenomenology in “explaining” phenomena by their outcomes rather than by cause and effect, so that the result of the four E’s, presumably, is a philosophy that sees Love or Eros as the necessary outcome of a fully lived existence.

Ms. Marx-Hubbard suggested that we “shift” from an emphasis on procreation, which was the ethos of when she was a mother and housewife to – “co-creation” and recognition that we are evolving toward a higher purpose in a unity with the planetary consciousness also articulated by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who founded IONS.

Dean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at IONS and the author of the best-selling books The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds, and Supernormal.

Dr. Radin described how he had attended a conference on thinking the unthinkable with world leaders in Australia, and they included him because they were focused on diseases like Alzheimers and Ebola and even runaway Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Radin suggested that the answers lie in a realm where we finally address the reality that consciousness is not in the brain, but some”where” outside of Space/Time.

Two Q’s Of The Next Century For Science Replacing Quantum Physics & Relativity

Qualia – how do we experience

Quantia – quantum – how does observation influence phenomena

We don’t know what we don’t know – the bigger questions

Radin described many of the former psychic “technologies” which were generally drugs but also include medtiation and chanting – “things” that change our state.

Emerging in this area he discussed electro magnetic stimulation of the brain, and especially the temporal lobe which presumably is the home of the “Self.”

He mentioned that when these technologies also get the frontal lobe – the area of analysis and logic – out of the way it also opens up as Huxley said, the “Doors of Perception.”

He went on to talk about methods of inducing psychic ability including  Consciousness Hacking, which is the work of Mikey Siegel and Nootropics – new drugs that may make one smarter.

Interestingly, of the more than 100 psychedelic substances known, more than half are artificial.

One drug he mentioned along with several magnetic technologies was Preacetam, and all of these methods essentially act upon the Mind/Matter relationship which in the “normal” state we deem separate.

He also devoted a great deal of his talk to the mass media and film, and how in most if not all cases these abilities must be hidden by those who possess them (or are possessed) because they can no longer function in normal society.

Radin lamented the fact that so much of the popular mythology around these powers make them dystopian and that the SciFi genre generally is overlapped by horror.

He showed clips from films like Next, Lucy, and of course Star Wars to illustrate how these powers are generally treated in cinema.

Marianne Williamson gave a rousing follow up talk that concluded the major presentations on a huge high. She said that while Consciousness is neutral her belief is that it is the human endeavor that chooses always between fear and love and that this is crucially NOT neutral. True spiritual enlightenment is consciously choosing intentionally to serve Love and not Fear (the ego).

She mentioned her early fascination with the artist Edward Burns Jones who created artistic Angels during the rise of the technical age and said that for “every machine he would create an Angel.” Like Marianne and others at IONS he foresaw how technology is outdistancing the spirit.

Marianne mentioned the film Ex Machina and addressed the underlying assumption currently prevalent that machines will one day become “human” – able to meditate and feel. Like this writer she vehemently opposes this viewpoint and urged the audience to open itself to the forces of life (as opposed to wanting “more” and mechanistically achieving it).

As a proponent of the Course in Miracles her call to action was to awaken each day with the recognition that there is an active, intentional Power of Love not metaphorically but actually at work in the universe – and that this is the true force of Evolution.

Her admonition to keep the human race from becoming like the Titanic and knowingly hitting the iceberg of extinction was for each individual to ask at all times, in the present moment, “how may I be used by the Power of Love.”

Marianne’s presentation (or performance) was a wonderful climax to an amazing weekend which I truly feel privileged to have attended.  I am left with a feeling of hope and immense gratitude.

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