No final answer exists to the question as to what is inside your mind. Philosophers, spiritual leaders, and scientists have been struggling with this question for thousands of years. Philosophers and spiritual leaders told us their theories since the dawn of time. Then science came along and said that they would be able to explain everything for us in physical terms. It was all a cause and effect process. What is important is that the pendulum has started to swing back toward "truths" that spiritual leaders proclaimed thousands of years ago. Increasing numbers of people believe that eventually we will find a more moderate resting place of the pendulum and acknowledge that the mind is both a physical and a spiritual repository of the various forces that make us what we are.

One of the more interesting books on the subject of the mind is THE HOLOTROPIC MIND by Stanislav Grof. Dr. Grof has been conducting research on the mind for the last three decades and believes that extra-ordinary states of the mind reveal profound implications as to what humans are all about. The following are quotations from his book:

"The probability that human consciousness and our infinitely complex universe could have come into existence through the random interactions of inert matter has aptly been compared to that of a tornado blowing though a junkyard and accidentally assembling a 747 jumbo jet (p. 5)."

Think about that for awhile. If you can buy into the analogy, then you are forced to move toward a more spiritual view of the universe and away from the mechanistic cause and effect view of traditional science.

"Life can no longer be understood in terms of inanimate matter. Matter and life are both abstractions that have been extracted from the holomovement, that is, the undivided whole, but neither can be separated from that whole. Similarly, matter and consciousness are both aspects of the same undivided whole. Bohm reminds us that even the process of abstraction, by which we create our illusions of separation from the whole, are themselves expressions of the holomovement. We ultimately come to the realization that all perceptions and knowledge---including scientific work---are not objective reconstructions of reality; instead, they are creative activities comparable to artistic expressions. We cannot measure true reality; in fact, the very essence of reality is its immeasurability (p. 10)."

That does not mean that you throw out all research findings and that you base your life and your professional practice on intuition alone; however, it does mean that you never assume that anyone's "proof" is proof positive and that you appreciate that all research findings are tentative at best, illusions frequently, and occasionally deceptions.

As William James said: "Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different...No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded (p. 12)."

And, as Victor Hugo said: "There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul (p. 3)."

Grof became very deeply committed to exploring the interior of the soul when as a Psychiatrist he started studying the effects of LSD on patients with various emotional disorders. "Symptoms that had resisted months or even years of other treatment often vanished after patients had experiences such as psychological death and rebirth, feelings of cosmic unity, archetypal visions, and sequences of what clients described as past-life memories (p. 17)."

"Over three decades of systematic studies of human consciousness have led me to conclusions that many traditional psychiatrists and psychologists might find implausible if not downright incredible. I now firmly believe that consciousness is more than an accidental by-product of the neurophysiological and biochemical processes taking place in the human brain. I see consciousness and the human psyche as expressions and reflections of a cosmic intelligence that permeates the entire universe and all of existence. We are not just highly evolved animals with biological computers embedded inside our skulls; we are also fields of consciousness without limits, transcending time, space, matter, and linear causality (p. 17-18)."

These are words that have been spoken by spiritual leaders for thousands of years. What is significant about Dr. Grof repeating them is that he bases his conclusions on his research with thousands of clients over decades. When he says that we can transcend time, space, matter and linear causality he is able to document his statement with case studies from his research.

"...we have the capacity to relive the emotions and physical sensations we had during our passage through the birth canal and that we can re-experience episodes that took place when we were fetuses in our mothers' wombs...we can reach far back in time and witness sequences from the lives of our human and animal ancestors, as well as events that involved people from other historical periods and cultures with whom we have no genetic connection whatsoever...the spiritual dimension is a key factor in the human psyche and in the universal scheme of things. I feel strongly that becoming aware of this dimension of our lives and cultivating it is an essential and desirable part of our existence; it might even be a critical factor for our survival on this planet (p. 18)."

If Grof were the only scientist coming to such conclusions based upon their research, then we should be at least very skeptical. However, Grof is only one of a growing minority coming to these and comparable conclusions. Together, they are challenging the accepted ideas of what makes the human mind function as it does.

Grof concludes that: "...the traditional understanding of the human personality, limited to postnatal biography and to the Freudian individual unconscious, is painfully narrow and superficial (p.20)."

A key area of his research is in the area of prenatal or as he calls it the perinatal experiences of humans. "Perinatal experiences involve primitive emotions and sensations...People reliving birth experiences...usually manifest the appropriate physical movements, positioning their arms and legs, and twisting their bodies in ways that accurately re-create the mechanics of a particular type of delivery...Also, bruises, swellings, and other vascular changes can unexpectedly appear on the skin in the places where forceps were applied, where the wall of the birth canal was pressing on the head, or where the umbilical cord was constricting the throat (p. 29)."

For Grof the birth process is extremely profound and helps connect humans with one another in a very special way that is of great importance to social workers. Because of the birth process and all the pain and feelings of being trapped: "We can...feel a deep link with all those who have been abused, imprisoned, tortured, or victimized in some other way. It is as if our own connection with the universal experience of the fetus struggling to be born provides us with an intimate, almost mystical connection with all beings who are now or ever have been in similar circumstances (p. 29)."

Grof's research is of particular importance if we are to understand the memories that a growing number of clients have that involve Satanic rituals. "The struggle in the birth canal can be associated with visions reminiscent of Black Mass rituals and the witches' Sabbath...these elements are intimately interwoven with the imagery of 'serving the Dark God.' The connection between such practices and the perinatal level of the unconscious should be taken into consideration in any serious study of satanic cult abuse (pp. 64-65)."

"Uncomplicated birth seems to be the blueprint for coping with all later difficult situations in life. Various complications, such as prolonged and debilitating delivery, the use of forceps, or heavy anesthesia appear to be correlated to specific problems in dealing with future projects of all kinds (p. 78)."

The above captures only a small portion of what Grof's research is all about. He also deals with reincarnation, auras, and a variety of other extra-ordinary states of mind. You may wish to explore Grof's and the work of other researchers in this area.