Diner in the Sky (Astral and Mental Planes)AC 237: August 15, 2004 (Boston)
I was sitting in a diner. The diner was made of polished chrome on the outside and each booth on the inside sat in front or a picture window.
It was late at night, dark outside. The lights in the diner were very bright.
The diner was busy. The booths and counter stools were all occupied.
The other figures in the place seemed to be dark and self-absorbed, hunched over, staring at their coffee, oblivious to the other people who surrounded them, and barely awake.
The only person who appeared to have any life in her was the waitress. She moved from booth to booth and one customer to the next along the counter taking orders and delivering them when ready.
I was feeling pretty groggy and remained only half aware of what was going on around me. I should have paid more attention to my surroundings and wondered where I was.
For example, I accepted as completely normal that the clock hanging near the window where the orders came out from the kitchen drew attention to itself by being encircled with a pink neon light, but had no hands. It would have been impossible to tell what time it was, which should have clued me in to the fact that I was in nonphysical reality, where time and space operate differently from the way they do here, or don’t seem to exist at all.
The waitress came over to my booth, where I was sitting alone. “What do you need?” she asked, poised to take my order.
She had roused me from a deep state of inwardness that was virtually without thought. I would say that I was asleep, except that I was dimly aware of the surroundings.
I looked up at the waitress. She was of indeterminate age, anywhere from thirty to fifty. Her skin was smooth and young looking. But the expression in her eyes and the set of her face made her seem older. She had an official demeanor, but wasn’t hard. She was dressed in a navy blue skirt with a white lace apron and a white blouse.
The most striking things about the waitress were her hair and eyes. While her dress made her look like a character from a 1940s movie, her hair, which was a dark golden color, was dressed to resemble that of a Greek statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Her eyes were gray and seemed to communicate a level of awareness, both intellectual and spiritual, that was well beyond that of the average diner waitress.
As I studied her, the waitress stood patiently waiting to take my order. Then, suddenly, I seemed to recognize her--although she didn’t resemble anyone I knew from waking life.
“Wait, I know you” I said as I began to rise from my seat. It seemed that I’d seen her recently, perhaps in another dream. But I couldn’t recall where or when.
The process of standing up seemed to occur in slow motion, as if it took considerable mental effort to coordinate my movements. I was deeply aware of the moving gradually from the position of looking up to meet the eyes of the waitress and looking at her from a standing position, in which our eyes were on the same level.
I realize now that I was making an effort to rise from one level of consciousness to another. I’d begun in a state of minimal lucidity and rose up to a point that corresponded to that of the waitress, fully alert--not only to what my surroundings looked like, but also to what they meant.
“You’re a Facilitator,” I said, as I rose and met her gaze. When I’d stood up completely, I faced her directly, met her gaze, and said, with wonder, “I’ve seen you before. I feel that I somehow know you.”
The waitress smiled as she looked into my eyes. “Well done,” she said. “You’ve reached the level at which we can communicate directly without my help.
“The Dreamers we’re surrounded with here barely register my presence. I intuit the dreams they need based on a reading of their energy fields and help to shape the dream reality to accommodate these needs. I give order to the chaos of their minds and lend their dreams a higher level of reality, clarity, and memorability than they might otherwise have. I also try to influence the consciousness of each Dreamer to keep it awake and aware enough to remember the dream. As you can see, I’m not always successful.”
The waitress pointed to a man who had fallen asleep over his coffee. “That one had a little too much alcohol last night before bedtime,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to get heavy drinkers to remember their dreams.”
“So, we’re in the Dream Zone, not the Afterdeath Zone? I asked. I wasn’t sure because the people around me seemed to be as colorless and inert as the Shades I’ve sometimes encountered in the Immigration Zone (the first stage of entry into the Afterlife, for people who are unable to recognize that they’re dead).
“Yes,” the waitress said. “This is the Dream Zone. What you’re seeing is the level of conscious awareness of the Dreamers who are under my care. As you’ve noticed, they’re not only dead to the physical world, but also to this one.
“Your time and culture does little to encourage people to remember their dreams or use the Dream Zone as a tool for furthering their growth.”
My exchange with the waitress was without words, although it seemed like a conversation. It was actually an exchange of quick bursts of information carrying energy.
While she communicated with me, I kept trying to recall where I’d seen her before. I don’t usually dream of diners, so I couldn’t easily place her in the context of a previous dream. Nor did her appearance resemble that of any figure I’d encountered in previous adventures in consciousness.
The waitress smiled at me, as if she knew something that hadn’t occurred to me yet--and also knew that I was searching inwardly for this information.
Meanwhile, in response to my having tried to place her and the diner in the context of past dream experience, she said, “This is a portion of the Dream Zone in which we Facilitators attempt to be of service to Dreamers who remember fairly vivid dreams on a regular basis. These Dreamers have the most potential for using their dreams as an educational tool.
“We want to make sure that they get the best possible product, with the clearest, least cluttered imagery, directly communicated in a fairly obvious way, about some problem they’re working on in physical reality.
“Most of these Dreamers won’t be aware of the presence of us Facilitators. The more advanced among them, however, may recall dreams of being in classes or seminars--which indicates that their level of lucidity and ability to remember their experiences in the Dream Zone has advanced to the point that they’re able to recall what happens between their dreams.
“Most people suppress the transition points between dreams. They’re like people who sit in a movie theater passively enjoying a double or triple feature, completely in the dark about the theater personnel or what’s going on outside the screening room.
“More advanced Dreamers are like people who move from one screening room to another within the theater. They may recall interacting with the theater personnel--Facilitators, such as I am--or elements of the architecture, so to speak, of the Dream Zone.
“Because many people in your culture are dealing with similar problems having to do with work and relationships, they’ll be attracted to areas of the Dream Zone that have been set up especially to deal with those problems. All they have to do is enter such a region and they’ll be exposed to the information they need to resolve their problems. The energy of that area is charged with such information, which will naturally express itself in their dreams, in images drawn from their past and present lives.
“Facilitators are present in such areas as what you call Personal Trainers. They help to sustain an ideal state of consciousness in the Dreamer so that the dream will be remembered clearly. The Personal Trainers also try to prevent the dream imagery from being influenced by issues that are being worked out at other levels of consciousness, or that would be dealt with more appropriately in another dream.
“More advanced dreamers will sometimes become aware of such Personal Trainers, often perceived as the Teachers in a classroom situation, sometimes as a seemingly private Guide. They may also become aware of the dream environment itself, which, because it’s focused on education in how to solve a certain kind of problem in waking life, will often be perceived as a classroom or seminar room.”
“So why have I perceived our surroundings as a diner instead of a classroom?” I asked.
Without missing a beat, the waitress replied, “Because you’re an oddball.”
I was about to retort something about whether or not that was a compliment when the waitress hushed me by holding up her hand. “Yes, you’re an oddball,” she said, “because you remember your dreams every night. You’ve also dealt with and put behind you a lot of the problems that most people encounter in life. So, you’re not going to be pulled into the larger seminar rooms, or subzones, of the Dream Zone.
“You’re also capable of a higher level of lucidity than most Dreamers, even if you don’t exercise that capacity every night. If you did exercise that capacity more often, you’d be a lot more familiar with the layout and function of the Dream Zone and its subzones.
“When there’s nothing pressing for you to work on while you’re in the Dream Zone, you’re free to explore. That’s when you’re most likely to have one of your ‘adventures in consciousness.’
“People like you have more uniquely personal needs than the majority of Dreamers. Your dreams need to be ‘made to order,’ so to speak. It’s my function to help you get what you need here.
“A diner is an appropriate symbol for this subzone of the Dream Zone because I assess what you need like a waitress taking an order. I keep you responsive to the dream you’re about to receive by helping you maintain your level of lucidity. That’s what the coffee I serve symbolizes. Then I deliver a dream meant to feed you with the information you need--the food you’ve ordered, in other words.
“It might be more accurate to say that you bring me a question. I send it out into nonphysical reality if I don’t know the answer. There, it will gather the answer into itself from a variety of sources, ranging in degree of consciousness from a fully developed soul, as I am, down to a more or less automated response system that draws on the vast database of human experience called the akashic records.
“The answer comes back as a packet of information carrying energy, which I then serve up to you. You’ll turn that packet of information into dream images based on your past and present experience in life. If you write the dream down and interpret it, you’ll be translating that information into words. Thus, the translation process passed from information carrying energy to images, to a description of those images in words, and an interpretation of their meaning.
“Diners are traditionally open all night--and so is the Dream Zone. All the polished chrome you see here serves to remind you that in the Dream Zone, everything that you experiences is a reflection of your state of consciousness upon entering it.
“As you know, in nonphysical reality, thought creates experience more or less instantly. We Facilitators, and the structure of the Dream Zone itself, try to slow down that process a bit to help you make better sense of it.
“Of course, we can only work with what you bring us. The guy over there who had too much to drink last night is another highly creative and self-aware oddball, like yourself. But he’s too pained by his differences from others to embrace them and tries to suppress his dreams through drinking, rather than use them to explore himself and nonphysical reality, as you do.
“One of the chief functions of this subzone of the Dream Zone is to help oddballs like yourself feel good about being oddballs. From the spiritual perspective, there’s a lot to be said for the degree to which people like you are free from social convention and the fear of becoming unlovable as one becomes one’s true self that lies behind fear of the unknown.
“You’ll learn a lot more about yourself, humanity, and both physical and nonphysical realities through such freedom. But without finding and celebrating your being an oddball with others who are inclined to grow in similar ways, you can feel lonely, isolated, and depressed.
“That’s another reason why the late night diner imagery is appropriate. It reminds you of the spiritual desolation expressed in that famous painting by Edward Hopper called Nighthawks.”
While the waitress explained the nature of her work to me, I continued to rack my brain to see whether I could discover why she seemed to be so familiar to me. Slowly, it began to dawn on me that we’d worked together, not as Dreamer and Personal Trainer, but as colleagues. With a sudden burst of recognition, I said the waitress’s name--or what passes for a name in nonphysical reality.
[Robert Monroe’s writings refer to nonphysical names as idents. An ident is not a word, but an energy like dog tags that help to identify an individual encountered in Otherwhere. I’ll call the waitress Athena, here, because of her hairstyle.]
“Athena,” I cried out. The waitress’s eyes grew wide and she broke into a big smile.
“Well done,” she said. “I wondered whether you would break through to the level of consciousness that remembers me, since it predates your present earth-based personality as Kurt.”
From the moment I realized that I’d known Athena before, I felt a powerful attraction to her. It wasn’t exactly a sexual attraction. But it kept pulling us closer and closer together until I recognized her, at which point we embraced.
From the moment we made contact, a series of events occurred in such rapid succession that trying to describe it in step-by-step fashion is difficult. Our bodies, which were not physical, but made of energy, seemed to merge from feet up to neck. Only our heads, which symbolized our unique consciousnesses, remained separate from each other.
The diner disappeared and we found ourselves in a blank area. To me it seemed like an empty, unlighted asphalt parking lot such as I might expect in the environs of a late-night diner. But what I was really perceiving was pure nonphysical reality, devoid of all imagery. [We'd moved from the astral to the mental plane.]
Athena and I began to spin like a top--slowly at first, but with ever increasing speed. Somehow she communicated to me that I needed just to let this happen, without putting up any resistance.
We seemed to be holding hands with arms outstretched, almost like dancing partners. Athena wordlessly encouraged me to alter my hand position slightly, which caused us to spin faster and rise up from the level of consciousness where the diner was.
“Keep your head down against me breast and close your eyes,” she said. “You’re not used to this, so it could be quite disorienting.”
I did as I was told, which meant entrusting myself entirely to Athena’s guidance and protection, while giving in to the experience and trying not to observe it too closely. Somehow, in the midst of our whirling and rising motion, we achieved a centered still point of consciousness, such as I’ve sometimes experienced while looking into the eyes of a contradance partner while doing the swing.
In that space, I seemed to know everything about Athena, and she about me. It felt as if we’d known each other forever, and had often been in each other’s company, that we were the deepest and closest of friends. I felt a sense of welcome and homecoming that I’ve never experienced in nonphysical reality.
The passage of information back and forth between us was so rapid and intense that I can’t bring back much of it now. The only thing that I could recall clearly was that we had been in some kind of training program together while in between lifetimes, who knows how long ago.
It also seemed that I’d been in a position like hers, acting as a Personal Trainer in the Dream Zone. Athena’s comment on this realization was: “Of course, that’s why it’s so easy for you to interpret your own and other people’s dreams.”
I even had a sense that Athena and I had been playmates at some point, but I couldn’t tell whether this meant that we’d been children together in a past life, or playmates in nonphysical reality--which is to say, explorers who were operating at a similar level of development. One image of this connection that kept coming back to me was of the two of us being two or three years old, boy and girl, as we were now, playing in a sunlit rose garden surrounded by a wall of red brick. I had no sense of time or place.
Once this rush of information had passed, Athena said that there was a deep-rooted question within me that she’d picked up on during our experience of mind melding. She could answer this question. It was about reincarnation.
By this point we’d drifted out of the Dream Zone into the Afterdeath Zone, to which we were drawn by my question and Athena’s desire to answer it. We were hovering above the two tracks of a subway station. Many people were waiting on the platform between the trains.
By now, Athena and I were no longer melded together. We floated above the platform while holding hands.
Two trains pulled into the station as we watched. Both were going in the same direction. One had pulled into the station slightly ahead of the other. I began to drift toward the slower train.
“Not that one,” Athena said. “That’s a local train. It’s taking souls who are ready to return to life on Earth into their next incarnations.”
The train was already packed. Most of the people on the platform crowded into it.
The predominant mood seemed to be one of grim determination, as of morning commuters preparing to return to work on the first day after returning from vacation. The lights on the train were dim. Many of the passengers seemed to be burdened with care and fatigue. They were slow-moving and shadowy.
Athena read my thoughts. “You’re right,” she said. “They’re going back to work. These are the souls who still labor under the law of karma, a word that means work. They have a heavy burden of predetermined lessons to learn, based on their past lives.
“They’ve enjoyed a brief respite from that work here in the Afterdeath Zone. But now they must return to it.
“The lights are dim and they seem shadowy because they’re not terribly self-aware. They’re operating from what the Buddha called a state of ignorance--ignorance of who they are, why they’re here, and what to do to free themselves of their karmic burdens. As you can tell from the number of people that this train is carrying, the majority of human beings are operating at this level of self-awareness.
“On the other track is the express train. This is what I wanted to show you in order to answer your question.
“As I understand it, your question has to do with what people mean when they refer to their own past lives, especially when they claim to be famous people. You have long suspected that the issue of reincarnation is more complex than most people realize. You’ve even come to believe that there may be more than a one-to-one correspondence between an individual’s identity and that of a particular person of the past.”
“I hadn’t thought of it in quite that way,” I responded. “What I’ve wondered about is how any number of people who are alive currently could claim to be, for example, the famous medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. I’ve always assumed that one person alive today could have been her.
Others who claim to have been her may have been associated with her in that lifetime as nuns in her convent. And still others may have had lifetimes as now forgotten mystical nuns or abbesses anywhere in western Europe in the middle ages. They’ve just assimilated their life experiences to Hildegard’s because she’s so well known and her life most resembles theirs--as if she were the poster girl, as it were, for medieval mystical nuns.”
“Yes, I’m aware of these aspects of your question,” Athena said. “I shifted the focus of the question a little to help you lead you away from that perspective and prepare you for a new one. What I’d like for you to understand is that it’s possible to collect so called past-life experience in more ways than simply through having been a certain person in a past life.
“There’s the local, slow, methodical fashion, of course, represented by that train over there, in which a person’s consciousness inhabits a single body that lives through each moment of its time on Earth from birth to death. This is the mode of living and learning of all less developed souls, especially those with karmic burdens.
“People who have developed themselves to the point of having freed themselves from such burdens have other, quicker, more advanced methods of learning their lessons, represented by the express train. They may still live through physical lifetimes on Earth, from birth to death. But they may be learning on other planes of consciousness as well.”
I turned to look at the express train. The light was brighter inside. The people looked cleaner, happier, more intelligent, inquisitive, and interested. They clearly had less to worry about or burden them than the rider of the local train. Also, they were clearly more self-aware.
The riders on the express train seemed to look forward to returning to the world. Many of them seemed to have clearly defined missions to accomplish in the world, represented by the attache cases they carried.
“Yes,” Athena responded to my unasked question. “Those people are also returning to be born in the world. But they have a higher level of flexibility of consciousness.
“The key to understanding what I’m about to say is that from the soul’s perspective, all life experience is valid as a teaching tool, no matter how it’s acquired. The only factor that’s required to make life experience into such a teaching tool is intensity. The more intense the experience, the more likely it is to generate memories that will imprint the soul.
“Thus, if you read a biography of a famous composer that deeply moves you--as did reading about Bartók when you were in college--part of your consciousness is able to enter into direct contact with the record of that lifetime as Bartók experienced it, which is stored here in nonphysical reality in the so-called akashic records.
“You may have a number of equally valid ways of describing such an experience in psychic terms. For example, you could say that you’ve tuned in to the world view of Bartók. Or you’ve contacted the survival personality of Bartók. Or you’re part of the same oversoul as Bartók. Or you’re Bartók reincarnated. Note that I’ve listed these potential explanations is rising order of intensity of identification with Bartók.
“Whatever you call this connection with Bartók experience, some of his actual feelings and life experience may adhere to your own soul’s memory of this lifetime. It would not therefore be incorrect to say that you were Bartók in a past life. But you were only Bartók for a few moments in your present lifetime, and you may identify with only a few moments of his lifetime. So, you see, the same thing could happen with someone who identifies strongly with Hildegard von Bingen.
“From the perspective of the soul, identity is a lot more flexible than you, who are incarnated on Earth, tend to think. For example, you’ve melded with me in such a way that some of your memories are now a permanent part of my experience--and some of mine are part of yours. This means that you could have a memory of one of my past lives as if it were your own.
“For example, a couple of years ago you were driving down a rural road in Massachusetts and came to a hilly farm and orchard with a farm stand. You were overcome with a sense of nostalgia. It seemed that the view corresponded to a past life experienced during the 1930s and 1940s in which you’d lived here, in America, on such a farm. You were able to see the old dirt roads, now paved, and the ramshackle farm stand built during the Depression. You were surprised when you asked at the farm stand when it was built--and discovered that it had only been there since the 1970s.
“But, what you remember wasn’t from that place. Nor were you alive in America in the 1930's and 1940s.
“The lifetime you remembered was one of mine. It came up because you’ve often been in touch with me, here in the Dream Zone, during your present life--even though you don’t remember these visits.
“As a young man, I was killed in that lifetime in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. You had a powerful memory of that moment many years ago in a dream.
“I’ve often visited you when you were a child, as your invisible playmate. The memory that you picked up on during our mind meld as of your Grandmother Leland’s garden in Dayton, where I came to you when you were young enough still to be able to see me.
“As you can see, the impact of someone else’s past lives can affect your own and become what I’ll call orphan memories, since, despite their vividness, you may not know from whence they originated, or who their actual parents were. From the standpoint of your soul, however, you can learn as much from your memories of my life experience as from your own.
“You were in nonphysical reality while I was experiencing the last few years of that lifetime. So you had a relationship with me similar to the one that I now have with you.
“You see me as Athena because I seem to know everything about you. That’s how closely intertwined our lives are. And yet, we’re separate souls.
“You’ve long understood that identity is like the state and federal highway system. A numbered route an share the same roadbed for a number of miles with one or more others. Eventually, each numbered route separates from the others to head for its unique destination.
“Your consciousness, like one of these numbered roads, maintains its identity from its creation to its final realization. But it may join up with others for longer or shorter stages of the evolutionary process in ways that would make it difficult for more earthbound personalities to disentangle and understand.
“So, we’ve shared quite a bit of our evolutionary journeys. That’s why you remember some of my experiences as if they were your own.
“In the same way, U.S. Route 42 in Ohio could remember that it had shared its passage through Delaware, Ohio with U.S. Route 23, and vice versa, once each had reached its final destination.
“Similarly, two or more souls could remember having been Hildegard von Bingen because for a while they entered her consciousness: through having been her, having been near her, having been like her in some other time and place, having read about her in the present lifetime, or having found some other reason to identify closely with her, through being part of the same oversoul, contacting her survival personality, or tapping into her world view.
“I recognize that it’s often useful to earthbound minds to see experiences that have different labels as being clearly differentiated from one another. But, from the perspective of the soul, the energy imprint is the important thing. Somehow, in certain cases, the energy imprint of someone else’s experience enters and becomes a part of your own, allowing you to learn from it and accelerating your learning, so that you don’t need to live each lifetime moment by moment in the way that most of humanity does.
“Even though it may seem incomprehensible to you, I call it miraculous, and am grateful for this means that human consciousness may use to further its development. Just as you can learn from reading books about things that you may never have experienced in your present life, so can you read the lives of others and learn from them--in biographies, in the stories told by friends and family, and psychically, through direct contact with the soul or energy essence of any person living or dead.
“It all makes sense, if you just let go of the idea that most people seem to have of life as the building up and maintenance of a sense of identity that’s separate from everyone else’s, no matter the cost. That idea needs to be replaced with the recognition that life is really about learning and growth, the expansion of your sense of identity until it’s capable of encompassing the growth and beingness of any other form of consciousness, human, pant, animal, or mineral, alien, or nonphysical.
“That expansion is what brings you ever closer to oneness with God, or All That Is, which contains every conceivable identity and form of experience--even ones that to your present level of development would appear to be inconceivable.”
At this point, I became aware of a need to urinate that carried me back into physical reality, the waking state, and my body. I tried to communicate my thanks and my love to Athena as I drifted away from her and left the subway station in the Afterlife behind with its local and express trains.
Athena appeared to have no trouble releasing me from the close psychic connection we’d established. I was a bit disappointed that our time together had to be cut short in this way. When I awoke, it was 2:50 A.M.